Steiner Schools and Risk Factors for Child Abuse

When you lead children to feel the beauty of sunrise and sunset, to be sensitive to the beauty of flowers and to the majesty of thunder and lightening,  when, in short, you develop in them the aesthetic sense, you are doing far more for them than if you were to give them the sex education which has now become customary to give to children at the earliest stage and which  is often carried to absurd lengths.

Rudolf Steiner. Sexuality, Love and Partnership: From the Perspective of Spiritual Science.

In my last blog post, I said,

The closed and secretive nature of Steiner schools is an environment where the predatory or unscrupulous may take advantage of children. All environments with children risk potential problems, but the detached Steiner schools with a sense of their own spiritual superiority and unwillingness to allow outside scrutiny and criticism pose a dangerous habitat. I hope I do not have to point out that I told you so.

Within 48 hours, Scottish newspapers were reporting the trial of a music teacher at a Steiner School in Scotland for alleged abuse of a 13 year old child. Now, whilst such terrible events can potentially occur in any environment where adults come into contact with children, I would suggest that the fact this has taken place in a Steiner environment is not coincidental.

Significantly, the newspaper report suggests the school made significant errors in its duty to protect children. The employee had already been convicted twice for the sexual assault of young boys. The school had asked Birch to undergo background checks and he had refused. They employed him anyway. Steve Birch’s home was found to contain child porn on mobile phones and DVDs. He has admitted the charges.

I posted this story on the Quackometer Facebook page. I received a number of comments that suggested that I was overstating my case. Tom said, “Well of course, there’s never been sex offenders in the public system”, followed by Karin who said,

I’m all for criticism based on facts but this just seems like a desperate stretch to vilify Steiner schools for something that doesn’t really have anything to do with them being Steiner schools, but what was a really bad descision made by certain individuals.

So, I think it is worth going into some detail why I believe Steiner Schools present a particular challenge in child protection and why the authorities ought to be concerned.

  1. Steiner schools are not open about their anthroposophical aims towards children, their pedagogical methods, the occult foundations of their philosophy and their relationships to the wider anthroposophical community.  They are embedded within an esoteric organisation that by its very nature is coy about disclosing its inner business with the outside world. If there were internal problems, they are likely to be entirely dealt with internally.  Rudolf Steiner made it explicit about how his teachers should mislead parents and authorities about the goals of their teaching because “if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck”. Former teacher, Grégoire Perra describes how parents were misled about the spiritual nature of the school and officials misled about teaching practices.   An organisation founded on deceit is unlikely to be in the best position to protect children.
  2. Part of the Steiner pedagogical approach is to encourage strong relationships between teachers and pupils. A child may be assigned the same teacher throughout their schooling. Perra describes how the school he worked in deceived inspectors by swapping in specialist teachers for particular lessons during inspections and children were encouraged to ‘play along’. The natural protection afforded by a child having many adult relationships within a school is weakened. Perra also discusses his experiences in a Steiner School where it was ‘an open secret’ that a teacher was involved in a long term relationship with a pupil and living with her.
  3. Steiner schools have been successful in the UK in lobbying for exemptions from the normal standards of control and inspection. Independent Steiner Schools are not inspected directly by Ofsted, but by the specially created Schools Inspection Service in the belief that specialist inspectors were needed to appraise the special nature of Steiner Schools. However, inspectors appear to have very strong links with Steiner schools and so may not have the necessary distance required to objectively assess and raise issues. The new state funded schools have been set up under the Academy or Free School programme and so exempt from local authority control. In the case of Glasgow, questions should be asked of how the inspectors failed to spot staff were working with children without having undergone child protection  background checks.
  4. Teachers at Steiner Schools need not be qualified. The majority of teachers in Steiner Schools in the UK do not have a recognised teaching qualification. This reduces the barriers and checks that might prevent paedophiles entering the payroll.
  5. The are consistent reports of how Steiner Schools have a laissez faire attitude to problems such as bullying within schools. As I showed in my last post, the role of the school is spiritual midwiffery – teachers are there to help children’s spirits incarnate as they grow. Karmic influences need to be worked out and if a child is being bullied then intervention may interfere with the child’s destiny. We see similar attitudes to disease where fever and illness are supposed to help children develop and incarnate. If harm is done, then it was meant to be. This does not give confidence that inappropriate relationships will be dealt with in a decisive and rational way.
  6. Precisely what is taught in school is difficult to understand due to the secrecy. Steiner, like most subjects, had bizarre and occult views of sex. As the quote at the start of this article says, Steiner viewed sexuality as a force to be suppressed by the development of an aesthetic sense. A child could be protected from the sexual world by an appreciation of flowers. Such naivety plays into the sexual predator’s hands.
  7.  And, in general, I would suggest, their sense of spiritual superiority, clairvoyant insight into human nature, and aloofness from the rest of society blinds them to obvious dangers. With the case of Jimmy Savile, we have seen recently in the news how people who present themselves as working for the good of others can use this to hide abusive behaviour.

In short, whilst none of this means that any particular Steiner School will be harbouring paedophiles, these factors may well make them rich hunting grounds for psychopathic predators. Individual schools no doubt have teachers that care deeply about such things. And, I would hope that Glasgow is a one-off. However, caring deeply is not enough. If Steiner Schools are going to expand in the state sector without action to mitigate these risk factors, more child abuse might well just be on the of the Steiner time bombs sitting under the Department of Education.

 

Update 6/11/2012

Today, the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship have issued a statement. It’s actually quite startling.

Historical Responsibility: a Statement

Our schools and settings are aware of the historical responsibility that attaches to all organisations working with children or vulnerable individuals. In addition to being fully compliant with current legislation and constantly attentive to the needs of the children in their care, we believe that schools should be open to the honest appraisal of past practice that may have fallen short of today’s standards.
It is SWSF policy to urge any school or setting that may become aware of historical allegations to contact their local police immediately.

108 comments for “Steiner Schools and Risk Factors for Child Abuse

  1. November 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Excellent post !

    • dawn
      November 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      just out of curiosity, were you a steiner pupil/parent/teacher? are you a teacher in any realms of child education? Kind of get a bit fed up with the old “steiner is evil” chestnut. I have been a mainstream primary teacher, have had my kids in mainstream until it stopped working for us. Found steiner and have never looked back. We are a normal family (council estate ,if you please). All schools have their fair share of child abuse in one form or another and clearly the steiner school, is no exception. I would say that modern steiner teachers are individuals like all teachers and take the best of what steiner had and has to offer. They come from a variety of backgrounds and more often than not are parents themselves. Yes it’s different but that’s what choice is all about. we love our school and am unaware of secrecy, blah blah. Come spend the day at our school, talk to people who are actually there. Some of us even have telly. . . and watch it! Go make yourself useful, those who wish to go to steiner will go, those who don’t won’t. Get over yourself, go do some eurythmy or summit!!!!

      • Andy Lewis
        November 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

        I wonder if you could point out a list of the “best things” Steiner has to offer?

        How do you know which are the best things and which are the mumbo jumbo? Does the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship agree with you about which are the “best things”?

        • cecilia
          November 13, 2014 at 12:02 am

          You take so much time to talk about what you dont agree, but none to talk about your own discovers. Have you a blank page in your mind and soul? C’mon give a break!! I am waldorf teacher and I see what a wonder it is for the kids every day!!

      • Badly Shaved Monkey
        November 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

        we love our school and am unaware of secrecy

        Do you teach reading and writing?

        You might want to remind yourself of the meaning of the word secrecy. I’ll give you a clue: it’s to do with things being secret, with leaving people unaware of things.

        You might also want to remind yourself about the topic of noun-verb agreement, what with you being a primary teacher and all.

      • Badly Shaved Monkey
        November 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

        By the way “dawn”, if, as you imply, you currently teach at a Steiner school, please tell us about how you teach about gnomes. Or is that a secret?

      • sarah collins
        November 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        As an ex Steiner pupil who had no bad expieriances personally, I do acknowledge that abuse did take place and I think that the blinkers need to be taken off and acknowledgement that things are not always as they seem!

  2. Elizabeth Montgomery
    November 6, 2012 at 2:02 am

    This is a factually incorrect post on several points and in the case of the teacher at the Glasgow School who recently went on trial, you word it so that it seems that he is currently a teacher at the school and this was where the abuse took place – “the fact that this has taken place in a Steiner environment is no coincidence” – when in fact it did not and he has not taught there for a number of years.

    • November 6, 2012 at 2:26 am

      Elizabeth, you read the article, right?

      He was a convicted pedophile immediately before his Waldorf days, and immediately after. Do you really think he took a break from his activities while he was working at the Waldorf school? SERIOUSLY? Why not admit the school made a HUGE mistake, instead of making silly excuses?

    • November 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      And your response to the issues of “special” inspection treamtment, deception during inspections, bizarre occult belief systems and the like?

      Oh, wait, he has you bang to rights there.

  3. November 6, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Excellent article Andy.

    “And, I would hope that Glasgow is a one-off.”

    I’m sorry to report, it isn’t. Pedophiles find their way into environments where there isn’t accountability. At Highland Hall, there were SEVERAL pedophiles active over the years. I can name names, but I won’t on this blog. Suffice to say, one teacher was passed on to Pasadena Waldorf school. Another married a student as soon as she turned 18. Another was fired for having child pornography on his computer at school. One groped several female students on a field trip. In another case, a KNOWN pedophile (the teenage son of a Waldorf teacher) was allowed to roam free on the campus – until the inevitable happened – TWICE! The teacher and her son were passed to Highland Hall by Santa Barbara Waldorf school. Not one thought of reporting ANY of this to police by Highland Hall. http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/03/highland-hall-breaking-mandated.html http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/02/letters-from-highland-hall-wilkins.html

    • November 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      This is like the Catholic Church, isn’t it? In their zeal to protect the reputation of the institution, they lose sight of the fact that protecting the vulnerable must be their first priority.

  4. Elizabeth Montgomery
    November 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Pete, of course the school made a huge mistake employing this creep. However I wanted to point out the misleading way Andy has presented his information, that’s all. He also fails to mention that the school fired the teacher after Disclosure Scotland became a legal requirement with which Steve Birch refused to comply. I feel that the blog is prejudiced, badly misinformed, sensationalist and deliberately misleading.
    To say that Steiner schools are somehow exempt from normal inspection is simply untrue – they are subject to H.M.I. and Care Commission visits like any other school and are not instead inspected by specially created teams of inspectors who have “very strong links to Steiner Schools.” The flaws and misinformation here are numerous and varied so anyone who is actually interested in that type of education will hopefully not be guided by this blog!

    • Andy Lewis
      November 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Elizabeth, you appear to have better knowledge of this that was in the press. Do you have a relationship with the school?

      • November 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        The press have got this wrong on the Disclosure Scotland thing.

        “In 2000, he was asked to go through a Disclosure Scotland check but refused.”

        DS did not exist until 2002.

      • Anon
        September 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

        What if she does. Your not going to be guilty of transference are you ?

    • brian
      November 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      The Glasgow Steiner school teacher was not fired by the school, but chose to resign rather than submit to disclosure, see Daily Record report. The difference between Disclosure Scotland and enhanced disclosure, CRB etc is surely a question of semantics. Most organisations involving contact with young people, including the Glasgow Steiner school, had some form of criminal records check in place by 2000. Elizabeth makes a good point about HMIE inspection – do background checks come under their remit? Ultimately the school decided to trust their own judgement and retain in employment a known paedophile who refused a routine background check which gave him unrestricted access, as a class teacher for 10 year, to children between the ages of 7 and 14.

    • November 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      “I feel that the blog is prejudiced, badly misinformed, sensationalist and deliberately misleading.”

      But… but… that’s why he linked to the article… so people could read it for themselves. He didn’t say anything that wasn’t in the article.

      “To say that Steiner schools are somehow exempt from normal inspection is simply untrue”

      Well, all private Steiner schools are exempt, right? And what do you say of Mr. Perra’s claim that teachers are swapped during inspections? I know of lots of dishonest things done by teachers here in the US. We have state tests to ensure students are doing well. At STATE Waldorf schools, teachers have provide the answers to the children so they will score well. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/20/local/la-me-charter-20120520. No worries, this dishonest teacher will just find a job at a private Waldorf school. Here’s another story of a pedophile who was passed from Waldorf school to Waldorf school http://news.sonomaportal.com/2010/02/11/former-valley-teacher-arrested-on-molestation-charges/ The problem is with THE SCHOOLS.

    • Pat Farrelly
      November 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      The school did not fire this teacher. Several years before he resigned, he had been asked to apply for routine clearance to work with children, which he refused to do – a position which, astonishingly, the School found perfectly acceptable, thus the reason he continued to teach in spite of previous convictions. His resignation did not come about through a proactive School Health and Safety culture that would protect the children, but rather, through a situation of bitter conflict between a concerned minority who wanted to push for a more accountable culture, and those who felt that the School was above criticism and the laws which applied to other schools.

  5. November 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    The Birch case is disturbing, true, but this is much more complex than you suggest.

    Child protection (or “safeguarding” as it is now called) legislation has changed over time and also agencies such as the Criminal Records Bureau and Disclosure Scotland are relatively recent – both came into being in 2002 (which raises questions about the accuracy of reporting of the case). In the past, employers were entirely dependent on candidates revealing criminal convictions in their job applications. Of course, non-disclosure is essentially fraud but without the CRB or Disclosure Scotland, it is a difficult fraud to detect.

  6. JimR.
    November 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Mis-anthro-pos-o-pist. n., A person who disregards the Romantic nonsense of the 19th century, especially as espoused by Rudolf Steiner.

  7. Lindsay Newton
    November 7, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Do any of you actually know what you are talking about? Or do you just enjoy the sound of your own voices? Do you even have children? All public places are prey to sick paedophiles – even places that should be sacrasanct, like a childs home. Steiner schools are not cults – they are a haven for the development of indidvidual human beings. I have seen my two children through a UK Steiner school – and I am Thankful everyday of my life I gave them this unique opportunuity. Freedom of speech is fine so long as you have actual experience and first hand knowledge of the subject.

    • Andy Lewis
      November 7, 2012 at 1:58 am

      Lindsay – my contention is that many parents of children at Steiner schools know a lot less about them than the critics you mock here.

      And I hope you read my previous post:

      What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools
      http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/11/what-every-parent-should-know-about-steiner-waldorf-schools.html

    • November 7, 2012 at 2:22 am

      “Do any of you actually know what you are talking about?”

      Well, I can’t speak for anyone else but *I* certainly do. That’s why I post links to support the claims I’m making. Do you have any links or facts to support the notion that “Steiner schools are not cults – they are a haven for the development of indidvidual[sic] human beings.” Do you have any evidence to support this statement AT ALL? Do YOU actually know what YOU are talking about?

  8. Jim
    November 7, 2012 at 9:30 am

    My children attended a Steiner School I am very happy to say. It was a truly wonderful environment in which they thrived and I don’t regret it for a moment. There was nothing ‘cultish’ about it and people from all walks of life, faiths and nationalities brought their children there to be educated. There was never a day when my kids complained about having to go to school which was a different situation to when they attended state school for the first couple of years of their education. After class 8 – the equivalent to the end of primary school, they were taught by a wide range of specialist subject teachers all of whom were trained teachers and most had then gone on to do Waldorf training in addition.
    I would absolutely agree Andy that some parents who choose to send their kids to a Steiner School don’t know much about the philosophy – but that is through their own choice and not because it is kept secret in any way. It is easy to access information about any aspect of the education, either through reading material available in the numerous books on the topic , the vast Steiner archive of his lectures available online, or through attending talks that happen at regular intervals in school. Most schools also have groups for parents to join, that meet weekly in the evening where you can learn more if you want to, but the fact is , many don’t want to and that is up to them. The private Steiner School my children attended was regularly inspected by HMIE and the findings of those inspections were made available. Pete’s claims that teachers are swapped during inspections certainly did not happen in my children’s school! The thing is, if it happened in one school – and I don’t know if that’s even true – one cannot then jump to the conclusion that it is just what Steiner schools do when the inspectors come round. Nobody would ever apply such sloppy thinking to state schools, would they?

    • Melanie Byng
      November 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

      ‘I would absolutely agree Andy that some parents who choose to send their kids to a Steiner School don’t know much about the philosophy – but that is through their own choice and not because it is kept secret in any way’

      I disagree. Most parents don’t know that there are questions they should be asking because the schools are not honest with them at the very beginning. The nature and implications of anthroposophy are kept secret from parents, consciously and deliberately. A few may go to study groups – later. Even fewer read the Rudolf Steiner archive. They do not know they should.

      On the site of the new Steiner Academy Frome it states:

      ‘This notion of child development is central to Steiner education and draws on Dr Steiner’s work on child development. The school, however, will neither promote nor teach the wider philosophy which is known as “anthroposophy.”‘

      Weasel words indeed. Rudolf Steiner’s ‘work on child development’ IS anthroposophy, there isn’t anything else. And of course the school is promoting anthroposophy. The entire pedagogy is based on anthroposophy. The teachers’ training courses are suffused with anthroposophical texts, the festivals, songs (prayers) the colour of the walls, the faceless dolls, the gnomes.. are anthroposophical. They do not teach anthroposophy to children – directly. It is rather worse than that.

      Private Steiner schools in England have not recently been inspected by Ofsted but by the School Inspection Service, which also inspects Brethren schools. Why do they need their own inspection service?

    • kath withcats
      November 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Jim- well yes it does mean most of them are doing it, as they negotiated an exception to get out of some mainstream inspections. If your school chose to be involved in those particular ones (assuming these are the same ones), that was that particular school choosing to do so voluntarily- the rule is that they don’t get all the inspections other schools do, that was the whole point of them setting up their own inspectorate. I’m glad to hear your school was partly an exception. It’s not enough for parents to be able to read about steiner online etc- schools should tell them what they’re signing up for before parents put their children in. It’s the ‘bait and switch’ method also used by groups such as Scientology.

    • November 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      “Most schools also have groups for parents to join, that meet weekly in the evening where you can learn more if you want to, but the fact is , many don’t want to and that is up to them. ”

      Do they offer those groups to PROSPECTIVE parents? Didn’t think so…

      “Pete’s claims that teachers are swapped during inspections certainly did not happen in my children’s school! ”

      It isn’t my claim, it’s Gregoire Perra’s claim. My claim, supported by a newspaper article, is that they CHEAT on state tests.

  9. T.
    November 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I admit I am a little baffled.

    Pedophiles are everywhere there are children. So you will see them in schools, churches, playground. You won’t see them in place who only cater the old, but everywhere else when children are supposed to be, you will find them. I’ll wager you will find them in pretty much the same percentage everywhere, as well.

    I am not particularly fond on a lot of Steiner’s typical ideas (such as not vaccinating), and I do think that all schools should be bound to the same standard.

    This said, I also think that a lot of the “predator fear” do more harm that good in the long run. What is wrong in having a good, strong relationship with a teacher? Yes, there is an off-change that said teacher might be a pedophile, but not higher than Uncle X. Or that long-know family friend. True, from what you say the encouraging of a mentor/pupil relationship between children and teacher may be interesting from a pedophile point of view, but on the other side it is interesting even from the point of view of an honest teacher who really desire to teach something. Mentor/pupil relationship had been important from the very beginning of the World. Do we toss them aside because of the change that a pedo will exploit it? Pedos exploit every kind of relationship to get closer to children. Mentor/pupil. Uncle/niece(nephew). Step-parent/step-children. Parent/children.
    You will find pedophiles everywhere, and, hindsight being 20/20, you will probably be able to point out things that should have been done to discourage or block them sooner.

    The fact that human organizations, of any kind, protect their own is also a well-know fact. And it is not limited to churches or peculiar kind of schools. Not long ago it was discovered that in a “mainstream” high school in the US a coach had been abusing children for years, and it was know, and nobody did anything. Worse yet, other of his students protected him and the administrators of the school when the fact was made public.
    Same happens in domestic violence or many other less noble human behavior.
    We would like to think that it is the other church, the other schools only to do it, but it is not so.

    Long story short: I am torn.
    I strongly disagree with not holding a school to the same standard of all the others, and to other things that are common to Waldor’s schools, but this article point out probably the only one who is harder than any other to pin point to just one organization. No matter how much we would like it, it is not only the Waldorf schools or the catholic church who protect pedophiles. And all the time an adult get close to a child, there is the possibility that the adult is a pedophile.

    I think this article weakens, not strenghten, the point you try to make against their methods.

    • November 8, 2012 at 3:31 am

      “Pedophiles are everywhere there are children. So you will see them in schools, churches, playground.”

      But the difference in Waldorf environments is:
      1. The teachers are bound by a quazi-religious philosophy and therefore look out for one another. They are more willing to look the other way, or cover things up when abuses happen.
      2. For many Waldorf teachers, whatever happens between student and teacher is considered *their* individual karma. It’s literally the business of NOBODY else… even the child’s parents.
      3. At Highland Hall, they have something called “council” in which teachers get students to divulge information they haven’t told their parents. This information can later be leveraged against the student if necessary.
      4. When children were molested at Highland Hall, they were made to feel terrible for reporting the abuse – even singled out to other students by their teacher for bullying. YES, THIS REALLY HAPPENED.
      5. Waldorf teachers at ALL Waldorf schools are less likely to report abuse to parents or authorities for fear of bad publicity. Steiner advised Waldorf teachers to keep things about the school WITHIN the school. Again, at Highland Hall, state mandated reporting laws were ignored by DOZENS of teachers and staff… routinely.

    • Idun Bäck
      May 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Pedofiles is the worth crime. But it is as you say it can happen every where and it is also a crime if people know and do nothing. It is terrible. I have children and in Sweden I am as worried as you are in England about it. Here it has been known mostly in spots clubs. It is the most terribe thing doesn’t metter where.

      • May 16, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Well, we seem to agree on something. The problem is – pedophiles are SUPPORTED in the Waldorf system (see my comments above). Why do Waldorf schools move pedophiles from school to school? Please don’t say it doesn’t happen – it does! Oh wait, were you going to say this happens everywhere? I doesn’t!

  10. Holly Sheet
    November 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    It seems now that pedophilia is a national sport in the British Isles, on a par with Cricket.
    Your attempt to damage Steiner school by inferring that if you put you kids in a Steiner school they are more at risk than at any other school is inaccurate and quiet vicious and opportunistic given the current scandals relating to pedophilia in a number of institution.
    I am no defender of Steiner, and if you criticize them on the ground of their methods, fair enough; in this case you are going down the way of the shit papers like the Sun or the Daily Star; considering that you want to be seen as a person of intergrity, this is is a disappointment

    • November 8, 2012 at 3:39 am

      “An incident occurred in 2001 involving another teacher at Highland Hall which lead me to have a conversation with Petitioner, Angela Karaiskos, and at that time Angela told me not to repeat the information to Pete.”
      This is from a sworn declaration given by another parent/teacher:

      “My 8-year-old son was one of a group of Highland Hall students that Ms. Wilkins’s son exposed to inappropriate sexual language and sexual content (pornographic materials). I also learned that the Karaiskos’s daughter, {Daughter}, was one of the students exposed to the inappropriate sexual content by Ms. Wilkin’s son.”
      “I continued to try and get to the bottom of the events involving Ms. Wilkins and her son, and the more I persisted the more pressure highland Hall put on me not to talk outside of the faculty about the Wilkins events.”

      • Jim
        November 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        We would be here for forever and a day if we were to begin trawling through every individual case of alleged/proven sexual abuse, sexual relationships between pupils and teachers, inappropriate behaviour/language of a sexual nature or otherwise of teachers in the state school system – it is a bottomless pit. In the comprehensive state school I myself attended, there were enough incidents to fill a book- teacher/pupil relationships, abuse of boys by a homosexual teacher, inappropriate language and touching of female pupils. YES,THIS REALLY HAPPENED. Does it mean it happened in every other state school? No, I don’t believe so.

    • Andy Lewis
      November 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Dear Holly Sheet – I have gone to some length to describe the specifics of Steiner Schools that create extra risk factors. You have not addressed these – instead you tell me to shut up about it all. Do you want to think about that for a moment?

  11. JimR
    November 8, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Let’s look at the Steiner’s curricula content:
    Has anyone updated it in a 100 years? I assume he wrote this well before he died in 1925. Of course I may have missed revisions by him in his reincarnated persona.
    Has anyone thought that 100 years of child development research by Piaget and thousands of others might not have a new idea?
    I’m guessing the successful Waldorf schools may have gone off script to truly achieve some degree of education of bright minds, although I suspect those same bright minds educated themselves.
    Is there one single evaluation of Steiner’s curricula against any other? If so, who won.

    Is it abuse to use a century old curricula when better are available? There are great lesson plans for many subjects and grades available for purchase on the World Wide Web.

    I am more inclined to attack the Waldorf schools as a quaint, ossified relic of a past century that should wither away, rather than be spread by uncritical government funding.

  12. MK
    November 11, 2012 at 12:48 am

    T I agree with you that pedophiles are wherever children are and Jim I believe they are or have been in every school state or private unfortunately.
    I think there is more of a risk that teachers will protect each other in Steiner settings.I read a very chilling document for Steiner staff which talked about bullying and ‘if’ a staff member should step in or at ‘what point’ they should step in to stop a situation. It stated this was because they didn’t want to interfere with destiny / karma. It made me think they could believe abuse is a childs’s karma too.

    The other thing is that Steiner teachers are in short supply and behaviour may be tolerated so as not to loose a member of staff.

    Having been in touch with quite a few ex Steiner parents and reading testimonies online it is very noticeable that there is a massive problem with bullying not being dealt with and sexual abuse is a big problem too. One teacher that came to our school from another Steiner school was obviously unstable and the parents insisted he left but I know the school were struggling to find a new teacher and it seemed like they took the only available teacher around …

  13. MK
    November 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Gregoire Perra I just read the translations of both your pieces on your time at Steiner as a pupil and teacher. Thank you so much for being brave enough to put this out. I urge everyone to read this and it makes so much sense regarding sexual abuse that the blurred lines.the ‘family’ that Steiner schools become to children is bound to cause these things to happen and many families do become isolated from the ‘outside’ world.

    Reading both pieces gave me chills and I understand more now what was going on and it made so much sense. The fact that only those in the class that were receptive to Anthroposophical ideas were favoured is so true ! We noticed the ‘Steinerised’ children as my daughter called them were the favourites and the kids that arrived at the school in there teens often left or were pushed out.Three lovely boys in our class were made to leave ( after my daughter left ) one after the other and on questioning the parents there were no solid reasons ! Its the same with the parents if you join late you feel like an outsider but don’t know why. I attended a talk at the school on Steiner’s ideas in education and it wasn’t that deep it was about the child’s life going in seven year cycles how our breath mirrored the spinning of the world or something. I was told that at age fourteen puberty hits and I remember thinking that maybe in 1900 it did but not now and I decided this wasn’t relevant anymore and this wasn’t my cup of tea,I thought it was a bit weird. I guess the parents that went to more talks were taken further along the line of thinking.

    Steiner thought children should not have an opinion till age 14 and it shows at the schools ,they are very restrictive and the opposite of what you want them to be, incredibly uncreative. But they sell themselves on being creative. When some parents see things aren’t quite right they often have no place else to go. If your child is dyslexic or had trouble at their last school for instance there is very little choice for some families and they end up staying.

    Have Gregoire’s pieces have been sent to the DfE ?

  14. Jasmine
    November 12, 2012 at 3:40 am

    It’s strange that no actual pupils from the Steiner school have commented on this. I was a pupil at the Glasgow Steiner School, while Steve Birch taught there and it really saddens me to know this could be true of him. He was a well loved teacher and I have fond memories of him and his classes. I find it a bit anger inducing actually the way Steiner schools are being criticised here, all this about the teaching methods, and karma. I have no doubt that all those making comments are very well read on the subject, but what none of you actually seem to be able to take into consideration is human nature. I don’t think most adults (especially those who have children themselves as most of the teachers do) first reaction to seeing a child getting bullied would be to take into consideration karma, but would be to take control of the situation. If there were any bullying incidents or disagreements, our teacher made a point of sitting us down and making all those involved talk about what and why these things were happening. There was actually very little bullying going on at all, possibly because one of the main virtues preached was tolerance, and in this way it was a place where people from all walks of life, religion and ethnic backgrounds were welcome and although there were always adults, say parents, that didn’t get along in the close knit community (my family were one of the less ‘Steinery’ ones you could say)as there are everywhere, it never impacted on the children or their education. I thoroughly enjoyed my education there. I feel it developed me more as an individual and caused me to appreciate different cultures and the wider world in general more than any mainstream school could have.

    • brian
      November 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Jasmine, there is no “could be true” about Steve Birch. He has pled guilty to serious sexual assault of a minor and possession of child pornography. He had previous convictions for indecency involving young boys and despite being required to submit to a criminal record check by law – he refused, and was still able to teach you. All teaching within Steiner Waldorf schools is underpinned by anthroposophy including the belief that the individualities of the teacher and child are destined to meet and interact for karmic reasons, this is something which is rarely explained to parents. You are fortunate to have had such a happy experience in your school, but I think you would be shocked to learn the thinking behind your lessons. The teachers are trained to teach through anthroposophy but it should not become apparent to the children, it is a secretive cult.

    • becky
      January 27, 2013 at 8:57 am

      i went to steiner and was taught by Steve Birch, it also saddens me that this is the case, because i didnt see anything any different with how he taught and any of the other teachers. he was a good teacher. shit happens. it happens in public schools more.

      i refused to go to mainstream schools because i hated all the people. i found relief in steiner and enjoyed it every day. glasgow steiner was really good for me and gave me a lot of confidence.

    • Anon
      September 19, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I was there and I remember you, you had blonde/white hair ? Please get in touch

  15. Jasmine
    November 12, 2012 at 3:58 am

    oh and also, on the subject of sex ed. in Steiner schools. I see nothing wrong with children learning a little later – why not leave it up to parents to discuss the more sensitive and private issues of puberty with their own children? In a way I think that is more sensible, if the parents want their children to know any more about said topics, have ‘the talk’ with them themselves. I think the point is, there really is no need for children below a certain age to know about these things until they are at the age when they would be experiencing them themselves. At the same time, it’s the parents job to warn the children not to be naive about adults doing questionable things, therefore I see no need to blame the teaching methods yet again for such occurrences happening.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      November 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

      oh and also

      oh and also, “dawn” seemed to have a shift-key that didn’t work at the opening of her paragraph. Probably a coincidence.

      When you say, “oh and also”, can you highlight which of your prior posts you are referring to?

    • Andy Lewis
      November 12, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Because a good education does not rely on parents having the skills, knowledge and willingness to teach the trickier bits.

      • Jim
        November 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        ‘Because a good education does not rely on parents having the skills, knowledge and willingness to teach the trickier bits.”

        My children were both taught sex education in a sensitive manner at the Steiner School they attended. As their parent I would have been happy to do this myself but the parents of the class had a meeting with the teacher who wanted our collective thoughts on it – it turned out some parents did not want to take this on at home so it was agreed that the teacher would bring this to them.
        People are often too set on the idea that schools should take on every aspect of their child’s education including behaviour, morals etc. but parents have to accept that if they bring a child into the world to raise, they have huge responsibilities to his or her education that they should not just expect to be taken care of by schools.
        On the subject of bullying, again I can only speak for the experiences my own children had at a Steiner School, but bullying was treated seriously and dealt with efficiently and sensitively. Perhaps the noticeable difference in the way it was handled was that the perpetrator was seen to need help as well as the victim, rather than just punished or expelled .
        MK – regarding children arriving at a Steiner school in their teens, leaving or being pushed out, our experience has been totally the opposite of that. Children/ teenagers coming to the school after have been in state school often, in fact usually, breathed a sigh of relief and fitted in readily, whatever their background or ethnicity or previous educational experience. Time and time again over the years, I listened to parents saying ‘I wish we had come sooner’ or ‘my child is happy and relaxed for the first time.’ This has been our experience and I am sorry to read here it has not been like that for everyone.

        Thank you Jasmine for your contribution – at last, words from someone who has recent personal experience of being a pupil in a Steiner School.

  16. Jasmine
    November 12, 2012 at 9:20 am

    it says it is still awaiting moderation.

  17. MK
    November 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Just found the document on bullying 1993 Faculty handout Alan Howard Waldorf School-

    ‘ Can a child’s karma or destiny be that of a victim or bully ? Is it a child’s destiny to seek certain experiences to build his or her self -esteem or inner self ? Should a potentially abusive situation be stopped,and if so at what point ? We do not know the answers:however, when dealing with bullying behaviour we thought that caution is necessary. If intervention can change the experiences that our children encounter then conceivably it is not entirely destiny we are dealing with…For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy.’

    Jasmine I am quite well read on the subject because I had to understand what really was happening at our Steiner school as the school were not honest. It was very time consuming and expensive and I wish it hadn’t have been necessary.

    Sex education is necessary in schools as many parents ( especially in the UK ) do not talk to their children. If the Glasgow Steiner children had good PHSE lessons from an early age they would know that pedophiles are often the most popular teachers in the school and they come across as loving and caring. Most children these days are having sexual experiences from 12-14 and experimenting with drugs / alcohol from age 12 upwards so leaving things till a bit later is not a great idea in my mind.

    Bullying was very bad at our school ,teachers often watched it going on and did nothing the victim then had the added upset of the adults around them not protecting them. Also this led to other children attacking the bully as the teachers hadn’t dealt with the issue,a terrible situation all round

  18. November 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    ‘For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy.’

    There you have it!

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      “There you have it”

      Not quite. I’m forwarding something I posted to the Ethereal Kiosk this morning.

      [edited as large scale cut and paste does not work well on comments threads. All text is available in the link. Please keep posts short, to the point and in your own words.]

      http://www.marinwaldorf.org/newsletters/10.25.12%20Wings.pdf

      T.

      Ted Wrinch

      • Ted Wrinch
        November 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

        Well, Andy, first you cut my introduction and then my post! Did you read either?My post was 3 pages, from a 12 page journal, ‘to the point’, and the whole of the excerpt was  necessary for readers to be able to assess whether it rebutted Pete’s point. Re-writing it in my own words would mean that the accuracy of the author’s original meaning, containing quite subtle and, for some, probably quite controversial ideas might not have been preserved. It also looked fine on your blog, from my browser, and other blogs allow inclusions like this. For people that still wish to see something of the wider story of ‘bullying’ in Waldorf, the article is on pages 4-6. 

        I won’t bother re-posting my introduction and instead point out that the article, in part, provides a more up to date take on the Alan Howard Waldorf School’s policy concerning bullying.

        • Badly Shaved Monkey
          November 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

          OK, I’ve read the material that you linked to. If your post was intended as a “Hey, read this”, I’ve done so. But, it is not clear to me what you want us to derive from having read it. It looks to me like a description of an approach to bullying in schools that provides a lengthy preamble that excuses bullying. Excusing bullying would seem to undermine the supposed strategy for curtailing it and implies that the motivation for curtailing it is weak. I think bullying is a Bad Thing and curtailing the motivation for curtailing it does not seem likely to me to help curtail it.

          So, what are you wanting us to take from this?

          • Ted Wrinch
            November 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

            The article. rather than excusing bullying, sets out a strategy for opposing bullying. As you’ll have read, the school uses a two-fold policy against bullying. They use ‘no blame’ in the situation where the bully is amenable to ‘voluntary cooperation’, otherwise they use the school’s ‘disciplinary approach’.

  19. DrBollocks
    November 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    So, to summarize, Steiner schools follow the philosophy and teachings of an Austrian lunatic. It is possible to have a good, safe education in a Steiner school as long as the institution chooses to ignore some of the ravings. However, it is not clear which ravings are being ignored by each individual school.

    Not exactly reassuring.

  20. Badly Shaved Monkey
    November 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Ted,

    You say,

    They use ‘no blame’ in the situation where the bully is amenable to ‘voluntary cooperation’, otherwise they use the school’s ‘disciplinary approach’.

    That is unexceptional.

    But, this is the context is which it is applied,

    MWS recognizes that social conflict is an integral part of human growth and development that bene-fits from guidance rather than avoidance.

    conflict is as close as modern society comes to initiation. Conflict brings children into a new aloneness, requiring a sense of courage and of personal growth. It challenges society’s addiction to harmony and happiness.

    Social and emotional education, according to Payne, leads one to become “a heart-filled being” and to develop “emotional intelligence sharpened on the flint stone of hard times.”

    I don’t think that is the foundation underlying the anti-bullying policy of mainstream schools. You don’t think it risks undermining the policy. I do.

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      BSM says:

      “I don’t think that is the foundation underlying the anti-bullying policy of mainstream schools. You don’t think it risks undermining the policy. I do.”

      Yes, but you appear to have an overly glowing view of the effectiveness of ‘the anti-bullying policy of mainstream schools’. In the schools bullying exists, and sometimes it is addressed effectively and sometime not (and often the latter). Conflict exists; it’s part of human nature and as such exists in schools. The only choice is how to deal with it, which is what the school policy in that article addresses. By addressing this the schools, rather than ‘undermining the policy’, enhance and support it.

      You seem to think that having ‘a heart-filled being'; developing ‘emotional intelligence'; and developing ‘a sense of courage and of personal growth’ are bad things. I don’t and think instead we need more of them.

  21. Badly Shaved Monkey
    November 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Ted, this looks very similar to the recasting of Creationism as ID. What I would want to see would be the practical outcomes as revealed by a diligent schools’ inspection system. I see the inspection of Steiner schools by a ‘special’ service as problematical in this regard.

  22. November 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I read the article too. Marin Waldorf School scores pretty bad marks from parents: http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/search?q=marin Here’s a clue… When the Waldorf bullying guru is visiting your school, it means the school has lots and lots of bullying problems.

    Waldorf is no stranger to bullying. Reading the reviews of parents, I see how many PARENTS were bullied by Waldorf administrators too. There are LOTS of public complaints of parents being bullied by Waldorf teachers and administrators. My blog alone has dozens.

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Yes, but this is your personal crusade, Pete, that you’ve been conducting for a decade or so. What you ignore is that almost all schools are ‘no stranger to bullying’. If ‘the Waldorf bullying guru’ (Kim John Payne?) is visiting your school it could be it’s because they’re trying to build a really effective policy against bullying.

      • November 14, 2012 at 2:48 am

        “What you ignore is that almost all schools are ‘no stranger to bullying’”

        Almost all schools don’t have a SINGLE quazi-religious/occult philosophy that binds the teachers… Closest thing to that is Catholic schools and you see how well they’re doing, right? Bullying in other schools happens, but it is NOT tolerated. In Waldorf schools it is ACCEPTED.

        “If ‘the Waldorf bullying guru’ (Kim John Payne?) is visiting your school it could be it’s because they’re trying to build a really effective policy against bullying.”

        Naw… this is nothing more than damage control. They are SO bad at bullying, they have to look like they’re doing something about it. Anthroposophy trumps anything Kim John Payne might tell teachers anyway. Anthroposophy says the child’s karma is with their teacher and classmates. What happens in class STAYS in class.

        Remember when Waldorf was getting heat for racism (still are…)? They offered a “policy” against enrollment discrimination… imagine that? Nobody was accusing them of discriminating against students of color in enrollment. But hey, it was easy for them to issue that policy statement – as if they had actually done something about racism in their schools. Kim John Payne is just another big Waldorf dog-and-pony show to pretend they’re doing something when they have absolutely NO INTENTION of addressing the problem… NONE!

        • Ted Wrinch
          November 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

          “Bullying in other schools happens, but it is NOT tolerated. In Waldorf schools it is ACCEPTED.”

          Bullying in other schools happens and, unfortunately, is often tolerated, in spite of official policy to the contrary. We’ve just been discussing the Marin Waldorf school’s bullying policy, which is designed to prevent bullying, rather than accepting it. Shouting ‘ACCEPTED’ does”t make it any truer, Pete.

  23. November 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    “The article. rather than excusing bullying, sets out a strategy for opposing bullying.” By finding ways of excusing it.

    Remember the Waldorf motto: ‘For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy.’

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      “Remember the Waldorf motto: ‘For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy.’”

      Appears to be *your* Waldorf motto, Pete.

      • November 14, 2012 at 2:39 am

        “Appears to be *your* Waldorf motto, Pete.”

        NO… ‘For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy’ appears to be the OFFICIAL Waldorf motto… and we’ve already discussed a number of reasons, karmic and otherwise, why Waldorf permits bullying. Just because you say it isn’t so doesn’t change the facts Ted (who do you think you are, a Republican?). Try googling “Waldorf bullying” and see what you get. Bullying is a HUGE problem for Waldorf schools because THEY PERMIT BULLYING!!!

        • Ted Wrinch
          November 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

          Pete,

          That quote was apparently from the Trevor Howard Waldorf School on bullying in 1993. This article contains the  current THWS policy on bullying, where nothing like that quote exists. You’ve moved from saying that the quYote ‘is’ the Waldorf motto to it ‘appears’ to be, but it’s still only your opinion. 

          ” we’ve already discussed a number of reasons, karmic and otherwise, why Waldorf permits bullying.”

          I’ve seen some of your statements on the subject of ‘karma’ and they seem as solidly grounded as your claim that that quote is a Waldorf motto.

  24. November 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    From Ted’s link: “The way adults react to a child’s temperament strongly influences the child’s self-image and way of approaching people and tasks. By understanding the temperaments, one can build a child’s self confidence and give him or her the strength and assurance to deal with self-knowledge as an adult. The ideal in parenting is to ennoble the temperaments and fill each child with self-esteem and confidence in his or her relationship to the world. The ideal in our relationships with adults is to meet one another with understanding, respect, compassion and cooperation.”

  25. November 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    “This article contains the current THWS policy on bullying, where nothing like that quote exists.”

    Really? Did you read the article you posted?

    Here’s the original quote: ” ‘For a child who is being victimised,it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimisation is healthy’”

    Here’s the Marin article:

    “MWS recognizes that social conflict is an integral part of human growth and development that benefits from guidance rather than avoidance.”

    Ted, is it that you can’t read, or simply don’t understand what you’re reading?

  26. Ted Wrinch
    November 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Yes, we’ve discussed this: it says ‘conflict’. That’s different from ‘victimisation’, which implies a victim. I don’t think my problem is with either reading or understanding; yours appears to be wirth both. If you have some argument to make please make it, otherwise I think we can conclude that we’re done here, Pete.

    • Melanie Byng
      November 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Ted – your manner of arguing seems to be here, and elsewhere, to attack Pete. Telling him to shut up because you don’t like his conclusions won’t work and it strengthens his position, not yours.

      Importantly, and possibly something else few anthroposophists will enjoy, here’s historian Peter Staudenmaier on ‘karma and trauma':

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25373

      ‘One reason why such issues are important here is that Steiner’s conception of karma plays a central role within anthroposophy overall and within Waldorf education in particular. ‘

      • Ted Wrinch
        November 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        You’re being a little selective in your criticism, aren’t you Melanie? Asking someone to produce an argument is a standard part of debate, not ‘attacking’ them, I can understand that you don’t like me doing a good job here but making empty accusations of me of ‘attacking’ someone seems a little desperate to me.

        OTOH, Pete, as I’m sure you well know, is rather fond of more polemical formulations, such as: ‘Ted, is it that you can’t read, or simply don’t understand what you’re reading?’ – obviously I can both read and understand the article – or his ‘Really? Did you read the article you posted?’ – since I’ve commented on it, clearly I did. And I love: ‘who do you think you are, a Republican?’. It’s just polemics, don’t you agree?

        Yes, we know the ‘historian’, Pete Staudenmaier will get dragged into any Steiner discussion in time. But he has a bias against his topic – Waldorf education scholar Professor Priestman calls him a ‘staunch anti-anthroposophist’. For this reason, I find most of his work to be spurious (and is why I quote his academic title).

        • November 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

          ‘Waldorf education scholar Professor Priestman calls him a ‘staunch anti-anthroposophist’.’

          That’s what you’d expect fervent waldorf supporters to say. They are often unfamiliar with Peter’s work. As you seem to be as well.

          ‘For this reason, I find most of his work to be spurious (and is why I quote his academic title).’

          How silly.

          In arguments with Peter you’ve not been able to actually produce many arguments on the topics. You’ve kept obsessing about other things. Like what his tone is, in your perception of it.

          It has often appeared that you have not read much of his work, much less understood it. Which, of course, is an obstacle to discussion.

          • Ted Wrinch
            November 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

            It’s funny how, as Pete and I are having a little discussion about a small topic here, all the regulars seem to feel the need to pile in. Like Melanie, Alicia seems to need to accuse me of things (calling me a ‘fervent Waldorf supporter’ rather sets out your stall ahead of things, doesn’t it Alicia). But does any of this have anything to do with the topic, what Melanie calls ‘strengthening [one’s] position’? All this ad-hom diversion almost makes it look like you people are suffering from feelings of insecurity. Shall we get back to the debate, if there is one?

      • Anon
        September 19, 2013 at 11:36 am

        Did you go to Glasgow Stiener ?

  27. Melanie Byng
    November 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Ted – in my opinion you’re not doing a good job here, but at least it’s familiar.

    The reason Peter Staudenmaier, assistant professor of modern German history at Marquette University,
    ( http://www.marquette.edu/history/documents/StaudenmaierCV2011.pdf ) gets quoted in discussions of this kind is that he has researched and written extensively about anthroposophy. Researching and writing about anthroposophy as an academic does not make him an ‘anti-anthroposophist’. You don’t like his conclusions, certainly and you wish that he too would shut up. Sune Nordwall wishes that all the parents who are critical of Steiner schools would do likewise. But at the moment Sune’s most earnest wish is that Andy Lewis shuts up. It’s looking unlikely…

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      “Ted – in my opinion you’re not doing a good job here, but at least it’s familiar.”

      I think we’ve had this discussion before, Melanie; what you say is to be expected  (difference of worldviews and ‘do, do, do do; dah, dah, dah, dah’ – remember?). Course, doesn’t make what you say true.

      “Researching and writing about anthroposophy as an academic does not make him an ‘anti-anthroposophist’. ”

      Clearly that doesn’t. His bias, however, pretty visible to other than ‘the regulars’, does.  

      However, none of this diversionary stuff is advancing any argument. Over to you lot.

  28. November 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    “Yes, we’ve discussed this: it says ‘conflict’. That’s different from ‘victimisation’, which implies a victim. ”

    Um… the TOPIC is BULLYING… which implies a victim.

    Seriously, Ted, you’re making me look AWESOME! Keep squirming…

  29. Ted Wrinch
    November 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Great, someone’s retuned to the argument. No ‘squirming’ Pete, just logic.

    “Um… the TOPIC is BULLYING… which implies a victim.”

    Yes, a ‘victim’, as in the Alan Howard Waldorf School quote from ’93 talking about ‘victimisation’. The later AHWS quote talks of ‘conflict’, which does not require a victim (or do you think our conflict here over the topic of bullying means one of us is being victimised?). As you say, bullying requires a victim; since conflict does not and conflict is what that that latter quote discusses there’s no reference to bullying there.

  30. November 15, 2012 at 1:49 am

    “As you say, bullying requires a victim; since conflict does not and conflict is what that that latter quote discusses there’s no reference to bullying there.”

    Again, YOU ARE WRONG. The SUBJECT being discussed in the quote is bullying. There need not be a direct reference IN THE SENTENCE to victimization… Really, Ted… you’re not losing anyone here with your smokescreen… You’re just making yourself look (more) ridiculous. ANYONE can read the quotes. Why pretend they say something other than what they say? Do you think nobody is going to check it out? Very sad…

    • November 15, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Again, from Ted’s article: http://www.marinwaldorf.org/newsletters/10.25.12%20Wings.pdf

      “The Bully and the Bullied learn little because they are too aroused and vigilant. In some situations bullying is a self-perpetuating situation because kids crave familiar and known situations. They may walk right up to the bully and get hit or shouted at. The child who tempts the bully (and the bully) are self-medicating. They are looking for an adrenalin rush. Adult intervention that “bullies a bully into stop-ping bullying” may unintentionally contribute to this rush, and is a hardly a way to model problem solving.”

      Sounds A LOT like letting them work out their own karma to me… ;)

      • Ted Wrinch
        November 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

        “Sounds A LOT like letting them work out their own karma to me… ”

        Or trying to help the two sides of a co-dependency understand what is happening and break the pattern.

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

      “The SUBJECT being discussed in the quote is bullying.”

      The *subject* is bullying but that’s not what we’ve been discussing here, which is the two quotes you lifted from AHWS publications, in your comment of November 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm – take a look, if you’ve forgotten . You said that the second quote, from the current school policy, endorsed bullying. I’ve shown that it doesn’t. 

      If you are so desperate and illogical that you don’t even follow your own argument I can’t see we have anything more to say.

      • November 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        “You said that the second quote, from the current school policy, endorsed bullying. I’ve shown that it doesn’t. ”

        Really, how did you show that? You didn’t “show” anything Ted, you just SAID it doesn’t. Do you understand what “showing” is Ted? You have to actually bring something to show – a quote, an article, a testimony… something to show.

        For example, you brought a link to an article to “show” Waldorf is doing something about bullying – the article instead shows that they are paying lip service to their bullying problems but not actually addressing them… the article says they REALLY want the kids to work it out themselves. I don’t know if you read the article beforehand but that’s neither here nor there. Having your own “proof” thrown back into your face, you’re now trying to claim the article doesn’t say what it says.

        “If you are so desperate and illogical that you don’t even follow your own argument I can’t see we have anything more to say.”

        I think, perhaps, YOU don’t have any more to say. I happen to have a LOT to say on this subject – especially because bullying and abuse is common and ignored in Waldorf schools throughout the world.

        • Ted Wrinch
          November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

          This is silly- you follow neither principles of logical debate nor do you pay attention to facts.

          “You didn’t “show” anything Ted, you just SAID it doesn’t”

          I discussed the content of the quote you said showed AHWS’s current policy supported bullying; I showed that your quote did not provide this support – remember discussion of the the meaning of the word ‘conflict’ in the quote and it’s difference from the meaning of ‘victimisation’ in the other quote?. You failed to answer my argument and instead changed the subject: to the wider context of the whole article; to my supposed pretence that the quotes say something other than they do; to your *belief* that the school is paying ‘lip service’ to the anti-bullying principle; to your *belief* that their anti-bullying counsellor is a ‘fig-leaf’ for an underlying pro bullying policy. You provide no evidence or reasons to support your assertions. As I’ve said, you appear desperate and illogical and not someone who one can conduct a debate with.

        • Ted Wrinch
          November 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

          This is silly- you follow neither principles of logical debate nor do you pay attention to facts.

          “You didn’t “show” anything Ted, you just SAID it doesn’t”

          I discussed the content of the quote you said showed AHWS’s current policy supported bullying; I showed that your quote did not provide this support – remember discussion of the the meaning of the word ‘conflict’ in the quote and it’s difference from the meaning of ‘victimisation’ in the other quote?. You failed to answer my argument and instead changed the subject: to the wider context of the whole article; to my supposed pretence that the quotes say something other than they do; to your *belief* that the school is paying ‘lip service’ to the anti-bullying principle; to your *belief* that their anti-bullying counsellor is a ‘fig-leaf’ for an underlying pro bullying policy. You provide no evidence or reasons to support your assertions. As I’ve said, you appear desperate and illogical and not someone who one can conduct a debate with.

          • November 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

            “You provide no evidence or reasons to support your assertions.”

            You’re right. YOU PROVIDED THE EVIDENCE. Meanwhile, the school’s policy speaks for itself. Their policy is to ignore bullying – according to THE ARTICLE YOU PROVIDED! You just get madder than a wet hen that the schools don’t live up to what you THINK they’re doing, don’t you?

            Oh wait, I DID provide dozens of testimonials… so I suppose we BOTH supplied the evidence. Thanks for your help Ted.

    • Ted Wrinch
      November 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      “The SUBJECT being discussed in the quote is bullying.”

      The *subject* is bullying but that’s not what we’ve been discussing here, which is the two quotes you lifted from AHWS publications, in your comment of November 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm – take a look, if you’ve forgotten . You said that the second quote, from the current school policy, endorsed bullying. I’ve shown that it doesn’t.

      If you are so desperate and illogical that you don’t even follow your own argument I can’t see we have anything more to say.

      • Ted Wrinch
        November 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        You appear psychologically unbalanced. I think you need to get help.

        • November 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

          “You appear psychologically unbalanced. I think you need to get help.”

          That, I won’t argue with. But, whether I’m psychologically balanced or not has absolutely nothing to do with the points I’ve made Ted. You brought the article thinking it supported your position, and instead, it made you look ridiculous (as usual). You want a “balanced” discussion but feel no obligation to present any case on your end while critics bring tons of evidence to support their claims. The ONE quote you provided backfired on you. You’ve got nothing of value to add to this thread, Ted… You’re here to throw your own feces hoping to make critics look bad. You’ve done the opposite.

          • Ted Wrinch
            November 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm

            “You’re here to throw your own feces hoping to make critics look bad.”

            Amazing. How does this stuff get through? Totally insane and not worth responding to.

  31. A
    November 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    As a parent of children who attented the school in question…I feel very sad and upset at this awful revelation. As a parent you always want to do the best you can and protect them as much as you can. imagine how I feel knowing I sent my children there and being completely unaware that at that time there were no offical checks taking place on the adults emloyed.
    The sadest thing is trust is not enough.

    • November 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      “The sadest thing is trust is not enough.”

      If there’s one thing to be learned about Waldorf teachers in all this, it’s that they DON’T deserve anyone’s trust. They have become well known for their dishonesty toward parents (thanks to a few whistle-blowers). The dishonesty is built right into the system – starting with Steiner himself. To become a Waldorf teacher, you HAVE to learn to lie to parents. In my view, parents should never take a Waldorf teacher’s word for anything. Their agenda has NOTHING to do with educating children and EVERYTHING to do with spreading Anthroposophy. If your child is in a Waldorf school – LISTEN to their complaints and take them seriously.

  32. January 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Your 7 points smack of a desperation to find things to criticise, although I do appreciate where you are coming from.

    The pedagogical approach, dedicated teacher and non-standard qualifications I am fine with (there is actually much to commend) – even Anthroposophy does not concern me per se, as in my experience it is neither understood nor preached by most Steiner staff and practically no parents. So what is the point without it? Despite the negatives, the curriculum offers an alternative (albeit flawed) to the narrow definition of success held by mainstream state/private schools.

    The risks however can be boiled down to one thing: Accountability. Such a boring & seemingly innocuous word, it does not concern parents generally unless their child is directly affected. The issues in the Norwich Steiner school (of which I have direct experience) for example stem from the school being run by one family who have invested money and consequently it is felt they cannot be questioned/criticised/removed. If they were benign dictators this would not be such a problem, but when something goes wrong (as they do in all schools) – such as the bullying of pupils, staff and parents – the temptation to avoid issues – or worse, turn on those who dare to point them out – is strong. Different sets of parents I know personally have found that on complaining about their children being bullied, the school has reacted by reporting the _parents_ to social services. This intimidation tactic works – one of the families even moved away from Norwich (after being completely exonerated by Children’s Services). This inclination to avoid responsibility for problems and cover up / hide / deflect would not be possible were proper accountability in place. But the Trustees of the school who should perform this role will not act (presumably because they _feel_ their hands are also tied?)

    Similar tactics were used in the well publicised case of a bullied teacher, and on taking the case beyond the farcical internal complaints procedure to the SWSF fellowship, the chair of trustees at the fellowship agreed that the school’s actions were questionable, but also felt they could not act – suspending their own complaints procedure in the process (to my knowledge, the central SWSF complaints procedure is still not functioning). Eventually the only recourse in this case was through the legal system – a costly and hugely detrimental process for all involved – which was won with a damning judgement against the school. They paid up, but little has changed within the school.

    I am not aware of any sexual abuse, but the lack of accountability means that if it did happen it is far more likely to be ignored or covered up than in a school with better governance.

  33. Melanie Byng
    January 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    ‘even Anthroposophy does not concern me per se, as in my experience it is neither understood nor preached by most Steiner staff and practically no parents.’

    This means you don’t understand how anthroposophy informs the pedagogy. How would you know if ‘most Steiner staff’ understood it?

    However, you’re right – accountability is a big problem. And it is in many cases directly related to anthroposophy itself. As Andy says:

    ‘their sense of spiritual superiority, clairvoyant insight into human nature, and aloofness from the rest of society blinds them to obvious dangers.’

    • January 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Parents understand the pedagogy perhaps in terms of the _effects_ of Anthroposophy. For example, many agree that leaving reading and writing until the children are older is of positive benefit – immaterial of the way that guidance was derived from an “understanding” of the development of their Etheric body. Similarly, a focus on creativity makes sense even if completely divorced from the Anthroposophical reasoning that it leaves them more open to becoming clairvoyant.

      Similarly, the untrained staff (and some of those who have been through the Kindergarten training) also seem only vaguely aware of the thinking behind many of the pedagogical decisions – but are comfortable with that perhaps because like parents they are drawn to the outcomes rather than the principles; although I could of course be wrong and they are better versed than I understood to be the case.

      But to me these arguments about Anthroposophical foundations are a distraction. New parents will see a list like the 7 above and not be that bothered so long as what they see day-to-day is appealing. This may seem odd to someone more used to thinking carefully about such matters, but is comparable to sending your child to a faith school without necessarily agreeing (or even understanding) with say the Catholic position on gender equality.

      What IS desperately important though is the tendency (for whatever reasons) for Steiner environments to lack openness. This can lead to severe problems with effective governance and accountability – which in turn exacerbates child safety issues and make it easier to suppress knowledge of these / dealing with them.

      • Andy Lewis
        January 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

        Anon (from the http://norwichalternativeeducation.co.uk/ blog and supporter of Steiner Education)

        Parents may well find what they see appealing. What I am discussing is that they may not see all that is important – and some of it because Anthroposophy does not disclose what is important.

  34. March 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Apparently, karma is at work…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-21940354

    “Up to 60 children have been led to safety after a fire broke out in a first-floor classroom at an independent school in the west end of Glasgow.

    Fire crews were called to Glasgow Steiner School, in Lumsden Street, Yorkhill, at 11:30 on Tuesday.

    Following the evacuation, pupils were taken to a local community centre. No-one is thought to have been injured.”

    • Rosie
      March 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Please do not make light of an incident like this. It was a major fire, and a godsend that no one was hurt. My brothers friend was working in the school at the time and a I am hugely relieved that neither she nor any of the children or teachers where hurt.

      • Anon
        September 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

        Rosie I remember you :D get in contact I was in a class above you. It’s been along time, you hung about with the art teachers daughter yea ?

        • Rosie
          September 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

          Hey, yeah I was in Isaacs class. If I remember right that would have put you with Dave?

  35. Rosie
    March 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I don’t wish to get involved in any arguments here, but feel the need as an ex Steiner pupil to put my two cents in.

    While I definitely agree that there were major mistakes made, and was disgusted to find out the truth about Steve, I do not regret for one moment my time at Steiner.

    During my time as a pupil, I thoroughly enjoyed learning everything I was taught. Yes, the curriculum isn’t perfect, but neither is the state schools curriculum where I attended secondary school. I think if I was asked to describe it from a pupils point of view, I guess I would say that we were taught through music, art and play, in a manner that allowed us free thought and initiative. We went deep into every subject we studied, and every term as a class we would study a different ancient civilisation with our main class teacher. We also began learning languages at the first opportunity, and looking back at some of me and my siblings class work, the vocabulary is impressive indeed for the age groups, which is one of the definite advantages to a Steiner education.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the Steiner School system needs more (or some) regulation. It would be a great school that teaches the values and kindness acquired from Steiner school education, in a safer more regulated environment.
    When my friend and I left Steiner, the idea of ‘falling out’ with someone was completely alien to us. The concept of being nasty for no reason, confounded us. Yes, I will agree we were somewhat more innocent than the average child coming from a state Primary, but the innocence of children is something that is slowly disappearing and definitely to be missed.
    I would also say that Steve is not the only teacher of mine to be sent to prison on those charges. One of the teachers at my secondary school was also charged for sexually assaulting a young boy. He did have a crb and was formally trained.
    As for formal training, I recall many occasions where class teachers would be away doing various teacher training courses.
    Once again, I have no wish to argue with any of you, but merely feel the need to put my point of view across.

    I speak from both the point of view of a former Steiner pupil, and a current activity instructor working with children of all ages, where child safety and protection is essential.

    • March 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      “where child safety and protection is essential.”

      Yes, I’m sure we can all see that.

      Hopefully, you will all find another Steiner school to bring your services to… because what could be more important than child safety if not the promotion of Anthroposophy?

  36. Anon
    September 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Steiner Schools are great. I was educated in one, in fact the same one Steve Birch worked at at the same time he was there, he attacked kids before and after Steiner. His crimes are his own not steiners. I would send my kids there and encourage my kids to do the same. You will get a far better none communist, private hating, inverted snobbery tainted socialist government driven brain laundry of an education in them than in state schools

    One incident and the state labour robots run with it as appalling as his crimes maybe they never happened in school or to me. I was 10 and tool music lessons from him in school and nothing happened to me because he was never alone other adults were always with other adults. It was he that duped children, parents, teaches, the authorities and schools.

    Do you know how many child abuse cases there are in social services ? Charities ? Children’s homes in Wales ? The BBC ? Thatchers Government ? ? State schools ? Police ? Scouts ? You name it the state has out done more than any other-body. Lords, commons, royals there all in on it. There are official government organisations who work with children who don’t require disclosures because there expensive and given by BT essentially not the police. They work on the adult being watched by another adult system. The same as Stiener.

    I loved the education at that school, the worst abuse I faced was in the state system. Not there.

    Get it right you intellectual hypocrite !

  37. Idun Bäck
    May 16, 2014 at 5:24 am

    It would be interesting if you could do the same summery of christianity and its history of burning women alive and further …. So much of our society has its foundation in christianity such as our laws & schools ect. even if its not spoken off. When I read part of the bible it does not sound very modern to me if I take it literary and forget which time it was written in. Same with Rudolf Steiner. Christianity still has brought so much good values and standards to today’s European society and lot needs to develop further.

    You maybe need to study the Rudolf Steiner school physically and focus on what they have developed it into. Life and needs does not stay in a books or words it lives in how people choose to practice, develop and experience it by some of those ideas. There is often a reason why it has become so large because it fulfills those people’s needs that seeks it. Maybe not yours but you have the same great human right as others in this modern society to find you own way in life that suits your development and needs. It does not have to be for every one, to measure if it is wright or wrong. The main thing is we end up as good people that contributes to our society’s well being. As a large Swedish research on Waldorf pupils have shown Waldorf schools does precisely that.

    Yes, every school system has something they need to develop further and so has Waldorf School. Time changes and we need to develop with it so does also the normal state school. The state school has still left overs from the industrialism that then focused mainly on prepare pupils for jobs in the industries etc. Therefore is still there a greater focus on surtain subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry etc. But today we have invented a vast variety of new jobs and professions and with a greater understanding. This means the needs has changed and other subjects such as art, music, gymnastic, dance, crafts, IT, sociology, geology, polletic, economics ect. has also become important subjects for the new needs and choices we facing. This also changes our values and future dreams. For example the state school needs to look at those new needs and let go of the needs we had long time ago. See TED.com Ken Robinson professor that describes it so well. And that is what Waldorf Schools is trying to do.

    It does not sound as you have gone to a Rudolf Strainer School because you criticism is so much still in a book and not out of own or others people’s real experience of it. Yes, it is not for every body and so is not all the different religions, political parties, philosophies, pedagogics and different cultures either. But is it therefore all wrong even if they all have their weaknesses and faults? Maybe it all brings something to the table and we collectively can learn from each others good experiences.
    I find that kind of world so interesting to live and work in. Yes, I have gone to Rudolf Stainer school and I loved every day I went there all the 12 years. What can possible be wrong with that? Yes, I came to England and got a distinction in Architecture part 2 & 3 and is having a great and creative career today like lots of others who has gone to other types of schools.

    Choise is a lovely thing. It is good to have different types of schools to choose from because we just are not the same and society becomes so much ritcher if we are not. Allow it and creat that choise also for others.

    England has such a great mixture of different type of people and cultures living together. That is what I love about England and makes you country so ritch.

    All the best
    Idun Bäck
    Sweden

  38. May 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    “It would be interesting if you could do the same summery of christianity and its history of burning women alive and further ”

    Yeah, you have to go *there* before you can find something worse than Waldorf.

    ” I have gone to Rudolf Stainer school and I loved every day I went there all the 12 years. What can possible be wrong with that?”

    You could have gone to Disneyland for 12 years and had equal success – by that measure of success.

    “Choise is a lovely thing. It is good to have different types of schools to choose from because we just are not the same and society becomes so much ritcher if we are not. Allow it and creat that choise also for others.”

    A choice is something that people can when they are able to evaluate two things. When one thing is hidden, an honest choice cannot be made. Nobody in Waldorf gets to make the “choice” argument while they are hiding what their schools are about.

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