social pedagogy at the university

James Gray has found out what is taught in the social pedagogy (curative pedagogy) program at the University of Aberdeen. Curative pedagogy is used in anthroposophical care facilities for children and grown-ups. It does seem to be quite a hassle to find out what’s taught in UK universities, in particular — and perhaps only — when the courses and programs are controversial, for example because they lack a scientific foundation. What James Gray did find out, by making a freedom of information request, is quite staggering anyway. He writes:

The documents disclosed to me reveal the extent to which the teaching of social pedagogy (at least at Aberdeen) is still dominated by esoteric and occultist beliefs.

According to the course descriptor, the degree aims to ‘enable students to develop a holistic understanding of the individual with complex needs and to become familiar with aspects of the anthroposophical view of the human being’. The course reading listcontains more than 40 titles from anthroposophical publishers such as Hawthorn Press, Floris Books and Steiner Press – Working with the Angels: The Young Child and the Spiritual World is a typical example – and its online student portal contains links to the Rudolf Steiner Archive and the US-based Waldorf Library.

Please, read on, there’s a lot more. There are actual powerpoint slides for teaching about reincarnation, the anthroposophical view of man, influences from the elemental and spiritual worlds, and so forth. Students also learn basics of anthroposophical medicine. I agree that this course poses a risk, not only for money lost, but for the lives and well-being of children who are cared for in these institutions. It is important to question why such a program is so heavily dominated by Steiner material. It is, after all, supposed to be an academic degree. The students should get a more varied foundation to stand on and, most importantly, enough knowledge (and mental space) to be able to question the anthroposophical ideas. That’s the minimum, and even that is insufficient. This is not a course for professionals to be; it’s spiritual instruction and a personal development program.