recruitment

It’s one thing that waldorf schools don’t teach anthroposophy. (I believe they should. I believe people who spend their childhood and youth in a waldorf school has a right to know sufficiently about the beliefs system behind it so as to be able to identify it.) It’s there, of course, but it isn’t taught. It’s everywhere. But is it entirely true that the anthroposophical movement does not take any active steps towards recruitment of young people? It’s not. The Anthroposophical Society has what is called the Youth Section, its international headquarters situated in Dornach. Another activity targeting young people just out of waldorf high school is the Youth Initiative Program (YIP), an international ‘education’ with its base at Järna, the Swedish village dominated by anthroposophy. YIP wants to ‘to create a positive social change in the world.  – A course in how to bring your own initiative into being.’ What it actually manages to do is unclear. The curriculum seems fluffier than the worst waldorf schools. (It could be summarized as ‘fluff about and feel like you’re doing something tremendously important’. Sorry, but that’s my impression.) YIP doesn’t conceal its commitment to anthroposophy, though it doesn’t flaunt it either. If you browse around on their website, you will find a subsection of it devoted to anthroposophy. But even without this, it’s a blatantly anthroposophical projects. I think it’s worth noting what they say about anthroposophy though.

It is one of the unique traits of our period in history that, just at the point when the human species has created very serious challenges to the future of humanity, the same humanity has uncovered very powerful cognitive frameworks and practical approaches such as, but not limited to, Anthroposophy, that have the power to move humanity to a new, more profound level of evolution. YIP, by its very nature and striving, seeks to connect to these diverse streams of genuine efforts in humanity.

Note, in particular: ‘the power to move humanity to a new, more profound level of evolution’. Through anthroposophy. (Don’t imagine for even a second that they really accord equal importance to other worldviews or brands of spirituality… or to rationalism or science for that matter.) The text concludes thusly:

YIP and its organizing team consider themselves Anthroposophically inspired.

I’d be very surprised if the majority of YIP’s participants weren’t former waldorf students, as the channels which they use to attract their students are waldorf related.

In YIP’s international network, we find WeStrive, IDEM and Goetheanum’s Youth Section (mentioned above). The Connect Conference is an event organized regularly, and will take place in Järna next year. The Youth Section reports in a recent newsletter:

At the end of June 2011 the Connect Conference for high school students from all around the world will take place at the Kulturcentrum Järna, the home of the Youth Initiative Program, for the first time in Connect history.  Connect invites youth who are at the end of their school career to come together in a conference setting to celebrate the end of school and to create a base for life decisions. Connect informs and gives insights into the challenges we meet at the moment we leave the provided school framework and head into our own lives, where each of us becomes the designers of the content and form we want our lives to have.

Connect 2011 specifically invites classes from Waldorf schools, or groups of young people from the same hometown to join this conference.

Kulturcentrum Järna — ‘Centre of culture Järna’ — was formerly known as the Rudolf Steiner Seminar. (Notice how the name Rudolf Steiner has been ditched probably as it has been perceived as being bad for business. Wouldn’t be appropriate to recruit school children for some activity explicitly associated with the name Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf schools aren’t supposed to be about Rudolf Steiner, even when named after him, or to attract children to live the rest of their lives in his and anthroposophy’s name.) Connect has its own website too, and a post on September 24, 2010, recounts the presentations the organization made in Swedish schools (which means waldorf schools, obviously); I read:

I only know that if I start talking about one asspekt [sic!] of Connect the others will line up like a chain of pearls. Connect from the cultural aspect, the potential that lies in meeting peers from different countries that in this occasion have gone through 12 years of the same education and have more things in common than they would ever imagine.

Well, of course, they all have gone through waldorf education. That’s the common denominator. So, no wonder… She spoke about

Connect from a networking perspective, to become part of the Connect network that already exists in the world, and to create a future network of friends and colleagues from all over the world. Connect as a possibility to find out about more initiatives and organisations that serve as vessels for youth needs and world needs …

What kind of networks, initiatives and organization serving ‘as vessels for youth needs’ (oh yikes…)? Why this reluctance to talk about what it really is? What the goals are? Worryingly, the report claims that

[t]he response, as always, is astonishingly positive. There is initial interest flaming up, there is light in their eyes, when they understand what I am speaking about, there is smiles and YES, and I can see so much potential …

Mission accomplished. I mean spiritual mission of course.

Please feel free to add information in the comments about other anthroposophical projects that actively target and recruit young people, in waldorf schools, et cetera. I’d be curious to read more about other ‘initiatives’ operating in the same vein or with the same goals or connections. (I noted earlier that anthroposophists have impulses for just about everything. They aren’t hungry, they have a food impulse. Oh, ok, I’m joking. But still. Another word is ‘initiative’. They don’t have that many projects, but they have initiatives. Based upon impulses, presumably.)

16 thoughts on “recruitment

  1. How very unstrategic of me to post seemingly important posts on a day when few people are reading blogs at all. Well well. I wasn’t thinking…

  2. Brilliant link, thanks!! She’s probably right it would be healthier for her to stay off youtube.

    But this is unusually candid:
    ‘I feel it is necessary to begin this article by briefly explaining what I mean by an ‘Anthroposophy student’. I am currently completing my first year of a Bachelor of Arts course called Steiner Waldorf Education at Plymouth University. This degree offers a number of different elements of study that are all based around Anthroposophy – the philosophy and theory of the late Austrian philosopher, scholar and self-proclaimed clairvoyant Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). ‘

    Notice also what this teacher-to-be writes about history under the subheading ‘Evidence of Conscious Shifts throughout History’.

    This made me laugh:
    ‘Whether people are confused enough to believe in the literal destruction of humankind for the advancement of alien conquest is irrelevant …’
    Hardly irrelevant. Is the battle of all against all symbolic? Is the Universal Human not quite alien — though not extra-terrestrial… — to what is human?

    So what about the Mayan prophesies…?

    ‘However, what I discovered through subsequent research was that the Mayan prophecies, far from hailing the destruction of humanity, state that it is we who are becoming those intellectually advanced beings; that it is our destiny to save ourselves from our own destruction and that this is happening right now through a cosmically-induced transition of human consciousness.’

    Hence, anthroposophy. If they all agree with her, I suppose they are in a hurry.

    She polled her classmates, and I found this interesting:
    ‘Regarding these collective opinions has led me to believe that the Steiner Education course may have something to offer to our future transition of spiritual consciousness.’

    Why don’t waldorf organizations and waldorf school post this kind of stuff on their websites? They should recruit this teacher to write their promo material. It’s at least more honest than the picture they usually present to parents and politicians.

  3. and this bit:

    ‘Steiner Waldorf Education is not solely a ‘teacher training course’; depending on the motive of the individual student, it can also be exclusively a course in the study of philosophy and Anthroposophy’.

    I wonder if she ever graduated?

  4. Absolutely Alfa-omega, when we send our child to a Steiner school, I never even though to question the qualifications of the teachers, there was an automatic assumption that the people in charge of my child’s education would have a BEd or a degree with a post graduate certificate in education.

  5. In Sweden, this gate is in the process to be closed.
    As of Jan 1, 2011, it will be REQUIRED to be a certified teacher in order to obtain a permanent position. There are a few exceptions, not concerning Waldorf, however. Starting 2012, an authorization will be required (means: on top of the teachers’ certificate, a period of working as a teacher at an appropriate level will be required in order to obtain an authorization).

  6. Part of the faiths and intrigues within the staff I have witnessed while being a part of a Waldorf school for a while was concerning who will keep the job when the pupils are leaving the school, causing the school’s income, the voucher money based on pupils attending, will diminish. This fight was absolutely not about qualifications according to the Swedish teacher certificate.
    Waldorf has been shouting EXCEPTIONS!!!!!! for years. That’s finished now.

  7. Michael Gove is already putting into place such exemptions. From Steiner Free Schools Frequently asked Questions document written by newly appointed SWSF advisor Emma Craigie (née Rees-Mogg):

    ‘3. Will all teachers in Free Schools require QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)?

    No. All teachers will need to be graduates with Steiner training. We hope to
    develop a Steiner route to QTS for new teachers in the future. Instructors who are
    not graduates can also be employed. Schools decide their own pay scales’.

    http://www.waldorf-swlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/SteinerFreeSchools.pdf

  8. Mr. Michael Gove & Co claim to be following the Swedish model, isn’t it?
    To me, it’s a bad joke.

    First, in Sweden, all free schools are more closely monitored than the community comprehensives are.

    [Skolinspektionen (until recently Skolverket, the equivalent of Ofsted. Now, Skolverket’s separate tasks were divided and assigned to separate authorities).]

    Until quite recently, “Skolinspektionen” has carried out control of a free school each fourth year, and control of a community comprehensive each sixth year.

    Furthermore, local newspapers, particularly those in communities run by a social democratic majority, CLOSELY monitor each step taken at a free school. (Literally each step, the facts being less important than the ideology sometimes).

    (So, if I, a parent, wish a closely monitored school for my children, I should definitely choose a free school in Sweden.)

    I understand that Tories’ academy model means less accountability as compared to state maintained schools. That is NOT the Swedish model! Quite the opposite.

  9. mule — ‘I wonder if she ever graduated?’

    … I bet she did and is now teaching children in a waldorf school! She’s probably qualified.

    ‘’3. Will all teachers in Free Schools require QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)?
    No. All teachers will need to be graduates with Steiner training. We hope to
    develop a Steiner route to QTS for new teachers in the future. Instructors who are
    not graduates can also be employed’

    And they don’t even see this as a problem!! Mind-boggling. They present this answer with… pride!?

    alfa-omega — ‘Waldorf has been shouting EXCEPTIONS!!!!!! for years. That’s finished now.’

    For the moment. In a few years, they may start again. Work slowly towards the goal. Maybe I’m too pessimistic. Still, our present situation is not bad.

    ‘I understand that Tories’ academy model means less accountability as compared to state maintained schools. That is NOT the Swedish model!’

    Thank Dog. Though, even in Sweden, we could use more accountability. The inspections are too tame. Schools continue to fail rather than be shut down or punished. There’s way too little knowledge about waldorf and what happens behind the surface. There’s too little knowledge about which questions need to be asked.

  10. Zooey: “alfa-omega — ‘Waldorf has been shouting EXCEPTIONS!!!!!! for years. That’s finished now.’

    For the moment. In a few years, they may start again. Work slowly towards the goal. Maybe I’m too pessimistic. Still, our present situation is not bad.”

    alfa-omega: the time will run away from them in Sweden. The Major(*) has 3 1/2 years now till the next elections. Although this current government is a minority government, there is a political agreament around the necessity to reform the current state of education.

    In Sweden 2010, several alternatives exists for the parents who do not wish the community comprehensive for their children. Just an example: http://www.engelska.se/ . The pupil base for the Waldorf schools is diminishing.

    Starting Jan 1, 2011, only certified teachers can by employed permanently. There are exceptions, but not for Waldorf as far as I know, not the kind of exceptions the Waldorf was shouting about recently. From 2012, an authorization will be required (certificate + work experience in a teacher position).

    With the voucher system, the school attracting pupils will be able to grow, the school not attracting people will eventually dissapear. The parents have more power in deciding what happends to their children, AND how their tax money is used.

    THAT is the Swedish model!

  11. Yup, it’s very good stuff, and much better than what was before! I’m afraid 3 1/2 years pass so quickly though. Or that someone comes up with the idea that waldorf schools are SO special and need SO special rules and they’ll institute a special gnome certificate, well… Ok, I’m pessimistic.

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