Steiner Schools

A place for discussions that don't fit elsewhere.
bluegreen
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:42 pm

Steiner Schools

Postby bluegreen » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:20 pm

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience of Steiner schools and does anyone think there are parallels with SES? My eldest little boy has just started at the kindergarten of the Steiner school which happens to be in our village. There appear to be many wonderful things about the Steiner approach to education. It is far from abusive, it seems to be the other extreme end of the spectrum. Where we had no play time at St James, and had to do everything in silence, they have all their learning (at least when they're small) derived from play. Most of the kindergarten time is spent outside and of course there is no physical punishment. But discipline is quite strong and I feel that respect and discipline has gone out of mainstream eduction largely, so a strict teacher is no bad thing (especially for my little monster) as long as she does not resort to humiliation tactics. I don't think she would, but then my mum trusted that the women looking after me everyday at St James were not damaging her little girls. However, every parent has to loosen the apron strings and let teachers in, and trust them, and it's not easy, but it's normal. I'm rambling, the point is that something about the Steiner personality, community, behaviour, makes me and my husband uncomfortable. There's a slightly culty feel and there's that same flakey floaty softly spoken, no sudden movements, thing going on, that I remember from SES members. The fact is, it's not "normal" and kids from the Steiner school are seen as eccentric, confident verging on rude, and weird. Do I want that for my kids? It's nice that they are viewed as individuals and don't have to do things until they're ready, but.....oh i just don't know. When I was little, SES was the religion, and it was all about the adults and their self improvement, and the school was started as somewhere for them to put their kids. With Steiner, the children and their education IS the religion. So at least the priorities are the right way round but perhaps a bit far. Do we have to be religious about it at all? Any ideas?
St James Girls School 1977-1981

daska
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:29 pm
Location: UK

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby daska » Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:55 pm

Our local private school is cheap and based in a lovely building and the kids were really happy and well behaved when we went to have a look around, I really like the look of it but I better do a detailed check of the ethos and unearth any dirt on the founders... oops try again... oops try again... ok, give in, the choice is traditional or weird.

If you're looking for something better (and more child centred) than the traditional or normal schools you are likely to find the same wishy washy floaty ethereal niceness in at least some of the parents. That's certainly my experience, whether it's a church school or everyone hugs a tree every morning and celebrates the solstice. A lot of the smaller, more individual schools and systems have an unproven/ controversial educational/ philosophical/ religious ethos so do some research on Rudolph Steiner. Even the established names such as Montessori have not been immune to criticism (though it seems that despite being accused of 'bad science' 100 years ago her methods are now being recognised as being in line with what psychologists understand of human development - at the same time as legislation makes it impossible to implement these methods).

TBH at the moment I only know one child being educated at a steiner school, the the family moved 30 miles in order to send their child there. How to describe this child? Vicious would be appropriate. Selfish, nasty, and unpleasant also spring to mind. But not at home, at home and at school this child is perfectly behaved, or so we are told. It's only one child and I know the parents spoil the child rotten but it's not sold the system to me. I don't know to what extent the 'no tv' type attitudes that remind me so much of SES are encouraged by the Steiner system but the parents would be perfect SES fodder LOL

(Edited to clarify: Steiner do, of course, have a 'no tv' policy, I'm just not sure whether these parents would have had a 'no tv' policy if they hadn't chosen a Steiner school, I think probably not as this child used to be a video addict.)
Last edited by daska on Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
bonsai
Posts: 322
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2006 12:08 am
Location: London

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby bonsai » Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:07 am

I have no experience of Steiner schools, though I have heard of them, so I cannot offer any insight into their education system.

The advice I would offer however is just to do as much research on the school you intend to send your children to. I think many of us who suffered or were let down by the system at St James unfortunately had parents that at the time were not able to be objective at the time because of their own involvements in the SES.

The biggest thing we can do is ensure that we maintain objectivity when it comes to choosing the education our kids are to receive.

We never know how our kids are going to get on in any particular school, we have to keep our eyes open and be prepared to change our minds when issues arise or occur. This is something that my parents were not able to do, they were committed to educating us all at St James from start to finish. And they were completely oblivious to the issues I was having. I wish I had not been so afraid of being caned, suspended or expelled to have really rebelled properly and made the issue stick out.

Bonsai

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:04 pm

Hi bluegreen
In my experience each Steiner school is different as it depends on the teachers and the community around them what they are like. While it does mean you have to check things out for yourself, it does to me reflect a healthiness about Steiner philosophy - that it truly is better at allowing the person come out for who they are, and the community to come out from who belongs to the community rather than an imposed identity being hammered into you.

I chose the SES school here in Dublin John Scottus, because there was not a Steiner school close by and it seemed the closest to it. However to my horror and my child's distress it was the absolute polar opposite of Steiner, in my view and the State system in Ireland is more wholistic and child-centred than the education in John Scottus. The atmosphere in John Scottus I found to be oppressive - the oppression of presenting one image as positive and if you differ from that then the problem is with you. Steiner on the other hand, at its best, brings out the individuality of the child.

The educational philosophy behind Steiner is freely available in many many published books and can be independently reviewed and assessed. Where is the outline and research behind the educational philosophy of the SES schools? - it is not available. Just like the information on the basis of the parenting courses and the philosophy beliefs, there is a lack of published and peer-reviewed information on what it is based. Clearly this is a huge flaw with the system - as no one can be sure what "the system" is.

My experience of children educated in Steiner schools is good. They are beautiful, relaxed and happy little children. Their teachers were gentle souls to whom the idea of physcially or otherwise punishing children in a violent or humiliating way would horrify them. Which was not my experience of John Scottus school were I saw a young child being disciplined in an entirely inappropriate way and where two teachers lost control of themselves - one in front of me in a most volatile manner and the other, the Principal of the school, slapped two five year olds. That was in 2007.

These things would never be acceptable in Steiner schools. However it would be silly to be naive and rose-tinted about it. Culty type behaviours can happen in any group of people and especially when it becomes about a surface-level showing off of "how good they are at it" rather than an engagement of curiosity and joy.

So if your gut is telling you something, listen to it and check it out. It may be a local issue but I don't the problem comes from the Steiner element particularly - mostly it comes from the human element! (Whereas in the SES I think the problem is in the practice itself, not just the application of it).

daska
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:29 pm
Location: UK

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby daska » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:42 pm

I'm not sure I'd agree that Steiner schools are that open about their philosophy, a lot of the Steiner/Waldorf school websites don't even mention Rudolph Steiner let alone anthroposophy.

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:55 pm

Really?
I have experience of two schools, one in Ireland and one in England. Close friends educate their kids at them. All Steiner's books on education - and god was he a prolific writer - are published.
I've heard hints of dodgy areas in Steiner's philosophy - including accusations of racism. However Steiner schools do not teach anthroposophy and Steiner thought it was a very bad idea to teach children religion though in my experience there is a bit of Christianity about. That isn't the case with SES schools which are based on SES philosophy.

I don't know Daska. There is no 'perfect' solution to children's education however having experience of both systems I would say the difference is that in the SES school the underlying theory was "we know the path to truth and we are here to help you find our way" whereas the Steiner approach is "we are here to help you find your own path to living". One originates with the teacher's view, the other comes from the child. And that is my experience of it which is all I can talk about. I am also aware of a child who has successfully made the transition to the state education system (the Steiner school only went up to 12) and is excelling there and is no 'weirdo' or anything like it!

However of course I am not here to defend all Steiner schools. As with any un-orthodox or alternative way, people can and do mistakes and I believe parents should always listen to their gut feelings. There are charlatans and misguided people everywhere.

The difference is though that the 'mistakes' made at SES schools have similar themes because they are based on faults in the philosophy. Steiner schools may also not be perfect but I am not aware of common complaints across many Steiner schools in the same way that there has been about SES schools.

daska
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:29 pm
Location: UK

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby daska » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:25 pm

Sorry, that wasn't really intended to read as 'all Steiner schools are bad', just that they aren't all quite as open and upfront as they could be. As far as I can work out the majority of really nasty accusations about him have little or no basis but I can't claim to have verified this by reading his original works in German - my language skills are exactly what you'd expect after going to StV LOL.

Try the following
http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/60414.aspx?PageIndex=1
http://www.easeonline.org/
http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/554507-steiner-school-scotland

bluegreen
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby bluegreen » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:29 pm

Thanks guys. What is unusual about us is that we live in the village where this school is, otherwise we wouldn't have been seeking an alternative to state education. I am particularly wary because of going to StJ in my formative years. We have been looking into it for quite a while and asking lots of questions. Although the philosophy is based on anthroposophy, it is not taught. It is only taught to the teachers so that they know the roots of the Steiner methods. Our Steiner school is the first to become an academy which means it is state funded and they have to do exams in english and maths. Apart from that though, it is overall very different from state schools and the kids are quite different too. This could be down to extreme confidence instilled into them by the Steiner education, but it is often interpreted in normal society, as rudeness. Maybe brits just don't like people to be too confident. This is definitely the polar opposite of SES schooling as I knew it. I don't think many ex St j or StV pupils have been complaining of over confidence on this forum. Haha.
I have been told by my son's teacher for 2 days in a row that he is having trouble finding the boundaries and has yet to find his place in the rhythm of the kindergarten. Or something like that. Its so woolly. At his old nursery, they'd just say, he was pushing another child and had to miss out on his treat at treat time or something. So I knew exactly, and I could talk to him about it. But this Steinerspeak is gibberish to me. I don't know whether he's being naughty, doesn't like it, doesn't understand what is being aked of him, talking about (banned) tv characters too much, being competitive (also not allowed) etc. etc. I have to give it more time but I just don't think I want to be part of a system where you have to learn their language before you know what they're talking about. i have to keep an open mind and remember that it is not about me, but my son.
St James Girls School 1977-1981

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby ConcernedMum » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:39 pm

Oh and I'm sorry if I sound like I'm saying all Steiner schools are good! You get extremists sometimes anywhere. I'm just talking about two families I know well in two different schools.

Bluegreen my friend's boy goes to a UK Steiner - one near Wokingham? My geography isn't great. She's very grounded and they have tv(!) and she is very tuned in to modern life not at all mrs hippy mother-earth (not that there's anything wrong with that!) if u want I cud ask her cud u pm or email her?

p.s. sorry i don't mean that in a pushy way - just if you think it would help to talk confidentially to a reasonably normal and tuned in person about the woolly ones!
pps sorry - was thinking again that given that frequent phonecalls/contact is a method used by 'well-meaning' 'helpful' SES-ers that it might be in appropriate to offer - apologies if it is, and good luck with the school.

bluegreen
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby bluegreen » Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:01 pm

Thank you concernedmum, that is very kind. I do know quite a few sensible people who's children go there now. Some of the extremely "steinerised" stuff they are amused by or take with a pinch of salt. Maybe because it is my first child going to "school" not yet 4 I'm not ready for it and am terrified of getting it wrong. Maybe becasue my parents got it SO wrong when they sent me to school when I was 4 i don't want to make a mistake like that. i can't imagine, if it was my boy, that I would not realise he was in an abusive environment for 4 years. Where were they? What were they thinking? Oh, of course, they were wrapped up in SES and not even wondering if we were happy at school. I tried to get my son to not go in to kindergarten today because we always did something fun on a friday and my 2 yr old wants him with us. But he was determined to go to school.I am sure I would have loved it if my mum had ever given me the chance to stay home from StJ and go to a castle instead. Mind you he's only there until 12.45pm, I was at stJ from 8.30 -4.30pm at close to his age.
Concernedmum I do appreciate the thought and i will get back to you if I decide to take you up on it. x
St James Girls School 1977-1981

bluegreen
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby bluegreen » Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:28 pm

A rather strange thing has happened to my family in the last week. We have had to fill in applications for schools for my 4 year old for starting primary education next year. We felt it our duty to look at all the options in our area and went to look at a lovely "normal" primary school and were shown behind every door by two 10yr olds and then were invited to question the headmaster. We asked the same of the Steiner school where my child is currently in kindergarten and were told parents are not allowed to see inside classrooms except on open days, twice a year. Our doubts and strange encounters and experiences have continued since my original post and we decided that we hadn't researched this Steiner guy enough. This time we googled 'waldorf critics' and oh my god, an enormous abscess was lanced. All this time i have been reading and contributing to this forum because I attended a cult school as a child. And meanwhile for the last few months my child has been at the most extreme, most successful one of them all. There is even a survivors forum.
If anyone is interested it is very worrying and overlaps enormously with the experience of ex ses pupils and members. Here are a couple of links:
http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/clues

http://counterknowledge.com/2009/01/

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/ar ... onial.html

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/ar ... y_the.html

etc etc etc.

The first and second of these are extremely informative.
Needless to say, we were completely duped. We had heard of Anthroposophy and were told that this does not come into the classroom, it is just taught to the teachers so they know where Steiner was coming from. Now we find every moment of what our child has been doing is part of the teacher helping his soul from his last incarnation to the next. We learn that we, as parents are "irrelevent" and that any accident that befalls him is his karma. We learn that the point of steiner schools is to create the next generation of Anthroposophists. And that deliberate secrecy and obfuscation is the only way that steiner schools have become as popular as they are.
I kept my son off today and there are 3 more days until the end of term. I could not possibly send him back there on monday knowing what I do now, and knowing that they knew we didn't have a clue. Neither do most of the parents who all believe the same pastel coloured stuff we did. There was nothing at ALL about Anthroposophy on the website and in anything we have attended, and yet it is all there is, in Steiner education.
St James Girls School 1977-1981

daska
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:29 pm
Location: UK

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby daska » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:47 am

I will admit I deliberately shied away from giving you the really scary links because by all accounts the schools do vary and, as CM has said, there are plenty of people who are more than happy with Steiner schools. Also, because we know how bad it can get when things do go wrong and that could make us hypersensitive. BUT... given what you were saying earlier about finding their communication 'woolly', which is obviously unsatisfactory to you, I would say go with your gut instinct.

BTW, don't beat yourself up for sending your child there for less than a term, you know you've done what a good parent should do because as soon as you've observed something going wrong you've taken action to rectify it.

stiltrubld
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:26 pm

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby stiltrubld » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:13 am

I have had a look at the first two sites Bluegreen put up about Steiner and this quote comes from the one below:

http://counterknowledge.com/2009/01/

“Anthroposophy’s entire spiritual doctrine is founded on the root race theory, attatching qualities, good or bad, to different races and skin colours, and ranking them accordingly; this explains how the divine cosmic plan unfolds. It’s hardly surprising there is so much covert reticence surrounding it. And these are not ideas stuck in the past, of a man “speaking of his time”. These are themes in current debate, deliberated over by anthroposophists - teachers in Steiner Waldorf schools - who discuss the cosmic significance of the Aryan race and its task to lead into the spiritual future, or whether dividing humans into separate races, and arranging them in groups of “higher” or “lower racial forms”, is actually “racist”. It’s going on now.”
Last edited by stiltrubld on Thu May 24, 2012 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
SES: 1990 - 2009 London (Female)

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Steiner Schools

Postby ConcernedMum » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:34 pm

Hi Bluegreen
The night I found this forum, I couldn't sleep with worry for my little one (and what I had done/my own stupidity) so i understand what a shock it is to find information about cults and the school your child is in. I agree entirely with the others above about going with your gut feeling about the particular school involved, especially if they do not fully welcome parents.

After reading about the SES and now about anthroposophy and also other groups, I came to an understanding about why 'conservative' forces are useful sometimes in preventing the worst excesses of religious fervour. However in Ireland, the Dept of Education and the schools which are mainly run by the Catholic Church are very conservative. Yet this incredibly conservative religious organisation has had report after report published recently in Ireland detailing how they covered up child abuse, physical, emotional, sexual.

The school my son is in now is a Catholic state run school and I've some misgivings about some of the spiritual lessons he will be learning there - I don't want him getting all that catholic guilt!!! That said it is a nice school and I'm as sure as you can be about any school that he is safe there - emotionally, physically and for the most part, spiritually.

Go with your gut and try not to worry as children are flexible and my child is doing really very well now and survived the move.


Return to “Miscellaneous”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest