There was a letter in a local paper in Frome protesting the new proposed Steiner free school. Two waldorf Steiner proponents have replied. One of them is Tim Cutting.
It is not merely possible, but very probable that there are significant numbers of staff already working in schools in Frome that do believe in karma and reincarnation, and maybe even some who talk to gnomes. I don’t know about gnomic conversations, but a belief in karma and reincarnation are elements of major world religions, including some versions of Christianity, and, along with many other components of belief systems, have not yet been either proved or disproved.
Well, yes, but why not mention that in anthroposophy, which informs their particular pedagogy (waldorf/Steiner), karma and reincarnation are central beliefs? Furthermore, unlike many other religions, which at most influence some aspects of school life, anthroposophy is the foundation of the pedagogy itself in Steiner school. That makes a significant difference. And anthroposophy is, after all, what is important in a Steiner school; the other belief systems, no matter their content, are not. And although there may be teachers who believe in reincarnation and gnomes in other schools, their beliefs aren’t part of the foundation of the educational philosophy applied in these schools. The problem is not that teachers privately subscribe to a belief system, be it anthroposophy or some other; the problem, if there is one, is that Steiner pedagogy is anthroposophical pedagogy and that this fact is insufficiently communicated and explained.
Alan Swindell (who once wrote an interesting article in the SWSF newsletter… I commented here) wisely writes in another letter to the paper (same link as above):
It can hardly come as a surprise that teachers working in Steiner schools are expected to have some familiarity, gained through study, of Steiner’s insights into child development and those aspects of anthroposophy that relate directly to education.
Hardly. More than familiarity, actually. Otherwise the schools aren’t Steiner schools at all. I’m not sure why this is so difficult for waldorf/Steiner proponents and officials to discuss these things openly, though. Even when it comes to questions of karma, reincarnation and gnomes.
Edit: Posted too quickly. Need to comment on another things Alan Swindell wrote:
Mr Boxall also claims that the trademarks “Steiner” and “Waldorf” are controlled by the “anthroposophical movement”. They are not. They are the responsibility of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship.
I would like to remind Swindell that the SWSF is a part of the anthroposophical movement. They’re a local UK organisation in a worldwide network, ultimately organised by the pedagogical section at the Goetheanum — yes, that is the Anthroposophical Society. SWSF has the local responsibility for the trademarks, yes. But this does not mean they can do whatever they want. There are requirements. This does not mean they’re not a part of the anthroposophical movement. In fact, what it truly means is that they are: otherwise they would not be in charge of these trademarks.