Anti-bullying ?

All schools have anti-bullying policies now, and Steiner schools are no exception.

The state-funded Exeter Steiner Academy’s policy is pretty standard except for the following extract;

Pupils usually become victims of bullying through no fault of their own. On occasions, however, a pupil may be subject to bullying because they:

  • are new to the class;
  • are different in appearance, speech or background from other people;
  • suffer from low self esteem.

I have never seen a document before that suggested bullying may be the victim’s own fault. The three areas highlighted must be what Steiner schools regard as problem situations in their experience.

The first category corresponds to the deliberately fostered tribal nature of a Steiner class, as described in the Handbook for Waldorf class teachers; the class remains with the same teacher for 8 years, and a strong bond is formed. Any outsider will have trouble integrating, according to the book.

The second is unfathomable – aren’t we all different? How different does a child have to be before the bullying becomes their own fault?

Thirdly, a child with low self-esteem can expect problems with bullying ? Well, thanks for the information.

Some parents say they don’t have a problem with karma as a framework for the way a Steiner school operates. They may find the idea of an eternal soul attractive, but perhaps without examining the matter in too much detail. The idea of teachers deciding their child’s treatment based on karma may not have crossed their mind, unless they have read the accounts of families where bullies are allowed to work out their karma by victimising other children

4 members of staff at Exeter Steiner academy are qualified teachers, but most have simply spent a lot of time in Steiner schools and gone through the Steiner training courses, where they learned all about…anthroposophy. These teachers certainly know all about karma.

Sharon Lombard mentioned how curative eurythmy is used on the victims of bullying; events during the child’s previous incarnation are said to have brought about her victimisation, and this is the method teachers use to “work on her karma”.

All this would be difficult to believe, except that reported cases of bullying in Steiner schools bear striking similarities in the way they are handled. The recent report from a parent commenting on a post here about a child having weights strapped to his ankles in eurythmy is an horrific case in point; any parent who thinks these practices are no longer taking place should think again.

The Exeter Steiner Academy’s policy is in line with Steiner teachings about karma; the victim must be to blame rather than the bullies.

 

 

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16 comments

  1. Steve

    We’ve got a quote, taken from the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School newsletter, which does indeed say that bullying may be the target’s fault: “children who are regularly victimized by bullies may also be engaging in addictive behavior.”

    As you know, if you’re looking for more evidence of a Steiner school blaming the victim rather than the bullies, then our experience there is a pretty good example, along with its legally binding Human Rights settlement which shows that a school would rather get rid of a targeted child and her family, including children that were having a great time and weren’t experiencing bullying themselves, rather than deal with the bullies: http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com

  2. Pete Karaiskos

    Hi Helen, and thank you for this blog. I’ve been visiting it, even linking to it on my Facebook page, The Waldorf Review. I wanted to remind readers to view the Eugene Schwartz video on bullying and to witness how (Master Waldorf teacher) Schwartz mocks parents who complain about bullying. I try to address why Waldorf bullies in this blog post http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-waldorf-bullies.html and link to Schwartz’ video. Good catch, BTW, on the disclaimers from Exeter on bullying. Most parents wouldn’t notice this difference. It takes people who know what to look for to point it out. Thanks for the great work you do!

    • Helen

      That video is something else. I hope everyone watches it to the end.
      Given all the instances of bullying documented it just shows their contempt for families who have suffered, and a lack of any intention to do anything about the problem.
      To change their ways is impossible for them – if you believe in Steiner’s version of karma you will be in accordance with Schwarz’s stupid attitude.

      • we escaped!

        It is not only children that are bullied. The parents are subjected to bullying and threats and they are made to feel inferior by steiner institutions. Steiner cannot deal with anyone that has a mind of their own and dare to question them. They are abusers and manipulators and they fly under the radar, especially in the UK.

        • Helen

          “Steiner cannot deal with anyone that has a mind of their own…” Exactly – from reading Gregoire Perra’s blog it becomes apparent that having a mind of your own is not acceptable within the movement, and that goes for parents too.

        • Rain17

          Anthroposophists are in the business of creating the master race of Aryan Ubermenschen, who will lead humanity into the next epoch of human development. Though WW1 and WW2 evidently isn’t enough to teach them what the world does to Aryan Ubermenschen who bully everyone in their path.

          • Jim

            Though that would indeed be the implication of Steiner’s underlying racial belief I’m sure you don’t mean to suggest that the anthros are planning WW3! Apart from any other considerations they would be a bit limited with their wooden and wicker weaponry.
            The problem however is that these attitudes, if they become widespread, do create a spurious intellectual justification for supremacist views and activity. Even if only a small proportion of those involved in Steiner education take these ideas fully on board that is still a concern. And living in the Stroud area you cannot question their constant demand for lebensraum.
            But in general I prefer to avoid Nazi analogies as it is too easy for Steiner apologists to dismiss them as extreme.

            • Rain17

              Well, I can certainly see why no one would want to go Godwin. And if anything, anthroposophists are in a war with modernity, if not reality itself, lol. This post actually reminded me to add “Aryan*” and “Aryan race” to my Do Your Own Research [at the Rudolf Steiner Archive] pages.

              The Exeter Steiner Academy excerpt reminded me:

              Pupils usually become victims of bullying through no fault of their own. On occasions, however, a pupil may be subject to bullying because they:
              are new to the class;
              are different in appearance, speech or background from other people;
              suffer from low self esteem.

              That 2nd point is just a classic rationalization for active, violent xenophobia. Here in the States, we have a rather notorious history of this kind of treatment of “different” students and this is completely anecdotal but I’ve seen it intensify exponentially in the anthroposophy-bully context.

              Anthroposophy is a cosmic, karmic racial hierarchy based on Aryans, so-called, at the top of the heap. Everyone else considered a “subrace”; we chose this lot, according to anthroposophy. To me, after reading some anthroposophy from the horses’ mouth, it’s not a stretch to see where the bully mentality originates, given the also-notorious history of Aryan supremacist ideology. To base an educational institution on that ideology, to me, is the extremism. My US$.02 but ommv.

            • Pete Karaiskos

              Hi Jim, You wrote:
              “I’m sure you don’t mean to suggest that the anthros are planning WW3!”

              Well, not exactly, but then Steiner did tell them to expect the WAA (War of All against All) – where “white humankind” would be fighting “colored humankind” to the death… so I don’t think the suggestion is so far-fetched.

              “But in general I prefer to avoid Nazi analogies as it is too easy for Steiner apologists to dismiss them as extreme.”

              I don’t. I see them as absolutely relevant. Many Nazis held exactly the same position as Steiner – which was assimilation of the Jews. That the Nazi position took the approach of the extreme in the end doesn’t negate how similar the Nazi dialog was to Steiner’s own… In my view.

  3. Jim

    I expect if questioned the Exeter Academy would say that the “however” in the above quote was not meant to imply that the following reasons for bullying were the victim’s own fault – it was just “unfortunate” wording. Maybe, but I think we’d find it easier to believe if it wasn’t part of a wider pattern.
    Why pick these three reasons? Had the document gone on to give specific advice on dealing with them it might have made sense but that section just ends. At the very least it is clumsy and hints at some of their pre-occupations.

  4. Jim

    Hi Pete,
    It’s not that I don’t recognise the commonalities between Nazi and Steiner beliefs. My concern is that if you say “anthroposophists are like Nazis” many will think you are being ridiculous – it sounds as though you are suggesting a parity between the gas chambers and what goes on in a Steiner school. Consequently it is too easy for people to dismiss what you say without really listening.
    The problem is that the Nazis have become a unique icon of evil, as though there were not an abundance of genocidal maniacs throughout history. As far as I can see the only thing unique was that it was done by those cultured Germans, in the heart of Europe and in such a business-like fashion. But we are stuck with the icon so any comparison provokes outrage rather than enlightenment. That is why I prefer to set out the arguments as this site does, and as you do on the Waldorf Review, and let people see for themselves.

    • Pete Karaiskos

      Hi Jim,
      Yes, I understand what you mean. Nonetheless, (and at the risk of talking ad Nazium), I have been asking for some indication that Waldorf education has been revised in some way from the Waldorf education that was in alignment with the Nazi ideology in Germany for many years. Apparently, there are no differences. To compare Steiner’s ideas to the ideas of the Nazis isn’t as reckless as others who do this for topics completely unrelated to the Nazis (Godwin’s law). Steiner and Hitler were contemporaries – and many of their ideas were not that dissimilar when compared side by side. They may have shared sources for some of them. I don’t feel inclined to shy away from making this comparison just because it happens to outrage people. If the Eurythmy slipper fits… ;)

      • Jim

        I doubt there is much chance of them changing their educational approach. They may change the presentation a bit, particularly when seeking state funding, but underneath it’s the same substance. All we can do is alert those who might be drawn in in whatever we think is the most effective way.

        • Rain17

          Hi Jim – I would agree with that. The “Aryan Ubermensch” reference is not a glib comparison or inflammatory metaphor. Steiner’s rhetoric and vanguardism about Aryan supremacy, and purity paranoia about color, is identical. The only real distinguishing mark, AFAIC, is the overlay of cosmic darwnism in the form of Europeans are from Jupiter, Africans are from Mercury, and other nonsense.

          I also agree that his rhetoric and absurd belief — on all manner of topics, not just so-called “Aryans” — will never be repudiated by anthroposophist educators. How could it? The white-Aryan vanguardism in particular is the root of anthroposophy, and why Steiner broke away form Theosophy in the first place. My own approach is to read Steiner’s own words on “Aryans” and color and karma and such. So, I have a research section – http://bit.ly/1jqqPKK. That’s my form of alert (and also self-education :) )

          In the US context, for me it’s like this: Waldorf surely is not the first school system here with a history of white-race superior ideology behind it. But at least Bull Connor and Governor Faubus were honest about where they were coming from. Unlike anthroposophy ed., which will also look parents square in the face and tell them “we don’t teach anthroposophy to the children!”, as they exit the mandatory Eurythmy lesson.

  5. Helen

    Reblogged this on Stop Steiner in Stroud and commented:

    I am re-blogging this because it is important in the context of the recently resubmitted application from the Stroud Steiner free school group. Since I wrote this the Exeter Steiner Academy have overhauled their website and I anticipated they would change this policy document on bullying in school. But no, it remains as it was. Not only that, but the Bristol Steiner Academy “anti- bullying” policy is exactly the same.
    Should the second attempt to gain state-funding be successful in Stroud, we can confidently expect the same unacceptable views on bullying to be reproduced as policy here too.

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