Category: Curriculum

Guardian article on Steiner schools and technology

 Here’s Rudolf Steiner on “Technology and Art” (brace yourself…)

When in accordance with a recognised law of Nature, we construct a machine or a system of machinery out of raw materials, we again transfer certain spiritual beings into what is thus produced.

A construction of this kind is by no means devoid of spirit. In producing it we create a soil for other spiritual beings, and the spiritual beings we have now enticed into our machinery belong to the hierarchy of Ahrimanic spirits. …

But this procedure in the modern age, when we live in a milieu of applied technology, means that we create a thoroughly Ahrimanic environment …No wonder that when someone who has reached the first stage of initiation brings back with him on waking the effects of what he has lived through amid the hubbub and clatter, he feels it as a destructive element when in his Ego and astral body he comes down into the etheric and physical bodies. For he brings back with him into his very organism the effects of his association with the Ahrimanic elemental spirits. In this third stage, the cultural stage, we cram ourselves through and through with Ahrimanic spirits as the result of the technical science in application around us.

(From the RS Archive)

Why did Tuesday’s article in the Guardian entitled “Could Steiner schools have a point on children, tablets and tech?” by Sarfraz Manzoor, fail to inform readers about the reasons for the ban on computers at the featured Steiner school, where parents are “discouraged from letting their children watch television, play computer games or use smartphones at home”?

It is clear from reading the above excerpt from a 1914 lecture that there is a specific objection within anthroposophy to the use of technological devices. It is not quite so obvious that those who are in charge of Steiner schools are basing their curriculum decisions on Steiner’s century old “indications”, but the evidence is there;

Look no further than the Rudolf Steiner college Press, which exists to “make more teaching materials available” to Steiner teachers. A book review of “The Computer and the Incarnation of Ahriman” by David B Black explains that

…the world has been coming increasingly under the sway of this being Ahriman in the course of the last two millennia, with an ever-increasing pace in recent centuries, and … the computer represents the vanguard of this development.

It suits Steiner schools to allow parents to think their reasons are not anthroposophical –  thus avoiding any uncomfortable discussion of the belief system they espouse. But it is part of the deceit. Even when asked direct questions those in the know will avoid telling the whole story.

There are other reasons for limiting children’s exposure to screens, as explained in the article, but hiding the anthroposophical reasons from parents is an illustration of the deceit behind the claim “we do not teach anthroposophy”.

Parents can limit their child’s use of internet devices outside school hours as they see fit. The amount of time spent on this activity in school will be minimal and under supervision in any case, and not at all damaging, in my opinion.

After reading the article parents may also be under the mistaken impression that all Steiner schools perform well, which is not the case. One, St Christophers, has  been taken out of Steiner hands this year after a disastrous report, and is now run by a non-religious group, and others have received unsatisfactory reviews from parents. Aberdeen closed down altogether after a terrible report.

The inspections are not carried out in the normal independent fashion, but by Steiner specialists, and with exemptions for literacy in the early years. Exam results do not compare at all favourably with other independent schools, or, in the case of Hereford Steiner Academy, with mainstream state schools.

In the article the Steiner proponents were given the opportunity to criticise mainstream schools for being “prescribed” and to put their case that the Steiner system is appealing because it “stressed that the work of children was play”.

In the early years at my children’s Primary, there was a dressing up box, playdoh, building blocks, plenty of paint, sand – but importantly – books. So in that respect, it is difficult to see why anyone would choose Steiner over a school without anthroposophy and with qualified teachers and books.

My children also made bread at school – just like the school in the article.

I was sorry to see that there was a link to the propagandist site run by Sune Nordwall as a source of information on anthroposophy, rather than to a more independent source such as Open Waldorf, or better still to the words of Rudolf Steiner himself on the RS archive, where he goes into detail about reincarnation.(This is enough to give most rational people the creeps)

The page chosen makes no mention of reincarnation, karma, angels, sacrifice, child study, or any of the other objectionable aspects of the beliefs Steiner school methods are based on. An opportunity to warn parents about the very real dangers of Steiner education was missed, and instead they were referred to a piece of propaganda from the Steiner movement.

This was either the result of lazy journalism (again), or  the Guardian has a reason for not wishing to publicise the reality of Steiner education; some members of the journalistic elite have a soft spot for the Steiner lifestyle, as detailed by Gregoire Perra in a post “Why do the press support Steiner Education?” or perhaps it is a case of regressive liberalism  –  holding politically regressive views (as opposed to progressive views) by tolerating illiberal principles and ideologies for the sake of multiculturalism.

Either way, important information was withheld from parents.