David Colquhoun of the website DC’s Improbable Science has posted the first part of a couple of quest blog entries authored by my good friends @thetismercurio and @lovelyhorse_. It’s recommended — should be compulsory! — reading for any aspiring waldorf Steiner parent. It deals with, among other things, the discrepancy between the presentation of waldorf education and the reality behind it. Parents think they’re getting something more beneficial to children and children’s development than what is offered by the often derided state education. Steiner proponents help to paint a sad picture of other types of educational systems as detrimental, even harmful. But they don’t openly advertise what exactly it is that parents receive instead, when choosing the waldorf model. They don’t talk about karma or reincarnation with those they think are not on the same boat as them. Parents may hear that their child ‘deserved’ a certain treatment (like bullying) for obscure reasons, but these reasons are never elucidated. They won’t be told the actual reasons behind the anti-vaccination stance so common in the anthroposophical milieu, and some easily scared parents jump on it, even if they don’t share the underlying (karmic) motivations — even if they aren’t aware these exist!
Parents often don’t understand that once you’re in the waldorf system, you may not be able to get out without considerable effort. The child is left too far behind his or her peers to have the opportunity of an easy transfer to another type of school. Waldorf proponents promise that waldorf kids will catch up. They won’t. (The only reason waldorf students don’t do worse in life than they do is that they come from well-off homes. Their parents are often educated and have the economic resources to provide for their children.) But even if they did, the child may be stuck for years where he or she isn’t happy. The parents feel obligated to stay in the waldorf system, because they have been told that if they do, the child will catch up — waldorf schools teach the same things, but in a different order. Usually this merely delays dealing with the problem. One day the situation is completely untenable, and then it becomes clear that the child does not have the knowledge and skills needed, even if the parents have followed the recommendations from the waldorf school and stayed longer than they had wanted. Perhaps hurting the child badly in the meantime. That’s what waldorf education did to me. When waldorf doesn’t work — get out immediately! Don’t endure it in the hope things will improve. They won’t. It will all just get worse until it seems your world is falling apart. The human costs are not insignificant. No matter who finances the education — whether it is the state or the parents themselves.
From the blog entry:
Teachers, if pressed, may repeat that ‘Anthroposophy is not taught to the children’ but this is disingenuous or naive. The transmission of Anthroposophy is subtle, through verses, stories and images. Every aspect of Steiner education is informed by Steiner’s clairvoyant ‘insight’ or ‘intuition’ and has occult implications. Thus the Waldorf categorisation of children according to their ‘temperaments’ and their ’soul type’, school readiness linked to the ‘change of teeth’, the dance form eurythmy, the oddly uniform artwork, the gnomes (or elementals) and the faceless dolls, are all embodiments of the anthroposophical impulse.