Free Schools(5a) – Steiner School Recognition, Accreditation & Steiner’s ‘Study of Man’

Update May 2019: this post has been reworked to accommodate the changes in source material it initially relied on. The main thrust of the post remains the same.

Welcome to another post in the 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 the 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 (now defunct) as applicants. This complicates the Steiner racism and other controversies surrounding his belief system, Anthroposophy, 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.

What this blog post does is make clear what is and isn’t a Steiner school and how Steiner schools are formally recognised by Anthroposophists and by agencies and bodies external to the Anthroposophy movement. The post also isolates a distinguishing feature of UK Steiner recognised schools, their delivery of education in accordance with Steiner’s spiritual evolutionary narrative relating to child development.

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Steiner school recognition & accreditation

To begin with, we’ll 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. If you scroll down nearly to the bottom bit of their home page there’s a notice making it clear that in the UK SWSF holds the legal mark for the right to use the terms Steiner and Waldorf in school names. The legal mark is similar to a brand name – 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 when “an Anthroposophical impulse lies at the heart of planning for the school, including the Waldorf curriculum”. (Note May 2019: the current doc has been edited, there is now no mention of Anthroposophy in it.)

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) and they have a similar notice of claim to the Steiner/Waldorf school legal mark. Details about AWSNA school accreditation can be found from this page as can notice of the ‘brand’ rights. Like SWSF, AWSNA has information for budding Steiner schools (e.g. here) and offers a similar membership programme but AWSNA provides more information about Anthroposophy and its underpinning of Steiner/Waldorf schools than does SWSF. 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 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. Regarding what Anthroposophy is and what it has to do with Steiner education, I would recommend reading government commissioned research findings known as the Woods report for information on English Steiner schools. Researched and authored by Steiner sympathetic academics, the Woods report goes into detail regarding the extent and nature of the Anthroposophical underpinnings of SWSF member schools. Some extracts from the Woods report have already been published on the blog but two in particular are relevant and worth repeating here. The first comes from page 84 of the report and 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…

The second comes from page 97 of Woods:

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.

Both the SWSF and AWSNA point to the importance an Anthroposophical understanding of child development has for their schools.

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Oversight and recognition of the accreditors

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 SWSF and AWSNA’s accreditation process guarantees their member schools will be Anthroposophical, 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?

Well, this document was written in late 2009 by the grand sounding Hague Circle, one of the most influential Anthroposophical organisations devoted to the application of Anthroposophy via Steiner education. It is a formal statement describing the characteristics of Steiner/Waldorf schools. The Hague Circle has since changed its name to the International Conference of Waldorf Schools (Hague Circle). Anyway, at the end of the statement is a paragraph about the legal mark or ‘brand’:

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.

and as the Preamble of the characteristics document makes quite clear:

Schools or kindergartens which do not reflect these characteristics don’t belong to the worldwide movement of Waldorf schools.

If some decoding might help 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. As for the organ reference, Anthroposophists do 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.

So, Dornach is the controller of the legal mark, the Steiner/Waldorf ‘brand’. As to who Dornach delegates its powers of control over use of the legal mark to, there has been interminable discussion within the movement as to how this should play out. According to a very recent statement from AWSNA it would appear the German Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen, ‘the Bund’ for short) holds the global rights outside of the USA, AWSNA holding the rights within its geographical purview. Ultimately, these rights can only have come from Dornach’s Pedagogy Section. The Hague Circle

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The Anthroposophical nature of accreditors

Earlier in the year, a document appeared authored by an intellectual rights legal expert, Alexander Schupp. Schupp works for the Bund and advises on trademark/mark rights and licensing. His document sets out the newly arrived at arrangements for associative licensing and sub-licensing of the ‘mark’. This not my area but it seems now that once an associative body has been granted rights to oversight and use of the legal mark within its area it may then sub-license the same right to another body related to it. So, we might see e.g. an Oceania Steiner/Waldorf association formed and licensed which could then sub-license countries or groups within Oceania. These in turn would guard the legal mark and through their accreditation process ensure their member schools meet Anthroposophic standards. Hierarchy of control still has Dornach at the top and they (or Dornach) can rescind or annul rights if it is felt necessary to do so. Apart from recouping admin costs for the processing of applications there is no financial charge involved in granting rights to the mark.

Handily, Schupps’ document points to the Anthroposophic qualities required of groups/national associations applying for rights of use of the legal mark, the Steiner ‘brand’. The associative body:

…has to be created by the vast majority of the schools and and/or kindergartens operating on the Waldorf educational basis in its regional scope and accepted as representative of common interests.

Since the associative body will consist mainly if not entirely of Waldorf entities it follows that the newly formed body will be Anthroposophic leaning. Even if, somehow, it wasn’t it would not be able to accredit schools that do not meet Dornach standards:

The national association has to have jointly confirmed and laid down the procedure concerning the incorporation of new schools and/or kindergartens. The descriptions made therein as to what a Waldorf/RudolfSteinerschool and/or kindergarten is, must not contradict the “Key characteristics of Waldorf education” passed by the International Conference.

Those key characteristics Schupps refers to first appeared in the Hague Circle characteristics statement linked to earlier and they have been tinkered with off and on since they first appeared in 2009. The most recent version I can find can be found in an article in a 2016 Autumn edition of Dornach’s Pedagogical Section Journal. It appears to be exactly the same version as the one given on the Hague Circle’s own website and dated to May of 2016. Notice though that the characteristics published do not replace any earlier versions, they supplement the characteristics given in the original 2009 characteristics document – the original document remains the linchpin holding any additional descriptors together. In a section of the original 2009 document titled ‘Guidelines of Waldorf Pedagogy’ Dornach cites the fundamental importance one key text – his ‘Study of Man’-  has for every kind of Steiner educational setting:

The basis of Waldorf education is a study of human being and developmental psychology presented by Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) in his volume of lectures entitled “A General Knowledge of the Human Being” or “Study of Man”……It is a pedagogy which has its origin in the child and its goal is to develop each child’s individual potential…..It is the foundation of work within all types of institutions involved in education and professional training (for example, institutions for pre-school education, kindergartens, schools, job training, schools for children with learning difficulties, and many more). Educators and teachers require teacher training in Waldorf education, and feel obliged to undertake a form of self-education which is appropriate to Waldorf education, as well as further continuing professional development.

Seen by Steiner as one strand of his overarching spiritual evolutionary narrative, Steiner describes in ‘Study of Man’ the spiritual mechanics of reincarnation and the incarnating child.

Knowing this helps clarify the quote from the Woods report given earlier, “(An) understanding of child development according to the principles of anthroposophy is at the core and heart of Steiner education…”. ‘Study of Man’ is more often published with a different title these days – same text different title, ‘Foundations of Human Experience’.

The last sentence of the ‘Guidelines’ section and its reference to teachers feeling obliged to undertake self-education is distinctly odd but there is some clarification elsewhere in the document e.g.:

The most important aspect of working with the young child is the inner attitude of the educator, who is the role model for the child’s imitating. That is why this type of work requires constant self-education.

and:

The educator’s goal is to train himself extensively at being a creative educator so that his lessons result in making the students intellectually creative, socially responsible and instilling in them the ability to make decisions and act upon them. The teacher’s process of self-education, together with his basic and further training are necessary prerequisites for this.

It turns out education of teachers within Steiner/Anthroposophical schools is routinised by collective study of ‘Study of Man’ at a weekly meeting, a characteristic of the schools. Again from the ‘characteristics’ document:

Each colleague feels obliged to participate in the weekly pedagogical conference. This is the leading pedagogical body of the school or kindergarten and includes foundation work (the study of man/education), dealing with pedagogical questions, the observation of children, questions of organisation and the task of leading and shaping the school together with other committees. The teachers’ conference is not only a place where colleagues receive further training, but also where perception, judgement, learning and giving the school new impetus all lead to a common consciousness for the whole.

Parental involvement with Anthroposophic belief in Anthroposophical schools isn’t accidental or infrequent, it is programmatic. Woods Report page 17:

An integral feature of Steiner schooling is the importance attached to family support for the education of the child, and the importance of adult learning and development in the wider school community. The schools need to explain their distinctive philosophy to parents and do so through means such as evening lectures or informative articles in newsletters.

Or parents could pop along to a school study group. For example, this AWSNA school currently holds a weekly group meeting Monday nights. Such study groups are a common feature of Steiner schools and Steiner’s ‘Study of Man is often a subject of group focus at meetings. It’s also on every single Steiner/Waldorf teacher-training course I’ve ever come across. For schools it informs and structures the pedagogy and curriculum. It serves as a focal point for the meeting of minds in group or independent study. In fact, ‘Study of Man’ is by far the single-most important text for Steiner educationalists, educators and education generally, it’s part of the DNA of Steiner/Waldorf educational settings. If a school or other setting doesn’t draw on and/or ‘Study of Man’ by teaching to a Steinerian model of spiritual human development and/or by studying it in groups or as individuals (in kindergarten or as part of the pre-school formation process, for example) then it won’t be recognised by Dornach or any other Anthroposophical accrediting body, it cannot be a Steiner school, won’t be an Anthroposophical school.

So, it is the supreme head of the Anthroposophy movement, the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach, that ensures and assures the minimum Anthroposophical qualities described in its ‘characteristics’ documents are baked into Steiner/Waldorf educational settings. Settings must meet those minimum Anthroposophical requirements before they can become accredited and make use of the Steiner/Waldorf terms in their names. This is achieved and maintained via Dornach’s ownership, control and supervision of use of the Steiner Waldorf legal mark, a little like a protected brand name – an educational setting may not use the terms ‘Steiner’ or Waldorf’ within its title without Dornach’s permission. Dornach can mandate other Anthroposophical bodies to perform the same duties and mandated bodies may in turn ‘sub-license’ oversight of the mark to related bodies. The Anthroposophical nature and qualities of all parties involved is achieved through a system of checks. Here in UK the SWSF is the organisation mandated to oversee use of the Steiner/Waldorf name. 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.

Recognition of Steiner schools by agencies outside of the Anthroposophy movement

External to the Anthroposophy movement, SWSF – the accreditor of UK Anthroposophical schools – is recognised here in England by the 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. Prior to Woods, concerted efforts 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. Background information regarding this may be found in 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 government and agencies in connection with state funding for SWSF schools. Note that Prior to the Hereford Academy SWSF described itself as lobbying government whereas these days SWSF works with government – 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. How closely SWSF works with the devolved governments or with the Northern Ireland Assembly is unclear to me.

There will of course 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.

Schools and their recognition apart, one of the fastest growing Anthroposophical endeavours withIn the UK education sector involves the creation, awarding and design of new certified courses. In the vanguard of this activity is the Crossfields Institute. Recognised as an awarding body by, amongst others, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), Crossfields has the same level of recognition as other awarding organisations such as Pearson (Edexcel) and is also a higher education institute. At one time Crossfields was explicitly Anthroposophical and casual visitors could visit the Crossfield website’s online forum. Nowadays one has to dig deeper to discover its Anthroposophic core credo,(scroll to ‘Objectives’ in the linked doc) perhaps because it isn’t as hard core Anthroposophical as it once was?

Well we don’t know and this brings to mind one of the difficulties the public has in determining to what degree an individual school’s praxis and pedagogy accords with Steiner/Waldorf characteristics as spelled out by Dornach and the Hague Council. As the situation stands, some schools and organisations are quite explicit about this, some less so, some not at all. Then there are a range of other characteristics not even mentioned by Dornach. The Woods report, for example, found that in 71% of Steiner schools an Anthroposophical doctor assisted with school assessments. Last time I checked, far less than 71%  of schools even mentioned a doctor and far fewer than that mentioned an Anthroposophical doctor would be assisting in educational appraisals of pupils. It is extremely unlikely a prospective Steiner school parent will even know what an Anthroposophical doctor is and it’s near certain that no parent would be expecting an Anthroposophical doctor to be retained or to visit the school or have anything at all to do with their child’s educational assessment. Schools should routinely ensure prospective parents are made aware of this and other contentious aspects of Steiner/Waldorf education. It shouldn’t be this way, the onus is on schools to be fully transparent in the first place.

At least we know one thing for sure – whatever the school, if it carries the Steiner/Waldorf legal mark it is assuredly going to be teaching to a model of child development based on aspects of Steiner’s spiritual evolutionary narrative relating to karma, reincarnation and the incarnating child.

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21 thoughts on “Free Schools(5a) – Steiner School Recognition, Accreditation & Steiner’s ‘Study of Man’

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. “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.

  6. 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/

  7. 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??

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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 – http://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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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