Why?

A large number (30+) of  Kindergartens, Camphill Communities, schools, colleges, biodynamic food producers and other Steiner groups congregate here.

Stroud has become a hub for Steiner followers and they have gradually set up more and more businesses to support their lifestyle. This has been at the expense of rational choice for local people.

The general public is unaware that the connection between these businesses is anthroposophy.

Here is my list, begun in 2013

  1. Hawkwood College
  2. Ruskin Mill
  3. Crossfields Institute (runs Msc)
  4. Upper Grange (biodynamic research)
  5. The Field Centre Nailsworth
  6. St Lukes medical Centre
  7. Gannicox House (Camphill Community)
  8. Christian Community Cainscross Rd
  9. Paradise House
  10. Novalis
  11. Cotswold Chine (Halfway House )Box
  12. Sunlands Kindergarten
  13. Waldorf College Lansdown
  14. Hibernia school of artistic therapy
  15. British Postgraduate training in anthroposophic medicine
  16. Lindens Kindergarten
  17. William Morris college
  18. Community agriculture 23acres Brookthorpe and  about 65 acres Hawkwood (biodynamic)
  19. Biodynamic agricultural association UK headquarters
  20. West of England steiner teacher training (Westt) Marling
  21. Orchard Leigh
  22. St Lukes Trust
  23. Meadowbank
  24. Hermes Trust
  25. Wynstones school (Whaddon)
  26. Shire Training workshops (formerly Painswick Inn project and five valleys foyer) now Open House
  27. Hawthorn Press (mainly anthroposphic books)
  28. Tonalis
  29. Living Earth Land Trust
  30. One End Street Kindergarten
  31. Biodynamic Land Trust
  32. Stroud Integrative Healthcare Community Interest Company
  33. Eurythmy Therapy Training
  34. Biodynamic certification ( BDA)
  35. Ecodynamic Community Benefit Society Limited

Stroud academy formerly Steiner Academy Five valleys Ltd-  “voluntarily struck off” Nov 2015

Persephone College  – seems to have gone out of business- 2017

Hiram Trust  – seems to have gone out of business -2017

Box Wood – purchased 2017 from Novalis for the village.

Ebley House – now owned by Nelson House

 

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96 comments

    • Robert

      Hi there Helen, hope you’re well and happy for me to post this comment. I was hoping to do it on the ‘don’t sign up’ page but for some reason can’t find the comment box. I am really sorry to hear about your experience of Steiner and can only imagine the things that you went through. I think it would be very easy for people to dismiss your claims or stand up for a Waldorf curriculum – this I think is entirely wrong, it is your family’s experience and that can’t be changed nor discredited. Based on what you’ve said, I can totally comprehend your setting up of this blog and I’m sure it’s a useful platform for discussion, this is a grand thing. I noticed something, Helen, that just concerned me a little bit and I wanted to flag it to you. You stated on your ‘Don’t sign up page’ that ‘steiner students leave school and wonder why their education hasn’t prepared them for the real world’. I was a Steiner student for 9 years and, like you, am part of a very normal, down to earth working class family and wanted to share with you that I felt fully prepared for the ‘real world’. Upon leaving I got into one of the top drama schools in the country out of thousands of candidates and now work successfully as an actor and run my own training company going into some of the country’s largest multi national organisations, training leaders and managers of business’. Friends of mine from my year are engineers, scientists, teachers, film makers, stage managers, TV producers, music agents, authors etc. What an eclectic bunch. I’m unsure of course of your definition of ‘real world’, perhaps ours is different, but I certainly feel I’m part of a world that’s real and was so prepared to enter it. I’m not airy fairy, or religious, nor was brainwashed etc. I understand you sharing your experience, but wanted you to know that you don’t speak for me or my mates when you claim students leave feeling unprepared. Perhaps conducting a survey so you have concrete evidence may be a good route to take if you wanted to substantiate your claim. Best and good luck, Rob.

      • Helen

        Robert –
        Firstly let me point out that “A Steiner experience” is not my experience, and I have just added a paragraph to further explain this. I think that is an assumption you made. I have not personally had a traumatic experience with Steiner education, so that is not the reason I set up this blog.
        “A Steiner experience” is just one of many accounts from parents and families who have been traumatised through falling into the Steiner trap. I am sure you must have read some of the others.
        Roger Rawlings on Waldorf Watch explains particularly well the problems with Steiner education in the States and around the world, and anyone who is surprised by or skeptical of what they read here should go to his site straight away and read the evidence. I linked to his description of the harm done in a post “What’s the Harm? where he illustrates extremely well how children are affected. There is no bitterness there, just facts.
        I think you have done your best to put a positive spin on Steiner education; I am glad you feel you have succeeded in life. The comments here are sprinkled with similar stories to your own, as though some successful outcomes for children at a private school should prove the critics wrong. Of course there will be those who are happy with their time spent at Steiner, and I guess from what you say you would choose to send any children of your own to such a school. But this does not negate the fact that many parents enter Steiner with no idea that the whole fandango is part of a horrid cult.
        I would be interested to know how, as the child of a “normal, down to earth working class family” you ended up at a fee-paying school. If you didn’t know about anthroposophy then what do you think of it now? Is it ok to hide it from potential recruits?
        Also the long list of professions your classmates entered; that was a very big year group! – at least 20, not counting the ones you don’t know about or who, as is usual in any class, do not have a profession. Private Steiner schools, (as yours must have been) have small year groups, usually dwindling as time goes on, with many leaving to sit exams elsewhere. I can’t help feeling you have done your best to put a gloss on everything.
        Conducting a survey would be one method, but this would necessarily be of families still associated with Steiner movement, and as you can guess, most of those badly affected want nothing more to do with it. You see the problem.
        A good way to give damaged and traumatised victims a platform has been to allow them to comment here. They have also posted on Mumsnet and on Waldorf critics, and the Waldorf Review gathers together testimonies. There is also now the “Faith Schoolers Anonymous” site which I am sure will be of use.

        • Rob

          No gloss, Helen. Just my experience. I listed 8 professions, so I’m not sure what you mean re class size. I haven’t said I feel I’ve done well in life, I listed factually what I’m up to and have been up. To clarify again, as stated in my post, I’m not detracting from any experiences people have had of the education, I think sharing experiences is one thing but making grand assumed statements is another and indicates to me an unthought out argument. I was pointing out that in fact the majority do feel ready for the ‘real world’ and highlighted professions which to many are indeed part of the ‘real world’, counter acting your assumption and non evidence supported point of Steiner students not feeling prepared for the ‘real world’. Please don’t speak for people like me. Hope you and readers are finding this a really useful resource. Best of luck. Rob

          • Helen

            I guess I am pleased that the “real world” statement is the only one you can find fault with on this blog.

            Sorry, I thought the plural meant at least two stage managers, music agents, etc. How many students were left in your year group by the time you left school?

        • Larry

          For every ex Steiner Waldorf student like Rob, there are masses who are drifting, imo as a direct result of their Steiner Waldorf experience. Out of my son’s class of about 12, only one I think, went on to university. When some left the Waldorf school, the local secondary school worked hard to help them to get through exams, using huge extra resources in the process. Three are trying to be musicians but are mostly busking, although apparently happily living an alternative lifestyle; several are “travelling’, and one who has been travelling for more than four years has now decided to train as a Steiner teacher (!) Some of them were obviously very bright, but the Steiner approach denied them the means to fulfil their potential by deliberately holding them back for spiritual reasons. One can look at them now and think “what if”.

          The Waldorf students who do well would have done well anywhere; they most likely have creative and monied families too which always helps. It’s the one’s who were attracted to the schools with no clue as to the real intentions of the “education” who are the losers; someone once said these unaware Waldorf families are “feeders” for the real anthroposophical families – they pay the fees but are kept in the dark; they’re made to feel just involved enough, without knowing all; (and by unaware, I mean the ones who didn’t know the whole thing is about anthroposophy, who thought they were giving their children a “natural” but comprehensive education)

          After all, there’s no judgement involved when looking at the lifestyles people choose; but at least children should be given the choice; and in this society, that means the choice of a learning experience which opens up all paths, not just a narrow, inward looking spiritual doctrine of a man who died almost 100 years ago.

  1. Helen

    “Head, heart, hands” is a phrase found in a blog about the Transition towns network, and often in Steiner circles where it refers to spirituality.

    • P.

      That phrase is often ascribed to Pestalozzi, Steiner shares Nicolas Tetens classification of psychological capacities: thinking, feeling, will. See Owen Barfield’s English translation of Von Seelenrätsel. The blog author seems to confuse Steiner with those persons who claim to have something to do with Steiner. If the blog author wishes to understand Steiner, he must study Steiner’s main book Die Philosophie der Freiheit 1894/1918. There are various sloppy translations available online – Rudolf Steiner Archive, Books GA 004. But since he neglects this distinction, perhaps the blog author is not really interested in Steiner, but wants to keep an eye on the fans and exploiters. I mean, it must be clear that if Steiner died in 1925, how do you expect him to ensure what happens in Stroud or snywhere in his name is what he thought? How terribly naive to believe just because of the name, insight is present, too.

      • Helen

        I am the blog author and my name is Helen and I am female. I do not confuse the followers of Steiner with the man himself, but the slavish way Steiner’s “indications” are followed and interpreted to this day means that his influence remains as strong, perhaps even stronger, than when he was alive. Sadly.
        One local follower even models himself on his guru, I have heard.

      • SR

        In reply to P- anyone who has read any Steiner, knows that Philosophy of Freedom was written well before Steiner became an occultist; it contains barely any esoteric material at all and is predominantly a philosophical work. It has no mention of higher worlds, cosmic origins, initiation, clairvoyance, archangels, race spirits, etheric bodies, Ahriman, Lucifer, Atlantis, the astral plane, folk souls, occult truths, karma…. It is pure fallacy to suggest the modern active movement culls anthroposophical beliefs from Philosophy of Freedom because it simply isn’t about anthroposophy. So you’re either disingenuous or don’t know. Or perhaps taking the anthropop line that the book really IS anthroposophical but the world wasn’t ready for its hidden spiritual layers which are coded; an anthroposophist who finds it impossible to see their initiated master as a fallible human being, who’s ideas weren’t timeless revelations and truths, but someone who changed ideas and just jumped on a new esoteric occult bandwagon.

        • alan

          It is pure fallacy to suggest the modern active movement culls anthroposophical beliefs from Philosophy of Freedom because it simply isn’t about anthroposophy. So you’re either disingenuous or don’t know.

          Sorry SR but you are seriously offering that last statement there as a conclusion from your premise, the premise being that someone has suggested that “the modern active movement culls anthroposophical beliefs from Philosophy of Freedom“? Who was that then? Where did they do it?

          It sounds to me as though you are the one who is being disingenuous and also fanatical – banging your pro-Steiner point out in response to something that you not only imagine someone has said, but that you very strongly insist is very bad of them to have said… The shame being that nobody here has actually said it. Is that kind of fanatical non-logic what Goethe was all about then? Do you have to be really wise to understand that? And you consider yourself to be a cut above other anthroposophists too, from the way you use the word “anthropopop”.

          The way cults work isn’t anything to do with teaching proper thought and a respect for proper logic and clarity.

          One belief that they all share and inculcate in their memberships is that those of us outside the cult are all fools, unenlightened, mixed-up, spiritually lower beings, “clams” as the Scientologist loonies would say.

          • Helen

            Sorry Alan I do not have much time today to reply to your interesting comments – but I know SR was replying to P. in the comment just above who said “If the blog author wishes to understand Steiner, he must study Steiner’s main book Die Philosophie der Freiheit 1894/1918” so she did not imagine it.

          • =

            Hi Alan, there is a misunderstanding; I am as anti Steiner as one could get! (and couldn’t agree more that the “anthropops” think they have superior knowledge.)
            I was replying to P, who wrote that in order to understand Steiner, one only has to read Philosophy of Freedom – that this book is the seminal book for understanding the man, his beliefs, his oeuvre . This is often said by anthroposophists, but this book, as I said, is more of a philosophical work and not really about the anthroposophical beliefs and “truths” Steiner later postulated, like karma, reincarnation, higher worlds, race spirits, and all the other , in my view, nonsense ideas (I listed a few in the previous post) He seemingly invented these as he went along. P o F was written much earlier before his anthroposophical belief structure was formed; but anthroposophists like to believe Steiner was an all knowing prophet, who could clairvoyantly see the whole past and future (by clairvoyantly “reading” the “akashic record” on the “astral plane”), so they sometimes retrospectively assign anthroposophical meaning to P o F – often implying it is “coded” or “secretly layered” in an esoteric way that the uninitiated aren’t ready for.
            This blog obviously is about Steiner education and those involved with the schools and camphill communities, which are by their own admission, completely based on and revolve around anthroposophical belief. One of the often repeated phrases in these communities when an issue of any sort arises, from curriculum, to bullying, to colours on the walls. to learning difficulties, to growing vegetables, to illness etc etc is “what would Steiner have indicated?”. My point is that these indications arise from anthroposophy which was a later invention – Philosophy of Freedom doesn’t really form any foundation for Steiner education which is founded on anthroposophy, because it doesn’t really contain anthroposophical beliefs.
            As an aside, I could easily believe that in order to draw people to Steiner, interest people in their movement, anthroposophists might disingenuously suggest Philosophy of Freedom as a good starting point to his work as it is mild in it’s lunatic ideas….we all know the movement is good at covering up their real beliefs.

            • alan

              My sincere apologies, SR, I seem to have misunderstood your post – and also accidentally helped detract from Helen’s excellent point that “head, heart, hands” is found in material by the Transition Towns Network, which is no accident…

  2. Helen

    Another to add to the list – One End Street, a Steiner kindergarten.
    Every time I look a new one has popped up.

  3. Helen Royall

    I am surprised to find that Transition Stroud is linked to Steiner. As I understand it the Transition movement has its routes in Permaculture, a very down to earth common-sense way of gardening and living. What we do in TS is about sustainability and supporting the community to work together towards a low carbon, enjoyable future, not dependant on cheap oil. The fact that people who live locally are involved will mean that there is a certain amount of cross over of interest but that can hardly be interpreted as ‘heavily influenced’.

    • Helen

      Hi Helen, thanks for the comment.
      I must admit I have been thinking about this, and you are right, (someone else has pointed it out to me too) that the problem here in Stroud is that there is a “crossover”. In our area, it is almost inevitable that any group like Transition is going to be popular with Steiner followers.
      I have looked into it quite a bit, as Transition is something I was initially quite interested in, having come across it in Totnes first of all. The ideas behind it seem attractive, but the immediate turn-off for me was the “Inner Transition” side of it which can only be described as spiritual, I am sure you will agree. There is a “Heart and Soul Group” too.
      Look at the trainers on the Transition Towns website and notice there is a story-teller, a herbalist, a psychotherapist, a member of a spiritual community in Scotland, someone who teaches integrative arts psychotherapy, someone from Schumacher college….the list goes on. I think one trainer has a degree in a science subject – Chemistry and another a BSc in Horticulture.
      There is too much woo for me, anyway.
      Here is an interesting post about anthroposophy and Environmentalism if you care to have a look

      https://skepteco.wordpress.com/category/anthroposophy/

      and there is also an examination of the extremely complicated possible financial connections between Transition and Steiner

      http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/mystic-shadows-of-colour-2nd-part/

      The Transition movement has also been criticised for excluding those who don’t go along with the political or social attitudes of powerful members of the group- so if you don’t happen to think biodynamics is a sensible idea, for example, they may not be particularly welcoming and this I would say is heavily influencing the group.

  4. Lisbeth

    You have missed out the houses in the community run by house parents in Bisley Road there are 3.and I know they are all over Stroud & nailsworth I find Steiner people unfriendly, inclusive and cliqey. My understanding as well from reading is that the philosophy is homophobic. / anti gay. Then there is the ghastly lack of creative design and any aesthetics with all their wibbly wobbly lines, use of certain colours in veil paintings and wood everywhere. Now is this what we should be teaching our children.

    • Anon

      Steiner is not homophobic and there is a great deal of creative design. Yes this is what we should be teaching our children. You may find Steiner people unfriendly, but that does not give you reason to make assumptions about them.

      • Elizabeth

        It is homophobic. I have Gay freinds who have tried to join groups such as the singing groups and found them most unfriendly and unwelcoming

    • Geoff

      I have two children at Wynstones and have never noticed or heard anyone associated with the school being homophobic in any way over the last 11 years.

      Submitted on 2013/09/14 at 3:11 am
      Further, I would ask how much time you have spent experiencing the environments that you are against?
      How much time you have spent any time in a Steiner kindergarten to experience the children and how they relate to and take care of each other? (Or, indeed any of the ‘mainstream’ schools since you left school yourself?)
      How much time have you spent in a Camphill community and witnessed the amazing work they do?
      How much time have you spent chatting with the kids in a Steiner school and experienced their confidence in communicating themselves with adults without any sense of deference or arrogance? Have you witnessed their relational and emotional intelligence? How much time have you spent in the classrooms looking at their work and seeing how it develops over the years under the guidance of a curriculum and teachers that honour childhood?

      I invite everyone who reads this site to check out for yourselves to see what your EXPERIENCE is. It’s called ‘humanist’ because it puts the human being at it’s heart and works to nuture that.
      And don’t take the ramblings of someone who grew up in the 19th century too much too heart. No matter what you think of Steiner’s ‘wisdom’, remember that he was part of a continent that was imperialist, homophobic, racist and sexist by today’s standards. My grandfather was racist by today’s standards.
      To me, it’s the results and the experience that matters. With open eyes, if not an open mind and heart, go into those places that you have mentioned and see for yourself.

      Submitted on 2013/09/14 at 3:11 am
      It’s amazing to see how a set of ideas can thrive in fertile ‘soil’!! ;-D

      Submitted on 2013/09/14 at 3:57 am | In reply to Helen.
      ‘Head’ refers to thinking
      ‘Heart’ refers to feeling, and
      ‘Hands’ refers to doing.
      I think that the inference is that if we pay attention to developing these three areas then we will develop ourselves (and our children) more fully.

      Submitted on 2013/09/14 at 4:07 am
      Are you suggesting that The Acorn School is no longer considered to be part of Steiner?

      • Helen

        Hi Geoff
        You sent in 10 comments last night. I have amalgamated all those to this post in to one comment, as it seems to be spam if I post them all separately.
        Not much time now, but to your last point, I don’t think Acorn is an official Steiner School, although it certainly closely resembles one.

  5. Chris

    The Field Centre is part of Ruskin Mill – I have the dubious privilege of being able to see it from my study when the leaves are off the trees. It seems to shout “we are here!!” Tonalis is one to add to your list.

    • Helen

      Yes, Chris, that building is not exactly subtle. What a contrast between the way the buildings shout to us and the reticence of the Steiner groups to trumpet anthroposophy.
      Funnily enough it was the architecture – windows, signs etc that initially drew my attention to the scale of the Steiner presence in our area.

  6. Helena Petre

    Thanks for your blog, it makes interesting reading and I shall certainly refer others to it. I have heard that Innishfree closed down some months ago. I work at another (non-Steiner) rehab in the Stroud area.

  7. Helen

    Thanks for the information, Helena, and for the comment.
    As Chris has pointed out, much good work is done in the area, but it is even better done without anthroposophy.

  8. BJ

    I worked for over a year at a local Steiner College. Coming from a statutory and voluntary sector background in social care I was stunned by many aspects of how that Steiner institution operated. Staff and students were repeatedly put at risk of harm because of poor information dissemination and a seemingly total lack of awareness of the importance of that information and how it should be treated (ie. student’s medical conditions, behavioural triggers). Racism and homophobia, I’m afraid, were apparent and – worse – remained unchallenged, or considered unimportant. Diversity Awareness training consisted of a bunch of staff talking about what part of the world they were from and sticking pins in a map. The seniority of positions that staff held appeared to have more to do with their display of unquestioning loyalty and how ‘in’ they were with management, than the qualifications, experience or appropriate attitude they had for the role. If you weren’t ‘in’ and if, like me, you asked too many questions, you were made to feel very ostracised indeed. In just the short time I was there, there were a LOT of serious incidents (this is coming from someone who used to run a supported housing unit for homeless young people with high support needs). Somehow, I suspect, reporting of these was quite low. When I raised concerns about a bullying member of staff, I was informed with what I felt was misplaced pride, that this was the first time anyone had had to refer to the safeguarding and complaints policies, so no-one quite knew what to do hence the delay in dealing with it! (Unthinkable in any mainstream care or education setting!). A handful of staff members that I can think of, in positions of responsibility – particularly in regard to pro-social modelling – simply had no grasp of appropriate professional boundaries whatsoever. I left in the end, because I realised that simply nothing would change, however many flags I raised. Really and truly the people who run that institution are blinkered, complacent and terrifyingly self-righteous. On appearances it’s an idyll. I certainly thought so. Scratch beneath the surface though, and you’ll find things to make your hair curl. I am quite sure that there are plenty of people there who believe in the benefits of what they’re doing and genuinely try to effect positive change in the lives of vulnerable young people. I would not want to belittle their efforts. Thank god for them. Overall, however, it strikes me that the organisation they work for needs to take a good long hard look at itself.

  9. Helen

    Thanks BJ.
    You have highlighted several of the ways problems arise within Steiner organisations, and they are common. As you say, there seems to be a will to help people, and there can be positive outcomes. Underlying it all though is the fact that the changes effected by anthroposophy are often not what most people would be aiming for, but ‘spiritual development’ – both of the staff and the young people or inmates.
    This makes for a very confusing environment for anyone who is not working towards the same aims – I’ve been there too!
    The problems with management are extremely common, with no one seeming to be responsible for carrying out even simple duties essential for the running of the place.
    Gregoire Perra describes the difficulties in Steiner schools of staff even managing to get exam entries on time. These kinds of activities must seem mundane when your real aim is to acquire spiritual maturation.
    At the same time, as you say, a blinkered self -satisfied belief that they are among the elite because of their allegiance to Steiner or knowledge of anthroposophy creates a weird kind of disorientating fug.
    Mr Perra, and some of those who gave evidence at his trial also testify to the lack of professional boundaries and the common thread of unethical relationships within organisations.
    I sometimes think the best way I could spend my time in this pursuit would be to translate the whole of his writings.

  10. Victoria

    I am in Forest Row…
    We moved here a year ago and it seemed a heaven at first – lots of posters about things like thoughtful parenting, outdoor play, natural toys. It seemed like a perfect little oasis.
    How wrong we were. A year on, I am still very socially ostracised due to my clear lack of interest in embedding myself in this culture. You can blame my husband for his wisdom – he researched Steiner quite thoroughly when we first moved here and found out things that very quickly changed our feelings about this place. We will move soon (we are only renting), but will not be moving far as this area is good for contact with both sets of my son’s grandparents. I feel sad and torn about this as I really do not know how far away I would have to move to really escape this world. We class ourselves as “gentle” parents and, as you may know, Steiner toys and schools tend to be promoted in this world too, as on the surface it offers a longer and more innocent childhood and an alternative to the state system. It pains me to know friends entering their children into this system. But there is only so much I can say…
    I am glad to find this site. But also sad that it needs to exist. We’re expecting a Free School here too, despite having I think the largest Steiner school in the country and countless associated organisations.
    What am I doing here?

    • Helen

      Thank you for the comment, Victoria, I heard of Forest Row quite soon after starting to look in to Steiner, and Geoffrey Ahern mentions it in “Sun at Midnight”. Many people, like you, are drawn to the world you describe – and your husband must have done his research thoroughly to uncover the less attractive aspects – luckily for your family.
      I met someone like you who had moved into a Steiner enclave before finding out it was not what it seemed, and was “stuck” there, surrounded by people she no longer felt in tune with. It sounds as though you will be able to make the move more easily.
      Another commenter here also mentioned her difficulty in watching friends become involved in Steiner, and I am not sure how you tackle that.

  11. Jim

    Hi Victoria
    I assume that’s the Forest Row East Sussex, where the Michael Hall school is based. It sounds like you have a similar situation to here in Stroud where the Steiner influence has got out of hand. What some years ago appeared to be just an intellectually muddled but essentially harmless movement has shown itself to be something much more aggressive. And because it is so well funded ( did you know Triodos Bank is a Steiner organisation? ) it is able to buy up houses, land and commercial enterprises and turn them into further Steiner outposts, sometimes without regard to planning regulations.

    There are parts of Stroud where the sort of ostracism you describe are quite familiar.

    • Dan Griffiths

      Helen, your website just popped up whilst researching social funding and the Triodos Bank. What’s interesting is I was educated in a Steiner school and can’t seem to equate what you are saying with my own experience. I admit that some of the philosophies are somewhat strange, and trust me when I say I am most definitely NOT a believer, but I am extremely grateful for the education I received. During my time at school I was always encouraged to be a self-reliant, confident, independent, imaginative thinker and to be always considerate of others. By the way, I regularly come into contact with Triodos Bank in my day job and thought it was formed out of the Triodos Foundation set up in the Netherlands by an economist, a professor of tax law, a management consultant and a banker, which was set up to examine the banking system and better long-term management of money. I’ve never heard of Steiner coming into the conversation, despite having discussed my schooling with their Chief Executive at a function recently.

      I now work in the third sector but what I find most concerning about what is being said here are the descriptions of bad practices that have put vulnerable people at risk. Some of the comments I have read here cite some very serious breaches of care in a variety of environments which, from the posts, do not seem to have been dealt with adequately if at all. If your followers come across any dubious practices that could impact upon the quality of care or the safety of those in receipt of that care, then surely any instances must be reported IMMEDIATELY to the appropriate authorities. In particular I am very concerned with the comments made by BJ above as there is no mention of what action was taken. As a professional on-site I would have assumed that the necessary action was taken the moment he became concerned, but from his comments it would appear that no action was taken. In light of some horrendous examples highlighted by the media in recent years the authorities react very robustly to any potential breaches in care standards.

      Whilst I can understand some of the concerns and views being expressed here, there are an number of things being said that worry me, particularly as this may impact upon others who may not be aware of what is being said or who are not in a position to counter the views and opinions being expressed. I have never come across another fellow pupil who felt in any way negatively influenced, manipulated or otherwise by being educated in a “Steiner” environment among the hundreds I have met and know. This can also be said of the organisations I have come across in the third sector that do have some link with Steiner. However, it is clear that from the comments here some people appear to have had some negative experiences which themselves should be investigated further.

      I understand that there are concerns regarding the philosophies and their influence, but I would suggest that this is akin to any other alternative movement that differs from the mainstream (alternative medicines and therapies are a notorious for this). In fact, you even discuss Transition and its alternative philosophies.

      In terms of your cited reason for this blog, every school in the UK is able to apply for funding, whether you agree with their philosophy or not. Many people are against grammar schools, free schools, faith schools, academies and other types of schooling, but this should not exclude them from applying for funding if they can meet the necessary funding criteria.

      Also, be prepared to question and challenge. From what I am reading I think a lot of what is being said may be somewhat born out of a fear of the unknown. Yes, the ideas can be odd, and there may be a prevalence of them in your particular area, but I don’t think there is anything sinister about this. As is often the case, people are drawn to their peers, and Stroud seems to have become an anthropological hub and centre of activity for them. This is a societal norm and can be seen in many economic models where certain groups are drawn together such as can be seen with universities, major manufacturing hubs (e.g. Cornwall for artists, Birmingham for jewelers, etc.)

      • Helen

        Dan – thanks for the comment. You obviously feel the need to defend the Steiner system, but I question how much you understand about the objections
        We sometimes receive comments from people such as yourself who spent time at a Steiner school and can see no problem with it. You have made the usual remark that you have turned out to be an imaginative thinker, confident etc; that is what Steiner schools tell people they do, so its not surprising if you believe it when you have been fortunate enough to come through without being a victim of bullying or some of the bizarre methods of teachers who believe their main “task” is to help children achieve a successful incarnation in their spiritual development. Oh – didn’t they make this clear to you while you were there? No, it is not something they mention in so many words
        I don’t know how long you were at the Steiner school but considering your varied experiences, do you also credit the other schools and your family life with some influence on your apparently blameless character? Just the Steiner school?
        I am glad you recognise the seriousness of the problems people have highlighted – not just here of course, but on forums such as Mumsnet and websites all around the world. You are concerned that they have not been properly investigated and dealt with – so are we! One recurring feature is the failure of Steiner schools to acknowledge problems, deal with the perpetrators of abuse, and also their habit of blaming victims and ostracising those who speak out.
        Read the St christopher’s ofsted report section on whistle blowers, the Waldorf Review for examples of how perpetrators have simply been moved to another school, countless examples including the latest one in the US, of blaming parents for the ordeals their child has gone through at school, and Steinenermentary for a shocking explanation of what it’s like to fight a Steiner school for justice.
        In the case of the parents who write “A Steiner experience”, it seems that a private school can carry on regardless – the DfE have no authority.
        Yes, “birds of a feather” and all that, I know only too well that “people are drawn to their peers” as you put it. The art and eurythmy therapists are having a field day in Stroud; Ruskin Mill and cotswold chine diagnose a problem with a vulnerable young person’s incarnation, and the so-called therapists are set for nice regular income – all at tax-payers expense. Why wouldn’t they keep coming to Stroud? The local population has no idea there is a belief system at work, that’s the problem. This blog started off as a defense mechanism against the threat of a free school no-one knew would operate according to the tenet of belief in reincarnation (as detailed by Rudolf Steiner after his consultation as a seer with the spirit world). It is continuing as a source of information for anyone who wants or needs to know why the Steiner movement operates as it does in mysterious ways.
        “Odd” and “strange” are the words you use to describe Steiner beliefs and practices. Is it any wonder people become suspicious and then angry? After all we are talking about schools and care homes here, not Modern Art and Jewellery design. I would go further and say that when examined in detail Steiner beliefs are nasty and harmful especially when you realise they are predominantly used in the context of the care and education of vulnerable children and adults. These are the people they “work” with and it is these families who suffer. Not to mention the employees who make the mistake of taking a Steiner job only to find professionalism goes out of the window in a world of make believe and ritual.
        You sound like someone who will, with more consideration, be able to look at this matter rationally and fairly, and I hope you will continue to find out how damaging an occult belief system can be to those who are drawn in without being able to make an informed choice and get burned as a result.

        • Dan

          Hi Helen,
          Thank you for your response. It’s interesting although still somewhat subjective. I have taken a bit of time to look at some of your references and now have a better understanding of your viewpoint and thinking on Anthroposophy. Although not evidenced, it is clear that some people’s experience has been negative. In particular, the comments on Mumsnet, which although from 2008, do remind me of some of those I met whilst at school who the kids thought were ‘living in the clouds’, so to speak. These were often those trapped in the hippy culture who seemed unable to meet the realities of the world. They were often derided by pupils but were mainly seen as harmless if somewhat disillusioned. My teachers were far more pragmatic and, in some cases, very disciplined but generally very fair. The class I was in had issues with two teachers over the 6 years I was there, both of whom as a class we petitioned against and both of whom were eventually dismissed (I was on the school council representing the students and was actually listened to!). Overall I found the teachers to be very dedicated and considerate, coming from mixed and varied ethnic backgrounds (By the way, whilst they taught some very admirable qualities, I myself am as flawed as the next person, but I do believe the education overall did serve me very well.).

          I do admit my varied background and experiences have most definitely shaped who I’ve become, but I have a twin brother who went to one of the foremost private schools in the Country and I can quite definitely say I am far more broad minded and tolerant than he is. As a result I believe strongly that my outlook and view of the world very heavily influenced by my Steiner education, with the added advantage of growing up in and visiting some very interesting places.

          Moving on to the matter of breaches in care, although now in the past, I feel that if abuses have occurred then they should be reported to the appropriate authorities upon discovery. I would include discovery to relate to anything posted here. For my part I have passed on my concerns to the appropriate bodies. However, working in the sector I am mindful that the authorities can only do so much without good objective evidence. Much of what I read here is very subjective and may therefore be difficult to assess, but all such claims should nonetheless never be ignored.

          I will occasionally keep abreast of your blog but rarely get the time to respond as I have done here. Just taking advantage of the lull following the festive break! No doubt next week I’ll be swamped again!

          Regards
          Dan

          • Helen

            Hi Dan
            An easy way to keep abreast is to follow the blog…

            Which particular instances do you think have not been reported? As far as I know people have always informed the authorities when things are not right. It is hard when you are threatened, or if your own child is suffering from bullying, if your job is at stake, and when you are made to feel you are the only one who has noticed anything wrong.
            As I tried to explain, there do not seem to be appropriate sanctions to be taken by the authorities. I have informed cqc about what I have been told, Autism UK who do accreditation for schools, also my MP, other MPs, the local press and even celebrities who have endorsed Steiner in some way. Sometimes I get a response indicating my concerns will be followed up or taken into account, and it is possible that some of this has had an effect and made certain people in authority more cautious and curious when dealing with Steiner . I don’t know.

            The fact that children in your school campaigned to have two teachers removed is shocking. I have never heard of this in a mainstream school. Things do not normally get that bad. I wonder where they went…?

            On the question of Jewish Steiner supporters you raised with Jim – have you read the Non denominational post where I mention how Eugene Schwartz described the “agony” of those Jews who do not want to celebrate “christian” Steiner festivals? What do you make of it?

  12. Helen

    Jim – there is always money sloshing around in the Steiner organisations isn’t there? A never-ending supply.
    The anthroposophists themselves I do not think are motivated for personal financial reasons at all, but the movement as a whole certainly seems to have access to vast funds.

  13. Victoria

    Yes, Jim.
    My husband found out about Triodos bank.
    He didn’t like that at all…
    He’s a pretty smart man and with a good instinct. I’m glad!
    Helen, I didn’t realise my while name came up here! Can you change it to just my first?!
    Thanks x

  14. Victoria

    And thanks, Helen and Jim, for replies. It’s been hard and I have really felt betrayed – all is very much not as it seemed. We knew so little when we moved here. But I’d rather have had a hard year than still be innocent to this… X

  15. Nick Nakorn

    Helen, it’s worrying how many Anthroposophical institutions there are just in the Stroud area; can you remember how far the furthest was from Stroud? The UK list is even more worrying – it all getting so huge.

  16. Helen

    Yes it is big business. The way local government funds a lot of the SEN and social care provision means that Steiner colleges and special schools benefit, and anthroposophists from outside the area come to work in these institutions. They have families who look for ways to occupy themselves and all the associated businesses appear. That’s my take on it anyway.
    The courses run by colleges such as Hawkwood are on activities to suit Steiner followers, and practises such as biodynamics start to take hold when you have “experts” going around promoting them.
    All the businesses on the list are within 6 miles and most are in Stroud or Nailsworth. In addition there are numerous “house parent” facilities and I am sure one or two more organisations I have missed.
    Gregoire Perra blogged at the weekend about how the various Steiner groups like to hide their connections to each other and to anthroposophy and the school of Spiritual Science – and they are very effective at it; most people do not realise the connection.
    http://veritesteiner.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/la-strategie-du-figuier-etrangleur-reflexion-sur-le-projet-anthroposophique/
    He describes anthroposophy as a parasite, like a strangling fig tree squeezing out life, by creating complete anthroposophical villages. As pointed out on the Save Tipputs comments, they swallow up local resources but don’t contribute in return.

  17. Myself

    I have to say, even reading some of the more rational-minded comments left here, this entire website is absurd. I, personally, attempt to view the situation from all angles and while I can appreciate sense of privacy, perhaps even exclusivity surrounding Steiner culture and why this might irritate some people, the vast majority of you just seem to want a group of people to blame for your own insecurities about how to educate your children. Is this bias really about your children though, I wonder? Or is it that because the Steiner folk are so unashamedly alternative…they threaten you? They are alien and outsider, and you simply don’t like them being around? Come on, be rational and informed here folks.
    I believe, at it’s roots, the Steiner movement is an admirable and inspired endeavour. At its heart is a message of progression, individuality, freedom, creativity and wholeness. I think the Steiner movement is flourishing in Stroud, and has been for many years, and I hope the true essence of the movement will continue to for many years to come. After all the alternative to this movement would be what is traditional and mainstream…and I personally don’t believe that’s healthy or nourishing for anybody! In any case, why do you have to rely so heavily on one movement or another? Why does it have to be Left, Centre or Right? Find your own way for goodness sake! It’s your world too! You don’t have to be Steiner, but if some of us admire aspects of the movement and wish to share that goodness with others, that’s our right! It’s not as if we’re doing anything to harm you!!

    • Nick Nakorn

      Myself – you have chosen an extraordinarily self-centered name for yourself; is that what you mean by ‘individuality’? You seem also to think that ‘exclusivity’ is a good thing. It doesn’t ‘irritate’ me but it is utterly wrong. Ethical people are doing their utmost to be inclusive. ‘Insecurities’ around how we educate our children? I think all parents are concerned about education and such concern will be a mixture of secure and insecure thought and opinion; people lacking insecure thought and opinion are often sociopaths. As for being threatened by the ‘alien and outsider’ it is a sordid reversal of my position and, I suspect of many other Streiner critics. The Anthroposophical view is not at all alien, it is sadly merely the orthodoxy of the late 19th and 20th centuries being revived; the ascendence of mysticism over science and medicine, a racist hierarchy, a ‘blood and soil’ mentality and the strict control of those within the system. Left, right and centre. Well, we know historically that Anthroposophists have favoured the far right position when given a choice and that the far right have rather liked them too. You claim not to be doing any harm and yet there is a vast resource of articles, books and blogs that do not agree with you. You say we should ‘find our own way’, well – it is not we who are enamoured by Anthroposophical nonsense and I suspect that part of the Steiner appeal is that there is a distinct social tribe centered around Steiner’s very distinct and identifiable style. You are doing harm to me by supporting the funding of a racist organisation every time you buy into an Anthroposophical brand or publicise it; you normalise those values and provide a fertile soil for fascism as surely as if if you were supporting the BNP, UKIP, the EDL or the ED – in fact, perhaps more so, Anthroposophy is bigger, has more supporters, more money, a history of supporting fascism and torture and a written racist hierarchy; even those organisations I have listed don’t have one of those.

      • Dan Griffiths

        Dear Nick,
        I posted a response to one of Helen’s posts so may be repeating myself here, but I just wanted to respond to your post as I think it misrepresents those to whom you refer. Just to be absolutely clear, I was educated in a Steiner school for my latter schooling years but I’m NOT in anyway a believer/practitioner in anthroposophy. However, having lived through 2 private schools, 1 comprehensive and several primary schools, I cannot for one minute accept that they are either racist or homophobic. As for “we all know historically that Anthroposophists have favoured the far right position..” then you are clearly misinformed as Steiner himself and many of his associates had to flee the Nazis during WW2. If you really had any knowledge of Steinerism at all then you would be aware of it’s approach of acceptance and inclusiveness. The philosophy itself centres on the wellness of being, one’s sense of self and place, and having a positive impact upon the world. As I said, I am no athroposophist but, working in the third sector, I most certainly subscribe to those particular views.

        In terms of education I was taught to be confident, self-reliant, imaginative, hard working, considerate and tolerant of everyone. After many years working in the business sector and later the third sector I have seen the best and worst of people. Having also lived in the Third World I have seen my fair share of intolerance and racism, so am keenly aware of the it and its practice. I suggest you take the time to understand your subject so you might at least be in a position to furnish yourself with an informed viewpoint.

        I won’t labour the point but suffice it to say your views are as far opposed from my actual experience as one can hope to get.

        • Jim

          Dan – I don’t think it is wise to call Nick ill informed if you then go on to claim Steiner had to flee the Nazis in WW2. He died in 1925.

          Maybe it’s your way of proving you weren’t taught about him in your Steiner school?

          • Dan

            Jim, just so you’re informed – Hitler accused Steiner of being an agent of the Jews and he was attacked by Nazi sympathisers in 1923 and had to move from Berlin as a result. This was during the dictator’s inexorable rise to power. I do admit it was not Steiner himself but some of his colleagues that had to flee during WW2, a few of whom I met many years ago at a ceremony to remember the Holocaust. In the context of my initial response to the comments made regarding Steiner being a racist, it’s interesting to note that of the group of Steiner devotees I met, one was a devout gay Jew and another a devout Hindu from India. Hardly a nest bed of racism and more likely to be persecuted by their own faiths for their links to Steiner than by anyone else.

            As I said previously, I am not a believer but have yet to see any direct evidence of the claims being made here. My response to this blog is partly based on my having been through the Waldorf education system and my experiences not bearing any resemblance to what is being said here.

            However, I don’t want to dwell on this as it was really an aside from my main reason for responding to another thread by Helen where I feel that particular instances of wrongdoing have been stated and, if true, then evidence of this should have been reported to the appropriate authorities for further investigation, which does not appear to be the case. I also work in the third sector and so have a professional interest in any allegations of abuse and bullying that have been made and am concerned at the apparent lack of action by those making them. I am also concerned that serious breaches of care may be going unnoticed by the authorities and that when instances are discovered they are not being dealt with appropriately, even by those who appear to be professionals.

            I hope this adds something to your debate.

            • Jim

              Dan – the topic of anthroposophy and the nazis has been well covered here and elsewhere so I’ll keep it brief. The story of the assassination attempt on Steiner seems to be a later exaggeration of what at the time was reported as no more than rowdiness, and not definitively attributable to nazis. And certainly anthroposophy got off lightly under the nazis due to Steiner supporters within the SS and nazi supporters within the anthroposophists. These latter went to great lengths to stress the compatibility of their beliefs with Hitler’s.

              I do not doubt that there were also anthros who bravely opposed the nazis and had to flee, as of course Jewish members would have had to do if able. Nor is anyone claiming that Steiner was a violent racist and anti Semite in the nazi mould. He seems to have had a view “in principle” of Jewishness as something degenerate which should have been extinguished whilst at the same time respecting and being friendly with individual Jews. Particularly if they shared his ideas.

  18. Jim

    In reply to “Myself” – Whilst I would commend your general line on toleration of differences I have to wonder whether you have actually considered some of the issues being raised here. You may well be correct that a fear of the alien is also part of the objection to the Steiner presence in Stroud but that does not alter the fact that there are genuine grounds for concern.

    Fear of the “alternative” is certainly not the problem – it is actually part of the appeal of Stroud. From the 1960s on I have tended to waiver between the alternative and the mainstream. I like the relaxed and tolerant style of the former but am alienated by its anti-intellectualism and its willingness to embrace any idiocy. The latter however can sometimes repel with its narrowness and obsession with material gain. I moved to Stroud 30 years ago because amongst other things it seemed to have these in reasonable balance.

    Unfortunately the growth of the Steiner cult is changing that. It actually conspires to bring together the worst of both worlds. It combines the absurd beliefs and pseudo science of the alternative with a narrow and controlling approach to education and the management of its affairs. And as for not doing any harm, perhaps you would like to put that to the ex pupils of Steiner schools trying to recover from the harm they say was done to them. Or to the residents of Box who have to contend with an aggressive and inconsiderate neighbour in the Chine school. Or to staff and pupils at those local schools that will be forced to close if funds are siphoned off to support an unnecessary and unwanted Steiner Free school in Stroud.

  19. folkdevil

    You could maybe add Star Anise cafe to the list. I love it! But it’s clearly very centred on biodynamic food. And the notice boards outside are most entertaining for those of a non-mystical bent :-)

  20. Helen

    If I add Star Anise to the list I could also add some of the other Stroud businesses run by Steiner people – there are a few I know about. It’s a nice café with good food but as you say, a mystical ambiance.
    I used to wonder about the biodynamic cakes and biscuits before I found out what it meant – the price indicated biodynamic must be something special, now I know just how “special”!

  21. Christopher

    Hi there, just had a quick glimpse on your website out of interest and though I am very interested in steiner’s work I can understand people being suspicious, but if you look at the aims of the organisations they are socially aware, environmentally conscious and trying to make a positive outcome in culture and society. I find it difficult why, in comparison to a lot of other things going on, you should fixate on these groups. Why worry about tridos, a bank actively engaged in socially responsible projects, when the actions of hsbc and barclays are far more more hostile and damaging. Why worry about the local governments engagement with steiner groups when national government is actively promoting big business over social rights. The list goes on. There are a lot of terrible things going on in this world and anthroposophy, though it may be cliquey or exclusive, is actively trying to remedy a lot of present day problems. Absolutely fine if you don’t agree with methods or beliefs but I think better to start your own positive social projects built on lines that you believe in than fight groups who mean no harm to you or your beliefs. Life is short and there are many aspects in our culture which actively pose a far graver threat to society and the environment than anything that anthroposophy could ever be accused of. On the plus side I would like to say that I look at quite a lot of sites that are against alternative health and new spirituality and many of them become quite vitriolic and nasty, it is nice to see people putting there views across in a good natured and sober manner.

    • Helen

      Christopher – you wonder why we should fixate on these goups? Really? Have you not read enough here or elsewhere to know that what we object to is the secrecy and the lying about what goes on in Steiner schools and care homes?
      The care homes (Camphill and others) remain largely uncriticised because a lack of curiosity form outside, but the schools are attracting more and more criticism from former parents, students, and teachers who are aghast when they finally realise what they have been part of. If Steiner organisations were open about their practices, there would not be so much criticism; they would have disappeared from the face of the earth many decades ago.
      Now they want to perform their rituals and spiritual experiments at our expense. Enough is enough.

      • Rain17

        It’s like the standard Anthroposophist answer when criticized: We determine your political and educational priorities, not you. We determine what is and what is not worth your time! Besides, THEY over there do it too and SO WHAT if our founder believed that Aryans will rule the earth until the 6th post-Atlantic epoch, stop picking on us innocent little eco-hippies who are saving the world with our wooden swords and magic food!

    • Jim

      Hi Christopher. There is a lot of material on this site and I would not expect you to have read anywhere near all of it. In reply can I first make the obvious point that the site is specifically addressing the issue of Steiner in Stroud and should not be taken to reflect the sole interest of those posting. Also it is the sheer concentration of Steiner related activity in the Stroud area which is of concern. Even without the issue of anthroposophy some of it would be considered bad neighbourly. Specifically the proposed Steiner free school that is both unnecessary and potentially damaging to existing schools.

      You’re right that religious or similar groups can provide a focus for socially beneficial work but they can equally well be damaging. The beneficial can be used as cover for the damaging, particularly when dealing with the vulnerable be they children or those with mental health problems. That is not to suggest that all those working within Steiner schools, Camphill communities etc are consciously exploiting their charges – indeed from the stories we hear it would seem that they themselves are sometimes the exploited ones.

      So on balance I think it fair to criticise Steiner institutions and inform those who might think of becoming involved in one way or another just what underlies the image.

  22. Belinda

    The Steiner movement is a totalitarian cult, with inner circles and a very rich? HQ in Switzerland. It has charitable status so does not pay tax and since the cult mainly concerns itself with “care giving”, it rakes in the money from government, councils, DWP and other organizations paid by the tax payer and thus the British tax payer is funding the Steiner cult, it is as simple as that. Also if you compare Steiner’s “philosophy” regarding mankind and Hitler’s “philosophy”, can it then be said Hitler was a anthroposophist? Food for thought!

    • alan

      Hitler wasn’t, but Himmler and Hess were. By the way, I saw on here someone talking about the Steinerites in Norway. They control the culture in that country. All elite families in Oslo are connected with the org.

      • alan

        Hi Helen and others,
        I think you do a great job and I admire your efforts at this site. But can I ask what kind of handle you’ve got on the sheer size of this? Through the Transition Towns network, this increasingly strong nutcase cult with friends in high places is pushing an apocalyptic meme. Through Triodos Bank they are getting ever more influential. And one of their fundamental tenets is the ultra-reactionary and elitist belief in reincarnation. Never forget what their fellow reincarnationists Aum Shinrikyo did on the Tokyo subway.
        In short, they must be stopped and this is getting increasingly urgent.

        • Jim

          Hi Alan. Whilst I certainly agree that Steinerism is a nutcase cult and worryingly pervasive I think it wise to keep the criticism focussed. So for example the Transition Town movement does not in itself seem particularly apocalyptic but it does seem to have been infiltrated in many areas by the anthros and used to promote their own agenda. Likewise there is nothing inherently reactionary and elitist in a belief in reincarnation, though when allied to the racial hierarchy proposed by Steiner it certainly becomes part of such a mindset. But to associate the anthros with Aum Shinrikyo is as ridiculous as to tar all vegetarians because of Hitler’s supposed vegetarianism. It just makes it easier for the anthros to dismiss criticism of their beliefs as extremist. So please, let’s keep it focussed.
          The Triodos Bank point is interesting because on the face of it they are commendably open. Their website gives details of those they support and whilst, as you would expect, many are Steiner related plenty are apparently not. Many seem to be organisations that even a Steiner critic would be happy to support. What I would like to know is whether ( and if so, how ) the bank uses its support to pressure clients in a more Steiner friendly direction, or to infiltrate them in the way the anthros do with organisations such as Transition Town.
          Does anyone have any knowledge in this area?

  23. Mikhail

    Anyone told you about Orchard Leigh Camphill Community in Eastington and how they managed to change over the last 10 years ?

  24. Jo Whittaker

    it sounds like you are very unhappy or have had a bad experience with someone to do with anthroposophy? My only worry is that your anger,fear and untruths will cause a huge divide in our wonderful community. As if we don’t have enough going on in our world with racism, anti semitism, homophoebia and now this. Too many generalisations are being made. Very few people whose children attend Steiner school know anything about anthroposohy. They go to receive an alternative education that steers clear of exams in ks3. My worry is for all of those children who are thriving and happy in their schools. Extremism breeds hate and all you are doing is encouraging people to hate something they know very little about. I am not an anthroposophist but as an observer, and as someone who has close connections with one of the businesses on your list, your untruths could effect their livelihood. One of these businesses on you list simply employ people who have been to a Steiner school in the past. Well if that’s the case then there are many more who should be on your oust such as moonflower, sunshine bakery, made in stroud , milks kitchen, wood ruffs. I could list more. So do you see, this oust us dangerous. Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hatred. If anthroposhy is a kind of religion then you are attacking people for Their beliefs. It’s wrong of you to lump everyone and anyone together who have had any experience or connection to Steiner in this argument you have. So many will be upset and hurt by it. While I understand your objections to a free school ( I wasn’t in favour either for different reasons) I feel that the word witch hunt could be used here. While any religion or indeed anthroposophy should never be a dogma, there are many good people out there who have Steiner connections. I fear everyone may look at them differently now. Also, why have you not given your second name. I get the feeling you would like all Steiner people, adults and children alike to leave or vanish. Well, that thought makes me uncomfortable. Our community is made up of all sorts. What with extremist views on Muslims, the threat of Isis, racism , BNP etc, what you are doing is no different you are generalising about a group of people in the community. Please let’s be peaceful. This is a democracy so your view needs to be heard but a blog that incites more ” agreement” could be a breeding ground for hate against anyone with any connection, however small to Steiner .
    Regards Jo Whittaker

    • Nick Nakorn

      Jo, the extreme views we are uncovering are the extreme views of Steiner and the followers and admirers of Anthroposophy. Why is Steiner’s racist hierarchy not a deal-breaker for you? Would you support an NF or BNP school, an EDL school or any other school based on a racist hierarchy?

      The values that Anthroposophy represents are every bit as bad as the BNP in fact, in some ways, worse because the Anthroposophists have a written and explicit racist creed; the BNP et al dare not have it written down because they would attract too much attention. What is sad is that you are criticising Helen’s criticism of racism and irrationality rather than helping to expose the racism and irrationality.

      Remember that, while most Steiner parents, children and teachers might not consider themselves to be racist, or Anthroposophists, the money received by the many Anthro businesses from Steiner/Waldorf schools, Biodynamics, Weleda, the Triodos Bank, various publishing houses, Camphill and so-on all goes to strengthening the people who control Anthroposophy who, inspite of decades of pressure from critics, refuse to say that Steiner’s racial hierarchy is wrong. Yes, they have claimed to be against racism, yes they have said that Steiner’s teaching might be thought to be racist by some people and, yes, they have said that modern Anthroposophist do not believe in racism. Yet they will not say that the racist hierarchy is racist and they will not say Steiner was wrong. Furthermore, they will not say how their belief in Anthroposophical reincarnation works without the racist hierarchy. So the £billions flowing into the Anthroposophical empire continues to expand the organisation and to keep the staunch Anthros (who believe in Steiner’s ‘truth’) in positions of wealth and power.

      It seems to me that one can not be neutral about an international business empire based on a modern racist religion with racist texts. If you are in favour of an educational system without Anthroposophy then why not support the critics?

  25. Shezza

    Hear hear Jo Whittaker. Have I come to the right place? I’m looking to buy a Felt Soup Bowl…
    I’m not an Anthropop either but jeez louise, fair suck a the sauce bottle! This is a bit over the top isn’t it? So anyone seen leaving a ‘Steiner-Anthro-Mystical-situation’ is going to get a scowl? Shame on you Helen! Bit more love and less hate if you please.
    Shezza

    • Nick Nakorn

      Shezza, are you not in the least upset by any aspects of Anthropsophy? Nothing Helen has said is hateful towards anything other than the principles that underpin the Steiner Empire and the ways in which Dornach attempt to hide their beliefs and reap the rewards. You are attempting to accuse a critic of hateful practices of being hateful herself. If you could tell us which aspects of Steiner’s creed to you reject and which you support then perhaps you could join with us and be critical of those spects that are an affront to every civilised person.

  26. FG

    Jo,

    That’s quite an aggressive comment, full of all sorts of assumptions about the author of the blog. Not sure why you’re reading it as divisive and full of hate. The whole point of this “Why?” page is to try to explain the motivations behind the site, but it doesn’t seem to have succeeded in this, in your case.

    There’s lots one could say in response, but I want to make just a couple of points. Firstly, though your comment and Shezza’s seem to emphasise the fluffy side of Stroud, “can’t we all just get along?”, in fact what you’re implying is people are only allowed to say what they think if you agree with them. Can’t it be ok for someone to create a site that’s critical of something the author sees as pernicious?

    Secondly, you say:

    Very few people whose children attend Steiner school know anything about anthroposohy.

    You’ve got the point of the site back to front. It’s not about attacking the parents who send their kids to Steiner schools. It’s about trying to make them aware of what anthroposophy really stands for. It’s attacking the secrecy and lack of honesty behind the Steiner institutions, especially the Waldorf schools, which means that people are using them without any idea what the education is based on. That’s the problem this site is trying to address.

    Hope that helps.

  27. FG

    Oh, and there are some quite good reasons why some of the users of the site don’t use their full, real names. Most of us have experience of quite nasty defensive comments from Steiner adherents. It’s quite hard to be openly critical of Steiner in Stroud, because there are so many people who are so very “into” it. And people think it’s harmless and fluffy, so you must be horrible to oppose it. These people are our friends and neighbours. But it’s taken as terribly offensive to criticise Steiner and his philosophy.

  28. SR

    Hi Jo Whitaker, have you actually read any of this blog? Have you read Steiner? Apparently not, because it would be hard to believe anyone condoning or ignoring the facts presented by Helen here. As far as I can see, the only the way the Steiner movement has managed to get away with using anthroposophical doctrine and infiltrating so many areas of life, is because they conceal their true motives to lure people to their crusade. It’s easy enough when there are people attracted to the “natural nurturing” appeal they project, failing to mention their supernatural occult beliefs; and when there are plenty of people ripe for seduction, who believe the facade and don’t read up about the foundations of anthroposophy.
    Steiner people often say things like “Steiner is very complicated…” – i.e., let me tell you what you need to know, no ned to bother reading this complicated stuff……

    This isn’t poisonous ranting, it has nothing hateful about it, it’s rational, intelligent research.

  29. =

    Yes FG- there are many instances of some in the Steiner movement using tactics to try destroy people’s reputations. It’s been written about world wide. If children, or as in the case of camphill, people with learning difficulties are involved, caution is sensible.

    There are plenty of critical discussions of Steiner education all over the world. Helen mention mumsnet; many off these were deleted because of threats
    http://grab.by/DG9g

  30. Helen

    Nick says;

    “Remember that, while most Steiner parents, children and teachers might not consider themselves to be racist, or Anthroposophists, the money received by the many Anthro businesses from Steiner/Waldorf schools, Biodynamics, Weleda, the Triodos Bank, various publishing houses, Camphill and so-on all goes to strengthening the people who control Anthroposophy who, inspite of decades of pressure from critics, refuse to say that Steiner’s racial hierarchy is wrong. Yes, they have claimed to be against racism, yes they have said that Steiner’s teaching might be thought to be racist by some people and, yes, they have said that modern Anthroposophist do not believe in racism. Yet they will not say that the racist hierarchy is racist and they will not say Steiner was wrong. Furthermore, they will not say how their belief in Anthroposophical reincarnation works without the racist hierarchy. So the £billions flowing into the Anthroposophical empire continues to expand the organisation and to keep the staunch Anthros (who believe in Steiner’s ‘truth’) in positions of wealth and power.”

    Nick, do you, or anyone else, have any idea how we can get this across to people?
    I don’t seem to be having much luck, and it is fundamental.

    • Nick Nakorn

      Helen, I don’t know how either, other than to keep pointing out that those who support, or do not criticise a racist organisation are, without perhaps meaning to be, holding a racist position and increasing racism; UKIP have relied on the point. We can see too that men who support or do not criticise misogynist organisations are themselves holding a sexist position. I’ve often pointed out to Anthroposophical apologists that if the spiritual hierarchy was founded on gender and sexual orientation, say, trans people at the bottom, gay women next up, other women next, then all bisexuals, gay men next and straight men at the top (I chose the order because, sadly, societal norms in some circles often reflect various orders of prejudices) there would be few women supporters and many more women holding firm critical positions. But while institutional sexism is seen as damaging and horrible as direct sexism, there are very few people who recognise how damaging is institutional racism, particularly when it supports the direct racism of its adherents.

  31. Peter Robinson

    Seems like the Steinerists are taking over Stroud like the scientologists took over East Grinstead and Clearwater, Florida. Creepy! Given some of the similarities between Steiner and L Ron Hubbard i.e. they made up a lot of pseudo scientific nonsense, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Loony Rotten Huckster took some ideas for his con from Steiner. Certainly undercurrents of racism and homophobia, and weird stuff about past lives.

    Have met a number of Steiner schooled people in my time and they all seem to be f***ed up.

    Keep up the good fight against this nonsense!

  32. jane

    I don’t have children and am older probably than all of you here on this thread. I am an ‘alternative’ person and have been thinking of moving to Stroud but discovering this thread is putting me off! I am looking for community but it sounds as if Stroud actually has longterm problems in this regard. There seem to be some very unhappy people here.

    • Jim

      Hi Jane. What does alternative mean? Part of the problem with the Steiners in Stroud is that they are not community minded in the sense of being part of the wider community but are very closed and inward looking. They only involve themselves in the wider community in order to co-opt it to their ends. Most people here are not like that, alternative or not. So the issue isn’t alternative or not but whether you subscribe to the particular set of mystic racist pseudoscience that is anthroposophy.

      Oh, and I wouldn’t be too sure about the age thing!

  33. Chris Harmer

    HI Jane. I am “older” as well, 69, but, hey, you’re only as old as you feel! I was born and brought up, went to school, in Stroud, and I love it. I suppose I am “alternative” as well, and enjoy the company of all age ranges in the strong Stroud green communities – being “old” is not recognised and one is valued equally.
    But .. at the same time I agree with Jim’s comments. Certainly the anthroposophists take part in many of the green things in Stroud, although not all of them will readily admit their steiner persuasions, but some of them do contribute in a very positive way and I count just a few as good friends with whom I can have a frank and open discussion. But … again … as Jim says, as a group they behave in a closed, secretive way and are primarily interested in forwarding their group and its internal aims, rather than the wider community who do not share their occult (as in hidden, concealed) set of ideas and beliefs which have already been well rehearsed on the site. Stroud is certainly a power house for the anthroposophical core leadership in this country, we know who they are, and I for one am both civil and unmercifully frank with them. The best response was “yes, I admit it, Steiner was a mason, but honestly Chris, I’m not a mason, really I’m not …”
    So, would I welcome it if their leadership left? Too right, and good riddance. Their coming has changed and polluted the Stroud that I love. But if you are “alternative”, I’m sure you will love Stroud!

    • Jim

      As a mere youth of 64 can I endorse Chris’s fondness for Stroud. It would be unfortunate if this site appeared to be anti-alternative, if that is taken to mean open minded, welcoming, a bit green, a bit lefty, arty and even, when the occasion demands, open to a bit of fun. Even some of the stuff we laugh at, like the dream catchers and sacred clowning, is silly but basically harmless. It is just the hard core Steiner element, which is anything but open minded, that we have a problem with and are trying to expose. Unfortunately the sometimes uncritical alternative stance finds this distinction hard to make.

  34. Nick Nakorn

    This callow youth of 58 is too young to have been a proper hippy but I did my best in the 1970s and had a very ‘alternative’ phase though many of those alternatives are thankfully now mainstream.

  35. Dan

    Hi Helen,
    It’s heartening to hear that things are being reported. I am beginning to sense that, as in most fields, there are both good and pad practices. My Steiner Religion Teacher at school was Jewish, and I’m pretty sure he would not subscribe to Eugene Schwartz’s beliefs which, after all, are just that, personal beliefs and interpretation. In fact, the teacher to whom I refer was keen to ensure we really questioned our beliefs and understood how and why they were formed, which, as a result, led to me becoming agnostic.

    I think we have to be careful and not cast too many shadows as I’m sure not all those who follow Anthroposophical philosophies are evil. How one interprets anything can be very subjective, and just because one reads it in a certain way does not make it so. The Bible and Koran are two good examples of this. My point being that from what I can gather, much of what Steiner said seems to be open to interpretation, and some people within the movement seem to have interpreted it to suit their own ideas and beliefs. Thus, if enough people come together under that interpretation then it can lead to the bad practices and practitioners to which many on this site refer.

    I do agree that some of what I have read on this subject needs to be highlighted but also feel that this needs to be done in an objective way that is both methodical and fair. Although I have had no contact with anyone associated with Steiner for many years now, during my lifetime I have met some very decent, honorable people who subscribe to Anthroposophy without them being radical, subversive, racist or elitist in any way. In fact the opposite has been true, with a far greater level of tolerance and humanity being demonstrated. However I do accept that although I have been fortunate in my experiences, others have not, and acknowledge that there will always be those ready to provide fuel for someone else’s fire.

    • Helen

      Sorry to say this Dan, but you have not entirely grasped the problem here. Either that or you are deliberately trying to whitewash the Steiner movement.
      We do not say that “all those who follow Anthroposophical philosophies are evil”.There are so many degrees of involvement in anthroposophy, as excellently described and illustrated by Gregoire Perra on his blog “Who are the anthroposophists?”. It is in French but at the top of the post there is a diagram which explains the idea.
      https://gregoireperra.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/qui-sont-les-anthroposophes-les-differents-cercles-du-milieu-anthroposophique/
      Yes interpretation of anthroposophy varies according to the individual, and in every school there will be teachers who are true believers and those who are comparatively new to it. But the schools are run by a “college of teachers” who make sure there is adherence to the creed. The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship has strict rules about accreditation, ensuring eurythmy is taught and child study takes place, where children are assessed according to their physical characteristics.Steiner teacher training ensures that the doctrine is followed and recommends which of Steiner’s books to read, including “Occult Science” Ongoing “teacher development” further ensures the use of anthroposophy in schools.
      Even the staff in camphill communities are trained in anthroposophy as comments here have shown, also you can read about the training programme here.
      You say you have met “people who subscribe to Anthroposophy without them being radical, subversive, racist or elitist in any way”. If they really subscribe to anthroposophy they believe Steiner’s version of evolution where humans have developed from the Atlanteans, through the races. So as we have said before here, the racism is not overt, but inherent in their beliefs. They welcome people of all “races” in their schools, but believe some need more “work” according to how well developed they are, spiritually. That is the fact of the matter, and if you read up on Steiner’s pronouncements (taken as gospel by the people you say “subscribe” to anthroposiophy) you will learn something. Try the RS archive for starters.

      • Dan

        Helen, I think I’m going to have to agree to disagree here. I would not try to defend or attack athroposophy as I do not know enough about it except from what I have read and my experience at school. I don’t know how they train their teachers at the Steiner Fellowship but if it was that rigid I’m sure I and others would have noticed it, even retrospectively. Yes, we grudgingly did eurythmy and questioned some of the other things we did, such as veil painting, but at no time did I, or have I, ever felt manipulated or influenced adversely in any way. At my brother’s school he was obliged to take up fencing against his wishes, just because of his physical stature, not because he had any talent for it – sound familiar?. Schools tend to do this, sometimes making you do things you don’t want to. Having also previously been at a catholic school and been forced to do many things that would be viewed as concerning and even shocking, I have no doubt that whatever happens in a Steiner school absolutely pales by comparison. Again, I must reiterate that I have no leanings towards Steiner or his philosophies, and the more I read just confirms my opinion that it is a very bizarre way of looking at the world. That said, I have always believed in live and let live. The only caveat to this is where there is a duty of care and any abuses of that. I see that duty no differently in a Steiner institution than in any other care environment.

        My main concern with what is being said is that the arguments are not reasoned and balanced. Good practices are not set against bad, references are often anecdotal, not evidential, the context of quote’s used is not always clear and there is little qualitative or quantitative data. Having been through the school I was never taught any of the philosophies you’re describing, which would seem to fly in the face of what you are saying. I’m not for one minute saying you are wrong, but it is because of this that I am urged to question what I’m reading as I have no other direct evidence to the contrary. As I have already said, there are many examples where texts have been used to fit a purpose. Surely if the teachers really believed this and, as you say, graded people by their physical appearance, then I’m surprised that the greatest achiever in my class wasn’t marginalised and sidelined by default, as being severely disabled meant in their eyes his karma would have been particularly bad and he would have been left to get on with it. However, he was always sensitively nurtured and encouraged to do well, even when faced with what sometimes seemed like insurmountable odds. Eventually he went on to be a science prodigy working on space flight paths for NASA.

        Odd teachings and astral plains aside, if we followed the Bible word for word there would be nobody left to read it! As I explained previously, my experience does not match the rhetoric. And as I’ve already said here, I don’t think we’ll ever reach a consensus regarding this so believe we should just agree to disagree.

        • Jim

          Dan – those commenting here on their experiences of Steiner education include both those with horror stories to tell and those like you who never encountered anything out of the ordinary. Both groups are self selecting minorities – we don’t hear from the majority so can’t draw valid conclusions as to how many are keeping quiet about their own tales of horror or happiness.

          What does surprise me is the number of hardcore Steiner advocates who write in to either defend his doctrines or to defend his reputation by presenting them in very evasive ways. I’m not talking about such issues as delaying the teaching of reading; once you strip away the nonsense about the phases of incarnation there may be a valid case for this. But we have had people seriously defending such ideas as that the heart is not a pump, and then twisting serious physiologist’s words to claim support. Others defend his racist doctrines arguing that they are not to be understood as racist in the usual way ( as if there’s a good way!). Unfortunately the anti science attitude is now so strong they find many sympathisers.

          I don’t think it is possible to deny that this stuff does underpin anthroposophy and hence Steiner education, and if I have understood you that is not your intention. Rather it is that you did not feel it was manifested in the practical teaching, except in such issues as eurythmy which you found easy to dismiss. But maybe that’s just the Steiner way – not as blatant as a catholic school but still promoting a worldview. Just as catholic schools don’t expect every child to leave as a priest or nun so the Steiner schools don’t expect to turn every child into an anthro.

  36. tamarandave

    Well done with this good website. Shame about the pro-steiner comments…still a bit brainwashed perhaps.

    I was wondering if anyone has heard of the scandal at a Steiner school in England, relating to a predatory paedophile teacher (now dead I believe) who as a member of the board of directors of that school and a teacher there, abused & raped a number of young girls (and perhaps boys too) during the 1980’s and early 90’s? I have met and spoken to victims and its a truly ghastly example of co-coordinated denial, cover up and a tremendous effort to sweep things under the carpet. There are former students who have spent their entire life in psychiatric care of this man.

    At one of my former Steiner schools, a boy jumped repeatedly on another’s head during poorly supervised break time. The victim survived but was left with severe brain damage and in a vegetative state.

    A vulnerable girl with MS was picked on, bullied, and beaten by all the girls in her class and even some of the boys for years before her parents took her out. I saw it happen.

    A boy with a single father endured 2 years of constant homophobic bullying before being taken out.

    An Indian girl lasted less than a year…wonder why?

    Another boy was stripped naked and rubbed in sand because he had eczema

    Another was attacked by groups of boys with hockey sticks and screwdrivers and had his possessions repeatedly taken and broken and his school work torn up

    At no time were the perpetrators punished except for the head jumper who was expelled. Because the police were called, the school couldn’t really brush that one under the carpet.

    Teachers bullied the same pupils who were bullied by the students to garner popularity and favour etc.

    There are many, many examples I could give witnessed first hand, or heard from the mouth of the victims. Many more go unreported.

    Few teachers have a PGCE or are qualified or experienced to teach the subjects they teach.

    Teachers have little accountability and always pass the buck. The big egos are the people who get to climb the anthro/steiner pole, not the best qualified, nor the best teachers, nor the best people.

    Parents are still turning up to this school and others in the UK thinking its an idil and their kids will turn out brilliantly, go to Oxford or become the next Steiner celebrity success story. They ignore the basic tenet that you only get out what you put in and it is almost a certainty that those were turn out well would have done so anyway. Their home, their attributes, their good luck or whatever.

    The reason the victims themselves rarely speak out, is that amongst former students, and particularly those with anthroposophist parents, there is a bizarre, yet very stubborn sense of misplaced loyalty to the school. As if somehow, as an insider one has to protect or maintain some type of loyalty to the Steiner school and anthroposophy no matter how awful it was and how damaging the experience of being a student there was/is. Ever so subtly, cultish attitudes and behaviours seep into everything and everyone. Anyone who is a pupil for any length of time cant help but fall into this. Objective questioning goes and seldom returns even after many years. Most former students never seriously question or look into what went on.

    As a former student myself, I can easily understand why parents who generally know little about anthroposophy are duped into taking what they see and are told on open day at face value. Steiner schools are invariably in nice grounds with lots of trees and greenery. Parents think its some kind of traditionalist education complete with craft fairs, summer fates, wooden toys and pastel classrooms. Its a cult and you can best judge if something is a cult when you leave it.

    • Helen

      For victims I can understand not wanting to talk or even think about what happened, but what about all the other children who must have known about, witnessed, or of course been the perpetrators of these awful events? Most people remain silent, for whatever reason – shame, denial,or as you say, loyalty to the Steiner creed.
      I’ve mentioned before how hard the schools work to convince families that they are privileged to have a Steiner education and that it is superior to any other kind, and this is very effective. Former pupils do mostly seem to have difficulty coming to terms with the fact that it is not all it is cracked up to be, even when presented with accounts such as yours, and will try to divert attention onto mainstream schools, as if to suggest that Steiner is no better or worse.
      Why do parents fall in love with the idea of Steiner education? Because they think it will be better.
      Since Steiner schools have tended to be small, instances of bullying are perhaps worse, since there is less chance of getting away from the bullies, especially with the system of keeping the same class teacher for 8 years.
      No-one is claiming that normal schools are perfect, but operating without anthroposophy they do not present such a risk as Steiner schools; teachers will not be under the illusion that karma is the reason why a child is being bullied.
      The mainstream secondary school I went to was the largest in the country at the time and certainly had its problems, but I was not aware of anything even remotely close to what you describe happening to other children.
      What you have written has clearly stayed with you (I don’t know how many years ago you left school) and I imagine it is not something you can forget easily as a fellow student. By commenting here you are helping to warn others about Steiner schools and the more people speak up the better. I think anyone who witnesses another person being tormented has a duty to do something about it. children don’t always know what is right at the time, but as adults we can decide to do the right thing.
      The Steiner teachers who condone bullying are worse than the bullies themselves. Kevin Avison had the gall to make a joke of it in his Handbook for Waldorf class teachers Appendix M – number 8 in “How to make it difficult for anyone else to teach your class”

      “Make a point of cultivating the strongest leaders in the class so they see you as their special ally, the only adult who understands them”

      With advice like this it is not difficult to see how nasty situations can develop.

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