rebutting anthroposophy

Last year, Jeremy Smith of the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship, SWSF, made a pretty failed attempt to ‘rebut’ waldorf critics. Now the SWSF itself is in trouble — notes UK Anthroposophy. They’re trying to negotiate between conflicting needs: the need to rebut Steiner in order to secure state funding for waldorf school on the one hand and the need to remain on good terms with anthroposophist teachers (and — I would assume — parents) on the other.

A meeting — recorded and submitted to UK Anthroposophy by an anonymous informer — in November last year dealt with topics such as bad publicity, parents who speak openly about negative experiences in waldorf schools, Steiner’s doctrines and the pressing need to rebut not only the critics but Steiner himself. The context is the possibility of future state funding of waldorf schools (in addition to the one Steiner Academy already in operation) and political considerations surrounding such a decision. Reading this document, you get the impression they’re being drawn further into a muddy swamp, unable to climb out. It’s an impossible situation. They know critics — former parents mainly — have legitimate concerns. They know that Steiner’s teachings, were they more widely known, could potentially put obstacles in the way, as far as public funding is concerned. Parents pointing out Steiner pedagogy’s bad track record — when it comes to topics such as academic achievement and diversity among students — can’t be favourable for the funding issue either. They are no doubt aware of being in the wrong when they claim that ‘the negative criticisms aimed at the schools are not justified’.

Well, to the meeting. Sam Freedman, the conservatives’ education adviser, attended. Excerpt from the transcript:

Sam Freedman then answered more technical questions about the Conservative party policy. Questions asked concerned the level of funding that the schools could expect to receive; how a Conservative government would facilitate the schools acquiring better premises; what “basic levels of achievement” would be expected; would a Conservative government interfere with the management of the schools; what was Conservative policy on teacher training; how long will the policy take to implement; would the Conservative government continue to allow Steiner schools to opt out of the National Curriculum; how does the Conservative government expect to afford the migration of 4000 Steiner pupils to state funding.

The responses to these questions were generally pleasing and reassuring to the trustees and administrators. The only point that the Sam Freedman (and Rachel Wolf [of the New Schools Network]) were particularly sure to press home was that of “basic levels of achievement”. They felt that the schools had to be accountable for ensuring that children were meeting basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy at all levels. This, it was acknowledged, may cause some conflict with the Steiner method of teaching.

The fact that SWSF administrators and trustees found the replies pleasing and reassuring is a cause for concern. I have no doubt that ‘basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy’ will be problematic for waldorf schools to uphold. Sam Freedman then said, when asked whether he saw any obstacles to funding based on the concerns raised,

“Not in terms of the way we want to legislate, but, I mean I’m sure this is something that you all know about anyway, there’s a big PR issue, and if a lot of Steiner schools open quite quickly in the state sector, I mean I’ve been, erm, I’ve had all sorts of people writing to me just because they found out that I was coming to this meeting. Attacking. Attacking the Steiner Schools… Anonymously. Through social networking. People find out who you are, find out your account number and bombard you with articles, negative articles… This was pointing out all the things they think are wrong with Steiner movement, link after link after link. And that’s just from me coming to this meeting, so you have to be aware, well I know you’ll all be aware anyway, but this will be on a much, much bigger scale.”

The discussion continued and

… went on to identify two problem PR areas: 1) Accounts from parents who are or have been unhappy with the Steiner schooling system and those that have had negative experiences associated with the schools, and 2) the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy.

It was identified that the latter issue was going to be a greater problem.

Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are bigger problems than dissatisfied or angry parents and students. Well, that’s interesting, because the implication of this is that you can’t correct the troublesome aspects by improving the schools or by improving people’s experiences of the education. Unless, of course, you want to take Steiner out of Steiner education. And this can’t be done through the simple removal of the word Steiner from the name of the schools and of the fellowship.

Sam Freedman stated that it was important for the Schools to “explain to people quite strongly that they are not teaching what he [Rudolf Steiner] said”. He likened the situation to the fact that not all Christians believe every word of the Bible.

Why is a politician giving advice like this? Either he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he’s already been convinced by the waldorf PR he has indubitably been fed.

One of the trustees noted that the very name “Steiner”, is potentially limiting. He noted that in other countries schools have called themselves “Waldorf” schools so as to distance themselves from the Steiner writings.

No, that’s not the reason for the name Waldorf. Really it isn’t. Steiner himself didn’t want the schools to be called Steiner schools. He stated this quite clearly. (This happens to be one of few instances where anthroposophists haven’t taken him literally. At least not UK anthroposophists and those of a few other nations (including Norway). In Sweden there are mostly waldorf schools and a few Steiner schools.) So — what about the possible political repercussions of the PR problems inherent in the waldorf system?

An observer asked Sam Freedman whether or not a Conservative government would consider intervening with Steiner teacher training to ensure that the racist aspects of Steiner’s writings would not be included. Sam Freedman replied by stating that if the issue becomes a big PR problem for Steiner schools, and the state is funding those schools, it will become a big PR problem for the state. He went on to say that in light of this, Steiner schools should seek to nip any potential problems with their teacher training in the bud, because if ministers feel under pressure from negative PR, this is likely to be problematic for the schools. Sam Freedman stated that the Schools should ensure that they can explain their position very clearly, so that they can counter the negative criticisms immediately.

At the close of the morning session, Rachel Wolf stated that she would be happy to offer the Steiner schools Fellowship free media training to prepare them for tackling the PR problems.

Acting in the same vein as Jeremy Smith last year,

it was acknowledged that the Steiner schools Fellowship would need to initiate and fund a proper campaign to counter the “poison” on the internet. A representative from one Steiner school felt that the politicians were very aware of the problem and that they would “run a mile in the opposite direction if they have a lot of people coming at them saying you’re funding a weird cult that brain washes children.”

It is a disaster that the SWSF don’t take people seriously. It’s outrageous that they rebrand legitimate concerns and actual negative experiences within their education system as ‘poison’.

It was suggested that an “antidote” website be set up to explain the criticisms that are levelled against the Steiner schools.

There are such websites. The bad thing is that these websites are making matters worse. The waldorf movement is relying on the wrong people to be the ‘voices of waldorf’ in public sphere. Why not, for a change, listen to the criticism?

It was also suggested the Steiner schools Fellowship take up the offer of free media training offered by the New Schools Network, although it was acknowledged that the Fellowship would require more than this, indeed they would need full-time “professional help”.

Oh, so that’s how bad it is. Oh my. They need full-time professional PR help — perhaps they need to get their act together before applying for state funding?

A PR officer would be required to place positive stories in the media, and also to counter the stream of negative ones.

They had Jeremy Smith, the information officer.

It was considered important to get a PR strategy sorted out soon, especially if a large number of Steiner schools opt-in for state funding at an early stage. It was felt that the Steiner schools Fellowship should start cultivating good media relations as soon as possible.

It was felt that a central plank of the PR strategy should be to bring media into the schools to show exactly what goes on there …

but going into the schools and being shown ‘what goes on’ does not actually show what is really going on. That’s the problem. What the SWSF is hoping for is naïve media. (And I suppose that’s not out of the question, unfortunately.)

… and that another thing to consider would be a re-branding exercise. It is the association with Steiner’s writings that is perceived to be the main problem.

Yeah, yeah, Steiner is the problem. It shouldn’t be, but it is. For those who don’t want to acknowledge that he is in fact there and that his writings provide the foundation of waldorf education. The ‘main problem’ arises when representatives of waldorf no longer want to be associated with Steiner. When they begin pretending he’s nothing to bother about.

It was also stated that it would be important for the Steiner schools Fellowship to make sure that they have a clear PR message to convey to the politicians themselves. This would reassure the politicians that the negative criticisms aimed at the schools are not justified, and if there were a public outcry about the schools, the politicians would themselves be in a position to refute the claims. Indeed, there would be a government PR machine available to help refute the claims.

SWSF’s moral failing lies in its desire to ‘reassure’ the politicians of something that basically isn’t true. And in addition, it hopes to rely on politicians to assist in convincing the public of what isn’t true. Wouldn’t it be much better — and, in the long run, a recipe for (potential at least) success — to admit that the negative criticisms aren’t entirely unjustified? To actually decide to do something about the core problems that provided the fuel for the ‘negative criticisms’? The SWSF seems prepared to unabashedly embark on a massive operation aiming at concealment of its own failings and of the true nature of waldorf education.

Re-branding was considered in more detail. This would be a way of isolating the educational philosophy of Steiner without being associated with the controversial aspects of Anthroposophy. In any event, the importance of making it clear that the schools did not teach the racist aspects of Anthroposophy was stressed.

But nobody says these schools teach racist aspects of anthroposophy (if it happens at all, it must truly be exceptional). Neither does anybody say that waldorf schools teach anthroposophy.

An observer was asked which Steiner quotes he/she had seen online and elsewhere. The oberver gave the example of the spiritual hierarchy of the races. It was acknowledged that the Steiner schools Fellowship should give a clear and categorical rebuttal of these aspects of Steiner’s work. Clear statements should be made stating “We do not believe that human beings evolve through the races. We do not believe that blond hair bestows intelligence, etc…”.

Well, this is going to be entertaining. I’m very eager to see this list of statements. But this takes the buiscuit:

It was felt that there may be some difficulty in making a blanket rebuttal of all Anthroposophy because many people throughout the Steiner schools system, especially teachers, strongly support many aspects of that belief system. If teachers were asked to make a blanket rebuttal of Anthroposophy, many of them may not do this.

No wonder!! They are trained waldorf teachers! They are trained in anthroposophy! Their chosen education and profession, by its very nature, requires engaging with anthroposophy. Many of them are anthroposophists — almost all of them are sympathetic towards anthroposophy. And there comes the SWSF and suggests that the whole foundation of their careers — and often of their lives! — could be, and possibly should be, rebutted. The entire notion — that anthroposophists and teachers perhaps ought to rebut anthroposophy — is patently ridiculous. If I may say so, I believe some people, who are obsessed with the public face of waldorf education, have a pathological relationship to Steiner and to anthroposophy. Even I think it is disrespectful — he did found waldorf education. His thinking on education — inseparable from his esoteric religion, anthroposophy — is and has always been the basis of waldorf pedagogy.

In any event it was agreed that a message along the line of “The Steiner School is committed to equal opportunities and is opposed to racism and all forms of discrimination” should be placed on all Steiner school websites and promotional material.

Well, that will help. These days, are there any remaining schools not ‘committed to equal opportunities’ and not ‘opposed to racism and all forms of discrimination’…?

There was some concern that the PR campaign attempting to rebut the racial aspects of anthroposophy could back fire because it would bring the subject to the attention of people who were not aware of the problem. Any PR campaign of this nature may necessarily have to be a reaction to, but not a pre-emption of, negative press arising from Anthroposophy.

Sure, it may definitely back-fire. Given the PR strategies and the clumsy behaviour of waldorf information officers and other activists so far, I’d say the project is doomed. The whole thing will back-fire, big time.

The example of how an American group known as “Plans” (People for Legal and Non-sectarian Schools) were attempting to take Steiner schools to court in America was raised. This group opposed Steiner schools on the basis that Anthroposophy constitutes a religion, and as such these schools were forbidden from being publicly funded by the American constitution. It was felt by the trustees and administrators that unless a PR strategy was deployed soon, similar groups opposed to the state funding of Steiner schools would arise in the UK.

This will happen anyway. A PR strategy really can’t help fix the basic problems integral to Steiner’s educational approach. A PR strategy can’t remove Steiner from Steiner education. Dishonesty will only get you so far in getting rid of anthroposophy. I conclude that waldorf officials are continuing the dishonourable quest to shoving Steiner and anthroposophy outside the scope of criticism by pretending they aren’t there. I suppose there’s some thwarted — but deplorable — logic to renouncing Steiner and anthroposophy because then, magically, criticism against Steiner and anthroposophy can also be denounced on formal grounds. As the Norwegian Steiner Association representative said in an interview recently — the Steiner movement can’t take responsibility for what Steiner taught. Sometimes it seems these modern reps of waldorf education can’t even be expected to know what he said, much less pronounce any kind of evaluation of it or make public which parts of it present-day waldorf pedagogy agrees with.

____

March 18: thanks to ThetisMercurio for directing my attention to Unity’s post on the same topic at Liberal Conspiracy. Unity correctly concludes that ‘[t]he real issue that Steiner schools need to address here is, consequently, not that of getting out the right kind of PR and engaging in media charm offensives’ — but that the problems inherent in waldorf/steiner education lie elsewhere.

48 thoughts on “rebutting anthroposophy

  1. zooey – fantastic post. This is the advice from Sweden Michael Gove needs.

    If the Tories are prepared to offer PR advice to enable the Steiner Waldorf movement to lie to its parents and British tax-payers, we can assume that they’re happy to offer similar help to any dubious outfit which takes up the Free Schools offer. The vote-winner ‘choice’ trumps the rights of families to be heard when things go wrong, as they inevitably will. At its best, this is farce. Let’s hope we don’t get to see Tory education policy at its worst.

    ‘Indeed, there would be a government PR machine available to help refute the claims.’ And what this means is: ‘parents will be silenced.’

  2. Thanks. And what I find so distasteful about it all is not that waldorf people are pro-waldorf — I would expect that — but the complete denial of any responsibility for the (justified) criticism that has occured… it’s like, if we only get the PR machinery working everything will be just fine.

  3. Thanks!

    I love Unity’s reply to the late reading matter in waldorf/steiner.

    “Frankly, I find it bizarre to think that the poor bastards who get sent to Steiner schools are only just getting started on Ladybird easy readers at the same age that I was reading RL Stevenson, Lewis Carroll and JRR Tolkien, and yet those schools claim to be all about stimulating children’s imagination.

    If you want kids to exercise their imagination then get them reading Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels as soon as they’re up it.”

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/03/18/tories-offer-state-funding-to-schools-linked-to-occult-society/#comment-114288

  4. I commented in the thread at LibCon, re the ‘racist agenda’ stuff.

    _______

    No, there is no ‘racist’ agenda to waldorf/steiner schools. However, they’re founded on anthroposophy. You can’t get rid of the anthroposophy. What is worrying is not so much that anthroposophy contain racist beliefs but the fact that anthroposophical and waldorf/steiner organizations fail utterly in dealing with their own history and the contents of the philosophy they subscribe to.

    And although I agree there’s no racist ‘agenda’, I know that there have been a number of anthroposophically flavoured incidents of racism in waldorf/steiner schools. In the UK as well as in other countries.

    This is something the waldorf/steiner movement must handle, and they must do so seriously. It’s not about PR. As long as they think it is about securing good PR, they’re heading in the wrong direction. They don’t acknowledge there are problematic issues at all — and that I find distasteful. It’s a bit like trying to cover mold by painting it over; it doesn’t solve the problem, it temporarily conceals it.

  5. FWIW – my wife was throw out of a Waldorf school for smoking! OOOOOOHHHHH – what a bad girl she was. She’s a treasure actually although her parents are kooks.

    The rest of her family (who also went to the same or similar schools) are also kooks or lame ducks. We might call them typically eccentric or we might just reflect they are a product of a bad experiment gone awry.

    Oddly enough though, this sh*t seems inextricably linked to the Camphill Village trust – which operates on the pretext of looking after vulnerable people (primarily in my experience, those of limited metal faculty) by giving them real jobs among more able people.

    Their PR is faultless – but having watched some of what goes on there, the disabled people are treat more like children than adults. So much for being equals as the blurb would have you believe.

    It reads like a fairy tale but the truth is rather selective and history is being written by the trust. I’d stop before accusing them of abuse; but the two outfits I’ve visited are far from the rural idyll the outside world is led to believe that it is.

  6. What’s in it for you guy’s??

    Try looking at the catastrophe of the ‘state school system’ and how it continually marginalises society.

    Thruppp!!!

  7. the state school system seems to work far better than waldorf schools in most places, I’d say. In any case, it isn’t my task to point out the faults in public schools — nobody says they’re perfect.

    In fact, as Marc notes above, waldorf schools present themselves as idylls, as fairy-tales actually. They aren’t. Unlike public education, there are many mis-conceptions regarding waldorf education. And waldorf proponents are simply happy about these mis-conceptions, in my experience. They won’t correct them, and they won’t tolerate debate. Again, unlike public education, which is constantly examined and criticized.

  8. Zooey,

    an excellent piece, thank you for posting it. But I disagree that there is no racist agenda as I have experienced it first hand. I was unable to join a local South Devon environmental group as I felt uncomforatble that they were promoting Biodynamic agriculture; a system utterly infused with Anthroposophical racist beliefs. I was not prepared to sit with a bunch of people for whom my skin colour relegated me to some les-than-human spiritual realm. When I pointed this out to the group there was a mini-PR effort to get me on side but I simply stood my ground and said that if they wanted non white people to join they needed to renounce biodynamics. They, not surprisingly, refused to do so.

    I also attempted to get a similar assurance from the South Devon Green party as I understood that some of the organisers were connected to the Steiner machine. But neither the local or national arms of the Green party were able to give me a straight answer or the assurances that they would stay within the law. The vile Anthroposophy movement has positioned itself in many key institutions to the extent that anyone making a complaint is made to feel so uncomfortable they don’t wish to participate; effectively that amounts to exclusion on the grounds of skin colour.

    I have full accounts of both instances that I’d be happy to share – but they’re very, very long and I don’t want to glog up your posts – time I started a blog.

    best wishes,

    Nick

  9. Nick Nakorn:

    The vile Anthroposophy movement has positioned itself in many key institutions to the extent that anyone making a complaint is made to feel so uncomfortable they don’t wish to participate …

    True! That is exactly the strategy the anthro/steiner/waldorf use, in all matters, not just the ones you describe above.
    I have felt this even when complaining at the teachers’ union.

  10. Nick,

    I completely understand your position, and I would also say that I think green groups or environmental organisations in general are often rather… naïve, when it comes to anthroposophy. This obviously does not apply to followers of biodynamics — although some of them seem rather ignorant too… –, of whom there are plenty in these organisations. And this lack of knowledge isn’t restricted to anthroposophy — there’s often ignorance about biodynamics as well. (Have you seen the new blog: biodynamicshoax.wordpress.com, by the way?)

    Of course, biodynamics is anthroposophic to its core, and anthroposophy entails these beliefs about races/culture epochs and stuff. However, I wouldn’t say biodynamics itself is ‘infused’ with racism — that is, I don’t see these particular anthroposophic beliefs expressed in biodynamics specifically. That said, most anthroposophists, including proponents of biodynamics, are pretty inept at dealing with these aspects of their belief system in a rational manner. This, in itself, is of great concern.

    I believe there is another reason for such an organisation to renounce biodynamics — the mere fact that biodynamic methods lack scientific evidence. Although Steiner expressed many general or ‘philosophical’ sentiments that are shared by people who care about environmental causes, the practices he suggested are not scientifically tenable, or they are no more so than praying to the gods for a good harvest. This, for me, would be enough of a reason to not involve myself with an organisation promoting biodynamics, quite apart from any statement re racism. The latter is an enormously important question on a general level, but the question of lack of a scientific basis for biodynamics is more relevant on a concrete level (in an organisation which works for the best of the environment, that is!). This may be because I wouldn’t have thought of asking the question about racism in this particular context. Had I asked the question, and got the reactions you describe, it would offer quite a good reason to abstain from involving myself in the group.

    What I find important, though, is to point out that I don’t think all waldorf teachers (or all people who farm biodynamically, or all anthroposophists, for that matter) are racists just because there are racist components in the anthroposophic belief system. I do this for one reason: this reason is that I have been accused of believing that all waldorf teachers and all waldorf schools are racist. This is simply not true. I have never believed this, and I have never put forth such an utterly ridiculous idea. I don’t doubt that racist beliefs appear in these environments — it would be surprising if they didn’t, given the content of certain aspects of anthroposophy — but this is in all respects something different from an assertion that all waldorf teachers (et c) are racists.

    However, I find it rather disconcerting that waldorf teachers, waldorf schools, waldorf organisations (and anthroposophy as a whole) are so reluctant to deal honestly with these issues. That their paramount concern is to hide, justify, excuse… rather than openly discuss and, when they don’t agree with them, renounce Steiner’s ideas. The fact that they so often point fingers at critics instead of turning toward themselves and do something about the problems, is highly problematic. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in biodynamic circles is much the same as in waldorf.

    (Besides: long comments are certainly welcome, I don’t feel they clog up my blog — at all! But you are right — you should have a blog and write about those experiences in detail! I think it’s about time the connections between biodynamics/anthroposophy and the green movement are scrutinized. It wouldn’t surprise me if these connections exist in all countries — I know they do in Sweden, but they are sadly not criticized enough, if at all.)

    -z

  11. alfa-omega,

    if you like, please write more about the teachers’ union and the reactions you met.

    It’s interesting that they would have a pro-waldorf (or turn a blind eye) attitude toward waldorf when one of their non-waldorf-trained members gets in trouble with waldorf — since regular waldorf teachers have a union of their own. There ought to be no special ‘loyalty’; yet it seems this is the case?

  12. The thing is that there seems to me some uncle or cousin of an anthro at many places. Generally.

    I cannot prove that this was the case when I complained, but I felt that they at the teachers’ union prefered “not to procede with the matter”. Since I cannot prove anything, I prefere not to write about it on a public blog.

    Also, independently of “the uncle or the cousin”, people in general do not understand that the anthro/steiner/waldorf is a serious matter under the beautiful surface.

    Then, there is an additional matter (has nothing to do with my complain): the two Swedish regular teacher unions, Lärarnas Riksförbund and Lärarförbundet have diffenrent attitude, one can see that when reading the comments (remissvar) on the circulatited first version (of the new school law, for example).

    Zooey: “regular waldorf teachers have a union of their own”:
    Well, Medarbetarförbundet (representing to worker) and Huvudmannaförbundet (representing the employer) reside at the same address in Järna. See?

  13. PS: I have contacted my regular union, of course. The Medarbetarförbundet would’t represent me, what ever the reason

  14. Same address, well, well… And even without that fact known, it has seemed to me that these too bodies don’t represent different interests, i e, the interests of teachers vs employers, but one and the same interest. And also that the whole idea is to keep the waldorf/anthro sphere entirely outside ‘regular’ (non-anthro) organisations. Obviously, Medarbetareförbundet does not demand the things a regular union would. (I think Lärarnas Tidning had articles about this too — about how the teachers’ salaries are paid last, they are the last concern on the schools’ minds… Lärarförbundet or Lärarnas riskförbund — don’t remember — can’t really do anything, even for their teachers who work at waldorf schools, because the waldorf schools only close agreements with Medarbetareförbundet…)

    I totally get what you mean by them having support. Not that it has to be the case in this case, or any individual case, but it certainly is more common than one would think. I’ve found supporters (or reasonably suspected supporters) in quite unexpected places.

  15. Zooey:
    “I’ve found supporters (or reasonably suspected supporters) in quite unexpected places.

    So did I.

  16. Dear Zooey,

    what a breath of fresh air this site is. Thanks for providing the link to Stuart’s Biodamics is a Hoax site; very informative. Well, I’ve finally taken the plunge and started a blog at:

    http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com

    and my first post is a long excerpt from an even longer piece. I doubt many will read it but I think I’ve covered the issues already discussed and have included a personal experience in the piece to illustrate my point concerning the racism endemic in the Biodynamics movement when it come down to real choices between supporting racism by default and opposing it by public declaration.

    best wishes

    Nick

  17. Splendid! I just read your comment on Biodynamics-hoax and I thought I’d mention your blog on this thread — but you already had! (I’m going to read your post closely tomorrow, I’m falling asleep right now, which isn’t so strange because it’s 2 am, I just realized…)

  18. Aaaaah, embryosophy! One of my favourite -osophies.

    From alfa-omega’s links:

    ***
    June 3-6, 2010 – Portland, OR “Between Heaven and Earth, a Journey through the World of the Human Embryo” organized by the Rudolf Steiner Institute.
    June 17-20, 2010 – Palm Springs, CA “The Speech of the Embryo” and “Mind and Body in the Womb” at the Cranial Academy’s 2010 Annual Conference. Theme: Mind and Body and Osteopathy.
    July 8-11, 2010 – Boulder, CO “Dynamic Embryology and Morphology – Introduction to Polarity Thinking” organized by the Colorado School for Energy Studies.
    ***

    Energy Studies, indeed.

  19. Of course, on the little walk we took a few minutes ago, mr Dog told me that there is really an alternative to these conferences. He suggested that we all attend his summer classes in puppyosophy, an emerging science discipline! They’re part of the School of Canineosophical Energy Studies.

    The rationale behind this science is simple. Who hasn’t seen a puppy go from hysterically awake — full of energy — to sound asleep, a pile of motionless fur!? It’s an instant energy transformation. Over all, puppy energy levels are something of a mystery. Puppy energy is part of puppyosophy.

  20. some readers may assume zooey is being flippant. Far from it: it may be the only sane response to the elaborate nonsense above. And it’s certainly a far better way for adults to spend their time.

    Where does chewing furniture come into this? I wonder.

  21. Alfa Omega,
    thanks for posting those links – hard to read them without either laughing or crying; shameful, shameful stuff.
    I’ve posted a similar one on my blog.
    Nick

  22. The chewing of furniture comes into the picture when a puppy has more energy than he can released through running around. One hypothesis is that the puppy’s legs are tired while the puppy’s jaws are not, thus creating an imbalance in the puppy system (which includes the puppy from tail to nose). All puppy owners know that it is wise to protect any electric cords from contact with puppy teeth. However, few know the true reason behind this. It’s to prevent a clashing of incompatible energy fields: the electric energy and the puppy energy.

  23. In addition, we can’t forget about the puppy energy field present in the very sharp puppy teeth. This is sorted out when the puppy loses this set of teeth. Often the teeth end up in the tummy, with mysterious consequences for the organism as a whole. (Could there be a connection to overall puppy energy levels, some hitherto unknown mechanism by which the accidentally gobbled down energy-rich teeth are responsible for unruly puppy behaviour?)

  24. There must be supporters – or friends of supporters – in unlikely places here in the UK too for things to make any sense, though as Waldorf is better understood the casual may be less inclined to risk association.

    I have read the links now & not just zooey’s comment.

    It astonishes me that many Steiner schools in the UK believe if they delete all the problematic links to anthroposophy they used to have on their sites, no one will find out there’s something hidden, something nasty in the woodshed.* They had better not leave any farming implements in there for the parents to find.

    What would happen if they were honest and admitted that these are faith schools? as the British Humanist Association calls Steiner schools (for the first time) today. It’s significant. In the US, they might lose a court case & their public funding. In the UK – they join the ranks of other religious organizations who want to run schools with taxpayers’ money. Imagine, for the first time, they’re honest about their agenda. They trust that parents will approve of their anthroposophical activities once they understand. They test the water. They might have nothing to lose but their esotericism.

    That disingenuous phrase above the kindergarten door: ‘anthroposophy is not taught to the children’ might have an addition: ‘But it is our creed’.

    *re the comic novel ‘Cold Comfort Farm’.

  25. Thank you, Thetis, for writing down so neatly what I have been trying to tell …

    I can add:
    when comparing to a non-functioning community comprehensive, the disorder at a Waldorf school is even greater, because of all the energy wasted in trying to hide the spirits.
    (I am talking about Sweden now where I got some personal experience of the anthro/steiner/waldorf).

  26. alfa-omega – I agree about the waste of energy.

    The dissonance that exists in Steiner schools must be part of the cause of – not stress or depression but those generic & anachronistic nervous-breakdowns suffered by Steiner teachers, the ones who disappear from schools overnight or are prised out after odd ‘incidents’.

  27. Indeed, great comments by both of you. Trying to conceal the gnomes causes a significant amount of dysfunction. And when people start to criticize them for it, they must make all sorts of irrational choices, like hiring people to monitor supposed attacks. Honesty would solve a lot of the problems. Finding qualified teachers to teach in the schools may actually be a bigger issue.

  28. I think the absence of honesty is the main reason for teachers and parents to leave. If a community comprehensive does not promise much (to the teacher or to the parent), then the teacher or the parent feels disappointed. If great promisses are made and then the reality gets revealed, the teacher or the parent feels cheated. To be cheated is difficult to take for anyone; I am surprised that the anthro/steiner/waldorf have such difficulties realizing that.

    As Thetis put it above:
    “That disingenuous phrase above the kindergarten door: ‘anthroposophy is not taught to the children’ might have an addition: ‘But it is our creed’.

  29. A correction, to be sure that I will not be misunderstood:

    IF a community comprehensive does not promise much (to the teacher or to the parent),
    THEN the teacher or the parent feels DISAPPOINTED when the reality gets revealed.
    IF great promisses are made and then the reality gets revealed,
    THEN the teacher or the parent feels CHEATED.

  30. And parents will be angry. They will also be angry with those who have funded and endorsed Waldorf.

    I repeat: Michael Gove is personally aware that there are serious concerns. The Coalition government in the UK CANNOT pretend afterwards that they didn’t know what they were funding: they are accountable. Even if most parents are not in a position to make an informed choice – if choice is the coalition’s reason to fund Steiner, the politicians themselves are in possession of the facts.

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