In a local education supplement today there is an advertisement for the Stroud Steiner free school. The ad asks parents to fill in their support survey.
If the team are going to resubmit their application next month, I hope they will not be including signatures from parents who expressed an interest last time and who thought the proposed school would be opening next year. Many of these children will have settled in at other schools by September 2016, and other parents may well have done some research on anthroposophy since they were initially approached.
Steiner’s belief system does require thorough research, if children are being sent to a school run according to the tenets of this doctrine.
It would be presumptuous to include in their figures families who have not shown support recently.
On the “vision” page of their website they encourage supporters to read so they “know what they are signing up for”, the Steiner school team say
“Please note: although the ethos of Stroud Steiner Free School area derives from Steiner’s work on child development, the school will neither promote nor teach his wider philosophy, which he called “anthroposophy”.
Since anthroposophy is the raison d’être for Steiner schools, and any school bearing the Steiner name must be accredited by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, who oversee the way anthropsosophy is incorporated, this is an entirely misleading claim.
Steiner schools are the movement’s method of ensuring their creed does not die out; the “inner work” the teachers do on impressionable young minds, with or without their parents’ consent, ensures a steady trickle of people willing to take Steiner’s ideas seriously, and jobs for enthusiasts, where they don’t have to mix with what they see as the wicked outside world. They are essentially melting pots for anthroposophy.
Telling children evolution is a reductionist concept (according to the Steiner curriculum book) and giving credence to imaginary beings and all kinds of pseudoscience is indeed teaching anthroposophy. So is eurythmy, and so are the Steiner prayers. And so are the festivals, if parents look behind the façade of “seasonal celebration”.
“…interpretations of Steiner’s ideas have changed over time,” they say, in connection with a statement about “some of Steiner’s Anthroposophical writing [which] relates to race and ethnicity”.
In fact devotees, including the *best* Steiner teachers, follow Steiner’s indications slavishly and quote him endlessly. They write books on how best to include his ideas into education. The lectures he gave on races and ethnicity, and how they affect and are affected by “karma” are fundamental to the “work” on child development so beloved by the free school team.
Instead of being told that anthroposophy is somehow irrelevant to what this school sets out to do, parents should be encouraged to research anthroposophy thoroughly before they fill in the survey, and not just to “read the vision statement” as the school website advises.
It is time for the people behind this bid to come clean about what this school would really be doing to children, not hide behind the oft repeated mantra about “not teaching anthroposophy”.