There’s a Steiner education thread on the British Centre for Science Education forum. In this thread, MarkH has written a comment I think is important, and I hope he will forgive me for quoting it quite extensively.
It is, unfortunately, difficult to find out what’s actually going on in the classroom. When I asked the Hereford school for some information on lesson plans and the science curriculum, they referred me to a book by Richter & Rawson: “The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum”. This is apparently the major source on which the curriculum in most UK Steiner schools is based. The chapter on life sciences is particularly interesting. There’s no specific mention of creationism and evolution is taught, though with some reservations. Although said to be useful within certain limits, Darwinism is “rooted in reductionist thinking and Victorian ethics”. We are urged to give the fullest consideration to questions such as whether we are “a naked ape or a spiritual individuality clothed in a physical body”. Evolution is singled out as an example of the limits of science, whereby existing theories can be superseded by more powerful and useful descriptions of nature. Alternatives theories are not discussed, but we are assured that “current ideas” will be replaced during the students’ adulthood.
Other worrying aspects of the life sciences curriculum include the claim that “the circulation of the blood is not a closed system and the pump model is not sufficient to understand the circulation of the blood or the sensitivity of the heart to the emotions”. “The limitations of the germ theory of disease”, the benefits of certain childhood diseases and discussion of vaccination in the context of rejection of foreign proteins by the immune system, are all hints that Anthroposophical ideas and culture can seep into the science curriculum.
In chemistry, Richter & Rawson give homeopathy as an example of a phenomenon that cannot be explained by “atomic theory”, with its unfortunate “implicit materialism”. A couple of paragraphs later, the authors emphasise that an open-minded approach to science, “grounded in clear thinking and exact observation” should be cultivated. However, there is little evidence here that students are given the tools to think critically and to differentiate objective phenomena from illusion and personal, subjective interpretation.
Perhaps people who read this blog might have things to add to the forum thread; I’m not a member of that forum, but if you have important perspectives to add, don’t hesitate to join. It’s an important topic. Basically, all I remember is learning about the four elements: water — fire — air — earth. With illustrations copied from blackboard, I guess. Also poems and drawing nature stuff and hearing about butterflies. My science report says my drawings were poor. Wish I’d kept the lesson books. I knew barely any science at all when transferring to a mainstream school. That tells us nothing of the general quality of science teaching in Steiner schools, I guess. The document that Mark has found does that, however. It is worrying.