UK Anthroposophy

September 29, 2011

Free Schools(5a) – Steiner School Recognition and Accreditation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ukanthroposophy @ 1:33 pm

Welcome to the fifth post in a series looking at Steiner Free School applications.

Racism is illegal in this country and government risks legal challenge if, in approving Steiner Free School applications, it can be shown state funding Steiner schools endorses and furthers a racist doctrine. Government has been made aware of the racism within Steiner belief and so when processing the Steiner Free School applicants Michael Gove’s Department for Education (DfE) must consider to what extent the demonstrable and well documented racist content of Steiner belief informs or structures Steiner school pedagogy.

No Steiner Free School applications succeeded in the first round of applications but they continue to apply and are lately joined by Steiner ‘flavoured’ schools such as Zelda and the Full Fledge Ecology School as applicants. This complicates, perhaps deliberately so, the Steiner racism issue in that it becomes less easy for public and government alike to ascertain just what exactly a Steiner school is and to what degree an individual school’s praxis accords with Steiner orthodoxy. This is particularly problematic in that critiques of Steiner having a focus on the racist content of Steiner/Anthroposophical belief are more generalised than they are specific as regards the racism inherent to orthodox Steiner pedagogy.

What this blog post will do is firstly set out what is and isn’t a recognised Steiner school and how such schools are formally recognised by Anthroposophists and by agencies and bodies external to the Anthroposophy movement. The post next isolates a distinguishing feature of UK Steiner recognised schools, their delivery of education in accordance with the Steiner pedagogical model of child development. The racist basis of the model is explained in the third part of the post. The attraction Steiner ideology has for the far right will be demonstrated in the final part of the post by examples of dialogue between Waldorf educators and Nazi officials in the past and by examples of the active involvement of Steiner educators in far right neo-Nazi groups of today. I provide online resources to substantiate anything posted.

Demonstrating Steiner’s pedagogy to be racist required my reading two key texts and unfortunately for you I quote from them  several times. I say unfortunately because Steiner’s prose is, if anything, even more difficult to follow than my own so avoid part three of the post if you are Steiner-allergic.

It’d be a big ask of you to plod through the entire post in one sitting so I’m going to be jolly nice and publish the parts over the next week or so as Free Schools(5a), Free Schools(5b) and so on. When finished I’ll combine the set together into a single document and publish it in the Articles & Research area or provide it as a download. I’ll publish the other parts as and when I feel they pass muster, they all need various amounts of editing. Please note that the running order and focus of the posts is subject to change.

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Steiner school recognition & accreditation

To begin with, readers will need to know how Steiner schools are formally accredited and recognised and how such schools can be distinguished from Steiner flavoured (non-recognised) schools.

Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) is the national umbrella organisation for UK Steiner schools. In an earlier Free Schools post we saw that SWSF holds what amounts to the legal ownership of the Steiner school ‘brand’ here in UK – no Steiner schools in UK can use the term Steiner or Waldorf in its name without formal SWSF permission. As will be shown later, similar national Steiner associations having similar functions and ‘brand’ rights exist for USA and Germany but the ultimate controller of the brand name lies in the hands of the chief body of the global Anthroposophy movement, the School of Spiritual Science at Dornach, Switzerland.

On its front page the SWSF website summarises its main activities, saying ‘we seek to safeguard the Steiner ethos and to serve the interests of our members, as well as to represent and further the relevance of Steiner education in the wider education debate.’ Take note of that somewhat ambiguous term ‘ethos’.

Tucked away elsewhere on its website SWSF has a document titled ‘From Newly Founded to Full Member School‘. It describes in detail how schools and kindergartens become accredited as Steiner schools by SWSF (for schools) and by a SWSF subgroup called Steiner Waldorf Early Years Group (SWEYG) for kindergartens. Membership proceeds in stages and according to the accreditation document an early requirement of budding Steiner schools is an immersion within Anthroposophy. Provisional Steiner school status, for example, is conferred only when

‘there has been adequate preparation including anthroposophical study’ and ‘an Anthroposophical impulse lies at the heart of planning for the school, including the Waldorf curriculum’

The school’s originators must therefore be somehow committed to Anthroposophy. Presumably to prevent any backsliding, as part of ongoing reviews of a school en route to full membership the school has to comment on how it studies Anthroposophy. Accreditation is arrived at as and when a school formally becomes a full member of SWSF, the school is then a formally accredited and recognised Steiner school.

SWSF’s counterpart in the USA is the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA). Some detail about AWSNA accreditation can be found here. Like SWSF, AWSNA has information for budding Steiner schools and offers a similar membership programme but AWSNA provides slightly more information about Anthroposophy and its underpinning of Steiner (or Waldorf schools, as is the preferred ‘brand’ name in USA) schools than does SWSF. From its FAQ on starting a school AWNSA says ‘It should be understood by any school or institution seeking affiliation with AWSNA that Waldorf Education is based on Anthroposophy… and, says the AWSNA FAQ, the Waldorf school’s

‘curriculum and philosophy proceed from the worldview and the insights into the nature of the child that Rudolf Steiner has given us in Anthroposophy’

Also, as with SWSF, AWSNA expects of a school’s originators some commitment to Anthroposophy, usually by their forming and participation in Waldorf study groups. Whatever other operational differences exist between SWSF and AWSNA schools (as a result of different national legislative frameworks for example) it is clear that a commonality between them is Anthroposophy.

As to what Anthroposophy is, well the SWSF website is less than forthcoming about that but it does at least mention Steiner’s Anthroposophy as underpinning the ethos (that vague term again) of Steiner schools. (edit January 2013: the recently changed wording of the FAQ pointed to now more accurately reflects how anthroposophy structures Steiner ed) Government commissioned research known as the Woods Report goes much further in informing of the extent and nature of the Anthroposophical underpinnings of SWSF member schools.

Some of the salient points from Woods have already been published on the blog but they’re worth restating here. Page 84 of the Woods Report is entirely in line with AWSNA, saying:

‘(An) understanding of child development according to the principles of anthroposophy is at the core and heart of Steiner education…’

Also on the same page we learn Steiner educators view the role of the teacher as being ‘a sacred task in helping each child’s soul and spirit incarnate in the world.’ Page 97 of Woods states ‘Steiner education is grounded in the principles of anthroposophy and Steiner’s educational philosophy. From these roots come the importance attached to a particular understanding of child development, concepts integral to Steiner schools’ pedagogy’. Also on page 97, ‘Anthroposophy is based on Rudolf Steiner’s direct insight into spiritual realities and ‘involves concepts, such as karma, the Divine, re-incarnation and the soul’ – so Steiner was a clairvoyant.

Woods researched only SWSF member schools, SWSF schools willingly participated in the study. SWSF and many of its schools’ websites point to the Woods Report as an endorsement of Anthroposophical education. State funding of Steiner education commenced after the study was published. It’s safe to presume that how Woods characterised UK’s Steiner schools and education is accepted by SWSF and by the governemnt of the day.

Now, implicit to accreditation is its assurance that a level of quality set by the accrediting body has been met by the party or individual accredited. Given that both SWSF and AWSNA work as guarantors of their member schools being Anthroposophic, is the thoroughly Anthroposophic nature of UK recognised schools matched by their American and other national associative counterparts? More importantly, how, if at all, are the various national Steiner education associative bodies themselves accredited by other Anthroposophical bodies and what Anthroposophic quality of them is required for accreditation?

Taking the last of those questions first, have a look at this document. It was written in late 2009 by the grand sounding Hague Circle, arguably the single most influential of a small group of Anthroposophical organisations devoted to the application of Anthroposophy via Steiner education. The Hague Circle is about to or already has changed its name to the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Schools. Anyway, the document linked to states quite baldly:

Within the Pedagogical Section there is an organ responsible for the recognition of schools as Waldorf Schools and, for kindergartens as Waldorf Kindergartens. The legal right to this name is granted after the school or kindergarten has been recognized as such. This task can also be delegated to national committees. The Waldorf Schools which have been recognized are listed in the International Waldorf School Directory, published by the German Association of Waldorf Schools.

If the above needs some decoding for you, the Pedagogical Section is one of several departments within the  School of Spiritual Science, Dornach, Switzerland, the headquarters of the global Anthroposophy movement. Other Dornach Sections exist for each of the various applications of Anthroposophy such as biodynamics, Anthroposophical medicine and so on. The ‘Waldorf’ term in the Hague Circle doc can also refer to Steiner/Steiner Waldorf schools.

The German Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen) not only publishes the list of Dornach/Hague Circle recognised schools, it holds the legal rights to the Steiner/Waldorf school ‘brand’ name. This can be confirmed from a number of reports of Hague Circle meetings, this one for example mentions:

One session of our meetings was devoted to the continuing conversation about who exactly will have oversight of the Waldorf trademark. For this conversation, 3 members of the German Bund (the German Waldorf Association) which now holds the copyright, joined us.

Over in America a AWSNA document dated 2007 reported

The Bund carries the international service mark for Waldorf schools worldwide. AWSNA will manage the international service mark for North America on behalf of the Bund.

(Update January 2013: Since this post first appeared there has been continued discussion at Hague Circle meetings as to how to update the system of formally recognising Steiner/Waldorf schools. Right to use of the brand name seems set to be part of that process but it seems a new body/committee will be set up to replace the work currently undertaken by the Bund on behalf of Dornach)

So, currently, Steiner/Waldorf  school recognition worldwide is controlled by the Anthroposophy movement via the Pedagogical Section within the movement’s headquarters at Dornach, Switzerland. Dornach is the ultimate controller of the Steiner/Waldorf school ‘brand’, the rights to which it can and has passed on to the German Association of Waldorf Schools which then in turn can pass the rights on to other national associations such as AWSNA. Dornach can also pass its right to the brand over to ‘national committees’. I would presume such committees to be Anthroposophical, usually national (Dornach recognised/affiliated) Anthroposophical societies, so as to ensure the Anthroposophic quality and nature of the recognised schools.

Interestingly, this Anthroposophical website says ‘the Hague Circle was founded as the ‘administrative college of the European Waldorf Schools’ and is an organ of the Educational Section at Dornach, Anthroposophy HQ. Anthroposophists love their organs – the chapter of one biography of an early UK Anthroposophist I read was titled ‘Rudolf Steiner grew an organ in my head’. But I digress, the aforementioned website’s first language is German and you might presume its use of the  term ‘Educational Section’ instead of Pedagogical Section is some sort of translator glitch but at the time of writing its website link directing people to the Educational Section at Dornach actually takes one to the Pedagogical Section. It might be fruitful follow up the implications of Dornach administering our Anthroposophical schools.

The situation here in UK, then, is that SWSF is mandated by either the German association, or by the UK national Anthroposophical Society or, perhaps, by Dornach direct, to formally recognise SWSF’s Anthroposophical schools and permit them to operate under the Steiner/Waldorf ‘brand’. It doesn’t matter too much which ‘organ’ recognises our UK Anthroposophical schools, the main point to be aware of is that our schools are guaranteed to be Anthroposophic by a national or international Anthroposophical organisation of an entirely Anthroposophical nature.

Accreditation by SWSF obliges a school’s founders to commit to Anthroposophy and schools become SWSF accredited on becoming Full Members of SWSF. Note that names do not have to include Steiner/Waldorf within their names to become recognised or accredited – some SWSF member schools don’t have Steiner/Waldorf in their name – it is the ethos, as in their fundamental values, of SWSF schools that SWSF recognises. As the Woods Report makes clear, the ethos of Steiner schools is Anthroposophical to the extent that Steiner schools, as brands, can be more accurately described as Anthroposophical schools in that they operate according to Anthroposophical belief.

External to the Anthroposophy movement, SWSF – the accreditor of UK Anthroposophical schools – is recognised here in UK by government. Our first state funded Anthroposophical school commenced in the time of Blair’s ‘conviction politics’ and opened only after the Woods Report was published – pre-Woods, concerted attempts by Blair’s government to have an Anthroposophical school piloted within mainstream had come to nought and so government became proactive in having a SWSF school achieve academy status instead. Entirely against the wishes of the local community and their elected representatives the first state funded Anthroposophical school opened in Hereford, Gloucestershire in 2008. Blair’s conviction politics apart, should you need proof of any of the preceding read page 1 of this part of Hereford’s Academy application form, SWSF newsletters (pre and post Hereford achieving academy status) and, re opposition to the academy see this Guardian newspaper report.

As under the previous administration, government today appears to recognise SWSF as the sole body responsible for accrediting/recognising Anthroposophical schools and as the body representing them. SWSF describes itself as representing Steiner education to the media, academics, and governmental agencies and mentions it works with relevant authorities in connection with state funding for SWSF schools. Prior to the Hereford Academy SWSF described itself as lobbying government whereas these days SWSF works with government and relevant authorities– an example of this was the mention in an earlier post of the recent meeting between SWSF and DfE at which ‘issues relating to Steiner and Free Schools’ were discussed.

The global spread of the Anthroposophical school ‘brand’ (i.e. Steiner/Waldorf schools) since the Hague Circle’s inception has seen a corresponding diversity of representation at its meetings with, for example, representatives or reports from some 20 different nations at this recent Hague Circle meeting. Ease of administration may explain why a European sub-group of the Hague Circle calling itself the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE) was founded in 1991 by UK’s very own Christopher Clouder, chair of SWSF.

In addition to his SWSF role Clouder is currently Chief Executive Officer of ECSWE (the Hague Council sub-group he founded) and a director of the Alliance for Childhood(AFC), an international networking group he co-founded. A branch of the AFC network associated with ECSWE is Alliance for Childhood European Network (AFC-ENG). Whatever its function in the past, a perusal of ECSWE’s website  and newsletters today shows activities consist of promoting and representing Anthroposophical schools and kindergartens and it also an effective lobbyist of the European Parliament.  ECSWE, SWSF and the AFC all share the same UK address in Forest Row, East Sussex but ECSWE also has an office in Brussels, handy for the odd spot of lobbying. ECSWE and AFC-ENG are in fact heavily involved in a working group of the European Parliament, here’s a doc they co-authored for example (beware, tis a biggish pdf to download). A list of the Euro MP’s supportive of their ‘Quality of Childhood’ campaign group is given on AFC-ENG’s website. It includes one UK MEP. Given that ECSWE has set up a major project and received funding for it from the EU, it seems fair to say ECSWE is recognised by the EU as representing Anthroposophical schools and education generally. In its first newsletter ECSWE lists SWSF as one of its 20 or so Anthroposophical school association members. Whilst SWSF is an ECSWE member it is unclear to me if the EU sees SWSF in similar light as it does ECSWE itself.

There may well be other bodies external to the Anthroposophy movement recognising Anthroposophical schools or their associative bodies but so far as this post is concerned it would be tedious and unnecessary to look at recognition of Anthroposophical schools and associations on a nation by nation or case by case basis, it’s enough to know what the situation here is domestically and within an EU context.

One of the questions posed earlier – how the national Steiner education associative bodies are recognised – having been answered there remains the question as to how far the deeply Anthroposophic nature of UK recognised schools is matched  by their American and other oversees counterparts. An answer to that will arise naturally in the next section of this post when the Steiner pedagogical model of child development is examined.

As to what it is that distinguishes a UK Steiner recognised school from a Steiner flavoured school, SWSF recognition apart there is no certain way of doing so. A UK  ‘Steiner inspired school’ of today might tomorrow or a year or so later become recognised by SWSF. Or, as is the case with Fullfledge Ecology School (a Steiner inspired Free School applicant), the school might not want to be part of the SWSF fold but make no mention in its informational materials of its intention to operate in line with the Steinerian view of child development, a defining characteristic of Anthroposophical schools. Unless the school is explicit as to what aspect of Steiner education ‘inspires’ it then there’s no certain way of assessing it insofar as how deeply Anthroposophic it is or how likely it is that the school will become a recognised school.

As will be argued in another part of this post, the Steiner model of child development is the sole distinguishing criteria of a Steiner school – curricula may vary to suit local requirements and cultures but the model they teach to cannot. And, as will be demonstrated, Steiner’s model of child development is fundamentally racist.

In the absence of full disclosure on the part of some schools as to their beliefs or praxis the Steinerian model can therefore serve as a litmus test for parents or politicians and others in deciding which schools to support. As the situation stands, this relies on people asking the schools the right questions and presumes schools will answer and answer honestly. As followers of this blog will know, SWSF, a registered charity, refuses to answer requests for basic information. It shouldn’t be this way, the onus is on schools and government to be fully transparent in the first place.

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21 Comments »

  1. Mike, an excellent post; very clear and precise – I’ve learned a lot.
    best,
    Nick

    Comment by Nick Nakorn — September 30, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  2. Again, the need is for schools to be honest and up front about their ‘ethos’. This is, and will continue to be, a massive problem for the Steiners as if they are honest and stray from the ‘child centred’ talk which they seem to favour, people will see it for the indoctrinating cult that it is.

    Comment by Esther Fidler — October 2, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  3. The state is already funding hereford steiner academy so I’m not sure what all this talk that this may be something new is. aA far as beliefs go mutal respect is way higher up the waldorf agenda than some stupid racist comments the man may have made almost 100 years ago, he is not Jesus or Alah and what he said isn’t gospel he talked about ideas and different systems of learning some of which mainstream education has now adopted. I agree that they may not always be upfront about anthroposophy but maybe that is because many teachers are not anthroposophist and are just educators. There is no such thing as a one size fits all when it comes to learning this is just one option and for many it is just what they need….. dont like it then dont go ….simples

    Comment by Lindsay — October 3, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  4. Sadly though Lindsay, don’t like it doesn’t equate to don’t fund it. It is my money being used here to fund a poor system of education (yes, I do know this to be the case). I am more than happy to fund a free school which provides value for money and real choice – real choice coming from fully informed parents.
    This is not the case with Steiner ed.
    I don’t want to fund it because it is poor, educationally poor and morally poor. It truly is a step back into the dark ages.

    Comment by Esther Fidler — October 3, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  5. Oh, and Linsday, perhaps you should read the Ofsted reports from Hereford Steiner, it most definitely is not good use of tax payers money in these straitened times. Oh, and before you say, going from bottom of the league tables to the top because you’ve created your own ‘GCSE equivalent’ qualification doesn’t count. We could all do that, however we choose to play by the same rules as other state funded schools and provide proper comparison so that parents can have actual real choice based on comparable data about achievements as well as the ‘pedagogy’ of the school.

    Comment by Esther Fidler — October 3, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  6. “One size fits all” is certainly a steiner philosophy. Between the ages of 0-7 all children……….
    Between the ages of 7 – 14 all children……………
    Between the ages 14 – 21 all people…………..
    If this is not one size fits all you should eat your hat.

    Comment by Wiremu Haua (@wiremuhaua) — October 3, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  7. with Frome and Leeds potentially being new Free Steiner Schools perhaps Gove thinks they will have a clean slate, what he needs to understand is that the teachers called to help set up these new schools will be dedicated anthroposophists.

    One such anthroposophist is SWSF advisor Kevin Avison who has been working closely with the Leeds Steiner
    initiative, Avison is the author of the Handbook for Steiner Waldorf Class Teachers published by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. The handbook includes the following advice for new teachers:

    ‘Did I address myself (homeopathically) to at least two temperaments today? How shall I do so tomorrow?

    Keep a glowing personal profile about each child, but never allow anyone access to lesson notes or records, because as an inspired educator, these are unnecessary for you (anything indicating what the class might have learnt or covered in Morning Lesson should be ‘lost’ before you leave the school).

    Let your parting be as emotionally charged as possible, but you might tell them, “I’m going to miss you all terribly an I’ll always be thinking of you. Please be as good as you can be for your new teacher” (a few tears at this point would be a nice touch).’

    http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/bookshop_curriculum.html

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/guidelines-for-child-study-working-with-angels-beings-and-children/

    Comment by mule — October 4, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

  8. The ofsted report looks average- i;m not sure what your complaint is and I dont think steiner schools created btec’s ……but it sounds like you must know way more than me. Are all the 14-21’s studying for gcse’s and btec’s then or do they all just get better than average results in Maths and English GCSE as it says in the Hereford ofsted??

    Comment by Lindsay — October 4, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  9. Lindsay, you said: ‘There is no such thing as a one size fits all when it comes to learning this is just one option and for many it is just what they need….. ‘

    ‘What they need’ is a well known sound bite I’ve heard from many a Steiner teacher and parent. During our time at two Steiner schools I was also told:

    the child chooses the parents
    the child chooses the school
    the child chooses the teacher
    the child chooses the constellation of the class
    the child chooses to seek out certain situations including illnesses

    Lindsay is talking of Anthroposphy’s belief in karma. Here are Steiner’s own words discussing the karma of a child he knew:

    “In the autumn we experienced the death of a member’s child, a child seven years of age. The death of this child occurred in a strange way. He was a good boy, mentally very much alive already within the limits set for a seven-year-old; a good, well-behaved and mentally active child. He came to die because he happened to be on the very spot where a furniture van overturned, crushing the boy so that he died of suffocation. This was a spot where probably no van went past before nor will go past again, but one did pass just that moment. It is also possible to show in an outer way that all kinds of circumstances caused the child to be in that place at the time the van overturned, circumstances considered chance if the materialistic view is taken … Studying the case in the light of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] and of karma it will be seen to demonstrate very clearly that external logic, quite properly used in external life, proves flimsy in this case and does not apply … [T]he karma of this child was such that the ego, to put it bluntly, had ordered the van and the van overturned to fulfil the child’s karma.” [Rudolf Steiner, THE DESTINIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 125-126.]

    http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/karma

    Comment by mule — October 5, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  10. Lindsay, you also said: ‘dont like it then dont go ….simples’

    If the schools were honest about their belief system none of us would have got involved in the first place. None of us would be here
    using our very precious spare time writing about it.

    Quite simply they lie:

    The movement deliberately misleads parents and education officials about how much Anthroposophy informs every part of the
    curriculum.

    They withhold information that denies the same parents from making an informed decision about the education
    of their child.

    The movement posits ‘experts’ to prop up their position, which is rather like asking Tom Cruise and John Travolta to inspect and produce research on Scientology schools.

    This is fraud.

    Comment by mule — October 5, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  11. Lindsay, re the Steiner racism, the post isn’t about the ‘occasional’ racist comments Steiner made, it’s about the racist theory Anthroposophical schools operate in accordance with…they operate today, here and now, not one hundred years ago. Having them available as private schools is bad enough in my opinion but extending provision of them courtesy of us, taxpayers, makes this a serious political issue. Steiner racism is, anyway, an issue Steiner educators are aware of and struggle to cope with – https://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/seminarnotes/

    You make a good point about Hereford – I should really have added in to the post something about how the Woods Report marginalised the controversy re Steiner racism and accepted at face value the outcome of a debate between Anthroposophists on the issue, I’ll try and weave further detail of that into the final part of the post in this series else write a new one devoted to it. Thanks.

    Re the level of committment teachers have, that’s covered in the next part of the post and has been talked about elsewhere. An example from an old post from a group I was previously involved with shows how deeply trustess of one UK Anthroposophical school have to be to become trustees, link is http://chaseukinfo.wordpress.com/2007/11/27/i-swear-by-almighty-steiner/
    Also, if you read the ‘seminar notes’ post mentioned above you’ll see that in the afternoon session of the seminar the Steiner educators really were in a mess. The idea of renouncing Anthroposophy altogether was mooted but shot down: quote –
    ‘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.’ – unquote

    Your point about choice, if you don’t like it don’t go… The choice is removed by state funding the schools, we end up paying for racist ^%**** whether we like it or not!

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — October 5, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  12. If I thought you were actually the slightest bit concerned about racism then I may be more sympathetic to your claim. Real racism is going on in schools in the UK http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356361/Shame-Britains-Muslim-schools-Secret-filming-shows-pupils-beaten.html and sectarianism is a real and current issue. Steiner shools are about respect and caring for all that are in this world, about helping children become balanced adults. This is not an angry tirade against racism or racist beleifs permeating into schools it is an angry tirade on anthroposophy, which as it is not taught in Steiner schools and is not a religion but a philosophy.

    Comment by Lindsay — October 5, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  13. mule, one reads in Steiner about the child choosing its parents, illness etc but hearing direct first hand experience of a parent being told these things by people at an Anthroposophical school brought me up sharp. Awful.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — October 6, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  14. Thanks for your latest comment Lindsay. Unfortunately I can’t fathom out what you’re saying, For example, the last sentence of your post doesn’t make sense. I’ll respond as best I can by answering the things you say in the order you give them.

    1) Of course I’m concerned about racism.

    2) Nobody would deny racism is real or that it occurs or manifests itself in our schools, all schools, Anthroposophical schools included. I’m sure we all know and agree sectarianism is also a reality and a social problem.

    3) Steiner shools as you call them do have in common with near all schools I know of the aim of fostering in their pupils self-respect, respect for others and instilling in them a sense of care and wonder for the world around them – they’d be pretty poor schools if they didn’t aim to do such basic things. I disagree with your characterisation of Anthroposophical schools being about helping children become balanced adults, I’d more emphasise that Anthroposophical schools perceive themselves to be about enabling the child to incarnate properly, properly as per how Steiner said it should happen. By the way, your characterisation of Anthroposophical schools leaves out everything unique to them.

    4) I’ll take a stab at unravelling your last sentence and take it that you mean I’m using Steiner racism as some sort of sleight of hand so that I can unleash a tirade against Anthroposophy? And that because Anthroposophy isn’t taught in Anthroposophical schools any such tirade is erroneous or misplaced?

    Since, as the post does say, I intend later to demonstrate the racism of Steiner pedagogy, I have to firstly demonstrate Anthroposophy does underpin Steiner schools and their pedagogy. Happily that job has been done for me by the government commissioned research the schools themselves participated in and which many of them mention on their websites. You can find a link to the research either in the post or on the right hand side of the blog in the links section, the report of the research is referred to as the ‘Woods Report’ after the name of its lead researcher. The post also points out that the situation is muddied in that some schools claim to be Steiner inspired – this is a vague term and it makes it difficult for people who are concerned about racism to work out if a Steiner inspired school they have an interest in is accepting of Steiner racism or not. So I go about setting out how Steiner schools are formally recognised and accredited. I can’t help it that it turns out that Steiner school recognition & accreditation is done by Anthroposophists. I’m not over-egging the pudding as regards how thoroughly immersed in Anthroposophy Steiner schools are.

    You end your comment by claiming Anthroposophy to be a philosophy and not a religion. I’d dispute that but it’d take another long blog post to fully explain why. In brief, Steiner was a clairvoyant presenting his visions as scientific findings. His visions – or ‘Spiritual Science findings’ as he dubbed them – were repeatedly professed by Steiner to be truths. Steiner pedagogy and a lot else of Anthroposophical belief consists of this pseudoscience of Steiner’s. You may call that set of beliefs philosophy, it’s one definition of what philosophy is, I’d say the beliefs are fantasies or delusions. Worse than that, they are dangerous beliefs in that they give succour to racists in the here and now. So far as the religion thing goes, Anthroposophy is undeniably deeply religious and arguably a religion in its own right but as said it’d take another post to fully develop the reasons as to why.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — October 6, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  15. Lindsay,
    from the most recent Ofsted of Hereford Steiner:

    “The academy met the government’s floor targets for academic performance in the last year, when it first introduced the equivalent of five GCSE examinations. The examinations include GCSEs in English language, English literature and mathematics, and a BTEC in ecology studies which is equivalent to two GCSE examinations.”

    5 GCSE equivalents. Most children get to do at least 9, and these are proper GCSE’s, no BTec. Also, meeting floor targets is not great, that’s why they’re called floor targets.

    “Overall effectiveness 3
    Achievement 3
    Teaching 3
    Leadership and management 3
    Behaviour and safety 3

    Schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory, and where leadership and management are no better than satisfactory, may receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.”

    3 is satisfactory. Satisfactory from Ofsted means not good enough, in real terms, so the effectiveness of the school is not good enough, children’s achievements are not good enough, teaching is not good enough, leadership and management are not good enough, and behaviour and safety are not good enough. Three GCSE’s in a very small cohort scoring slightly higher than average should be a piece of piss, remember also that these are the kind of parents who show an interest in their child’s education, proven by the fact that they send them there in the first place. They are working with good families, who are supportive, and only giving them three GCSE’s. Most state schools do better and they’ve not just cost the tax payer ten million.

    Right, the BTec. I’ve been on their site, here it is:

    http://www.edexcel.com/quals/BTEC/Pages/sectors.aspx

    I’m not sure what this qualification in ecology is but it’s not there. Anywhere.

    As a teacher I have read many Ofsted reports (including my own, I am outstanding btw), any school scoring threes is not good, and alarm bells start ringing when a school can’t/won’t provide the proper subjects, what is wrong with science, history, geography, music, PE, art? If these schools wish to be so different, let them fund themselves, they can make up all the qualifications they want then. In the meantime, I wish they weren’t using my money to provide a poor service.

    Comment by Esther Fidler — October 9, 2011 @ 12:10 am

  16. Lindsay,
    as 56% of schools are good or outstanding, then satisfactory is not average. Sorry.

    Comment by Esther Fidler — October 9, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  17. Janni Nicol, one of the founders of the Cambridge Steiner school, wrote an interesting article full of platitudinous advice on avoiding discrimination in the Steiner classroom: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3410.pdf

    A couple of sentences from which stick out like a sore thumb:

    “Karmically we choose to be born into different races to have a specific environmental, cultural and racial experience. Perhaps this is part of learning how to live together, to grow in awareness and empathy?”

    I have a feeling it’s exactly this kind of full blown Anthroposophical thinking, trying to find spiritual, “karmic” reasons for the colour of another person’s skin, that leads to the kind of problems Ms. Nicol is exhorting her fellow teachers to avoid.

    Looking forward to the rest of the articles in this series.

    Comment by MarkH — October 10, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  18. wow… now that’s a lot of … wind fighting!

    Rudolf Steiner is far from being responsable for anyones narrow mindedness, or simple human errors.

    We’re not animals. There is only ONE human race!!!!!!!!!!!!! And on top of that R. Steiner talked/wrote about that quite extensively.
    It is possible to use big words like Karma, without knowing what it really means, even for a Waldorf teacher.

    And seriously, don’t you guys have better things to do than pay attention.

    hey, mike are they paying you to do this blog? Cause it’s not worth it, if it’s for free. no one cares, apart from the four of us.

    Most of us know a trickster when we see one, sorry mike…

    Take care (you and your weird blog/crusade).
    🙂 that was fun

    Comment by Troy — March 11, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  19. so mike, you delete post that make you unconfortable?

    Comment by Anonymous — March 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  20. Anonymous, if a comment isn’t spam and doesn’t offer sexist, homophobic, racist or hateful content then it is published otherwise it’s binned.

    The only exception to the above (and in line with most other such blogs) is when a comment received has nothing in it relating to the topic in hand…correspondents of such are emailed privately and invited to submit again but asked to keep to the subject.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — March 19, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  21. Troy, your comment is a perfect example of how not to comment as outlined in my reply to Anonymous above. Many thanks for it, Mike.

    Comment by ukanthroposophy — March 19, 2012 @ 2:25 pm


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