In regard to the discussion over at the Local Schools Network blog. Because we have had these conversations with Jan earlier on this blog. Because some of it may, as Thetis pointed out, only serve to bemuse the regular LSN-blog readers. I quote myself in full and provide selections from and links to Jan’s comments.
I think it is important in life to be open to new developments and phenomena.
When people state: “there is no spiritual world” they are closing themselves of for new developments. When they are rigid in this conviction they are fundamentalists.
Jan, good stuff. But what’s it doing in the educational system?
Schools for children are not appropriate venues for the spiritual ‘journeys’ of grown-ups. Or people who are supposed to have grown up.
The thing is that when you deny the (possible) existence of a spiritual world, anthroposophy must appear as a building of nonsense. This is the way DC indeed describes it. I am not impressed by that. His blog is a sceptic blog. Sceptics dogmatically deny the existence of a spiritual world, in fact not very scientific.
Jan — why does it matter to you that a skeptic denies the existence of a spiritual world? No skeptics tells you cannot hold a belief in (or conviction, or knowledge of, or walking a path to, or whatever else) the existence of a spiritual world. It is perfectly alright. You have a right to believe in the spiritual world.
But I, as a child, had a right to be spared the spiritual beliefs of anthroposophists — a right anthroposophists were not willing to grant me. So — if you have a right to your beliefs, don’t you think other people have the right to their beliefs and the right to reject your beliefs and not to have to be subjected to them?
Also — and it seems to me we have discussed these issues before — there is a problem when you ask other people to help finance your spiritual beliefs, and you ask that they do this involuntarily through the tax system. I know that I have called your attention to tax funded scientology primary schools. We have them in Sweden, thanks to the free school system — which, by the way, I support. But I don’t think tax payers should be forced to finance extreme cults. You have to draw the line somewhere. But where is that, exactly? Whose spiritual convictions are worthy of public support? Scientologists? Islamists? (Anthroposophy is, like, nice in comparison. But, as said, where do you draw the line?)
And what about those children who get their education and their lives fucked up in these institutions?
I see you constantly obsess about your spirituality and how skeptics don’t respect it. But you very rarely seem to realize that education is there for the students and not to bolster your spiritual self-confidence. You very rarely want to reply to what I say, because you know I was a student in one of these schools — and I guess you somehow realize that, just like you have a right to your spirituality, I had a right not to be subjected to it. Isn’t that correct? And perhaps you understand that children’s rights aren’t always respected.
The reason seems quite apparent to me: parents and teachers who want to pursue their spiritual ‘journeys’ are all too eager to sell out the rights of children.
‘Since Darwins time modern biology has been developed further, so is anthroposophy may it be less spectacularly.’
So what stops anthroposophists and waldorf proponents from saying, ooops, Steiner made some bad errors, and explain what these errors are and why they are now to be rejected? That would help prove that anthroposophy has developed.
(Knowledge of biology has, of course, developed and continues to develop because biology is a science. Nobody needs to feel attached to hypotheses that have been disproven…)
The issue here is not of a personal level although it may seem to be so to you.
For me it is about the possibilities of development for our societies (political, social, cultural, economical) and yes, for human kind in general. […]
[Spiritual science] can offer humanity a chance to comprehend better the things they meet during their lives on this planet (and afterwards), including their own life.
I say it c a n , that means you have to do it yourself, but the anthroposophical methodology can be a great help on this road.[…]
Anthroposophy as a cultural factor will make our societies more human. […]
Finally it all comes down to a right understanding of what anthroposophy really is.
Nothing wrong with that either, Jan. But you would have to make a good argument in favour of anthroposophy and its merits in these areas. Like everybody else who has political ideas. Anthroposophy isn’t convincing — or, let me rephrase that, anthroposophists don’t do a great job. It seems to me they sit in an ivory tower, feel superior, expect to be exempted from criticism, and (they have the nerve!) ask everybody to pay for their stuff without knowing what it entails.
It doesn’t work! [I meant that the convincing doesn’t work. Anthroposophy might not ‘work’ either, but that wasn’t what I was thinking of, actually.] But you are, like everybody else, free to promote it as a political philosophy, as a spiritual philosophy, or in any which way you like. But you can’t demand automatic respect for your beliefs or that they be adopted by others without evidence or argument. And as far as funding goes… you have to prove that what you offer is worth paying for. And that it isn’t just some crazy spiritual junk. You are competing with scientologists for the money…
I also now notice that in that same comment, Jan writes about the education system in Finland, and imagines that with society approaching the ideals of social threefolding, schools would gain more freedom from state interference, like in Finland. As far as I know, the demands that schools show results are as high in Finland as they are anywhere else; they might even be set higher than in countries like Sweden. But with highly skilled and competent teachers, Finland might be in a position where according more freedom to teachers is actually an option that leaves children better off as compared to more state control; it does have to do, I would guess, with the quality of teacher training and the professional status of teachers (Finland excels). And Steiner schools in Finland are (or were, at least, but I don’t see why this would have changed much lately) required to prepare their students for national tests — they have to pass the same final exams as students in other schools to graduate, for example. It seems to me that the schools are free as long as they accomplish their tasks — but they don’t get to decide freely what these tasks are (and waldorf schools would, no doubt, want to decide on that themselves — to be ‘free’, right Jan? though it is only about the freedom of parents and teachers, not about the freedom of children, which I have pointed out ad nauseam).