UK Anthroposophy

November 10, 2010

Odds & Sods(2)

After a hiatus (we’re house hunting and skint, expect delays) here’s another Odds & Sods post, my way of putting on the blog short items of likely interest to readers such as brief updates to earlier blog posts, snippets of topical interest, blog admin stuff, eccentricities and short quirky items. If you come across anything Steiner related you feel other readers might find interesting, funny or illuminating then feel free to get in touch. As ever, confidentiality is assured.

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Three new links have been added to the blogroll. Prof David Colquhoun’s ‘Improbable Science’ blog, Nick Nakorn’s ‘Nagora’ blog and a vintner’s blog titled ‘Biodynamics is a Hoax’ are all now pointed to from this blog. DC’s Improbable Science recently carried two Steiner-critical articles (here and here), Nick Nakorn has a few similar such articles but nothing more recent than this one giving scary info re the beginnings of the Soil Association. The vintner blog is written by an American commercial winegrower – it does what’s it title suggests, gives biodynamics a drubbing.

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Very recent news is that PLANS has lost the latest round in a legal action that has been trundling on for well over a decade now. Anthroposophists are gloating over on the PLANS critics list, critics appear to be in disarray but claiming an Anthroposophist lied under oath (the thread can be read here, background to the case can be found on an archived CHASE post here)

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Here’s Eric Pickles, a top Tory, frothing at the mouth about scientology. Eric bemoans scientology getting tax breaks when it isn’t a recognised religion or registered charity, “I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”  Hear hear, Eric. Presumably government won’t be funding Steiner schools via their becoming Free Schools then, will it? There’ll be more on the chaotic Free Schools policy in a forthcoming blog post.

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This glaring spelling mistake has been sitting on the Charity Commission website for months and months now. Also the Commission’s link to Stiener(sic) Hereford Academy’s latest accounts and annual report is broken. If you compare those annual docs with any of the earlier docs you’ll see that the term ‘Anthroposophy’ has been entirely expunged from Hereford’s latest annual accounts & report. Pre-academy the Hereford Steiner school annual accounts and reports were explicit about the school’s Anthroposophical mission. From the 2007 accounts & report section about ‘Objects and Activities’

“Anthroposophy is the guiding spirit behind the Steiner Academy Hereford. Its presence must be felt not only in the classrooms but also in all aspects of the organisation and practical life of the school.”

The same text appears within the 2008 accounts & report by which time the school had become and reported itself as an academy. But no mention of Anthroposophy within the 2009 docs. According to government research Anthroposophy underpins ALL Steiner schools, they wouldn’t and couldn’t be ‘Steiner schools’ if they renounced Anthroposophy. So, the academy has either renounced Anthroposophy – in which case it must have replaced its entire Anthroposophical pedagogy – or it is down playing the importance or any connection at all with Anthroposophy. Or maybe it’s one big spelling error or oversight. More on this as and when the post on Free Schools is finished.

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An update on the aftermath of the collapse of the UK Anthroposophy movement’s own favoured pension scheme for you. Readers will know participants in the Mercury Provident Pension Scheme found themselves left with having to shoulder the scheme’s deficit after it collapsed, a burden too much for the already financially stricken Emerson College. The College has since been restructured and is  now operating  ‘under new management’ as Emerson Trust and busy reinventing itself as some sort of eco-friendly village learning centre, a sort of Camphill for the physically and mentally unchallenged. Of more interest and not previously reported on the blog is that the Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA), now known as Garden Organic, was also a member of the collapsed pension scheme. HDRA/Garden Organic is the UK’s leading advocate and experimenter in organic gardening. If you whiz through Garden Organic’s website info materials you’ll find a lot of science and scientific experimentation mentions. Anthroposophy isn’t mentioned explicitly but Garden Organics has at least two Steiner sympathetic sponsors and it was a signed up participant of the Anthroposophical pension scheme. Self-sufficiency types amongst you might remember a TV programme about organic gardening presented by HDRA staff – it was titled ‘Muck and Magic’ and now we know why.

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Some stirring stuff forthcoming at Rudolf Steiner House in London is ‘Gardening the spiritual, biodynamic way’, a workshop presented by dynamic duo Dr Sue Peat & Philip Martyn. Sue & Phil are highly placed Anthroposophists within the UK’s national Anthroposophical Society and Steiner/Anthroposophical schools. You’ll be in the hands of Anthroposophical experts and oh what fun you’ll have, “We will spend the last hour stirring the soil preparation BD500 for us to take home for our own gardens. Bring a pint bottle with you.”

The mind boggles, it really does. But hey it’s only ten quid for the day, bargain!

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