Last week, it was reported that pupils at Ringwood Waldorf School, a private Steiner School, had been given art lessons in “supervised self harm”. The pupils had been encouraged to cut themselves with a blade as part of an art class. The teacher resigned before a disciplinary hearing could take place. Steiner schools sell themselves as focusing on art. I am sure this was not what parents were expecting.
But there are many things about Steiner schools that parents complain they were not expecting. It is not clear to parents up front that Steiner schools were set up to follow the occult spiritual practices of Rudolf Steiner, based on his ideas of karma, reincarnation, quack medicine, and knowledge of the spiritual world through clairvoyance, astrology and, meditation.
But what are we to make of this incident? Can we read anything more into it rather than just a one-off oddity? In principle, this could have happened at any school. However, I have raised concerns before that the bizarre belief system within the school, its esoteric doctrines and the general closed and secret world of Anthroposophy gives rise to specific risk factors that we should be concerned about. In the past twelve months, we have seen a couple of cases of child abuse by teachers within the few dozen UK Steiner schools. Is this frequency about right for the number of teachers in Steiner Schools? I have no idea.
However, we should be able to rely on school inspections by independent authorities to ensure schools are safe places for children. In the case of private Steiner Schools, it is worrying that they were successful in lobbying for different inspection status based on their ‘special character’. The School Inspection Service was set up under the last Labour Government to inspect Steiner Schools and to take into account their different inspection needs. However, as we can see in the last inspection of Ringwood, one of the inspectors is a director of another Steiner School. Other SIS inspectors appear to often have connections within the Steiner world. The report describes how Ringwood “follows closely the principles of Steiner Waldorf education and achieves its aims well.” The SIS criteria for accessing whether a Steiner school is a good Steiner school were developed by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. And so the question of whether a Steiner education is a good education for children is not answered. One might speculate that Steiner Schools wanted unique inspection regimes, designed by themselves, so that precisely that question would not be asked.
In order to spot potential problems within schools, and their specific teaching methods and practices, it would be expected that independent evaluation took place that was not closely associated with preserving those methods. It is my view that is not likely to happen in private Steiner Schools.
But what of the new publicy funded Free Steiner Schools? At the moment, they are still inspected by Ofsted and so could be considered to be looked at by more independently minded regimes. But is even this satisfactory?
Before the last Labour government set up the first publicly funded Steiner School in Hereford, it commissioned some academics from the University of the West of England to write a report on Steiner education and what the state sector could learn from it.
The Woods Report, as it is known, was very positive towards this strange occult spiritual teaching system, dismissive of the many concerns that people have about alleged racism, pseudoscience and their anti-educational approach, and encouraging for the State to embrace Steiner- Waldorf. The report brushes aside concerns that Steiner was a racist who believed Aryans were the most spiritually advanced race, and the karma allowed souls to progress from lower races towards this ideal, by saying,
Steiner’s own statements which may be interpreted as racist because they are culturebound and “carry the racism of an earlier time” or, taken out of the context in which they were spoken, appear racist to contemporary ears.
Obvious nonsense. Steiner saw the preservation of Aryan features as a central goal of his spiritual cult,
In time, however, blondness will disappear because the human race is becoming weaker. In the end, only brown- and black-haired people will be able to survive if nothing is done to keep them from being bound to matter. The stronger the body’s forces, the weaker the soul’s. When fair people become extinct, the human race will face the danger of becoming dense if a spiritual science like Anthroposophy is not accepted.
This report was a missed opportunity to try to understand how Steiner’s racist philosophy might still be influencing Anthroposophical institutions in modern times. We know many Anthroposophists still believe such offensive nonsense as the Steiner Schools representatives told Tory education advisors in 2010 that,
It was felt that there may be some difficulty in making a blanket rebuttal of all Anthroposophy because many people throughout the Steiner schools system, especially teachers, strongly support many aspects of that belief system. If teachers were asked to make a blanket rebuttal of Anthroposophy, many of them may not do this.
One of the authors of the Woods report describes herself as having undergone her own spitiual path which has led her to,
participation in numerous spiritual workshops and to her initiation as a Priestess of Shekinah and of Divine Mother Sophia, into the Order of Lord Melchizadek and The Violet Robe, and into the work of the Grandmothers (Net of Light). Formerly, she was an Inner Brother of the White Eagle Lodge, participating in group and remote absent healing work with people and animals. She is a Reiki Master (Atlantean and Crystal) and has been trained in Angelic Reiki Healing, Crystal Skull healing and other methods. Glenys continues to do absent healing, as well as contact healing, which includes animals.
No doubt, the government saw these impeccable credentials as invaluable in assessing the educational successes and insights from a schooling system set up by a 1920’s Germanic occultist who believed in gnomes, Atlantis and Christ the Sun God.
One reader of this blog wrote to his local MP to express concern that schools were not being inspected properly or had been approved on grounds that did not stand any analysis.
Richard Rawlins, a doctor, started his letter about a nearby Steiner School by saying,
” I am concerned because an associated belief system, Anthroposophical Medicine, encourages homeopathy, denies the value of vaccines and discourages critical thinking. The founder of the movement was clearly a racist, and believed we are reincarnated souls – ascending a scale from the negro to the Aryan with each re-incarnation.Which might be all very well if parents freely choose to educate their children at such institutions, but becomes another issue when the government actively encourages such schools to become publicly funded. At that point all tax payers and MPs should sit up and question Michael Gove and David Cameron as to what, exactly, they are up to.”
A reply came back from Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools,
The response is alarming in its naivety. It says,
All applications for Free Schools, including Steiner Schools, must complete a rigourous assessment and interview process to ensure only suitable groups progress to the next stage.
All applicants must provide evidence of academic rigour and how they will provide a high quality education for all the pupils at their school.
Presumably the Department of Education believe that an teaching programme based on the seven year cycles of childhood spiritual incarnation is suitably rigourous. And that a daily programme of esoteric and therapeutic dance is quality education. I also would imagine the Department believes a philosophy based on the ideas that childhood development is best understood through clairvoyance and that illnesses in children help to reform their bodies. Delaying reading and writing and technological studies because childrens’ souls are not ready for such knowledge must also be “high quality education”.
The letter goes on to say,
The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship has clearly and publicly distanced itself from any racism stated or implied in the writings of Rudolf Steiner. it has also publicly affirmed that it does not promote anthroposophy or teach it in schools as a subject or belief.
This last point show that the Department has absolutely no idea about Anthroposophy. These are Anthroposophical schools – the living embodiment of Rudolf Steiner’s occult spiritual beliefs about children and education. To accept that they do not teach Anthroposophy in schools is to miss the point. These schools live Anthroposophy. From the structure of the day, the spiritual verses recited every day, the eurythmic esoteric daily dances, the restricted media and subjects in art, the lesson plans, the content, the lack of excercise books, the deliberately delayed education, and the attitudes to science and medicine, everything is Anthroposophical.
Grégoire Perra , an ex French Steiner teacher, blew the lid of this misleading view. He described in detail how Steiner Schools insidiously indoctrinated children into Anthroposophical mindsets. One way this is done is by hiding anthroposophical subjects in the lessons. This was achievable, according to Perra, because of the public’s ignorance of Anthroposophy, including government officials and school inspectors.
In the fourth grade (CM1), Waldorf students study zoology and tackle the physiology of various animals, like the lion, the cow, and the eagle. At first glance, their class work appears to be an objective study of the behavior of these animals. At least that’s what an inspector will see in the students’ notebooks. But the teacher will also orally tell the students that the eagle must be understood in relation to the human head, the cow in relation to the human metabolic system and limbs, and the lion in relation to the human rhythmic system (the heart and lungs). Thus, the teacher conveys basic elements of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrine, namely that man is a tripartite being having within himself, in a latent state, the various animal kingdoms.
Another example: In the early grades, Waldorf teachers tell the children a great number of legends or myths. At first glance, this is part of a traditional study of literature and mythology. But the teachers slip in Anthroposophical interpretations… They make subtle allusions to the contents of Anthroposophical books such as MYTHS AND LEGENDS AND THEIR OCCULT TRUTHS  or HIDDEN WISDOM IN GRIMM FAIRY TALES . Most of these works were only recently translated into French (Waldorf teachers having access to them through German connections). National education inspectors therefore cannot detect the Anthroposophical doctrines slipped in by Waldorf teachers when they tell these legends and myths to the children.
The idea that the SWSF have distanced themselves from Steiner’s racism must also be interpreted very critically and with a full understanding of what Steiner’s beliefs were. One big problem is that many Anthroposophists (and some have expressed this to me directly) that Steiner was not a racist because what be said was the truth. How can a spiritual hierarchy be racist if that is what is really going on the world? We should also be aware that the Steiner movement has never undertaken any comprehensive review of what Steiner’s racial beliefs mean in the context of modern schooling. It is is easy to say “we are not racist”, a very different thing to understand how insidious racists beliefs can be.
Part of the problem is that Anthroposophists believe Steiner was a ‘good man’ who loved all of mankind and cannot associate him with the caricature of racism of that of the thug hating and harming those of other races. Steiner’s racism was a paternalistic, insidious racism – more like the “White Man’s Burden” than a vicious thug. The acceptance of casual statements denying racism in the modern Anthroposophical is incompetent and naive.
The new Steiner Schools will be depending on Ofsted failing to understand what an Anthroposophical School is. And I am sure there will be lobbying to have new Free Schools also inspected by the Schools Inspection Service where their ‘special status’ is understood.
I would suggest the government ceases granting new Free School Status to those applications who are anthroposophical in nature (and some may not directly use a Steiner or Waldorf name) and instead commission a new report – a truly independent one from someone who objectively understands esoteric organisations – so that we can get a complete picture of what it is to be a Steiner School.
This is madness. I was just sectioned last week because of threatened self harm which subsequently happened. To do classes in it is just madness.
Yes, to do classes to understand why people do it – that is another matter. But that does not appear to be the case here.
Mind you the fact that Steiner schools do that does not surprise me – since they include every other questionable gobble di gook going.
I just hope the poor pupils manage to get out sane and alive!
“Mind you the fact that Steiner schools do that does not surprise me – since they include every other questionable gobble di gook going” = nonsense. Steiner Schools do not “do that”. One teacher at one Steiner School did that, if the reports are correct. These sorts of things can happen in any school that unwittingly happens to employ a fruitcake or a sadist. I went to a secular high school considered the top private school in a city of a million people, where students including myself were brutally assaulted with impunity. At the state primary school I attended, I later discovered our grade six teacher liked to fondle little girls.
As for you Andy, you are on your usual witch-hunt.
“As for you Andy, you are on your usual witch-hunt.”
Good for Andy – there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of material!
Of course bad things can happen at any school but I agree with Fiona. In Steiner schools dubious concepts such as “karma” etc are taught as part of the curriculum – as facts. I don’t think secular schools operate like this – at least not the one I went to.
Sounds like a bit more irrational prejudice arising from the new wave of scientific fundamentalism. Are children taught karma as part of the curriculum? My son wasn’t. And if it were the case … because you believe in “karma”, does it mean you are more likely to assault children? Actually, I would have thought such a belief might discourage you from hurting others. In any case there’s zero evidence for or against. And, G. Roberts, do you honestly believe there is no endoctrination in state schools?
Dave. Please read the article before commenting.
I have read it Andy. There’s nothing new here, and what I have said stands. Regarding your continued and obsessive attacks on anthroposophy, why not take on the Catholic Church or Muslim schools or Maoist schools for that matter? I’m not an anthroposophist, but I do believe that the principles of Steiner education work and work well, and that in my experience Steiner education in this country (Australia) fosters independence, intelligence and creativity among most of its students – who actually enjoy going to school. I like the fact that music and art are woven into the curriculum, and that stories from various cultures are used to instil worthwhile human values. I like the fact that Steiner education, like Piaget, recognises that children are not blank slates or miniature adults, but are children with distinct emotional and psychological needs at different ages. Like most Steiner parents I am not interested in the esoterica associated with anthroposophy, or all the details of what Steiner thought (and as far as I can tell, his ideas actually change quite often). I am more concerned that people like you are on a crusade to deride and destroy anything that can’t be scientifically proven.
You should take a leaf from Australian doctors who work with traditional ngangkari in the Pitjantjatjara Lands of South Australia. Check out what ngangkari believe: evil spirits, astral travel etc. And yet the doctors with whom they work acknowledge their enormous value.The sad fact for you Andy is that human beings are not just chemical substances or mathematical equations, but elusive identities who respond to myth, story, music and beauty.
Nevertheless, I agree Steiner schools should be subject to the same rules and inspections as other schools, and here in Australia they are required to meet universal curriculum standards. There is an exclusivist tendancy among some anthroposophist teachers who believe they should not be subject to inspections, and I believe it should be overridden. Steiner education has produced above-average results and teachers should let the world know.
Dave, “It’s not fair, look what Billy did, that’s much worse” may work in your Steiner school but it doesn’t work in the grown-up world.
Problems with the Catholic church are not relevant to the desirability of exposing the bizarre cult-like behaviour of the Steinr schools, since apart fomr anything else the Steiner schools have until now largely flown under the radar.
Your movement seem to want public money. As taxpayers, it is our right to see how that money is spent and how it’s likely to be spent in future. Occult beliefs and nonsensical practices should be challenged wherever they impact children, regardless of who is doing it, regardless of what other abuses may be going on elsewhere.
“Are children taught karma as part of the curriculum?”
Yes, of course… and reincarnation… starting with the “Rainbow Bridge” story in kindergarten. Are you playing dumb Dave?
“And if it were the case … because you believe in “karma”, does it mean you are more likely to assault children?”
You’re more likely to let their karma work itself out when they are assaulting each other. When a teacher assaults a child, another teacher might not report it – thinking it’s their karma to work out together… the child sought out the teacher (according to Steiner) after all… why would another teacher interfere? There is no shortage of Waldorf people who think like this.
Sorry Pete. I’m wasting my very precious time on this groupthink club, arguing on several fronts. Sadly, that’s how it works with blogs like this one . Read my other responses and you may see where I am coming from, but I doubt it. Where’d you get those amazing blinkers?
“Sorry Pete. I’m wasting my very precious time on this groupthink club, arguing on several fronts.”
Waldorf has several fronts of problems? Who knew?
” Read my other responses and you may see where I am coming from, but I doubt it. ”
I think I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. I’ve heard this baloney hundreds of times.
“Where’d you get those amazing blinkers?”
Waldorf teachers knitted them for me.
Goodnight Pete. Try anger management. You are especially unconvincing when you shout at people.
“Goodnight Pete. Try anger management. You are especially unconvincing when you shout at people.”
Do you imagine me “shouting” at you Dave? I can assure you I’m typing quietly. Pointing out Waldorf’s faults on a daily basis is a wonderful anger management exercise. I really, REALLY enjoy spreading the word about Waldorf. They have harmed too many kids not to be held accountable. I will continue because fresh complaints about Waldorf schools come in almost daily. When somebody (like you perhaps) claims Waldorf schools don’t do harm – or, in your case, that the story Andy reported about was an isolated case, I’m literally DELIGHTED to set the record straight (your interpretation of my use of CAPS not withstanding).
No lessons in self harm took place. Students pricked, or made small cut, in finger to draw a little blood when learning about natural pigments.
“No lessons in self harm took place.”
Obviously, a good percentage of parents didn’t agree with your assessment of the incident. Parents pulled their kids out of the school. Parents don’t typically disrupt their child’s education over something as innocuous as a pin prick. You aren’t the first one to come here trying to downplay how serious this incident was.
“One teacher at one Steiner School did that”
Maybe one teacher did EXACTLY that… but…
Here’s another Waldorf teachedr: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/ems-child-suffers-second-degree-burns-at-school/nXRFz/ “Emergency workers now say a 12-year-old girl suffered burns closer to 12 to 15 percent of her body in an experiment at a school in Southwest Austin Friday.
The girl suffered serious burns to her airway, a serious concern, said an Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services official. She also suffered burns to her face, arms and legs.
The girl was participating in an experiment with her sixth-grade class at Waldorf Austin School near the Y at Oak Hill before she suffered the burns, the official said.
Initial reports gathered by emergency workers said the class was working with water and alcohol — and boiling the alcohol, the official said.”
And another one: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/21994
“The teacher from Rudolf-Steiner school in Vienna, Austria, reportedly encouraged Jakob to leap over a fire leaving him so badly burnt that he had to have both his feet operated on. Heute have reported that the boy was eventually taken to hospital not by the teacher but by a farmer.”
And another one: http://www.wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=1364683&nav=0RZFGxHZ “Claire McConnell, who apologized in a letter June 24, was accused of strapping one child into a chair with a leather belt, tying the hands of others and taping shut the mouths of some elementary school students, the Albany Times Union reported Thursday.
Parents said the tactics were out of character for the Hawthorne Valley School, a Waldorf school that designs programs to reflect the emotional, physical and intellectual development in children.”
How many more do you need Dave? I’m just getting started… As a side note… there seems to be no shortage of witches in Waldorf schools.
LOL, Pete. We haven’t had any reports of such behaviours from our Steiner School, although the first case would appear to be an accident from your description. That makes three reports of abberant behaviour by Steiner School teachers, one from 2011 and the other from 2003. In answer to your question “How many more do you need Dave” I’d like to ask you: 1. “How broad a net are you prepared to cast?”, 2″Do you consider anecdotal evidence of this kind valid?” and 3. “Are you prepared to scientifically compare these reports of abberant behaviour with reports of abberant behaviour from all other kinds of schools all over the world and apparently from any time in the last 10 years”? Anyway, thanks for confirming that you’re on the witch-hunt too.
Dear Mr Richards,
As Andy clearly points out in his post, he has no idea whether the cases of abusive behaviour in Steiner Schools are above, at or below average for all schools.
You go on to ask if the Steiner skeptics are prepared to see such comparisons made fairly. The answer is of course yes. Indeed, that is one of the key points of the post i.e. that all schools should be inspected on an equal basis, and no special status afforded to Steiner schools as appears to be the case currently.
So, I turn the question around to you. Are you prepared to see Steiner schools (all of them) inspected and rated on the same basis as other schools?
Dear Mr Robinson,
See my reply above to Andy. The simple answer is yes, no problem.
PS By the way, Mr Robinson. Please note the response of mine to which you are responding to Pete Karaiskos, and not Andy!
1. “How broad a net are you prepared to cast?”
My focus is Waldorf schools, and there seems to be no shortage of problems here. If you want to go after abuse in public schools, be my guest. Waldorf schools found ME. They harmed my kids intentionally. You BET I’m on a witch hunt… but only for a very specific type of witch.
Thanks Pete. I’m sorry (not as in apology sorry) if Waldorf schools harmed your children, but I can’t really comment further since you choose to provide no further details. My son was harmed in a state school, but I don’t consider he was harmed by all state schools, or for that matter all teachers in his school. I was very definitely harmed by my school, a secular private school that is still in great demand. I don’t consider I was harmed by all secular private schools, however. You make very sweeping generalisations and perhaps they spring from the basis of an unfortunate experience. I would like to make the generalisation (also sweeping but I believe accurate), that a great proportion of children are harmed by education.
I am hoping you will get around to answering my other two questions. Spare me the caps, though. We are adults, presumably.
“My son was harmed in a state school, but I don’t consider he was harmed by all state schools”
Yes, that would be silly. State schools aren’t a cult, after all. If all the teachers in state schools were bound together by a wacky religious philosophy like Steiner schools are, there might be a reason to suspect that what happens in one happens in all. In Steiner schools, the teachers have to embrace a philosophy that is inherently harmful to children – right from their initial training. After that point, the degree of harm they induce on the children varies.
“You make very sweeping generalisations and perhaps they spring from the basis of an unfortunate experience.”
I could only wish mine was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered literally hundreds of people who have had horrible Waldorf school experiences. My blog is filled with their stories.
But there are more reasons why I can speak so honestly about Waldorf. Like other whistle-blowers, I, too, was on the “inside” at one time – even helped start a Waldorf school. I married into a pretty famous Waldorf family who lived and breathed Anthroposophy. I studied it for more than a decade. When Waldorf screwed with my kids, they made a huge mistake.
“I would like to make the generalisation (also sweeping but I believe accurate), that a great proportion of children are harmed by education.”
“I am hoping you will get around to answering my other two questions. Spare me the caps, though. We are adults, presumably.”
The caps are to remind you we’ve had many of these conversations before. 😉
“2″Do you consider anecdotal evidence of this kind valid?”
Not one case… but when the same thing happens over and over again… AND Waldorf people condone it, AND there’s a justification for many of the stupid things Waldorf teachers do in Steiner’s writings, then it’s very good anecdotal evidence.
“3. “Are you prepared to scientifically compare these reports of abberant behaviour with reports of abberant behaviour from all other kinds of schools all over the world and apparently from any time in the last 10 years”?”
Sure, why not? Have you got that data? How shall we compare it so that we adjust for the tiny percentage of schools worldwide Waldorf schools actually represent? Waldorf schools are maybe a thousandth of one percent of all schools world-wide. The four cases already presented puts them way over their allotment of harming children. If you add the hundreds of people on my blog who have pulled their kids out of Waldorf… and the thousands of others who have also had to pull their kids out (and didn’t write about it)… and compare it to how few Waldorf schools there are world wide, the scales tip toward Andy’s proposal that Waldorf schools should have a LOT more oversight.
Can’t seem to reply directly to Pete’s last rejoinder to me. No, I haven’t got the data, Pete. You’re the one who’s making wild accusations. You prove them. And I should have said “education, such as it is.” I wasn’t suggesting they haven’t also been helped by education, but unfortunately, given the institutionalisation and assembly line philosophies of mass education (which arguably is indeed a cult of sorts), it is a two-edged sword.
Meanwhile, when I see people responding to points with “Baloney”, I should know to stop bothering. Pity, we could have a real discussion but you seem to prefer pats on the back from your like-thinking mates. There are problems with the delivery of Steiner execution, and there are numerous teachers and parents who are facing them as Steiner comes out of the closet (so to speak). I think you may have had particular problems in England where your archaic funding models encouraged a very enclosed system. I totally agree that Waldorf schools should be subject to the same inspection as all schools, but this should not encompass expectations that all children should be taught with the same methodology,much as it might suit mechanistic minds to see the assembly line approach universalised. From my own experience (outlined here and in another blog) I know that my own and many other children have benefitted from the Steiner approach. But I notice that no-one in this discussion or the previous one wants to address that particular piece of anecdotal evidence. How does someone who is supposedly endoctrinated into believing in gnomes and can’t think for himself become a rocket scientist? There are many many people who have had overwhelmingly positive experiences of Waldorf education, however hard it may be for you to accept it.
Should have said “the execution of Steiner education” not “Steiner execution” in my last comment. Have a laugh at my expense.
Dave, it doesn’t make a difference AT ALL if they produce rocket scientists… WHILE THEY’RE HARMING CHILDREN. They refuse to acknowledge the harm they are doing… but only want cheerleaders like you to remember their successes. They shouldn’t be educating some children at the HUGE expense of others. For every child that graduates a Waldorf school, a dozen children have had their educations disrupted by attempting to go to a Waldorf school – thinking it was something else. You represent a group of people that don’t care that they lie about the harm they do to children, parents, families. They just DON’T CARE! Let me repeat that… THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT CHILDREN!!! They care about spreading Anthroposophy. If you want to see how much they DON’T CARE, try bucking their system sometime.
Dave, I have been a school governor (of a CE-aided primary). I have been peripherally involved in an incident involving a teacher in which no harm came to anybody, a child was scared but not hurt. It took over a year of investigations and meetings with parents and governing body before the issue was satisfactorily resolved.
We had all the necessary child protection bodies and they had beenr eviewed for accuracy, currency and compliance by the LEA and the Diocese. We were incredibly lucky that the chair of governors was a magistrate and well versed in the rules of evidence and child protection during interview, and was able to draw on the expertise of another governor of the opposite gender who is a retired headteacher. If these two governors had not stepped in and interviewed the child, as familiar and trusted adults, in a calm setting, then the outcome would have been drmatically worse for everyone ocncerned including the child.
Incidents involving potential harm to a child by a responsible adult employee, are pretty much the most serious thing that can happen in a school. The lack of credible policies in place for this school speak fo a lackadaisical attitude and a lack of credible oversight.
The C of E is a faith body that is responsible for schools, its policies are robust and it has a network of Diocesan advisors who will help schools to ensure that they meet not just the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law – putting the interests of the child first. No doubt the Steinerists also think they do this, but their view of what constitutes theinterests of the child, and proper child welfare, appears from all acounts to be seriously at odds with the consensus view.
Karma and destiny have no place in child protection.
Documents elsewhere describe a laissez-faire attitude to bullying in Steiner schools, and there seems to me to be a view that teaching the “philosophy” is more important than teaching good practice.
I do not advocate wrapping children in cotton wool, but school staff have a serious responsibility. These people look as if they are the educaitonal equivalent of chiroipractors, playing at being profesisonals without actually understanding what it takes to do it properly.
Thank you for your comment. You summed it up for me.
And Andy keep going!
Guy Chapman: I agree with you that Steiner Schools, like all schools, need to be rigorously and publicly accountable for the behaviour of their teachers and that in some schools more precise policies on bullying need to be implemented as Steiner education progresses. To that extent, discussions like this have value. But I am concerned that the brush-tarring that goes on on in blogs like this overlooks the many valuable aspects of Steiner education. With so many disasters and such poor outcomes in conventional schools, there is muchthey can learn from Steiner.
The only proper way to do that is for them to be inspected by the same inspectors and measured to the same standards, because education is about teaching and learning, and philosophical doctrines must take a poor second place to that.
The problme here is directly caused by the fact that the inspection body has been set up to give a view sympathetic to Steinerism. School inspectors should not have any such ideological biases. Inspectors of church schools are not required to be people of faith, and the national curriculum must be followed.
Here’s one that’s closer to home Dave.
A science teacher was sacked and two students face months of recovery after an explosion at a school in Bibra Lake during a science experiment left them with severe cuts and burns.
One student with severed tendons may need more operations to ensure he regains the full use of his hand.
Perth Waldorf School administrator Bruce Uchiyama-Lee said that late last term Year 12 students had added oxygen to a glass jar that had previously contained LNG, then set it alight, causing a powerful explosion.
He said two boys received lacerations and burns to the face and stomach and glass shards had severed the tendons in one student’s hand.
Mr Uchiyama-Lee said an investigation by the school found that none of the six students in the class did anything wrong and they had followed instructions from teacher Geoffrey Vargas.
Mr Vargas, who moved his family of five from Europe to Perth to take up the job at the start of this year, said he accepted he made a mistake but believed he had been unfairly blamed for the accident.
He said he had told the school the science lab needed an overhaul because it contained unsafe equipment such as cracked Bunsen burner hoses and flammable or corrosive substances that should have been locked away.
“The whole lab was so dangerous that something was bound to happen eventually,” he said.
So Dave – just because nothing like this hasn’t happened yet at your particular school doesn’t mean it can’t. Idiots are abundant in Waldorf schools.
It’s not at all clear to me why Steiner schools should qualify for the special treatment of having their own inspectors. Faith school sare inspected by OfSTED like any other school, and the faith element is assessed only after the educational perofrmance. The specifics of the faith school, usually stated in rather vague terms of spiritual support, are explicitly additive and may not conflict with the delivery of educaiton against national standards.
Thanks for another informative article on the subject of Steiner Waldorf and Anthroposophy.
As a past student (1 and a half years at age 11 – 12) and a concerned father I appreciate the information shared. I relate fully to the insidious indoctrination within the schools and I agree that as much light should be shed on the matter before it permeates public funded education too much, taking with it a generation of ill equipped adults to fend for themselves in the real world in future.
This ‘incident’ does not necessarily worry me as it simply can’t be any part of a school’s policy to teach self harm and I suspect it was done by an over zealous teacher with perhaps ‘John Keating’ aspirations.
What I am most concerned about is the deception of the Steiner System and how government are seemingly duped by them. I think what is needed is a public campaign to bring this deception to the attention of ministers and would be parents and students. That they are not appraised on the same criteria as ‘normal’ schools leaves me speechless!
By the way has anyone ever tried commenting on a Waldorf promotional Youtube video, or through any of heir forum channels? Give it a try, they are all either closed to comments or more alarmingly, feedback posts are ‘pending approval’ and this is how they preserve their online reputation as Scientology does, by censoring debate.
I suspect that they also have their ardent apologists troll the web for ‘anti’ information on Steiner, as does Scientology. Dave Roberts seems to be one of them.
Robert Richardson, You may be referring to “Dave Richards” but if so that isn’t all you got wrong. It’s fascinating to watch the psychology of a witch-hunt. You should check out The Crucible. It might be a sobering experience for you. “They” do not “have” me as a “troll.” I have much better things to do and have already wasted considerable time after getting a note on my email about a post on a blog to which I am a subscriber. It’s all about “us and them” for a lot of people, many anthroposophists among them. There are some some things about Steiner Schools that need to change, but they have many brilliant features. However, I don’t think the conversation can be had among zealots of either the anthroposopohical kind of secular fundamentalists. Why not welcome people who challenge your prejudices, or the assumptions you draw from carefully selected facts, instead of having a sideways swipe at someone you don’t agree with?
I think it was just the name I got wrong,
I am certainly not on a witch hunt as you say, but rather keeping myself informed as once again, I am threatened by the Waldorf School’s System in that my soon to be ex wife has misguided aspirations of placing my daughter in one of it’s institutions, so the subject is very close to my heart.
I wish for my daughter to be properly educated to the best of my abilities in the wonderful tradition of Wordsworth and Shakespeare. I wish for her to learn mathematics, science and the humanities. My every wish for her is to find her inner talents and afford her the time to pursue them fully. As her parent and protector I could not possibly defend myself in 20 years time when she enters an uncertain future ill equipped to compete in the world and having to explain why I could not prevent this potential calamity and injustice.
As a Waldorf parent yourself you MUST have either had or have similar concerns since amongst many other things reading and writing is delayed. I find the ‘Art’ to not be self expressive and individual as they say, since all ‘artworks’ tend to look the same employing rigid techniques that to the layperson looks something like Aura Photography.
I could go on and on, but then I assume you could well predict my objections.
The most troubling thing to me is really that in place of critical thinking and logic, these poor kids get sucked into ‘esoteria’ and ‘majik’ in all forms and no doubt become lost in it all. Those who then move into formal education find themselves far behind their peers which leads to nothing but lowered self esteem and poor outcomes. How do I know this? Well, for a time it happened to me, and my step son suffered a similar fate, only he took years to recover and only learned to read around the age of 13 which was a blow to his confidence. He was apparently labelled ‘choleric’ and as such was offered only play, free time and ‘art’ between the ages of 6 and 9. That is child abuse!
So, aside from Anthroposophy, Eurythmy, Biodynamic Agriculture, Medicine and his many, many other areas of ‘expertise’, I find the Rudolph Steiner philosophy unpalatable in this day and age. It all seems to be a mish mosh of everything from Eastern mystycism, through Buddhism, the Occult, Wicker, pseudo science, anti vaccination – this list goes on.
I would prefer my daughter to know the Latin name of a tree, rather than feel the inclination to hug it!
The world in 20 years time will not be the new epoch Steiner intuited, it will be a place where irrational belief, pseudo science and quackery will be a thing of the past. Reason will prevail. Progress and the need for empiricism is in our very biology, there’s no stopping that and this type of education system will have no customers.
In the meantime, it’s a case of suffer the little children for the sins of the fathers!
You’re not the first father to express such concerns about Steiner education. In fact they are extremely common, especially among men. Despite your rather arrogant insinuations about my motives, let me respond to your concerns.
I did not share your reservations, because I understand that if a child is brought up in a rich cultural environment in which television is not used as either an educator or a babysitter and children are not prematurely intellectualised by their ambitious and anxious parents, they will flourish.
Accordingly, my son Isaak won a state-wide short story competition after being educated the Steiner way, with no extra coaching or pressure from us. His mathematics was also excellent, and he became an accomplished musician, playing violin, recorder and classical guitar. His dedication to not only completing tasks but doing so with attention and care was noticeably greater than his state primary school friends, and was common among his classmates.
Isaak went on to get the12th highest marks in the Northern Territory in his leaving certificate. Largely as a result of his Steiner primary education, he had become an inquistive and enthusaistic learner with skills in both sciences and humanities. He is now in his third year of an aerospace engineering degree at Monash University, in which he has received several high distinctions. I see no signs of his having been brainwashed, and he tends towards a thoughtful agnosticism in his beliefs. He looks back on his Steiner education with great fondness, and has attended many Steiner fairs, where he often helps out on the chess stall.
The Alice Springs Steiner School has among the highest literacy and numeracy standards in the Territory , as measured by the Government. I would have no hesitation in recommending Steiner education to any parent who understands the basic concepts of the educational system and is prepared to support those concepts. And I am not talking about anthroposophy here.
From the tone of your comments, however, my feeling is it would probably be better for your child if you and your wife could agree on something a bit more pedestrian.
You appear to be somewhat disingenuous here. You have failed to mention the six years of education your son received after leaving Alice Springs Steiner School. Since you don’t highlight it, presumably he was not in Steiner education for years 7 to 12. It could be argued that he did well despite attending a Steiner primary school. Apart from your belief, there is no way of knowing if his success can be attributed to a Steiner primary education. Whilst you should be rightly proud of your son’s achievements, a more meaningful assessment of the worth of Steiner education would be to look at the outcome of an adequately large cohort compared to mainstream educated peers from a similar social background.
Furthermore, your assertion about the literacy and numeracy standards of Alice Springs Steiner School is not particularly impressive considering that it is fee-paying (hence a cohort from a largely comfortable middle-class background) and small (only 175 pupils in the primary school). Given the overall demographics of Alice Springs (and the Northern Territory as a whole), it would be astonishing if a fee-paying school did not score highly, academically.
Most children who attend Steiner Schools in Australia don’t go on to Steiner high schools. Yes, it could be argued he did well despite attending a Steiner school, except that is simply not the case, although I don’t expect you to take my word for it. I have no doubt the foundations for his success were laid down in the Steiner School, where he was taught the importance of finishing his work, and developed a sense of the relationship between different fields of knowledge and understanding , as well as a love of learning. This was augmented in a home environment in which the various aspects of his education were supported and his curiosity encouraged.
Indeed it could be argued that he did well despite his six years in a “conventional” high school, which suffered from a lack of suitably trained specialists — although he did have a few excellent teachers. Furthermore, the level of “endoctrination” was considerably higher in the church-run school he attended, which had regular prayer and hymn-singing sessions and accepted beliefs in all sorts of things that most of the correspondents on this blog would have to consider irrational and unacceptable in a State-funded system – if they are to be consistent.
It is true of course that his path might have been different if he had attended a Steiner High School, which we would have liked. But I think this where an important point is left out by Steiner critics, rather more disingenuously: if either our son or we, his parents, had perceived that his education at any school was not working, or that he was being hurt or abused, we would have had the option of pulling him out. People should not automatically expect that any Steiner education is good education, even if the essential principles are sound and effective. It’s called “buyer beware.” Ongoing genuine communication with your own child and their teachers is essential in effective schooling of any sort. And if you don’t like the idea of Steiner education, you don’t have to buy it at all. On the other hand, with our elder son, who had to attend a State school because the Steiner school hadn’t started, we had no choice but to persevere with its ongoing failure to respond to his needs. His foundation for secondary school was poor, although mitigated by a couple of dedicated teachers who gave him something of worth despite the chronic paucity and mediocrity of the syllabus. Despite being diagnosed as “gifted and talented”, he barely scraped through the same high school my younger son attended.
“A more meaningful assessment of the worth of Steiner education would be to look at the outcome of an adequately large cohort compared to mainstream educated peers from a similar social background.”? I agree, Dr Bollocks. I am merely offering my own anecdotal evidence, to counter all the (equally unscientific) evidence that is shamelessly paraded all over this blog.
“Given the overall demographics of Alice Springs (and the Northern Territory as a whole), it would be astonishing if a fee-paying school did not score highly, academically.” : Ah, so suddenly it’s just a fee-paying school where children can be automatically expected to do well, rather than a nest of witches and lunatics bent on harming children and preventing them from reaching their full potential? You can’t have it both ways.
“The Alice Springs Steiner School has among the highest literacy and numeracy standards in the Territory , as measured by the Government.”
So, I’m guessing the Alice Springs Steiner School is the exception in that the had students who actually took the national tests. It turns out many Steiner schools in Australia avoid state testing. So, what percentage of the Alice Springs Steiner School students participate in the tests Dave? I ask because according to an article out today:
“All students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are expected to complete three days of National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests unless their parents have filled in a form to say they object on philosophical or religious grounds. Schools are gearing up to start this year’s round of tests on Tuesday.
Test participation data on the My School website shows that some schools – mostly alternative private schools – had a high rate of withdrawals.
None of the students from Silver Tree Steiner School in Darlington sat the tests and 97 per cent of Year 3s at Perth Waldorf School were withdrawn.”
So, if say, only 5% of Alice Spring students took the test, it wouldn’t be that difficult to claim high scores, would it? Not suggesting your Waldorf school would do anything underhanded like that, of course. Just wondering to what extent they actually participated in the testing.
That’s a big “say”, Pete. As far as I know, they all did the test. But why don’t you check with them? I haven’t got the time to feed your obsessions. Anyway, you only believe what suits you.
“That’s a big “say”, Pete. As far as I know, they all did the test. But why don’t you check with them?”
I don’t need to check with them Dave. YOU are the one claiming your particular Steiner school shows no evidence of the problems people here have described. YOU made the claim about how well students at your school in Australia did on the government tests. I’m pretty sure it’s up to YOU to produce the results YOU have claimed are true. Otherwise, how can anyone believe YOU?
No, Pete. I don’t have the time to go on wild goose chases because of some desperate hope of yours. You’re making this wild hypothesis. You prove it.
” You’re making this wild hypothesis. ”
No, the newspaper is stating that Waldorf schools don’t take National tests. YOU are the one making the wild claim that YOUR Waldorf school performs great on these tests. Support your claim! Or acknowledge that you CAN’T.
It’s not as if anyone believed it in the first place anyway… but at least now we have a newspaper article to support what the skeptics have been saying all along. What have you got to support your claim?
You’re kidding! You actually think the ‘normal’ schools with their over vaccinated kids who are constantly sick, and radiated wifi from a young age, and learning just how to pass tests, have got any kind of future whatsoever??? That is truly a laugh. If you’re all for killing the children with pharma drugs because they have adhd because they are radiated with wifi buildings, and heading for cancer, then yeah, stay out of steiner schools, and steiner theories of karma, which just means – you get what you deserve! what idiots…
“We haven’t had any reports of such behaviours from our Steiner School” Unfortunately, NO Steiner school representatives have EVER heard of such behaviors. That’s why I keep pointing them out. This type of behavior is common in Steiner schools BECAUSE there is no oversight or accountability in these schools – from within or from without. Here’s the difference between 2003 and today – in 2003, Patrice Maynard (one of the top people in AWSNA) made excuses for the abuse… today, they actually have to fire abusive teachers once in a while… not that often, but occasionally. Waldorf teachers behaving badly is nothing new… and as I said, there is plenty of evidence that this is a Waldorf problem.
The Department for Education asked for an emergency inspection of the Ringwood school after the cutting incident came to light. Here’s the report from that inspection:
Perhaps it would be instructive to compare extracts from this alongside the previous inspection, just a year earlier.
2012: “The provision for safeguarding and promoting the welfare, health and safety of pupils is good”
2013: “Procedures for safeguarding are at present insufficiently robust.”
2012: “Arrangements for the safeguarding of pupils are fully appropriate and have appropriate regard to the DfE guidance.”
2013: “The safeguarding policy is appropriate in most respects. However, the section on what to do in the event of an allegation being made against a teacher or other member of staff is not strong enough… It [does not] reflect the latest DfE guidance.”
2012: “The designated persons with responsibility for child protection have undertaken relevant training and have conducted the training of other staff at appropriate intervals.”
2013: “There is no recorded overview of any [safeguarding] training
completed (prior to or since appointment) which would help the school to ensure that staff training is not only appropriate but maintained in a timely manner.”
In addition the emergency inspection found that the member of the school council responsible for overseeing the work of the safeguarding officer was… the safeguarding officer him/herself!
How can two inspection reports be so different? Was the first one unreliable in any other aspect? Can any of the SIS inspections be relied on? Or Ofsted for that matter?
A school inspection is of necessity a subjective snapshot. Given that, why is it acceptable to the DfE for that subjectivity to be influenced further by having SIS inspectors with strong links to the Steiner movement? It’s madness.
Who conducted the 2012 inspection? SIS or OfSTED?
The 2012 inspection was conducted by SIS. The 2013 emergency inspection was also published by SIS but Googling the name of the 2013 inspector suggests that she is an experienced OfSTED HMI.
Give Dave Richards a break, folks. He is simply arguing from a position of reason.
While I share some of Andy’s concerns, and I probably wouldn’t send my (‘mixed race’) daughter to a Steiner School, some of the comments here are overblown, and Andy’s original post is full of the sort of guilty-by-weak-association that I expect more from the Daily Mail.
Anecdote is not data. Remember that.
Someone says, ‘Ooh – such-and-such happened at a Steiner School – there are a lot of bad things that happen at Steiner Schools.’
Dave says, ‘A lot of bad things happen at other schools too. Do you have any data to suggest that bad things happen more frequently at Steiner Schools than at schools in general?’
Someone says, ‘Oh, that’s irrelevant because Steiner Schools are bad anyway.’
Do you all see the fallacy (actually total lack of coherence) in that argument?
Martin: Up to a point, Lord Copper. What this case highlights is that the Steiner schools have successfully lobbied for their own separate inspection regime, one “sympathetic” to their ideology rather than ensuring that thier ideology does not interfere with standards-based education as required for every other school in the UK; this inspection regime endorsed a child protection regimen which falls well short of acceptable standards; and this resulted in an incident that would have the governing body of any other school hauled over the coals.
This is in the context of independent evidence that the same ideology contains conepts such as “destiny” that are asserted to have a much higher priority than would normally be acceptable. So a child who is bullied, is fulfilling thier karmic destiny. Normally this would be taken with a pinch of salt but in combination with the lax protection standards the inevitale conclusion is that the Steiner idology does not regocnise the consensus view of appropriate child protection.
And we are paying for that with our taxes.
Is that really acceptable?
I mean, one could go off into satire and compare this with the child protection policy at Hogwarts, but these are real children.
Guy – I’m only saying what I’m saying – no more, no less.
Many of those who post on here would class themselves as rationalists I suspect.
Well then, let’s argue rationally (and I’m not saying you’re not). But wild assertions and inuendos need to be backed by proper evidence or else retracted.
When one looks at the evidence, one must come to the conclusion that these child-harming incidents don’t seem to register with Waldorf supporters. It doesn’t matter if it’s one incident or a hundred… they’re all anomalies according to Waldorf folks. Steiner schools would never *intentionally* harm children, right? I mean, what would be the point of intentionally harming children… unless, of course, the children learn something from it… then it’s OK of course. And, when a teacher accidentally harms children… well, maybe it was the teacher’s karma to learn something from it… that’s OK too. In fact… the ONLY time a Waldorf lesson isn’t OK is on occasion, when parents or social workers interfere with the Waldorf teachers’ mission. There’s no threshold for the amount of harm that’s acceptable. In my case, they literally went to great efforts to literally put my child’s life at risk. Martin, if you want to see evidence, you have to actually read a little. Start with my blog: http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/
Hi Martin, Andy and his friends are not interested in rational arguments, they just want to be right, they will attack mercilessly anybody that disagree with them; arguing with them is a futile exercise.
I have a look from time to time, there is always a “poor fly caught in the spider web of Andy and his mate.
If you watch carefully you will see that there is only a few of them at the core, but always using the same tactics.
The rule of the quackometer blogs are simple:
Article 1: Andy and his mate are always right
Article 2: everything else is subsequent to article 1
quackimoto: That is plainly false, at least n my case, as should be obvious from the above. What you are doing is basically framing; casting those who disagree with your worldview in a light that makes it easier to dismiss their opinions. It’s a well understood way of managing cognitive dissonance.
The problems with Steiner schools are real. The best way for the movement to deal with criticism is to accept a regulatory regime the same as every other school. If compliance requires a regulator sympathetic to your ideology, then what your doing is indoctrination not education. If Steinerists think they are not doing indoctrination then it should be entirely straightforward to pass a standard OfSTED inspection, and no special arrangement is necessary; indeed, it’s actively harmful, as it positively invites criticism. Church schools are inspected by the same teams as nondenominational schools, why is the tiny Steiner sector, which has only recently started to receive state finding, different from schools in any other ideological tradition?
“What you are doing is basically framing; casting those who disagree with your worldview in a light that makes it easier to dismiss their opinions.”
What are my worldview?
In the case of Martin, his question is: do you see the fallacy?
only one simple answer: “yes, sorry, got carried away”.
instead, we get: “up to a point”
define that point if you can; it was a simple yes no answer, and you still manage to twist it.
in general, your two main gripes are homeopathy and Steiner; I am not an homeopath, and I would never have put my children in a Steiner school.
Still I respect people’s right to choose what medicine they want for themselves, or what education they want for their children.
I know already that you are going to answer me with all this “harm” caused by homeopaths and Steiner school, and here I would say you just press the “drama button” there is to my knowledge no death directly caused by homeopathy, and to my knowledge no more mishap and abuse in a Steiner school than in any other type of school.
Here again, you are going to argue that people who see homeopath risk their children life by not going to doctors, and this is probably untrue, parents will tend to take their kids first to the gp before anything else.
It is possible that a few dogmatic idiots do not do so, but the majority of people see their gp first
Same with Steiner, you present a deliberately threatening picture of Steiner school which is unlikely to be a representation of reality.
Then of course, you will claim that your critical thinking allow you to make claim of fair representation of reality, not so, you strong bias against anything alternative, and you r bias toward science as the only answer to life, the universe and everything prevent you from having an objective point of view on these subjects, the fact that you go on and on about it just demonstrate the strength of the bias, and the frequent aggressive or even derogatory response to those who disagree with you is another indicator of the strength of this bias
Do not ask me for specific example of aggressive or derogatory responses, just go through the past posts on homeopathy or Steiner, it is littered with it.
“It is possible that a few dogmatic idiots do not [take their children to the GP; instead opting to use homeopathy instead], but the majority of people see their gp first”.
When people talk about the harm of homeopathy, isn’t it exactly the “few dogmatic idiots” that they are talking about? Isn’t it these people that need to be protected from this abuse?
You can’t say that homeopathy doesn’t cause harm and then acknowledge that it is harming SOME. It is the SOME that those who are against the harm are trying to protect. As long as it is HARMING SOME, it is causing harm. It is not a benign practice as long as it needlessly harming SOME.
Likewise, I think that is what those who are against Steiner Schools are trying to get people to understand. Your son may now be a rocket scientist after attending, among other establishments, a Steiner primary school. But, MANY MORE children, on average, are harmed by the [objectively below standard, as they have yet to be properly assessed by OFSTED] education.
you would do more harm by depriving people of choice and their freedom to choose than by trying to protect a few idiots.
If a parent fail to take their child to the Gp when they need to, they are to blame, not homeopathy.
If a parent put their kids in a particular school, it is also their responsibility to support their child and make sure the child is safe.
What is often evident with faith school (of any faith) is how parents and family act as a community and support the children, you may disagree with the philosophy or set of belief of a particular school, but the parents are often more supportive and interested in the development of their children than in more anonymous state school.
This is just to say that you focus mostly on what you do not like about Steiner, while parents who put their kids in these schools see a lot of benefit.
Quackimodo, you don’t get to choose whether you have normal human physiology or whether the laws of physics apply to you. That’s not choice, it’s delusion. The only freedom you gain by advocating such things is the freedom for charlatans to prey on the vulnerable.
I didn’t say “yes sorry got carried away” because I didn’t get carried away. Read mt prior comments re the inspections of this school, and how they compare wiht my experience as a governor of a school.
I haven’t said anythihng about the fitness of Steiner advocates to run a school (actually I think they are delusional fools and not fit to run a whelk stall but that’s just my opinion; I stuck to the facts of the inspection, especially the fact that the Steiner-friendly SIS passed the child protection regime whereas an HMI found it substantially deficient.
Other schools do not get to define their own inspection regimes. This is something that as far as I can tell applies only to Steiner schools, as a result of political lobbying. I do not think that any school should get a separate inspection regime, still less a publicly funded school. Free schools are new to the UK, the most pressing concern for the taxpayer has to be that they are performing their primary function – education – correctly. Giving them their own inspection regime is a great way to fail at that.
“Still I respect people’s right to choose what medicine they want for themselves, or what education they want for their children.”
Do you acknowledge that people’s “right to choose” is taken away when schools are dishonest about what they deliver? If I wrap an apple in an orange skin, and call it an orange, do you feel you have the right to inspect it before agreeing with me that it’s an orange? Seems sensible doesn’t it? How about if I tell you I’ve inspected it for you – so you don’t need to inspect it?
No one i think disagreed that all schools should be inspected on an equal basis, I do think also that regardless of orientation, faith our set of belief, certain standards should be imposed to all schools, having said that, I maintain what I said, that most parents inform themselves well before deciding on a Steiner school or any other school, and their right to choose the type of education for their children is to be respected.
You assume that people are complete idiots who are unable to see “the other side of the coin”, unable to do their own research and make up their mind.
Some people make up their mind and choose a path you disagree with: this is what happens in democratic country.
Your naivety as far as communication is concerned is embarrassing: catholic school, islamic school for example are going to present their school under the best possible light; do you notice any difference between what our minister of education promise and what is being delivered, do you believe everything the labour or conservative party say publicly?
In your term, they all wrap an apple in an orange skin and tell you that this is the best orange there is.
Fortunately, people are not complete idiots unable to see through the marketing presentation, and make up their mind.
One last example, according to the quackometer, all alternative therapists are “scammers” out there to take your money under false pretence, and do harm to your children; but people make up their mind, they know they have a choice, they do see their doctor, but also go to their osteopath or homeopath, and I am very happy that they can exert that choice; I am worried that if the people who express themselves so vehemently on this blog had their way, these choices would rapidly disappear.
The derogatory and frequent use of words such as quack and scammers on your blog is enough to demonstrate your bias against anything alternative in medicine or in education, it makes you irrelevant as far as an objective discussion on this subject is concerned
I was wondering if you could evidence your assertion, ” according to the quackometer, all alternative therapists are “scammers””?
I do not believe I have ever said anything of the sort.
I think you are pretty much on the nail there, Quackimoto. Andy has come back to you with a point of law, but the gist of the blog is exactly as you say. Well put.
Dave, that’s the post hoc fallacy. Here, Andy has a go at someone who was, until his downfall, a registered medical doctor trained in the entirely orthodox way: http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/07/chinese-whispers-mmr-and-press.html
The fact is, though, that the world of supplements, complementary and alternative medicine (SCAM) is a prolific source of bullshit and fraudulent claims.
So yes, of course most of the SCAMmers Andy talks about are quacks. That does not mean that all quacks are SCAMmers or that all SCAMmers are quacks.
hate to say it, but thank God idiots like you are all dying of cancer.
Peace and love to you too.
My goodness this is a trip down the rabbit hole Andy, rosie, you need to get a grip girl, the only idiots dropping like flies from Cancer are those idiots like yourself who continually live in LaLa land thinking your Alternative twaddle and nonsense is doing you some good,, its a joke, but then maybe you went to a Steiner School which would explain your abysmal lack of intelligence and have been poorly educated. Oh Dear.
I need to correct my statement here: according to your mates or co-respondant on the quackometer, I mean the small tightly knit group that is always present, responding to and attacking any comment that diverge from the official line, often use this term, although you never use it yourself Andy, but your some of your mates such as Badly Shaved Monkey and a few others do not hesitate; by the way, I think BSM is a vet, and since with have the word “vet” and “scam in one single phrase, what do you think about the scam that allow vet to have the monopoly of treating animals and charging extortionate amount of money for it? that would be something worth battling for.
In the presentation of your website, you call it an experiment in critical thinking, on that ground it is a complete failure.
Since I obviously welcome opinions from many divergent beliefs, I cannot be said to hold similar beliefs to people you choose to cherry pick.
Rather than tilt against the windmills of your imagination, would you like to engage with the substantive points I make in my post. In particular, you will see that I am not against choice, but rather I am alarmed that Steiner schools make it difficult for parents to make informed choices and that such schools should be held to similar standards of inspection and accountability so that parents can indeed make informed choices.
I know it is far easier to argue against someone who is against choice – but that person is not me. Would you also like to reconsider your arguments as well as your facts?
Come on Andy, of course you and your mates welcome different opinions…so that you can bash them.
Really? There are a lot of people here with a lot of different opinions. I know there are things on which I disagree with Andy and some others here.
It looks very much as if you’re trying to manage congitive dissonance with the usual fallacious arguments.
You’ll wear out the old “cognitive dissonance”one if you keep doing it. It was a bit thin first time around.
It remains true whether you lie it or not.
There is no official line. Obviously most people who follow Andy’s blog will be in broad agreement about some things (e.g. homeopathy being bogus, quackery being evil) but that is normal for any blog. Most advocates of nonsense seem to exclude those who disagree, whereas skeptics tend to allow anyone to comment with the inevitable result that people who post nonsensical opinions are mocked.
If you want to see groupthink, go and look at FreeThoughtBlogs. The people I recognise here are very independent minded.
“Your naivety as far as communication is concerned is embarrassing: catholic school, islamic school for example are going to present their school under the best possible light; ”
LOL! Any question about what they’re teaching in a Catholic school? Or an Islamic school? Is there any question about what the slant might be on the subject matter? Do Catholic schools deny being Catholic while presenting themselves in the best possible light? I think you may be the one who’s being (perhaps intentionally) naive.
“In your term, they all wrap an apple in an orange skin and tell you that this is the best orange there is.
Fortunately, people are not complete idiots unable to see through the marketing presentation, and make up their mind.”
Again, and this point seems to be lost on you… MAKE UP THEIR MIND BASED ON WHAT? Waldorf’s dishonest websites? Self-inspections of their own schools? Waldorf schools are behaving badly. Why should anyone TRUST them?
Parents need HONEST information when they decide about schools. There is no shortage of Waldorf schools and organizations that supply dishonest information to their customers, to school boards and, as we witnessed in California, even in a court of law. Lying has become second-nature to these people. Honest inspections by people outside of the Waldorf system are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to insure these schools are delivering what they claim (spoiler alert: they aren’t).
Calm down Pete, check your blood pressure, may be, you always sound on the verge of a heart attack.
Steiner school present themselves as they wish, you just have to google “criticism of Steiner schools” to get a different point of view, people also enquire from other sources, talk to parents etc.
You are dramatising a bit, and I am worried for your health
“Steiner school present themselves as they wish”
Is the word “fraud” in the dictionary where you come from?
” I maintain what I said, that most parents inform themselves well before deciding on a Steiner school or any other school, and their right to choose the type of education for their children is to be respected.”
Not when they are asking for public money… sorry. That “right to choose the type of education” is not a “right” at all. The public has NO obligation to pay for wacky schools that hide their religious/racist philosophy from state inspectors – despite how many blind-sided parents might claim to want it. Until Waldorf schools are honest about what they are bringing into the classroom and WHY, they have no business asking for pubic monies. As private institutions, they can do whatever they like, including filleting other people’s children with scalpels I suppose depending on what country they’re in.
Hi Pete / Andy
Despite the partial ignorance of the government at present is it likely that Steiner School’s will become state funded institutions? Where we are now in the UK with this? Is it conceivable that these institutions will successfully continue to pull the wool over the eyes of the DfE and Ofsted and eventually be afforded ligitimacy and become state funded under the Free School’s system? I see some of the school’s websites are now claiming part or full victories eg Bristol and Stroud.
The reason I’m asking (and I think you both know my concerns) is that I have an uphill battle ahead in keeping my daughter out of said institutions and I deal on a daily basis with the low ethics, deception and outright dishonesty of my adversary in this debacle. I must say from my direct experience that Steiner’s adherents present with all of the above character defects in addition to a cult like brainwashing that just cannot be reasoned with.
As an example I was informed that “‘so and so’ Steiner School got a very good Ofsted report”. To now learn that SIS even exists and carries out reports on behalf, or in spite of Ofsted is very troubling indeed, but a revelation that helps me in my pursuit for a decent education for my daughter.
Is there nothing that can be done against this obviously very cunning lobby? I would avail some time to a) be more informed and b) lend my voice to any campaign that would highlight this deception and bring it (with evidence) to the attention of the government.
What I have learned so far from this blog is that I need to keep myself far better informed.
I have no doubt that Dave and Quakimoto will add their ‘noise’ to this post and I will probably suffer more ad hominem attacks like yourself and Pete have – I’ll just filter that out and write it off to farce!
Also, I would be needing an expert witness when I defend my daughter’s education and health strategy in court in the near future. Could anyone suggest someone who would be prepared to offer their time in court who has knowledge in this area?
By the way and on a lighter note, as if Waitrose organic was never good enough, I now have two dozen Biodynamic eggs in my house. All this life force is just so overwhelming! I had also better mince up a handful of slugs to make a potent weapon against them for next summer. I just don’t know how I’m going to dilute it enough to make it really potent. Perhaps throw them in the Thames at Tower Bridge and collect a water sample at one of the southern estuaries? 🙂 Or on my next holiday in Spain?
If I understand your quesiton, the answer is that some Steiner schools are already state funded (Free Schools).
After all that noise you don’t really need mine, R.R.
This article is linked on the Ringwood Waldorf School website:
“Steiner kindergartens have been successful in achieving exemptions from those aspects of the Early Learning Goals in the EYFS that do not fit with the Steiner educational philosophy and ethos. The ruling applies to all Steiner settings.”
No mention of recent problems.
Once again, my comment was very simple, but no-one seems to want to admit the point I am making.
We all, I hope, want to discuss rationally. It may be that Steiner Schools are a ‘bad thing.’ I was not defending Steiner Schools. But what I was doing was to point out certain lines of argument that are not valid.
Indeed it would be gracious of those who are arguing against Steiner Schools to admit the point and move on.
The point is this. It is no doubt not difficult to find things that happen in Steiner Schools that are bad. The point has been made that bad things also happen in other schools. Dave has asked whether bad things happen more often in Steiner Schools than in other types of school.
No-one has answered this.
There may be other grounds for not liking Steiner Schools, but invalid arguments should be resisted.
If debate on this forum amounts to hand waving only then I put it to everyone that that is no better than quackery. If quackery is to be defeated then it must be done by the use of reason.
Mud slinging will not do, and once again, anecdote is not data.
Martin. If you read mt article, I hope it is clear that we are in agreement: that no-one is able to answer if such things are more common in Steiner schools than other schools. But I argue two extra things: a) there are good a priori reasons for being concerned due to the closed environment of Anthroposophy and b) the creation of special (partial) inspection regimes make such an assessment very difficult.
“Dave has asked whether bad things happen more often in Steiner Schools than in other types of school.
No-one has answered this.”
Yes, this has been answered. Steiner schools are “cult-like”… they hide abuses by their teachers. Why are there more abuses by Steiner teachers than other state teachers? Steiner teachers have “special” training… and don’t require state teaching credentials… they only require Steiner school credentials. They don’t have (in many cases) the most BASIC teacher training – only Waldorf teacher training which is, basically, Anthroposophy. I’m guessing Waldorf teacher training would be wise to shore up their lessons about how you’re not supposed to slice up your students.
It’s not even really about whether bad things happen mroe or less often, it’s about the type of bad things and whether the politically motivated special regimes that have been put in place in order to allow these schools to receive public funding apparently without meeting the same requirements as other schools (whose inspectors are not required to be “sympathetic” to the school’s ideology) results in a significantly different set of risks or outcomes.
To me, as a former governor, the answer appears to be that yes it does – to the point that I believe the SoS should be revoking the special inspection regime.
That’s the call to action here. We should all be writing to our MPs lobbying for all state funded schools to have exactrly the same inspection regime. If that does not fit with their ideology, well, tough. The state should not give a toss about their ideology, only about educational outcomes and child protection.
“I believe what prevents men from accepting the homeopathic principles is ignorance, but ignorance is criminal when human lives are at stake. No honest man faced with the facts of homeopathy can refuse to accept it. He has no choice. When I had to face it, I had to become a follower. There was no choice if I were to continue to be an honest man. … Truth always demands adherence and offers no alternative.”
–Sir John Weir, physician to King George VI and to four generations of British monarchs
I bet Andy Lewis doesn’t believe in ghosts either, or the presence of aliens on our planet, or the fact that the mind can influence the outcome of a scientific experiment, or the existence of God, or the chakra system, or reincarnation, or telepathy, or the astral body…etc etc
Yeah… and, if there’s not Santa Clause, where do all the presents come from… hmmmm?
Sadly, Pete, skeptics and scientific fundamentalists rarely understand the value of metaphor and imagination. Even more sadly. they frequently destroy their children’s ability to learn and experience through story, myth and imagination. It’s a form of child abuse.
“Sadly, Pete, skeptics and scientific fundamentalists rarely understand the value of metaphor and imagination.”
My, how easily you imagine this to be true… sadly.
“Even more sadly. they frequently destroy their children’s ability to learn and experience through story, myth and imagination.”
Yes, keeping children naive goes hand-in-hand with learning. It’s one of those things skeptics just don’t understand. Children don’t need to receive truthful information, all they will ever need to know is already inside them – just waiting for the Waldorf teacher to tease it out of them… (OK, once in a while, a Waldorf teacher gets a little confused and tries to *slice* it out of them)… but still…
Hey, I totally hear where you’re coming from Dave. Facts are so confining while imagination is so freeing. And what better place to dispel facts and promote myths than SCHOOL!
“It’s a form of child abuse.”
Well, that’s rich… We’re commenting on a blog about a Waldorf teacher who convinced her pupils to slice their skin with knives, and you are here suggesting that having a reality-based relationship with one’s child is a form of child abuse. Lying to your child about gnomes and fairies and dragons doesn’t bother you… but being truthful… now that’s abuse!
How did I know that would set you off on your usual diatribe? And how did I know you would completely and utterly misinterpret what i was saying? Moreover, how do I know you have missed the point? Simply because I have had children I brought up my way, who have become truly open-minded adults who question everything and are free of belief systems, who didn’t have their parents’ myopic and limited views of reality forced upon them. Of course, Pete, you will just have to take my word for that, and I would say it’s it’s very unlikely you will because your personal belief system is such a straitjacket.
Rocks and vegetables are free of belief systems too.
“How did I know that would set you off on your usual diatribe? ”
Because I’m consistent? Because every time you try to defend people who harm children, I ask you to justify what you’re saying?
“Moreover, how do I know you have missed the point?”
The point you were trying to make is that skeptics place no value on imagination. It’s a dumb point, it’s not even remotely true, and I certainly haven’t missed it simply by pointing out that it’s nonsense.
Here’s a tip: If you wan’t to avoid ridicule, stop posting stuff that’s ridiculous.
Ridiculousness is in the eye of the beholder, Pete. I don’t want to avoid ridicule, That would be a waste of time. Most self-professed skeptics prefer ridicule to reason as their weapon of choice, despite their claims to a higher degree of rationality than others. Have an honest look over how you and Andy deal with dissent if you doubt me. Neither will I try to attack you on the basis that you sound ridiculous, even if I think you do. It’s simply beside the point.
“Have an honest look over how you and Andy deal with dissent if you doubt me.”
Maybe YOU should have an honest look at how dissent is dealt with here? Lots of people don’t agree with what has been posted here… but most seem to prepare some case in defense of their opinion. You, on the other hand, want to employ generalizations that you have pulled out of your ass, and blame skeptics for not taking you seriously.
Waldorf teachers have harmed children time and time again and for reasons that are based in the Waldorf system – and they should be held accountable. Your support of these schools seems to be wrapped up in an “all schools harm children” attitude. It isn’t really an opinion… it’s an excuse… and a lousy one at that.
“I bet Andy Lewis doesn’t believe in ghosts either, or the presence of aliens on our planet, or the fact that the mind can influence the outcome of a scientific experiment, or the existence of God, or the chakra system, or reincarnation, or telepathy, or the astral body…”
Or Bloodletting… which was exactly the point of this article.
Generalisations? Yes, maybe a few. They are hard to avoid. I am arguing against your generalisations, which have been made on the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence, Pete. A number of other contributors seemed to find those arguments quite convincing, but this has been going on quite a while so perhaps you’ve forgotten now.
“I am arguing against your generalisations, which have been made on the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence, ”
Nonsense. The evidence is absolutely there for anyone to see and it’s very solid evidence. 1) To be a Waldorf school teacher requires NO training outside of Waldorf training. 2) Waldorf is a closed system that is steeped in a spiritual philosophy that guides everything that happens in the Waldorf school – especially how the teachers interact with the children. 3) When abuse occurs, Waldorf schools hide the abuse. It’s bad publicity after all. We see this time and time again… In the stories I posted above, a child was severely burned and the Waldorf teacher who caused this DID NOTHING. A NEIGHBOR called for an ambulance.
In the cutting story (this blog) – again, the school didn’t react until the PARENTS complained. Waldorf schools hide abuse within their ranks – and that is a FACT… not speculation, and not a generalization. The do this for very clear and recognizable reasons that have their basis in the Waldorf philosophy, Anthroposophy. Waldorf teachers who harm children are not anomalies… they are part of the Waldorf system.
Nonsense to you too. I can’t think of any institutions or professions, good bad or indifferent, that don’t try to keep mistakes quiet. What does that prove? Ever been to a hospital with a complaint and come out worse because of the treatment you received? Of course,at your hospital, the doctors tell you right away: “We made a mistake. It was due to our incompetence. Let us offer you adequate compensation.” LOL.
Please don’t remove these posts, please, no NO No! Arghhhhhhhhhhhh……..
The Christmas presents come from Andy of course. How could anyone not know that?
Pete: you take what is anecdotal information into a gross generalisation: “all Wardoff school are bad, all Wardoff teachers are incompetent and potential children abuser etc.
In every type of schools, faith schools, state schools, private schools, COE schools,whatever, you will find the same proportion of incompetent teachers, potential child abuser, and tendency to hide the shit under the carpet.
I do not think there is any proper evidence that Waldorf schools are any worst or any better than any other type of schools, your statement is based on anecdote, gross dramatisation, bias and distortion of facts.
The unfortunate thing is that a lot of the skeptics on this blog are guilty of the very same thing: cherry picking of “evidence”, answering an embarassing question by another question, resorting of desperate accusation such as “cognitive dissonance”, or whatever you can think off as long as it make a diversion
you and your mates have a full bag of tricks to put down whoever disagree with you, but it is only a bag of trick; by resorting to these methods, you only demonstrate the dogma that paralyses your way of thinking, and the emptiness of your argument.
“I do not think there is any proper evidence that Waldorf schools are any worst or any better than any other type of schools, your statement is based on anecdote, gross dramatisation, bias and distortion of facts.”
Well, it’s good for me that I couldn’t care less what you think. There are people who read this blog who actually follow links and evidence. Those are the people I am addressing… not the windbags who can’t be bothered to read but always have something to say. Dispute the FACT I’ve presented about the lack of training of Waldorf teachers… can you? Dispute the FACT I’ve presented about Waldorf being a closed system… can you? Dispute the FACT that Waldorf covers up its abuses… can you?
All you can parrot is that “other institutions do this too”. Here’s a news flash… they’re JUST AS BAD! Hospitals aren’t in the business of teaching children… presumably teaching MORALS. Forget what they might teach your children. Waldorf has demonstrated far too often their teachers don’t know the very basic difference between RIGHT and WRONG. They should start their training there!
Thanks for this Pete, you just proved my point.
I rest my case…
and you should definitely check your blood pressure.
And thanks for proving mine… Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out…
Dave, the Steiner school near where I live (in Australia) is one of the most expensive schools in the area, achieves consistently low academic results, clearly manipulates the results of the NAPLAN tests that are designed to demonstrate academic levels, and the many children who drop out due to bullying, mental health issues, or because their parents have woken up to the danger are renowned throughout all other schools as being extremely backward in their learning and social skills and requiring enormous effort to integrate them into a proper learning environment.
Well, Craig, I don’t know where you live and I have never met you, so I have no idea whether what you are saying is accurate or you just made it up. Of course you could say the say thing about my posts, except at least I have provided names. Of course, every one of your statements may be completely true, in which case it proves absolutely nothing except that it’s a not very good school. On the other hand, it may simply prove that there is a lot of gossip around where you live. In either case, it’s pretty useless.
“Well, Craig, I don’t know where you live and I have never met you, so I have no idea whether what you are saying is accurate or you just made it up. ”
Another testimony falls on deaf ears. Craig, Dave only believes people he’s actually met… and even then only believes their stories if he’s actually witnessed the events himself… therefore, EVERYTHING is anecdotal evidence to Dave. He personally has no experience of harm going on in these schools – so there must not be any. In fact, rather than research what has been claimed, he blindly promotes these schools… someone caught up in a cult might easily be filled with denial about the harm the cult does.
Meanwhile, hundreds if not thousands of parents and pupils have had similar experiences to those you describe – and for good reason. Steiner schools are in the business of promoting Anthroposophy – and this business has NOTHING to do with the safety of children. NOTHING! Steiner schools don’t *really* care about how many kids they harm. If they did, they would make some effort to change. In over 100 years, they haven’t made the slightest effort to address their internal problems. All they can do is ask for exceptions from state inspections… so they can continue harming children unnoticed.
Now you’re being silly.
I never joke about stuff like this Dave. Too many children’s lives are at stake! Waldorf hasn’t changed in 100 years. They are the same schools that found favor with the Nazis. Their philosophy was aligned with Nazi Germany (that’s a fact, not speculation Dave). And from then until today, NOTHING has changed in Waldorf curriculum.
You may never joke, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be silly. Your claims are wildly hyperbolic and lack any convincing evidence. To say Steiner education is “linked to Nazi Germany” is typical of the thinness of your allegations. What are your precisely saying? Did the Nazis actively support Steiner education? Facts please, otherwise this blog will remain what it seems to be: a support group for disaffected fathers and scientific fundamentalists who resent the success of organisations, movements and associations that don’t fit into their belief system.
Dave, I’ve patiently been watching your rants and apologetics unfold over the past weeks on this thread, and while you articulate yourself well, I have never in my life heard as many straw men arguments and ad hominem attacks by a single individual in succession as I have here and from you.
As to dissaffected fathers, Im pleased to announce here that I won my first round in court in keeping my daughter out of this Anthroposophical front and joke for an educational institution.
It is ordered that my daughter can free herself from her etheric bonds, be free of karmic debt and move on to study the fruits of the enlightenment.
Science, it works bitches 🙂
5:18pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
School told to “improve standards” after pupils self harm in lesson
“AN EMERGENCY inspection into an alternative independent Ringwood school found safeguarding procedures to be “insufficiently robust” after pupils cut themselves with blades during an art history lesson.”
“To say Steiner education is “linked to Nazi Germany” is typical of the thinness of your allegations. ”
You are obviously not aware of the history of Waldorf schools are you?
“Did the Nazis actively support Steiner education?”
YES! They really did Dave. You should familiarize yourself with the facts before you comment on my “allegations”.
Have you heard of Professor Peter Staudenmaier… PhD? He has written about this topic extensively. But in the link below, he discusses Anthroposophist Ida Oberman’s book (you may recognize her name from the thesis she did with McDermott on racism in Waldorf schools). http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/26887
From the post: She directly challenges the standard Waldorf claim that “Waldorf opposed the Nazis.” (78) In case after case she shows that Waldorf teachers and officials who left Germany in the 1930s for Switzerland or England or the United States did so not for political reasons, much less because of any pressure from the Nazi state, but due to the severe internal tensions between different anthroposophist factions. Oberman also notes some of the Germanic themes which “formed a common lingua franca of Waldorf and the National Socialists.” (108) She mentions Rudolf Hess’s “passion for things Anthroposophical” (122).
Some of her specific findings constitute an important correction to other Waldorf accounts. Citing testimony from several pupils, for example, Oberman reports that raising the Nazi flag, giving the Hitler salute, and singing the Horst Wessel Lied “became daily requirements” at the Stuttgart Waldorf school from 1934 onward (129). She also observes that “Racial theory has a place in the Waldorf curriculum as designed by Rudolf Steiner.” (132) The stance of the Waldorf leadership in 1933 and 1934 was “loyal cooperation with the new regime” (136).
Oberman describes the primary leaders of the League of Waldorf Schools, Rene Maikowski and Elisabeth Klein, as “pro-Nazi Waldorf representatives” (139). She quotes Hess writing to the Nazi Education Minister in 1935 praising Waldorf’s potential to “make a valuable contribution” to National Socialism (147). She
also discusses the “close Nazi collaboration” of the Dresden Waldorf school (163).
Dave… this is an ANTHROPOSOPHIST describing the state of Waldorf schools in Nazi Germany… not a critic.
Anything else you’d like to challenge me on?
Pete, you must try to remember the credibility threshhold to which the world beyond this small support group of yours will subject your arguments is much higher than that of your like-thinking pals. The unconnected facts you present, if facts they be, demonstrate nothing except that, unsurprisingly, an education system that was created in Germany after WW1 continued to exist there after the Nazis came to power less than two decades later. The fact that one prominent Nazi liked anthroposophy and some anthroposophists liked Nazism is not indicative of much except that individuals behave as individuals. In 1933 and 1934, in any case, there were many both in Germany and among its future enemies who misjudged Nazism and had cause to regret it later. For a somewhat more balanced view of the Steiner movement in this period, I refer you and other Quackometer followers to an interesting article written by Deborah Salazar on the Waldorf critics site: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/NJP_WhatEveryJewishParent.html. Salazar too believes Steiner was racist in his views but is less inclined to play cowboys and indians than the average Quackometer contributor. She points out, for example, that “Hitler himself attacked the schools as “a Jewish method to destroy the normal spiritual state of the people,”…. Waldorf schools were harassed during the Nazi era, although Rudolf Hess favored Anthroposophy and intervened twice to keep schools open. Steiner himself briefly served as a personal tutor to Nietzsche’s rabidly racist sister–but criticized her fascist leanings. Steiner openly defended Alfred Dreyfuss, the Jewish officer subjected to anti-semitic injustices, and was never, to the best of my investigations, directly aligned with the Nazis in persecution of Jews or any other peoples. He preached that all the world’s races were spiritually linked and obligated to help one another.”
So no crow for me yet, no Iron Eagle and despite the childish stereotyping, certainly no Elderberry juice. No XXXX either, Robert. It’s disgusting stuff. Give me a Cooper’s Ale any day.
“It is ordered that my daughter can free herself from her etheric bonds, be free of karmic debt and move on to study the fruits of the enlightenment.!”
CONGRATULATIONS ROBERT! That’s wonderful news!
Reason prevails indeed!
It ain’t gonna shut Dave up though, but between you and me it’s a major victory, thank you!
How do you reckon he’ll respond? It should be pretty easy to guess by now?
Should we set odds? Or a fixed price?
A fiver says he’ll attack me personally and cast me once again into the naughty corner together with all you aethiestic, science fundamentalists 🙂
Dave, put down the elderflower juice, pour yourself a XXXX and celebrate with me mate!
“Dave, put down the elderflower juice, pour yourself a XXXX and celebrate with me mate!”
I think Dave’s busy chowing down on that nice crow I served him… or should I say Iron Eagle…
BTW, in searching these articles on the web, I have noticed the teacher has not been identified by name anywhere. Is there some reason this teachers privacy is being protected? It seems unusual to me.
Here, the school named the teacher for us. BTW, this incident happened in 1979 and is only seeing the light of day TODAY!
you really are nuts.. the history is that the nazis hated steiner and tried to kill him. what an idiot
Hi Rosie, perhaps you could supply some evidence for this. In your answer it might be good to refer to the facts that the Nazis came to power in 1933 and Steiner died in 1925.
“the history is that the nazis hated steiner and tried to kill him. what an idiot”
Um… he was supposedly “poisoned” once, and ordered up a lot of milk which he drank which miraculously cured him… According to Marie Steiner. The Nazis didn’t come into power until after Steiner was dead. Hitler had a brief moment in November, 1923 and went to jail (where he wrote Mein Kempf). http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/beer_hall_putsch_of_1923.htm Steiner’s poisoning didn’t happen until the following year, on New Year’s Eave, 1924 (Hitler was in jail) http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/10135
Evidence points to people from within Steiner’s own ranks as the most likely perpetrators of the poisoning – if indeed it was poisoning (for which there is no real evidence).
To Robert Richardson,
Well done 🙂
This is just a small victory mind, but one at that.
The battle with ‘Big Alt’ is not over, Im just pleased today that Circuit Court Judges are ‘not for turning’ on reason.
Robert: At no stage have I attacked you personally. I merely identified you as one of the staple kinds of Steiner-hater. I wish your family every good fortune in their ongoing education, and hope it was as successful as my son’s was.
Having read the article, along with a good portion of the comments, I have to say that, while I don’t like Steiner schools, and I do think there are some really weird things going on with them, this indecent doesn’t really seem to be the fault of the Steiner school system as a whole. It fundamentally was one teacher who was a little crazy.
That said, the view that there is something about the Steiner school system which attracts crazies isn’t out of the question, but the school in this case was not responsible.
“It fundamentally was one teacher who was a little crazy.”
Yeah, it’s always one teacher who was a little crazy. They all just find their way to Waldorf schools. It has nothing to do with the fact that they need no teaching credentials to teach at a Waldorf school. This crazy teacher just carried the idea of “experiential learning” a little too far. It’s an art history class, after all… How are kids going to learn about Van Gogh cutting off his ear without experiencing it themselves? This teacher just took Waldorf to the next logical step.
Waldorf people are just idiots! A very seasoned batch of idiots at Highland Hall are raising “killer bees” right on campus. http://www.timesofisrael.com/how-to-catch-a-spiritual-buzz/ When the inevitable happens and a swarm attacks a child, will you agree that it’s a whole BUNCH of crazy teachers? I suspect this is Andy’s next story waiting to happen.
The emergency inspection of the school after this incident resulted in a report that would probably disagree with you Alex,
I went to a Waldorf school in the US for grades 6-8 and while there was plenty of weirdness I didn’t see any kind of indoctrination. In fact when I actually researched Steiner for myself I found it pretty ironic that almost half my classmates were Jewish. I did feel it left us woefully unprepared for high school in almost every field except math (we had a really good math teacher who later quit over his daughter’s teacher being a bit too nutty).
This also reminds me of a class we had in chemistry where I think we were measuring the pH of different liquids and someone asked about blood and a student volunteered to cut himself but the headmistress or whatever they called it said only the teacher could do it so that was out. Later I found out less than half of my classmates went onto college and several of us who did dropped out. If it had gone to high school I don’t know where we’d be.
The weirdness is part of the indoctrination.
I have been looking online for a critical, scientific review of Steiner Waldorf education. It is a shame it was nowhere to be found on this website- I admit I haven’t read everything but what I have read here is the worst form of quackery attacking the Steiner Waldorf movement- (amongst many other things) unsubstantiated and/ or anecdotal emotional ranting.. If you truly want to be scientific and evidence based in your output I think a prominent link is warranted to this substantial, independent document
Thank you Lisa for linking to that report.
I should point out that one of its main authors biography is as follows:
I shall leave others to judge the position of that document given the above.
Cough! Splutter! Cough!
And that comes from Bristol University? Yikes!
Sorry I meant the University of the West of England, Bristol, but a Uni none the less!
Quackery is getting everywhere these days it seems.
That document looks as if it was written by a group of people tasked with excusing the failings of Steinerist methods, and obscuring the fact that they are doing things which no maintained school would be allowed to do. I was a governor of a CE aided school, the Steinerists are arguing for special pleading of a sort that the Church of England never did.
Andy- your quote source..so it can be read in context
from the same…
Founded by Dr Glenys Woods and Professor Philip Woods, FreeSpirit Education is committed to rigorous research and evaluation, and reflective professional development, and to advancing understanding of holistic democracy, spirituality in leadership and co-operative and ethical entrepreneurialism in education, business and beyond.
WHAT WE DO
•Research, including practice-based research
•Evaluation, including policy and programme reviews
•Development, including support for professional and organisational development, presentations and workshops on holistic democracy, advancing interest and discussions in spiritual awareness, and offering support for spiritual healing in leadership and organisations
We want our work to help create environments that enable democratic ways of working, lateral learning, opportunities for holistic growth, respect for diversity, space for spiritual and inclusive values and to build capacity so that such environments can evolve and be sustained.
I am reminded of what happens when you mix apple pie with cow pie.
Clearly Dr Woods has some very eccentric extra-curicullar activities BUT is she really a quack as she has a PhD from a respected institution and carries out rigorous research published in professional peer reviewed journals??
An alternative conclusion might be to doubt the authority of qualifications and publication lists,
But if we reach that conclusion how are we able to draw rational informed conclusions as to the validity of anything?? By that token surely we must doubt the authority of any qualified professional on a subject -even with peer reviewed published evidence- and we are left on the very shaky ground of relying on our ‘instinct’ (spiritual values?!) to help us draw conclusions as to what is true science and what is ‘pseudoscience’.
The motto of the Royal Society, the oldest scientific establishment in the world is ‘Nullius in verba’ – take no-ones word for it. Science recognises that evidence is the source of authority and not who is talking about it.
Having a publication peer reviewed does not mean that the papers conclusions are true – merely that the authors’ peers are happy no major blunders have been made. I am sure you can see that things can go wrong with peer review – which the Woods report is not, by the way.
The woods report is written by people clearly disposed to nonsense views of the world and is taken with a pinch of salt. Even with the government, the report appears now to be deprecated.
Typo: it’s Nullius in verba, chosen by John Aubrey according to the sources I have (including Lisa Jardine and Robert Gunther)..
I totally agree with you that we should challenge dubious medical claims- we should all question everything- (including some entrenched western medical beliefs and even the ‘oldest scientific establishment in the world’- I think you should rephrase that to Western World though) but as far as possible I believe in doing so respectfully and intelligently, not in a spirit of spite and dogged closed-mindedness. Personally I don’t ‘believe’ in homeopathy- I try my best to keep my mind open to being persuaded otherwise. I feel similarly about many religious beliefs but I try to be respectful of those who hold them, even though they cant ‘prove’ their beliefs and likewise I try to be respectful of peoples customs and traditions-even if they can seem a bit eccentric at times. You don’t have a moral authority to discredit peoples lifestyles/ views of the world as ‘nonsense’. Your views would be nonsense to someone from another culture/era. Your belief system- even your belief that the Royal Society is the oldest scientific establishment in the world- would be nonsense to most of the people in China, for example. Western Science doesn’t have all the answers and so I think to follow it radically is comparable to religious extremism.
‘Calling out quackery’ as an initial response to anything you are suspicious about is scaremongering and I believe is a different -and equally dishonest-way of misleading the public. And your quackometer is by your own admission untested and gives very variable results.
It is as easy to discredit someone/something (possibly unfairly) to a browsing reader by using out of context sensationalist quotes or cruel mockery as it is to make a dubious medical claim.
I think you have some valuable points to raise and highlight many things we should all question etc. but the unkindness and sarcasm directed so often at your ‘victims’ -indeed anyone who doesn’t agree with you makes me uncomfortable, and I believe ultimately will be to the detriment of your endeavours.
Lisa: As you seem to have noticed, rather than credible evidence or rational discussion, mockery, sarcasm and putdowns apparently sustained by a never-failing sense of superiority, are the hallmarks of this blog. As a “non-believer”, you will not find yourself welcome, and your contributions will be treated with contempt. Meanwhile, the stalwarts of the site will maintain they are saving the world from charlatans, when all they are really interested in is having their own worldviews prevail, in a bland, homogenous and colourless world in which they are the high priests. Good luck!
Lisa and Richard.
Let me tell you what I think is morally outrageous. Homeopaths telling people in Africa with HIV that their disease can be treated with sugar pills. As in my latest post, charlatans telling Egyptians that a cheap divining tool can diagnose AIDS and treat it. Or quack doctors telling the parents of terminally ill children that they can be cured with their own piss.
Mockery of these people is the least you can do. In general, those that seek to make medical claims and earn a living from them have an imperative to ensure that their claims can be independently and robustly verified. To make claims without such backing can only lead to harm and death.
Which side are you on? Those who are so deluded they do not know which way is up yet insist they can treat illness?; those who cynically exploit the desperation of illness? Or those that want to stand out and say, ‘enough’?
This is not me trying to enforce a ‘worldview’ on anyone. It is me saying – if you make medical claims you have an absolute ethical duty to ensure you are not both fooling yourself and your clients. The only closed minds come from the likes of homeopaths, herbalists and chiropractors who absolutely refuse to countenance the possibility that they might be mistaken. These are indeed closed-minded and dangerous fools.
Yes, Andy, there is a need to expose quacks who are doing harm in third world conditions. I did expect such a response and that you would thereby avoid the subject matter at hand, namely Steiner Schools. You can lather up all the righteous indignation you like, but it’s quite clear from sites like yours that their protagonists do have a worldview that they are trying to impose on people. If we were to consider the harm done by medical misdiagnosis and prescribed pharmaceutical drugs in the world every year, London to a brick on it would dwarf the damage caused by complementary medicine practices, but how much energy do you put into that kind of analysis?
My apologies Dave if I do not write about topics on this blog that you think I ought to write about. I choose to write about superstitious and pseudoscientific health beliefs. [And Rudolf Steiner was full of them.] There are of course other blogs that do discuss the subjects you mention and indeed I have been involved in campaigning against several aspects of Big Pharma behaviour.
Now, if you don’t mind, I will continue to write a blog about the subjects I think are important and interesting.
Go for it, Andy. I’m merely pointing out that the subjects you choose to write about do in fact reflect your world view. And your world view is often, in my view, exclusive, simplistic and intolerant.
I think I would like to add a little about my so-called worldview.
The theme of my posts on Steiner Schools is that they are not open and honest about the Anthroposophical influence on the school – how the how approach is underpinned by an occult spiritual worldview.
As such, the worldview that I am espousing here is one of openess and honesty. If you have issues with that, then I am happy to disagree with you.
I think that may be your worldview as you would like to see it and promote it. Of course there are philosophical and ideological influences on how various schools are run, and that certainly includes state schools. I would suggest that it is the perceived content of those influences in Steiner schools that annoys you most and this reaction is the worldview most apparent in your blog.I would also suggest you underestimate the diversity of opinions and influences within Steiner Schools, at least partly because you want to keep everything very black and white to suit your tabloid blogging style.
“I would also suggest you underestimate the diversity of opinions and influences within Steiner Schools, at least partly because you want to keep everything very black and white to suit your tabloid blogging style.”
Thanks Dave. The diversity of opinions within Steiner schools is something we don’t often discuss. Could you give a few examples of the diversity of opinions within the Steiner movement? Where is the group of Steiner teachers and administrators demanding openness and honesty from within the Steiner movement? Could you point us to their website?
If I were to be a little bit tabloid here, I would guess the diversity of opinion is limited to such issues as what colour hats the gnomes wear.
You are so terribly witty, Andy. And sadly ignorant.
Since when do real people conduct their affairs on a website, Pete?
The funny thing about you blokes and others of your ilk is you don’t understand the simple truth that things are complicated. I don’t have much interest in anthroposophy and I must say I have found many anthroposophists downright annoying. But what someone believes doesn’t necessarily cast the outcome of their work in stone. The fact is that many aspects of Steiner education (as separate from anthroposophy) work incredibly well, especially when the parents join in, encouraging their children to experience real life through the use of “heart, hands and Head” rather than palming them off to a computer screen or a TV. I’m just looking at the school I sent my son, and at a bunch of young people I’ve met from other Steiner schools, and I don’t see any anthroposophical robots around, mostly just intelligent, thoughtful children who can usually do something with their hands other than push a mouse around. And I know many teachers who aren’t anthroposophists but they like Steiner education.
“And I know many teachers who aren’t anthroposophists but they like Steiner education.”
How do they feel about the inherent dishonesty in Steiner education (as was promoted by Steiner himself)? Do these non-Anthros believe dishonest people can set a good example for other people’s children? How do they reconcile that every Waldorf teacher is trained to be dishonest with at least some parents? Do your friends believe dishonesty belongs in a classroom? Obviously, they must, if they like Steiner education.
Sorry Pete, but you seem to be so bitter, twisted and angry about things in your past that you sometimes don’t make sense to someone with a different brain. No doubt you will blame Steiner education for everything. But please elaborate: To what inherent dishonesty are you referrring?
“To what inherent dishonesty are you referrring?”
Well, yes, I should clarify – since they are dishonest in so many aspects of the Waldorf movement. I’m talking specifically about what teachers are taught to say about things like Steiner’s racist remarks, for example. Do they tell parents they agree with them – and that in time, they will teach Steiner’s racism to their students? Or do they say something like “Steiner was a man of his time”. Do they deny being racists themselves while treating each of their pupils in accordance with their race?
What do they tell parents when asked about Eurythmy? Do they tell parents it’s the spiritual embodiment of Anthroposophy (according to Steiner)? Or do they say it’s a mix of dance and poetry?
What do they tell parents about their children being required to say Anthroposophical prayers in school? Do they tell parents these are “morning verses” or poems rather than the an indoctrination into Anthroposopy?
These issues aren’t all that serious – but Waldorf teachers choose to lie about each of them rather than tell the truth to parents when they ask. Why Dave? And IF something serious should happen to someone’s child, who in their right mind would expect the truth from a Waldorf teacher?
Gee, how do you know all this stuff, Pete? You must have done an awful lot of research to be able to tell us what all Steiner teachers do and say, in and out of the classroom. Would you like me to ask some Steiner teachers I know to contact you so you can continue your obviously impartial research? Or would you prefer to persevere with half-baked, unfounded generalisations like most of the people who have supported you on this post?
Just on the subject of eurythmy, though — sadly we didn’t have it in our school. We just couldn’t afford the cost of getting a teacher to a remote place like Alice Springs. I’m not sure how my son’s teacher would have exactly explained it, but as a parent involved enough in my child’s education to make a deliberate choice about how he was educated, I would have certainly done a little basic research to establish the philosophical and practical underpinnings of eurythymy, as I had done with other aspects of the curriculum. Knowing that Steiner was an anthroposophist, I would not have been surprised to find that there was actually a connection between eurythmy and anthroposophy! I would have been more interested, however, in understanding how it actually might contribute to my son’s development, within the framework of my own beliefs and observations of the needs of growing children.
As it was, we Steiner parents were quite happy that our kids mostly played in the same soccer team.
“You must have done an awful lot of research to be able to tell us what all Steiner teachers do and say, in and out of the classroom. ”
Yes, I have. At this point, I’ve researched Waldorf at least as thoroughly as Steiner researched the spirit world before he was able to say, with certainty, the things he said about it. Steiner researched the spirit world for about 25 years – I’ve researched Waldorf for about the same. The difference is, I’ve had the benefit of being able to research actual facts about Waldorf schools, not nonsense about spirits and demons. I was able to rely, not only on my personal experience, but on the testimonies of hundreds of parents and students.
So yes, Dave, I’ve done as much research into Waldorf as Steiner did into his area of “expertise”. I can tell you with great accuracy what Steiner teachers do and say in the classroom. An honest Waldorf teacher would lose their job and never be hired by a Waldorf school again (not that they would want to be). A few Waldorf teachers have indeed spoken out about Waldorf. Read Gregoire Perra’s story – right here on the Quackometer. You can’t be honest about Waldorf and still work within the Waldorf system – it just isn’t allowed.
Sorry Pete, despite all your research, I’m not convinced that you are not putting your own slant on things here, and that the more research you do the more entrenched your bias becomes. I have never met any Steiner teachers who were anthroposophists and didn’t acknowledge it. As I understand it, however, they were taught that they were not to inculcate children with anthroposophical beliefs, or present anthroposophy as a belief system to be practised, much as teachers in a Christian school might (or might not) be told not to push Christianity per se. Your line seems to be that those beliefs are being forced on to the children anyway, and that this is dishonest. That is a very particular reading and I would like to see your evidence in much more detail. My elder son attended a couple of State schools and I have no doubt that what his teachers taught was influenced by their belief systems and that those belief systems (mostly political) permeated the sylllabus much the same way as religious beliefs do inChristian or Buddhist schools , but I did not expect them to declare them. I expect parents to be informed.
“Sorry Pete, despite all your research, I’m not convinced that you are not putting your own slant on things here, and that the more research you do the more entrenched your bias becomes.”
Do you intend to say I should disregard evidence that confirms my research? Why would I do that? Confirmation of my research is something I strive for.
“I have never met any Steiner teachers who were anthroposophists and didn’t acknowledge it. ”
How would you know?
“As I understand it, however, they were taught that they were not to inculcate children with anthroposophical beliefs, or present anthroposophy as a belief system to be practised, ”
Then why do they have to learn Anthroposophy in Waldorf teacher training? Why is a “strong relationship to Anthroposophy” part of their job description (check out the Waldorf school job offerings if you don’t believe this)? Could it be, as I have suggested, that they are simply lying about this? Or do you suppose you have misunderstood it?
They don’t have “Anthroposophy class” in Waldorf schools… but everything they do, from the festivals to the seating arrangements of the pupils is absolutely based in Anthroposophy.
“Your line seems to be that those beliefs are being forced on to the children anyway, and that this is dishonest. That is a very particular reading and I would like to see your evidence in much more detail.”
“Forced” is not the correct word. “Indoctrinated” is more correct. They deny doing this – while they do it – so it’s indeed dishonest. Did you read Gregoire Perra’s testimony? He was a former Waldorf student and Waldorf teacher – and his testimony is very compelling… and it stood up in court! Where’s your evidence that they don’t indoctrinate students, Dave?
“I expect parents to be informed.”
Then you and Waldorf should be thanking me for doing your jobs for you. Lying isn’t informing, BTW. For the official lies, check out the Wikipedia article on Waldorf as a good example… it’s basically FRAUD produced by a Waldorf teacher (who coincidentally bullies the other editors who try to correct the article – isn’t that just like a Waldorf teacher?). Parents who research Waldorf find a lot of lies put there by Waldorf representatives.
Dave, have a look at the following link. It confirms a lot of what I’ve been describing.
I’m sure you’ll find this paper “biased” as well. So tell me Dave, where can someone find criticism of Waldorf that isn’t “biased” – in your opinion?
Dave Wrote: “Your line seems to be that those beliefs are being forced on to the children anyway, and that this is dishonest. That is a very particular reading and I would like to see your evidence in much more detail.”
Hey Dave, it appears from the paper I just linked to, that a good case can be made for students AND parents being FORCED to accept Steiner’s nonsense – in the case of state-run Steiner schools. From the paper:
“Human rights implications: Many children are sent to ‘faith’ schools against their parents’ wishes, and this could potentially be an infringement of article 2 of protocol 1 of the ECHR; however, the DfE aims to meet their legal obligations of not indoctrinating by allowing parents to opt their children out of Religious Education and Collective Worship (i.e. the non-secular portions of the curriculum).”
(Pssst… Dave… State Steiner schools aren’t considered “religious education” – so no opting out for students or parents).
“Similarly, children might be sent to Steiner schools against their parents’ wishes. Given that Steiner schools’ philosophical convictions are legally equivalent to having a religious ethos, it follows from this and from all the other evidence of teaching unscientific beliefs that teaching of Steiner beliefs in schools without allowing pupils or staff to opt out of that teaching is quite possibly illegal, and similarly, staff cannot be forced to adhere to the Steiner ethos, unless the schools legally designate as having a religious character (which they have not).
“As opt-out rights have not been established at the Steiner Academies, and as parents do not have a legal right to not have their child sent to one of these schools, it seems that the Academies are open to someone challenging the curriculum under article 2 of protocol 1. The fact that it would be difficult for Steiner schools to alter their curriculum to allow someone to opt out of the philosophical parts of the curriculum seems to us not to be an argument in favour of the DfE ignoring its legal obligations, but in favour of it not providing state funding for schools from these two groups. ”
So it appears “forced” is exactly the right word in the case of Steiner free schools.
The school didn’t even fire the teacher!
“A TEACHER who taught pupils how to cut themselves with craft knives to paint with blood has been allowed to continue teaching.
Sandra Kennedy, 54, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by a National College of Teaching and Leadership panel last week, however they concluded the incident at Ringwood Waldorf School on March 19 last year was “isolated” and “got out of hand”.”
10 employees leaving from East Bay Waldorf School, CA this year
Hey guys I am actually in the class we are talking about, and this is completely untrue. No pupils were forced to cut themselves and it was not the teachers idea. She only told us about how in the stone ages they used to paint with blood, usually animal blood but sometimes with their own blood. And promptly some rather stupid people in my class cut themselves and start painting with their own blood, before the teacher even new what was happening.
This is what happened, so please people stop making such a scandal about this it is really not necessary.
And about the cult bullshit, its really those not effect us we are normal people and you would not be able to tell a Steiner pupil from a normal pupil. Although we do have to do something called Eurythmy, which is extremely disturbing and weird.
This is not in response to any particular post, but more general.
I’m a little confused, but confident my question will be answered.
With SIS taking care of Ofsted inspections, and taking the Early Years Foundation Stage exemption into account, is it fair or misleading for the schools in their various prospectuses to claim Ofsted reports without mentioning the special rules adjudication by SIS on behalf of Ofsted?
To clarify my question, at first glance on their websites, the various Steiner Schools appear to be properly Ofsted inspected, which could result in prospective parents being satisfied on that basis alone, but not realizing that their kids won’t be taught reading or writing until after 6 per ‘the change of teeth’ pedagogy.
I apologise if this has already been covered, and looking forward to the answer.
“is it fair or misleading for the schools in their various prospectuses to claim Ofsted reports without mentioning the special rules adjudication by SIS on behalf of Ofsted?”
It is misleading, but not necessarily deliberately so. In my experience, the web site author and a trustee of the school did not understand the difference between SIS and Ofsted themselves. The school management admitted at a parents meeting to not having checked the content of the website for accuracy (or even good English).
“To clarify my question, at first glance on their websites, the various Steiner Schools appear to be properly Ofsted inspected, which could result in prospective parents being satisfied on that basis alone, but not realizing that their kids won’t be taught reading or writing until after 6 per ‘the change of teeth’ pedagogy.”
Don’t expect to learn anything about Steiner education by reading an Ofsted/SIS inspection report. Don’t even necessarily expect to learn anything useful about a particular school: as the differences between the two inspections (pre- and post- cutting incident) I highlighted above at Ringwood makes clear.
“Hey guys I am actually in the class we are talking about, and this is completely untrue.”
Thanks for the preface…
” No pupils were forced to cut themselves and it was not the teachers idea.”
That’s not what the articles say – nor what the investigation uncovered. The investigation said the teacher assisted the students to cut their fingers. If the teacher wasn’t involved, there wouldn’t be a story. But thanks for the unbelievable version. Usually, it’s the administrators who provide that.
“This is what happened, so please people stop making such a scandal about this it is really not necessary.”
I see… another non-scandal being unnecessarily exploited by those pesky Waldorf critics.
Sexual Abuse Swept Under the Waldorf Organic Rug:
Lars – your account of what happened is contracted by all other reports, including this one from the BBC,
I can tell you that no one from the bbc was actually in the class at the point that it happened, so what should you believe the story of a student who was actually there in the class at that time or some story made up by some journalists. I would know who I would believe! And that about what the administrator said, was he in the class at that point? NO!!!!
Lars, for Pete and Andy, yours has to be considered the “unbelievable version.” These “skeptics” don’t believe everything they read in the media – unless it suits their beliefs, and then not even an eyewitness account is worthy of consideration. I guess your evidence is just “anecdotal”.
I see Dave wants us to believe journalists just made this all up. You seriously expect people to believe this? You forget you’re talking to people who KNOW what Waldorf teachers are capable of.
Check out the picture of Occam’s razor at the top of Andy’s blog. Now tell me which is more likely, that a Waldorf teacher did something stupid, or that a bunch of journalists conspired to invent the whole story?
“I can tell you that no one from the bbc was actually in the class at the point that it happened, so what should you believe the story of a student who was actually there in the class at that time or some story made up by some journalists.”
I tend to believe the people who are independent, aren’t friends with the teacher, and who don’t have any interest in whether the story has a positive or negative outcome.
As a career journalist of 40 years experience, I am well aware that many reporters colour stories either according to their prejudices or to get on the front page. Often they are not really aware that they are doing so. They make assumptions that suit their imagined version of what happened, or rely on unreliable sources. Sometime other factors are involved. Someone may not be telling the whole story in order to protect others at their own expense. Often journos don’t want their story to be complicated because it is not as sexy with shades of grey. But mostly journos are just lazy. Many prefer get their version from an official source such as a press release without bothering to make any investiagtions of their own. I would have thought a good investigative journalist might have sought to actually speak to some of the people in the classroom if possible, rather than solely relying on second or third hand accounts.
I must say you excel at hyperbole and distortion, Pete. Have you thought about getting into a spot of “advocacy journalism” yourself?
“But mostly journos are just lazy. Many prefer get their version from an official source such as a press release without bothering to make any investiagtions of their own.”
That would explain why there are many articles praising Waldorf. In this case, however, neither the school nor the teacher denied what happened. The journalists got it right.
Sometimes the truth is more complicated than what gets out, Pete.
“Sometimes the truth is more complicated than what gets out, Pete.”
Yes, perhaps – but in Waldorf environments, we have people who have developed a natural aversion to the truth – as proven here time and time again. Honest people don’t tend to work in dishonest environments. So expecting the truth from anyone connected to Waldorf is literally expecting too much.
Again, the journalists reported what happened. The teacher harmed children and resigned before her actions were investigated.
Do you also claim to have some special knowledge about the circumstances at this school Dave? Or are you just pumping cliches into the discussion because you have nothing?
No Pete. I don’t know what really happened because I wasn’t there. You are claiming to have special knowledge of the event even though you weren’t there. I am responding to a claim by somebody who says he was there and I believe deserves some respect on that account (if he indeed was there). It’s not about cliches. It’s about having an open mind, and yours appears to be closed. Very tightly.
I am currently on jury duty. Do you understand why we have juries?
jury – a body of people (typically twelve in number) sworn to give a verdict in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted to them in court
However, a case needs to actually get before a jury for a jury to be helpful.
I know people who have been abused (mentally, verbally, emotionally and physically) from Waldorf. They either feel too abused or too fearful to do anything past getting themselves out.
Many stories have been swept under a rug instead of put before a jury in my 9 years of being a parent and employee at the East Bay Waldorf School.
The last straw of why we’re leaving:
(sexual assault getting hushed up ain’t cool)
“You are claiming to have special knowledge of the event even though you weren’t there.”
No I’m not! I’m claiming to have no reason not to believe the reporters who reported on the incident. YOU are the one claiming they can’t be trusted.
” I am responding to a claim by somebody who says he was there and I believe deserves some respect on that account (if he indeed was there).”
Again, I would believe independent people before I would believe anyone connected with an organization famous for lying.
Peter – “Check out the picture of Occam’s razor at the top of Andy’s blog.” I followed your helpful suggestion. Did Occam actually use one like that?
“Did Occam actually use one like that?”
The only SURE way to know is through clairvoyance.
I truly admire Dave Richards for his patience and integrity. The way that he restates his own truth and keeps his integrity is an example for us all. I fall well short of his standards so I will only offer this one posting. I am a teacher at a Steiner school and I am saddened by the bitterness of several contributors who have experienced Waldorf schools and have found the experience less than fulfilling.
I think it is always important to think about people in the environment they found themselves living in. From his teenage time on, Steiner was academically brilliant and usually teaching to earn enough money to survive while studying or lecturing. At the age of 23 he was invited to edit the scientific writings of Goethe – one of Germany’s most important folk heroes. This is literally as prestigious as being invited to edit a complete edition of Wordsworth or even Shakespeare. At another stage he had a long discussion with Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer said of this meeting, “he astounded me with his insights into Plato”, “I immediately became aware that he possessed extensive knowledge in the field of natural science” and similar extremely complimentary comments. Finally, around the First World War, Germany had a highly centralised and bureaucratic education department, yet he was single handedly able to convince these authorities of the merit of turning the existing system on its head and allowing a completely new approach to emerge.
He always demanded the highest academic standards of his followers. In fact a highly successful clairvoyant from Norway called Marcello Haugen joined the movement but was then asked to leave because he refused to study to become a doctor and abandon his “atavistic” ability. Probably most important of all, Steiner demanded that all his followers proved for themselves the truth (or otherwise) of his statements. Anthroposophy is as much a cult as Buddhism is a religion.
Many bad things have happened in Steiner schools and his intentions have been mis-interpreted by people on both sides of the debate. The most important thing to consider is whether his educational advice is founded in a deeper knowledge of how children grow to adulthood or else the numerous Government advisory boards know best how to help the children of today become the problem-solvers of tomorrow. I know who’s ideas I trust more.
People inside a cult will never of course recognize that they are inside a cult. They will though find lots of ways of justifying that they are not in a cult.
I feel as though I’ve left a cult. There was a straw that broke the camel’s back situation at my school this year and I’ve been doing a lot of research on anthroposophy, Steiner, Waldorf schools and basic characteristics of cults.
My family has been with a Waldorf school for 9 years. I was employee as well as parent. I have been *very* active and nearly took the teacher training.
Questionable stuff happened yearly and the administration would say their roundabout stories and I went with it. (when something was so bad they had to say something. I know stories that have been *entirely* swept under the rug.
I checked 13/15 on this cult checklist:
“The most important thing to consider is whether his educational advice is founded in a deeper knowledge of how children grow to adulthood”
And the other most important thing to remember is where that “deeper knowledge” came from… Clairvoyance!
“or else the numerous Government advisory boards know best how to help the children of today become the problem-solvers of tomorrow.”
Somebody has to set up standards – otherwise teaching children to be idiots could be considered an education.
” I know who’s ideas I trust more.”
Let me guess… the guy who pulled his ideas out of thin air? Steiner never taught in a classroom. He had absolutely NO teaching experience. He tutored a couple of young boys. That’s pretty much it! Absolutely NO credentials that would qualify him for setting up an educational system. A system which, BTW, avoids regulation or scrutiny wherever possible. That’s the system you would trust, right?
My Waldorf School *is* regulated and scrutinized. They are regulated by AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) Oh wait, that’s Waldorf people looking at other Waldorf people…
I bet they at least do their own little regulations amongst themselves though. Oh wait, I’ve read the AWSNA Accreditation Guidebook and I’ve made quite a list of things I see as a parent that ought to show we don’t deserve to be accredited.
I think David Koresh’s twin brother would have done a bang up (sorry about pun) regulating the situation in Waco, TX. Oh wait, that sounds illogical.
You have never been to a Steiner school, have you?
I don’t care about the denigration of my character above about being a poor victim of a cult. The above responses are however insulting to the abilities of a few of the finest minds of the beginning of the 20th Century. Do you really think you have more ability to smell out a quack than Albert Schweitzer or Professor Karl Julius Schroer or Joseph Kurshner or the German education authorities in 1919? These people talked, listened and even smelled him. They were at the top of their respective fields and actually challenged him to justify his ability. They were never disciples, but they were VERY impressed. Please weigh up your own intellectual ability to really understand the basis of Steiner education compared with these amazing leaders before criticising in the future.
“Do you really think you have more ability to smell out a quack than Albert Schweitzer or Professor Karl Julius Schroer or Joseph Kurshner or the German education authorities in 1919?”
Yes! I do!
“Please weigh up your own intellectual ability to really understand the basis of Steiner education compared with these amazing leaders before criticising in the future.”
OK… did Schweitzer spend 15 years in Waldorf environments? Was he married to a Waldorf teacher? Did he study Anthroposophy for 10 years in earnest?
Schweitzer (and others) have NO CLUE what to look for when approaching and reviewing Waldorf environments. It takes a LOT more than credentials to make an honest statement about Waldorf schools. You actually have to be involved.
And I forgot to finish with – Please learn the difference between clairvoyance and intuition. Marcello Haugen was a very adept clairvoyant and he got kicked out of the society. Steiner relied on the same sources of wisdom as Ralph Waldo Emerson. Be careful about criticising his intelligence as well.
“Steiner relied on the same sources of wisdom as Ralph Waldo Emerson. Be careful about criticising his intelligence as well.”
I cannot understand the fanatical desire of some people to denigrate and negatively comment on facets of life that dare to be different. It seems that when someone chooses to follow a path that varies from the norm, conservative people go crazy! I have found that people jump aboard their high horses when discussing vaccination, Alternative education, home birth and other alternative life choices. However they turn a blind eye to what is really threatening our children’s futures. Radical religions, overmedication by health care professionals, video games and media and the link to violence. greed, selfishness, family violence and breakup, drugs etc; the majority of Steiner families are peaceful, contributing, helpful members of society so why the discrimination? Even if Steiner is a cult why would you care when there are so many other important world issues to focus on? How many Steiner families are harming other people? How many Steiner families have children who are committing violent acts at school, harming their classmates and teachers, disrupting classroom learning. Seriously people need to chill out and let differences be…..surely this makes for a more interesting life?
Here’s some interesting snippets about mainstream schools
[edited: tl;dr. please keep posts short and not cut and paste jobs.]
Really well said, I could not agree more.
“Even if Steiner is a cult why would you care when there are so many other important world issues to focus on? ”
Because somebody has to care.
“How many Steiner families are harming other people?”
It’s the teachers who do the harm. The families are the victims.
“How many Steiner families have children who are committing violent acts at school, harming their classmates and teachers, disrupting classroom learning.”
Almost every single one. Have you read about “bullying” in Waldorf schools? http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-waldorf-bullies.html
A child will either be a bully or the victim of a bully. Very few children make it through unscathed.
“Seriously people need to chill out and let differences be…..surely this makes for a more interesting life?”
It isn’t about Waldorf schools being “different” – it’s about them being HONEST about what the differences are. Their promotional materials are anything but forthcoming about Waldorf education and the role of Anthropsophy in it. People who are informed avoid Waldorf. That sorta works well for Waldorf as they prefer people who aren’t.
The article on self harm is fake and twisted by the media. My daughter was in the class that it happened in. It was not self harm but an artistic excersise by older teenagers in aboriginal art techniques. No one was ‘harmed’ and it was a pupils idea to use blood as a painting tool. The cut was a paper cut that healed within a day or two. It was a very inconsequential event. To suggest that Steiner Schools endorse self harm is ludicrous. Steiner Schools care deeply about their pupils. We simply don’t limit the experience of children by fear based living. This is a. Example of how the media can harm not only a great art teachers reputation but also a good school that caters for many children who can’t cope in the state environment. This is much more harmful to our world than a tiny paper cut.
As someone whose child was deeply involved in self-harm at a Steiner school (Highland Hall) and knows about this issue intimately, I can say with confidence that the poster above is naive about Steiner schools and their intention to harm children. It is certain children’s “karma” to be harmed and teachers overlook those children when it comes to cutting, bullying, threats and torture (yes torture – inflicted by teachers). Steiner schools do NOT care deeply about their students – they care only about making of the many students they receive into Anthroposophists… and they succeed far more often than you would think. Characterizing the harm they achieve on a world-wide basis as a “paper-cut” is just as dishonest as their own promotional materials. They HARM CHILDREN for their own spiritual purposes. It’s “The Waldorf Way”. In the article here, a Waldorf teacher tells an autistic child to “erase your life” http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/2015/09/erase-your-life.html – this is a great endorsement for the type of teacher one expects to find in a Waldorf environment.
Meanwhile, Ringwood is doing just fine: http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/13803110.Steiner_school_gets_permission_to_open_sixth_form/
I went to ringwood Steiner school and I don’t for one moment believe that your child went to one, though I can see why you would make it, like statistics it sounds more convincing. The only ‘spiritual’ eduction I ever received at the Steiner school was reading from the bible and some hymns.
“The only ‘spiritual’ eduction I ever received at the Steiner school was reading from the bible and some hymns.”
You’re wrong about this – but then again, how would you know?
* claps enthusiasticly. Well said
I went to this Steiner school for 10 years. I also went to a state school for about 2 years, what a terrible place that was, I learnt nothing and it was a true waste of time but it is the common route of education so you probably see no issue with it. This ridiculous article is riddled with errors. She did not resign, she was suspended as is procedure when a teacher is pending disciplinary inquiry. It was not a ‘self-harm lesson’, which by the way is journalism at its worst. She told the class (the class I used to be in by the way, and I hold responsible for their actions at their age) that a long time ago people used to use blood for ink and paint. She then proceeded to leave the class and they cut themselves to see what it would of been like. She did not know or intend for them to do this. The pupils would of been 17 and 18 and so are entirely responsible for their actions. Now I do not mean to say that as a teacher she has no repsonsiblity, what I mean to clarify is that many teachers briefly leave the room and she had no knowledge of the actions going on. What I find more comical than your grossly inaccurate article however are the comments. You’d think we went to some weird cult. It is a spiritual school but I however am an atheist, so no we are not brain washed into religion. It was the best years of my life, it taught me to love life and that things don’t always have to be conventionally. It taught me to love and respect others. And most importantly it actually taught me things, which is more than I can say about conventional education.
“She told the class (the class I used to be in by the way, and I hold responsible for their actions at their age) that a long time ago people used to use blood for ink and paint. She then proceeded to leave the class and they cut themselves to see what it would of been like.”
LMAO! Yes, I’ll let readers here determine if this is the way they want their own children to learn about stuff. Good thing the weren’t learning about poison that day.
“Now I do not mean to say that as a teacher she has no responsiblity, what I mean to clarify is that many teachers briefly leave the room and she had no knowledge of the actions going on. ”
We hear of this happening time and time again – especially with regard to bullying. The teachers deny any responsibility while often participating in and even instigating the behavior.
“You’d think we went to some weird cult. ”
You DID… but you would think differently, naturally.
Are you being serious in your hate towards Steiner education Pete? Or are you just taking the micky?
Anyone who doesn’t believe I’m serious about the harm Steiner school representatives do to children hasn’t been paying attention. I spend easily two hours every day investigating and reporting on problems with Steiner education and the harm Waldorf teachers do to children. It isn’t about “hate” – it’s about truth. Holding Waldorf education’s feet to the fire when they are being dishonest is extremely important work. They ask people to trust them with their CHILDREN after all.
Waldorf representatives have acknowledged problems within their system and have moved toward addressing some of the issues I have been reporting. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of “Waldorf” and the picture Waldorf schools paint about themselves. I went into Waldorf with an open heart! It would be fantastic if they could actually deliver the education they promise. Who wouldn’t want to go there?
Unfortunately, the reality isn’t AT ALL like what Waldorf representatives describe. Steiner education is, as I have found out firsthand, a quagmire of dishonest and delusional people pushing wacky ideas under their secret mission of helping other people’s children “incarnate” into their bodies in the right way – without their parent’s consent or knowledge. Their unconscionable methods are supported by an even more delusional guru.
Do you really support people who would systematically harm children Lars? Or are you just taking the mickey?
I also know a lot about Waldorf Schools. I have first hand experience with Waldorf students and x-Waldorf students and to they seem to be at least as independent and free thinking as any other person. So the this delusional guru (if that even takes place) really has no negative lasting affect on people.
Could you also explain to me what exactly these teachers would be telling their students. Or maybe not even telling them, but in what way does the Waldorf education harm a person?
If you could explain this to me that would be greatly appreciated.
“I have first hand experience with Waldorf students and x-Waldorf students and to they seem to be at least as independent and free thinking as any other person.”
Lars, we both know this isn’t true. Ask a Waldorf student how they feel about “technology”. If they were “free-thinking”, a great proportion would think it’s great – like a cross-section of other students! Instead, they are “groomed” to distrust anything technological – even vaccinations. This can be said about how Waldorf students are brainwashed into an approach of any of Steiner’s dumb ideas – especially in the area of science. “Free-thinking” to Waldorf means free to doubt what is known to be true. Free-thinking their way around topics like evolution and the big bang is just DUMB thinking. Don’t get me wrong, the “idea” of questioning is great. Supplying dumb answers (or avoiding truthful answers) to children in order to comply with Steiner’s shortcomings in science is just plain stupid and the antithesis of what a good teacher should be.
Even Steiner knew this and told teachers that students shouldn’t tell their future professors what they learned in Waldorf because Waldorf schools would “acquire a terrible name”. He said this right in “Faculty Meetings”.
Well, sorry but I’m here to make public what Steiner/Waldorf schools wanted to keep private – that they are teaching nonsense.
“Could you also explain to me what exactly these teachers would be telling their students.”
Sure. Here’s one who told an autistic child that she should “erase” (end) her life. This is in accordance with Steiner’s beliefs about karma, that some children are here to suffer in preparation for a future incarnation.
Good enough? Or do you require more examples. I have plenty.