kulturkrockar med bakåtsträvare

Hos Ljungquist inträffade härom veckan detta utomordentligt intressanta meningsutbyte, tyvärr lite i skymundan under ett äldre inlägg (‘Har antroposoferna förstått antroposofin?’). Signaturen Thomas gjorde en jämförelse mellan antroposoferna och hare krishna, som ju håller till inte alltför långt från varandra i Järna. Han skriver att utomstående ser likheterna mellan de två rörelserna, men att misstron dem emellan är ömsesidig. Thomas skriver också några intressanta saker om hur antroposoferna förhåller sig till icke-antroposofer (med ett visst högmod), men allra intressantast finner jag Ljungquists svar på Thomas kommentar om antroposofernas relation till och syn på hare krishna. Thomas påpekar som exempel att antroposofer uttryckligen och bestämt tagit avstånd från hare krishnas och dessutom uttryckt sig ‘nedlåtande’ om dem i någon antroposofisk tidskrift.

Det intressanta är som sagt Ljungquists replik, där han hävdar att antroposoferna avfärdar hare krishna ‘mest av principiella skäl’, eftersom den en gång världsledande indiska kulturen (hur mycket ‘indisk kultur’ är egentligen hare krishna? är hare krishnas ens i allmänhet indier? är de inte vanligtvis utspökade ‘svenskar’? — jag är själv osäker) numer är förlegad, dess anhängare är bakåtsträvare: den ‘indiska kulturepoken’ hör hemma på historiens skräphög och den har ‘inte den relevanta andliga lösningen för världsutvecklingen.’ Däremot är den västerländska kulturen världsledande, och den bryr sig inte hare krishna om. Hur mycket antroposoferna egentligen bryr sig om den moderna västerländska kulturen kan man ju ifrågasätta; mycket energi tycks ändå läggas ned på att undvika modern kultur och ersätta den med sin egen kultur, som framstår som rätt apart. Såsom andlighet eller livsåskådning kan man väl inte betrakta antroposofin som en del av den västerländska kulturen. Att antroposofer menar att antroposofin har ‘den relevanta lösningen för världsutvecklingen’ är kanske inte så underligt. Att de skulle ha resten av västerlandet med sig, verkar ganska osannolikt.

Nå, inte nog med att hare krishna försöker leva kvar i den förlegade och sedan länge passerade indiska kulturepoken, med sina indiska seder och tankesätt, har de inte heller någon känsla för den ‘svenska folksjälen.’ Genom att ha andra traditioner och en avvikande syn på andlighet

visar [man] därmed ett totalt förakt för den svenska folksjälen. Jag förstår inte poängen. Man bor i den svenska verkligheten, men godkänner den ändå inte. Om den indiska kulturprincipen är så älskad varför älska den i Sverige?

Och här kan jag inte låta bli att börja fundera. Hur mycket av den verklighet, som vi andra lever i här i Sverige, avfärdas inte av antroposoferna? Finns det några som helst exempel på att antroposoferna anpassat sig till mainstream-samhället utan att knota? Ljungquist själv har åtskilliga gånger beklagat sig över det som han tycks uppfatta som materialismens — förnekandet av den andliga dimensionen — utbredning och dominans. Men om vi godtar den verklighetsbeskrivningen, att den svenska kulturen kännetecknas av en utbredd materialism, kan vi då inte lika gärna säga om antroposoferna att de ‘bor i den svenska verkligheten, men godkänner den ändå inte’?

Jag vet ganska lite om den ‘svenska verkligheten’ — jag hör till de kulturellt hemlösa, till dem som nog helst bör bege sig någon annan stans, jag är märkligt oerfaren vad beträffar ‘svenska kläder, tankesätt och sedvänjor’… dock är jag ju materialist! — men jag kan ändå ganska enkelt se, att den genomsnittliga ‘svenska verkligheten’ och den ‘antroposofiska verkligheten’ inte är helt kompatibla. De antroposofiska ‘idealen’ är ganska långt i från icke-antroposofers faktiska verklighet — trots att antroposofer kanske föreställer sig att verkligheten kommer att komma i fatt antroposofin framgent. Är hare krishna verkligen mer främmande det ‘svenska’ än vad antroposofer är? Det kan mycket väl vara så; jag kanske bara inte ser det, eftersom jag uppenbarligen själv inte förstår vad ‘den svenska folksjälen’ är för något.

Och vad är den ‘indiska kulturprincipen’ — annat än, i Steiners historiska universum, en kultur tillhörande det förgångna — och varför kan den inte älskas inom det svenska territoriet? Jag ser visserligen goda anledningar till att kritisera hare krishna, liksom det finns anledningar att kritisera antroposofin. Men att det indiska (och hare krishnas anammande av det indiska) skulle vara en irrelevant andlig lösning och antroposofin en relevant sådan är nonsens.

59 thoughts on “kulturkrockar med bakåtsträvare

  1. Hi, Zooey, I occasionally look at your blog and can understand and agree with a lot of the criticisms you make about Steiner schools. I worked in education and know how awful some scools/teachers can be. You obviously had a bad time at the Kristofferskola.
    But my own experience has been very different. When they were young my children went quite happily to state schools, my son from 3-11 and my daughter from 3-7. However we had to move because of my job. In our new home there was a Steiner school nearby and we sent our children there. They were very happy. They never had anthroposophy nor religion pushed down their throats. There was only one incident when I had to complain about a teacher and it was the kind of thing that could have happened in any school. They both took gap years, both did very well at university, both have good stable careers, my son in IT, my daughter in Cinema mangement. Neither of them have Steinerish beliefs. My son definitely subscribes to the scientific/rationalist mode of thought.
    We have often talked about their schooling. Both say how much they appreciated it and how it contrasted so markedly with what their fellow students and colleagues say about their time in school. Now my son is married and wants his child to go to the same Steiner school. (remember he had 8 happy years of state schooling to compare it with).
    I do not in any way wish to underestimate or diminish your experience of school. My own experience (of the brutal, fascistic christian-brother type schooling) left me with a lasting antagonism and negative feelings towards ‘faith schools’ which only after 45 years am I beginning tocome to terms with.
    But my question to you is this. What do you want to happen to Steiner Schools? Do you want them banned? Do you think people should not be able to choose such an education for their children? Do you think people should not be allowed to choose at all?
    If you have time I would be interested to hear what you think.
    Best Wishes,
    Peter

  2. Thanks for the comment, and yeah, I know, lots of people are happy with waldorf schools. That’s why people who weren’t happy with it have to say this — otherwise what new parents get is just the happy picture. I believe they need the other side too.

    If — but only if — waldorf steiner schools provide an education that fulfills the standards and regulations and whatever else other schools have to fulfill and if steiner schools are honest and responsible in revealing their background in anthroposophy… well, why would there be any reason to ban them or prohibit parents from choosing such an education? I certainly can’t see any such reason. (An additional question is of course the funding. I don’t agree that public money should be spent on eurythmy lessons, e g. This is the case here, where waldorf schools are entirely funded by tax money. But this consideration is irrelevant to this discussion, and has nothing to do with ‘banning’.) I think waldorf schools need to live up to the same standards we require from other educational establishments. And then, yes, there’s the dishonesty. Faith schools are in some ways worse than waldorf schools — which I consider a kind of faith schools, but ‘different’ sort of — but they are, at least, honest about their foundations.

    Faith schools, though, pose an other serious problem — they impose the parents’ religion on the children. And they isolate the children from families of other faiths (or no faith). I think that’s sad.

    So, for me, everytime people speak in favour of parents’ right of choice, whether it is waldorf or faith schools (or something else!), I feel very strongly that all people care about is the freedom of parents. Not the freedom of children. Which is why, if society allows parents to choose the education their children receives (and when society even finances these choices), the children’s interests (most of all, their long term interests in having a good and free life) have to be considered too — and these interests may not always align with the parents’ interests (which may be to, in the name of religion, restrict their children’s contact with the world).

    To me it’s obvious, if a school can’t live up to minimum requirements posed by society (and applicable to all schools), this school should be closed, and of course, then parents can’t choose that particular school… And waldorf schools should not be exempted from the rules that apply to every other school. (Actually they often are exempted — or they’re working on getting exemptions from this or that. That should stop.)

    Of course your children didn’t have anthroposophy pushed down their throats. That’s not how it works. (I seriously doubt you have read my blog because I’ve said this over and over again. And I gather you can’t have read this particular blog post because it is in Swedish — and more importantly, it isn’t even about waldorf schools!! Not to bother, though, I simply found it odd.)

    Steiner explicitly said that anthroposophy wasn’t to be taught in schools. No preaching. But the schools are immersed in anthroposophy — it informs every aspect of the education. It will, however, unlikely be thought of as having anthroposophy ‘pushed down the throat’.

  3. As a mother of children who were in Steiner schools (2 different schools) I’ll weigh in too.

    I’m curious what you, Peter, feel should happen to conventional faith schools, since you had such a bad (and sadly not untypical) experience in a particularly extreme example of same. What do you think should happen to faith schools? Do you want them banned? Do you think people should not be able to choose such an education for their children? Do you think people should not be allowed to choose at all?

    That’s where it gets slightly neurotic. It’s the same argument used to justify state funding for the new ‘niche’ schools in the UK – if I don’t get exactly what I want, you’re denying me choice! Of course it’s important that children have a good education, free from religious indoctrination or the bizarre whims of their parents. I’d like to see that opportunity available for every child. It’s the child’s rights that interest me.

    Personally I agree with zooey: Steiner schools should be honest (which they are not) and their educational standards should improve. Since there are limited resources, and we should be thinking of the community as a whole, not a tiny niche group , they should not receive state funding. There is very little support for funding outside the Steiner community.

    If Steiner schools don’t get state funding in the UK, some of them won’t survive. There is, by the way, no longer any state supported teacher training course for Steiner teachers in the UK. Emerson College has just closed. People don’t want to train, they don’t want to do these courses. Ask yourself why.

  4. Hej igen. Du tycker vårt replikskifte är intressant. Samtidigt missar du poängen:

    “hur mycket ‘indisk kultur’ är egentligen hare krishna? är hare krishnas ens i allmänhet indier? är de inte vanligtvis utspökade ’svenskar’?”

    Det är klart att de är svenskar, men deras religiösa syn är direkt hämtad från Indien, det lever i en typiskt indiskt religiös tradition, Krishna är central i indiska religiösa föreställningar, Almvik-folket bär saris, har klurt i pannan, och helig ko på gården som trots ålderskrämpor inte får avlivas. What more do you want? De är helt inne i en indisk bubbla. Och detta framförde jag till en av deras ledarfigurer som jag träffade i Järna. Han höll med mig (jag tror han lämnade rörelsen senare) men kontrade med kritik mot oss: “Varför ordnar ni antroposofer en myshörna i maya?” Han menade att eftersom vi båda ser på “verkligheten” som maya (indiska för illusion) och de bara vill tillbaka till sitt paradisiska ursprung (verkligheten) förstod han inte att vi la ned så mycket arbete på vackra hus, kläder, eurytmi, konst – helt enkelt gestaltning av livet. Allt är ju ändå illusion. Jag kom ihåg att jag då blev svarslös. Idag skulle jag väl framhållit att vi tar jordelivet på allvar trots illusionen. Det är en uppgift vi har, detta jordeliv. Det är inte meningslöst.

    Att du sedan har synpunkter på huruvida antroposoferna passar in i den västerländska kulturen är irrelevant för resonemanget jag för. Jämfört med den ur-indiska kulturepoken som Krishna-folkets religion utgår ifrån i allt väsentligt, är antroposofin inställd i en kristen esoterisk, västerländsk kulturtradition.

    “Hur mycket av den verklighet, som vi andra lever i här i Sverige, avfärdas inte av antroposoferna? Finns det några som helst exempel på att antroposoferna anpassat sig till mainstream-samhället utan att knota? Ljungquist själv har åtskilliga gånger beklagat sig över det som han tycks uppfatta som materialismens — förnekandet av den andliga dimensionen — utbredning och dominans.”

    Intressant att din misstro mot vår världsbild samtidigt diskvalificerar uppfattningen att antroposofin är delaktig av den västerländska kulturen. Måste man vara materialist för att bli godkänd? Krävs avbön för att få vara fullvärdig medlem i den västerländska kulturen? Är kritik av materialismen ett bevis för att man inte kan tas på allvar? Vad är det för svammel!

  5. Out of interest, is this the same Peter Kelly who is the Programme Leader of the International Masters Programme at Plymouth? Zooey has written about the eurythmy course here

    https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/a-masters-degree-in-eurythmy/

    There are also links with curative education, another anthroposophical initiative.

    If it is the same Peter Kelly, this is hardly the views of an unbiased parent of Steiner school alumni is it?
    (And if you aren’t the same Kelly, I apologise, and am glad your children enjoyed their Steiner school with few damaging events and are flourishing)

    If Peter Kelly wants to know the greatest impediment stalling Steiner schools progress to spiritualising the world, it’s honesty, about anthroposphy , karma et al. To the casual observer, it won’t be noticed because the Steiner wadorf PR machine is skilled at dismissing it. But those who have read the teacher training reading list, heard lecturers at Plymouth smooch the students with questions about the real nature of science, evolution as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, or ex teachers who say that the most extraordinary anthroposophical “truths” are passed only by word of mouth at study groups or meetings, will question how on earth they have go away with it so long.

    Simply because some children do well at Steiner school doesn’t make it ok to use anthroposopical laws in the classroom.

  6. Hej Johannes!

    Den antroposofiska bubblan är kanske annorlunda än den hare krishniska bubblan. Men om den är mindre avvikande från samhället i övrigt, det vet jag inte. Och det var lite det jag ifrågasatte, då du tycktes utgå från det. Du har ju skrivit några gånger att materialismen kännetecknar mainstream-perspektivet, så att säga. Inte utan en viss förnöjdhet, tror jag, över att antroposofin inte hör dit. (Jag hävdade att människor i allmänhet inte är materialister. Många, för att inte säga de flesta, hyser andliga föreställningar av något slag.)

    Jag diskvalificerar *verkligen inte* antroposofin som sådan som västerländsk. Det är väl bara att se på något så enkelt som Steiners inspirationskällor för att inse att det vore totalt felaktigt. Det jag däremot vill ifrågasätta är om dagens antroposofer, i Järna, är mer i samklang med den där ‘svenska folksjälen’ (whatever that is — jag har då rakt ingen aning!) än hare krishnas. Och, till detta, också antagandet att det ena står för framtid och det andra för forntid.

    I och för sig anser jag att gällande djurskyddsregler måste gälla också i Almvik, precis som överallt annars i Sverige. Men vad hare krishnas kläder beträffar… ja, och? Tänk om det är så att också hare krishnas *frihet* att välja vansinniga klädarrangemang är en del av ‘folksjälen’ även om kläderna inte är det? Att fråga sig om de verkligen hör hemma i Sverige, vilket du gjorde, menar jag är nonsens. Och detta alldeles oavsett materialistisk eller andlig världsåskådning.

    Vi är många som inte hör hemma i Sverige med sådana resonemang. Jag har aldrig firat midsommar, ätit kräftor eller surströmming eller deltagit i några svenska traditioner. Vart ska jag ta vägen? Dessutom är jag finlandssvensk. Men finlandssvenskar har, som bekant, ingen egen stat. Inte är jag kristen heller. Men länge var varken Sverige eller Svensk-finland kristnat. Så? Det är knappast något jag kan ta till intäkt för att jag tillhör. Eller något någon annan har rätt att ta till intäkt för att förklara mig icke-tillhörande det land jag är juridisk medborgare i.

    Om antroposofin ser sig som en del av den västerländska kulturen eller den svenska folksjälen är det finemang med mig. Jag tänker inte stå som grindvakt för något jag inte begriper mig på och inte kan försvara. Det vore bisarrt. Men lika bisarrt är det att se antroposofin utdöma en annan andlig inriktning på grund av förment avsaknad av folksjälstillhörighet.

    Oavsett antroposofins europeiska kulturella arv, är det för mig fullständigt overkligt att resonera kring vem som hör hemma mest i det moderna Sverige — antroposofen, materialisten/ateisten, hare krishna-anhängaren? Av alla dessa är det kanske till och med jag som hör hemma här allra minst. Men vad vore poängen med det?

  7. To all those who asked the question, NO I have nothing to do with the Steiner education training. I apologise for any confusion caused and hope I have not caused any problem for the other Peter Kelly.
    I have read your some of your blog Zooey, however being fairly old and decrepit I needed you to say something more succinctly than you usually do.
    I agree that Steiner schools ought to be up-front about what lies behind the education, and that they are intrinsically ‘faith’ schools. I also think they should not be funded by the state nor should any faith school or school which deviates from the model adopted by the state for it’s schools. But I also think that people who take their children out of the state system should not have to pay all the tax that normally goes to education.
    I have a problem with this statement by Thetismercurio, ‘it’s important that children have a good education, free from religious indoctrination or the bizarre whims of their parents.’ The problem here is how do you define a ‘good’ education? I imagine that, for example, Jews, Muslims and Catholics would all define a good education as one which nurtures the child in the faith and prepares the child to live in society without compromising their faith. Also what you count as bizarre very much depends on your cultural background and point of view.
    I guess I am slow on the uptake Zooey, I had surmised you were a Salinger fan but only noticed the quote from Mrs.Glass quite recently. The photos of Stockholm in the mist are beautiful.

  8. p.s. I also like the vitsippor. I once lived in Djursholm and loved to see them in the woods. My friend in Stocksund said they weren’t out yet. Maybe it’s warmer where you are.

  9. Oh, you lived in Djursholm! I spent lots of time in Djursholm during my childhood; my grandparents lived there. Actually the picture was taken today in Stockholm — on Djurgården. It probably isn’t much warmer than Djursholm overall, but they could be found in sunny slopes here and there.

    It’s true that I am sort of a Salinger fan, not a huge fan perhaps, but still…; I got the pseudonym from his book, of course, but chose it mostly because I thought it was cool.

    A good education is a good education and not dependent on faith. Faith is an ‘addition’ but it doesn’t have anything to do with school, really. Parents can of course send their children to religious instruction as much as they want. But their children still need a good education, regardless of faith. Literacy, numeracy, history, sciences. Even in a faith school — where religious practices are allowed to take place during the school day — children still need lessons in traditional school subjects. And I don’t see what faith has to do with that.

    Sure, a christian fundamentalist may think that good education is teaching children that the bible is scientifically and historically accurate. But if we allow these parents unrestricted choice in what their children are taught, we deprive the children of their freedom and their choices. I think it is reasonable to say that all children have an unconditional right to learn science and history — whatever their parents’ faith is. Within boundaries, parents have the right to choose an education. But if the faith school of their choice refuses to teach science — to give the children knowledge instead of faith… then it can’t continue to operate. School isn’t a church. Parents don’t have the right to deprive their children of an education, even if they percieve what they give them instead to be a ‘good education’.

    As for an education which ‘prepares the child to live in society without compromising their faith’ — I don’t believe this is the aim of education at all. Education should enable the child to think for him-/herself. Acquiring knowledge and skills to be able to do so. Anything else, and you’d be putting the parents interests — their egotism — before the children’s right to grow up and become independent. After all, parents have access to their children during all that time which they’re not in school. There’s plenty opportunity for indoctrinating them. I would say that particularly those children, whose parents want them to be prepared to live without ever compromising their faith, are particularly vulnerable and in need of society’s protection — they are in dire need of a very good education, preferably entirely separated from the parents’ faith. Where else, if not in school, will they ever get another to see there are other perspectives? Where else will they learn about other faiths in a neutral manner?

  10. I’m sure the other Peter Kelly won’t feel any embarrassment, if he passes this way ;)

    I think you know what I mean by bizarre. If you insist: computer science would be bizarre to a child in the middle-ages: karma, reincarnation, the incarnating child etc are bizarre to anyone sane in the 21st century.

    I agree with zooey – again: after the scandals in Catholic institutions more than ever. Schools should be secular (secular does not btw mean atheist) It’s easy to recognize what is not a good education. Society has to constantly ask itself what is, this is happening now in the UK. And It isn’t going to be Waldorf.

  11. I also want to agree with what Cathy wrote:

    ‘If Peter Kelly wants to know the greatest impediment stalling Steiner schools progress to spiritualising the world, it’s honesty, about anthroposphy , karma et al. To the casual observer, it won’t be noticed because the Steiner wadorf PR machine is skilled at dismissing it.’

    This is why it is important that the only voice on waldorf education is that of waldorf/Steiner organisations and proponents.

  12. Du har vridit hela grejen till något annat. Är det för att du inte förstår eller för att du bara vill håna? Kom igen när du läst min text noggrannare.

  13. As an aside – I don’t agree that people should be allowed to pay less tax if they don’t take up state education. We pay for the education of all children in our society in both conventional and special schools, even if we don’t have any children ourselves, or our own have now grown up. Likewise, I pay for a police service I rarely use. Some have suggested a credit system which follows the child, like nursery vouchers. But certainly in the present economic climate the best use of funds has to be considered, for everyone’s sake. Perhaps it would be better if parents were more involved in their local state schools, as Ed Balls is now suggesting, than that funds get diverted to satisfy those religious or spiritual impulses which humanists like myself might not privilege above any urge for exclusivity, satisfied by elite private schools.

  14. Jag har läst din text flera gånger, så jag antar att det måste vara så att jag inte förstår då. Jag läste den flera gånger, för jag trodde först inte mina ögon. Med tanke på hur uppseendeväckande de åsikter är som du ger uttryck för, så gjorde jag faktiskt mitt bästa för att hitta en någorlunda smaklig tolkning. Men med stycken som detta:

    ‘Antroposofer är väl egentligen ointresserade av Hare Krishna mest av principiella skäl. På den indiska kulturepoken var denna sorts andlighet världsledande. Idag har de inte den relevanta andliga lösningen för världsutvecklingen. Tvärtom får man intrycket att man struntar i den västerländska kulturen som ju är ledande. … Järna-kollektivet bryr sig inte om den svenska folksjälen. De har indiska kläder, tankesätt och sedvänjor. Man visar därmed ett totalt förakt för den svenska folksjälen. Jag förstår inte poängen. Man bor i den svenska verkligheten, men godkänner den ändå inte. Om den indiska kulturprincipen är så älskad varför älska den i Sverige?’

    … är det faktiskt inte särskilt enkelt. Relevant andlig lösning för världsutvecklingen? Den svenska folkssjälen?

    Jag finner det frånstötande att människor anser sig ingå i en svensk folksjäl och att de anser sig ha mandat att avgöra vem som kan tillhöra den folksjälen.

    Om du anser att hare krishna inte aktar den svenska folksjälen, då kan jag garantera att du anser att jag inte gör det heller. Och jag menar att om du kan säga till hare krishna att de inte platsar i Sverige — då kan du säga det samma till mig. Och du skulle ha rätt, för jag bryr mig inte ett iota om den svenska folksjälen eller någon annan folksjäl för den delen.

    Så uppenbarligen förstår jag inte. För jag kan inte få din text till något annat än att du menar att vissa människor — som inte följer svenska traditioner eller aktar den svenska folksjälen — inte egentligen hör hemma i Sverige. Varför skulle de ens vilja vara här, som du ju frågar.

    En bra fråga. Kanske är det det bästa alternativ de har? Kanske känner de sig inte mer hemma någon annan stans? Vi som saknar folksjälskänsla, var hör vi hemma?

    Det är inte hån, utan frågor man måste ställa sig när man läser det textstycket. Jag menar nog att jag inte vrider hela grejen till något annat, utan att jag försöker se vilka premisser du utgått från (existensen av en folksjäl, t ex) och konsekvenserna av dessa tankar. För jag förmodar att resonemanget inte bara är applicerbart på hare krishna. Det vore i så fall än märkligare. För mig handlar det verkligen inte om att försvara hare krishna — om något, skulle jag finna fler anledningar att ‘håna’ dem än jag finner att ‘håna’ antroposoferna. Värre än saris, Krishna och att ha en gammal helig ko på gården finner jag det faktum att hare krishnas barn har farit förfärligt illa i den rörelsen och även ute på Almvik. Och om du frågar mig så är deras världsbild rejält ding. Till skillnad från antroposofins, saknar den attraktionskraft. (Men det är en annan femma och har inget att göra med indisk vs kristen-esoterisk religion att göra.)

    Som sagt, jag kanske inte har förstått vad du skrev. Men jag vet inte om en noggrannare läsning hjälper. Det kan också vara så att du uttryckt dig på ett svårtolkat eller tvetydigt sätt. Jag vet inte.

  15. Thetis,

    yes, it is an odd thread, indeed. Have you read the Swedish stuff via google? It’s about atavistic indian religion — in the form of hare krishna — versus michaelic impulses and the prominence of western culture. Or something. I’m not quite sure.

    I agree about the economic stuff — it is inevitable that society pays for good education and that it is available for all children. It’s a very basic service, education — like police, (some) health care, social services, and such things. Opting out from paying taxes isn’t really going to work, although one could of course always debate the extent to which different services are tax funded. Voucher system, on the other hand, may work. But it is paramount that all schools still live up to standards set by society — regardless of how they’re funded, through taxes/vouchers or privately (by parents) and regardless of whether they’re privately run or state schools.

  16. zooey – I did try but it’s difficult enough in Swedish! Sounds very interesting though.

  17. Well, yes, I may not have understood it fully in Swedish either… so I suppose google translation doesn’t exactly help… (Where’s the google translator for Anthroposophese — > English/Swedish/other normal language…?)

  18. ..it would have to be etheric. There should be an app. on iphone as long as you’re holding it out of a window a couple of levels up. I’ve done that to eurythmists, by the way – they make a soft ‘pouff’ when they fall, so uncommitted are their earthly forms… you should try it.

  19. Yup. They don’t really fall at all. The ‘pouff’ is simply the sound when they part with their physical bodies (which are almost irrelevant anyway). It signifies the transition between this life and the existance between death and rebirth. ‘Pouff’!!

  20. Jag utgick från att du var insatt i antroposofins folksjälskoncept. Men jag förstår att jag misstog mig eftersom du uppfattar mig rasistiskt. Du har totalt missförstått hela grejen. Därför är det inget jag kan tillägga.

  21. @ Johannes,
    Jodå, nog finns det sådant jag tycker du kunde tillägga (om du vill är däremot en annan sak). Jag är relativt väl insatt i antroposofins folksjälskoncept. Det fascinerar mig däremot att se antroposofer tillämpa det öppet så som du gjorde. Det är ovanligare. Jag skrev inget om rasism (jag hade kunnat göra det, men det hade blivit för komplicerat; jag är dock fullt på det klara med ‘domen’ över denna andra kultur var antroposofiskt grundad) — och jag vet förstår fortfarande inte vad det är jag missförstått. Varför tror du att jag inte förstår folksjälsbegreppet och hur du använder det? Och hur kommer det sig att du i så fall anser att inget finns att tillägga — det är väl just där, till min bristande förståelse (om den nu faktiskt brister), som något i allra högsta grad finns att tillägga?

  22. Gilllar dina resonemang Z ! Härligt med vilken energi du intresserar dig för dessa frågor!
    Vad är det som du särskilt sympatiserar med hos Rudolf Steiner?

  23. @ Pappan,

    god idé. Det skulle ju till exempel kunna reda ut vad ‘folksjäl’ är antroposofiskt och vad ‘folksjäl’ kan uppfattas som utanför antroposofin. Jag uppfattar nämligen det som att den ursprungliga kommentaren — om att hare krishnas inte aktar den svenska folksjälen — var dubbelbottnad. Som att det antroposofiska folksjälsbegreppet rättfärdigade en viss dom — som oundvikligen också betyder något, så att säga, icke-antroposofiskt — över hare krishnas och, mer allmänt, över det indiska.

    Vad ‘folksjäl’ är i antroposofin är inte så komplicerat att reda ut. Vad termen kan tänkas betyda utanför antroposofin, är mig däremot fullständigt obekant. Kruxet är att flera kriterier (tradition, klädsel mm) som Johannes uppställde är sådana kriterier är synnerligen påtagliga utanför antroposofin. De är, i sig, därtill rent materiella, snarare än andliga. Hur som helst, det vore intressant att se Johannes förklara ‘folksjäl’. Jag har sett otaliga försök från antroposofers sida att förklara varför folksjälsbegreppet inte skulle innebära något ‘osmakligt’… men förklaringarna har oftast lämnat en obehaglig bismak.

  24. @ Walter Johannes S,

    Bra fråga. Jag finner honom oändligt intressant, även de gånger jag i och för sig finner hans idéer osympatiska… Men på det hela taget: jag kommer ju så att säga till Steiner med negativa föreställningar om honom och hans verk. Och oavsett det, så ser jag om och om igen att han är en så otroligt mycket häftigare människa än jag någonsin kunnat ana. Det sympatiskaste av allt är att han är en människa och inte ett monster. Att han är ständigt intressant därför att han balanserar mellan brilljant intelligens och… sin alldeles egensinniga galenskap.

  25. Hi, Zooey, you say, “A good education is a good education and not dependent on faith”. It is not so long ago that a large number of people in England supported beating as an educational approach. It was not finally banned until 1986. One of our education ministers in the last five years, seeking to END debate about what constitutes a ‘good education’ said, ‘Forget all that theorising, it’s what works that counts’. On this basis of ‘what works’, we could use electric shocks, drugs(as in America where Ritalin is widely prescribed for pupils who are not submissive), bribes (as our current UK government tried to do – introducing nationally reward systems), peer pressure, parental pressure (as in Korea where the parental pressure on children is enormous and causes many suicides every year). When I worked in an international school I saw the effects of all these travesties of what ‘good’ education is. Needless to say I believe all these things to be wrong. I hated my own schooling and when I eventually decided to become a teacher myself was determined to do things differently. I wanted children to learn because they want to. When I was a teacher I tried to make every thing I did interesting, full of life, so the children would want to know and understand – and I listened to and observed the children so I could see if they were flourishing under my care. I always thought that if they came skipping across the playground then coming to school could not be so bad for them.
    So to me it is not obvious what a good education is. I would be interested to know what you think counts as a good education, what it would be like – not only the list of subjects. (I notice you didn’t include civics, a subject always seen as important in France to counteract the influence of the church).

  26. Medication, like ritalin, isn’t a question of education. It’s a medical question. For a child who needs it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong at all (but it should never be up to a teacher or a school if a child is medicated or not — they do not have the competence to make such a decision!). But I think you’ve left the tracks, although I agree totally with you that beatings should have no place in a school. These issues — much like faith — are not educational questions first and foremost.

  27. Jag har boken för dig: Der andere Rudolf Steiner
    Augenzeugeberichte, interwievs, karikaturen
    Verlag der Pforte. Vet ej om den är översatt till något annat kultur språk.
    Någonstans är ju RS betydligt större än sin lära !

  28. What one finds when one works ina school is that all these questions become relevant, -they are part of what one calls in England, the approach. For example the use of mobile phones in class. It doesn’t seem to be relevant until one is confronted with a child trying to use a mobile in the lesson, then what action does one take?
    How much disruption should be tolerated and then what should one do with the disruptive children? Exclude them? Allow them to remain but waste collosal amounts of time for the attentive children?
    If one teaches by direct instruction a percentage of children will make significant proress whilst others are left behind. If one teaches by arranging learning contexts and letting the children learn through their own activity, it may take a week or more to learn something that could be taught directly in an hour.
    It isn’t simply a matter of what you learn but how it is done.
    But if you are bored with this that’s OK. I was just trying to get at your picture of what schooling should be like.
    Regards, Peter

  29. Sure, they are aspects of the school that every school needs to handle (except for the question of medication which really isn’t a matter for the school to decide on at all). But they don’t have anything to do with the education as such. The questions you raise now are, I guess, questions which every parent has to deal with too, discipline issues — how to get the child to behave in an acceptable way, et cetera. I usually don’t say that much about such things because, honestly, because I’m not a teacher and I’m not a parent — and don’t intend to become one because I’m not interesting in raising or disciplining children. Of course, indirectly ‘discipline’ has effects on what the children actually learn. If there’s disruption — too much of it — they won’t have enough time to learn.

    But this is very different from where we started out. You wrote about education being in line with parents’ faith. To me this seems to be about inserting faith in traditional school subjects. It wasn’t about faith aspects on discipline or ritalin or beatings. It was about the education itself. When I say waldorf education is inadequate, I may mean, for example, that reading a poem in biology lesson isn’t actually teaching biology. It’s not good education, because it isn’t biology (it may be good from other perspectives but not from the perspective of gaining knowledge in biology!). Sure, there was lots of disruption and bad behaviour in waldorf school. But that wasn’t what made the *education* bad. It contributed to making the school a bad school, though. But not the education itself. There’s obviously more to a school than the education. After all, the children spend lots of time there, and are supposed to behave and all that.

    I am still curious as to why you mention ritalin and then concluded ‘needless to say I believe all these things to be wrong’ — do you seriously believe that a child receiving medication for his/her problem is ‘wrong’? I agree, if what you say is that children shouldn’t be on medication unless they actually need the medication (which isn’t the case if the child in question is only disobedient or immature or whatever — where there’s no underlying condition for which the medication is needed). But if a child needs it, I think it’s terribly reckless to be unconditionally against it, thinking it is ‘wrong’. Do you have the medical competence required to judge whether a child has a medical problem?

  30. I agree with what you say about the use of Ritalin, I certainly don’t think it is wrong per se, but the problem is that in certain parts of America, if a child is even marginally uncooperative it is seen as a medical problem rather than immaturity, disaffection or just plain playfulness, or whatever. I have known children with serious attention deficit who benefitted enormously from it.
    Education is all about values. Every thing that happens in a classroom is the subject of value judgements by someone, including when a problem becomes a medical problem rather than an educational one.
    My point about parents’ faith was that this faith would give them a different view of what counts as ‘good’ education. The same way someone with a scientific/materialist outlook would judge something else to be good, but there is no objective way of deciding what is a good education – in the end it depends on what you value most.

  31. But you still haven’t told me what you imagine a good schooling to be like (Or education if you prefer that word).
    Lets leave it there, I get the feeling I am in the wrong forum here. Put it down to age.
    Best Wishes, Peter

  32. I liked this quote of zooey’s (since her opinion is earnestly sought)

    ‘Education should enable the child to think for him-/herself. Acquiring knowledge and skills to be able to do so. Anything else, and you’d be putting the parents interests — their egotism — before the children’s right to grow up and become independent.’

    And this is, I suspect, the most important point of this discussion:

    ‘When I say waldorf education is inadequate, I may mean, for example, that reading a poem in biology lesson isn’t actually teaching biology. It’s not good education, because it isn’t biology (it may be good from other perspectives but not from the perspective of gaining knowledge in biology!).

    Some parents may want Creationism or Intelligent Design to be taught as a viable alternative to evolutionary theory. Some don’t want evolution taught at all. Regardless of these desires, their children have the right to acquire the tools to assess the scientific evidence for themselves. And no one has the right to lie to them as to the status of that evidence in the name of religion, or some loopy narcissistic illusion of spiritual superiority.

    A good education is the acquisition of three things: knowledge, critical skills and belief in yourself. The last thing we should want in any classroom is reverence and awe. We can’t afford it.

  33. Dear Thetis, now you have given me a positive definition of what you value in education, ‘A good education is the acquisition of three things: knowledge, critical skills and belief in yourself.’, all things which I too value. Clearly Zooey’s education did not prevent her from developing those three things. By saying this last, I am not trying to puff up Waldorf education, just noticing something which seems to be true. And they are three things that many people educated in the conventional way blatantly lack.
    I wonder if you have watched Brian Cox’s programmes on the Solar System. There he is, a brilliant scientist, no cranky beliefs that I know of, (at least he didn’t confess to any on Friday night with Ross) and yet he says over and over in the programmes that it is the wonder (implying also reverence for..) and awe of the cosmos which inspires him.
    If you read the lives of any of the great scientists, Galileo, Einstein, Feinmann, Darwin, etc, you will find similar thoughts expressed.
    Your line, ‘The last thing we should want in any classroom is reverence and awe. We can’t afford it.’ speaks of a very utilitarian view of the value of education.
    Thank you for sharing. This will be my last comment

  34. I somehow doubt it means you’ll stop reading though. And most commenters here can’t resist an encore.

    Brian isn’t implying reverence. No, no, no. Mentioning Richard Dawkins, awe in contemplation of the wonders of the cosmos need not imply any intimation of the divine, which is exactly what ‘reverence and awe’ means in the Steiner Waldorf sense. I can’t imagine you don’t know this. The idea that I would want to suppress in the classroom the sheer excitement of intellectual discovery, the creativity of the scientific process, the thrill of exploration, is all your own. I set my store by imagination, which is a vital part of the ability to think critically, and of a scientific as well as an artistic process.

    And when I say imagination – I’m not looking to anthroposophy. That wouldn’t help anyone.

  35. A great deal of education doesn’t happen in schools anyway. It would be marvellous if children at school were excited or thrilled some of the time but I think we have to be realistic ;) Lack of formal education doesn’t necessarily mean lack of intelligence or creativity or direction though it’s difficult if you don’t have the skills you need.

    Of course Peter – ‘many people educated in the conventional way blatantly lack’, as you so kindly put it, self-belief, knowledge and critical skills. We were talking about a good education which we’d like everyone to have. The discussion about how to provide this in practical terms is ongoing elsewhere and the difficulties certainly haven’t been solved.

    As for Waldorf: it’s had nearly a century to make its case. Even if Steiner schools survive in the UK, where are they going to find their teachers? Any new state supported course should expect to see its course materials and booklist in the public domain, with the usual results.

    btw what’s this: ‘Thank you for sharing’? Is it NVC? Do we all have to thank everyone for making a comment on someone else’s blog? I’ll be in the ethereal kiosk on the right for the rest of the day, if anyone wants me.

  36. Noting with amazement how often pro-waldorf folks announce they won’t be returning. Like the sulking kid who walks out on his parents. Maybe it is about age — how old are you Peter?

    I suppose the ‘thank you for sharing’ gambit is fairly typical of people who are on ‘a journey’. I don’t know why I get this feeling. It’s that kind of language.

    We don’t share. We’re just talkative narcissists hanging around in the ethereal kiosk, journeying from our comfy sofas — I bet they’re sort of velvety with many cushions — only to get another ice-cream. Or glass of champagne.

    Peter:

    ‘Dear Thetis, now you have given me a positive definition of what you value in education, ‘A good education is the acquisition of three things: knowledge, critical skills and belief in yourself.’, all things which I too value. Clearly Zooey’s education did not prevent her from developing those three things. By saying this last, I am not trying to puff up Waldorf education, just noticing something which seems to be true.’

    I totally agree with Thetis on the definition. As for my education, I was always a defiant child. I learnt to read — waldorf school didn’t teach me. Actually, I didn’t learn anything at school, because, thank dog, as Thetis says, most things kids learn, they learn outside school. But I regard those years spent in waldorf school as somewhat wasted. I wanted to learn — history, sciences, maths (like earlier — this isn’t an exhaustive list of all subjects children need to learn in school… it’s examples) — but wasn’t allowed to. Also, I have to disappoint Peter, because using me as an example fails utterly — I quit waldorf when I was 12,5 years old. Post waldorf I went to a notable private school with an academic agenda. It was very very far from the waldorf steiner mileu — it was waldorf’s opposite, actually. There, indeed, ‘knowledge, critical skills and belief in yourself’ were highly valued. No schools are perfect, but waldorf steiner schools are further away than many other schools. I put it down, partly, to teachers’ undue reverence and awe towards anthroposophic doctrines. Teachers who can’t apply critical skills themselves aren’t very good role models, in any case. They lack understanding of what having critical skills really means.

  37. That’s a great description of the general mise-en-scène hereabouts! There are mirrors too in the pleasingly flattering light, so we can admire ourselves in the midst of our intellectual blah blah. Almost like Olympus but without the least spark of the divine sulking & thumping about that goes on up there. What a relief. Salut!

  38. A soft, flattering light. Chandeliers, of course. And at times when nobody cares to listen, we talk to the mirrors, divulge our stories to the images of ourselves. It’s not such a bad thing. It’s rather nice. And, despite what it may seem like, utterly unpretentious. People who talk about ‘saving the world’ or ‘nurturing a community’ will be shown the door by the Great Guardian, Mr Dog. Other than that, we’re tolerant, saving any adverse reactions to when they’re truly needed.

    Cheers and chews!

  39. ” ‘A good education is the acquisition of three things: knowledge, critical skills and belief in yourself.’, all things which I too value. Clearly Zooey’s education did not prevent her from developing those three things.”

    ewwwww… hard to get that bullet out of the flesh, zooey… better try again!

    a wryly chuckling Pa

  40. It’s easy, isn’t it? I spent 9 years in waldorf (kindergarten and grades 1-6), 20 years have gone by since I left at 12,5… Actually, most of my life has been spent outside waldorf education. I’ve had plenty of non-waldorf education. And if Peter Kelly had known me as a teenager, he would have also known that ‘belief in myself’ wasn’t anything I possessed back then. That waldorf school had helped make sure I lacked.

    Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the efforts made by other teachers and schools to rescue what remains of the educational and social wrecks left behind by waldorf education… I’m just saying this because, when Peter Kelly wrote his comment, he was apparently entirely unaware that this could even be the case. It cost a lot to help that waldorf kid.

  41. how anyone not a relative can call themselves ‘Father’ these days I do not know. Perhaps if the Brits arrest the Pope, the faux fathers will find other names.

  42. As long as everybody fears the very genuine Dogfather!!! Who is, by the way, not about to be arrested. (Because the cats and the bunnies don’t have the skills.)

  43. “Father” is the 7th and highest degree of initiation in the ancient Mithras Cult, that the Church modelled its structure on. Don’t be so ignorant + judgemental!

  44. Ignorant + judgemental steinerites scorn the Church as well (for representing the 4th post-atlantean cultural epoch just like the Krishna-cult represents the 1st).

  45. Mithras? Ancient? Pah! Bunch of pirates.

    Which cultural epoch is represented by the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Pirates there too, must be a sign of some sort.. and it’s Friday tomorrow!

    Are you an initiate of the Mithras Cult? Isn’t that just a prolonged form of colonic irrigation for blokes? Though clearly you are still full of … sugar.

  46. The cult of the FSM precedes the evolution towards the Universal Dog, which will happen only in an epoch when canineosophy has finally become inherent in all living creatures. Belief in FSM only appeared because the earthlings weren’t yet prepared to accept the truths of canineosophy and properly revere Dog in all his glory. They were scared and replaced truth with meatballs and spaghetti. But they’re on the right path, because Dog also likes meatballs and spaghetti.

    The Mithras cult — and the highest degree of initiates at that! The question is why church people think they deserve this epithet. [I e, ‘father’.]

  47. Indeed, in Dog we trust. Not in cows (like people in the indian cultural epoch or in hare krishna communities). Or cats.

  48. As descendants of the beings of the old culture of Catlantis, they certainly belong to the past. No hope for progression. Evolutionary dead ends. (Ask Doctor Dog.)

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