Another link from the Waldorf Review facebook page – a great way to keep up with the latest Steiner Waldorf news stories from around the world. This time it’s a list of 10 ways to get thrown out of a Steiner school parent teacher class.
The list illustrates the Steiner (Waldorf in the States) horror of all things modern, electronic, or just generally not Steiner enough – for example Disney characters, convenience foods, and hand-held devices.
I agree with a commenter that number 8 would be the swiftest way out of the class;
Every day, after they chant the morning verse, raise your hand and ask, “Are you sure this isn’t a cult?”
The list will no doubt raise a smile, and is meant to be amusing, but at the heart of this controlling attitude on the part of anthroposophists is a sinister purpose. A cult strengthens itself by imposing rules on members, and these rules are not randomly agreed upon within the schools, but originate with Steiner’s ‘indications’ based on his communication with the spirit world.
For example the Steiner thing about hats is to do with spiritual ‘warmth‘ which Steiner followers believe is one of the ‘four ethers’. The objection to electronic devices, on the other hand, is due to the influence of the Steiner demon ‘Ahriman‘ who inhabits them.
Food, of course, is especially significant, and ideally will be biodynamic, purchased from a nearby Steiner supplier. A tin of soup (number 6) would not be acceptable. Students at Wynstones Steiner school, for instance, are offered (unpaid) placements on a local biodynamic farm in Stroud.
I share the Steiner distaste for many of the complicated distractions children are sometimes exposed to at a young age, but for entirely different reasons, and this is surely a matter of individual parental choice. We all make decisions about what is best for our children and we don’t need a school to lay down the law on these matters.
Families who display tastes and habits at variance with the Steiner version of normal can be made to feel like outsiders and start to feel unwelcome in the Steiner community they have joined. Time and again former Steiner families have described the division between the priviledged who buy in wholeheartedly to Steiner ways, and those on the perifery. Steiner is a way of life, one based on a specific set of beliefs, and with rules to follow that extend way beyond the school day.
That is why number 8 is a deal-breaker – the suggestion that a cult is in action in Steiner schools is too close to the bone.
The Steiner teachers who try to influence how families eat, dress, and spend their time at home are overstepping the mark. It strikes me as ironic that parents opt for Steiner as an alternative to mainstream schooling, only to find themselves participating in a lifestyle where they comply to a whole new set of rules.