SWSF threatens to sue critics if they GO TOO FAR

A friend (whom I thank for both ideas and the title!) sent me a link to this mindblowingly stupid Spring newsletter by the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship in the UK. It’s actually shocking to see how many lies and how much deception they manage to squeeze into such a short text. Here it is [pdf], view page two: ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, or Friends in Disguise?’ Alan Swindell of the SWSF goes to the movies and watches Alice in Wonderland, he returns home, and…

But within 24 hours there I was again, repeating the whole experience, not with Johnny Depp and co. but glued to a screen, struggling to recognise what should have been familiar landmarks, caught between reality and illusion, expanding and contracting giddily and being grinned at malevolently by any number of virtual cats. The context? Down the rabbit hole of the Internet, through the looking glass of the lap-top, down into the virtual underworld of the Waldorf Critics.

Reality and illusion, mr Swindell? Might I suggest that you’re so unfamiliar with reality and so stuck in your illusions that this, and not any of the actions of waldorf critics, is what causes your confusing struggle? It’s reassuring to know that to the SWSF, former parents and students are grinning malevolently. Nothing to take seriously: only a number of virtual cats grinning malevolently.

For any parents reading this who have not yet discovered for themselves let me spell it out: our schools are not perfect. Like all schools every where we make mistakes, we fall short of our ideals, we play host to human weakness and failings, we offend and disappoint each other; in short our schools are very much part of the real world with real-life problems and shortcomings.

It appears that the SWSF is deluded enough to believe that critics of waldorf education ask for the impossible. Nobody has ever required that your schools are perfect. Only that you recognize your failings and try to correct them (which you don’t do). Nobody has ever said that you cannot make mistakes; only that you take responsibility for the mistakes you make (you don’t). Nobody ever asked of you that you be superhuman; only that you be aware of your humanness and your weaknesses, because the only way to compensate for weaknesses is through knowledge (you’re not prepared to do any of this either). Nobody says your schools should not be a part of the real world (in fact, it’s you who often claim to offer a sanctuary away from the world the rest of us call real). Nobody tells you real-life problems are not to exist; our problem with you is that you don’t own up to your problems and shortcomings, and, in fact, you go blind and deaf as soon as any problems or shortcomings are mentioned. Problems and shortcomings don’t exist in paradise, and paradise is what you’re offering to parents who are too scared to let their children live in the real world. Again, being stuck in illusion, mr Swindell, is not the best way to organize reality. When people suddenly begin to talk about that reality, you don’t understand what hit you.

Of course there are tremendous positives: our schools inspire, uplift, give sense and meaning, create community and provide an education that can transform lives for the better.

Here we go: the illusion. This is the illusion the SWSF lives in. That’s why they cannot comprehend that this does not correspond at all to the reality experienced by many of those who have been inside the waldorf world.

But once down the rabbit hole all that is forgotten.

News flash: the critics didn’t find inspiration, didn’t become uplifted, weren’t given sense and meaning, didn’t experience community and didn’t get an education that transformed our lives for the better. We haven’t forgotten these things; they weren’t part of our waldorf experience. That’s why the critics don’t promote the Steiner movement’s illusions as truth. Critics know they are illusions.

The internet has provided a forum for people to be critical and to disseminate their ideas broadly, swiftly …

How awful! People can actually speak their minds! People can actually give voice to the concerns they have over your schools!

… and without any accountability …

Just who is avoiding accountability, exactly?

Down there you can accuse anyone of anything.

Apparently. Just look at your friend Sune Nordwall. But he’s dug himself into a very deep hole indeed.

Criticism of Steiner education via the internet began in earnest some years ago in America. The Waldorf Critics web-site gave a forum for concerns, frustrations and even anger that took the American schools by surprise.

It always takes waldorf promoters by surprise. They just cannot comprehend that anyone would be unhappy with the paradise waldorf offers.

… parents and teachers supportive of Steiner education began to add their voices and there is even a web-site in the USA, Americans4Waldorf, set up specifically to counter the attacks.

That website is written and maintained by a Swede, Sune Nordwall, the master of accusing anyone of anything, mentioned above. Not by parents or teachers. It’s clear that the SWSF has listened to intently to Nordwall.

In any case it’s instructive to see, once again: criticism is rejected as ‘attacks’. That’s all we — former students and parents — are to the waldorf movement: attackers. This is the mentality of a cult who cannot abide dissent.

What I don’t understand, though, is why the SWSF neglects to mentioned the British Steiner criticism? Why don’t they reply to the articles on DC’s Improbably Science? (iiiiii) Are they too clever? Too… right? Hitting too close to home?

But who will you find at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party? What kind of person sits up until the early hours unpacking Steiner, anthroposophy, the curriculum, Ofsted reports on our schools, even articles like this one?

You bet. In particular articles like this one. It’s a magnificent specimen. The SWSF looks so much like a cult, it’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable, because (presumably!) they are trying not to. And this is the best they can do. It does tell us something pretty important, I think: that they are prepared to continue to treat their critics in a manner typical of a cult.

It would be unfair to generalise, except to acknowledge that in any public forum, whether on-line, in the village hall or at Hyde Park Corner you will find an uneasy alliance of recognisable types: those who have a grievance that still angers them, those who like a good shouting match, those of a more academic bent who have found an issue to contest.

Ah — people who were hurt by waldorf education, people who speak their minds about waldorf education, and people who are too clever for you to handle?

What you will find very few of, however, are those who have not already made their minds up.

I think you’re talking about one of SWSF’s conference here, mr Swindell.

At Plymouth University on the Steiner Waldorf BA we introduce our students to the critics’ web-sites …

I very much doubt that you do, unless the introduction is done with the help of Sune Nordwall’s ‘descriptions’ of the individual critics; i e, you introduce the critics only to badmouth them. Anyway, it seems mr Swindell is neglecting to mention one important thing: the Steiner courses at Plymouth Uni have been closed down, as far as I’m aware.

The students are often changed by the experience …

Not to the better, I presume.

… sometimes angry with the rhetorical style of many critics …

The students are true believers and the critics are too clever, too well-informed and too set on crushing the believers’ dearly held illusions.

… sometimes indignant at the claims being made.

Indignant, how come? Now, that’s silly — well, at least it would be if Steiner education were about education and not about spiritual beliefs.

How could it be otherwise when you hear Anthroposophy described as a cult …

This very article sure reinforces the impression that it is, indeed, a cult.

… and Steiner as a racist…

It would be a great thing if the waldorf proponents learned to recognize nuances, taught themselves some history (including the history of anthroposophy), and at least tried to take their own ideology seriously. What about reading what Steiner wrote and said? It’s not really that complicated. You’re just miffed that others do this, and have the audacity to point out his not so nice sides. These sides aren’t a huge problem, really. Denying them, well, that is a problem. It makes you look ridiculous and uninformed and like a cult who cannot bear the truth — and definitely not like a movement who should be allowed to run educational institutions. As I said, it’s not a huge problem — it’s just that you’re not allowed to lie about Steiner’s race doctrines. It’s not about whether Steiner was a ‘racist’ or not. It’s about what these teachings contain.

… or read that bullying is tolerated because it is a child’s `karma`!

Now, it’s plain stupid to try to deny this.

However, sometimes the students find themselves in agreement with some of the claims, identifying elements of the education that they also see as needing critical
interrogation. The majority, if not all, return even more committed to this style of education, the exact opposite of what the critics would expect to achieve.

Haha! Yeah, right, the Steiner leaders present the critics’ and the views of the critics. The students come out of this process believing even more fervently than before. I’m sure there’s a good explanation for this. Maybe in the research on cults?

Digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Mumsnet mean that they can reach a wider audience than ever before and in immediate response to breaking news …

Oh, the deception! Why don’t they tell their readers what happened on Mumsnet? This happened, according to a Mumsnet admin:

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.” [...]

So you can see it’s all very wearing. We have no wish to engage in correspondence with Percy Bratt.

That’s how the SWSF and its collaborators engage with criticism! That’s how they worked to shut people up on Mumsnet.

… there is no doubt that any school advancing along the path toward Free School Status will become an immediate focus.

Rightly so.

At present there is a policy of non-engagement …

Because they don’t really care. They don’t think there’s any merit to the criticism — it’s all about rejecting it and to keep the believers believing.

We monitor and respond with simple statements that direct people to appropriate web-sites.

Their own, and Sune Nordwall’s. How pathetic. It would be so horrible if people found out that there is something to what critics are saying by reading what they are actually saying. Thus the need for ‘appropriate’, i e, deceptive, websites.

This is probably experienced as dismissive and arrogant by some critics but it is not about to change …

The behaviour of waldorf proponents is generally dismissive and arrogant, and we don’t really expect it to change. This article proves there’s nothing to expect. Not from people who write things like this:

… however we are always ready to respond to defamation, personal attacks and anything that would be deemed illegal outside of the internet.

Are you threatening the critics, Alan Swindell? Are you indicating that you’ll continue to act like you did on Mumsnet? Are you going to continue to have people silenced through threats of legal action? Are you going to continue to support people, like Sune Nordwall, who handle criticism and critics in this manner? You thugs.

My own forays are always under-pinned by the belief that there is a grain of truth in all criticism, no matter how it is delivered.

No, you don’t really believe this. You’ve just spent an entire article dismissing practically all kinds of criticism, calling critics grinning cats and attackers, too academic and rhetorically cunning (these aren’t compliments in the world of waldorf), and then threatened to sue. You didn’t even have the guts to direct readers to criticism relevant to the UK.

Get down there, get the gist, get out quickly and make your school a better place.

How about trying to understand what critics are saying? How about taking it seriously? How about stopping the ‘I’ll sue you if you do what I don’t like’-silliness? It’s nothing but foolish, empty threats from a toothless cult anyway. You depend on people believing these threats — because that’s all it is, make-believe. There’s no reality behind. It’s illusion, like so much of what you have on offer.

About these ads

244 comments

  1. And now there’s champagne (and chew-bones) in the ethereal kiosk — to celebrate the success of @thetismercurio, who’s too dangerous, too clever, too rethorical and too academic to be mentioned in SWSF’s newsletters! Probably because she writes much better than Alan Swindell or anyone at the SWSF will ever do, and her articles (written together with @lovelyhorse_) were too well-researched for the SWSF to dare to respond to.

  2. It is an amazing article, isn’t it? If I were still a prospective Steiner parent whose mind wasn’t already made up, it would make me run very quickly in the opposite direction.

  3. ThetisMercurio · ·

    I would like to thank mule for posting the above Alan Swindell (a Dale) song. It so rightly sums up the bombastic little berk.

  4. ThetisMercurio · ·

    I would also like to thank the many Steiner trainee teachers who have wept with rage at our rhetoric. It is rare to receive this kind of feedback and humbling for any writer. Thank you.

  5. Something quick (I’m giving mr D a bath and he’s getting upset with me…): Swindell says somewhere in the article that thye don’t respond to criticism. Well, that’s what they have people like Sune. They respond on the movements behalf — and gives the movement an opportunity to evade responsibility for the response. Sune and others can do what the SWSF cannot do. They want it done, but they also want to avoid the shame.

  6. We malevolent felines (and canines) can rest easy in our beds tonight. The SWSF are busy doing our job for us!

  7. I told mr D the cats at the SWSF are responsible for everything connected to baths and forced washing of dogs. He’s spreading the news to canine friends all over the world. This will be the final nail in SWSF’s coffin.

    But re the SWSF and its article: it seems to me they really find it outrageous that anyone would criticize waldorf/steiner/anthroposophy. Why this attitude? They run schools. What’s more, they target people who don’t share their philosophical basis. I have a suggestion to the SWSF: if they don’t like when people — who have been involved in their movement (as studens, parents and sometimes teachers) — investigate what they’re really about, then don’t run educational institutions. It’s really that simple. As long as they do, they will meet criticism and they will have to deal with it (and not through threats).

  8. Mark wrote:

    ‘It is an amazing article, isn’t it? If I were still a prospective Steiner parent whose mind wasn’t already made up, it would make me run very quickly in the opposite direction.’

    Yep, truly amazing. I don’t know what they were thinking, honestly. It should make all parents capable of critical thought run away quickly. They blame critics for parents running away, but perhaps they ought to think a bit more about their own appearance…

    Thetis:

    ‘I would also like to thank the many Steiner trainee teachers who have wept with rage at our rhetoric. It is rare to receive this kind of feedback and humbling for any writer. Thank you.’

    LOL! Tears are better than indifference!

    Mule:

    That video is strangely appropriate. It must be a documentary about life at the SWSF.

  9. A CALL TO ARMS!!!
    A CALL TO LEGS!!!
    MOST OF ALL, A CALL TO BRAINS!!!

    To the ramparts!!!
    Into the breach!!!
    This means WAR!!!!!

    (As only Mad Hatters can wage it!)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/18055

  10. Do they have brains? I mean, at the SWSF headquarters.

  11. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Thank you Alicia (I was laughing so much at mule’s link I missed your comment)

    Lovelyhorse is a truly brilliant researcher, and if anyone should be tossing and turning in his tiny woodland acorn tonight, it won’t be Lovelyhorse.

    If we forget what we’re talking about we only need return to the SWSF’s very own 20112 Easter conference:

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/how-can-we-see-our-children-more-clearly/

    Get out of that one, Houdini.

  12. ThetisMercurio · ·

    2011. The 2012 one will be apocalyptic.

  13. Oh Dog, the comment I wrote before mr D’s bath contained a few odd things. Here’s a corrected version. (There’s a problem with WP’s admin panel so I can only view the blog as a visitor right now, i e, not edit…):

    Something quick (I’m giving mr D a bath and he’s getting upset with me…): Swindell says somewhere in the article that they don’t respond to criticism. Well, that’s what they have people like Sune for. They respond on the movements behalf — and give the movement an opportunity to evade responsibility for the response. Sune and others can do what the SWSF cannot do. They want it done, but they also want to avoid the shame.

  14. Thetis — yep, I can’t wait for the 2012 conference. Not that the 2011 conf isn’t good enough…

  15. Here is a chance to see and hear Alan Swindell himself on a video, (he’s not exactly a Generation Xer!) during an interview in which he first defines religion and why it’s taught in Waldorf schools: “We teach religion from Day One!”

    [An interview with the Rudolf Steiner School South Devon's Education Co-ordinator Alan Swindell. Part two of three.]

    Estimating his age at somewhere between mine at 62 and Frank Thomas Smith’s at 78, I get a better sense of how out of touch Alan is with the world we live in, which is the Rabbit Hole and Wonderland, whether you take the blue pill or the red pill.

  16. Hey, Thetis & Zo, let’s give them more gunpowder by which their own petards may hoist them! (See later message about delightful etymology for petards and hoisting. It actually involves farting, so I’ll save it for its own special posting.)

    From the previous day’s post about the SWSF children and karma conference. I quote this back to Alan Swindell, with only one word substitution for “students” in [__] since “what’s sauce for the students is also sauce for the critics.”

    Every human being incarnates in a unique way, and everything he is can be found in the impression he makes in the substance of the earth. It is our task as teachers to learn to read the impressions made by our [critics]– the way they speak and move, their likes and dislikes, the things they create, everything they do. If we really learn to do this, what we discover can form the basis of our work. The aim of this conference is to raise awareness of the need to develop the faculty of truly seeing and to look at some ways in which this can be done.

  17. Roger Rawlings quotes from an e-mail sent by Alan Swindell (who must be quite a seafarer because in the video interview he also used the phrase “nailing our colors squarely to the mast” in describing the proper attitude toward Anthroposophy supporting the Waldorf curriculum.)

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

    The importance of reincarnation and ‘Anthroposophical tenets’ to the teaching staff is a question for each individual teacher to answer. I would not dare attempt it on their behalf! As a school, however, [our] colors can be nailed squarely to the mast. Teachers are urged to study Steiner’s views on child development, teaching methods, and the age-appropriate curriculum he initiated with his books and lectures. Decisions made in the classroom will be influenced by this study.

  18. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Tom – a note about mast-nailing.

    Plymouth is a maritime city, and the University of Plymouth, which has so recently closed its doors to any new Steiner trainees, will presently slam those portholes shut; laying planks across them and using industrial-strength 3-inch nails to keep any Steineristas from sneaking back in. Hey ho, as they say in the navy.

  19. Oh, Dog, Thetis thanks for briefing me on the situation. So I’ve called out the army instead of the navy. OK, let’s correct that.

    AVAST YE MATIES!
    THAR SHE BLOWS!
    FULL SPEED AHEAD!

    That’s all I know. Plus a Mad Hatter is underground. What’s the equivalent on a ship?

  20. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Ballast.

  21. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ..in its bilge.

  22. Yes, ballast, bilge…. Oh Dog, I feel a limerick coming on. Nay, a whole series! Thank you for the inspiration! (But rest assured, that even though the theme is Waldorf maritime, no one in my limericks is allowed to come from Nantucket.)

  23. ‘Estimating his age at somewhere between mine at 62 and Frank Thomas Smith’s at 78, I get a better sense of how out of touch Alan is with the world we live in, which is the Rabbit Hole and Wonderland, whether you take the blue pill or the red pill.’

    I think you’re on to something here. In addition, he’s an anthroposophist. They’re often a bit out of touch when it comes to internet and modern communication.

    But, oh Dog, I’m shocked that Frank is 78.

    from the Alan Swindell-quote:
    ‘As a school, however, [our] colors can be nailed squarely to the mast. Teachers are urged to study Steiner’s views on child development, teaching methods, and the age-appropriate curriculum he initiated with his books and lectures. Decisions made in the classroom will be influenced by this study.’

    Which is exactly what the grinning cats say.

    ‘Plymouth is a maritime city, and the University of Plymouth, which has so recently closed its doors to any new Steiner trainees, will presently slam those portholes shut; laying planks across them and using industrial-strength 3-inch nails to keep any Steineristas from sneaking back in. Hey ho, as they say in the navy.’

    They’re trying to get into the lifeboats. But Steiner didn’t give any indications on how to row, and eurythmy is of no help in such a situation.

  24. Most people here seem to post under aliases. All the same everyone seems to know everyone else. Sorry to break up the party. All I can see here is self-congratulation and uncritical back-slapping. You say Steiner people have closed minds. I’m sure some have. I have met a few and most have seemed to me decent, civilised and open-minded even when some of their ideas sound strange. I have met some weird ideas in universities too. Some academics make a career of it. You cannot generalise. In the small number of Steiner schools I have visited, no-one has ever been patronising or shown disrespect because of my background. That has not been my experience in other places. I read obsession and disrespect to other views here if they happen not to agree with your party line. I suppose I am going to be next in the queue now.

    I thought someone here might have some insights. When it comes to stupid games with people’s names and stuff about shadows – you are really stooping low. I can see why Steiner people are avoiding “engaging”. You are just talking to and among yourselves. I can see what this Mr Swindell means. Shame.

  25. ‘Most people here seem to post under aliases. All the same everyone seems to know everyone else.’

    Because it’s no secret who most people here are? It’s no secret — most of those who have commented here are known from other places on the internet, either their websites are known, their real names are known (as in the case with me, Diana and Tom), or they’ve written articles elsewhere under the alias they use here, as in the case of Thetis (who you also find under this alias on Twitter — @thetismercurio). Alan Swindell refers to Thetis in his article — but doesn’t dare to mention her.

    As for parents (and students) who have only recently left waldorf, they have a legitimate need for anonymity. Sometimes the rest of us do to. Some people within your movement behave like sectarian thugs. It’s not so damn fun, I tell you.

    ‘Sorry to break up the party.’

    Behaving like a moron doesn’t suit you.

    ‘You cannot generalise. In the small number of Steiner schools I have visited, no-one has ever been patronising or shown disrespect because of my background.’

    Maybe you cannot generalise then. Maybe you should not assume we don’t have any insights or that we play stupid games — if you really don’t know, huh?

    ‘I read obsession and disrespect to other views here if they happen not to agree with your party line. I suppose I am going to be next in the queue now.’

    You think we should leave your views expressed here without response?

    ‘I can see why Steiner people are avoiding “engaging”.’

    No, they simply prefer to send letters with threats behind the scenes.

    ‘Shame.’

    True. But they are the ones who should be ashamed. Not that they are. They never are. No matter how irresponsibly or unethically they act.

  26. Besides, Richard (if that’s your name, how could we possibly know it’s not one of these dreaded aliases? it doesn’t matter one bit to me, I’m just saying), it’s about what people say — not about their real identities. You can take Thetis’s articles on DC’s Improbable Science seriously without knowing a thing about who she is in real life. You simply focus on the content — not the person.

    In my experience, there’s only one reason anthroposophy and waldorf school defenders fuss about the identities of former parents and students — this reasons is that knowing the identity, they can hound the individual. It’s not about arguments, it’s about intimidation.

  27. From Richard d’Aubigny’s comment:
    ‘You cannot generalise. In the small number of Steiner schools I have visited …’

    From a comment he wrote elsewhere:
    ‘Fortunately, the good stuff I have seen in Waldorf schools worldwide …’
    http://www.chroniclewatch.com/2011/02/05/schools-claim-lucifer-as-model-and-guardian/

    Tssss tsss tsss….

  28. ThetisMercurio · ·

    This subject tends to attract the gloomiest trolls. They always hate ‘to spoil the party’ – if I had a penny for every loon who drops by on Steiner comments with that sentiment I’d have … several pennies. I don’t even like parties. But I do like this blog and its ante-rooms and its wit and charm, and humanity. As well as its canineity. Silly man.

    I write under an avatar name to protect my family. Think about that, Mr d’Aubigny. I am so uninteresting it wouldn’t add a single thing if you knew who I am. Wring your hands and drool all you like, it will not make Waldorf any better. It just looks more cult-like with every immature comment from its defenders – although individuals supportive of anthroposophy who write here (often with their own daft avatar names) are sometimes interesting, thoughtful and considerate, and your bit of posturing inanity looks in contrast like that of a playground bully.

  29. My hunch is that they invent the party because they so relish the thought of spoiling it, while hypocritically announcing they hate to do this. It’s a curious personality type attracted to such pastimes.

  30. ThetisMercurio · ·

    it’s like the bigot who says ‘I don’t want to cause offence, but…’

  31. They don’t have moral integrity. I think that if you’re going to cause offence, you need to have moral integrity. Somehow.

  32. “Most people here seem to post under aliases”

    On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

    Posting under an alias is very common across all online forums of course, not just here. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions on that basis alone. Some people have good reason to do so, others just follow convention and invent an alias that is probably unique and more memorable than their real name and is consistent across their online activities. It’s very handy, that! Others, like me, are just unimaginative. It wouldn’t be hard for people who know me in real life to figure out who I am from reading what I post.

    ” I have met some weird ideas in universities too. Some academics make a career of it.”

    Coming from an academic professional background myself, I would have to agree! Steiner was certainly on the weirder end of the spectrum and even for those who disagree with the modern manifestations of his ideas, quite fascinating.

    “In the small number of Steiner schools I have visited, no-one has ever been patronising or shown disrespect”

    I have to admit to having felt slightly patronised in a snack-time discussion on alternative medicine at the parent/child group. I was the only sceptical voice in the room and was asked, rather accusingly, if I was a medical doctor! (I’m not.) But, there are much worse things reported by others than a bit of patronising banter.

    “I read obsession and disrespect to other views here ”

    I thought people were just responding to Swindell’s article in a like manner.

    “I thought someone here might have some insights. ”

    Read back through the archives, if you haven’t already. There are plenty of insights, useful observations and words of wisdom. And even humour.

  33. ‘On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.’

    Or, as mr Dog would put it, ‘on the internet nobody knows you’re not a dog, unless you behave undogly and humanly stupid, and thus reveal your true species…’

    As for aliases — I used an alias for a long time. It’s still in the blog name. One reason was that my name is very unusual. It’s just me. If you’re called ‘Anna Svensson’ in Sweden, there are a tens of thousands with the same name. It’s easy not to hide behind an alias then — you can hide behind your own name, because it is, by its nature, almost more anonymous than any alias. Later I’ve realized it’s better I use my own name than let the idiots use my name.

    Unfortunately I notice quite a lot of spiritual patronizing among anthroposophists (and other spiritual folks). And with Steiner education, there are all these oh-so-important lifestyle aspects. I thing that a parent-toddler group is supposed to reel people in — I imagine that at least the people in charge are treading lightly with the more extreme aspects at this point in time, and the children are still so young there’s no need to get into some of the business which becomes important later on.

    ‘“I read obsession and disrespect to other views here ”

    I thought people were just responding to Swindell’s article in a like manner.’

    Frankly, Swindell’s half-promise to sue was a bit disrespectful, I would say…

  34. Mark – “Posting under an alias is very common across all online forums of course, not just here. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions on that basis alone.”

    Of course not; some of the most notorious Steiner-defenders online post using not just one alias but in one particularly notable case, dozens of aliases.

  35. And not for any particularly good reason, one might add; these Steiner-defenders aren’t anonymous and don’t need anonymity, they only do it to decieve.

  36. People have their reasons for anonymity, some good and some bad, but you can’t tell that from the mere fact that they don’t use their full legal or professional name on an internet forum – most people don’t, really, and it’s no one’s business but their own. Many families who are very recently exited from Waldorf have young children and simply wish to protect their privacy – not just in the immediate present but for many years to come. The children might not appreciate it later, finding their personal stories on the Internet. From this POV, *not* being anonymous might be worse ethically.

    The ethical problem comes in when people use *multiple* aliases (that is deceptive because it can appear to inflate the numbers of people with complaints) and/or when someone poses as someone they’re not. For instance, a middle-aged, childless man who pretends to be a young mother in a discussion group for mothers talking about the pro’s and con’s of Waldorf education …

    The issue is not really whether the writer of this blog is named Zooey or Alicia, or whether “Thetis” is actually Oprah Winfrey (she’s not, as far as I know …) It’s got nothing to do with anything.

    Richard just picked up a handy stick he saw lying around and thought it looked useful for bashing a few critics.

  37. The same man pretends to be Robert Mays, another anthroposophist, on twitter as we speak, in addition to maintaining two accounts that are his own. I don’t think he’s using his real name for any one of those. He has no children and no family protect, only an esoteric movement to defend.

    ‘Richard just picked up a handy stick he saw lying around and thought it looked useful for bashing a few critics.’

    They tend to do this when they can. It’s so easy.

    It’s true that not being anonymous is sometimes the only right way to go about it. The children don’t deserve having this added to the waldorf burden.

  38. There have been, I must admit, a few times when I’ve regretted not having kept my anonymity. But most of the time, I don’t, because such regrets are pointless and because I’ve come to realize that I like to take credit for what I do. And, somehow, at least I know that if I write something stupid or evil or mean or immoral, I can’t be accused of doing it while hiding behind anonymity, because I don’t. Which means that on some level the bad stuff is honest. Even if, sometimes, I later wonder why on earth I wrote this or that. I tend to write too much when I’m agitated, and on these occasions it’s really true that I write before I think. I’m so absorbed with what I’m doing that I can’t really think to myself: ‘will I think this is reasonable tomorrow?’ — because it doesn’t occur to me that I could reconsider. It’s like when you’ve eaten too much, and you doubt you’ll ever feel hungry again. Well, at least I can’t convince myself that being satisfied (to the limit) is just a temporary thing. (I can never shop for groceries when I’ve just eaten a lot of food.) I’m not very cunning, really, I can’t even fool myself.

    But I think that I and most other people write what they write because that’s what they want to write and that’s their honest opinions and arguments. And why would it matter, then, if we/they express these under our real names or using pseudonyms?

    On the contrary, some fanatical anthroposophists use pseudonyms to gain advantages, to fool the audience they’re addressing. They’re writing, not to express themselves, but to deliver propaganda or to badmouth their ‘enemies’.

  39. Hello, Richard, I see you are something of a sassy roving Waldorf-Critic-Critic (WCC) on the Internet. An anti-anti-Waldorfian, as it were. (Did you know that Rudolf Steiner reserved his most seething hatred for the Jesuits because they were Anti-Anti-Catholics?)

    Anyway, I found this sassy retort you made one month ago to a blog entry entitled:
    Schools Claim Lucifer As Model And Guardian
    Posted By: Roberto Santiago – Feb• 05•11

    http://www.chroniclewatch.com/2011/02/05/schools-claim-lucifer-as-model-and-guardian/

    Richard d’Aubigny wrote:
    Great thing about these media: people can post any sort of opinion & make any sort of accusation. Sad thing about these media: what you get, as in this case, is bull mostly. Throw off butt-ends of misunderstood information and then others build on it without checking anything.

    So far as I can see this text is falsehood throughout, starting with the title. PLANS has been trying to make its case in the courts for years & every judge who has looked at it has thrown them out as incompetent. Fortunately, the good stuff I have seen in Waldorf schools worldwide goes on and you end up with a fine bunch of confident sassy kids with plenty of interests who want to help make things better. They know how to ask questions and they treat other people with respect.

    Waldorf method does not get everything right and sometimes it fails, but what it does get right is worth looking at a bit more closely. As for the Steiner philosophy stuff, mostly no-one has to swallow any of that to see the method is one of the best.
    ————————–

    I’ll bet you’re an ex-smoker, Richard. I was very delighted by your phrase “butt-ends of misunderstood information.”

    I like your spirit, sass, and verve, Richard, so welcome to Zooey’s mudpit! Come on in! The mud’s really fine! ( As an Irish Catholic Anthroposophist meself, I really must confess to enjoying sliming Limeys, but it’s all in good fun, so come down off yer fuckin’ high horse and wallow with us, ya snark-nosed tit-face, ya!!!)

    Father Tom , Judas Priest
    Hollywood Tom Mellett
    The One and Only Hollywood Tomfortas,
    Hierophant to the Stars
    in Greater Greater Los Angeles

  40. ‘The mud’s really fine!’

    Finest quality, biodynamic.

  41. ThetisMercurio · ·

    sliming limeys or knitting with the Brits?

    If a judge allows almost nothing to be admissible in court, including in the PLANS case Steiner’s work, then all this suggests is the law is an ass. It’s probably best not to count on it being asinine indefinitely. At any rate Alan Swindell’s concentration on PLANS distracts from what’s really keeping him up in the small hours trawling the internet, since he hasn’t recently come across the PLANS site (he’s known about it for years – and it hasn’t changed much recently). There’s Roger’s Waldorf Watch, which is continually updated and easy to read (and jaw-dropping). It’s exactly like falling down a rabbit-hole, passing gardening implements and glaring Cheshire cats, into the world of the extraordinary. Only today this was Roger’s quote:

    “Imagine what the people of ancient times perceived [clairvoyantly], entrancing them, pouring through their heads, till they exclaimed, ‘Ah, the nymphs! Ah, the gnomes! How the nymphs whirl in my head, how the gnomes hammer….’ That no longer exists for us. Today the hammering, surging, and whirling are eclipsed and overwhelmed by what comes from actual seeing or hearing.” — Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 230.

    If I had read Roger as a Steiner parent I would have turned up at the school unannounced and removed my children. I would also have potted their teachers upside down in the carpark. And I’m not alone. That’s why Sune tried to have all reference to Roger’s site erased from mumsnet, as well as any links to PLANS. And to Peter Staudenmaier, most importantly because Peter writes about the real history of a movement that likes to make up stories about its past. Lying about that past really is shameful, and they will be found out.

  42. ‘If I had read Roger as a Steiner parent I would have turned up at the school unannounced and removed my children. I would also have potted their teachers upside down in the carpark. And I’m not alone. That’s why Sune tried to have all reference to Roger’s site erased from mumsnet, as well as any links to PLANS. And to Peter Staudenmaier, most importantly because Peter writes about the real history of a movement that likes to make up stories about its past. Lying about that past really is shameful, and they will be found out.’

    Exactly, Thetis, exactly! And the real problem is the lies, the evasion, the behaviour of waldorf proponents today. It’s interesting that they don’t realize that the problem isn’t mainly what Steiner taught. It’s how they deal with it and what they do with it.

  43. “It’s interesting that they don’t realize that the problem isn’t mainly what Steiner taught. It’s how they deal with it and what they do with it.”

    Truer words never spoken.

    Even after I had removed my child from Waldorf, I wasn’t terribly concerned about the racist Steiner – and I did know, at least little tidbits. I’m not some saint, distraught whenever I hear someone’s a racist, OMG, how surprising is it that Rudolf Steiner was a racist? Not very, there’s lots of racists around, and always have been. How often do Steiner’s specific negative views of different races influence what happens in the schools? I don’t know. There are some bad reports. Do they compare unfavorably with other schools, statistically speaking? Maybe – probably to some extent – but it isn’t really clear. More likely, the racism in Waldorf appears in idiosyncratic ways (like the bizarre practice of removing black crayons from kindergarteners’ crayon boxes), but not at a shockingly higher rate than elsewhere. Race relations continue to be fraught everywhere.

    What got me so interested in the Waldorf case was not the racism – it was the denial and the coverup. And the lunatic behavior of the people involved in the coverup.

    Isn’t it always like that?

  44. ThetisMercurio · ·

    well of course. It is their behaviour that matters. Ours is irrelevant – or it should be. They’re in a mess, it’s of their own making (the product itself is faulty) but they would rather blame anyone else than analyse the central theme: spiritual science. There is no such thing as spiritual science. This is a problem.

    Of course Steiner ed has no place in any university for that reason alone. It should never have been taken seriously, or allowed into Plymouth when the education department moved from Exmouth. There’s an esoteric department at Exeter – they fly in on eagles every day. By all means study Steiner or anthroposophy as a phenomenon, but stay away from children – it’s the vocational aspect that’s so dangerous.

    And here is Alan Swindell http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/aswindell teaching students how to spot a critic through the eyes of Sune Nordwall, promoting Sune’s sites: in the University’s time, at the taxpayers’ expense. Bragging about this in a public newsletter. Lying, and threatening to sue anyone who steps out of line.

    Perhaps the VC of the University of Plymouth would like to talk to Alan Swindell of the SWSF, associate lecturer.

  45. Diana: “What got me so interested in the Waldorf case was not the racism – it was the denial and the coverup. And the lunatic behavior of the people involved in the coverup.”

    Yes. Anthroposophy would be just another curious esoteric philosophy if it weren’t for the denial of its proponents. (I note that the creationists wanting to set up free schools recently in the UK were completely open about that.)

    Denying that karma and reincarnation are of any relevance in the classroom and then putting out the SWSF Easter conference programme, anyone? Sometimes all this does feel like an Alice in Wonderland alternative reality, one where these people want to educate your children and want public funding for doing so. For real. That’s what makes it so very interesting!

  46. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Right: libel reform.

    If Alan Swindell and co intended to sue a mother who dared to write something detrimental on mumsnet, or Prof David Colquhoun (who he’s too scared even to mention – he should be too) or Dan Dugan, or me for daring to tweet to so many education journalists, and historians (I have a lot of historians following me for some reason, I bet they’re really dangerous) he could have done so by now. Writing on the internet is no defence, and they know it.

    All this posturing is for a tiny audience, and what they really really don’t want is a very big audience.

    The Free Schools business is going to be very tough, deliberately so. BBC today:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12860477

    This is the crux of it. What right do you have, Steiner movement, not to be analysed? Not to face questions about your pedagogy, the basis of your pedagogy, the books your teachers read, the Ofsted (and let’s be honest SIS) reports on your schools? What gives you the right to secure millions, especially at a time of such austerity, without facing the same scrutiny as any other education system? Who do you think you are?

    It should be enough, you think, to let things go on as before. To let you decide how your movement is portrayed, with only positive PR/newspaper articles, only chirpy ‘adventures in education’. But the problem is that this isn’t the truth.

    You want our money, no questions asked. Come on, boys and girls – no one’s allowed to do that. And now Free Schools will have to compete for funding and prove there’s real demand, not just pretend there is (hiding the brisk turnover in existing schools). You can’t go on blaming Dan Dugan. You would do better, frankly, to blame Sune.

  47. Bravo again, Thetis.

    This:

    “What gives you the right to secure millions, especially at a time of such austerity, without facing the same scrutiny as any other education system?”

    The answer unfortunately is they think they’re more spiritual than the rest of us, and that’s what’s frightening. Spiritual entitlement. It’s never pretty.

  48. ThetisMercurio · ·

    thank you Diana.

    As Mark says, they’re walking a tightrope.

  49. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ..and of course Tom is walking behind them with a pointed stick.

  50. as long as they let Sune influence the troupe, their survival is precarious. He’s never been good at walking a tightrope.

    (Very good comments. I’ll return and respond.)

  51. I concur that parts of Alan’s article could have been better written, but I think your responses to it have been equally over-the-top. You present the debate in a very black and white way (fair enough, I’m sure many Steiner supporters do the same, but….) – for example:

    “Of course there are tremendous positives: our schools inspire, uplift, give sense and meaning, create community and provide an education that can transform lives for the better.

    Here we go: the illusion. This is the illusion the SWSF lives in.

    That’s why the critics don’t promote the Steiner movement’s illusions as truth. Critics know they are illusions.”

    Truth vs illusion is a tad strong. If critics had a negative experience of Steiner education then that means anyone who describes the potential positive aspects of Steiner schools (e.g. Alan’s quote above) is living under ‘illusion’? For many, the schools really do inspire, uplift, give a sense of community and transform lives for the better. If that is their subjective experience, who are you to imply it’s illusory?

    I actually sympathise with many of your sentiments in this post, though I wouldn’t have expressed them in such a hyperbolic, polemical way. However, some of your points seem unclear/unfair. One example that stands out:

    “… or read that bullying is tolerated because it is a child’s `karma`!

    Now, it’s plain stupid to try to deny this.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. I’ve heard critics’ claims that this (justification of bullying) really has happened in Waldorf schools, and if so, I find that inexcusable. But it sounds like you’re implying that this is standard practice in Waldorf schools, and it most definitely is not. If it has happened, it’s because of a perversion of anthroposophical ideas. People working with anthroposophy are as fallible and prone to misinterpretation and misuse as those in any walk of life. And I guess because of the nature of anthroposophy, when misused, it can become dangerous. Isn’t that true of any worldview though??

    On that note, I don’t know how you feel about mainstream education because frankly I haven’t time to explore your blog in-depth right now, but if you are hostile to Waldorf education solely because of the belief system that underlies it – note that EVERY teacher (nay, every PERSON) works out of a particular worldview, whether it is a belief system that they’ve consciously constructed, or one that they’ve passively absorbed from the society in which they live. Mainstream education is based on a certain view of what children are and what life is about. Waldorf education is based on a different view of what children are and what life is about. I totally understand why most people would perceive aspects of the anthroposophical worldview as ‘wacky’ but hey, I think most normal belief systems are equally wacky. It’s just that questioning mainstream paradigms is more taboo and more risky than challenging those who appear to be on the fringe.

    By the way, I’m a student on the Plymouth course. I have an open mind and try to take a balanced view in all matters. I’d condemn the more fervent Steiner supporters who dismiss or obfuscate critics’ opinions, or worse, threaten the critics themselves. Having said that, from reading this post and most of its comments, I don’t think the impassioned anti-Waldorf camp are portraying themselves in a much better light.

  52. P.S. I know Alan personally as my tutor, and in response to comments above about him not living in ‘the real world’, I’ve always found him to be very practical, realistic and down-to-earth when it comes to educational matters. And another thing…… To a degree I share your concerns about Steiner schools trying to be too far-removed from the so-called real world; I’ve sensed this occasionally during my experience in various schools, and it can feel a bit unhealthy and extreme. On the other hand, there are aspects of ‘the real world’ – i.e. status quo – that we really should distance ourselves from, so I don’t think Waldorf schools should sacrifice all of their principles just to be more acceptable to mainstream society.

  53. Hello Daisy,

    Not surprisingly perhaps, I find quite a few things to disagree with you on.

    ‘Mainstream education is based on a certain view of what children are and what life is about.’

    But this view isn’t based upon an esoteric belief system. That’s the difference. Also, this view is based on research on pedagogical methods, at best. It’s not about ‘what life is about’. Pedagogy at uni level isn’t usually about finding out ‘what life is about’, you know. Unless you take Steiner courses. Mainstream education is, at its best, based on knowledge, derived from research (not spiritual research), and not on beliefs which cannot be subjected to any kind of objective evaluation (can’t do this with Steiner’s doctrines, I’m afraid). I have to say I wonder what you know about mainstream education, actually. I don’t know much, but this much I do know: mainstream education is not about the ultimate meaning of life. That’s for the children, the teachers and the parents to figure out in their sparetime.

    ‘I don’t think the impassioned anti-Waldorf camp are portraying themselves in a much better light.’

    We don’t work for an organisation like the SWSF — an organisation seeking state funding for their schools. Alan Swindell does. Also, we don’t threaten to sue people who don’t agree. Alan Swindell does.

    ‘I’ve heard critics’ claims that this (justification of bullying) really has happened in Waldorf schools, and if so, I find that inexcusable.’

    Alan Swindell claims that this does not happen. He’s wrong, and I’m pointing it out. I’m not making any estimation on how common this excuse for bullying is — I’m just saying that when Alan Swindell says it does not occur, he’s lying. He knows better.

    ‘If it has happened, it’s because of a perversion of anthroposophical ideas.’

    It’s in line with what Steiner taught. Are you suggesting that Steiner perverted anthroposophical ideas? That’s a novel idea.

    ‘People working with anthroposophy are as fallible and prone to misinterpretation and misuse as those in any walk of life.’

    Exactly. Anthroposophy simply provides them with pretty good excuses for inexcusable behaviour. Other people find their excuses elsewhere (or own up to their errors).

    ‘If critics had a negative experience of Steiner education then that means anyone who describes the potential positive aspects of Steiner schools (e.g. Alan’s quote above) is living under ‘illusion’?’

    I’m convinced that some do. My mum lived under an illusion. Many of those who posted here certainly bought the same illusion.

  54. ‘I know Alan personally as my tutor, and in response to comments above about him not living in ‘the real world’, I’ve always found him to be very practical, realistic and down-to-earth when it comes to educational matters.’

    Well, that’s good, and I can’t, obviously, dispute what he’s like in real life. It doesn’t change what he actually wrote though.

    ‘On the other hand, there are aspects of ‘the real world’ – i.e. status quo – that we really should distance ourselves from, so I don’t think Waldorf schools should sacrifice all of their principles just to be more acceptable to mainstream society.’

    I’m curious: which aspects of ‘the real world’?

    I don’t think waldorf should sacrifice its principles either, if the principles are good. Some of its principles are bad, like delaying reading for children who are ready to read.

    I don’t think children benefit from watching 10 hours of bad TV a day, eating junk food and similar dreads of the modern real world. But lots of people outside waldorf would agree with this — though, if you listen to the waldorf crowd, you easily get the impression that they’re alone in rejecting these ‘bad’ sides of real life. Their problem is taking it to another extreme. And that’s not good either.

  55. Hi Alicia, thanks for your calm and considered response.

    “But this view isn’t based upon an esoteric belief system. That’s the difference. Also, this view is based on research on pedagogical methods, at best. It’s not about ‘what life is about’.”

    Esoteric or not, all forms of education arise out of a belief system, or a certain way of looking at the world, and thus they are not objective. I’m not saying that any school should concern itself with teaching the meaning of life. But I did mean to say that mainstream education, as far as I can tell (I have researched it extensively and experienced it first-hand), and in spite of glossy political rhetoric, is primarily about preparing children for ‘the real world’ of formulaic exams, cog-in-the-machine jobs, and fitting into the present society, the status quo. In that respect I think it DOES indirectly encroach upon the question of ‘what life is about’. This approach of funnelling children into a certain way of thinking and acting is not compatible with enabling them to become free individuals, unless they have an incredibly strong will to think for themselves. My idea of a good education is one that guides children to be free and to reach their potential, in whatever capacity that may be, academic or otherwise. I don’t equate ‘good education’ with ‘Waldorf education’ – but I do think that many principles and methods in Waldorf pedagogy are consistent with my personal ideal of developing free individuals. When I consider the essence of Steiner education, in my mind I actually strip away most of the anthroposophy stuff and its associated dogma; I think at its core, it is a beautifully simple and practical approach to education. Whether it has reached its potential in practice yet, I am less sure of.

    “It’s in line with what Steiner taught. Are you suggesting that Steiner perverted anthroposophical ideas? That’s a novel idea.”

    I think Steiner’s ideas about karma are far more subtle than implied (i.e. “if anything bad happens to a person, don’t help them, because it’s their karma!!!”). But if Steiner really did say anything of the sort, then fine, I’ll file it away with some of the other silly things he’s said. For me, that doesn’t detract from the good ideas he had.

    “I’m curious: which aspects of ‘the real world’?”

    Not only the outer habits & activities you suggested (excessive TV-watching, junk food-eating, etc), but certain more subtle aspects of mainstream society that I consider non-constructive, like ardent materialism, devaluation of life, apathy, and championing conformity, to name a few. Obviously in saying this, I expose my own personal values, which I accept may be different to others’.

    “Their problem is taking it to another extreme. And that’s not good either.”

    I wouldn’t dispute that.

  56. ‘Esoteric or not, all forms of education arise out of a belief system, or a certain way of looking at the world, and thus they are not objective.’

    I always thought that at the pedagogy faculties at universities they researched things; that they researched child development and teaching methods. And that they did the uttermost to make this research objectively, and in a way that the results can be evaluated. The anthroposophical ideas on child development or on how to teach a subject has none of this.

    Sure, there’s no education devoid of ‘human values’ and stuff. One such value being that education is worthwhile in the first place.

    But this is not the same as saying that actual methods practiced in schools should not be based upon the best research rather than inherited beliefs from aguru. This is not the same as saying that we can’t gain scientific knowledge about child development or that it’s just as good to rely on ‘clairvoyant’ insights a hundred years old. Maybe that’s slightly exaggerated on both ends, but my point is that in many areas of life, it sure is a good thing to evolve from believing to knowing. It’s not alright, I think, to work out of a belief — with no evidence to back it up at all — that the child develops in these 7 year cycles, or that there’s an etheric body (et c), or that the child has a reincarnated spirit… These things are beliefs, and, frankly, I don’t see any chance of there being evidence for any of these beliefs any time soon. If there were anything to them, there would be evidence by now. But, no, where things stand, I can’t see why any of these unproven (and rather wild) assumptions should form a basis of education.

    ‘But I did mean to say that mainstream education, as far as I can tell (I have researched it extensively and experienced it first-hand), and in spite of glossy political rhetoric, is primarily about preparing children for ‘the real world’ of formulaic exams, cog-in-the-machine jobs, and fitting into the present society, the status quo.’

    Well, you know, I don’t think that that’s what mainstream education is about or should be about. I mean, preserving status quo or prepare them for cog-in-the-machine jobs. Sure, it should prepare them for the real world, and that means at least to some degree a fit into society. The mainstream school I went to after waldorf was nothing like that — and it was a high-achievement, academically oriented school. Lots more creative people came out of that environment than out of waldorf, too. Thus your picture of mainstream education:

    ‘This approach of funnelling children into a certain way of thinking and acting is not compatible with enabling them to become free individuals, unless they have an incredibly strong will to think for themselves.’

    fits very well on how I experienced waldorf education. This is exactly what the waldorf school was doing, and unless you had a strong will, you could not become free to think for yourself. And those who were strong-willed and had a capacity for thinking for themselves were not appreciated. Yes, to me at least, waldorf was about ‘funnelling children into a certain way of thinking and acting’ which was not compatibel with us becoming free individuals.

    Also, the lack of academic progress in waldorf sets children back — how does that benefit freedom? Not much, in my opinion. You need reading, writing, logic, science, maths, philosophy to develop freedom. In waldorf, you don’t read books, you knit gnomes.

    ‘My idea of a good education is one that guides children to be free and to reach their potential, in whatever capacity that may be, academic or otherwise.’

    I agree, but I don’t see this coming from waldorf.

    I also find the way waldorf uses words like ‘freedom’ and ‘potential’ — and they often do, so this isn’t directed against what you wrote! You may using these words in the ordinary meaning, as I did when I agreed with you above — the use of these words is deceptive. Freedom and potential are anthroposophically speaking not the same as when these words are understood in their ordinary meaning. Most people who hear the words freedom and potential don’t relate this to the freedom or potential of the reincarnating spirit!

    When a waldorf teacher speaks of ‘developing free individuals’ it could mean: this child’s actual life or this ‘spirit’s’ spiritual progress over several incarnations. I have no doubt that waldorf teachers work on the latter. But they aren’t honest about it. Thus, every time I here these words and expressions — is this ordinary language or should I interpret it anthroposophically? And, since waldorf proponents are rarely upfront about it, I would advise people to assume the latter — it’s the anthroposophical meaning we’re talking about. Then, suddenly, the message doesn’t seem so appealing anymore — to people who are not anthroposophists!

    But yes, I agree about the importance of freedom, individual freedom, potential, et c, but not in the anthroposophical sense!

    ‘When I consider the essence of Steiner education, in my mind I actually strip away most of the anthroposophy stuff and its associated dogma …’

    Now, that’s interesting. I would say that if you strip away anthroposophy, it’s not really Steiner education you want. It’s the anthroposophy stuff that’s unique to Steiner ed. I would say it’s the essence of what sets Steiner education apart from other forms of education. What else would it be? All the other nice things they do in waldorf schools (i e, if you happen to like those nice things, I didn’t, but I know some people like crafts, music and such), you can do elsewhere. Anthroposophy, as in the underlying theory, is, I would say, the only thing you really couldn’t apply in a mainstream classroom!

    ‘I think Steiner’s ideas about karma are far more subtle than implied (i.e. “if anything bad happens to a person, don’t help them, because it’s their karma!!!”). But if Steiner really did say anything of the sort, then fine, I’ll file it away with some of the other silly things he’s said.’

    Well, he didn’t put it like that. He said some pretty vile things about the workings of karma though, placing blame of natural disaster on the victims, for example. And he said some silly things, too. He said karma should not be a reason not to help. But he also said an individual needs to work through — suffer through — these karmic occurances, for his or her future karmic benefit. It’s contradictory, but he often was, of course. My chief concern is that this provides waldorf teachers with a justification for remaining passive. They ‘know’ it’s the working out of karma. It’s in the back of their head. And they’re human, so they take the easy way out, which is usually to not interfere. Some waldorf teachers use the justificiation more or less openly, others leave the kids to work things out for themselves and pretend they didn’t know. There are all sorts.

    ‘For me, that doesn’t detract from the good ideas he had.’

    Good, that’s what I’d do too. But how will parents know which of Steiner’s bad ideas you’ve weeded out and which ones you’ve kept? Waldorf education becomes unpredictable — at least for the parent choosing an education. You don’t know which ideas you buy, you don’t know which parts of the doctrines will be applied in that particular classroom.

    ‘…certain more subtle aspects of mainstream society that I consider non-constructive, like ardent materialism, devaluation of life, apathy, and championing conformity, to name a few.’

    Well, that’s interesting. I’m an ardent materialist when it comes to science and such stuff. But I like literature and art and lots of things. I believe there are times when one should be an ardent materialism — and other times when ardent materialism (or plain materialism!) is irrelevant. Also, I don’t see mainstream society as promoting devaluation of life or apathy. Apathy sounds rather boring. No, but seriously, in mainstream society, you choose which things to parttake in. There’s not time for everything anyway! There’s no need to go for the parts that include apathy when there’s poetry. Or… well… something. (I’m feeling a bit sleepy.) As for conformity, I’ve always had a beef with conformity. That’s why waldorf school was such a bad fit. Never again in my life have I felt so restricted as I did then. Conformity was paramount. Well, that’s a personal anecdote. Point is: kids for whom the waldorf school shoe doesn’t fit, they ache. You’ll experience ‘freedom’ there if that’s the right shoe for you. If it’s not, you’ll feel that you are ‘wrong’, that you have all these demands hanging over you (which often you don’t even understand properly; you just know you don’t meet their demands) and that you need to conform — all the time. Conformity is not such a bad thing if you like whatever it is you’re supposed to conform to. If you don’t, you’re in trouble. This goes for waldorf, and I’m sure for other educationl, social, et c, settings too.

    (My writing above may suffer from signs of my present tiredness! I hope I didn’t completely wreck the English language…!)

  57. “I always thought that at the pedagogy faculties at universities they researched things; that they researched child development and teaching methods.”

    Indeed, but the way academics and scientists conduct their research is coloured by their worldview. I don’t think we can rely on their ‘objectivity’ as much as we’d like to.

    “It’s not alright, I think, to work out of a belief — with no evidence to back it up at all — that the child develops in these 7 year cycles, or that there’s an etheric body (et c), or that the child has a reincarnated spirit… If there were anything to them, there would be evidence by now. But, no, where things stand, I can’t see why any of these unproven (and rather wild) assumptions should form a basis of education.”

    I agree that there’s no objective evidence for such beliefs, and I understand why you consider them inappropriate for pedagogy. At the same time, I think it’s OK if a teacher makes those ideas their own (rather than passively assimilating Steiner’s ideas without question and acting them out like a robot, which some Waldorf practitioners have perhaps done, but I’ve never met any like that), and has the flexibility to adapt the ideas to modern educational practice – and will apply them only if they fit with the teacher’s own observation and experience. This is how I would teach, based on a loose interpretation of what Steiner said about 7-year cycles and how this relates to the capacities of thinking, feeling and willing. Some anthroposophists would probably object to my ‘loose interpretation’ but there you go, you can’t please everybody.

    “This is exactly what the waldorf school was doing, and unless you had a strong will, you could not become free to think for yourself. And those who were strong-willed and had a capacity for thinking for themselves were not appreciated. Yes, to me at least, waldorf was about ‘funnelling children into a certain way of thinking and acting’ which was not compatibel with us becoming free individuals.”

    Ah, so you went to a Waldorf school and had a bad experience. I can sympathise – if that had been me, I’d probably be applying my critical thinking skills to Steiner education in exactly the same way you are. I can see how and why Waldorf schools might themselves devolve into just another conformity machine. But I don’t think they HAVE to be that way, just like mainstream schools don’t HAVE to be that way, it’s all down to the individuals involved in running the school.

    “Also, the lack of academic progress in waldorf sets children back — how does that benefit freedom? Not much, in my opinion. You need reading, writing, logic, science, maths, philosophy to develop freedom. In waldorf, you don’t read books, you knit gnomes.”
    I feel that conventional education is overly concerned with what you called academic progress, and that in trying to redress the balance, Waldorf education can take things too far in the other direction. I’m sure there are teachers who don’t do enough to stimulate their class intellectually, or who have low academic standards which are harmful to children’s literacy later in life etc. On the other hand, those disciplines you listed are all very thinking-oriented, and I think Waldorf is right to ascribe equal importance to the capacities of feeling and will. That said, in giving equal weight to each, I don’t think Steiner schools have to sacrifice academic rigour in favour of just ‘knitting gnomes’ – and if that is happening, again I think it’s based on a misinterpretation of Steiner’s recommendations.

    “Freedom and potential are anthroposophically speaking not the same as when these words are understood in their ordinary meaning. Most people who hear the words freedom and potential don’t relate this to the freedom or potential of the reincarnating spirit!”

    Hmm. I happen to believe in reincarnation based on my intuition, experience and research, but whether such ideas should inform pedagogical practice overtly, I’m still unsure – because if these ideas are misused they are dangerous. If I were a teacher I have no idea how I’d work with children’s “spiritual progress over several incarnations” – that seems a little presumptuous. If Waldorf teachers claim to be doing this then I’d like to know how. So yes, when I talk about freedom and potential, I do mean them in the conventional way.

    “Now, that’s interesting. I would say that if you strip away anthroposophy, it’s not really Steiner education you want. It’s the anthroposophy stuff that’s unique to Steiner ed.”

    I wrote an essay about whether Steiner education can be separated from anthroposophy and I’ve flitted back and forth between different conclusions. I think the ultimate answer is probably no, but then the question is, what is anthroposophy? I don’t even like that word. Is the stuff about gnomes, etheric bodies, karma etc important in education? I think not. Essentially I find Steiner’s core ideas about child development useful when put into the context of my own experience, observation, and the modern world, and I would take only the aspects that have a practical application. From that standpoint, I would base all my educational decisions on my observation and intuitions about my children’s needs, with their freedom and potential (conventional definitions) at the forefront of my mind. As to the essence of education, I love this quote by Steiner:

    “The question is not: what knowledge or skills does a person need to have in order to benefit the existing social order. But: what predisposition does this person have, and what is capable of development? Then it will be possible to channel new energies from the rising generation into the social order. Then the rising generation will not be fitted into the mould of the existing society, rather society will be what these newly recruited adults make of it.”

    I have thought about taking the best of what I’ve learnt from Waldorf and setting up a new type of school, but then I realised it would be a Steiner school in almost everything but the name, so I’m still not sure what to do about that!

    Anyway, I digress.

    “…this provides waldorf teachers with a justification for remaining passive. They ‘know’ it’s the working out of karma. It’s in the back of their head.”

    But they don’t HAVE to remain passive. It’s up to each individual how they put ideas into practice. Teachers in my (mainstream) schools tried to find justifications and rationalisations for tolerating bullying, too. If I were a teacher in that situation, I’d probably have the possibility of karma faintly in the back of my mind, but that wouldn’t prevent me from stepping in and doing whatever I can to help in the situation – and from what I’ve observed, most Waldorf teachers do exactly that.

    “But how will parents know which of Steiner’s bad ideas you’ve weeded out and which ones you’ve kept? Waldorf education becomes unpredictable — at least for the parent choosing an education.”

    I’d be happy to discuss my personal approach with parents. All education is unpredictable, unless it’s the National Curriculum delivered by a robot, which is hardly ideal either.

    “I’m an ardent materialist when it comes to science and such stuff.”

    Fair enough, that will colour your perception of anthroposophy then. Personally I think materialism is more of a philosophy than a science, though of course philosophy impinges upon science so it’s a difficult distinction to make.

    “I don’t see mainstream society as promoting devaluation of life or apathy.”

    Well, I do. Mass culture engenders insensitivity to life – the media, violence on TV and in video games, political propaganda…. everywhere I see degradation of human life, attempts to define clear parameters for what is possible, how people should think, and so on. Apathy IS boring but I think it’s rampant and encouraged because it makes things safe for the people in power who want to maintain status quo.

    “You’ll experience ‘freedom’ there if that’s the right shoe for you. If it’s not, you’ll feel that you are ‘wrong’, that you have all these demands hanging over you (which often you don’t even understand properly; you just know you don’t meet their demands) and that you need to conform — all the time. Conformity is not such a bad thing if you like whatever it is you’re supposed to conform to. If you don’t, you’re in trouble. This goes for waldorf, and I’m sure for other educationl, social, et c, settings too.”

    That was well articulated. Having visited Waldorf schools and experienced anthroposophists (some of whom have seemed closed-minded and judgemental I’m sorry to say, but then there are people of all disciplines who have those traits), I can understand how you could end up feeling that way. Like you said, in ANY social setting it is likely that those who don’t fit the mould will be ostracised to some degree. But, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. It comes down to the individuals involved. I guess organised schooling kind of requires children to ‘conform’ in some way, at least to show appropriate social behaviour so that learning can take place, but I would deplore any Waldorf school who tried to make children all the same based on some narrow anthroposophical definition of what a ‘healthy’ human being should be. That’s when anthroposophy oversteps the mark and becomes creepy – when it’s overly judgemental, dogmatic and rigid.

  58. Daisy — I need to run, but I’ll get back to your comment later!

  59. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ‘Well, I do. Mass culture engenders insensitivity to life – the media, violence on TV and in video games, political propaganda…. everywhere I see degradation of human life, attempts to define clear parameters for what is possible, how people should think, and so on. Apathy IS boring but I think it’s rampant and encouraged because it makes things safe for the people in power who want to maintain status quo.’

    Oh Daisy. Today of all days.
    http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/why-were-marching/

    What kind of duck have you bought?

  60. Jan Luiten · ·

    “It comes down to the individuals involved”.
    Very much true.
    The thing is, there should be more individualisation within the anthroposophical subculture.
    and less “standardization”.
    See also my comment here:
    https://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/nauseus/#comment-8155

  61. Anonymous · ·

    Jan – there’s no place at all for anthroposophy in schools in any formal sense. None. End of story.

  62. Jan Luiten · ·

    @Anonymous
    “Jan – there’s no place at all for anthroposophy in schools in any formal sense. None. End of story.”

    I have noticed before that not all critics of the Waldorf Schools are democrats.
    Here we have a real -anonymous of course- dictator!

  63. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Jan – erm, no. It’s just common sense. No place for Scientologists either. Get a grip.

  64. ‘But, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. It comes down to the individuals involved.’

    There is a flaw in your constant, and perhaps mournful, crowing that ‘it does not have to be that way’ – you presume that the ‘teachers’ acting in an unsavory manner are doing so out of some misinterpretation of Anthroposophy. Then, I suppose you would also presume that a teacher, at say, a grammar school, teaches in a conservative and restrictive manner, because s/he has misinterpreted the ‘philosophy’ that underpins such a school. This is obviously not the case. As it is not the case for a teacher at a Steiner ‘school’.

    As for your assertions that normal education creates ‘automatons’, well – it’s plainly absurd and nastily insulting. I’m not a particular fan of my school, but I don’t think one can say it creates automatons – and if it does they are far and few between. There are no automatons – every man, woman and child has a myriad of defining features.

    What Steiner schools seem to do is fail children. They fail to teach them to read. They fail to teach them arithmetic. They fail to artistically inspire them, (wishy, washy watercolors – mass produced and carefully monitored – individual? ha). They fail to teach them to argue. They fail to teach them to write. They create children, equipped like 19th century laborers with skills in gardening, who are given to their colleges and sixth forms to be repaired.

    I’m glad, everyday, that my parents removed me from my Steiner school and placed me in (an equally ridiculous, but rather efficient) private school. I know ex classmates who cannot read. I know one who was deemed ‘disruptive’ and was transferred away from lessons to a field to work. I saw scores coming for after school lessons to be taught, by my ex art teacher, how to draw and take their art GCSE. Many others sat their exams (which surpassed the three they were allowed to take) in my school’s hall.

    This failing is systematic – the unusual students (usually those able to pay for tutoring) are able to flourish, the others cannot. What use is spiritual wellbeing when one has no money?

  65. Hello Daisy,

    I think you’ll find even the most ardent of Steiner critics appreciate a reasoned and thoughtful discussion. So thank you for joining us!

    As a student on the Plymouth course, you probably know more about Steiner education and Anthroposophy than I do. I’ve just been reading about this stuff in my spare time over the past 6 months. Others here are much more knowledgeable than I.

    I’ll address just a couple of your points that are most relevant to my experience as a prospective Steiner parent who decided against it and to my professional background in science.

    “Indeed, but the way academics and scientists conduct their research is coloured by their worldview.”

    Yes that happens, scientists are only human. However, as a collective endeavour, science tends to throw out the stuff that’s proven wrong through an iterative process of hypothesizing and testing. The physicist Richard Feynman is worth reading on this: http://bit.ly/CHGmZ

    Education is much harder than physics because ‘experiments’ to test an educational theory aren’t repeatable in the same way. You only get one chance to educate a child and every child is different. You can observe and generalize, but there is no one right way to do it.

    “I would base all my educational decisions on my observation and intuitions about my children’s needs, with their freedom and potential (conventional definitions) at the forefront of my mind”

    I’m glad to hear that and hope your future students and their parents hold you to it! When education goes wrong I think (I don’t know, I just hypothesize that) the reason is often due to parents and teachers taking their own beliefs and values more seriously than the needs of the child. There seems to be an awful lot of that going on in Steiner/Waldorf schools, unfortunately.

  66. ThetisMercurio-

    “Oh Daisy. Today of all days.
    http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/why-were-marching/

    What kind of duck have you bought?”

    Are you trying to pigeonhole my political beliefs when you don’t even know what they are, besides making assumptions based on my few comments on here? I have nothing to do with that link you provided, nor does it appeal to me. In what way is this supposed to refute my comments?

    “It’s just common sense.”

    Appealing to common sense is weak IMO. Common sense tells us that the world is flat, that we should believe the media, that we should dismiss paranormal experiences, that the sun revolves around the earth, that fat makes you fat, that we should keep our heads down and follow the herd, etc. But what do I know – I’m an alternative kook! (and proud, haha.)

    Crumbs-

    “There is a flaw in your constant, and perhaps mournful, crowing that ‘it does not have to be that way’ – you presume that the ‘teachers’ acting in an unsavory manner are doing so out of some misinterpretation of Anthroposophy.”

    So what you’re saying is that there is no misinterpreting a complex and multifaceted philosophy like anthroposophy, because it is all inherently bad. That is your opinion. I believe otherwise, but OK.

    “I suppose you would also presume that a teacher, at say, a grammar school, teaches in a conservative and restrictive manner, because s/he has misinterpreted the ‘philosophy’ that underpins such a school. This is obviously not the case. As it is not the case for a teacher at a Steiner ‘school’.”

    No, I wouldn’t, because I don’t particularly support that kind of school system. Thus your analogy doesn’t hold up. I wasn’t making a blanket statement that all human failings, in school or otherwise, are due to misinterpretation of philosophy.

    “What Steiner schools seem to do is fail children. They fail to teach them to read. They fail to teach them arithmetic. They fail to artistically inspire them, (wishy, washy watercolors – mass produced and carefully monitored – individual? ha). They fail to teach them to argue. They fail to teach them to write.”

    You were offended at my apparent insinuation that mainstream schools create automatons. What are you then implying about Waldorf alumni?! That they’re all illiterate, artistically and mathematically challenged, and unable to debate? Sweeping statement much? I didn’t brand all products of mainstream education automatons (-I’M- a product of mainstream education). But the standardisation of the curriculum and centralised control of state schools, in my country at least, creeps me out, and in contrast the freedom teachers have in Waldorf schools seems like a breath of fresh air. Whether one feels that teachers should have the freedom to teach out of a worldview like anthroposophy is a matter of opinion. Obviously, you guys on here – apart from maybe Jan – think not. I have reservations about anthroposophy myself, some of which I’ve expressed in previous comments.

    “I know ex classmates who cannot read. I know one who was deemed ‘disruptive’ and was transferred away from lessons to a field to work. I saw scores coming for after school lessons to be taught, by my ex art teacher, how to draw and take their art GCSE. Many others sat their exams (which surpassed the three they were allowed to take) in my school’s hall.”

    You’ve highlighted some serious and valid problems here. This kind of thing needs to be discussed. However, I don’t think this sort of failure is ‘systematic’ in Waldorf schools as you said.

  67. Hi Mark-

    “You only get one chance to educate a child and every child is different. You can observe and generalize, but there is no one right way to do it.”

    Exactly. That’s why teachers need to be allowed more freedom in the classroom and be liberated from rigid curriculum constraints.

    “When education goes wrong I think (I don’t know, I just hypothesize that) the reason is often due to parents and teachers taking their own beliefs and values more seriously than the needs of the child. There seems to be an awful lot of that going on in Steiner/Waldorf schools, unfortunately.”

    Perhaps. I guess that’s because the value system is so strong in Steiner schools. If unquestioned, it can cloud people’s judgement and lead to homogeneity of thinking, which is never a good thing.

  68. ‘because I don’t particularly support that kind of school system’

    Here you have said that because you agree with Steiner’s philosophy, you feel it can be misinterpreted, but because you disagree with the philosophy of a grammar school you feel that the, horrid, interpretation is correct.

    ‘Sweeping statement much?’

    My comment was proceeded by ‘seem to do’, inferring that it rested upon knowledge gained ‘a priori’ or from experience; in no way did I claim that this was always the case – not all swans are white.

    Please define what you see as the freedom given in Waldorf schools.

    ‘-I’M- a product of mainstream education’

    Do you think that because you have left mainstream education and became enamoured with the teachings of a cult, you are somehow an enigma? Do you feel that, by following a rather common social path, that of ‘going outside the ‘box”, you are doing something different? You are the same as every gap year student who goes to ‘IndiAH’ to look at the poor and discover some fraudulent mystic.

    I don’t think education should just be left up to opinion. In some teacher’s opinions they’d better serve their students by administering corporal punishment.

  69. Jan Luiten · ·

    @Thetis
    “Jan – erm, no. It’s just common sense. No place for Scientologists either. Get a grip”

    Of course. Are the concentration camps ready?
    The Anti-Waldorf-Taliban is taking over.

    I was forgotten you are possing the only truth, we all have to follow.
    You still not have the faintest idea what democracy is, and what human rights are.

  70. Alicia and Daisy, I find your dialogue really worthwhile.
    You two have seemingly met eachother at a controlled and objective level and, even after only a few exchanges, seem to be getting eachother(and everyone reading…well at least me!) thinking about what you in turn have to say.

    You both evidently have a leaning either for, or against, Steiner schools but neither seem to let this get too much in the way of saying what’s what and that, I think, is superbly valuable and where it’s at. RE-STEC-P!
    Pip

  71. ‘Of course. Are the concentration camps ready?’

    Is that ever a viable response? Why would you ever joke about concentration camps. Are you really so ignorant that you think people who disagree with you are in any way equatable to the Nazis? You disgust me, you really, really disgust me. Go learn about Auschwitz and make that joke again – I dare you.

    Get your head checked out.

  72. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Jan – when you start talking about concentration camps in this way you fall below decent conversation. Your comment is shameful. You’re not generally as silly as this, go for a walk or something, or read a book (something not by Steiner). We could have a chat about democracy, possibly its origins, history etc in fact I’m about to bring in the concept of democracy in education, so put a cold flannel on your forehead and stop dribbling.

    Crumbs – ha! IndiAH. Well said! It’s the Steiner spiritual adventure with someone else’s children.

    The really great thing that’s happening in schools is the promotion of student voice and democracy, in community settings, not just for a few children. Here is the Children’s Commissioner speaking at the recent National Education Trust 5th Annual Lecture:

    ‘Article 29 says that education should be in the round, respecting and developing the pupil’s personality, needs and talents, teaching them respect for adults, the cultures around them, and the society in which they live because they are not citizens in waiting, they are citizens now. Education then, that is about being human in every dimension, alongside readying pupils to pass vital exams and reach important standards.’

    ‘I want a system where children and young people are taken seriously in the running of their schools. This does not mean putting pupils in charge, or having teachers either subjugate their rights or abdicate their responsibilities. It means all adults being asked to role-model active citizenship, enabling children’s and young people’s voices to be heard. This includes engaging them in self-evaluation, influential school councils, decision making on new facilities or on who gets the contract for school meals. Given they will learn in the new spaces and be the main consumers of the meals, surely asking them makes sense. In schools that take their active roles seriously, pupils come to the table responsibly, representing their peers to adults they respect and whom they recognise have a keen interest in their wellbeing.’

    http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_479

    Here’s one of the groups involved: http://involver.org.uk/

    The real adventure is happening in the schools advocates of Steiner are eager to label as inferior. It is early days but positive and hopeful.

    Yes, Daisy, you’re an alternative kook. Only a kook could knit themselves into such a muddle. What does the march against cuts have to do with what you wrote, and with you? Do you commute to Plymouth from the moon? Ordinary people (who watch telly and read the newspapers) are not apathetic or passive, they will fight for their families: their jobs, hospitals, schools, libraries.. Your comments are daft and self-indulgent. You’ve been caught by the toe, and are making the usual noises of the Steinerista spiritual bourgeoisie. By all means carry on, but it might be better not to give us any more material ;)

  73. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Pip – read this post of Alicia’s: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/nauseus/

  74. Crumbs-

    “Here you have said that because you agree with Steiner’s philosophy, you feel it can be misinterpreted, but because you disagree with the philosophy of a grammar school you feel that the, horrid, interpretation is correct.”

    I haven’t said I agree wholeheartedly with Steiner’s philosophy. I think there are pearls of wisdom in it. And I’m not sure what part of a grammar school’s ‘philosophy’ you could misinterpret? Still, I’m struggling with the analogy.

    “Please define what you see as the freedom given in Waldorf schools.”

    Well, Waldorf teachers in theory are able to meet the needs of individual children as they develop, because they aren’t required to teach ‘X’ by this age, and ‘Y’ by that age, in order to tick such-and-such box as dictated by the government. The National Curriculum puts teachers in a straitjacket as far as I can tell. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility – teachers shouldn’t abuse the lack of prescriptive curriculum by just plodding along aimlessly or teaching whatever *they* feel like without taking the children’s needs into account.

    “I don’t think education should just be left up to opinion.”

    But this is probably what it comes down to, because as MarkH said, it’s difficult to scientifically prove or disprove pedagogical theories, and what works for some won’t work for others. How do you suggest we can we keep opinion out of it? By denying teachers freedom and letting the almighty government decide what’s best for children?

    ThetisMercurio-

    The democracy in schools thing sounds interesting. And I misunderstood your comment with the link, it wasn’t exactly clear what you meant. I don’t commute to Plymouth I live here. As for this:

    “Your comments are daft and self-indulgent”/”IndiAH” jibes

    You’ve only addressed one minor aspect of my comments and ignored the rest. The above is ad-hominem which isn’t a great way to continue the debate.

  75. What a great dissection of a mares nest of an article by Swindell.

    He doesn’t say these criticisms about the schools and Steiner are untrue, he doesn’t defend or enter dialogue, they don’t “engage’. Oh, ok then. The perfect opportunity to defend the anthroposophical pedagogy they promote, and they say nothing, and then direct people to “appropriate sites” – appropriate, what they want people to see, written by people like Sune Nordwall! Did you ever? About as pointless as arguing against gravity.

    @Daisy oh Daisy…look what you’ve written, you’re young, an anthro arriviste, a twinkling star in Alan Swindell’s anthroposophical firmament…. but still, look

    “If it has happened, it’s because of a perversion of anthroposophical ideas. People working with anthroposophy are as fallible and prone to misinterpretation and misuse as those in any walk of life. And I guess because of the nature of anthroposophy, when misused, it can become dangerous.”

    Yup.

    “Waldorf education is based on a different view of what children are and what life is about. I totally understand why most people would perceive aspects of the anthroposophical worldview as ‘wacky’ ”

    Yup

    “To a degree I share your concerns about Steiner schools trying to be too far-removed from the so-called real world; I’ve sensed this occasionally during my experience in various schools, and it can feel a bit unhealthy and extreme”

    Yup

    “When I consider the essence of Steiner education, in my mind I actually strip away most of the anthroposophy stuff and its associated dogma”

    Really? So why….? oh, don’t bother.

    ” I agree that there’s no objective evidence for such beliefs, and I understand why you consider them inappropriate for pedagogy. At the same time, I think it’s OK if a teacher makes those ideas their own”

    Makes ideas like karma, reincarnation, classifying children with things like the size of their head “their own”? whooa!

    “Some anthroposophists would probably object to my ‘loose interpretation’ but there you go, you can’t please everybody.”

    and anthroposophists and anthroposphy are what run the schools aren’t they? could get quite awkward in an anthroposophical Steiner school

    “Waldorf education can take things too far in the other direction. I’m sure there are teachers who don’t do enough to stimulate their class intellectually, or who have low academic standards which are harmful to children’s literacy later in life etc.”

    Yup

    “I happen to believe in reincarnation based on my intuition, experience and research, but whether such ideas should inform pedagogical practice overtly, I’m still unsure – because if these ideas are misused they are dangerous. If I were a teacher I have no idea how I’d work with children’s “spiritual progress over several incarnations” – that seems a little presumptuous. If Waldorf teachers claim to be doing this then I’d like to know how. ‘

    Me too, particularly if my kids are in their care

    “I wrote an essay about whether Steiner education can be separated from anthroposophy and I’ve flitted back and forth between different conclusions. I think the ultimate answer is probably no, but then the question is, what is anthroposophy? I don’t even like that word. Is the stuff about gnomes, etheric bodies, karma etc important in education? I think not. ”

    Why not ask Alan Swindell for your next assignment? What is anthroposophy and why is it important in education? I’m sure plenty of parents will be waiting with bated breath…

    ” If I were a teacher in that situation, I’d probably have the possibility of karma faintly in the back of my mind,”

    Running for the hills

    ” Having visited Waldorf schools and experienced anthroposophists (some of whom have seemed closed-minded and judgemental ”

    Yup

    “I would deplore any Waldorf school who tried to make children all the same based on some narrow anthroposophical definition of what a ‘healthy’ human being should be. That’s when anthroposophy oversteps the mark and becomes creepy – when it’s overly judgemental, dogmatic and rigid.”

    What, like dividing them into temperaments? Using eurythmy? All painting the same picture, in the same colours in a classroom painted in peach blossom as indicated by Steiner? Creepy indeed.

    “It comes down to the individuals involved”.

    I think it comes down to the individuals interpretation of anthroposophy, which is altogether unpredictable and dangerous.

    Daisy, one question, what is the point of anthroposophy in Steiner schools?

  76. Daisy: ‘Indeed, but the way academics and scientists conduct their research is coloured by their worldview. I don’t think we can rely on their ‘objectivity’ as much as we’d like to.’

    We can’t always rely on the individual’s objectivity. But the scientific method as such is still a more reliable to find out how reality works than making things up based upon what you believe. And the fine thing about academic research is that any other researcher can replicate the research. Any other researcher can criticize, find flaws, come up with better hypotheses and put them to the test. I’d say it’s still the best way to gain knowledge about this world.

    ‘At the same time, I think it’s OK if a teacher makes those ideas their own (rather than passively assimilating Steiner’s ideas without question and acting them out like a robot, which some Waldorf practitioners have perhaps done, but I’ve never met any like that), and has the flexibility to adapt the ideas to modern educational practice – and will apply them only if they fit with the teacher’s own observation and experience.’

    Nobody can stop a teacher from believing these things in private. But they should not be applied to the situation in the classroom or actual students. There’s a huge risk of making grave errors using ideas like these — and it’s not right to the children.

    ‘This is how I would teach, based on a loose interpretation of what Steiner said about 7-year cycles and how this relates to the capacities of thinking, feeling and willing. Some anthroposophists would probably object to my ‘loose interpretation’ but there you go, you can’t please everybody.’

    Yep, you’re right, I would. As long as there’s not a reasonable argument that Steiner was right about the 7-year cycles and the relationship of these cycles to the development of these 3 capacities. I can’t say anything if you find personal inspirition in what he said, that’s alright. But dealing with real children on the basis of this theory — nope, not ok. Children under the age of 7 use their intellectual capacities a lot more than Steiner teachers acknowledge, and to make the children fit the dogma, instead of the other way around, Steiner teachers believe it’s wrong if children under 7 have intellectual interests. That’s an example, but it’s intented to show the risks in this way of seeing children. The teacher ends up suppressing the natural needs and abilities of children — who end up unhappy as a result.

    ‘I can see how and why Waldorf schools might themselves devolve into just another conformity machine. But I don’t think they HAVE to be that way…’

    I’m not suggesting they have to be that way. I’m just saying that to a frightening degree it seems they are.

    ‘…just like mainstream schools don’t HAVE to be that way, it’s all down to the individuals involved in running the school.’

    To some extent I put it down to anthroposophy. Really. If there are important errors in the method, how can the application of it go well? Granted, there are better waldorf teachers and worse.

    Mainstream schools don’t have as a foundation a body of esoteric beliefs. You don’t have that factor there. This doesn’t mean there aren’t bad teachers in mainstream schools. It’s just that you avoid one source of error.

    ‘On the other hand, those disciplines you listed are all very thinking-oriented, and I think Waldorf is right to ascribe equal importance to the capacities of feeling and will. That said, in giving equal weight to each, I don’t think Steiner schools have to sacrifice academic rigour in favour of just ‘knitting gnomes’ – and if that is happening, again I think it’s based on a misinterpretation of Steiner’s recommendations.’

    It’s not a misinterpretation. He recommended, quite explicitly, that the intellectual is left ’til children are quite old. Small children, he taught, imitate. They don’t do intellectual stuff. And they should not do intellectual stuff — it’s harmful.

    But in reality, there are small children, even under 7, who — in contrast to what Steiner taught — are intellectually inclined and who need to be encouraged in this. These children will be unhappy being forced to knit gnomes and paint wet-on-wet and play the flute. I don’t tell you this because I want to be mean — I’m saying it because when you go out and work in a Steiner school, you will encounter such children. My advice is: tell the parents of these children they will be happier elsewhere, in an academically oriented school. Truly — you need to be able to spot these children and give appropriate advice to their parents. Waldorf isn’t for everyone.

    Some kids are thinking-oriented very early on. It makes no sense forcing them into a kind of education which favours entirely different things at that age. There’s nothing right about harping on about feeling and willing when these kids are being unhappy and feel like their personalities are beind suffocated. Because in waldorf they are suffocated.

    ‘If I were a teacher I have no idea how I’d work with children’s “spiritual progress over several incarnations” – that seems a little presumptuous.’

    I agree. It’s very presumptuous, in fact.

    ‘I think the ultimate answer is probably no, but then the question is, what is anthroposophy? I don’t even like that word. Is the stuff about gnomes, etheric bodies, karma etc important in education? I think not. Essentially I find Steiner’s core ideas about child development useful when put into the context of my own experience, observation, and the modern world, and I would take only the aspects that have a practical application.’

    That’s sensible, though I can’t say I’m convinced it’s worthwhile. I don’t see any huge problem with teachers who read Steiner’s ideas for inspiration.

    But you talked about the 7-year-cycles, and of course that scheme is tied to the various ‘bodies’. This development is tied to the child’s incarnation process.

    ‘From that standpoint, I would base all my educational decisions on my observation and intuitions about my children’s needs, with their freedom and potential (conventional definitions) at the forefront of my mind.’

    Good. I’d be happier to know that teacher based their educational decisions on current research, though. Doesn’t mean that intution and observation must lead wrong — some people have good intuitions and an acute sense of observation. Then again, some people don’t, and that’s where problems are more likely to arise.

    As for the Steiner quote, I suspect you’d find lots of teachers in mainstream schools who subscribed to similar ideals.

    ‘But they don’t HAVE to remain passive. It’s up to each individual how they put ideas into practice. Teachers in my (mainstream) schools tried to find justifications and rationalisations for tolerating bullying, too. If I were a teacher in that situation, I’d probably have the possibility of karma faintly in the back of my mind, but that wouldn’t prevent me from stepping in and doing whatever I can to help in the situation – and from what I’ve observed, most Waldorf teachers do exactly that.’

    Exactly, you don’t have to remain passive. But if you wish to, you have a handy excuse. If you’re lazy, stressed, tired…

    I spent 9 years in a waldorf school — in school, in kindergarten, in after school care (don’t know what it’s called in English), had a waldorf teacher ‘nanny’ for a while too — and I can’t remember ever seeing a waldorf teacher interfere with violence or bullying. Others have told me similar things.

    ‘I’d be happy to discuss my personal approach with parents.’

    That’s very good too. Let’s hope the parents know which questions to ask before it’s too late.

    ‘Fair enough, that will colour your perception of anthroposophy then. Personally I think materialism is more of a philosophy than a science, though of course philosophy impinges upon science so it’s a difficult distinction to make.’

    Sure, I’m claiming materialism is a science. I’m saying materialism characterizes my approach to science and scientific findings. And stuff like that. That is indeed a kind of philosophical stance. As I also said, I find materialism wholly irrelevant in experiencing literature or art (I think I said that, I was so tired, and I don’t remember exactly now). I don’t need such an approach then! And since I don’t consider anthroposophy to be a science, I don’t need to measure it against any materialistic standards — ie, not when it comes to my personal enjoyment of it. If someone tries to pass it off as science, well, that’s a different thing! Then I’ll say, no, it’s not scientific. I don’t think a painting by van Gogh is science either. I’m a lawyer (well, that’s my education). That’s another wacky discipline. It doesn’t have the same standards as the sciences. It can’t have, it would be daft. As for being a die-hard materialist in law, hell, I don’t know!

    ‘Mass culture engenders insensitivity to life – the media, violence on TV and in video games, political propaganda…. everywhere I see degradation of human life, attempts to define clear parameters for what is possible, how people should think, and so on. Apathy IS boring but I think it’s rampant and encouraged because it makes things safe for the people in power who want to maintain status quo.’

    You’re saying, basically, that modern life is like a car-crash — it’s not nice, but you can’t help watching if it’s in front of you, so you’d rather not have it in front of you? I’ve seen these TVs that have an OFF-button ;-) I don’t see violence as negatively as you seem to do — I think it can be both artful and provide a meaningful aspect to the description of this whole human thing. Much like Steiner went on about evil forces and all that. It depends on the context.

    I suppose I’m not really someone who takes part in modern mass-culture. I’m not interested in things that bore me, and I don’t have time to watch mindnumbingly stupid stuff on TV. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily see this stuff as degradation of human life — I think entertainment is entertainment. Much of it is not worth my time (the entertainment value is, frankly, often too low for me), but that’s pretty much it. I’m amazed that people don’t rather discuss Rudolf Steiner than watch the latest docu-soap (or what’s in in the world of television these days… singing contests? you see, I don’t have a clue!). Thank Dog, for the internet — it’s a goldmine for people with odd tastes!

    ‘Like you said, in ANY social setting it is likely that those who don’t fit the mould will be ostracised to some degree. But, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. It comes down to the individuals involved. I guess organised schooling kind of requires children to ‘conform’ in some way, at least to show appropriate social behaviour so that learning can take place, but I would deplore any Waldorf school who tried to make children all the same based on some narrow anthroposophical definition of what a ‘healthy’ human being should be. That’s when anthroposophy oversteps the mark and becomes creepy – when it’s overly judgemental, dogmatic and rigid.’

    You’re absolutely right. But I can’t help asking myself why waldorf so often oversteps and becomes judgmental, dogmatic and rigid. Maybe it’s something about the template used to create the shoe. (No, sorry, I’ve lost myself in the metaphors now.)

    Sure, there’s always a certain amount of conformity, since education takes place in a social setting. What one needs to get rid of, though, are all the unncessary and plain harmful demands at conformity. Whether they are conscious or ‘subconscious’.

    (Ok, managed to read and reply to one comment; I don’t feel very efficient right now. Must go feed mr Dog. Will be back!)

  77. . . . and then direct people to “appropriate sites” – appropriate, what they want people to see, written by people like Sune Nordwall!

    Sorry, Cathy I need to correct you here.

    There is no people LIKE Sune Nordwall. He’s one of a kind and there ain’t nobody like him at all. Thus I change your sentence to:

    . . . and then direct people to “appropriate sites” – appropriate, what they want people to see, written by Sune Nordwall!

  78. Jan: ‘I have noticed before that not all critics of the Waldorf Schools are democrats.
    Here we have a real -anonymous of course- dictator!’

    That the comment was posted without a name (an alias in this case) was probably just a mistake.

    That said, I think you’re mistaken about this, Jan. If it was about democracy, waldorf wouldn’t even be in the game anymore. There are lots more christian fundies than there are anthroposophists. Hell, we’d risk having quacks runn state hospitals based on pseudoscientific beliefs — instead of proper doctors doing the best they can based on the results from scientific research.

    It may be easier for you to see this re education if we choose another example. Do you think it would be ok for christian fundies to run schools — and deprive the children of knowledge but stuff them full of the bible literally understood? A school which taught that unbelief is sin, that homosexuals go to hell, that earthquakes are the punishment of god, that disobedience is the work of the devil, that being an anthroposophist renders you extra years in purgatory? Do you even consider this ‘education’? I don’t. Children have rights — and these rights are separate from their parents’ rights to practice their religion. The parents’ right to their religion is indeed a basic right — but it’s not about democracy (they have this right if they’re alone in their belief and would be outvoted easily). And it doesn’t always trump the right of the child.

    Do you really believe that anyone — however crazy, however extreme, however repressive — should be allowed to run their own school, based on their own invented principles, unchecked by nobody but themselves?

  79. Crumbs (@ 3.26 pm) — excellently put! I wholeheartedly agrees with this:

    ‘As for your assertions that normal education creates ‘automatons’, well – it’s plainly absurd and nastily insulting. I’m not a particular fan of my school, but I don’t think one can say it creates automatons – and if it does they are far and few between. There are no automatons – every man, woman and child has a myriad of defining features.’

    Sadly, the ‘culture’ in waldorf /steiner schools seems to nurture such prejudices. It’s one of the cultic features. Painting the outside world in black. Projecting onto others what one fears in oneself — becoming an automaton (which easily happens when you have dogma to fall back on).

    ‘What Steiner schools seem to do is fail children. They fail to teach them to read. They fail to teach them arithmetic. They fail to artistically inspire them, (wishy, washy watercolors – mass produced and carefully monitored – individual? ha). They fail to teach them to argue. They fail to teach them to write. They create children, equipped like 19th century laborers with skills in gardening, who are given to their colleges and sixth forms to be repaired.’

    And yet they sell themselves as the more artistic alternative. But I agree with you. The art is mindless copying. There’s little inspiration and hardly any creativity. That’s my experience anyway. And it’s all about the artforms they’ve decided are appropriate. For primary school children, that’s knitting, wishy washy painting, flute-playing. It’s not, eg, literature.

  80. Mark: ‘Yes that happens, scientists are only human. However, as a collective endeavour, science tends to throw out the stuff that’s proven wrong through an iterative process of hypothesizing and testing. The physicist Richard Feynman is worth reading on this: http://bit.ly/CHGmZ
    Education is much harder than physics because ‘experiments’ to test an educational theory aren’t repeatable in the same way. You only get one chance to educate a child and every child is different. You can observe and generalize, but there is no one right way to do it.’

    However, I would assume that one can do research on the methods. If waldorf kids read less well than kids educated with mainstream methods, well, the waldorf method is — on the whole — a worse method. It shouldn’t be terribly complicated to set up such a study, even if there are many confounding factors to take into consideration.

    Daisy: ‘Common sense tells us that the world is flat, that we should believe the media, that we should dismiss paranormal experiences, that the sun revolves around the earth, that fat makes you fat, that we should keep our heads down and follow the herd, etc.’

    That’s not what my common sense tells me! My common sense tells me to trust what research tells us about the world and the universe, that one should never believe everything one is told (by, e g, the media or by anthroposophists!), it tells me that paranormal experiences can be disregarded in the absence of evidence, it tells me that fat doesn’t cause fatness (I eat lots of fat, and am skinny!), and my common sense definitely never tells me to keep my head down and follow the herd (this is why my common sense got me into trouble in waldorf education!).

    All in all, it seems I have quite a splendid common sense, doesn’t it? ;-)

    ‘What are you then implying about Waldorf alumni?! That they’re all illiterate, artistically and mathematically challenged, and unable to debate?’

    I have to agree with Crumbs. The above is very often the case. Though not always. Look at me and Crumbs. We were waldorf educated, albeit rescued from it in the nick of time, and neither one of is is illiterate or otherwise challenged ;-)

    But I have indeed encountered lots and lots of waldorf students who are only semi-literate, unable to debate and seem quite challenged in many ways. In waldorf, but also post-waldorf arguing with people on the internet. I’m rarely impressed with the intellectual and artistic abilities of waldorf alumni, I have to say.

    ‘… in contrast the freedom teachers have in Waldorf schools seems like a breath of fresh air.’

    You only have that freedom if you agree with waldorf tradition. If you believe in teaching kids to read early, you don’t have that freedom in waldorf school — it would contradict the waldorf method. If you don’t think it’s a good idea to read morning verse, I bet you can’t decide not to — if you want to stay on good terms with your collegues. Try to have your class play drums instead of flute. Or draw with black pencils instead of painting wishy washy wet-on-wet pastels…! I’m just making up examples here. But as far as I can tell, you see freedom in waldorf because waldorf offers you the stuff you have a preference for. It feels free because the constraints that are there don’t bother you personally. You don’t consider it a sign of unfreedom not to be able to use electronic aids in the classroom — because you wouldn’t want to do that anyway!

  81. Crumbs: ‘Here you have said that because you agree with Steiner’s philosophy, you feel it can be misinterpreted, but because you disagree with the philosophy of a grammar school you feel that the, horrid, interpretation is correct.’

    This reasoning seems vaguely familiar… I think I’ve seen it from (not so few) other Steiner education fans…

    ‘I don’t think education should just be left up to opinion. In some teacher’s opinions they’d better serve their students by administering corporal punishment.’

    So true. And given that we’ve learnt how common sense gets people to believe the earth is flat, I suppose we’d end of with lots of teachers whose common sense opinion — unverified, because why bother about checking the facts through consulting proper research — tells them to teach the kids the earth is flat. (And beat them if they don’t believe it.)

    Jan: ‘Of course. Are the concentration camps ready?
    The Anti-Waldorf-Taliban is taking over.’

    I don’t think Thetis or I — or anyone else — suggest that anthroposophists should go to concentration camps or be stoned to death. I may be wrong but, it’s not my impression that Thetis is that type of person who’d promote such nasty things. As for myself, I’m a bit allergic to dogmatism — whether it’s of the anthroposophical or the taliban variety.

    ‘I was forgotten you are possing the only truth, we all have to follow.
    You still not have the faintest idea what democracy is, and what human rights are.’

    I begin to suspect you don’t know what democracy and human rights are, Jan.

    In addition, nobody ever told you you have to believe in the same things we do, or even accept the same things as facts as we do. (Not that we agree all the time, I’m simplifying for the sake of argument.) You’re free to follow anthroposophy as much as you want — you’re free to give all of that to your children, your neighbours, your aunts, et c.

    But important institutions like schools can’t operate without regulation. There has to be quality controls, and similar safeguards in place.

    Because: children have human rights too.

  82. JAN: Are the concentration camps ready?

    ALICIA: I don’t think Thetis or I — or anyone else — suggest that anthroposophists should go to concentration camps.

    ——————————–

    TOM: Well, as long as Jan brought up the subject of concentration camps in a discussion about Waldorf education, then maybe we should look back into history and see if there are any famous Waldorf alumni who contributed to the well-being of those camps. And indeed we do!

    We find a man who I believe is the most famous graduate of the original Waldorf school in Stuttgart,

    — a man whose father was friends with Rudolf Steiner himself,

    — a man who depended on Weleda to supply him with materials (petroleum jelly) he needed for his meticulous scientific experiments on hypothermia with human subjects at the Dachau Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Munich in Germany,

    — a man who is second only to Dr. Joseph Mengele (not a Waldorfian) in the annals of Nazi medical experimentation, and

    — a man who may have been the singular figure whose Waldorf and Steiner-inspired imagination, came up with the idea of using the gas chambers to eliminate the Jews, not only because they would be efficient, but also because, according to a lecture by Rudolf,. Steiner, the lethal use of cyanide on humans would also prevent the victims from reincarnating — a sort of double-whammy genocide — might I say “kill one Jew with two stones?” I mean not only kill them, but more importantly keep them from ever coming back!

    Who is this famous Waldorf alumnus? You won’t find him listed on Sune Nordwall’s list of celebrity Waldorf graduates, but I would say that he is second only to Ulrike Meinhof (1934-1976) as the most famous GERMAN Waldorf alumnus of all time. (Sune also does not list Ulrike, who’s got to be — hands down and heads blown off — THE greatest female terrorist of the 20th Century.)

    OK, no more teasing. The man I refer to is Doctor Sigmund Rascher (1909-1945). His father was Hanns Rascher (1887-1952). You can read an English translation I made from a short German biography of Hanns Rascher here:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16319

    OK, Jan, next time you mention concentration camps, I’ll write here about the more bright and sunny, pleasant and productive Bio-Dynamic Plantation which was tended by inmates at the very same Dachau Concentration Camp where Dr. Rascher was freezing Jews in the dark.

  83. Pip — thank you for the comment. Out of curiosity, are you involved in Steiner education or anthroposophy?

    Thetis: ‘Ordinary people (who watch telly and read the newspapers) are not apathetic or passive, they will fight for their families: their jobs, hospitals, schools, libraries..’

    Indeed they do, in manifold ways. I don’t recognize the kind of people Daisy talks about. Maybe they exist, but they can’t be that common. Lots of people turn the off-button on the television when the program is too stupid. Lots of people mind about libraries and museums, books and art, philosophy and discussion. People aren’t mindless sheep. Or at least: there are no more mindless sheep in the ‘mainstream’ world (whatever that is) than there is in the wonderful world of waldorf.

    Daisy: ‘Well, Waldorf teachers in theory are able to meet the needs of individual children as they develop, because they aren’t required to teach ‘X’ by this age, and ‘Y’ by that age, in order to tick such-and-such box as dictated by the government.’

    Waldorf teachers are constrained by other dictates. These dictates are no more adapted to the individual needs of children (or to children’s needs in general) than the mainstream ‘dictates’. In fact, waldorf teachers are required to teach X by this age and Y by that age. It’s just that they’re required to teach other things, using other methods, and an other order. But, surely, the ‘dictates’ are there just as well.

    I would also say that in my opinion waldorf teachers should be required — through government dictates — to teach X by this age and Y by that age. It’s not right to the children not to. If you don’t teach the children the skills and knowledge they need, they are locked inside your system.

    That’s what happened to me. It was said that you can’t transfer in the early grades, because waldorf kids learn things at a different pace. (It turned out, you can’t really transfer after 6th grade either — you’re far behind.) Anyway, I would have got out of that hellhole — yes, that’s what it was — if it had been clear from the start that waldorf had been required to teach what mainstream schools teach and that waldorf schools are not allowed to delay children’s learning and thus lock them in. It’s not fair to the children. You talk about the freedom of the teacher — what about the freedom of the children? Your wish to teach at the pace you see fit — from anthro doctrines, intution, observation, whatever! — may feel free to you, but for the children you teach it makes the school into a virtual prison. On the other hand, if you teach at the state required pace — you help your students to freedom, because then they can leave your class if they wish to!

    This may sound harsh, but if there’s something I really don’t like at all, it’s the waldorf-teach-our-own-pace gimmick. The kids never catch up, and it is all very deceptive, because parents think that if they just endure the years until 6th or 8th grade, transfer will be smooth. But all those years the children are stuck in a school where they’re unhappy, their needs are not met (because waldorf isn’t the right fit, it’s not for everyone), and perhaps they are ruthlessly bullied. And everybody knows you can’t transfer in 1-2-3-4-5 grades because waldorf is teaching at another ‘pace’ (ie, when it comes to basic academic skills, they hardly teach them at all).

    This different pace makes waldorf education a prison. And it is the child who is paying for the ‘freedom’ of the teacher.

    ‘Of course, with freedom comes responsibility – teachers shouldn’t abuse the lack of prescriptive curriculum by just plodding along aimlessly or teaching whatever *they* feel like without taking the children’s needs into account.’

    I’ll tell you what the child needs: to learn at such a pace that transfer to another school is always an option, after each grade. If waldorf schools can’t do that, they don’t take children’s needs into account. Otherwise, waldorf is a prison.

    ‘But this [opinion] is probably what it comes down to, because as MarkH said, it’s difficult to scientifically prove or disprove pedagogical theories, and what works for some won’t work for others.’

    Not at all. You can’t research the efficiency of a certain method by studying a single child, of course. You need evaluate methods statistically, based upon many hundreds of students. It’s not impossible. Still, as you say, what works for some doesn’t work for others — every teacher must have options and alternatives to choose from, to help in individual cases. Even if a majority of children learns efficiently using method X, the teacher needs to know something about methods Y and Z. And, obviously, a skilled teacher, who possesses good knowledge about various theoretical models and about different methods of teaching, will be better prepared to find good solutions to fit the individual child. This doesn’t contradict the fact that on another level one can research which methods work the best for the largest number of students or that one can find out which theoretical models of child development best correspond to whatever scientific findings there are in various fields of research.

    Cathy: ‘He doesn’t say these criticisms about the schools and Steiner are untrue, he doesn’t defend or enter dialogue, they don’t “engage’. Oh, ok then. The perfect opportunity to defend the anthroposophical pedagogy they promote, and they say nothing, and then direct people to “appropriate sites” – appropriate, what they want people to see, written by people like Sune Nordwall!’

    True — he says nothing. He presents no arguments at all. Other than saying that a couple of things critics say are obviously wrong (they aren’t, but he has no argument, just a blank statement). Fascinating to see them, once again, announce their support for such websites — when every decent human being (I would think, but mr Dog says I think too highly of the humans) would realize that they need to distance themselves from exactly these websites. They’re clueless.

    ‘Why not ask Alan Swindell for your next assignment? What is anthroposophy and why is it important in education?’

    That’s a good suggestion. Also, how much anthroposophy is a teacher allowed to ditch? How big is that freedom really?

    Hollywood Tom: ‘There is no people LIKE Sune Nordwall. He’s one of a kind and there ain’t nobody like him at all.’

    But what about Robert Mays…? Ooops, Sune again. What about Mycroft, TheBee, Eva, Excalibor… all those lovely waldorf presences on the internet? Ooooop, just old Sune again.

  84. Now, there’s the right context for talk about concentration camps — actual history. I’m tempted to make that another post, though, because even Jan’s comment seemed a bit out-of-place in this discussion…

    Edit/update: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/are-the-concentration-camps-ready/ — discussion of waldorfians’ activities in concentration camps ideally in that comment thread instead.

  85. [...] this topic was as badly suited to that thread as I was to waldorf education. ThetisMercurio said there’s no place for anthroposophy in [...]

  86. [...] ThetisMercurio responded: [...]

  87. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Cathy said:

    ‘@Daisy oh Daisy…look what you’ve written, you’re young, an anthro arriviste, a twinkling star in Alan Swindell’s anthroposophical firmament…. but still, look..” Wonderful.

    Daisy, I thought about you tonight, hoping you’d piece together something out of the thoughtful words people have offered you here. I hoped democratic ed would ring some bells for you, that you’d begin to ditch the nonsense you’ve been taught at Plymouth. And far from ad hom I was gentle, I could have been far more honest. Crumbs, who tells us s/he is still at school, has been necessarily direct. Can’t you see what s/he’s saying? It’s not hard.

    What’s this talk about commuting or not commuting? That’s just a daft diversion, a teenager throwing a wobbly. If you live in Plymouth you should be even more aware of the fragility of people’s lives, of the reasons so many ordinary people marched in London today – even travelling on coaches from your city.

    The University of Plymouth sponsors a Marine Academy. Have you been there? What do you think of their work?

    Tonight I talked to a man who is an art teacher in a community college. It’s not high-performing – the difficulties for children are in two areas: poverty and low expectation. He said ‘It’s all about passion. I have the best conversations with these kids, I just love them. We do such amazing things. I don’t concentrate on exams – how can you mark art? – anyway sadly the marks are irrelevant for most of them. What matters is personality. If you’re passionate about your work, they respond. I love it,’

    I just think you have no idea, Daisy, how many teachers care passionately about their pupils and do wonderful things – even by listening and taking young people seriously. The Steiner stuff is so unimportant, a blind alley.

    This chap told me he once applied to a Steiner school to teach art. They asked him if he’d been Steiner trained – he had no idea what that meant. Why would you need a special training, when you have experience (and passion)? When you’re very good at teaching kids your subject.

    Why indeed?

    What can Steiner add?

  88. Jan Luiten · ·

    The message given here by Thetis c.s. is clear enough: There is no place for anthroposophical pedagogics. I have checked this point several times on this blog.
    “What if the Waldorf schools would be very good to the pupils and would communicate very well with the parents etc.?” : “ NO WAY. We want no schools who work with a spiritual image of man”.
    So the battle of Thetis c.s., the Anti-Waldorf-Taliban, is against Anthroposophy as such.

    I make a distinction between “critics” and “adversaries”. Adversaries don’t see anything positive in anthroposophy. They cannot find one single point that should be positive about it. They see anthroposophy as something evil. When this is out of the world, the world would be a much better place. The ultimate consequence of this reasoning are the concentration camps.
    “Critics” are able to see also positive aspects of Anthroposophy. .

    My standpoint has always been : I have no problems with criticism on Waldorf or on the anthroposophical subculture. In a way I welcome criticism, because it is a necessary job to be done.
    This is also applicable to the past of the anthroposophical movement.

  89. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Jan – I don’t think anthroposophy is evil, I think it’s ridiculous. I thought David Colquhoun’s description of Steiner as a mystic barmpot was spot on, which is how we met. If you have your wits about you you’ll notice that we don’t take the movement as seriously as it takes itself, even calling yourself Lovelyhorse (after a song on Father Ted) is a clue.

    I’m a humanist, so you’d expect me to think it’s beside the point ‘to work with a spiritual image of man”. What does that mean? I could ask you to explain what you mean by spiritual, preferably in words rather than gestures.

    Most humanists don’t go into church on Sundays and rant at the vicar. People’s personal religious faith (which is what this is) is their concern and it doesn’t bother me if someone teaching my children happens to be a Christian or Sikh or outside a discrete setting a follower of a new religion like anthroposophy, but to teach out of religion is something else. This is a hot topic in England atm with the threat of creationist Free Schools, where it would be naive to imagine ‘creationism is not taught to the children’. You wouldn’t go to the trouble of setting up a school like this if you didn’t have every intention of marinading your pupils in a particular religious view of the world.

    Otherwise – anthroposophy isn’t helpful at all in schools, apart from to those practicing a personal religious path, on a journey etc etc. And often not then either, frankly. It is anti-scientific, anti-therapeutic occult nonsense, and its history is also a bit of a stumbling block to most decent people.

    But you are not decent, Jan. You keep proving that.

  90. Thanks for the responses. I don’t have time to gather my thoughts together right now – I’ll be back later in the week.

  91. Thetis: great comment @1.22 am. ‘I just think you have no idea, Daisy, how many teachers care passionately about their pupils and do wonderful things – even by listening and taking young people seriously.’

    This is what I’ve seen too, not that I have vast experience of the educational sector of society. But it is my own experience, and the experience of people I know. It’s not, however, what you got in waldorf.

    Jan: ‘Adversaries don’t see anything positive in anthroposophy. They cannot find one single point that should be positive about it. They see anthroposophy as something evil. When this is out of the world, the world would be a much better place. The ultimate consequence of this reasoning are the concentration camps.’

    Well, then I haven’t encountered many adversaries. And I’m pretty sure Thetis isn’t one of them. She cares about education and, like me, she cares about the rights of children. Frankly, it is out-of-place to talk about concentration camps. I think you know this, Jan: because someone is concerned with the rights of children, it doesn’t mean this person wants to send parents to concentration camps. We should bother about the rights of children, even if these children are not our own.

    Thetis: ‘Most humanists don’t go into church on Sundays and rant at the vicar. People’s personal religious faith (which is what this is) is their concern and it doesn’t bother me if someone teaching my children happens to be a Christian or Sikh or outside a discrete setting a follower of a new religion like anthroposophy, but to teach out of religion is something else.’

    I agree. Peoples’ religion or spirituality is not a problem. Nobody is trying to take away their rights to their religions or spiritualities. This means these religions and spiritualities should be forced upon people who don’t share them or that other people have a duty to contribute financially. And so on.

    ‘You wouldn’t go to the trouble of setting up a school like this if you didn’t have every intention of marinading your pupils in a particular religious view of the world.’

    Some anthroposophists don’t have a problem seening how inappropriate this is when they look at other religions. Taliban schools, Jan? Scientology schools (available, tax-funded, in Sweden!)?

    Daisy: I’m looking forward to it!

  92. Thetisemercurio – thanks for recommending Alicia’s post (nauseum) – it’s a great article and objectivity seems, once again, to be the way.

    Someone asked if I’m involved in steiner ed or anthroposophy? I am a secondary school state teacher but work with a few steiner ideas; mostly preparing lessons ‘artistically’ to facilitate cognition (see RSA animate ‘changing paradigms’ on youtube…sir ken robinson sums up the way I think, nearish the end, pretty well with regard to ADHD) this sits right with me and seems to be working for my kids so that’s where I count my fruit/happy students. For me, it’s about covering a variety of learning styles, to maximise each child’s engagement, which often includes an artistic element in even the most intellectual lesson. See Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory if you want more on that or steiner’s image of man…I forget what lecture…sorry.

    Please consider that, aside all that, I am a mother, a sister, someone’s daughter, a head-of-year, a singer, and a writer.
    Pip

  93. Pip — ‘it’s a great article and objectivity seems, once again, to be the way.’

    Not that I’d like to argue with this, since I’m more often called subjective, thus it’s nice with a change… but I’m often subjective. I don’t see that as a problem, as long as I, and the reader, is aware of the perspective. My personal experience of that waldorf school is, of course, subjective. I try to take an other approach to waldorf in general. It is not always clean-cut though. (I don’t think it can be — my experience can’t be eradicated, and it will always influence me.)

    ‘See Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory if you want more on that or steiner’s image of man…’

    I know Gardner has withdrawn some of his support for the Steiner model, specifically the esoteric and pseudo-scientific parts. To me, that would seem to include Steiner’s image of man.

    ‘Please consider that, aside all that, I am a mother, a sister, someone’s daughter, a head-of-year, a singer, and a writer.’

    I’m not a parent (it’s not my thing), but I do have parents. Don’t we all? ;-)

    It’s not really my thing being somebody’s something. I’m the household slave of a certain mr Dog, but that’s different. I don’t sing, but he does.

  94. Cathy-

    “you’re young, an anthro arriviste, a twinkling star in Alan Swindell’s anthroposophical firmament”

    LOL! That’s a good one, I must write that down. I thought I was just studying a Steiner degree and trying to keep an open and critical mind while I’m at it, but oh well.

    “Makes ideas like karma, reincarnation, classifying children with things like the size of their head “their own”?”

    I’ve not heard of the third thing but it sounds a bit daft. That you mock karma and reincarnation shows your bias – there is research supportive of these ideas. But everyone knows they’re crazy ideas and contrary to all common sense, so why bother looking into it?

    But anyway, that’s kind of tangential IMO, because when I’m in the classroom (if I become a teacher) I won’t be asking myself “ooooh, what was this child’s past life like? And how can I positively influence her future lives???” I will do the best for them NOW. If I tried to direct her future lives, or even her future in THIS life for that matter, it would not only be an arrogant stance to take, it would make my head explode.

    “Why not ask Alan Swindell for your next assignment? What is anthroposophy and why is it important in education?”

    We are studying these questions all the time. That doesn’t mean I’ve resolved my own attitudes to anthroposophy, or decided upon the appropriate extent of its role in education.

    “What, like dividing them into temperaments? Using eurythmy? All painting the same picture, in the same colours in a classroom painted in peach blossom as indicated by Steiner?”

    The temperaments (sanguine/choleric/phlegmatic/melancholic) are tendencies, not a rigid system of classification. They are not the most sophisticated or nuanced form of personality types, but I find them useful; others may not. In a therapeutic sense, I’ve noticed that people, when out of balance, tend towards one of four traits: too scattered/fickle, too dominant/aggressive, too passive, and too depressive. This is particularly true of children in my experience.

    About the painting done in the lower school – I understand concerns about children all “painting the same”, but the reason for that is you need the right techniques as a foundation (in my opinion) if you are to be a proficient artist later. I don’t think it stifles creativity. There is something really inwardly satisfying about creating a beautiful painting, even if it’s based on the theme the teacher gave you and not something you thought of yourself.

    “I think it comes down to the individuals interpretation of anthroposophy, which is altogether unpredictable and dangerous.”

    Life (and people) are unpredictable and dangerous, and so is any philosophy really, apart from maybe humanism, which is obviously immune to error!!! You guys think anthroposophy is suspect because you view it as a belief system; you are blind to your OWN belief system because you think it’s reality or just “common sense”.

    “Daisy, one question, what is the point of anthroposophy in Steiner schools?”

    That could be a whole essay, it’s not a simple question with a simple answer. I’ll have a think about it.

    Alicia-

    Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this, but my understanding is that you’ve attended ONE Waldorf school in ONE country, and from this (admittedly very painful) experience you’ve concluded that all the schools worldwide are to varying degrees bad, that Steiner education has no merits and that it’s your mission to crusade against it? Waldorf education is not a unified movement; it is diverse. Every school I’ve visited and every Waldorf teacher I’ve met has a different approach. I’m sure there are god-awful Waldorf schools and incompetent teachers out there. But my friends, acquaintances and I have seen some fantastic ones with children thriving like you wouldn’t believe (and I don’t think it’s just because they conform to the ‘Waldorf shoe’). I would never DREAM of downplaying or arguing with your negative experience at your Waldorf school, but I get the impression that some people here would dismiss and try to invalidate the positive Waldorf experiences that I and many others have gained – what’s up with that? Do you think that’s fair?

    “Children under the age of 7 use their intellectual capacities a lot more than Steiner teachers acknowledge, and to make the children fit the dogma, instead of the other way around, Steiner teachers believe it’s wrong if children under 7 have intellectual interests. That’s an example, but it’s intented to show the risks in this way of seeing children. The teacher ends up suppressing the natural needs and abilities of children — who end up unhappy as a result.”

    What do you mean by “intellectual interests”? That’s fair enough if you’ve experienced that, and I wouldn’t hold any child back from learning and exploring things if I truly felt that desire was coming from them (and not e.g. overzealous parents). But what about the flip side (which I’ve seen in state schools), where children of 3 or 4 are introduced to maths, writing and reading when many of them are too young to have any understanding of WHAT those things are and WHY they are doing them? Surely that just engenders unhappiness, confusion and contempt for learning, IF they are not ready for it? Maybe there is no one “right” age to begin formal learning, but that means that starting at the arbitrary age of 4 (in UK state schools) is as misguided as you say starting at 7 is.

    “It’s not a misinterpretation. He recommended, quite explicitly, that the intellectual is left ’til children are quite old. Small children, he taught, imitate. They don’t do intellectual stuff. And they should not do intellectual stuff — it’s harmful.”

    Small children do have a strong propensity to imitate, I’ve seen that. Whether they do intellectual stuff or whether that is harmful, I do not know. Some children might prefer reading books and others might prefer knitting gnomes, so why not do both? Not all children will be into logic, philosophy, maths and the other things you originally listed. I’m not saying those things shouldn’t feature in school though.

    “Waldorf isn’t for everyone.”

    Is any school for everyone?

    “I’d be happier to know that teacher based their educational decisions on current research, though.”

    It’d be advisable to have an awareness of this as a Waldorf teacher, in addition to Steiner’s ideas. And I’d also like to see more research done on Steiner methods. Others on my course have advocated the same.

    “Do you really believe that anyone — however crazy, however extreme, however repressive — should be allowed to run their own school, based on their own invented principles, unchecked by nobody but themselves?”

    No. But just because there are aspects of the Waldorf school philosophy (which isn’t even taught to children) that you think are ‘crazy’, doesn’t mean they can’t provide a good education. It doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer.

    “All in all, it seems I have quite a splendid common sense, doesn’t it? ;-)”

    Yes it does! I can tell you are a free thinker. I just objected to ThetisM’s appeal to ‘common sense’ (which CAN be wrong) in an attempt to bully someone into the acceptance of her opinion.

    “But as far as I can tell, you see freedom in waldorf because waldorf offers you the stuff you have a preference for. It feels free because the constraints that are there don’t bother you personally. You don’t consider it a sign of unfreedom not to be able to use electronic aids in the classroom — because you wouldn’t want to do that anyway!”

    There are many Waldorf principles that make sense to me, like for example, minimising textbook/IT use. If a school had principles that I absolutely didn’t want to follow along with, and they wouldn’t let me do otherwise, I’d leave and set up my own school :P

    “I don’t think Thetis or I — or anyone else — suggest that anthroposophists should go to concentration camps or be stoned to death.”

    No, they just shouldn’t be allowed to openly work with their irrational beliefs. Let’s have everyone accept humanism as the foundation of society with no room for difference of opinion.

    “In fact, waldorf teachers are required to teach X by this age and Y by that age”

    Maybe often in practice, but in theory no.

    “I would also say that in my opinion waldorf teachers should be required — through government dictates — to teach X by this age and Y by that age. It’s not right to the children not to. If you don’t teach the children the skills and knowledge they need, they are locked inside your system.”

    This is a statist view. Why does the gov’t get the last word on what’s best for children? How is their idea of what “skills and knowledge children need” (ALL children, as well) superior to letting individual teachers decide, who surely know their children better than the gov’t do?

    “if you teach at the state required pace — you help your students to freedom, because then they can leave your class if they wish to!”

    Yeah, freedom within the system, which is itself a kind of ‘prison’ if you ask me. I know you will turn this statement around and apply it to Steiner schools – but I personally feel there is more freedom there than in the state system. Though my caveat from before still applies: With freedom comes responsibility.

    “Even if a majority of children learns efficiently using method X, the teacher needs to know something about methods Y and Z. And, obviously, a skilled teacher, who possesses good knowledge about various theoretical models and about different methods of teaching, will be better prepared to find good solutions to fit the individual child.”

    Who’s to say that methods Y or Z can’t be inspired by Steiner? You guys are trying to shut Steiner out of the educational debate by saying things like “The Steiner stuff is so unimportant, a blind alley.” Do you really think Waldorf has nothing to contribute to education whatsoever? Open your minds. As ONE example of this – I’m pursuing foreign language teaching because that’s my passion, and I’m well aware that there’s a crisis in foreign language learning in the UK – mainly because it’s taught in an uninspiring way (too much translation, textbook work, dry grammar, language laboratories…) Having just spent a month observing and working with the German teacher at a Waldorf school, I am inspired and amazed at how fast and enjoyable assimilating a foreign language can be for children, when it’s taught from a young age through games, poems, songs, stories and drama. It was incredible to watch. That reminds me – a recent article by a former Steiner teacher recommended that young children be introduced to Shakespeare and other beautiful examples of language as part of their ‘literary diet’ – you all make Waldorf sound really dumbed-down and un-stimulating, which maybe it can be, but it shouldn’t be.

    Thetis – you’re right that there are many sincere and dedicated non-Waldorf teachers out there who do great things. I was too harsh on state schools before, I realise that. It’s the general system I have concerns about, not the many committed individuals within it. Reading back my comments can be a bit cringey. That just makes us Steiner peeps sound arrogant. Being committed to the children in your care, really LISTENING to them and meeting them at their level, that is the essence of a good teacher, not anthroposophy. Funny that you mention Marine Academy because I’m working there on a weekly basis at the moment. Seems like a good school.

    “You wouldn’t go to the trouble of setting up a school like this if you didn’t have every intention of marinading your pupils in a particular religious view of the world.”

    I have no intention of this.

    “But you are not decent, Jan. You keep proving that.”

    You wouldn’t say that if he (she?) agreed with you. Jan’s response about concentration camps was over-the-top, but you anti-Waldorf people are no strangers to hyperbole either.

    I can see that a major bone of contention here is the issue of spiritual ‘beliefs’. Alicia, you’ve said you’re a scientific materialist. Thetis, you are a secular humanist and you’ve said that you consider the spiritual view of the human being “beside the point”. That’s your perspective, and it’s completely respectable. I on the other hand have had experiences that I feel the materialist worldview cannot explain, and thus I have come to be open-minded to the possibility of a spiritual reality and am also open to the worldview of anthroposophy. I say this because I realise that in this day and age, anyone who makes their spirituality known – or enters into a profession that has a spiritual foundation, as does the Waldorf teacher – is expected to justify it. I understand why, too. I understand why people think anthroposophy is nuts.

    With that said, I’m pursuing this path because I love children, I think anthroposophy can be a force for good and I also think Steiner has something to contribute to the education debate. That’s all.

    Anyway, all this debating has given me inspiration for my dissertation next year. It’ll be something addressing the criticisms of Waldorf and anthroposophy – to what extent are they valid? I will try to do this in an unbiased way, sort of like Steve Paulson does in his book “Atoms & Eden – Conversations on Religion & Science”, by interviewing Waldorf teachers, anthropops and maybe even some of you guys ;)

  95. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Daisy:

    “But what about the flip side (which I’ve seen in state schools), where children of 3 or 4 are introduced to maths, writing and reading when many of them are too young to have any understanding of WHAT those things are and WHY they are doing them? Surely that just engenders unhappiness, confusion and contempt for learning, IF they are not ready for it? Maybe there is no one “right” age to begin formal learning, but that means that starting at the arbitrary age of 4 (in UK state schools) is as misguided as you say starting at 7 is.”

    But that’s not true.

    I don’t think you have much idea what happens in most primary schools. But I do think it’s important that other education providers and journalists understand what you’re taught on your course, and I will encourage them to read your comments here.

    Those of us who have children and have experienced the very high quality of early years provision in England are keen to support our nurseries and schools, and are concerned at the closure of Sure Start centres in areas like this one: http://www.thevisitor.co.uk/news/morecambe-and-district-news/fight_to_save_sure_start_centre_1_3228119

    Today the Children’s Commissioner issued a press release: children and young people urge Government to tackle inequalities to lift them out of poverty.

    Maggie Atkinson added:

    “Living in poverty can reduce young people’s choices as they grow up. Children and young people need access to early intervention throughout childhood. Some older children and young people will need additional support throughout their lives to deal with longstanding problems and changes in circumstances, while others will require support and assistance from services during their teenage years and into young adulthood. Underestimating these needs will undermine the effectiveness of any anti-poverty strategy.”
    http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_416

    While the University of Plymouth supports a few undergraduates and (in our opinion hardly qualified academics with barely a paper between them) to debate how many angels can dance on the end of a pin, the real work goes on around them in a city struggling with poverty and low expectation. Education is in a process of transformation, we’re not even sure how teachers will be trained in a few year’s time. Educational theories (and potential Free Schools) will have to compete in the real world, and they will be analysed. This will happen to Waldorf. The ‘critics’, if you like the word, are not the issue here, and it isn’t people on obscure forums you need to convince.

    A major stumbling block though is the existence of a Waldorf Survivors’ group. Trusting to Sune Nordwall to brush it away will not be enough. It is all highly distasteful, and reading Alan’s latest article has convinced me that the UK branch of the movement is as cheap as the rest.

    I’m interested in this business about ‘multiple intelligences’, so if you’ll excuse me..

  96. ThetisMercurio · ·

    pip – how can Alicia’s post be objective? It’s an astonishingly raw personal account. It is wonderfully subjective, like much of the best writing. She can be a great polemicist too, and polemic is good. Polemic stirs the blood. The ‘balanced view’ is milk and water.

    Not Ken Robinson AGAIN. He must be the most overrated after-dinner speaker on the planet.

    I’ve been experiencing some disquiet about multiple intelligences, on my search I find myself on Wiki (fingers crossed)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences

    ‘A critical review of MI theory argues that there is little empirical evidence to support it.. The same review presents evidence to demonstrate that cognitive neuroscience research does not support the theory of Multiple Intelligences…

    A number of articles have surveyed the use of Gardner’s ideas and conclude that there is little to no academically substantiated evidence that his ideas work in practice. Steven A. Stahl found that most of the previous studies which claimed to show positive results had major flaws:

    ‘Among others, Marie Carbo claims that her learning styles work is based on research. {I discuss Carbo because she publishes extensively on her model and is very prominent in the workshop circuit…} But given the overwhelmingly negative findings in the published research, I wondered what she was citing, and about a decade ago, I thought it would be interesting to take a look. Reviewing her articles, I found that out of 17 studies she had cited, only one was published. Fifteen were doctoral dissertations and 13 of these came out of one university—St. John’s University in New York, Carbo’s alma mater. None of these had been in a peer-refereed journal. When I looked closely at the dissertations and other materials, I found that 13 of the 17 studies that supposedly support her claim had to do with learning styles based on something other than modality.[18]‘

    I will emphasise that this is a initial search, but science-blogs comes up with similar provisos. It’s ‘sciency’ but not science. This isn’t to discredit all of Gardner’s ideas by any means, just to urge caution in how they’re cited. Introducing the idea of Steiner’s ‘Image of Man’- is that the right title? is referring to the occult teachings of a supposedly clairvoyant mystic. Does your governing body (or the PTA) know that’s what you’re doing?

    I’m not sure either why it’s important we should consider your life-roles. It does remind me of a character called ‘thecaty’ who when he was asked if he was a Steiner teacher (he was) answered by telling us all the other things he did.

  97. Daisy —

    ‘Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this, but my understanding is that you’ve attended ONE Waldorf school in ONE country’

    Yes. It’s the first and foremost of waldorf schools in Sweden though. It’s the earliest one, the biggest one — and the one held forth as a prominent example of waldorf ‘success’. You may have come across a book by Frans Carlgren, it’s translated to many languages. Lots of waldorf folks seem to like it. Now, that’s the school I went to. It’s not some small provincial mistake for a school. It’s the school that introduced waldorf education to Sweden, and the school where all the prominent waldorf educators and anthros worked.

    ‘and from this (admittedly very painful) experience you’ve concluded that all the schools worldwide are to varying degrees bad’

    Strangely, though, when I communicate with people all over the world, their experiences are very similar to mine. Which seems to indicate that my experiences weren’t unique — not for me and not for my particular waldorf school

    ‘that Steiner education has no merits and that it’s your mission to crusade against it?’

    I’m not on a mission and I’m not on a crusade. It seems to me that Plymouth Uni really has been filtering waldorf/Steiner criticism through the eyes of Sune Nordwall and his various projects under various names. I’m sorry that you’ve been served such misinformation.

    ‘Waldorf education is not a unified movement; it is diverse. Every school I’ve visited and every Waldorf teacher I’ve met has a different approach.’

    This is an error. If this were the case, I wouldn recognize what I went through in waldorf literature from all over the world. I wouldn’t recognize it in testimonies from other people all over the world — whether they’re writing from a pro- or con-Steiner perspective.

    ‘What do you mean by “intellectual interests”?’

    Wanting to read and write, learn and know.

    ‘I wouldn’t hold any child back from learning and exploring things if I truly felt that desire was coming from them (and not e.g. overzealous parents).’

    Ah, so you’d hold a child back — against the parents’ will? Nice! (Not.) Anyway, how would you run a class if you don’t hold some kids back? Some kids will develop earlier than waldorf methods allow for. Will you give those kids a proper school book to work with while you have the other kids copy form drawing from the blackboard?

    ‘Not all children will be into logic, philosophy, maths and the other things you originally listed.’

    The parents of kids who are should be immediately advised to remove their kids from waldorf and transfer them to a school which will cherish their potential. Waldorf will not. That’s what I’m saying. And the gnome-knitters at waldorf can continue knitting gnomes.

    ‘I get the impression that some people here would dismiss and try to invalidate the positive Waldorf experiences’

    I know there are people who love waldorf. Doesn’t mean it’s a good education though.

    ‘“Waldorf isn’t for everyone.”
    Is any school for everyone?’

    Waldorf claims to be. It claims this up until the very minute total failure is a fact. THEN, but only then, they say: ‘oh, but it isn’t for everyone!’

    ‘Who’s to say that methods Y or Z can’t be inspired by Steiner?’

    Not me.

    ‘It’d be advisable to have an awareness of this as a Waldorf teacher, in addition to Steiner’s ideas. And I’d also like to see more research done on Steiner methods. Others on my course have advocated the same.’

    Agreed. I’d also like to see research on Steiner theory. I’d like to see Steiner researchers locate the etheric body.

    ‘No. But just because there are aspects of the Waldorf school philosophy (which isn’t even taught to children) that you think are ‘crazy’, doesn’t mean they can’t provide a good education.’

    I don’t know how many times we critics have to say this, but none of us claim that anthroposophy is taught directly to the children. Waldorf proponents say that this is what we say. We DO NOT. I think this is important to clarify. I get sick when I hear about the misinformation that is spread.

    Whether they provide a good education or not is revealed by the results. They do not. Simple.

    ‘I know you will turn this statement around and apply it to Steiner schools – but I personally feel there is more freedom there than in the state system.’

    I will turn it around. I will say: it’s because what’s in waldorf suits you better. Thus you don’t have an inclination to transgress its rules. If you don’t want things to be different, why would you feel unfree? Doesn’t mean the restrictions aren’t there, though.

    ‘There are many Waldorf principles that make sense to me, like for example, minimising textbook/IT use.’

    Exactly. But what if textbook/IT use made sense to you — as a teacher or as a student. Would you feel free in waldorf then? I think textbooks and IT make sense.

    ‘No, they just shouldn’t be allowed to openly work with their irrational beliefs.’

    I’d rather have them work openly with the irrational than secretly.

    ‘Let’s have everyone accept humanism as the foundation of society with no room for difference of opinion.’

    I think you may have radically misunderstood humanism.

    ‘“In fact, waldorf teachers are required to teach X by this age and Y by that age”
    Maybe often in practice, but in theory no.’

    Ok. But in reality, you’ll be in ‘practice’ mode.

    ‘This is a statist view. Why does the gov’t get the last word on what’s best for children? How is their idea of what “skills and knowledge children need” (ALL children, as well) superior to letting individual teachers decide, who surely know their children better than the gov’t do?’

    Because it leaves the children in the hands of complete randomness. It leaves children locked up. It leaves the children in the hands of teachers who don’t know a shit. And then these kids are stuck with these teachers, because they’re too far behind to transfer.

    ‘“if you teach at the state required pace — you help your students to freedom, because then they can leave your class if they wish to!”
    Yeah, freedom within the system, which is itself a kind of ‘prison’ if you ask me.’

    (I realize I’m quoting you disorderly, sorry.) But they can choose another school; that is my point. They can choose state school, montessori, freinet, democratic education… et c. They have choices. In Steiner, you’re stuck with Steiner. You can’t transfer to these other schools — because, academically, you’re far behind. That’s not right to the child.

    ‘Do you really think Waldorf has nothing to contribute to education whatsoever? Open your minds.’

    I, for one, didn’t say this. I’m all for teachers reading Steiner and other anthro sources for inspiration. In my opinion, though, the big danger is that the Steiner stuff is read by people who have already closed their minds. It’s ok if you treat the Steiner stuff as one source of inspiration among many. It’s not ok if you think you’ve found the best — even the ultimate — theory and method. Sadly, that’s what Steiner folks regularly seem to believe.

    But ANY teacher in ANY school can read Steiner and find stuff to be inspired by. I don’t see a problem. The problems begin with the Steiner SCHOOL. The school based on Steiner’s doctrines — more or less — entirely. Bad thing, really.

    ‘Having just spent a month observing and working with the German teacher at a Waldorf school, I am inspired and amazed at how fast and enjoyable assimilating a foreign language can be for children, when it’s taught from a young age through games, poems, songs, stories and drama.’

    In my opinion, these children don’t learn German. We had a proper German lady teaching German. We spent lots of times repeating what she said, the verses we were to learn. That was it. We didn’t know much German, unfortunately. But we could recite verses.

    When I transfered to another school in 7th grade, I started German anew. It didn’t take long before, with the efficient teaching of mainstream schools, these beginners knew as much as I had when I came from waldorf. A month or two and we were far past the waldorf class. And they’d been reciting German verses for 6 damn years!

    So — yes, I’m skeptical. Ask yourself how much German these kids really know. Sometimes it’s only parroting.

    ‘That reminds me – a recent article by a former Steiner teacher recommended that young children be introduced to Shakespeare and other beautiful examples of language as part of their ‘literary diet’ – you all make Waldorf sound really dumbed-down and un-stimulating, which maybe it can be, but it shouldn’t be.’

    I agree, very sensible advice from this Steiner teacher. But waldorf in general won’t do this — and they definitely don’t do this more than mainstream education. I’ve said it a billion times — I think fairytales (for the small children) and all that stuff is really great. I, for one, truly believe in a ‘literary diet’. I would have LOVED to get that instead of the gnome-knitting. Sure, there were fairytales. But it ended there. And literature means READING. Which we weren’t doing.

    I had to go to a mainstream school for a literary diet. But, I tell, you, there I got it! How much literature do the waldorf students really read? Not much, as far as I can tell. Nowhere near as much as I and everybody I know got in mainstream schools.

    I think you’re ‘dumbing-down’ (or: painting in black, rather) other kinds of education. And with waldorf you believe in the ideal picture (e g, the ideals of this former waldorf teacher — very nice and sound ideals, as I said), which may have little to do with reality in the schools.

    ‘It’s the general system I have concerns about, not the many committed individuals within it.’

    Same for the Steiner system. It’s the system that’s the problem. Not the committed individuals. On the other hand, the badly performing individuals within the system become a problem of course, because the system won’t deal with it.

    ‘Alicia, you’ve said you’re a scientific materialist. Thetis, you are a secular humanist and you’ve said that you consider the spiritual view of the human being “beside the point”. That’s your perspective, and it’s completely respectable. I on the other hand have had experiences that I feel the materialist worldview cannot explain…’

    Something has gone wrong here. I don’t think I managed to make clear what I meant, even though I used lots of words (perhaps too many?). I am a materialist when it comes to scientific explanations, when it comes to how this world works. I consider materialism to be wholly beside the point when I’m (to mention a few examples) reading literature, experiencing art or do my photography. Experience is one thing. Scientific explanation another. This is so for everyone. I don’t ask the ‘materialist worldview’ to explain the subjective experience of beauty in a photograph. Why the hell would I?

    Yet spiritual folks keep argue as though that were the case. As though the materialist can only love his dog if he knows the neurological processes behind the love. Crazy!

    It makes me wonder, again, whose mind is closed. And whose mind is open.

    ‘I say this because I realise that in this day and age, anyone who makes their spirituality known – or enters into a profession that has a spiritual foundation, as does the Waldorf teacher – is expected to justify it.’

    No, there’s no expecations that anyone justify their personal spirituality. If you want to bring it to bear on the education of other people’s children, well, now that’s different. People want justification then.

    ‘Anyway, all this debating has given me inspiration for my dissertation next year. It’ll be something addressing the criticisms of Waldorf and anthroposophy – to what extent are they valid?’

    I love it! Please know you’re welcome here anytime if you want to chat about stuff, whatever it may be. I won’t agree with you, but if that’s the topic you’re writing about, it’s not a bad thing if I don’t ;-)

    I’m going to say a few things about the reply to Cathy, too.

    ‘That you mock karma and reincarnation shows your bias – there is research supportive of these ideas.’

    Nope, there isn’t. This is where anthroposophists and others run into particular problems. If you claim scientific evidence for these ideas, you’re not asking us to respect a spiritual viewpoint anymore — you’re voluntarily entering the area of materialism. And then we’ll just say: show us the evidence. There is none. That’s why karma and reincarnation belong in the spiritual sphere, not the scientific. Scientifically, there’s no support in research. If there is, one day, I’m sure we’ll know about it!

    ‘I won’t be asking myself “ooooh, what was this child’s past life like? And how can I positively influence her future lives???” I will do the best for them NOW.’

    That’s exactly why waldorf teachers ask that question (not in that manner, they take it very seriously). They think it’s of uttermost importance for doing the best for the child now.

    ‘About the painting done in the lower school – I understand concerns about children all “painting the same”, but the reason for that is you need the right techniques as a foundation (in my opinion) if you are to be a proficient artist later. I don’t think it stifles creativity.’

    But how many years do you have to paint wet-on-wet colour blobs? Come on. It’s not a technique, it’s a… watery blob. I painted wet-on-wet from kindergarten until I left after 6th grade. Often several times a week. In 6th grade, everyone’s paintings still looked like the paintings of 3 year olds. That’s because a water blob is still a water blob.

    In my opinon, it is stifling.

    ‘There is something really inwardly satisfying about creating a beautiful painting, even if it’s based on the theme the teacher gave you and not something you thought of yourself.’

    But the paintings weren’t beautiful.

    And it was never about thinking for oneself, only about imitating. Where’s the balance?

    ‘Life (and people) are unpredictable and dangerous, and so is any philosophy really, apart from maybe humanism, which is obviously immune to error!!!’

    On the contrary. Any worthwhile philosophy should welcome acknowledgment of error. It’s the only way to improve. In particular if the philosophy calls itself humanism. Human thinking is error prone. It’s what I say about Steiner. He was a human. He made errors. It gets complicated the day you ascribe super-human (clairvoyant, higher, whatever) insights to him.

  98. Jan Luiten · ·

    Of course Thetis Mercurio is an adversary. “Anthroposophy is ridiculous” (how arrogant) Did she ever say something positive about anthroposophy?
    Thetis is a skeptic anti-spirit fundamentalist a la Richard Dawkins.
    Rights for children, yeah, give them “ stones instead of bread” at a “Richard Dawkins” school.
    When you are an anthroposophist, or you see your child as a spiritual being and want to send your children to a Waldorf school, you cannot do this when your income is low. Is this what you want, Thetis? Forcing British families with an under- average income to send their children to “Richard Dawkins” schools, and sell it as human rights. Demanding Waldorf schools should not have equal rights as other schools is a kind of discrimination.
    This is all legitimated by the idée fixe she has the only true –skeptic- ideology.

  99. *If only* Richard Dawkins was running mainstream schools…

    Have you heard Dawkins talk about the marvels of science, Jan? He’s positively spiritual, really. If you listen with an open mind. No ‘stones instead of bread’ there, I tell you. This world, as it is, is wonderful — and he conveys this in a rather magic way, if I may say so.

    I like to joke that Steiner has reincarnated as Dawkins. Or someone like him. It fits the picture perfectly.

  100. Thetis: ‘pip – how can Alicia’s post be objective? It’s an astonishingly raw personal account. It is wonderfully subjective, like much of the best writing. She can be a great polemicist too, and polemic is good. Polemic stirs the blood. The ‘balanced view’ is milk and water.’

    I’m brimming with pride now! Thanks!

    (There’s a reason we drink champagne in the ethereal kiosk. Milk and water is just no fun. And doesn’t sparkle.)

  101. Another thing, Jan: you seem almost pathological in your denial to engage with what I’m saying again and again:

    CHILDREN’s rights! What about children’s rights, Jan? It’s all about parents and their beliefs, huh? Personally, I don’t think children are anyone’s property. They have their own rights, their own identities. Getting a child is not like getting a vaccuum cleaner, and if you think it is, you ought to get a vaccuum cleaner instead.

    ‘When you are an anthroposophist, or you see your child as a spiritual being and want to send your children to a Waldorf school, you cannot do this when your income is low. Is this what you want, Thetis? Forcing British families with an under- average income to send their children to “Richard Dawkins” schools, and sell it as human rights.’

    Education is a child’s right in the developed world. Because we can afford it.

    Education steeped in the parents’ preferred dogma, well, school is a small part of a child’s life. Why can’t there be one area of life which is free from spiritual or religious influence?

    I know that people who have left religious sects feel that the only thing that saved them from going mad as children was that school constituted a free-zone from their parents’ fanaticism. These kinds of parents now send their kids to schools which belong to the religious movement. Also in Sweden. This wasn’t the case 25 years ago.

    What about it, Jan — what do you think about taliban schools in Europe? What do you think about children’s human rights in these schools? You think children’s rights will be ensured in such environment? You think these children, subjected to indoctrination both at home and at school, will become free thinking individuals?

    This problem is much bigger than waldorf schools, Jan. Because the ‘taliban’ type parent, who believes in stoning for adultery and so forth, is often poorer than the average anthroposophist. Jehovas Witnesses parents give all their money to the church. They’re poor too. Thus society is required to pay for their deprivation of children’s rights because parental rights trump children’s rights?

    I don’t understand why you can’t see the problem.

    Do you think it’s a human right to indoctrinate a child that homosexuality is a sin — and that the state should contribute to this kind of vile nonsense? Do you think children benefit from learning the genesis of the bible as the literal truth? Why would anyone, except people in these cults who believe this, want to contribute financially to such crap?

    I’m beginning to think you don’t believe that children have rights.

    But, in fact, there’s a collective responsibility for children and children’s rights. That’s why society pays for education. And you want to grab the money, clearly. You accept that education is a collective responsibility, apparently. Then you have to accept that ensuring the quality of this education, for which we all share the costs, is also a societal concern. You can’t have money without accountability.

  102. It’s marvellous, isn’t it? I don’t give a shit about children. Yet I find myself constantly defending the rights of children in front of people who seem to care so much about children that they have their own.

  103. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Jan – you’re an idiot.

    What a wonderful response, Alicia. And I agree that Daisy doesn’t understand humanism.

    I write here as a humanist to explain that I’m viewing education from a human and not supernatural standpoint. It does not mean that I believe everyone should or does think as I do, nor that I want to protect my children or anyone else’s children from the fact that others have religious faith. Like many other people I believe it’s better for both children and society if schools are secular, although I’m far from a hardcore activist and frankly, some schools are more worrying than others. Schools with a hidden occult agenda (and we all know anthroposophy isn’t taught to the children, it’s more subtle than that) are pretty high on my list of Bad Ideas.

    Daisy – I can see Alicia luring you down the path of a year’s dialogue, and having a great deal of fun, but don’t you think it would be better to get a real teaching qualification?

    Besides, if you’re going to write that dissertation, you ought to talk to Dr Peter Staudenmaier.

  104. It’s marvellous, isn’t it? I don’t give a shit about children. Yet I find myself constantly defending the rights of children in front of people who seem to care so much about children that they have their own.

    Now that’s what I call K-A-R-M-A!!! Rudolf Steiner could not have described it better.

    Alicia, I swear to Dog that you have a bright future in Waldorf Education. I really can see you as a Waldorf faculty chair or else a Mother Superior if it’s a Catholic Waldorf school. See, there were several nuns in my own Catholic grammar school in NYC who hated kids as much as you do. But they really were the best teachers for the class because they hated us equally.

    I’m not kidding, Alicia, your laudable antipathy toward children is so great that it becomes truly democratic. So stick that into your democratic Dutch dike, Jan Luiten!

    (now some of my nuns were dykes, but that’s another story and quite off-topic.)

  105. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Catholics. Sheeessh.

  106. I have this idea that people who teach should be properly qualified and that, if they teach children, they should like to be around children.

    Most eurythmists are bad teachers, i m o. Karma or not. We should not obey karma against our better judgment ;-)

  107. Alicia: “You can’t research the efficiency of a certain method by studying a single child, of course. You need evaluate methods statistically, based upon many hundreds of students. It’s not impossible.”

    Well, yes. You’ve explained more clearly what I meant by “observe and generalize”. I think of educational theory as similar to economics or other areas of social science. The fun thing about statistics is that you’ll always find outliers and counter-examples. These don’t prove a theory right or wrong, in the sense that this is meant in a “hard” science like physics. The value of statistical evidence is that it can help you make decisions.

    So, one might find, statistically, that the average reading age of a Steiner/Waldorf class is less than that in a more academically oriented school. Or even that outbreaks of measles occasionally cluster around Steiner/Waldorf schools. And those would be valid reasons for deciding against a Steiner education for your child.

    Daisy, for the sake of balance, can you think of any similarly quantitative measures that would favour a Steiner education? (I know reading age isn’t everything. ;-)

    Daisy: “Anyway, all this debating has given me inspiration for my dissertation next year. It’ll be something addressing the criticisms of Waldorf and anthroposophy – to what extent are they valid?”

    I think that would be a valuable and very interesting subject for a dissertation. The Steiner/Waldorf movement tends to be unhealthily dismissive of criticism – it would be nice to try to change that.

    My own major bugbear is that the spiritual motivation and theories behind Steiner education are under-played or even entirely covert, especially for prospective parents. Schools do vary in how much they give away. It’s interesting to compare their websites. For example, in the UK the Alder Bridge school mentions Anthroposophy in its ethos: http://alderbridge.org/ethos.php
    By contract, the Cambridge Steiner school has Steiner’s book ‘The Education of the Child’ on its reading list: http://www.cambridge-steiner-school.co.uk/further_info/further_reading.html but otherwise nothing.

    You might say that it’s up to parents to do their research. I’d say that we need a little less herbal tea and dancing around the Maypole at the parent/child groups and open days and a little more encouragement to read some Steiner before kindergarten enrollment.

  108. [...] freedom in waldorf education in this thread. And I think I was on to something at the end of this comment and in this comment. Others said many interesting things too, I suggest open the thread and search [...]

  109. ‘Well, yes. You’ve explained more clearly what I meant by “observe and generalize”. I think of educational theory as similar to economics or other areas of social science. The fun thing about statistics is that you’ll always find outliers and counter-examples. These don’t prove a theory right or wrong, in the sense that this is meant in a “hard” science like physics. The value of statistical evidence is that it can help you make decisions.’

    Exactly. But you explained it more clearly now than I did. At least one gets better clues to what works [on a general level] than one could ever hope to gain from spiritual science (even if the latter is fascinating for other reasons).

  110. Felix Brunner · ·

    Daisy, you are brave and I agree with much of what you have been saying.
    I have been a Waldorf teacher for 6 years and my last Class are now in state education and are all doing extremly well. Their new schools are very pleased with their academic standards and how motivated they all are. All of them are in year nine classes in local secondary schools and in most subjects achieve A’s.
    I have met most of the critics on this post before and they have been at it for a while.
    Of course Waldorf crtics have been around for more than 90 years and I am glad they are!
    They have really made me think and question my work and have in this way helped me really to focus on every detail in my classroom. I am now teaching Class 1 and see every minute of every day that its a great education, on the whole, and it realy gives me freedoom to respond to every child.
    Incidently I teach at Alderbridge school and its not a coincidence that we mention Anthroposophy in our prospectus!
    I hope I will be able to read your disertation and to the critics I would like to say……Alicia, your post on mums recently was very emotional but worth a read to anyone….
    good luck to you all…… I hope the war that you for- saw turns into a storm in the tea cup.
    love is another thing that cannot be scientifically proven exept on the surface.

  111. ThetisMercurio · ·

    yes Felix, you are a credit to your profession. Your strangled syntax, ill-evidenced bragging and total inability to find the spellcheck on your computer have remained consistent.

    ‘its not a coincidence that we mention Anthroposophy in our prospectus!’ – no it isn’t, is it? But perhaps you should do more than mention it.

    The prospectus says:

    ‘Anthroposophy is NOT taught to the children; rather is studied by the teachers in order to further their own development and to aid their understanding of the children in their care.’

    How exactly does Anthroposophy further your development, Felix?

  112. As for spellcheck and myself… I have it disabled. It would drive me mad, given that I write both in Swedish and in English. WordPress have spell-check (only English) which you can run before posting a post, but not for comments. I sometimes use it for posts. But the computer or browser spellcheck, good grief. Those are the first things I turn off, never to turn back on.

    However, it seems Felix has reformed, slightly. He never before appeared to be glad critics existed. On the other hand, it’s not unusual for waldorf folks to pay lip-service to the importance of critique, while continuing to reject anything of the kind.

    ‘Alicia, your post on mums recently was very emotional but worth a read to anyone….’

    I wrote a post about mums?
    Am I going senile for real? I can’t remember.

    ‘Anthroposophy is NOT taught to the children’

    With waldorf education, this fact is beside the point.

  113. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Alicia, you don’t have much problem with spelling (at least in English, I’ve no idea about your Swedish).

    He means the post about not wanting children, I think. He would like to point out something … for some reason I doubt it’s entirely friendly.

    I have one last comment to throw at this thread, due to the thin air at this depth and the need to do some work:

    Daisy – one more thing. If you don’t know why Jan’s comments were not decent, I’m surprised. I didn’t say they were because he disagrees with me, I’ve had exchanges with Jan that have been amicable. This thread is unusually extreme for him. It gives me no pleasure to see him write in this way. And my comment about creationist Free Schools was not about Waldorf, it was specifically about the former. So it was certainly not aimed at you personally.

    I wish you luck with the Marine Academy, I’m sure it’s a school which faces a great many challenges. Is there an active student voice there? If not, will you champion it? I recommend: http://twitter.com/#!/AsherJac

    You might like to think about whether you’d be able to have genuine student voice in a Waldorf school. In fact, that’s a better subject for a dissertation. Today’s incendiary press release from Maggie Atkinson is: Children’s Commissioner’s survey shows most children want to recruit teachers:
    http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_418

    That’s going to go down well with Toby Young and co ;)

    I could tease you about coming up with a link to that evidence about karma and reincarnation, which you won’t be able to do, but I don’t believe you really think there is such evidence.

    I also think you’re clever enough not to imagine Steve Paulson’s book is unbiased (is that why you winked?) It is not, and this is why: http://www.philosophypress.co.uk/?p=1141

    (Alicia can call Ophelia Benson a friend of her blog. In fact Ophelia thought the beginning of this thread was hilarious, especially the image of Alicia’s blogging whilst washing her dog. Mr Dog was less impressed.)

    There are all sorts of reasons why your proposed dissertation wouldn’t be accepted by most supervisors. Did your response to critics here (especially Crumbs) show sufficient interest in their concerns? Could any supervisor in your department be impartial? (hollow laugh) Or if you had an external examiner would they not be (a) mystified and then (b) horrified?

    Let’s return to the OP and read it again. And then watch Alan A’Dale, just to remind ourselves quite how ludicrous that article was.

  114. You’re comment got stuck in moderation, Thetis.

    ‘He means the post about not wanting children, I think.’

    Oh, I couldn’t have guessed. And I tried. Maybe he’ll return and tell us.

    But it isn’t really about mums, is it?
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/people-like-me-dont-exist/
    It’s about… me.

    ‘If you don’t know why Jan’s comments were not decent, I’m surprised. I didn’t say they were because he disagrees with me, I’ve had exchanges with Jan that have been amicable. This thread is unusually extreme for him. It gives me no pleasure to see him write in this way.’

    I agree. Jan is among the more sensible anthroposophists. That’s one reason I keep insisting he tries to see the problem from another angle (ie, not from the anthro/waldorf viewpoint), because I’m quite sure he’s capable of it. Otherwise I would have told him to bugger off after the concentration camp comment. I don’t want Jan to bugger off, though.

  115. ‘… especially the image of Alicia’s blogging whilst washing her dog. Mr Dog was less impressed.’

    He’s still upset. Somehow, hearing him nagging about schampoo and other horrors, always reminds me of anthroposophists nagging about adversaries and crusades.

  116. Felix Brunner · ·

    Yes, Alicia you guessed right it was the post you mentioned above…supose its venting your frustration and its fair enough.
    I really think that you do a great service to education.
    The This….Sorry for seemingly bragging but what is true can and should be said.
    Also sorry for the spelos and syntax etc…it was late and I supose I am suffering fron dislexia.
    Really sorry about that but it can’t be helped.

  117. ‘Yes, Alicia you guessed right it was the post you mentioned above’

    It was Thetis who guessed; I don’t know how she did it, because I didn’t have a clue! (But, yes, she is clairvoyant.)

    ‘I really think that you do a great service to education.’

    Thank you. I would do it anyway, of course. As a service to myself ;-)

    ‘Also sorry for the spelos and syntax etc…it was late and I supose I am suffering fron dislexia.
    Really sorry about that but it can’t be helped.’

    No worries. Though the inbuilt browser spellcheck seems quite good, at least if you don’t write in more than one language (in which case switching it on and off becomes tedious).

  118. Felix Brunner · ·

    I do write in German, my mothertong and Italian and French though not seriously.
    I did mean the credit to go to many critics and especially when they post well researched or well thought about material. As far as I am concerned it is the tip of the iceberg and some of it must be taken seriously as it is valid and well meant. Thanks again.
    I am very busy generally but enjoy reading most of your posts.

  119. Felix — if you’re dyslectic and don’t know (it seems?) about modern tools, like even the simplest browser spellcheck, how are you able to help your students, some of whom will most likely turn out to be dyslectic too?

  120. Felix Brunner · ·

    Alicia, I have a spellcheck for my e-mails etc but I do not really have the time to work out Word Press tools as I very rarely use them. As for my past Pupils……one of them went to year ten and within 4 or 5 month he was among the top of his IT Class…his new teacher puts it down to an excellent memory….thats enough braging……I have never taught them IT and this pupil had not touched It up half a year before leaving!

  121. No, not wordpress. It’s a tool in your own browser. It checks spelling as you type.

    No, using IT isn’t really complicated for a kid to learn, that’s not what I meant. I don’t doubt that a child will be able to learn these things quickly if they’re into it and enthusiastic.

    You’re saying you teach class one. Some of the children in your class will be dyslectic. Will you be able to spot this, and will you be able to help them — using the computer based tools available these days? It’s not about learning IT, per se, it’s about these kids getting the help they need to combat their dyslexia at an early stage with the assistance of modern tools.

  122. Felix, you say your children, now in year 9 in state school, are achieving A’s in most of their subjects. Felix, do you know at what level?

    Well, Waldorf teachers in theory are able to meet the needs of individual children as they develop, because they aren’t required to teach ‘X’ by this age, and ‘Y’ by that age, in order to tick such-and-such box as dictated by the government.

    Well that’s just it – theory, and theory is all well and good but applying it into practise is a whole different kettle of fish.

    What I learnt, and at great expense to my child’s education was that there’s nothing to measure the childs progress, because ticking such and such a box might raise a big red flag and expose the teacher’s lack of teaching. I had no idea if my child had reached satisfactory standards or if they even grasped the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding of the subjects taught.

    The National Curriculum puts teachers in a straitjacket as far as I can tell.

    I interpret it as accountability. Have you visited a state school?

    My ex-steiner taught child has learnt more in two and half years in mainstream than the previous seven at steiner – the mainstream teachers saw what the steiner teacher couldn’t and/or wouldn’t. In fact my child felt so humiliated when she saw that her ‘mainstream taught’ peers were reading books with ease and she was having to learn to read books designed for 5 year olds.

    Can you imagine being in her position and at her age rather than yours now?
    Is it the fault of the child?
    Is this karma or reincarnation?
    Or a poor teacher?

    More importantly: Will you be the first to care and/or follow up those who leave before the end of their so called journey to freedom?

    Of course, with freedom comes responsibility

    I have come to the conclusion that it is actually freedom ‘from’ accountability and transparency. I’d be interested if you could prove otherwise.

    teachers shouldn’t abuse the lack of prescriptive curriculum by just plodding along aimlessly or teaching whatever *they* feel like without taking the children’s needs into account.

    Assuming I was a prospective steiner parent, how can I ensure that I don’t end up with a poor teacher?

  123. I’ve not heard of the third thing but it sounds a bit daft. That you mock karma and reincarnation shows your bias – there is research supportive of these ideas. But everyone knows they’re crazy ideas and contrary to all common sense, so why bother looking into it?

    Daisy, I have sat in parent’s meetings listening to, and to a large extent believing what the teacher told us. Imagine I am in your class – You tell us this and I question you in front of 20 other parents, will you be able to back this up with proof?

  124. Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this, but my understanding is that you’ve attended ONE Waldorf school in ONE country, and from this (admittedly very painful) experience you’ve concluded that all the schools worldwide are to varying degrees bad, that Steiner education has no merits and that it’s your mission to crusade against it?

    No, she is highlighting an experience all too familiar with the rest of us. Steiner education does have some merits but it is most certainly not the be all and end all.

  125. Yeah, freedom within the system, which is itself a kind of ‘prison’ if you ask me. I know you will turn this statement around and apply it to Steiner schools – but I personally feel there is more freedom there than in the state system.

    I despair at the poor families who believe the guff that they’re told.

  126. With that said, I’m pursuing this path because I love children, I think anthroposophy can be a force for good and I also think Steiner has something to contribute to the education debate. That’s all.

    Will you still love the children who leave steiner education?

  127. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ‘I think anthroposophy can be a force for good’

    Anthroposophy, devised by former Theosophist Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925 can be described as spiritual advancement through karma and reincarnation, supplemented by the access to esoteric (secret) knowledge available to a privileged few. It is built around a racial view of human nature arranged in a hierarchical framework.

    ‘Anthroposophy is NOT taught to the children; rather is studied by the teachers in order to further their own development and to aid their understanding of the children in their care.’

    How do you get this past the Equality legislation?

    Calling a thing ‘spiritual’ doesn’t make it good.

    Any student teacher in this system needs to understand the history of Anthroposophy and the Steiner Waldorf movement, and not just filtered by its proponents. There is no excuse for remaining ignorant, especially if you’re an undergraduate at a British university. Understand what it is you’re supporting.

  128. ThetisMercurio · ·

    (re my last comment – useful post by historian Peter Staudenmaier, if you are a student on the Steiner BA it might be helpful – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/18203 )

  129. Thanks for very good comments !! and Thetis.

    I have to write about another thing, though, because it’s been bugging me, and I think it’s been bugging others. We know Felix Brunner has been highly manipulative in the past. On MN he was working with Sune, and also on blogs where we encountered him back then. He’s been on this blog before too. He’s a slimy sleazeball. Or, as mr Dog would put it, Felix is a cat. Anyway…

    I find it rather odd that he appears here, sucking up to me, it seems, suddenly finding something worthwhile in what I do, I’ve suddenly become a ‘reasonable’ waldorf critic, although this has not been Felix’s stance in the past. On the contrary.

    So why is he doing this? I can’t know for sure. But in his world — the UK waldorf /Steiner environment — Thetis’s articles are more of a danger than I can ever be. They are what Alan Swindell is talking about, though he can’t mention them. He can’t acknowledge them.

    Naturally, Daisy (and Pip, perhaps) have read them. In Felix’s and Sune’s world, Daisy and Pip are people on the right side who have discovered the ‘dark’ side they don’t think they should engage with. Both Felix and Sune know that rejecting criticism outright, at this point, won’t do the trick. They also realize that in this thread, Daisy and Pip found Thetis more, hm, ‘hostile’, i e critical of what they had to say… compared to me. I hope it’s ok that I copy what I wrote to Thetis last night, because at that point, I didn’t know what to say here, and didn’t know if I should make something of Felix’s recent appearance here, rather than ignore it. But I believe in openness, and think I should make it clear that I don’t view Felix as a waldorf/Steiner representative who takes a respectful view of us critics — because he isn’t, he’s manipulative. (Contrast this to Jan Luiten, who, with his outrageous statements about concentration camps, clearly can’t have intended to manipulate anyone to see the light… To his credit, he wasn’t trying to win sympathies with that comment ;-)) Anyway, this is part of what I wrote to Thetis:

    I’ve been quite good-tempered the last days, but it’s not like I always am. Who wants to be nice? Not me anyway! And Felix knows I’m not. I don’t like Felix because he’s like Sune — there’s always something behind what he’s doing. He’s trying to score some point, whatever it is.
    In contrast, as nasty as Jan Luiten’s comment was (I think he just lost it, which is better than sliminess, any day), to his credit, I don’t think he’s playing that kind of game. I mean, the kind of game Felix plays.
    I think he’s there to show how nice steiner proponents/teachers are to ‘reasonable’ steiner critics, pointing fingers at those who, for the moment being, seem less ‘reasonable’. And his picture is just this thread, because that’s where Daisy and Pip are and its them he wants to win over. He doesn’t care that he really thinks I’ve been awful (and that’s what he thinks), because the past is irrelvant to winning sympathies where sympathies need to be won. With the teacher students.
    He’s manipulative. And he knows that if they have been talking to me, and finding me somewhat friendly (and they’re at least a bit better informed about how critics are treated compared to what they knew a week ago), he risks alienating them if he does what he’s done to me before. He’s aware they’re likely to ‘buy’ his ideas about good and bad critics though — they, being into waldorf, will want to think there are bad critics, whom they can disregard (which is nice because some criticism is too unpleasant to deal with!), and good critics,
    whom they, generous as they are in their spiritual enlightenment, can pretend to take seriously.

    So — since Felix is now pretending to appreciate my criticism, in contrast to Thetis’s, I gather, then I’ll tell you, Felix and everybody else, that it’s not like I’m the ‘good’ critic and Thetis is the ‘bad’ critic. And if you’ve come here to make it appear so, in order to downplay the value of Thetis’s work — her comments and articles –, and I think this is exactly what this is about, then you should know I’m with her on the ‘bad’ side. There’s no question about it. By pretending you find anything of value in what I do, you don’t flatter me, you only flatter yourself and your inflated ego. You try to win sympathies for your movement via your display of generousness versus some critics. And, since it’s you, Felix, we all know it’s just bluff — it’s manipulation, it’s just another move in the propaganda war. For some (perhaps just a few, I don’t know) waldorf proponents / anthroposophists, that’s all there is: winning or losing, promoting the ‘right’ thing (or not), et c.

    I have no respect for this dishonest approach. And it is the approach that is the problem — not the fact that we disagree (which, of course, we do).

  130. Alicia,

    You might want folks to revisit a posting you made on WC two years ago, entitled “The Bizarre Behavior of Felix Brunner” (about LuckyMommy blog)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/9886

    Felix began posting on LuckyMommy blog in January 2009:

    http://luckymummy.wordpress.com/2008/12/27/interesting-post-on-green-parent-forumfood-for-thought/#comments

    I am quiet stunned by what I am reading here. Why I ask my self does anyone want to approach any subject with this much hate! If you have a bad experience of something and you want to find other people who share this bad experience then go ahead!

    and then: (I did Spell check for him.)

    Northernrefugee,
    I think if you truly want Steiner Waldorf schools to become more open
    then stop attacking them. What is the point on a blog like this.

    If you have been disappointed with what you have got from this education,
    I understand that you become critical of it. But is there anything that you have done differently when speaking to staff at the time… anything you have misunderstood or misinterpreted in your dealings with your Steiner school.
    I do not believe that it is only the school that is to blame… for situations to arise there normally is two parties or more and it is seldom the case that it is only one party’s fault?

    Any how it sounds as if you are full of resentment and if you would like me to carry on on this blog please change the tone of your voice.
    =======================

    Looks like Felix changed his tone — the better to butter you up with, my dear Alicia!

  131. Oh cheesus, I wrote a post about it. I had forgot. I believe he has posted comments on this blog too. He was on MN. He doesn’t always post as Felix Brunner. If I’m not wrong.

  132. From now on, I’ll leave Felix’ typos intact, mainly because of a fabulous malapropism he made in this exchange with Polecat on the Lucky Mummy blog on January 19, 2009. Where he meant to say “galvanize” he wrote “calvanize” which of course is one letter off from “Calvinize,” which in turn is actually a better description of the entrenched (er, pre-destined?) POVs here than the word “galvanize.” And of course Calvinization cannot help but lead to stagnation! So, Felix, bravo! Maybe you missed your calling as a theologian!

    ——————————–

    POLECAT wrote:
    “Steiner = completely and absolutely bonkers. Phew!!!”

    FELIX BRUNNER:
    What kind of educated view is this? I call this venting frustration, I am afraid.
    Would you like it if my tone turned to such expressions about you?
    There has been a lot of speculative digs in this blog.
    Do you wonder why there is not more people contributing.
    Don’t get me wrong a lot of what has been said has a kernel of truth in it.
    But does the means justify the ends?
    I think it only helps to calvanise both points of view and then stagnation follows….?!

  133. If FelixBrunner didn’t exist, we would have to invent him. But then, he’s re-invented himself in so many places…that was you ‘thecaty’ on mumsnet? Whooa

    @Zooey, such a great post. There will be bemused eyes frozen in the headlight glare of your light sabre of truth.

    @Thetis, brilliant

    “Anthroposophy, devised by former Theosophist Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925 can be described as spiritual advancement through karma and reincarnation, supplemented by the access to esoteric (secret) knowledge available to a privileged few. It is built around a racial view of human nature arranged in a hierarchical framework.
    ‘Anthroposophy is NOT taught to the children; rather is studied by the teachers in order to further their own development and to aid their understanding of the children in their care.’
    How do you get this past the Equality legislation?”

    @daisy
    Aahh Daisy when I called you Swindell’s twinkling star I imagined you being guided onto your path of enlightenment, the “self development” part of your training, with meditations and so on. I hope you do question and I hope you get the answers that satiate you. You seem in a muddle, because many of those statements could have been written by one of these so called “critics”. Anthroposophy is the narrative of Steiner education, it isn’t incidental, it isn’t tucked away and forgotten about, it’s the point.

  134. Tom quoting Felix:

    ‘What kind of educated view is this? I call this venting frustration, I am afraid.
    Would you like it if my tone turned to such expressions about you?’

    Also, he had forgot that Steiner died in 1925, and wasn’t present on luckymummy’s blog. He compares what Polecat said about Steiner with something he’d (probably like to) say about Polecat.

    As for the rest of the quoted Felix-wisdoms, I can only say that I remember feeling slightly frustrated.

    Cathy: thank you!

    And they always reinvent themselves in new guises, don’t they?

    Why wait until after death before you reincarnate when you can do it, like, daily even now?

    Cathy to Daisy:

    ‘Anthroposophy is the narrative of Steiner education, it isn’t incidental, it isn’t tucked away and forgotten about, it’s the point.’

    Absolutely. And it isn’t optional. Maybe you can choose among the not-so-important details, but you can’t get rid of anthroposophy. It’s the foundation without which steiner schools wouldn’t be steiner schools.

  135. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Cheers, Alicia.

    I do think it’s worth being honest, because we don’t have any sinister motives ourselves. I’d forgotten what Jan said (I didn’t take it personally, partly because the same sort of thing is aimed at lots of humanists/atheists/gnus, and it certainly wouldn’t have bothered Dawkins) but Felix’s spite stays in the memory. Here he’s been a Uriah Heep: http://www.cardcow.com/images/set382/card00861_fr.jpg

    I think Alicia’s comments on the antics of the British Steiner movement have to do with astonishment that they never learn from their mistakes or genuinely reflect on what they’re doing, it’s a species of wonder. There was Jeremy Smith making blunders on numerous blogs, a flat-footed policeman appearing through the French windows in the middle of what my mother used to call a ‘coffee morning':
    ‘Come on now ladies, what’s all this talk about swastikas? We can’t be having any of that, now can we? Why am I here? Well: we’ve been getting reports of some very naughty mothers doing their own reading and coming to conclusions without supervision. Where will that lead us? – to hell in a wicker hand basket, that’s where. So settle down, do as you’re told and stop asking awkward questions and we’ll say no more about it. Otherwise we will have no alternative but to sue you for defamation and libel, quickly, before they change the libel laws.’

    So saying he ALWAYS turns briskly and exits into a cupboard.

  136. ThetisMercurio · ·

    The other comical idea is Alan Swindell’s image of critics as aspirant ‘academics’ who have found a subject. Do you mean Peter Staudenmair, Alan? Or someone else?

    As the Greeks say, ‘know thyself’.

  137. Actually, that’s what Steiner said too. Not that anthroposophists follow his advice when it would be the sensible thing to do.

    Of course he means Peter. Who else? Helmut Zander possibly. Geoffrey Ahern, but that was years ago, and I suppose mr Swindell has forgot about that.

    ‘I think Alicia’s comments on the antics of the British Steiner movement have to do with astonishment that they never learn from their mistakes or genuinely reflect on what they’re doing, it’s a species of wonder. There was Jeremy Smith making blunders on numerous blogs, a flat-footed policeman appearing through the French windows in the middle of what my mother used to call a ‘coffee morning’:
    ‘Come on now ladies, what’s all this talk about swastikas? We can’t be having any of that, now can we? Why am I here? Well: we’ve been getting reports of some very naughty mothers doing their own reading and coming to conclusions without supervision. Where will that lead us? – to hell in a wicker hand basket, that’s where. So settle down, do as you’re told and stop asking awkward questions and we’ll say no more about it. Otherwise we will have no alternative but to sue you for defamation and libel, quickly, before they change the libel laws.’

    So saying he ALWAYS turns briskly and exits into a cupboard.’

    Oh yes, indeed. This is the picture. This is what’s going on.

  138. I can’t keep up! Doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was last reading and since then there are pages more to digest.

    My plea for objectivity is as simple as this: coming at one another with a linguistic baseball bat (that bites) doesn’t seem to do anyone any favours. I think this is why I initially praised Alicia and Daisy, because it was dialogue I could engage with. I’m certainly not trying to curry favour whilst wondering what to cook Felix for his tea ;)

    Thetis, in all honesty, Alicia is right, I find you’re writing style a little ‘hostile,’ more difficult to engage with than hers. On the inside, I’m champagne all the way (not on a school night though!) but on the outside find milk and water preferable as it gives me space to assess things on my own terms.

    I wasn’t aware that Gardner had ever supported steiner’s model, I just noticed a stitch of correlation in one miniscule area of their ideal. That is, the need to deliver lessons in a variety of ways. The evidence is my enthusiastic, happy pupils and their subsequent grades.

    The mother, singer, year head was a (probably obvious but maybe necessary) reminder that we’re all ‘real people’. “bombastic little berk” – did make me laugh out loud but I hope no-one talks about MY father that way!

    Alicia, regarding your concerns for steiner types trying to ‘win me over’, don’t fear – two steps ahead and not here to join an army!

    Pip

  139. Pip —
    Don’t worry, I can’t keep up either. I’ve forgot most of what I wrote in this thread ;-)

    ‘…regarding your concerns for steiner types trying to ‘win me over’, don’t fear – two steps ahead and not here to join an army!’

    That’s good, of course! It just so bugs me when I see so clearly what the type in question is trying… It’s a pattern.

    ‘Thetis, in all honesty, Alicia is right, I find you’re writing style a little ‘hostile,’ more difficult to engage with than hers.’

    You were lucky not to catch me when at my most hostile ;-) Unfortunately, when I’m hostile, I’m not as eloquent as Thetis.

    ‘I wasn’t aware that Gardner had ever supported steiner’s model’

    He supported some aspects of it, but then modified his support, saying he didn’t agree with the esoteric foundation (and he also questioned the movement’s ability to deal with criticism). I may be in error, this is just from memory; but there’s a statement on http://www.waldorfcritics.org — I think it’s on the front page.

    ‘…the need to deliver lessons in a variety of ways.’

    Seems like a good ideal to strive for. In my opinion, waldorf didn’t deliver lessons in a variety of ways. There was very little variation.

  140. I read the Gardner post via the link you sent, thanks Alicia. His quote sums up my stance on objectivity – makes his point perfectly and leaves hostility out of it.

    You did however call me Daisy…and I’m Pip! Daisy and I are from very different schools of thought…I hope (no disrespect to Daisy) that that was a typo!

    “in my opinion waldorf didn’t deliver….” = fair.

    But I observed for 2days, prior to my pgce, in a steiner school in the north of england and for those 2days at least, variaton was key. Maybe variation doesn’t correlate with waldorf, it just correlates with good teaching?

    Alicia. I have to ask…who is mr Dog?!

    Pip

  141. ….have since seen a photo of mr dog. What a handsome little scamp he is too!

  142. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Pip – that’s fine by me.

    ‘coming at one another with a linguistic baseball bat (that bites) doesn’t seem to do anyone any favours.’

    A baseball bat wouldn’t bite – it would hit. It would hit home too, if the aim was good enough.

  143. Pip —

    ‘I hope (no disrespect to Daisy) that that was a typo!’

    Ah, sorry; yes, it was a mistake. I had written the comment, and this thought popped into my head that I ought to include the name, which was done in a haste… (I’ll edit my comment.)

    ‘But I observed for 2days, prior to my pgce, in a steiner school in the north of england and for those 2days at least, variaton was key. Maybe variation doesn’t correlate with waldorf, it just correlates with good teaching?’

    I think that’s a likely hypothesis. And, also, two days is… well, two days. I’m sure that somebody could have visited my waldorf class during two days and found variation there too. But the kids may have experienced this same teaching for years, even if it varied over these two days.

  144. ‘I have to ask…who is mr Dog?! ….have since seen a photo of mr dog. What a handsome little scamp he is too!’

    He’s very handsome, indeed! My furry guru!

  145. Thetis —

    ‘A baseball bat wouldn’t bite – it would hit. It would hit home too, if the aim was good enough.’

    It would. On the other hand, if the aim was bad, it could get stuck up a tree with a batty cat. Doesn’t happen when you’re swinging it, though. The bat, not the cat.

  146. ThetisMercurio · ·

    let me tell you, if it was me on the end of it I couldn’t even see the ball, let alone hit it. You could hit a bat at dusk if you aimed high enough…

    Are we back down the rabbit hole?

  147. ‘Are we back down the rabbit hole?’

    Why on earth did we exit the rabbit hole if we were in it?

    /mr Dog

    (As for hitting balls, well. Mr Dog can tell you how I’ve tried to throw balls for him and had them land on my own head. ‘I don’t know why’ he says, shrugs his head.)

  148. (That’s a good reason for not using bats to hit the ball with. I’d hit myself in the head. I just know it.)

  149. ThetisMercurio · ·

    we’re never going to make it to Wimbledon, Alicia. However much Mr Dog wants to be a ball-dog.

  150. He’s more of a bunny-hunter, really. ‘You fetch the balls — oops there it is, watch your head! — and I’ll go hunt some bunnies, ok? he says.

  151. ThetisMercurio · ·

    chaos.

  152. Felix Brunner · ·

    Well here, I have been put into boxes again.
    As has happened in the past on the above mentioned blogs of 2009 etc.
    Alicia, I do appriciate critcs, these days, and as I said before if they have researched what they are writting about then all for the better.
    I am writting only on my own behalf and have no agenda, I do believe that I can learn from you guys and I think I am the best jugde on that, or do you think otherwise?
    I have however not got the time after a full days teaching followed by 6 hours of meetings to respond in any depth to what some of the above posts are saying.
    thank you for being awake!

  153. ‘I have been put into boxes again.’

    Not without reason, I would say.

    ‘I do appriciate critcs, these days’

    That’s a good thing, any change in that direction is a good thing, in my opinion.

    ‘I do believe that I can learn from you guys and I think I am the best jugde on that, or do you think otherwise?’

    Nope, I don’t think otherwise.

  154. Although fascinating as all the above seems to be, I cannot keep up and there seems to be alot of opinions flying around. I myself went to a Steiner school and absolutly loved it. I came out of this school after 7 years and went to a state school and had no problems settling in.
    My brother on the other hand opted out of the Steiner school and went into the local state school. This, in contrast to me, worked for him. I have full respect for the disagreements with Steiner education; in all situations if you had a bad experience in school, it will live with you forever. Yet there are also many people in society that have horrific experiences in state schools, so should we say that state schools are the ‘dark side’ based on these peoples experiences? I think that the way a teacher teaches, and what suits each individual person is different and I guess I was lucky that I had a mother that understood and acted upon what was good for me and my brother.

    I know for saying this I will probably be slated immediatly and that you are all going to probably say that I am indoctrinated, but I know for a fact that I loved my school years, as well as the rest of my class. This is something that none of you can judge.

    Thetismercurio, although some of what you say has presidence in anthroposophy today I take your stance to be very aggressive, and unlikeable, you sound like a dick, basically. This anger and aggression must come from somewhere and I am interested to know if you have ever tried eurythmy as a form or therapy?

    That was supposed to be a joke, but in all honesty I feel that you are far too critical, and need to respect other opinions if you want them to listen to yours.

    As felix said, we can all learn from critics, so why dont you stop and listen (well read, with an open mind).

  155. ‘Although fascinating as all the above seems to be, I cannot keep up and there seems to be alot of opinions flying around.’

    SWSF’s document isn’t our opinions flying around (yours fly around just as much, I have to say) — so, if you want, you could comment on that. For example, is it OK for the SWSF to threaten to sue people who criticize waldorf /steiner education? That, in my opinion, is possibly even more outrageous than the inferior education waldorf schools provide.

    ‘Thetismercurio, although some of what you say has presidence in anthroposophy today I take your stance to be very aggressive, and unlikeable, you sound like a dick, basically.’

    You mistake criticism and irony for aggression. It’s a common mistake among waldorf (and anthroposophy) defenders. They usually tell us we’re aggressive — and have personal issues — because that’s a way to discredit us and disregard valid arguments.

    You have nothing to say about Thetis arguments or her thoroughly researched articles (which were linked to in this thread I believe) — instead you tell her she needs therapy. Yes, you also say it’s a joke. But you clearly attribute her criticism to her personality flaws. She’s the one with the problem, not waldorf/Steiner/anthroposophy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen. To me and to other critics.

    Making allusions to someone’s sanity is obviously a way of saying that they’re not worth taking seriously. And I’d say the reason Thetis is targeted this time is that her writing is too powerful, too difficult to counter with arguments.

    ‘Yet there are also many people in society that have horrific experiences in state schools, so should we say that state schools are the ‘dark side’ based on these peoples experiences?’

    No, we should not say that. We’re not saying waldorf schools are the ‘dark side’. And we’re emphatically not saying they’re ‘the dark side’ based on some peoples’ experiences.

    The criticism, furthermore, is not simply experience-based — it’s a criticism focused on the underlying philosophy. In particular if you read what Thetis writes — this has very much been her focus. I have written about my experiences, but there’s another side to my criticism too — and this has to do with waldorf philosophy and the anthroposophical underpinnings.

  156. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Bee – you say you can’t keep up and in common with many Steineristas you can’t spell and you can barely write, although of course you’ll now say I’m vile for pointing this out. Believe me, I wouldn’t have sought you out to do so.

    I’m afraid I am boringly sane. If anything I get saner as I get older. But I’m more satirical, it’s true: impelled to find humour where others might be insulted. This might be because the insults offered are generally poor. Try to be more baroque – I find Shakespeare helps, or possibly someone Russian. In fact writing in Russian would be interesting and would give us something to do in the ethereal kiosk over the accompanying vodka and dancing.

    You can call me a dick if it makes you feel better, my little stripy bee-like friend though it might suggest that it’s you, not me who is angry. I am not angry. But when occultists run schools and lie about what they’re doing people will be tiresome and point this out, however much you personally liked your school. And then there are Steiner’s race theories, and the anti-vax stance, and the anti-intellectual, anti-scientific bias..

    I am not the problem. The problem is anthroposophy. That isn’t our fault, and it isn’t yours either as a former student. You don’t have to justify to us that you liked your school. We don’t have to answer to your ranting.

  157. ThetisMercurio · ·

    alicia – zeno just tweeted Mabus commenting on his blog:

    http://www.zenosblog.com/2010/01/boots-the-alternative-chemist/comment-page-1/#comment-2577

    “atheismisdead:

    zeno btw

    we are going to put you to DEATH ….”

    To which Jack of Kent (note: a well-known lawyer) said:

    “Re atheismisdead – if you put Zeno to death, I will sue you. You will find that your resulting legal bills will be far worse than being put to death”

    Let that be a lesson. In humour, if nothing else.

  158. I very rarely delete comments on this blog. (Well, you know exactly when I’ve done so.) Once, this was some years ago (three perhaps), I deleted one comment.

    It said that a person who was involved in the Stockholm uni decision (re the waldorf teacher training) should be killed. (I don’t remember if it was ‘killed’ or ‘shot to death’ but the message was pretty clear.)
    I traced this comment, and learnt that it came from an IP-address belonging to a family professionally involved in waldorf (not merely as a teacher) and a well-known anthroposophical company.

    I found the comment so bizarre for people of their ‘standing’ that I assumed it was written by one of their unhinged and half-illiterate kids. Still suspect it was, by the way.

    Speaking of having people put down for doing their job or for disagreeing with your opinions…

    Anyway,

    ‘I’m afraid I am boringly sane. If anything I get saner as I get older. But I’m more satirical, it’s true: impelled to find humour where others might be insulted. This might be because the insults offered are generally poor. Try to be more baroque …’ and so forth.

    Genial. It’s generally a lot better to find humour than to be insulted. Because people won’t stop delivering their poor insults anyway.

  159. As I predicted you pulled my comment apart, as you say Alicia, it is easy to predict how people will insult you guys and that this will never stop, in retaliation I had predicted that you both would pick up on spelling and grammar, and would also say somthing about the way I insulted you Thetis. If you actually read into what I said I agreed with alot of your opinions and said that they where important:
    ‘although some of what you say has presidence in anthroposophy today I take your stance to be very aggressive, and unlikeable, you sound like a dick, basically.’

    Alicia you say that the way Thetis argues is brilliant and that her arguements are so strong that people are not quick enough to retaliate, in my opinion from reading the above, it is actually that people can not be bothered to talk to someone as though they are on the same level when they know all they are going to do is rip them to shreds. This in itself is a reason to maybe rethink the stance you are taking. It is completly your entitlement to disagree with anthroposophy, what ever your reasons may be, but if you want to be taken seriously, as Pip perviously said, it is much easier to read and gain an understanding when a person is objective and it is not personal. Mark is quite objective when he writes, and so were Alicia and Daisy when they where having their discussions. It is much more understandable and actaully very interesting to read.

    I shouldnt have to write in Russian, or look into Shakespearian language to make a point. And I clearly was not insulting anyone’s ‘personality flaws’ I was commenting on the way that you superficially address issues that I predicted you would e.g. spelling grammer, and the insult that I threw in for good measure.

    I have not commented on here to say what I believe in this arguement I simply implied that it worked for me, and not for my brother. I just disagree with the way that instead of encouraging fair debates you just shut people down, and this is not a professional way of handling situations. You all clearly know what you are talking about, and have alot of free time to voice this.

    I hope you enjoy the spelling and grammer mistakes, if you have any suggestions I would very much appreciate them as I am dyslexic. :)

    Happy Easter!

  160. ‘in retaliation I had predicted that you both would pick up on spelling and grammar’

    I don’t think I said a word about it.

    ‘Alicia you say that the way Thetis argues is brilliant and that her arguements are so strong…’

    Yes they are. Have you read her articles? they’re on dcscience.net. I don’t have the direct links right now. Those articles are the reason SWSF insinuates there’s a reason to sue… somebody…

    ‘It is completly your entitlement to disagree with anthroposophy, what ever your reasons may be, but if you want to be taken seriously, as Pip perviously said, it is much easier to read and gain an understanding when a person is objective and it is not personal.’

    I don’t want to be ‘taken seriously'; it’s something I’ve realized long ago that it will never happen. There’s not much I can do to change how I am percieved by fanatical anthroposophists anyway. To them, every piece of criticism is a full-front attack, an act of war. I write because I enjoy writing. I am personal, lots of the time. I can’t mull over whether I’m taken seriously or not, I don’t control the reactions of other people. I do think Thetis’s articles and her arguments should be taken seriously though. They’re well-written, incredibly well-founded, and really and truly worth taking seriously. Unless you prefer to stick your head in the sand. (Not uncommon.)

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘objective’. Lots, if not most of, what I’ve written was subjective. In fact, I’ve been more subjective than Thetis. I think the word you’re looking for is ‘nice’. For some reason, I managed to come off as nice in this particular thread. It’s highly interesting, but, the bottom line, nice doesn’t equal objective.

    ‘And I clearly was not insulting anyone’s ‘personality flaws’’

    You were not addressing any arguments, you said she was aggressive and implied she needed therapy. I didn’t talk about insulting her personality flaws, I did suggest, however, that focusing on an opponants supposed personality flaws instead of arguments is a way to minimize the arguments. It’s a way of redirecting attention from where it should be — from waldorf education and its underpinnings to Thetis’s mental health.

    Happens again and again, and it’s not like we can’t spot this method when it rears its ugly head.

    ‘I have not commented on here to say what I believe in this arguement I simply implied that it worked for me …’

    We know that lots of former waldorf students and parents think it worked. It’s not a surprise.

    ‘I just disagree with the way that instead of encouraging fair debates you just shut people down, and this is not a professional way of handling situations.’

    Ha! How ironic! Now, take a look at what the Steiner Waldorf Fellowship — the organisation for all Steiner schools in the UK — wrote!! Take a look at how waldorf proponents have acted to shut every critical debate down! Then we can discuss ‘fair debates’ and professionalism!

    (Neither Thetis nor I, unlike the waldorf officials and their organisations, are waldorf or education professionals — we’re not professionally handling any situation here! I’m just saying.)

    ‘You all clearly … have alot of free time to voice this.’

    No, in fact, we don’t. To take on the waldorf movement in a way that is necessary would take a lot more time, energy and dedication than we have at our disposal. That’s why there’s so little stuff around. We don’t have a PR machine. We don’t have employees who act to shut down discussions all over the internet. We’re just a few people who spend a little time every now and then, when we have time to spare, writing about a subject we think is important.

    ‘I hope you enjoy the spelling and grammer mistakes, if you have any suggestions I would very much appreciate them as I am dyslexic. :)’

    It’s not a big deal to me. But if you hadn’t been waldorf/steiner educated, wouldn’t you have learnt of technological aids that can be used to help you with spelling and to train spelling?

    The browser has spell-check, at least Firefox does, it checks spelling *as you write*. I have it turned off, because I write in two languages, and it’s too bothersome to switch between them. It could help you with the spelling.

    Also, for dyslexia, early detection is very important. Steiner schools, which delays reading and writing, can’t do early detection. And they have no competency or resources to help students when the dyslexia is detected. Maybe you should rethink whether Steiner school really ‘worked’ that well for you? (Despite the fact you loved it.)

    Happy easter to you too!

  161. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Bee – you write:

    ‘I take your stance to be very aggressive, and unlikeable, you sound like a dick,’

    but you expect to be treated with courtesy anyway. And then you come back and say it again. Perhaps it does something for you.

    There’s no reply that would satisfy your presence here, you’re determined to take offence. And unfortunately it does appear from comments on many forums that a large number of people educated in Waldorf schools have difficulties with writing and comprehension. Maybe there’s a higher incidence of dyslexia – a disputed diagnosis btw – see: http://www.dyslexics.org.uk/five_main_2.htm
    I’d suggest that the poor teaching of reading in Waldorf schools can be responsible for what in some cases becomes a diagnosis of ‘dyslexia’ – and that outcomes could be improved in a different setting.

    Of course, I am vile (yet again) for pointing all this out. But having listened in some alarm to the stories of teenagers who have what is called dyslexia and have been failed by their Steiner school – recently too – having no access to any of the provision they would have had in a conventional school, I am not about to be overly kind to this system’s supporters. A nasty and personal comment will garner a response – and that’s what you wanted. You got what you came for.

    Our posts on DC’s blog have been widely read, as have Unity’s posts on Liberal Conspiracy. Our work achieved more than we could have expected, and will continue to have impact, especially if Steiner schools gain Free Schools funding in England – a step which would certainly expose the Steiner Waldorf movement to media (and eventually legal) attention. It has little to do with my activities – I’m the least of their problems. Their problem is anthroposophy.

    It isn’t my responsibility to sort this out for Waldorf proponents – there can be arts-based progressive schools without an occult basis. There are already. I’ve seen no justification good enough to convince me that it Waldorf is worth the risks. It’s not aggression, or mental illness, or a failed life – the arguments just haven’t been good enough. But the question is – why does my opinion matter? It won’t be me you need to convince.

  162. ‘‘I take your stance to be very aggressive, and unlikeable, you sound like a dick,’
    but you expect to be treated with courtesy anyway. And then you come back and say it again.’

    It’s certainly interesting, isn’t it. Not unusual. But a peculiar phenomenon.
    (Mr D is getting mad at me, so I have to go out. Will read the rest later.)

  163. ThetisMercurio · ·

    One more thing, Bee: you don’t understand what is meant by objective and subjective, any more than Pip did. Daisy’s comments for example were highly subjective. That’s not a fault.

    I have opinions. My opinions are subjective. So are yours. But we have (elsewhere) provided evidence which is, as far as possible, objective. Being entirely objective is problematic, clearly, and human discourse is full of the personal and subjective. What you mean though is that I have a view, and you don’t like it. In fact it makes you uncomfortable, more so than anyone else’s criticism. I’m glad it does.

  164. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Alicia commented:

    ‘You all clearly … have alot of free time to voice this.’

    No, in fact, we don’t. To take on the waldorf movement in a way that is necessary would take a lot more time, energy and dedication than we have at our disposal. That’s why there’s so little stuff around. We don’t have a PR machine. We don’t have employees who act to shut down discussions all over the internet. We’re just a few people who spend a little time every now and then, when we have time to spare, writing about a subject we think is important.”

    So well said.

    And I come here because I like alicia’s writing. And the ethereal kiosk. (note: this refers to the pleasingly absurd and charming kiosk in the foyer of this blog, where Steiner himself is currently practicing the balalaika.)

  165. The ethereal kiosk is the best. I’m going to go sit down closer to the balalaika. I think that’s the only way to block out the word ‘pedophile’ right now. If it doesn’t work, I’ll invite a choir of gnomes to sing. They’re loud and obnoxious — in particular when high on shrooms — but sometimes that’s just what you need. And cold champagne (that’s self evident).

    I totally agree with what you wrote about the objective/subjective issue. These words have been used in rather odd ways lately. Or maybe it’s that people regularly use them to signify things they don’t signify, because people often accuse others of being subjective or not bein objective… people who don’t seem to know what objective and subjective entail. No wonder it’s difficult to talk.

    In the ethereal kiosk, we celebrate subjectivity. With champagne and ice-cream.

    Now, to your earlier comment.

    ‘I’d suggest that the poor teaching of reading in Waldorf schools can be responsible for what in some cases becomes a diagnosis of ‘dyslexia’ – and that outcomes could be improved in a different setting.’

    Indeed. And that, in cases of genuine dyslexia (I know way too little to be able to tell one thing from another, I mean here, not bad-education-induced spelling problems), detection and intervention is too late and inefficient.

    In some cases, though, I think it’s a question of bad education. Not learning early enough, not being given the opportunity to practise enough. Bad methods, bad tools.

  166. Theres always going to be an issue in subjectivity and objectivity when trying to portay thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. I have not said what I believe in, and whether I fully spport the anthroposohpical movement, I just know I enjoyed my education, and went on to succed in mainstream education, recieving high GCSE’s and A levels.
    I agree there has to be an element of both (subjectivity and objectivity) in discussions such as these, I just disagree with making statments personal and actually critising other people to get your point across. The next point would be that yes this is what I did, by actually using the word ‘dick’ and immediatly it gets a reaction, and cases a person to get defensive. I apologise if any insult was caused I guess I just wanted to see the reaction, because from reading some comments above, it causes people to recoil and take offence from some of the personal things that have been said.

    Alicia you said you dont know much about dyslexia, in short its a crossing over off dominances in the body. Most people are either right side or left side, meaning that you are right handed, right footed, right eyed and so forth. Dyslexia is thought to be caused by a cross dominance. In my case I am left handed, right footed, right eyed. This suposidly creates a cross over in the brain, which can form a confusion in certain areas. Mainly memory, organisation, spelling, reading and writing. In some it is diagnosed early, and in other such as my case it wasnt. This may be because I went to a Steiner school, but the state school also didnt diagnose it untill much later on. I myself as do most children actually compensate for many things. State schools deal with dyslxia using coloured paper and there is new research on how memory and organisation skills can be improved, where as Steiner schools (or at least some) actually look at the roote cause and try to conteract the crossing over off dominances. I am in not position and have not looked into it enough to be able to say what works and what doesnt.
    Anywhoooooo I hope this is off some use and again offence wasnt meant, just used it to highlight how people react to personalised insults.

  167. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ‘I just disagree with making statments personal and actually critising other people to get your point across.’

    which is why you called me a dick. But it was meant to make a point, wasn’t it? I was to learn the error of my ways from your example. To improve my tactics even – in order to make a better case. To make it more likely that others will listen…

    In reality, you just wanted to call me a dick. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    It is sometimes necessary to actively criticise people, and you are after all very actively and persistently criticising me, with no attempt at all to address the original point of this thread, or my analysis elsewhere. It doesn’t matter to me what you think about anthroposophy, it matters that it informs these schools.

    ‘I apologise if any insult was caused I guess I just wanted to see the reaction, ‘

    But it didn’t cause me to recoil, it made me laugh. Is that what you wanted?

  168. All you seem to do is bite, even after an apology….so do what ever you feel necessary, laugh. I have no comment on the original point of the thread, because I do not know enough about it.

  169. ThetisMercurio · ·

    was that an apology? I don’t need one.

    It partly made me laugh because people don’t normally call women ‘dicks’.

    But you said it was a joke – Bee. I said I wasn’t insulted, I was amused. I’m still amused.

    It’s an interesting op – and very much the point of the thread. Alicia wrote an acute (and funny) post – and our responses do reflect the activities of Alan Swindell and co. I don’t tend to go onto the end of threads I don’t know anything about and lay into the commenters. That WOULD be aggressive! And indeed quite eccentric.

  170. ThetisMercurio · ·

    ‘State schools deal with dyslxia using coloured paper and there is new research on how memory and organisation skills can be improved, where as Steiner schools (or at least some) actually look at the roote cause and try to conteract the crossing over off dominances.’

    What is the root cause of dyslexia as perceived by Steiner schools?

    This comment on a TES thread (6 – susie68) is typical of concerns I’ve heard voiced many times. http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/p/467804/6506967.aspx (the close immediate friendship-group is familiar too).

  171. ThetisMercurio · ·

    btw, the Shakespearian insult generator:

    http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html?

    wonderfully random but often accurate.

  172. (I’ll be back. Applies to the other thread as well. Am not ignoring, but have been busy!)

  173. ThetisMercurio · ·

    no worries – I’ll just keep clicking the insult generator until you’re free.

  174. Bee

    ‘Theres always going to be an issue in subjectivity and objectivity when trying to portay thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. I have not said what I believe in, and whether I fully spport the anthroposohpical movement, I just know I enjoyed my education…’

    That’s ok, but that’s subjective. Feelings, for example, tend to be subjective.

    ‘thoughts and feelings on a particular subject’ — sure! Why would there be an issue of subjective and objective there? I don’t get it? As long the frame of reference and the context and the nature of the argument are clear — what’s the problem being with subjective?

    I have a feeling (!) that waldorf folks are so eager to for objective that they forget what objective means. And forget that subjective is really ok.

    ‘… and went on to succed in mainstream education, recieving high GCSE’s and A levels.’

    I did too. I ‘succeeded’ in mainstream education. I went to university. I can even spell decently. But that’s not thanks to my waldorf edcuation years, I tell you that.

    ‘I just disagree with making statments personal and actually critising other people to get your point across’

    It won’t be much of a debate if we don’t discuss people, what they say and what they do. For example, we’ve been discussing the actions of SWSF’s newsletter article writer (whatever his name was) — we’ve been discussing how utterly stupid it is of him to make thinly veiled legal threats. We have to criticize such a person for what he’s done. Wether it’s personal? — well, to a certain extent. He shows a remarkable lack of judgment. Not a great personality trait.

    ‘State schools deal with dyslxia using coloured paper and there is new research on how memory and organisation skills can be improved, where as Steiner schools (or at least some) actually look at the roote cause and try to conteract the crossing over off dominances.’

    The question I have is — can they identify the root cause? Or do they use Steiner’s personality and development theories — which are quite inadequate?

    One thing mainstream education does use these days is computer based aids. Steiner schools don’t tend to be eager about this.

    (If you’re my age, there were no computers in any schools, but these days it’s different.)

    As for calling someone a dick, I can’t say anything about it. I’ve called people worse things. (Of course, when I did it, I had good reason ;-))

    It’s not really a huge problem calling someone an ugly word. It’s not perhaps the most eloquent way of getting back, and it won’t score high points in an argumentation. Sometimes it makes the other person laugh. But that’s about it.

    I’m more troubled by waldorf proponents’ habit of making relevant criticism into a question of the critic’s supposedly inferior mentality.

    Thetis
    ‘It is sometimes necessary to actively criticise people, and you are after all very actively and persistently criticising me, with no attempt at all to address the original point of this thread, or my analysis elsewhere. It doesn’t matter to me what you think about anthroposophy, it matters that it informs these schools. ‘

    I agree. And I’d say if Bee has anything s/he wishes to say about your posts at DC’s, this discussion is very welcome here. (As the comment threads over there have been closed.)

    The different DC threads have been discussed on this blog previously, and bringing any of these threads alive again is perfectly fine. I’ll link to them here (and they, in turn, contain links to Thetis’s posts at DC’s in case Bee hasn’t read them yet):
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/mystic-barmpottery-in-education/
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/into-the-woods/
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/the-waldorf-steiner-movements-double-bind/

    ‘It partly made me laugh because people don’t normally call women ‘dicks’.’

    I’ve been called an anthroposophist. I think that’s the funniest insult ever, because it just isn’t an insult at all. Even if you can see the furious intention behind it.

    The insult generator is genial! I got this:
    ‘Thou fobbing doghearted canker-blossom!’

  175. ThetisMercurio · ·

    The first person to write: ‘I hate to butt in and spoil the party’ will be awarded a bottle of house-champagne and a Swedish massage (from the gnomes).

  176. I’m tempted by the champagne, but frightened by the gnomes. Is there any way to win the champagne and avoid the gnomes?

    Oh, wait. I just remembered I have the key to the champagne cellar. I can get as many bottles as I like. If the wine-cellar spirit will let me have them. He’s a bit cranky sometimes. Have to tickle his toes ’til he begins to laugh uncontrollably. Then you sneak in and take whatever you want.

    Since I have the key, I’ve thought of having him evicted. But, somehow, I think there should be a wine-cellar spirit. A pity he’s a bit nuts. But you get so much wisdom from the nuts. Perhaps I should write a book. ‘The wine-cellar spirit’s thoughts on anthroposophists’. It’ll be a bestseller. I’ll ask him to meditate on Sergei Prokofieff’s karma. It’ll be spectacular(ly interesting).

  177. ThetisMercurio · ·

    I’m glad you brought up the wine-cellar spirit. He has corked 16 biodynamic wine-growers, mostly Californian, but one Swiss.

  178. ThetisMercurio · ·

    [Thou] vicious mole of nature!

  179. As long as he doesn’t put a cork in our supply of champagne, I’m happy. If he does, I’ll have to say something like this:
    [Thou] stale old mouse eaten dry cheese!

    (An insult which appealed to me because I suddenly realized I’m hungry.)

  180. Bee — do you know Pip and Daisy?

    And, Pip, are you sure you don’t know Daisy? Maybe you know Bee? What about you, Daisy?

    I also do have a few questions about this statement:

    ‘You did however call me Daisy…and I’m Pip! Daisy and I are from very different schools of thought…I hope (no disrespect to Daisy) that that was a typo!’

    But I will leave those questions for tomorrow. Maybe you can meditate on it, all three of you, and surprise me with the answers.

  181. To clarify.

    I take objectivity to be black and white ‘facts,’ and ‘truth’- this sometimes includes that which has been scientifically tested but not always, there are maybe even limitations in science.

    I take subjectivity to be perceptions of ‘truth’ – that is a personal take on something that has happened, been seen, been heard, etc. This is where it gets complicated because science can be said to be a perception of truth, but that which has been tested should in theory become objective fact?

    Maybe there is no such thing as objectivity?

    It reminds me of this reoccuring dream I had as a child whereby I had a never ending supply of paper and a voice in my head said “write down everything you know to be true” – and try as I might I couldn’t write a single thing. In the end, it went something like this:

    “I know that stinging nettles sting,”
    “what if I told you they don’t sting me?!”
    “I know that I am stung by stinging nettles”
    “are or have been? Can you say with absolute certainty that once stung, you will always be stung?” etc.

    Years later I had a son; a son with autism, who at five years old would rub stinging nettles up and down his arms and legs. Sure, he was ‘stung’ but seemingly not in the way that I was.

    Thetis- Indeed, Alicia and Daisy could be pretty ‘subjective’ at times. It was perhaps a bad call to label them ‘objective’ and you, by proxy, ‘subjective.’ I suppose asking direct questions and trying to give as direct as possible answers is about as objective as a thread like this can get and that that was what Alicia and Daisy seemed to be trying to do?

    Alicia – I do not know Bee, or Daisy for that matter. Interested in a letter written by Alan Swindell in ‘The Times’(can’t even remember what it was about now, but I think ‘defending’ spirituality in steiner schools?), I googled him and found this blog. As you know, I am a secondary school teacher/head of year. I teach in a community school in the south of England. Why did you think otherwise?

    Regarding ‘Daisy and I are from very different schools of thought’ – what I should have said (seeing as how I harp on about objectivity …which I may have even defined wrong) is “Daisy and I ‘appear to be’ from very different schools of thought” ;)
    To be honest, by being called ‘Daisy’, I felt as though you were subtly trying to insinuate that we knew each other, or even were the same people…just because I praised the way you corresponded with one another!? And now one tiny little accidental typo has become a two post drama! Sorry!!

    ‘Pip’ is a pseudonym as I do not consider it appropriate professional practice to leave footprints all over the internet. That said, I would not deny my engagement in this blog if asked, I have no reason to. I have been googled by kids in my tutor group enough times to have learnt my lesson!

    Alicia, ‘maybe you can meditate on it’ – pull the other one, it’s got bells on ;) !
    x

  182. Highly odd, Pip. Highly odd. That you don’t know them. Seeing as they seem to be writing from your computer. Burglars? Multiple personality disorder?

    (Your comment went into the spam folder for some unknown reason, and I’ve been away from the computer all day.)

  183. Even funnier is that first there was Daisy, a flower. Then came Pip, the seed. Then came the pollinator, Bee. Still lacking birds in this natural zoo. But I do think we’re approaching a complete natural cycle.

    Of course, an alias is ok. Changing an alias is ok too. Inventing life-stories to illustrate a point might be ok, too — but it’s called fiction! And if you’re writing fiction, you need to be good at it. Or you’ll fail to convince anybody.

    My question is — maybe Felix has some thoughts on this? — why do waldorf defenders engage in these games? Aren’t their arguments good enough? Don’t they trust themselves to be able to convince by being who they are? Are they trying to convince by numbers? Or is it a disorder of some kind? It seems so futile. In particular since most of them are no brilliant writers of fiction.

  184. In the context, this really is genial:
    ‘It reminds me of this reoccuring dream I had as a child whereby I had a never ending supply of paper and a voice in my head said “write down everything you know to be true” – and try as I might I couldn’t write a single thing.’

  185. Wow just read all of the above, and this is hilarious……..I am an art student at Plymouth University, hence the dissertation in art rehabilitation in prisons, and as revealed from above Daisy clearly does the Steiner Education course, therefore it doesnt take a genious to realise that what ever trace you have found has taken you to the university network that we use everyday.

    So to your lovely theory of names, no we have not come up with anything in all honesty. My name Bee actually comes from a nick name when I was young, bubble bubble toil and trouble….the bubble turned into bumble bee and then to bee…..end off!

    As far as Pip is concerned, she must be useing the university network, as it is all across Plymouth and the campus., and I have only literally read and commented on what she and other people said previously.

    Hope this clears stuff up.

  186. Yep, your IP comes from the uni. A uni has many many many IPs (so does the Uni of Plymouth, I’ve noticed). Yet, you happen to share IPs with Daisy and Pip — and you expect me to believe it?

    I wouldn’t have bothered to check had I not been alerted to the fact that your writing styles are nearly identical.

  187. Not even sure why I am trying to actually say that I am my own person……….coz its whatever you want to believe.
    Each building has the same IP address, so I do not know where that leaves you and your amazing detective work, it isnt hard to trace things like that, and pretty much everybody that uses computors in this university uses one of two buildings.
    The writing styles part is a load of bolox, as you even said yourself that my spelling and grammer are atrosious.

    But honeslty believe what you will, and if you like the idea that we’r all one person then enjoy, because I wish I had come up with that myself.

  188. ‘Each building has the same IP address, so I do not know where that leaves you and your amazing detective work,’

    Wrong. You (all ‘three’ of you) write from different Uni Plymouth IPs at various times. The interesting thing is that, although your IPs occasionally vary, you also share them with each other. Uni of Plymouth, as I said, clearly have many many many different IPs. Just like any such institution, as far as I can tell. Without being an expert or a detective or anything particularly important.

    ‘The writing styles part is a load of bolox, as you even said yourself that my spelling and grammer are atrosious.’

    I didn’t say that. Still, that’s part of what lets you off. Your style (which is more than spelling and grammar), and your spelling and your grammar. You are faking dyslexia. And you’re not a particularly good writer. This puts a sort of signature on your texts.

  189. Believe what you will, it bares absolulty no relevance to me. The IP address thing proves pretty much nothing except for two things, the fact that we are all clearly using similar buildings, along with thousands of others.
    And that you have alot of spare time.
    I know who I am, bad writer or not, and I am pretty sure that reading any of the above, both Daisy and Pip are far better writers than me.

    p.s its pretty hard to fake dyslexia, try taking a test.

  190. ‘To be honest, by being called ‘Daisy’, I felt as though you were subtly trying to insinuate that we knew each other, or even were the same people…just because I praised the way you corresponded with one another!? And now one tiny little accidental typo has become a two post drama! Sorry!!’

    I wished I had investigated it then. Because, honestly, I had a hunch about you and Daisy from your first comment here. I thought you were the same person, or at least friends supporting each other. No wonder about my freudian slip. It wasn’t an insinuation, but it probably reflected what I felt intuitively. And which turned out to be right.

    Going back now and looking at the comments, it seems bloody obvious. And then comes Bee, who’s like an identical triplet of yours…

  191. ‘The IP address thing proves pretty much nothing except for two things, the fact that we are all clearly using similar buildings, along with thousands of others.’

    And there are thousands of IPs. That’s the point. Don’t dig yourself deeper into a hole. Pip works as a teacher, she says. Yet she’s online on the Uni of Plymouth, using the same IP as you. Among thousands of Uni IPs. It’s ludicrous.

    You see, the Uni does not have only one or two IPs. It has thousands. My apartment building probably has a 100 IPs allocated. And we’re small — 40 residents and a couple of small businesses.

    A uni is big. It has many IPs. (It may interest you to know that visitors in the past 24 hours from Plymouth uni have been using at least 10 different IPs… many buildings, huh?)

    ‘I know who I am, bad writer or not, and I am pretty sure that reading any of the above, both Daisy and Pip are far better writers than me.’

    No. You’re equal. Except that ‘you’ fake spelling errors.

  192. ‘Believe what you will,’

    It’s not belief. The technical data is about as objective as you’ll ever get. No feelings or opinions flying around the ether, you know.

  193. Alicia,
    here is the ‘BIG REVEAL’ by all means insert a shakespearian insult or two. I know Daisy. She knows me. We are both on the Steiner course at Plymouth. I am in the year above her. I do not know her very well. Genuinely. I feel terrible now because what was good intention has now implicated Daisy in a bad light who, all things considered, does not deserve to be dragged into this. I was, in effect, ‘supporting Daisy’ – (whilst supporting you too by praising your 2way dialogue) she is by no means supporting me. I discussed this thread with her in person (several weeks ago) I chose not to tell her that I was ‘Pip’. She and I, as I said, are in different schools of thought regarding Steiner but not in the way that we both want constructive debate, without hostility.

    I am currently in a university computer cluster, contemplating standing up and asking if there is a ‘Bee’ in the room?! I do not know Bee. I promise.

    I study Steiner but have no intention to teach in a steiner school. Had I not dropped out of university once before, I would probably have dropped out in my first year. I am not a secondary school teacher, but hopefully will be in two years time. I have two children, one of whom is autistic. I am genuinely thankful for your talk in the other thread regarding ‘blue’, tents and such.

    I guess I was intrigued to know if the critics on here would treat me any differently if I came from a non-steiner camp.

    When I spoke of the ways ‘I teach’ as ‘a secondary school teacher’ I was speaking of how I will teach. Or at the least, would if I started teaching tomorrow. This does not mean that I will see my pupils as ‘spiritual beings’ and pore over ‘study of man’ each morning.

    I really value the critique offered here. It is fundamentally essential. I have put all my cards on the table. If I haven’t pissed on my chips, I would like to continue to have a voice on this blog.

    Ask me anything, I will try when I have time to stay in contact.

    Pip

  194. It’s one thing that Steiner proponents want to speak up for Steiner education. I understand that, even though I may not agree with the opinions they express.

    What I can’t stand, though, is the dishonesty and the deception — without which, apparently, you don’t expect Steiner education to survive. It’s unappealing, and disrespectful. (Of an entirely different nature than the occasional ugly word.)

    You and Bee are not on Plymouth university’s cluster of IPs right now. You are on the same IP.

    What more do I need to know, do you think? I’m not a moron. Neither are my readers.

  195. *Actual laugh out loud*

    Bee and I are going for a coffee!

    For what it’s worth, at this point, with my ‘objective data’, I wouldn’t believe me either. From where I’m sitting this simply proves that quantitive data can be wrong.

  196. It’s not ‘quantitive data’. It’s not the kind of data you do quantitative research with.

    It’s specific data in a specific case, it’s a specific number identifying your internet connection. It’s the word ‘data’ used synonymously with ‘information’. In this case, very specific information.

    Now — one more thing, the only one of you ‘three’ who claims to be studying for a Steiner teacher degree is Daisy, right?

  197. Bee wrote:

    ‘Wow just read all of the above, and this is hilarious……..I am an art student at Plymouth University, hence the dissertation in art rehabilitation in prisons, and as revealed from above Daisy clearly does the Steiner Education course, therefore it doesnt take a genious to realise that what ever trace you have found has taken you to the university network that we use everyday.’

    In actual fact, the email-address Bee has provided when commenting is the email-address of a Steiner teacher student at the Uni of Plymouth. Daisy never entered an email address. (But, as said, Daisy, Pip and Bee write from the same IP, the have the same style, and so forth.)

    But here’s an obvious instance of blatant lying — ‘Bee’, who claims to be an art student, with an interest in prison work, is in fact a Steiner teacher student. She claims she was a Steiner pupil herself — but that’s basically her connection to waldorf education. She liked it, her brother didn’t. She has (fake) dyslexia.

    Tracing the email-address, I find her real identity. She’s studied for her Steiner teacher degree at Plymouth uni, and did field work of some kind (observation) at Ringwood Waldorf school.

    Seems to fit ‘Daisy’ better than the dyslectic art student ‘Bee’, right?

    Frankly, the deception the steiner proponents feel is necessary is sickening.

  198. Congratulations, though. I mean, only a student, and already deeply entrenched in a culture of deception. You’ll fit right in, dear Bee/Daisy/Pip.

    Let me reiterate — the problem isn’t using a pseudonym. The problem isn’t that you don’t want to display who you really are.

    The problem is why you’re doing this, why you’re hiding your real identity, and why you need to hide behind three different personas. The problem is inventing life-stories (and trying to get sympathy for them — autistic child, prison work, dyslexia, and so forth), engaging people in a discussion, attempting to manipulate the dialogue (without making attempts to discuss what’s originally on the agenda), going to great lengths praising this person and that person while putting some third person down (someone whose influence you and Alan Swindell — your teacher — feel needs be attenuated; you don’t discuss these articles by Thetis, but those are the reason you’re here), and on and on…

    Why is this? Why isn’t it enough for you to come her as yourself (using pseudonym, by all means), argue for what you think is right, point out the flaws in whatever piece of writing you object to — but without all the pretense, dishonesty and whole damn zoo of invented nitwits?

    I can’t say I care very much about who you really are. What irks me, however, is the behaviour itself. This entitlement you seem to feel you have. The disregard for other people.

    It is, as I’ve said, a lot worse than the odd insulting word. And it’s magnitudes worse than satire, which isn’t really bad at all — it is a completely legitimate and often necessary endevour.

  199. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!

    That’s not Shakespeare, of course, it’s Sir Walter Scott.

    ‘Pip’, you said:

    ‘When I spoke of the ways ‘I teach’ as ‘a secondary school teacher’ I was speaking of how I will teach. Or at the least, would if I started teaching tomorrow. This does not mean that I will see my pupils as ‘spiritual beings’ and pore over ‘study of man’ each morning.’

    If you don’t see your students as ‘spiritual beings’, what are you doing even contemplating Waldorf?

    ‘I really value the critique offered here. It is fundamentally essential. I have put all my cards on the table. If I haven’t pissed on my chips, I would like to continue to have a voice on this blog.’

    It’s Alicia’s blog, better to be honest. It is our experience that Steiner proponents are dishonest – that it’s part of their narrative. That this is what you buy into if you work for a Steiner Waldorf school, sometimes at some personal cost.

    We don’t expect our teachers to be perfect, but the specific relationship between teacher and pupil in the Waldorf school suggests (at least to the outsider) that there must be particular demands on the moral character of the class teacher. What does this mean, in an anthroposophical setting? The excellent Roger Rawlings:
    http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/waldorfs-purpose

  200. The Axolotl Whisperer · ·

    Alicia,

    Excellent detective work! But please allow me now to step in here wearing my “Anthroposophical Answer Man Hat.” What has just transpired here is a vivid demonstration of what Rudolf Steiner described in a lecture given on November 16, 1922, just 6 weeks before the Goetheanum burned down. You know me as a seasoned Anthroposophist over the last 35 years (I’m now 62) but the likes of Daisy/Pip/Bee and other Plymouth lurkers here do not know of my reputation yet.

    In this particular lecture, Rudolf Steiner gave 3 x 2 = 6 different scenarios:
    what happens when each of the 3 bodies: Astral Body, Etheric Body and Physical Body become either too Luciferized
    (in danger of becoming too much of a religious cult-leaning space cadet)
    or else too Ahrimanized
    (in danger of becoming too much of a hidebound humanist/atheist/materialist.)

    First I will focus on what he said about the Etheric Body. For in this exchange, it is clear that Lucifer has gained the upper hand in controlling and usurping Daisy-Pip-Bee ‘s Etheric or life body. On the other side, you are in danger of your Etheric body succumbing to the wiles of Ahriman.

    What is such a brilliant stroke on Steiner’s part is that he gives the antidote for treating each extreme as simply allowing the other guy to come in and take over. I have named this phenomenon “Father Tom’s Thermostat Theory of Lucifer and Ahriman” (and because of the cross-over nature of the dynamic, I wrote an article in 1998 called the “Chiasma of L & A”). So like a thermostat set in a room when it gets too hot (Luciferized) then the air conditioner kicks in and cools down (Ahrimanizes) the too hot room. And vice versa, when it’s too cold in the room and the heater kicks in.

    So now, what happens when Daisy’s Etheric body get too Luci-Goosey as happens with 95% of all Waldorf teacher trainees? Ahriman is allowed to come in and take over her Etheric body for a while. What is the result? I give you the German. She becomes in Steiner’s exact compound word a Gewöhnheitslügner. Yes! an “habitual liar,” an “inveterate liar,” or we might say in more modern jargon: a “pathological liar.”

    Why does this happen? Because it is Lucifer’s goal to make us into moral/ethical robots or automatons, that is to make us behave morally automatically as if we had no choices in our ethics or morality. In short, we believe ourselves to be morally superior, but not consciously. It flows a sense of egotism, a real pride and smugness, but it is almost always unconsciously so, and that is an important point to realize, because if you were to accuse daisy of this, she would obviously bristle and deny it.

    However, according to Rudolf Steiner, this unconscious belief in our moral superiority, our inner sense of our own innate moral goodness, is exactly what Lucifer wants us to believe, so when Ahriman comes in and — remember that Ahriman is also known as Satan, the Father of Lies — so that the very devil hisself turns folks like Daisy into habitual, pathological liars, which of course makes her guilty of committing immorality and behaving unethically, but then that gives Lucifer a bad taste in his mouth and so Lucifer spits her out.

    And yet, paradoxically or very ironically, as long as she continues the unconscious deception, (which still does have severe karmic consequences for her) — as she has clearly just demonstrated here — by creating multiple personalities, the “whole 9 yards” of the typical Waldorf deceptions you know about, then she is actually being saved from Lucifer — and saved by Ahriman!!! You could say then that Satan, by turning her into an “inveterate liar,” is actually saving her soul from Lucifer!!! Ain’t that a kick in the ass? How cool is that???

    But again I emphasize, Alicia,that Daisy is, for the most part, not consciously aware of her inveterate lying. Hell, if she was aware then it wouldn’t be a habit or a pathology would it?

    Ahh, but now it’s your turn for the hot seat — I mean the “coldseat” — Alicia, to see how you are to be saved from Ahriman. And I will write that up in the next post.

    Father Tom, Judas Priest,
    AKA: Hollywood Tomfortas,
    Hierophant to the Stars and
    Uribistan Ambassador-at-Large to the USA

  201. I remember the application of the thermostat theory on the case of Sune. It was hilarious. It was something about hot air balloons too. Can’t find it.

    But it really is a brilliant theory. It just makes sense.

    ‘Ain’t that a kick in the ass? How cool is that???’

    Very. Very, indeed.

    Thetis:

    ‘If you don’t see your students as ‘spiritual beings’, what are you doing even contemplating Waldorf? ‘

    Because she is a Steiner teacher (or teacher to be). Just pointing it out to confused readers. The state education teacher doesn’t exist.

    ‘We don’t expect our teachers to be perfect, but the specific relationship between teacher and pupil in the Waldorf school suggests (at least to the outsider) that there must be particular demands on the moral character of the class teacher.’

    Indeed.

    And, might I suggest, if waldorf/steiner teachers wish to have any kind of dialogue with the rest of the world, the should work on their moral attitude. Their air of superiority (often displayed) doesn’t quite match their actual behaviour. Sometimes it seems they don’t consider other people human beings at all. Just do your thing to further the cause you belive in. Disregard everybody else — in particular those who you think stand in the way of realizing the cause. But, and this is the thing, dishonesty may give you temporary benefits. It’s not sure to work in the long run. So, if you can find the switch on that inner luciferic/ahrimanic thermostat, you might want to try some adjustments.

  202. Maybe she learnt the art of deception from mr Swindle, the Steiner teacher trainer and legal threat bluffer.

  203. ThetisMercurio · ·

    the disruption caused to this theory by the aga (seen here in an attractive duck-egg blue) http://abbeyboilerssouthwest.com/blue%20aga.png is a problem peculiar to England and may need to be brought in (under the left-side rule) in this case. Just sayin’.

  204. The Axolotl Whisperer · ·

    OK, we just had Daisy on the hotseat and cooled her off. Now it’s your turn, Alicia, so sit on the Coldseat and watch how you get warmed up.

    So , what happens when a person’s Etheric Body is in danger of becoming snatched away by Ahriman?

    Oh, BTW, here is the data on the lecture and is up on the RS Archive

    Lecture 5 from the Cycle:
    Planetary Spheres and Their Influence on Man’s Life on Earth and in the Spiritual Worlds
    Given: November 16, 1922 in London, GA 218
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19221116p02.html

    OMG!!! Wow!!! I just noticed it!!! How karmi-cosmically cool!!! This lecture was given in LONDON!!! How appropriate to our bevy of inveterate liars from Plymouth University!!!

    Anyway, back to you Alicia. So when someone like you, whose Etheric Body is threatened with kidnap by Ahriman, well, you can certainly imagine that Lucifer is allowed to come in and take over. In order to save you from Ahriman.

    But just how does this happen? You Alicia become : “von der Klugheit innerlich besessen.” That is “inwardly possessed by your own cleverness.

    Now to explain. Ahriman’s goal is to reach in and snatch away your feelings, instincts and impulses, or at least we would say today, to rip out the emotional instinctual energies to be found in the lower reaches of your soul (Freud’s id, I might say) and take it off to his own kingdom as booty. It’s best if I quote Steiner here.

    (In modernizing the text and trying to capture some of Steiner’s charming “redneck Slavic” Austrian conversational style, I call attention to my use of the word “intelligence” in place of “cleverness.” Here are some synonyms for Klugheit”
    = intelligence, cleverness, savvy, sagacity, shrewdness, prudence, wisdom, knowledgability, smarts, cuteness, cunningness.

    In modern usage compared to a century ago, “cleverness” has developed more negative connotations and I feel that “intelligence” is a better word because it is less pejorative and closer I think to what Steiner meant. )

    —————————–
    Und wenn im Ätherleibe Ahriman siegt, wenn er siegt oder nahe daran ist an seinem Siege, dann wird der Mensch ein Besessener, und er wird von der Klugheit innerlich besessen. Dadurch aber, daß er von der Klugheit innerlich besessen wird, bleibt die Klugheit in ihm. Sie hat ihn dann. Sie durchsetzt ihn dem Ätherleibe nach. Und wiederum kann Ahriman nicht die Instinkte und Triebe hinunterziehen, weil sie durch die Besessenheit im Ätherleibe sitzengeblieben sind.
    ——————————
    But when Ahriman prevails in the ether body, or is just about to conquer the ether body, then the person actually becomes someone possessed — possessed by her own intelligence. But precisely because she is inwardly possessed by her own intelligence, then this intelligence is forced to stay inside her. It’s got hold of her; her ether-body is totally infused with it. And by virtue of this, Ahriman is thus prevented from sucking down these human instincts and impulses; they remain safe and sound within the person’s ether-body, because the person is now possessed by her own intelligence.
    ——————————

    So there you see, Alicia, how Lucifer saves you from Ahriman’s raiding your id. By becoming possessed by your own intelligence you also build strong personal boundaries around your soul and install a very sensitive alarm system to warn you of threats to those strong ego boundaries. You see, if Ahriman/Satan is the “Father of Lies,” then Lucifer is the “Mother of Egotism.”

    So that explains why you are so hyper-vigilant about the Waldorfians like Sune violating your boundaries and why even less overtly aggressive (much more passive-aggressive) Waldis like Daisy-Pip-Bee upset you so much. You see, Sune and Daisy et al. do not have the strong personal ego boundaries that are so important and vital to you. They could care less about personal morality, etc., because they have that superiority and lie to themselves and thus to others about it.

    You in turn are highly sensitive to their lying because you have built up a veritable fortress of your own ego personality by pervading your entire Etheric body with your strong well-crafted intelligence and/or tough, sturdy and adept cleverness.

    Anyway, I hope this helps clarify the dynamics here.

    Tom Mellett
    Van Nuys, CA, USA

  205. ‘Anyway, I hope this helps clarify the dynamics here.’

    It does.

    But how do we get the problem with these people sorted — will the thermostat theory provide some corrective mechanism, or will they be like this forever (forever meaning all this incarnation)? Is it a question of karma only — they have to come to terms with it next time around? Or could we perhaps put them in the Aga and cook them? (Suggestion inspired by the sudden presence of stoves in the thread.)

    ‘… like a thermostat set in a room when it gets too hot (Luciferized) then the air conditioner kicks in and cools down (Ahrimanizes) the too hot room.’

    Not sure how the Aga works to regulate this, but our central heating keeps temperatures even. Except in summer because there’s no air conditioner. The central heating simply shuts down in late april/early may.

  206. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Yes – yes – the aga is Swedish! So? Do you fetishise it the way we do? I think not.

    Yes Tom, but Steiner gave lectures in Torquay – which is even closer to Plymouth. He stayed in this famous hotel:

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4005/4190929305_02405b4ae5.jpg
    (shows Basil Fawlty crossly removing the gnome after Steiner’s visit)

  207. ‘Do you fetishise it the way we do?’

    Nope!
    It’s incomprehensible.

    I was going to mention Torquay.

    Ha! I love that gnome episode.

  208. Here’s what he spoke about in Torquay.
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA243/English/RSP1969/TruFal_index.html

    Interestingly, the 1st lecture is ‘Nature is the Great Illusion; Know Thyself’

    Not ‘Know your three invented personas’ or anything like that.

  209. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Of course not. Only Freud would have lectured about those.

  210. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Excuse me, Tom:

    Uribistan Ambassador-at-Large to the USA! What did you do with the previous Ambassador? He only went home to find his pig.

  211. Could Steiner not see — clairvoyantly — the future behaviour of his followers? What on earth was he thinking they’d do once the internet had been invented?

  212. The Red Queen · ·

    Off with his head!!!

  213. It is incredible how much you can trace on the internet and actually rather scary.

    The only person that I am going to apologise to here is Daisy, she is a lovely girl in the year below me who came on here with good intentions, and was argueing her point rather well.
    I am a student and the university studying Steiner education, but on here if that was said, instantly you would be ripped apart. And as it wasnt the content that I wanted to comment on it was the way in which particular people tear others down, the last thing you want is a label.
    I am definitly my own person, and am not infact a split personality, or a liar. I simply said I was an art student, which infact I am as well. I am studying the aspects of Steiner education in prisons through art. My link to observing in Ringwood Steiner school is correct. But honestly now the lengths you have gone to is a little mental. We are three seperate people, trying to say different points of view. Daisy was unwaveringly honest from the start, I said I was an art student, and Pip a teacher. As you said everyone covers identity, and does not want to be labled especially if that label means that people will automatically become predujist.
    I have definitly not faked dyslexia, or faked spelling mistakes.
    I have admiration for many of the things you have written, and am fascinated in your points of view, and as previously stated it was simply the way that people are brought down that irritated me.
    I had no clue that Pip, was infact Pip on my course until yesturday, as I had no reason to question her on here.

    It is interesting though that this will now be turned around and used against us, when really it could be turned on you guys for making it impossible for anyone who is for the anthroposophical movement to have a view without being labeled.

  214. Oh, just cut the crap. You are writing from the same IP! You’ve dug yourself a hole, fallen into it, and now you’re digging yourself deeper. Are you waiting for ‘Daisy’ to fill it up and bury you? That would be magnificent.

    In addition, you have the same style, you behave the same, and you’ve been caught lying. Repeatedly. As ‘Bee’ and as ‘Pip’ — and damn it, I’m sure ‘Daisy’ has been lying too!

    And, yes, your dyslexia is fake. And it isn’t a very good fake. It’s not dyslexia when you fake wrong-spelling a few ‘complicated’ words here and there. I’m appalled that you’re going to be a teacher (knowing nothing about how to help children with real dyslexia).

    ‘I am a student and the university studying Steiner education, but on here if that was said, instantly you would be ripped apart.’

    But as ‘Daisy’, you immediately admitted it, you liar.

    It wasn’t difficult to find you, by the way. I put the address through google, and had your identity within 30 seconds. 30 seconds later I’d find Ringwood waldorf. Tracing the IPs isn’t complicated either. WordPress collects IPs for every comment made. I just click on your comment now and find exactly who writes from the same IP. (The more extensive stats also tell me that Plymouth uni, like all such institutions, have many MANY IPs.)

    This is so that, if someone writes something they shouldn’t (threats, et c), you can identify where the comment originated.

    That you haven’t realized that this is customary on all blogs, all websites, all forums, and has always been — well, that speaks only of your ignorance or your pretending to be uninformed now that you’ve been caught out. Or, this is what I think: you’re clinging to the faint hope that others, who may read this, are uninformed, and in front of these people, at least, you think perhaps you can save your face.

    My advice is: stop digging. You’ll never be able to get up from that hole you’re in.

    I’d happily discuss with anyone, even if they’ve made mistakes. But that requires discontinuing the lies.

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/swsf-threatens-to-sue-critics-if-they-go-too-far/#comment-8774

  215. I am being so honest it is insane….here you go:

    [---]
    3rd year Student – Plymouth University Steiner (waldrof) Education
    I went to Ringwood Waldorf School and have previously Studied Anthropology at Oxford Brookes. I am my own person, and there is definitly three of us lol.
    If you are that bothered by it check, Daisy (I do not know her surname) is a 2nd year student, and has no clue that we also wrote on here. Pip: I am not going to give her surname as she is not here with me, but is also a 3rd year. But yes the same IP address, funny that, we are in the same building with the same IP address, (I have checked). There is a computor room on every floor all with the same IP’s.

    I have mild dyslexia, feel free to check that out as well. As for Daisy and Pip, neither of them do as far as I am aware. I do know both the State and Steiner way of dealing with dyslexia so I will be fine when I am a teacher thank you.

    As far as this is concerned I think it is completly rediculous. I made my point frigging millions of blogs ago, and it was simply this, bringing people down on things that irrelevant to your arguement. To which I am sure you will retaliate by saying that the dishonesty on here simply proves your point. Well done! I have merely stated that I was an art student rather than a Steiner teacher trainee, so as to not be labelled.

  216. ‘There is a computor room on every floor all with the same IP’s.’

    No. All computers on one floor or all computers in the same building do emphatically not have the same IP. This is a ridiculous claim.

    ‘But yes the same IP address, funny that, we are in the same building with the same IP address, (I have checked).’

    You can’t check that. You don’t have access to the information. Unless you’re them, you don’t know which IPs their comments on this blog originated from.

    The thing is, Daisy/Pip/Bee — you have the same IP. That’s how you can be identified. That’s what makes IPs so important. If you ever want to pull this trick again, I suggest you learn to use some anonymizing proxy service. There’s a reason people who are up to no good — and people who have legitimate reasons for anonymity as well — use such services.

    And finally: Could you please shut up with your fucking lies? You’re a disgrace to Steiner teachers and Steiner education.

    I’ll happily label you a liar. Which I think is much worse than being labelled a Steiner teacher trainee. You should have thought about that before. Too late now.

  217. ‘I do know both the State and Steiner way of dealing with dyslexia so I will be fine when I am a teacher thank you. ‘

    You didn’t even know that your computer and your browser has inbuilt spell-check. You still haven’t found it. You’re still faking spelling-mistakes.

    ‘I am being so honest it is insane….here you go:
    [---]‘

    You see, I don’t give a shit about your true identity. I don’t give a shit about what’s true about your three personas’ life-stories either.

    What I do give a shit about is Steiner education proponents coming here with the intention to manipulate and deceive. And you had the guts to say all sorts of things about Thetis! All the while you’ve said NOTHING about the topic at hand. You have no arguments, only lies. And you expect us to waste our time with this game of manipulation? And be nice and respectful to you?

    This still stands:
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/swsf-threatens-to-sue-critics-if-they-go-too-far/#comment-8774

  218. Well then how on earth is it that I am a different computor right now from the one I just sent the last post off???? I swapped to one next to me and the one yesturday? that one was across the room……..and the other day I was upstairs, and how was Pip two rows away from me? she also sent on off her LapTop using the intranet. I am not ‘fucking lying’ if I was do you really think I would still be trying to continue, I am genuinly confused by the IP address, I asked at the front desk and they said all of them have the same one in this building, thats how ‘I checked’.

    I admired your work, and actually really enjoyed reading it. I feel awful for Daisy, she is not me, and writes a hell of a lot better than me. But probably used a computor from this very room, unfortunatly for her.

  219. Hi Alicia,
    I don’t know what more to say really. If I was Daisy and having interesting dialogue, why would I fuck it up by coming in with my linguistic baseball bat (that which I appealed against) re: ‘dicks’ ?!

    As I said above, I am on the steiner course. In my third year. With Bee, who I now know is Izzy! I admit that I created the persona of being a state secondary school teacher. I can do no more than tell you again that we are different people and offer this:

    “most networks now day’s access the internet through a firewall running NAT. What NAT does is allow all those computers to share one or just a few public or internet ip addresses.” (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090218135341AAGjkLX)

    (I am sat next to ‘Bee’ right now in Babbage computer suite, at the UoP)

    The insinuations of mental health, split personalities, etc are now no different to when Izzy suggested Thetis try eurythmy. It’s swings and roundabouts.

    If I had a webcam I’d suggest a live chat so you could physically see both Izzy and I typing simultaneously!

    Thetis – ‘what are you doing contemplating waldorf’ ?
    I ask myelf that alot. There are bits of waldorf that I love, conversely bits I don’t. The more I learn about it the more I find to love and hate.

  220. Yes, you are a fucking liar. As I said, you’re a disgrace for waldorf education. Sadly, it comes as no surprise.

    You claimed that I and Thetis have too much time on our hands. I tell you one thing right now: I don’t have time for these childish, stupid, and meaningless games. I definitely do not.

    The old amateur answer you found on Yahoo clearly doesn’t apply to Plymouth uni. Plymouth uni has *many* IPs. Believe me, I’ve checked stats. Your claims are ridiculous. It’s apparent all you are hoping to achieve now is fooling other readers, who, unlike me, do not have the data (and, yes, I mean information, no research data).

    Now — I suggest you piss off and go play your games with someone else. I don’t have the time, and it isn’t worth it. The bad thing is, the next time a waldorf teacher or other waldorf proponent appears on this blog, I’ll remember you. And, because similar things happen repeatedly (waldorf proponents who have no respect for the time they command of others), I will be unnecessarily hostile. Even if *that* person, unlike you, may not deserve it. Every time I engage with waldorf folks, I learn a lesson.

  221. ‘The insinuations of mental health, split personalities, etc are now no different to when Izzy suggested Thetis try eurythmy. It’s swings and roundabouts.’

    I’m suggesting it as an alternative to you being a liar. That’s the only other explanation. Your choice. I don’t seriously believe your a multiple personality disorder. I think you’re a liar, on a mission to decieve to save a movement you care about. Making yourself look like an ass doing it.

    You’re certainly not the one to lecture to me about insinuations. You’ve been at it since you arrived here.

    ‘I asked at the front desk and they said all of them have the same one in this building, thats how ‘I checked’.’

    You liar.

    ‘I feel awful for Daisy, she is not me, and writes a hell of a lot better than me.’

    No, she doesn’t. She’s as bad a writer as you are. Minus some of the fake spelling errors.

    ‘unfortunatly for her’

    The only unfortunate thing is that all three of your personas are liars. The stuff about the autistic child (in an older thread, in case anyone wonders) takes the biscuit. What a disgusting way to try to garner sympathy.

    Is this what Steiner teacher training does to people? Or does Steiner teacher training attract habitual liars?

  222. The only thing worse than you being one person lying about be three different persons, is that you would actually be three different persons going out to teach children. Three liars going out in the world to lie to people about their children. Three liars hell-bent on manipulation, because that’s how to run the steiner education show.

    You should be happy I say you’re one. Then you can say, ‘oh, it’s only one bad apple!’… gets waldorf teachers off the hook all the time…

  223. Alicia,
    I suggest you call plymouth university ICT support. The number should be available somewhere on the net and you, of all people, will find it.

    Once you have called (I will even refund the cost of your call) and it is confirmed that the whole of Babbage computer suite has the same IP address, as everything is routed through one proxy, I expect an apology.

    The lies that you propogate now are far worse than me pretending to be a secondary school teacher in order to have a voice here. Daisy was called an ‘alternative kook’, asked if she commuted to Plymouth from the moon. Jan was called an ‘idiot’ – Iz was mocked for her spelling. And Felix…he seems to be the but of each and every joke. Ask youreslf why I felt it fruitless to come in as ‘yet another steiner’. At no point have I been hostile to any of you. Nor, to my knowledge has Daisy. I have never suggested that you all have too much time.

    That you think I would invent a son with ASD beggars belief. I thanked you once before and I’ll thank you once again for your talk of colours in another stream. Come over to england and take Kyle out for the day. Tell him to his face that he’s not real.

    By all means, harp on about Iz and I ommiting our connections to waldorf but take Daisy out of it, she’s done nothing, is a great person and will make an amazing teacher.

  224. ‘I suggest you call plymouth university ICT support.’

    I don’t fucking care. I despise you as much as one, two or three people. I’ve had it with your lies, you nitwit. You won’t make a good teacher. Neither will the other two, whoever they are. Your obvious commitment to deception will make you right at home in waldorf education though. In other educational systems, your customers, and your employers, would expect you to be truthful.

    Daisy was just as deplorably desparaging towards Thetis. This, at this point, is all I care about. I don’t want to be praised for my niceness at the price of having Thetis be the ‘bad guy’. It was her articles which inspired this blog post — had it not been for her articles, your mr Swindle wouldn’t have written that pathetic and awful article in the newsletter. She was right all the time — and what did ‘Daisy’ — the ‘good’ one, huh? — do? Nothing. ‘She’ thought Thetis was the bad one, the hostile one, not thinking about the hostility on the part of mr Swindle — about whom this blog post is!

    So, no, I’ve had it with ‘Daisy’ too. The Steiner movement has to deal with its obvious problems — one of them is being prepared to lie. Which, quite apparently, even the students are!

    You manipulative morons. And you think further comments will do — what?

    No, I don’t think ‘Daisy’ has ‘done nothing’. ‘She’ has done plenty — and you’ve managed to prove that waldorf teacher training is just what I thought it to be. Supposedly ‘professional’ training for professional liars-to-be and incompetent teachers.

    Well, good!!

  225. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Pip – you take your comments out of context. I can contextualise, if you should want me to. For example, ‘Daisy’ called *herself* an alternative kook. You appear not to understand the context of responses, as if our replies exist in a vacuum.

    Alicia doesn’t owe you an apology. Who needs to see this apology? Who do you believe is reading this blog?

    And why is it necessary to ring-fence ‘Daisy’? To protect ‘Daisy’ from your actions? Some of her comments were both intolerant and naive. Her prejudices were strikingly similar to the prejudices of other Steiner proponents. It adds to our concerns about the teaching practice on your course, concerns which were prompted by the teaching materials, especially particular texts available in the library of the University of Plymouth, texts which do no credit to the reputation of that university.

    It’s the internet – no one knows if you’re a Dog. Let’s say there is no absolute moral code, just honest people and liars. Which are you? Alicia is honest, and she’s brilliant too. She has given you a lot of rope, and you have done the business yourselves.

  226. ‘And why is it necessary to ring-fence ‘Daisy’? To protect ‘Daisy’ from your actions? Some of her comments were both intolerant and naive. Her prejudices were strikingly similar to the prejudices of other Steiner proponents. It adds to our concerns about the teaching practice on your course, concerns which were prompted by the teaching materials, especially particular texts available in the library of the University of Plymouth, texts which do no credit to the reputation of that university.’

    Indeed — that’s exactly what I wanted to have said.

    ‘It’s the internet – no one knows if you’re a Dog.’

    Well, we know Pip is not a dog. Dogs don’t behave like this. Possibly, she’s a cat, mr Dog says. He’s got the nose of an expert.

    As for the rope, indeed. They’re apparently preparing to hang themselves with it over that pit they’ve dug for themselves. Hanging themselves from a tree branch they’re busy sawing off. While sitting on it. On the wrong end.

    ‘Pip’ wrote:

    ‘And Felix…he seems to be the but of each and every joke.’

    You know, Felix isn’t new to us. I appreciate the fact that he’s somewhat changed his attitude somewhat — it’s a good thing. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been the ‘but of each and every joke’. He’s not really that funny. The gnomes are funnier.

  227. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Felix comes trailing clouds of glory from other forums, he has to incarnate anew onto this blog and his teeth haven’t yet come in. Maybe he will be sanguine. I have laid my shield on the grass, assuming that will now be the case.

  228. Not that the teeth themselves are very impressive (I’ve asked mr D, he’s not impressed, it’s not like it’s wolves’ teeth), but the willingness to use themrather unpredictably.

    And, indeed, there’s that karmic dumpster he’s dragging along. Must have a cosmic wagon of some sort. Anyway, the we’re at an early stage of this present incarnation. Sometimes people complete their incarnations by becoming cats. Or so mr D says. Bad stuff. Really bad.

  229. I have to go home now, will respond tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your long weekend :)

  230. Don’t bother. You may not think I have better things to do than engaging in nonsense discussions with nonsense people, but I can assure you I do.

  231. ThetisMercurio · ·

    It occurred to me, especially in the light of this article – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/social-network-warning-for-teachers-2274310.html
    that it might be a good idea to ask for personal details – especially names – to be deleted from this thread. There’s nothing to be gained by anyone here – especially a student – regretting personal information posted in the heat of the moment.

    Alicia’s email is here: http://zooey.wordpress.com/info/

    (And this comment doesn’t have to stay here either)

  232. I never understood why she went ahead and posted it — I had deliberately not done it, she knew I knew about it, and that seemed enough — because she didn’t seem too happy about being open about who she was.

    To me, it’s not her name, per se, that matters anyway. Or her identity. Or her personal details. She could have left those out, instead of inventing fake ones.

    She could ask in this thread to, that’s perhaps easier. I don’t have a problem removing her real name.

    (It’s another matter when (some) waldorf defenders get to know the real identity of a waldorf critic. They have no mercy. I think it’s worth reminding Daisy/Pip/Bee about this.)

  233. For the final time, stick a needle in my eye, I am Pip. Daisy is Daisy. Bee is Bee. If there was some way I could prove this I would. Alas.

    Thetis, it’s a fair point regarding leaving ‘footprints’ on the internet. I don’t think I’ve disclosed anything I mind being disclosed – but might have a little skim read to check. Equally (if not more) important as whether or not someone gets a job should be whether or not someone is incorrectly labelled a pedophile. I think remove that name too if it hasn’t already been.

    re: protecting Daisy in all this. She did her best to engage properly with writers on here. Whether she did that ‘naively,’ intolerantly or not, she tried. Very few waldorf supporters do. I don’t want her efforts tarnished by my secondary school teacher mask (or lie, if you prefer).

    I don’t see the point in critics sitting around chinking champagne flutes in the ethereal kiosk. Well, not no point all together. We all like a drink from time to time but you know what I mean. Toasting through happyhour is fine but far better to invite a steiner, at least every now and then, no?

    Not a lecture goes by when the question ‘what does this mean for you as a teacher in the 21st century’ or ‘is this relevant?’ isn’t uttered. We are encouraged to read critique and think for ourselves. A friend in the second year was recently marked down for showing too much bias, towards the waldorf way, in a literacy essay. Our writing has to reflect knowledge of other methods. It’s not a steiner toss-off.

    It won’t do to remain in the steiner bubble or worse to swat, or sue, you away.

    Can we try again please?

    Thetis, what are the texts that you refer to in the library? The usual Steiner stuff? Or something more sinister :/ !?

    Pip

  234. alfa-omega · ·

    To
    Pip/Bee/Daisy (as one persona, three persona, or the entire class 2+3 at the Plymouth waldorf program, with any number of IPs)

    Pretending, lying, twisting of terms is an endemic part of the anthro/steiner/waldorf. I have pointed it out several times here at Zooey’s and at a few fora elsewhere.

    A genuine regular teacher at lower secondary.

  235. ‘For the final time, stick a needle in my eye, I am Pip. Daisy is Daisy. Bee is Bee. If there was some way I could prove this I would. Alas.’

    I don’t know why you think it matters whether you could ‘prove’ this or not.

    As Pip, you pretended to be a regular teacher, giving support to waldorf education. Giving it credibility. Then it turns out, you’re not a regular teacher.

    ‘re: protecting Daisy in all this. She did her best to engage properly with writers on here.’

    No, she didn’t.

    ‘… whether or not someone is incorrectly labelled a pedophile. I think remove that name too if it hasn’t already been.’

    As far as I can tell, the person labelled a pedophile is indeed a pedophile. But I never used his full name. And when others posted it, I edited it out. It was actually discussed in that thread.

    The difference is, the accused pedophile didn’t post the name himself. So, no, it’s not the same thing.

    Whoever posted their name in this thread, did it themselves — voluntarily. I did not. I’ll remove it, if the person in question asks me; if you admit to being Bee, ask me, and I’ll do it. If you don’t admit it, it’s not your right to ask for edits of someone else’s comment. Otherwise I’m going to assume whoever posted their name wants their name to remain public.

    ‘I don’t see the point in critics sitting around chinking champagne flutes in the ethereal kiosk.’

    The ethereal kiosk is certainly not a place for critics. It’s for those — in this incarnation or in between incarnations — who like champagne. And ice-cream. It’s not for those who don’t see the point, obviously. There’s a sign on the door prohibiting such people from entering.

    ‘Not a lecture goes by when the question ‘what does this mean for you as a teacher in the 21st century’ or ‘is this relevant?’ isn’t uttered. We are encouraged to read critique and think for ourselves.’

    You have demonstrated the opposite here on this blog. People who need to make up lies about being regular teachers in order to discuss the matters with ‘outsiders’ are not open for any genuine critique. And not thinking for themselves either. Your aim is to do propaganda; to invalidate criticism through the usual methods: deception, obfuscation, denigration, and so forth. You weren’t even interested in Thetis’s articles! You weren’t interested in taking a critical look at what your teacher, Swindell, had written about critics and shutting them up!

    With Swindell’s attitude, I’m sure there is no open-mindedness towards criticism or independent thinking — his article in the SWFS newsletter provide ample evidence that neither of those concerns are close to his heart.

    ‘It won’t do to remain in the steiner bubble or worse to swat, or sue, you away.’

    Apparently lots of people think so. Even the SWSF endorses that solution. Perhaps it’s only a thinly veiled threat with no force behind — but still, that’s the message they’re sending: shut up or you’ll risk legal consequences.

    They want to remain in the bubble, and are very intent on remaining there.

    There has been criticism against waldorf education since the first waldorf school started. I see no signs of waldorf proponents exiting their bubble. Apparently, remaining in the bubble has served the movement well, and they’re sticking to the method.

  236. The laughing gnome · ·

    Alicia thank you for exposing this deception.

    A genuine ex steiner parent.

  237. Good Tao-dunkins! These people are Nutz! Nutz I say! Oh look, a Gnome…excuse me….

  238. ‘Caution! Anthroposophy may contain nuts.’

    As the label on the package reads. Or should read.

  239. [...] recommend reading the comment thread, even though it’s long, because it contains some very worthwhile contributions (and a lot of [...]

  240. [...] Swindell (who once wrote an interesting article in the SWSF newsletter… I commented here) wisely writes in another letter to the paper (same link as [...]

  241. [...] the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship (SWSF), has written about waldorf critics in a way that is pretty damning — for him and the SWSF. (A recent SWSF document – pertaining to an intriguing SWSF teachers’ [...]

  242. [...] national waldorf organisations can threaten former parents that there will be consequences if they go too far. Often empty threats, but in some cases [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 766 other followers