Teacher – Welcome to our Steiner-free Steiner free school. This is a new school opened at tax-payers’ expense. It’s not an official Steiner school, but we have a mission to indoctrinate, the same as any other Steiner school. We teach our own Steiner curriculum. (Whispering) Between you and me, it’s pretty off the wall, but no-one actually reads it.
Parent – Who is Steiner exactly, and why do you follow his doctrine?
Teacher – He was a charismatic mystic in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. He was also a clairvoyant, but we don’t usually talk about that in public – we prefer to refer to him as philosopher and a doctor.
Parent – A medical doctor?
Teacher – No, but he said a lot of stuff about medical matters, so it sounds good to call him a doctor.
Parent – It says here that Steiner schools concentrate on the education of the whole child – what do you mean by that?
Teacher – Steiner said there are three parts of each child to teach – the body, soul and spirit.
Parent – What is the difference between the soul and the spirit?
Teacher – er…well, that’s complicated. You would need to read some books on anthroposophy.
Parent – anthr –what?
Teacher – Anthroposophy. It is a religion made up by Steiner. It’s all his imaginings rolled up together and given a long name. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Parent – Well it sounds important – should we know about it?
Teacher – Oh no, it’s just the basis for this type of education. The teachers are trained in it, but probably the less you know about it the better – things get complicated when parents start asking questions and trying to make sense of all the higher beings and stuff. Maybe later on when you are hooked and it’s too late to change your mind we’ll explain some more. Anyway follow me…
Walking into a classroom…
Parent – Oh this is beautiful! Everything looks natural, and colourful. I think Angelina would like it here. Oh and look at all the paintings on the wall. Oh,that’s funny, all the children painted exactly the same swirly pattern with the same colour. Did they all happen to choose to paint the same picture?
Teacher – Oh no, we make them all do the same. It is a spiritual exercise, you see, rather than a creative one.
Parent – But it says here you treat each child as an individual…
Teacher – Yes, but we have to make sure they do the right exercises at the right time otherwise they may not incarnate properly.
Parent – ?????
Teacher – You see your child has had previous incarnations and has chosen you as her parents for this incarnation, but we have to be very careful not to do anything to interfere with her karma. It’s the most important aspect of what we do here. We do also teach them a bit of English and maths later on, but that’s very much a side line for us.
Parent – Oh karma. Yes, I heard something about that. It’s a kind of fatalistic approach to life, isn’t it? Everything is predestined according to what happened last time around.
Teacher – well sort of. By the way, has your child been vaccinated against childhood illnesses?
Parent – Oh yes, of course.
Teacher – I see. Never mind, I am sure we can find a way to work on her while she is in school so she can suffer in some other way instead of measles, whooping cough, meningitis…
Parent , looking around – Doesn’t this reception class have books? We think reading is important and have a lot of books at home.
Teacher – really? Well we have a slightly different approach here. Yes, this is a school, and we are paid to teach children, but we want to leave reading and writing and maths as late as possible. You see the children are still re-living their previous existence and are not ready to read at this age. It could harm the incarnation of their etheric body.
Parent – Their what?
Teacher – There are three bodies, you see – physical, etheric and astral.
Parent – Oh yeah? What makes you think that?
Teacher – Steiner said so. Follow me…
Walking off along the corridor.
Teacher – Ah here we are, this is what passes for PE in our school.
Parent – Why are the children not in their PE kit?
Teacher – it’s not necessary – there’s no sweating. Bothmer gym is not really gym. It’s movement of a sort – we lift our arms up and down slowly and occasionally break into a jog around the room. It’s very good for spiritual development.
Parent – What about “eurythmy” – it mentions that in the leaflet?
Teacher – Yes, we do that too. Trouble is we need a special teacher for that and she’s off sick with stress for the rest of the year so it’s Bothmer for now. Anyway it’s easier to teach. Do you have any questions?
Parent – Yes. I see it says here that you assess the children by doing “child Study”. What is that, exactly?
Teacher- Oh yes, that is very important. The child’s class teacher will be observing the child and making notes on her nose shape, ears, the way she walks, the look in her eyes, the size of her head. Then when the staff meet up we all discuss your child in detail and decide what temperament she is. We light candles too, and then do a bit of eurythmy. You see we work on our own spiritual development too. Otherwise our next incarnation might be less aryan than we hoped. We might even come back with Autism or some other learning difficulty.
Parent – What do you mean by “Temperament”?
Teacher – She may be choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic or melancholic . It’s an ancient system to do with bodily fluids. Humours.
Parent – That sounds odd. Are those proper educational assessments? Is it scientific?
Teacher – No. All Steiner schools do them though. The SWSF insist on it. We are not in the SWSF, but we still do things the proper way. I mean, we still do what Rudolf Steiner said. Him being a genius. But that’s not all we do in child study. We also do astrological charts and take into account the child’s birth order.
Parent – So wait a minute, you are saying my child will be assessed according to her temperament – whatever you decide that may be – and her birthdate? Why do you take all this into account?
Teacher – So that we can classify the children according to their temperament and behave towards them in a certain way.
Parent – But I thought you valued each child as an individual?
Teacher – We say that because it sounds good.
Teacher – It’s playtime now and you see how the children are free to play without adult interference…
Parent – But don’t they have supervision? Where is the teacher on duty, by the way? Is that gate normally left open? What about if a child gets picked on – who will stop it?
Teacher – We give the children as much freedom as possible to act out their karma. It doesn’t do to influence children in their play – all the books say so.
Parent – What books?
Teacher – All the books on Steiner education written by anthroposophist experts. Besides, the children have their angels to look after them. Now, come into my office and you can sign up little Angelina. By the way, she won’t be wearing that t shirt to school will she? We don’t allow cartoon characters or sparkles, and also we prefer natural fabrics and if possible a woolly hat at all times.
Parent – Er well. I think we have some other schools to look at. The mainstream school nearer home with the proper safety precautions and the qualified teachers did say they may have a place.