UK Anthroposophy

March 15, 2010

Steiner racism & state funding – Tories offer SWSF lessons on spin

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) ‘special pre-election seminar’ mentioned in an earlier post has now taken place and a concise and accurate record of the ‘special’ seminar appears below. It notes comments from top Conservative spokespeople concerning Steiner racism and other Steiner controversies and in how to deal with them. It’s quite clear that the Tories are aware of the issues – one of the Tories present at the seminar even offered the SWSF free media training ‘to prepare them for tackling the PR problems’.

The record of the seminar also notes that a gathering consisting in the main of Steiner school trustees and administrators is aware of and accepts that there is an element of racism within Anthroposophy, the ideology underpinning Seiner education.

The ‘special seminar’ also saw SWSF member schools air their differences regarding the pros and cons of state funding Steiner schools. Many schools and individuals within SWSF fear state funding will necessitate or lead to dilution of Steiner educational orthodoxy. Such fears were not allayed on hearing at the seminar that the Tories will expect schools ensure children meet basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy at all levels – this runs contrary to fundamental Steiner pedagogy and practice

The entire transcript of the ‘special seminar’ is given below and has been passed on to me on the understanding that the person sending it to me remains anonymous.  I can assure readers that the transcript is a fair and accurate record of the seminar, it has been verified and would withstand scrutiny in a court of law. Seminar attendees were not bound by any formal or informal code of confidentiality as regards what was said and decided at the seminar, the seminar was publicly advertised, members of the public could and did turn up on the day and attend – seems to me fair enough that a record of the seminar be available to the wider public and so I’m happy to have it here on the blog.

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(start of transcript)

“Moving Forward – A special pre-election seminar about possible developments in the state funding opportunity for Steiner schools”

Tuesday 17th November 2009.

Charity Centre, 24 Stephenson Way, London, NW1

In Attendance:

  • Sylvie Sklan, lead representative for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and Emma Craigie, daughter of journalist William Rees-Mogg and famous supporter of Steiner education.
  • Rachel Wolf, director of New Schools Network, a charity that aims to improve quality of education by increasing the number of independent schools within the state sector, and former education adviser to the Conservative Party.
  • Sam Freedman, current education adviser to the Conservative party and head of think-tank Policy Exchange’s education unit.
  • A number of trustees and administrators from various Steiner schools.
  • An observer.

The event was split between two sessions; a morning session lasting around 3 hours and an afternoon session lasting for 1 hour 30 mins.

SUMMARY OF MATTERS IN THE MORNING SESSION:

The morning session started with an introduction from Sylvie Sklan as to why the Steiner Schools Fellowship is in talks with the Conservative party with regard to state funding. It was explained that because of the “likely” change of government in the next election, it was important for the Fellowship to lobby, as it had done previously under the Labour government, for state funding. The arguments in favour of state funding were not discussed at length but were alluded to, and may be taken to include greater financial security for the schools, the ability to enrol more students from economically diverse backgrounds, and the chance to lose the “independent schools” label that implies exclusivity.

A discussion between the various trustees and administrators around the topic of state funding and whether or not each school would be minded to apply for state funding was held prior to hearing from Rachel Wolf and Sam Freedman. There was a mixed response from the various trustees present. A number of schools were keen to secure funding for the reasons mentioned above. However other schools were less keen. The representatives from one school, for example, said that they had investigated the funding arrangements presently available under the “Academy school” scheme and felt that those provisions were inadequate. Other schools were wary of state funding because of the concerns of teachers that such funding would allow the government to intervene and interfere with the running of the schools. Sylvie Sklan concluded this discussion by stating that it would be down to the individual schools to decide whether or not they wished to apply for state funding and that “state funding is not just about money, it’s about sustainability and social inclusion”.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer session with Rachel Wolf. She explained the role of her organisation, the New Schools Network. She stated that the organisation performed 3 functions; a) to give guidance to certain schools looking to become state funded; b) to communicate the benefits of the policy being discussed today; c) to research the policy by looking at the experience of schools in the UK and abroad that are involved in similar state funding arrangements.

Rachel Wolf described the process of applying for state funding as envisaged under the Tory policy. This would involve submitting to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (“DCSF”) a business plan, an indication of parental interest in the school, and a full description of the curriculum and ethos of the school. The reason for making the last submission is so that the DCSF can root out ‘extremism’. She stated that in order for a school to remain state funded, “basic levels of achievement” would have to be displayed at all levels throughout the school.

Sam Freedman then answered more technical questions about the Conservative party policy. Questions asked concerned the level of funding that the schools could expect to receive; how a Conservative government would facilitate the schools acquiring better premises; what “basic levels of achievement” would be expected; would a Conservative government interfere with the management of the schools; what was Conservative policy on teacher training; how long will the policy take to implement; would the Conservative government continue to allow Steiner schools to opt out of the National Curriculum; how does the Conservative government expect to afford the migration of 4000 Steiner pupils to state funding.

The responses to these questions were generally pleasing and reassuring to the trustees and administrators. The only point that the Sam Freedman (and Rachel Wolf) were particularly sure to press home was that of “basic levels of achievement”. They felt that the schools had to be accountable for ensuring that children were meeting basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy at all levels. This, it was acknowledged, may cause some conflict with the Steiner method of teaching.

Race and PR:

Sam Freedman was asked by a trustee, at the very end of the morning session, whether or not he could foresee any other particular problems with Steiner schools becoming state funded.

He responded, verbatim, as follows:

“Not in terms of the way we want to legislate, but, I mean I’m sure this is something that you all know about anyway, there’s a big PR issue, and if a lot of Steiner schools open quite quickly in the state sector, I mean I’ve been, erm, I’ve had all sorts of people writing to me just because they found out that I was coming to this meeting. Attacking. Attacking the Steiner Schools… Anonymously. Through social networking. People find out who you are, find out your account number and bombard you with articles, negative articles… This was pointing out all the things they think are wrong with Steiner movement, link after link after link. And that’s just from me coming to this meeting, so you have to be aware, well I know you’ll all be aware anyway, but this will be on a much, much bigger scale.”

The discussion went on to identify two problem PR areas: 1) Accounts from parents who are or have been unhappy with the Steiner schooling system and those that have had negative experiences associated with the schools, and 2) the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy.

It was identified that the latter issue was going to be a greater problem.

Sam Freedman stated that it was important for the Schools to “explain to people quite strongly that they are not teaching what he [Rudolf Steiner] said”. He likened the situation to the fact that not all Christians believe every word of the Bible.

One of the trustees noted that the very name “Steiner”, is potentially limiting. He noted that in other countries schools have called themselves “Waldorf” schools so as to distance themselves from the Steiner writings.

Rachel Wolf suggested that the Schools should therefore seek to get a “more mixed group of people interested from the beginning, because that is the best way that you [the Steiner schools] can  appear like an equal, diverse and principled organisation, and you want that from day 1 if you possibly can, and you should start doing that now.”

The importance of getting a more diverse intake of children was noted, given the likely effects of the negative PR currently circulating on the internet, coupled with images of classes filled with only white, middle-class children. It was acknowledged that such an image would be very damaging to the movement.

An observer asked Sam Freedman whether or not a Conservative government would consider intervening with Steiner teacher training to ensure that the racist aspects of Steiner’s writings would not be included. Sam Freedman replied by stating that if the issue becomes a big PR problem for Steiner schools, and the state is funding those schools, it will become a big PR problem for the state. He went on to say that in light of this, Steiner schools should seek to nip any potential problems with their teacher training in the bud, because if ministers feel under pressure from negative PR, this is likely to be problematic for the schools. Sam Freedman stated that the Schools should ensure that they can explain their position very clearly, so that they can counter the negative criticisms immediately.

At the close of the morning session, Rachel Wolf stated that she would be happy to offer the Steiner schools Fellowship free media training to prepare them for tackling the PR problems.

SUMMARY OF MATTERS IN THE AFTERNOON SESSION

Sam Freedman and Rachel Wolf did not attend the afternoon session. The session comprised of a group discussion amongst the trustees and administrators concerning the matters raised in the morning session. Emma Craigie identified the key issues as being PR, accountability and assessment, admissions and funding, however PR was the main area of discussion.

It was acknowledged that the Steiner schools Fellowship would need to initiate and fund a proper campaign to counter the “poison” on the internet. A representative from one Steiner school felt that the politicians were very aware of the problem and that they would “run a mile in the opposite direction if they have a lot of people coming at them saying you’re funding a weird cult that brain washes children.”

It was suggested that an “antidote” website be set up to explain the criticisms that are levelled against the Steiner schools. It was also suggested the Steiner schools Fellowship take up the offer of free media training offered by the New Schools Network, although it was acknowledged that the Fellowship would require more than this, indeed they would need full-time “professional help”. A PR officer would be required to place positive stories in the media, and also to counter the stream of negative ones. It was considered important to get a PR strategy sorted out soon, especially if a large number of Steiner schools opt-in for state funding at an early stage. It was felt that the Steiner schools Fellowship should start cultivating good media relations as soon as possible.

It was felt that a central plank of the PR strategy should be to bring media into the schools to show exactly what goes on there, and that another thing to consider would be a re-branding exercise. It is the association with Steiner’s writings that is perceived to be the main problem.

It was also stated that it would be important for the Steiner schools Fellowship to make sure that they have a clear PR message to convey to the politicians themselves. This would reassure the politicians that the negative criticisms aimed at the schools are not justified, and if there were a public outcry about the schools, the politicians would themselves be in a position to refute the claims. Indeed, there would be a government PR machine available to help refute the claims.

Re-branding was considered in more detail. This would be a way of isolating the educational philosophy of Steiner without being associated with the controversial aspects of Anthroposophy. In any event, the importance of making it clear that the schools did not teach the racist aspects of Anthroposophy was stressed.

An observer was asked which Steiner quotes he/she had seen online and elsewhere. The oberver gave the example of the spiritual hierarchy of the races. It was acknowledged that the Steiner schools Fellowship should give a clear and categorical rebuttal of these aspects of Steiner’s work. Clear statements should be made stating “We do not believe that human beings evolve through the races. We do not believe that blond hair bestows intelligence, etc…”.

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.  In any event it was agreed that a message along the line of “The Steiner School is committed to equal opportunities and is opposed to racism and all forms of discrimination” should be placed on all Steiner school websites and promotional material.

There was some concern that the PR campaign attempting to rebut the racial aspects of anthroposophy could back fire because it would bring the subject to the attention of people who were not aware of the problem. Any PR campaign of this nature may necessarily have to be a reaction to, but not a pre-emption of, negative press arising from Anthroposophy.

The example of how an American group known as “Plans” (People for Legal and Non-sectarian Schools) were attempting to take Steiner schools to court in America was raised. This group opposed Steiner schools on the basis that Anthroposophy constitutes a religion, and as such these schools were forbidden from being publicly funded by the American constitution. It was felt by the trustees and administrators that unless a PR strategy was deployed soon, similar groups opposed to the state funding of Steiner schools would arise in the UK.

The afternoon session concluded with some brief discussions of the other matter raised. (end of transcript)

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43 Comments »

  1. Thank you Mike, it’s absolutely right to make the content of this meeting public. With power, it appears, will come contempt for the very parents who’ve been sold Free Schools on the grounds of ‘parent choice’. Often ‘choice’ has been the only excuse the Tories have given for this potentially divisive policy, one which we can anyway ill-afford. Nor can the funders of the Hereford Academy count themselves blameless, they too must have known how serious has been the international criticism of Waldorf Steiner education but chose to ignore it in the name of diversity. As Sam Freedman intimates: with further funding of Steiner schools will come greater criticism. No amount of good PR will silence every outraged parent, or student.

    zooey has written an excellent analysis of this post: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/rebutting-anthroposophy/

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — March 18, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  2. Golly the bloggers are quick aren’t they. In addition to Zooey’s sparkler I see there’s another good one plus discussion over at
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/03/18/tories-offer-state-funding-to-schools-linked-to-occult-society/

    Unfortunately I have a family crisis to attend to and cannot for the time being add much to discussion here or elsewhere but it’s very heartening to see the level of interest the ‘transcript’ post has generated.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — March 19, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  3. Thank you Mike for putting this on your blog , I am speechless, I wonder just how much PR it will take to shut up all the parents and children who have come up against the true nature of their philosophy?

    “Other schools were wary of state funding because of the concerns of teachers that such funding would allow the government to intervene and interfere with the running of the schools”.

    I think they mean accountability, something sadly lacking at the Steiner Waldorf school my child was in. I’m so glad we escaped.

    Comment by Notahobbit — March 20, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  4. When charges of racism in Waldorf and/or anthroposophy are leveled, the defenders invariably respond by saying something to this effect: “Well OK, what RS said here could be construed as racist today, but such utterances are few and far between; and besides, after all, most of all, he was just a ‘man of his time’.”

    As an anthroposophist myself since 1976 and a former Waldorf teacher, I too, once subscribed to that “quantum defense.” However, in recent years, I have come to see the total irrelevance of that argument, because it is clear that racial differentiation is not peripheral to, but actually absolutely fundamental to the doctrine of anthroposophy itself.

    And for my evidence, I must quote Rudolf Steiner’s own words from a lecture he gave in 1923 to the workmen re-building the burned down Goetheanum in Switzerland. Now some of you recognize the more spectacular contents of this lecture, such as this diagram showing how the brains, bodies and skin colors of the 3 main races: Negro, Asian and Caucasian are constituted. http://tinyurl.com/ynw9vd

    This is the famous, or infamous, lecture, whose title is “Color and the Human Races” and which goes into great detail about the differing racial characteristics of the 5 basic human races: Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, White, and how the White race is the “spiritually creative race,” and all that.

    However, no one ever quotes the very beginning of the lecture, where Rudolf Steiner himself — as any good lecturer would do at the beginning of a public talk — gives the important reason why we need to study these racial characteristic and differences in the first place.

    So while the sketch with the 3 racial figures, their various brain characteristics correlated with skin color, etc., is quite sensational and draws all the attention of critics and defenders alike, the very purpose of the study, i.e. the intention of the lecturer, is overlooked.

    After greeting the audience in the first paragraph, Rudolf Steiner then provides the rationale and the overview of the coming lecture: (given March 3, 1923, part of GA 349)

    (I put my own translation first, followed by the German original.)
    ————————————–
    “But now, in addition to this European skin color, we also have four other major skin colors. And we want to investigate that today a little bit, because, in reality, we may only understand all of history and the entire [past] social life, as well as today’s social life if we can really delve into the racial characteristics of human beings. And only then will we be able understand everything spiritual in the true sense [of that word] — if we occupy ourselves first [and foremost] with how this spiritual essence in human beings functions precisely through skin color itself.”
    ————————————————
    Nun haben wir aber außer dieser europaeischen Hautfarbe noch vier hauptsachliche andere Hautfarben. Und das wollen wir heute ein bißchen betrachten, weil man eigentlich die ganze Geschichte und das ganze soziale Leben, auch das heutige soziale Leben nur versteht, wenn man auf die Rasseneigentumlichkeiten der Menschen eingehen kann. Und dann kann man ja auch erst im richtigen Sinne alles Geistige verstehen, wenn man sich zuerst damit beschäftigt, wie dieses Geistige im Menschen gerade durch die Hautfarbe hindurch wirkt.”
    ———————————————-

    You really can’t get any clearer and more foundational/fundamental than that statement. The reason anthroposophists need to study skin color is so that they can truly understand the spiritual essence of all human beings, as that essence expresses itself through skin color!

    Yet I also see Steiner’s racism as earnest and benevolent, very akin to the idea of seeing the Negroes as the “white-man’s burden.” Thus, the Caucasian race is not superior in the Nazi sense, but its spiritual maturity is more like that of a Chief Executive Officer of a corporation, a kind of benevolent “parent-figure” of the other races, that is to say, the white race can best manage society and take care of the more child-like races, especially the Negro race, and even show great “compassion” for the present “elderly and dying” American Indian race.

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

    Comment by Imker — March 20, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  5. The best response to the comment above was written today by historian Peter Staudenmaier, on the Waldorf Critics list. Peter responds to an answering comment by Dennis Gaelman:

    ‘The word “racism” has a popular connotation…if you express the sentiments above, some nitwit will call you a “racist”…’

    Peter writes: ‘So will non-nitwits, as the sentiments above are indeed racist.’ (continues in link below.)

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/13453

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — March 20, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  6. Yes, justifying racism as somehow benign and well intentioned does nothing to alter the fact of it being racist.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — March 27, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  7. The ‘transcripts’ post prompted today 4 comments in succession from the same individual. I consider that to be spamming and have mass deleted them.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — March 27, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  8. I would just like to point out that regardless of what Steiner himself may have believed, I have never come across a racist Steiner teacher, or indeed witnessed any kind of descriminatin in all my time in Seiner education.There were three black girls in my class of 13 at Steiner,which is more than can be said for my entire year of 200+ at a secondary school which happened to be in a middle class area. Yes Steiner classes are usually made up of white middle class children, but this is largely down to the fact that these are fee paying schools and the sad fact is that the money has to come from somewhere. Obviously if the schools recieved some form of funding they would be able to appeal to a more diverse range of people.
    It has been mentioned that there are a large number of complaints in circulation from parents who have had bad experiences with Steiner schools. Fair enough, I can understand that this kind of education isn’t right for everybody, but there are pleanty of people getting allong perfectly well at Steiner schools. I have come across a huge ammount of parents with children in stare education who are just as unhappy with their child’s school. It isn’t as if Steiner schools would be replacing state schools, they would just be there as another option.
    Anthoposophy is NEVER taught in Steiner schools. Steiner teachers studdy it, which seems reasonable as some of the curriculum they teach is based arround it, but it is up to them whether they agree with it or not. Whatever Steiner had to say about race, the important thing to these schools is what he had to say about education. It is possible to be wrong about some things and right about others and I have seen Steiner work for so many people!
    Sorry for going off on one but I really felt someone needed to argue the other side here.

    Comment by steinerstudent — April 21, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  9. Hi Steinerstudent,

    I doubt for a minute that anyone is going round saying Steiner teachers are raving racists; the point is, the cosmology , beliefs of anthroposophy are; how could it not be racist to state that some races are spiritually superior to others? The fact that there are there are “black girls” in your class is irrelevant – quite frankly, your naivety is stunning. Anthropsophy is a special kind of racism, apparently artfully disguised as gently helping souls incarnate into a spiritually whiter skin next time round.

    One can never know for sure what motivates certain choices for teachers; Steiner schools are less than open about their underpinnings and what they entail; no-one knows for certain which of steiner’s clairvoyant nuggets will be taken as gospel by the newly dazzled teacher.

    What Steiner had to say about race is irretrievably intertwined with what he said about education- reincarnation, karma, past lives, evolution, higher worlds.

    Steiner teachers study anthroposophy- immersion would seem more relevant judging from their reading list – and even if it isn’t taught it is the guiding force, it is everywhere, it’s crazy beliefs used in the classroom in astonishingly varied ways.

    I’m intrigued though, if it is up to the teacher whether they agree with anthroposphical laws or not, it must be very hard when it comes to giving a child a temperament for example, or at a thursday college of teachers meeting if a child’s past life or karma crops up…. One evaluation assessment for Steiner teaching training has this heading

    “Relationship to anthroposophy
    Is the teacher knowledgeable about the anthroposophic underpinnings of the curriculum- ie the nature of the human being and child development from a Steiner waldorf perspective?
    If not, is the teacher interested in learning about anthroposophy?”
    I wonder how much the schools really mind about whether or not the teachers “agree” with anthroposophy?

    Anthroposophists always say it is “never taught”- like first lovers they have one position; why not actually think about how comprehensively anthroposophy swamps those schools?

    I wonder what you make of this post on Mumsnet just before Christmas. Where do you think the Steiner teacher mentioned got her ideas from? (this thread is now gone from mumsnet)

    “By lolapoppinslolapoppins Tue 22-Dec-09 20:40:04

    Well, i have heard of a lot of rascism in Steiner schools. I am half Indian, so quite olive skinned with very dark eyes. Ds takes after my dad and dh and is very white with blonde hair and very light blue eyes.

    It is a little unbelievable looking back. I was asked outright if he was adopted. I was told it was ‘ok’ if he was dhs child from a previous relationship. Then I was asked if there was any chance he was swapped at birth. When they finally accepted that I had somehow given birth to him (genetics, anyone?) they started to treat him like the messiah, calling him their ‘golden boy’.

    (husband) was told that ds was a ‘black soul’ put on earth in the incarnation of a blonde haired, blue eyed boy for the purpose of spiritual deception. That I was dark as I had committed evil in a previous life and that evil was living on through my child who was born in order to deceive. I said earlier that in the last few weeks he was there he developed a nervous tick, he used to kind of roll his eyes back while opening them wide, over and over. Apparently, that is a very common sign of stress in very young children (he was just 5 at the time). The kindergarten teacher said that this was the evil showing itself and trying to take a physical form.”

    As for the “plenty of people getting on fine at Steiner schools” – you should have added-“blissfully unaware’.

    Comment by Cathy — April 22, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  10. steinerstudent, there are examples of racist Steiner teachers but we needn’t be surprised by that – racists, abusers, paranoid schizophrenics and whatever else are to be found in all walks of life. One of the concerns people have about Steiner belief is that racists find Steiner racism attractive and so gravitate toward Steiner activities and applications, applications such as Steiner education.

    You mention the presence of black students/pupils in a Steiner ed setting as if this somehow exonerates Steiner of the charges of racism levelled against him. There are black police officers and black people serving in our armed forces – does this then in your view demonstrate that racism is not a problem within these services?

    Offering choice in state provision of education is one thing, state funding racism is plain wrong. How would you feel if in your area a gaggle of British National Party parents decided they wanted their own BNP school? Widening state provision and choice of education is one thing – enabling, empowering and state funding racist fascists is another and in my own opinion something any ethically minded citizen would and should oppose. Should they want to, the BNP or any other group can establish and run their own schools within the private sector.

    You say Anthroposophy is never taught in Steiner schools – but it is practised in Steiner schools, the entire pedagogy is Steiner belief. So, the teachers work according to Steiner belief, the Steiner school doctor practises according to Steiner belief, the festivals at Steiner schools are conducted according to Steiner belief. Even if Steiner is never ever mentioned in a Steiner school the pupils are taught in accordance with Steiner belief, can be treated medically according to Steiner belief, can participate in festivals (or should that be rituals?) according to Steiner belief. Students and pupils in Steiner settings are immersed in a Steiner culture, how can they not be influenced by that culture? If children are not taught Steiner belief directly, then what about their parents? Near every Steiner school offers and expects parents to become involved in the running of their schools and it isn’t unusual for a Steiner school to expect or ask parents to become involved in study groups where parents can learn more about Steiner & Anthroposophy.

    You claim Steiner teachers can pick and mix from Steiner belief and other ways of teaching based on other beliefs. If Steiner teachers do not operate in accordance with Steiner principles then they are not Steiner educators are they, it is by acting in accordance with what Steiner said on education that makes a Steiner teacher a Steiner teacher rather than eg a Montessori teacher.

    Finally, you claim Steiner’s racist beliefs and comments have nothing to do with what he said about education. This is entirely wrong. Steiner’s teaching on how children develop is based entirely on the mechanics of how, according to Steiner, human beings reproduce which is in turn entirely derived from his overarching racist evolutionary teachings. Steiner’s version of child development is, simply put, his racist evolutionary teaching writ small.

    Since any pedagogy will have some notion of how children develop then it follows that Steiner’s racist beliefs play a part in Steiner education generally. In fact, for Steiner school teachers, assisting child development according to how Steiner taught it does and should occur is taken to be a sacred task – the Steiner teacher sees him or herself to be actively helping the child reincarnate properly and hence to help assist the spiritual reproductive process itself. There are blog posts touching on these aspects of Steiner belief here https://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/steiner-education-anthroposophical-education-official/
    and here https://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/anthromeds1/

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — April 22, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  11. A question for Mike Collins: I would like to know whether you have ever visited a Steiner school? If so I would like to know when your visit took place, and whether it was in the UK.

    Comment by ono5 — May 5, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  12. “…racists, abusers, paranoid schizophrenics…”

    Could you please not list racists and ‘abusers’ (I’m not sure what you mean by this?) along with those people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia? You are unfortunately compiling the immoral with the mentally ill. Anthroposophical charities do a great deal of good, positive and beneficial work for people suffering with mental illness (regardless of the colour of their skin).

    “…racists find Steiner racism attractive and so gravitate toward Steiner activities and applications, applications such as Steiner education.”

    Then let them. They will become enlightened and discover that the ultimate aim of Anthroposophy is to unite the whole of mankind in love (regardless of the colour of their skin).

    “racists, abusers, paranoid schizophrenics and whatever else are to be found in all walks of life.”

    Including ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com, one would therefore imagine.

    It is very sad that this website has managed to garner this much attention. But then, I suppose the BNP managed attention with lies, too. Your mentioning BNP ideologies in the same breath as anthroposophical beliefs would be highly, highly offensive if it were not for the fact that it simultaneously betrays a phenomenal ignorance of the truths of Anthroposophy.

    Comment by Scarmichael — May 10, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  13. This is all very entertaining, but there’s some hysteria and paranoia here. Allow me to give a first-hand account of Walforf education as a parent.

    I returned recently to the UK having lived in East Asia for many years, with my children who are a genetic/legal/nationality combination of Japanese, Danish, British/English/Scottish and Australian. I occasionally have to fill in one of those equality monitoring forms for them and I have to tick the category “which I feel describes them best”, so I always tick “other” just to make the point that I don’t like my children being fitted into a race box either by those who promote racism or by those who are supposedly trying to eliminate it.

    Frankly I have neither a clue nor any interest in what my children’s race is. But I do know that had I put them into any of the state schools around where I live (where 99% of the children are White English) there would have been problems making friends with the other children and possibly bullying as well. I was really worried about this and for this reason I chose to send them to a more multicultural Waldorf School where many of the teachers, and a substantial proportion of the parents, are from outside the UK. And where the education itself is more international in focus. I’m very happy with my decision. My kids couldn’t even speak English when they started at the school, and so far it’s worked out great. I’ve found the parents at the school are generally very cosmopolitan and international in outlook, and this has helped us all to fit in well in the school community. I am not an Anthroposophist at all; I don’t believe it and nor do my children. It’s not a big deal. It’s like if I had my kids in a Church of England or Catholic school. There would be Christian teachers and parents and Atheist teachers and parents, and they just accept each other’s beliefs and get along. That’s how it is in our Waldorf school.

    Comment by John Smith — May 11, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

  14. ono5, I have visited all kinds of Anthroposphical settings…but what has that got to do with Steiner’s racism and state funding Anthroposophical applications such as Steiner schools?

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — May 13, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

  15. John Smith – we all have a varied genetic inheritance the human genome reveals, so you have a point about those forms. But I’m surprised at your conclusions. You seem to be confusing race with nationality (the Scots and Australians are pretty much accepted even in rural England) and I can’t see how you can *know* that your children would have had problems making friends in a state school, or be bullied. You might have feared they might be, which I understand. From my experience in a similar area I’d be very surprised if this were the case. There is a Japanese girl in my child’s state primary who couldn’t speak any English when she arrived, the children were kind and welcoming to her, as children often are, especially when the school’s ethos is sound. Of course bullying can happen anywhere but you would find the bullying policies in most state schools to be rigorous. State schools have to be accountable. Steiner schools, in the sad experience of many parents, are not.

    Anthroposophy is a big deal. Take out the anthroposophy, there is no Steiner school. Without disregarding your positive spin, I’d suggest that you’re extremely naive.

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — May 14, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  16. The issue to stay focused on is **State Funding** of schools that have a religious agenda and if you read in depth Steiners material, its a doctrine and not based in fact as it is understood by people who are genuine scientists.

    Consult Sharon Lombard’s article on Double Speak for very interesting details.

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/lombard_sharon_csr0202j.htm

    Gnostic occultists who feel entitled to hide their actual doctrine from non believers of their system and feel entitled to do so for the karmic good of nonbelievers have a way of living that is incompatible with a society based on open communication, but do seem willing to try and obtain monies from that same benighted open society.

    And though Steiner called them ‘lectures’ they read as SERMONS to a non-anthroposophist.

    Comment by noodlebowl — May 18, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  17. Mike Collins: I conclude from your disingenuous answer that you have not visited a Steiner/Waldorf school within the UK.

    Comment by ono5 — May 25, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  18. Nonsense from noodlebowl there. You’re seriously advocating the removal of funding for all schools that have ‘a religous agenda’? Unbelievably arrogant and ignorant. I’m assuming you go to hotels that have a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth in the top drawer of their bedside cabinets? And how are the ‘gnostic occultists’ hiding anything? It’s all there, published and in print.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 27, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  19. ono5: I conclude from your comment that you are uninterested in addressing the subject of the blog post you’re commenting on, state funding of a racist ideology.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — June 7, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

  20. Mike Collins: On the contrary; since you are opposed to state funding of Steiner/Waldorf schools, I think it is pertinent to note that you have never visited one. You are criticizing a system of education that you have no experience of.

    For anyone who found this blog and who is interested in a useful and academically credible study of Steiner/Waldorf schools, specifically in relation to state funding in the UK I recommend reading the UK government’s report on Steiner Schools in England, which was published by the Department for Education and Skills in June 2005.

    Comment by ono5 — June 9, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  21. ono5 I have involved experience of Steiner schools in the UK, and agree with the content of this website.
    The Woods Report was written by people with a very strong bias towards Steiner & spiritual education, which I personally think makes it not entirely objective; Glenys Woods has had involvement with an anthroposophical group, and is an “angelic reiki healer”. It is hardly an objective study, yet even in some of their previous work they stated ” Many teachers, in our view, are too dependent on following the guidance and ideas of Steiner as if they were ‘sacred’ directions. Not all teachers necessarily achieve the very demanding level of responsibility and creativity that Steiner set out.” In Harmony with the Child: the Steiner teacher as co-leader in a pedagogical community – Philip woods and Glenys Woods.
    Why do you think there are so many groups, in so many countries of the world who are critical of Steiner Waldorf education? Who all arrive at very similar conclusions? montessori schools don’t have a “survivors group”

    Some interesting recent discussions on Zooey’s blog, including a fully paid up anthropsophist ( Falk) who says ” You are right to be sceptical. ‘Anthro’ institutions are sometimes ‘economical’ with the truth. ” http://zooey.wordpress.com/info/#comment-2948 and an ex teacher/parent ) Alpha Omega) who calls the movement a cult. http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/the%C2%A0sect/#comment-2727

    And ono5, if you’re involved with a Steiner school, and have only seen the side that the teachers tell you, I would read Zooey’s blog, Waldorf Watch http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/ and Peter Staudenmaier http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/anthroposophy-and-ecofascism-2/. Then at least you are fully informed, which you plainly aren’t at the moment.

    Comment by Cathy — June 9, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  22. ono5: quote from the blog post “The record of the seminar also notes that a gathering consisting in the main of Steiner school trustees and administrators is aware of and accepts that there is an element of racism within Anthroposophy, the ideology underpinning Seiner education.”

    Please attempt to address the issue at hand, state funding of a racist ideology. Nobody here gives a hoot about my life experiences.

    Since you raised the matter of the ‘Steiner Schools in England’ report, yes, I too would recommend visitors here to read it. As far as its credibility in research terms goes, it contradicts its own findings and is methodologically weak and it’s also shoddily presented. A government commissioned study undertaken by Steiner sympathetic researchers, the report was clearly a politically motivated effort intended to pave the way for commencement of state funding of Anthroposophical schools. Be that as it may, the report’s content does offer a lot for Steiner critics. The report of the study can be found online http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR645.pdf

    Forgive the interludes my end, been having to deal with a faulty laptop this past few weeks, only now back up and running.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — June 9, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  23. […] failed attempt to ‘rebut’ waldorf critics. Now the SWSF itself is in trouble — notes UK Anthroposophy. They’re trying to negotiate between conflicting needs: the need to rebut […]

    Pingback by rebutting anthroposophy « zooey — June 9, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

  24. ono5: I dislike pedantry on the whole but that should be: ‘You are criticizing a system of education of which you have no experience’. A small correction there if you plan to influence education policy.

    Mike’s history is irrelevant. Absence of direct experience need not preclude analysis and criticism of the Waldorf pedagogy, personal experience can be deceptive. I’ve visited quite a few Steiner schools and had children in their care and I was impressed at the beginning. When I understood the pedagogy, which wasn’t explained as it should have been – when I understood its implications, my attitude altered. But my reservations have been reinforced by the behaviour of Steiner Waldorf supporters who are so often infantile and petulant, devious and unkind, lacking in self-knowledge and understanding of the world outside.

    Re the government sponsored Woods Report mentioned above (or as Dr Richard House complains, ‘the neglected Woods report’) Glenys Woods states that she’s not only an Angelic but an Atlantaen Reiki healer. How can she know? I’d suggest the woman is at least one sandwich short of a picnic although, conversant with Atlanteans (or Atlantaens), she’s probably well suited to commenting on the veracity of Rudolf Steiner’s oeuvre.

    From Facebook:

    Glenys Woods As a Reiki healer (Angelic and Atlantaen) I appreciate the exchange of ideas with therapists and healers. I agree with Joanne Jackson below about Diana Cooper’s book. I received my copy from a White Eagle Inner Brother who found it fascinating.
    Goddess Blessings,
    December 1, 2009

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/HEALING-INTERNATIONAL/263019755340?v=feed&story_fbid=343968875340

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — June 9, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  25. Strange and frightening that a woman who writes this has written a report to advise government about the education of children?

    “I am an angelic reiki healer/Master Atlantean Reiki Healer….My main interest and focus in life is the spiritual. I am an educational researcher, with a holistic approach to learning, and a healer, priestess and light worker.”

    http://www.myspace.com/520257839

    It would be interesting to know whether Glenys Woods and co have tackled the “elements of racism” in anthroposophy, even if they haven’t done so publically.

    Comment by Cathy — June 10, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  26. ‘My vision for education is inclusive and transcendent.’

    ‘Transcendent’: from the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘transcending human experience – existing apart from, not subject to the limitations of the natural universe. In Kantian philosophy: not realizable in experience’.

    Glenys Woods’ vision for education is one not realizable in human experience or subject to the limitations of the natural universe. It is, in other words, impossible.

    If I were going to find a research fellow to help with the foundation of state funded Steiner Waldorf education in the UK it wouldn’t be someone like this. Anyone in possession of their wits would realize that she represents a conflict of interest: between the real world where real children live and breathe and a fantasy universe of potentially harmful woo.

    While there are doubtless other researchers in UK universities pursuing the transcendent, they most certainly should not be let loose on children or be allowed to influence education policy.

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — June 10, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  27. Many thanks for this interesting post. The comments that have followed it reveal how much is at stake here. Clearly the Steiner School movement and its supporters see Anthroposophical racism as a PR problem; they do not, it seems, see Steiners disgusting philosophy as an ethical, moral, political or scientific problem. The emphasis that apologists place on PR tells me that Steiner supporters are true believers; what is missing is any statement of substance that admits to the depth of belief being promoted. The fact that Steiner’s values do indeed form the base for Steiner and Waldorf pedagogy is the point to be made again and again to those who might wish to be fooled into supporting state funding of Steiner schools.

    best wishes

    Nick

    Comment by Nick Nakorn — June 22, 2010 @ 12:41 am

  28. MMM, Wow!
    Me – Steiner education, finished, joined army, then special forces (SAS), then out due injury. Joined Police service. Now specialist elite unit, fighting terror.
    Did’nt do me any harm!

    Comment by BigDave — September 10, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  29. Tell that to the Afgahn & Iraqi children regularly killed by the British Army.
    Who is the terrorist ?

    Comment by Mick — November 8, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  30. My child is in a steiner school and I am really happy with their education and with the school. Their most recent ofsted commended the multicultural aspect of their education. Search for the names of those who are posting negative comments on this site and you will see they are on a campaign against steiner education. Look at their tweets, or posts on facebook; anywhere you look you will see them trotting out the same old nonsense. It doesn’t matter – people can say what the want. As for me I will continue to keep my (mixed race) child in a Steiner school – they are loving it.
    Count to 10 and here comes the feedback – sms alerts set up to detect any mention of steiner on the web so that a patronising response can be posted.
    PS I am not an anthroposophist. Nor am I blind to the flaws in Rudolf steiner’s writings. But the schools are great.

    Comment by nas — November 11, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

  31. nas – if you are happy with your child’s school and Steiner education generally and are confident that there’s no case to answer, why are you so defensive?

    Readers will find me easily, I’ve written extensively about Steiner education. I do so partly because I’m an advocate for progressive education, which Steiner Waldorf is not. I am convinced that the potential public funding of Steiner schools through the Free Schools policy is a matter of public concern. This is a legitimate area of debate, especially at a time of relative austerity. I’m glad your child is happy but ask you to respect the need to analyse the ‘flaws in Rudolf Steiner’s writings’ and their implications for other families.

    Comment by ThetisMercurio — November 12, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  32. Nas,
    How do you, and the non-white members of your family, feel about Steiner’s racial spiritual hierarchy and the fact that some teachers and senior Steiner managers believe it? Would you be prepared to campaign against aspects you find abhorrent while promoting aspects of Steiner that you like? Same questions for Steiner’s creationism and anti-science positions. Perhaps you could become a reforming influence with some specific critical analysis.
    Nick

    Comment by Nick Nakorn — November 13, 2010 @ 9:39 am

  33. […] A transcript of this seminar appeared online in March 2010 on both UK Anthroposophy and Liberal Conspiracy. I can reiterate that the transcript is a genuine account of a public meeting. No one present has to the best of our knowledge complained that this is not the case. Since there appears to be no attempt to dissuade from pursuing Free Schools funding the Steiner schools and initiatives mentioned in our second post (in fact many more than three of these schools are well advanced) I believe it is important to revisit this seminar. […]

    Pingback by Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism — December 16, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  34. Have just discovered this website and stumbled into this debate. I was raised as a Catholic but outgrew it’s teachings and embraced the Anthroposophical path. What on earth are people afraid of? Why the need to run it down so much? I am a level headed practical person, certainly not naive, and I can honestly say that in all my years of reading Rudolph Steiner’s lectures I have never found any evidence of racism. Seems to me that many of Steiner’s findings have been misunderstood. Of course, this is to be expected. People have the right to educate their children as they wish and the state should offer funding where possible.

    Comment by Tricia — March 5, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

  35. […] publication here on the blog (a scoop, by the way) of a transcript of discussions at a ‘special  seminar’ ruptured the then standard lines of defence taken by Steiner educators and Anthroposophists […]

    Pingback by Free Schools(1) « UK Anthroposophy — June 6, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  36. […] more here at “UK anthroposophy.” Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on […]

    Pingback by steiner schools pr problem « anthroposophicalbehaviour — September 15, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  37. we might be equal in essence but one only has to observe humans to see that we differ radically ,so why would this be , surely to understand where we have come from and where we are going is of vast importance in understanding human nature,To put Steiner philosophy in a mundane environment where the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea of the true meaning of spirituality is like dropping a gem in a jungle only this jungle is the jungle of shallow minds.
    the very fact that some people have an intuitive understanding of deeper teachings, and others just dont get it that in itself shows that we are not awakening at the same time so for me its not about racism or anything of that sort its all about timing and life experiences also but not least our diet and the water we drink ( flouride)i know some will understand where i am coming from
    blessings and light
    christine

    Comment by christine harris — January 25, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  38. Ted, perhaps you might care to read the blog post you’re commenting on. The Steiner educators attending the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship’s seminar are aware of the racism within Steiner, SWSF itself tacitly acknowledges Steiner texts to contain some racism. The internet is festooned with examples of Steiner racism. Perhaps you should read more Steiner and read some more non-Steiner texts?

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — January 27, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  39. christine, thank you for the poetic nonsense. But tell us, how do you feel about Steiner’s racist verbiage?

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — January 27, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  40. […] of the New Schools Network, it’s clear that the government has its doubts about Steiner schools. Freedman says at one point during the meeting: “I’ve had all sorts of people writing to me just because they […]

    Pingback by Should the state be funding schools which were founded by a racist mystic? | Francis Gilbert — March 8, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  41. As always, so interesting & useful post Steiner racism & state funding!

    Thanks!!

    Comment by QNUPS — September 26, 2012 @ 12:03 am

  42. […] to home, possibly as a result of the recent Tory/SWSF seminar, the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) website home page has recently seen the addition of […]

    Pingback by Odds & Sods(1) « UK Anthroposophy — January 2, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  43. […] alarmed me was coming across notes from a 2010 ‘pre-election’ meeting between Steiner School representatives and Tory […]

    Pingback by Tory Free Schools Plot to Spin Away the Racism of Steiner Schools. | The Quackometer Blog — January 7, 2013 @ 5:47 pm


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