BristolRover Thu 26-Jun-14 14:32:48
The only person I know who sent her children to a Steiner school bitterly regrets it, and has a son who has begged her never to "let the fucking hippies loose" on him again (the one plus point is that it taught him fluent swearing at an early age). He came out craving double maths, a uniform and a rigid timetable.
exexpat Thu 26-Jun-14 19:43:14
You might also want to google the Steiner attitude to bullying - there seems to be an attitude that it is the children's karma working itself out, so no one intervenes. And also their attitude to vaccinations and childhood illnesses. Scary.
I know some lovely people who have sent their children to Steiner schools, and even one who worked there. Obviously Steiner schools suit some people, but although they try to put themselves across as a more liberated, free-thinking alternative to mainstream education, in fact they are rigidly dogmatic about their educational principles and methods, which have been preserved pretty much as the distinctly weird
Steiner himself laid them down in the 1920s. I would not want to subject my child to educational principles based on karma, Lucifer & Ahriman, etheric and astral bodies and all that spiritualist nonsense.
mathanxiety Sun 29-Jun-14 08:21:18
Under no circumstances should you consider sending a child with SN to a Steiner school.
The way they teach (for example reading is not taught until a child loses milk teeth), the materials they use (gnomes to teach maths, other natural looking toys and dolls with no facial features), the decisions they make about promoting children up a class or retaining them (using head and neck measurements), the approach they have to bullying (all interaction between the children is about children finding their own karmic destiny and is not interfered with by the staff, so bullying can happen and it does), and most bizarrely, the way they approach Art are all based upon the theosophic philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, the 'occult science' he claimed was revealed to hm via clairvoyance. Anthroposophy permeates every single element of school life. It is not taught directly. But it permeates everything.
That being said, there is a lot of reference throughout the different class subjects to St Michael, demons, fairies, gnomes, holy people, OT stories outside of their Jewish or Christian context, the duality of dark and light.. There is a devil named Ahriman, personified in TV and other technology that admits outside thought into the home (computers, etc).
A student can get Art wrong in a Steiner school. Students are often not told what they are doing wrong in their Art, but they are allowed to know they are getting it wrong all the same. Colouring is done with large block crayons. No drawing of outlines is permitted (and no use of black or brown crayons and especially no use of the verboten markers in black or brown or any other colour for that matter). Students have to colour patches of the paper working from the centre outwards. Painting is limited to wet on wet watercolour and students are required to produce certain effects and stick to certain subjects. Self expression is discouraged. The point of art in a Steiner school is to 'cleanse' the child's soul and move him or her further along in a process of karmic self-actualisation. It's a moral exercise.
This is the point of the entire approach across all subjects, but in art it comes across most clearly. Teachers look for signs of karmic progress in the finished artwork. The ultimate aim is spiritual reincarnation of the child through Steiner education. Physical reincarnation is believed to be ongoing and cyclical. Individual attention to each child's different intellectual needs is not what you will find in a Steiner school -- children are made to fit into the Steiner mould. A child with SN is viewed as having a long way to go to attain spiritual reincarnation.
The most disturbing approach to a subject from an intellectual pov, one that reveals the Steiner philosophy and how deeply it is ingrained in everything a Steiner school does and everything it aims to do is the approach to history. History according to Steiner is the history of why white people are the superior beings. Students start to study history by immersing themselves in the world of myths and sagas with a heavy emphasis on Greek and northern European myths and heroes. The Greek and Aryan mythologies reinforce the idea of the superiority of white people. Myth and legend are elevated alongside factual history -- nonsense and intuition are elevated to the level of verifiable fact, or fact is dragged down to the level of superstition, whichever way you want to look at it. This happens in science too.
escaped Tue 01-Jul-14 14:12:31
I am talking from first hand recent experience of a steiner school.
We enrolled our child into this type of education based on their sales and promotional material and also their sincerity at open events. We are not hippies and we do not believe in anthroposophy. We didnt consider looking into the critics, as we simply didnt think it necessary, as we trusted what the school told us. This has taught us a very valuable life lesson! Do not trust or believe what they tell you, that is rule number 1. I applaud you for looking into this before you enrol your child into this kind of institution.
Our experience was not a good one. There are too many things to mention. Be prepared for the school to be secretive, misleading and not to tell you information regarding your child. Do not expect class reports, progress reports, notes or documentation of any kind to be kept or shared with you as a parent.
Our main issues were:
Bullying is out of control and accepted, dont expect bullying to be addressed or dealt with.
Safeguarding children isnt top on their priorities. Doors are unlocked and children often wander off around the building. The buildings are often unlocked, allowing anyone from general public to access the school and classrooms, without appropriate security. They are also allowed to climb as high as they like in trees without supervision.
Children are made to pray, chant and give thanks to god during the school day and before meal times. If the school say this doesnt happen (which they will), do not believe them, they will continue to do it behind your back. We do actually have a signed document from the school stating that they would not stop this activity and if our child didnt participate, he would he viewed as being disruptive. No facilities to eat food in school hall, it is all done in same classroom that they spend all day in. They do not deal with complaints and there is no central person responsible for anything in the school. They promote creativity, however they have to sit for long periods and copy exactly what the teacher does on blackboard and they are not allowed to use black crayons. The use of strapping weights around ankles and their inappropriate handling of children. There are endless things that I could detail of the eyebrow raising incidents that happened at this school. It is a dangerous shambles, steer clear.
There are many things I dont like about mainstream, however, experience has taught me that at least they are honest and truly bothered about children, I can say with certainty we did not get that from the steiner school we went to.
Please ensure that you read true accounts from critics, as a priority-this is the only way youll find out the facts.
We as a family have had an awful experience with steiner. I can only praise the hard work our sons teachers have since done to help bring our child back! He is now confident and is reading and writing! Steiner destroyed his personality and crushed his love of life-they tried to brainwash and control him.
There is an excellent blog to find current information : stop steiner in stroud, this will also provide you with other Useful links.
I hope you make the right decision.
Velvetbee Tue 01-Jul-14 15:01:53
Nasty accounts from my friends too, who tried Steiner before eventually home educating.
The little girl who was made to colour in a picture of Eve again because she had given her dark hair and 'Eve was blond'.
The boy who regressed in sleep and toiletting because he was bullied so badly but was told he was paying a karmic debt.
The mum who volunteered on nature trips but wasn't allowed to stop the children roaming all over the lanes including round blind bends because the 'nature spirits would protect them from any cars'.
ZZZenagain Mon 27-May-13 22:03:16
what I keep reading is that they don't intervene in bullying because this is seen to be karma playing itself out. Wouldn't be good if your dc were on the receiving end. The schools look attractive and I do really like some aspects of it but not Steiner's philosophy as I understand it - and not the teaching of history. I have a big problem with that (as an historian)
JewelFairies Mon 27-May-13 22:03:41
I wouldn't go near and didn't after a disastrous one off session in a baby/toddler group where a hyperactive toddler was encouraged to express himself by hitting babies over the head with pine cones...
all i know is that on my own website, which is just a wee thing about babies, whenever the subject of Steiner comes up we are invaded by trolls telling whoever will listen that it's all FABULOUS and any naysayers should shut up and stop being bitter etc.
the steiner lot google alert the name, they tweet each other with details of threads where the schooling is being discussed, and descend... those tweets are watched by the anti-mob as well, so the whole thing tends to go tits up quite quickly and quite poisonously.
OhTheHugeManatee isn't doing that, i hasten to add, she's a regular, and has always seemed to me to be perfectly sane and lovely. However, any organisation that needed to control its brand in quite such a rigorous way... i dunno... bit culty if you ask me.
Keeping in mind that Mumsnet threads are heavily moderated for criticism of Waldorf... these threads are older but the comments are very valid still.
CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-08 15:40:19
Rantmum - Waldorf Steiner schools come across as a gentle, art-based pedagogy, which is quite attractive to many parents. However, they see education as a means to facilitate the reincarnation of the soul in the child's body.
Their education is filled with things that seem only slightly alternative from the outside but have their roots in the pseudo-religious "Anthrosophy" that they adhere to - children can't use the color black in drawings (it is an evil color), they are discouraged from watching tv, listening to radio etc (a devil called "Ahriman" talks through electronic devices), kids are taught a funny dance called Eurythmy (to communicate with spirit world), they start the day with a longish prayer that talks about 'the spirit of God' and 'the soul that lives in me' (reincarnated?) etc
If you are comfortable with the above (and more) then Steiner schools are by all accounts a lot of fun and they encourage kids to be creative.
We came close to sending DD to the local Waldorf Steiner school but, personally, I would hate DD's little brain to be brainwashed with this nonsense. The staff & teachers' complete lack of honesty was also a turn-off.
Blu Fri 11-Jan-08 15:53:29
Rantmum - I have absolutely no personal experience of Steiner Schools - but i was attracted, like you, to the 'own pace' stuff etc, and almost considered exploring it fo DS.
BUT a friend withdrew her dd from a UK steiner school for reasons associated with the bullying and non-intervention by staff in children's disputes. The child concerned is mixed race and the comments she was getting were racially based. Then, having read some of the critical posts on Mn I read one of the critical websites where Steiner's own views on the role of violence were reproduced. In view of some experiences MN-ers posted, I began to wonder about the 'non-intervention' in bullying that occurs and Steiner's views on violence. Also possible refusal to deal with issues of race, that my friend experienced.
But ask your local school specifically how they deal with conflict between pupils and anything else that occurs to you. Your local school may be wonderful and just right for your child.
I have always found 'Steiner parents' to be quite evangelical about it.
TheodoresMummy Fri 11-Jan-08 22:10:53
I considered Steiner education for my DS, but have decided against it.
The kindergarten looked promising. Lots of ree play, outdoors lots of the time, part time hours.
But on further investigation it appears to be very controlled further up the school. Everything is copied from the board/teacher, all artwork looks the same, no books (fiction or non fiction) on the shelves...
Not my cup of tea.
I am not into their philosophy either, but don't find it any more offensive/ridiculous than Catholic or C of E schools.
Whereabouts are you ?
I have done a bit of research into 'alternative' schools.
northernrefugee39 Sun 13-Jan-08 13:46:40
Whooaah ! Lush and Stripey,
I'm sorry you're taking this so defensively.
Our family is certainly not the first to have had a bad experience of Steiner school.
We experienced appalling teaching, hints of race issues, bullying,chaotic classrooms, and other quite horrifying stories which I'm not going into here for various reasons which I hope you'll understand, and believe me- there were some horrors.
We bought into the creative natural, musical side of Steiner Waldorf- from the school's literature and website.We discussed it with two families who were there already. We visited the school three times, had an interview and meetings. Not once was anthroposophy, soul, spirit, reincarnation or any of the other central themes of Steiner Waldorf mentioned. We were emphatically told it was not religious- I can see the teacher telling me that now- and it was years ago.We read about Steiner as being a writer and philosopher who believed in freedom of the individual. We asked about Steiner , and what recommended books they had to help us as we embarked on this new education for our kids. We TRUSTED them. The two books they recommended didn't mention any of the anthroposophical stuff either.
It is well known apparently , that the wickepedia page on anthroposophy is monitored 24/7 to make sure it gives the right picture.
I read a book not recommended by the school- which touched on some of the more bizarre aspects- and when I asked the school- they said that the temperaments weren't considered important, and that reincarnation was only used in the context that the children have a past and a future.They said they only took what they wanted from Steiner.This reassurred us- they would take the creative and story- telling aspects- the music and in touch with the earth aspects,the woodwork and the knitting, and disgard the cosmic forces, soul, spirit world. This was after all , a liberal, international, progressive school.
Of course- this wasn't so. I soon learned that dividing the children into temperaments informed a great many choices made about the them, as well as cosmic and astral forces. Bullying wasn't dealt with as it interrupts the children's Karmic path. Left-handedness is a sign of an incarnation problem. And more and more bonkers ideas.
I take it that you feel it's ok to be duplicitous in the promotion of a school? Because that's what it is. You must feel it was your responsibility to trail libraries and the internet to find out about the main core of the curriculum of the school you are to entrust your children to?
Lush- I don't think it's liberal or creative either. The art is completely prescribed- it's been said a hundred times before- but it all looks the same- the wet on wet "paintings" progress from kindergarten nothings- where they're not allowed to do anything but wash- no lines, no points, no dark colours-reasons- all anthro soul, spiritual nonsense- to higher up the classes where they copy the teacher. But you must know all this. The wax block work in the main lesson books are a bit more individual.
The children listen to the same teacher for seven years- no text books, no audio visual stimulation apart from that- and then copy screeds and screeds of this teachers stories of myths, or local geography from the board.
My kids did actually get some good things from their time there- they were ahead in French and German, they could play happily in an orchestra, and anything that came after was child's play compared to what they went through- and what is still emerging.
Yes- we castigate ourselves for not finding out more- a common reaction to having left something like a cult. But they lie and they use the silent treatment when their backs are against the wall. This is one's children we're dealing with- it's not simple.
I feel, as you may gather - strongly that Steiner Waldorf should be open and accountable.
I'll find the links to the teaching myths at various ages, so the children can recognise their past lives- I'm surprised you missed that one - but there's certainly a ton of Steiner to wade through.
I'll find you some other links too if you like- about the superiority of the aryan race- or about Lucifer and Ahriman, or why the advent spiral is so significant.
northernrefugee39 Sun 13-Jan-08 19:59:49
Lush- when you asked about anthroposohy in the interview- I'm interested to hear what they said. Did they say- "We don't teach it to the children. It's not in the curriculum atall" ? That's the stock answer- because it's true- they don't teach it- they USE it.It informs everything they do.
And if the teacher is new, and underqualified- as one of my daughter's was- she had a higher certificate- whatever that is- and nothing but the Steiner training- they're "on the path" to higher knowledge themselves- so they don't really understand it anyway.
This particular teacher was mentored by the very anthroposophic elder teachers- just to make sure she didn't make any mistakes. And she was desperate to please them and have their approval- so loved the cosmic dream states and temperaments and all the other bunk.But sometimes, she let something slip, which the elder ones didn't think was appropriate for parents ears- you could see the confusion and fluster. Eugh!
The morning verse is a prayer- there's a quote of Steiner's confirming this- he said something along the lines of it really being a prayer but people shouldn't be told- I'll try and find all these links for you.
And Eurythmy- it's definitely about the soul and connecting to spiritual worlds - Steiner said something very precise about this. I'll try and find it all- but there's this -
"The vowel is born out of man's inmost being; it is the channel through which this inner content of the soul streams outwards.... If we utter the sound A, (as in mate) and take this out-going stream of the breath as the prototype for the Eurythmic movement, we find that this breath stream reveals itself to our imagination as flowing in two crossed currents. This is how the Eurythmic movement for A is derived.... --Rudolph Steiner
We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds....Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work." --Rudolf Steiner
http://www.eurythmy.org.uk/faq- On this eurythmy site they even say themselves
"By incorporating gestures that express soul moods, planetary and zodiac influences, the eurythmist also reveals what lives silently within the audible"
"The vital, life forces that surge through our etheric bodies include the forming power of the zodiac and planets. These can be made visible through their corresponding eurythmy gestures.
"By incorporating gestures that express soul moods, planetary and zodiac influences, the eurythmist also reveals what lives silently within the audible"
Like yoga? Maybe- but if my kids were doing yoga to connect with spiritual powers, express soul moods,and making visible their surging etheric bodies through the planets in dance clas- I think I'd like to be told.
It's discouraged to learn to read before the milk teeth come in anthroposophically they don't think they're spiritually ready until then- their milk teeth are formed by the mother's spiritual forces- and their own teeth come from the childs own forces built up from the spiritual world. That's the reason- not because it's what they do in Europe- although I happen to believe that later reading and more play is a really good idea. And i was glad my yopunst didn't learn 'til later because she caught up really fast.
I think it's a crying shame that Steiner Waldorf doesn't fill the gap that's so despereately needed- and there are some good things about Steiner.
Pilgrim Tue 10-Mar-09 13:44:31
The reason that Steiner Waldorf teachers are taught to delay reading is because the spirit of the mother resides in the childs baby teeth.
Teaching them to read too soon will dim and harden their spiritual development and potentially interfere with their ability to commune with higher worlds.
Steiner Waldorf is the educational wing of anthroposophy, which embraces the idea of reincarnation through the actions of karma. The main priority is to spiritualize the world by nurturing each child's soul as it evolves by successive incarnations into progressively higher racial forms.
disenchantedgnomie Tue 10-Mar-09 14:23:23
At first the Steiner experience will be wonderful and you will find yourself in awe of everything and everybody! Then as the years roll, you will start to see massive cracks appearing everywhere!
Do some serious research beforehand and definately concentrate the pros and cons to delayed reading.
My child cannot read, write or spell and she is *8 years old*! I am crying as I type this thinking about the terrible mistake that I have made for my LO.
BTW - I have namechanged and am a regular poster.
AMumInScotland Tue 10-Mar-09 15:05:53
I think the important thing is to avoid making any comments which could be argued to be libellous, as that is likely to get the comments and possibly the whole thread deleted. I totally understand MNHQs problems on this subject, and empathise with how parents who've had a bad time find it tricky to moderate their comments, which is why I tend to come onto these threads as someone not personally affected, but who was involved in some of the long and contentious threads and was very surprised and concerned about the experiences people had.
I think the question of why Steiner Waldorf feel such a need to ensure that all internet debate about them is cleased of allegedly libellous material is an interesting one. Of course all organisations are concerned for their reputation, but they do this to an extent I consider extreme.
However, there are websites which contain open criticism of Steiner Waldorf education and the philosophy behind it, and I would very much advise anyone considering it to look at all sides of the debate and consider the motivations of those involved before making a decision.
So here's the situation. As the law stands Mumsnet is viewed as the publisher of what you write. Right now there is nothing we can do to transfer the liability even if you would like to carry that liability as individuals. This is something we've written on and are campaigning against- (The Tories seem quite interested in doing something about it which is good.)
For a while now there has been a vociferous debate between 2 groups - pro-and anti-steiner - on Mumsnet, which as many have pointed out has often been a circular one. Consequently we took a decision after trawling through the reported posts in our inbox on an almost daily basis to ban those whose only purpose on Mumsnet seemed to be to conduct a pro-or-anti steiner crusade i.e. they didn't contribute to any other threads and they regularly posted with fairly dogmatic/extreme views on the issue.
We still find our inbox filled with reported posts and have received a fair few threats of legal action too. Here's the sort of mail we are getting:
"If I see her posting promotion of libel at Mumsnet once more, I won't
tell you about it, but ask Percy Bratt of Bratt and Feinsilber in Sweden
to contact you in cooperation with the legal representatives of The
Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland
(http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/index.html), about your negligent
way of allowing libel to be published at Mumsnet and the one who is the
most fervent publisher of it to continue to publish at Mumsnet."
Some of the pro-Steiner group on the other hand have suggested that they will sue us for removing material and started a Yahoo group suggesting that our over-reaction is as a result of my PMT - do men still think this stuff?
So you can see it's all very wearing. We have no wish to engage in correspondence with Percy Bratt. Experience tells us that even if you think you're on the side of common sense it can still cost you a lot of time and money!
What's more, as we've said a few times we have no idea of the writes and wrongs of the argument. And though we are reluctant and saddened to stop folks having a voice on any issue, as the law stands we - Mumsnet - are legally liable for what is said on Mumsnet. So the upshot is we cannot allow posts that are reported as being defamatory to stand. Even if they might be true - which is of course a defence - but one that we can not be sure of.
We've suggested to the anti-Steiner group that they start their own forum. They are clearly very certain of the validity of their position and therefore presumably would be happy to fight any ensuing legal battles - in fact in their position I'd imagine they'd been jumping over themselves to have a high-profile court case if what they say is true, is indeed true.
Similarly we've suggested that the pro-Steiner lot follow up their complaints with the individuals involved rather than Mumsnet but again they seem reluctant.
So all in all allowing this discussion to take place on Mumsnet is/has taken up an inordinate amount of time and is without question ill-advised from a legal perspective.
So I'm afraid I think the time has indeed come to "shut it down". Our previous legal encounter seemed a cause worth risking the Towers for but given that we don't even know the rights and wrongs of this debate and that most Mumsnetters are not engaged in it, we think this is a fight to take elsewhere.