In a comment yesterday on the Advent Spiral post “Arne” explained how
“…the anthroposophy is not taught to, but experienced by the children. It surrounds them in the form of ecologic and biodynamical made foods, the colourtheories of Goethe, emphasis on the seasonal changes and the nature that surrounds us and much more.”
It is very useful to have this explained from the point of view of someone who is clearly very familiar with this belief system and its applications. In his eyes it is perfectly acceptable to “surround” children with the nonsense dreamed up by a mystic from a century ago.
The festivals, especially the advent spiral, are very meaningful to all associated with Steiner schools, whether as students, parents, teachers or simply as “believers”. Arne says the festivals are of “profound beauty”.
An atmosphere of awe and wonder is deliberately cultivated, many writers have described this. Steiner followers continually stress the importance of “wonder” in education, as a way of engaging children and inspiring them to learn. I guess they know it sounds ok to most parents – the idea of children transfixed by a subject or an event is attractive in a way – it infers that they are absorbed in their learning and therefore taking something valuable from it.
But in the case of anthroposophy, this seems a questionable tactic, indeed, as has been pointed out by former students, a form of mind control.
It is not difficult to inspire awe and wonder in children, especially by way of festivals such as Advent; candles are lit, the room is darkened, all is quiet save for the voices of the children singing specially written verses to augment the occasion. How could such activities fail to gain the full attention of anyone involved – especially children?
Of course it is not just in anthroposophy where such rituals are used to create an atmosphere of reverence; all religions have their rituals; the christmas assembly at my children’s ostensibly non- religious, non-Church of England primary school did the trick too; merely the sound of children singing carols is enough to affect the emotions of even a profoundly irreligious parent. There was no need for candles or a darkened room.
But most parents who select Steiner schools and kindergartens do not know that their child will be subjected to the all-enveloping influence of anthroposophy; as Arne puts it,
“The festivals…have a much deeper significance in the evolvement of the children’s identities.”
The specific tenets of anthroposophy, the reincarnation, karma, the spiritual (through the races) “evolvement” Arne refers to, are not what any normal parent would want their child exposed to in such a profound way, given the choice.
Arne talks about choice in his comment;
“The idea is to enable the children to make their own decisions based on their own curiosity and experiences of their surroundings… A choice is not something you´re given it´s something you make, and you can learn a lot from being a bit silly from time to time :)”
Yes, everyone should have a choice when it comes to their beliefs. But this is not choice. Parents are not making an informed choice when they choose Steiner education, and children are not making a choice when they are immersed in anthroposophy without their knowledge at school. It is indoctrination, not choice.
A child who attends a Catholic school (for instance) knows she is receiving an education based on that particular religion; the rejection of Catholicism by these children is reportedly fairly high, and parents choose such schools fully aware of the tenets of the religion.
I do not know anything about Arne; I think he is not British, and it seems he is associated in some way with Steiner education. However his comment provides a window onto the mindset of anthroposophists; they do not see the use of anthroposophy in schools as indoctrination, because they really believe Steiner’s teachings are true! How can it therefore be wrong, in their view, to “surround” children with these ideas?
Thank you Arne, for an eye-opening glimpse into the total devotion to Steiner that exists in the mileu of Steiner waldorf. It explains a lot.