We recognise the importance that spirituality and religion have for many people; however, we believe that they are matters of private belief. We will therefore neither promote nor denigrate any particular religious or spiritual beliefs. Our school will uphold the right of all individuals to hold their own beliefs and values, remaining neutral and inclusive on all matters of religion and spirituality.
Because of this, we will neither teach nor promote Anthroposophy. Individual staff and parents are free to come to their own interpretations of the philosophy that Steiner saw as the basis for his ideas, accepting or rejecting the spiritual elements according to their own private beliefs. We are committed to the practice of Steiner education, but this can be approached from many different viewpoints; this diversity can only enhance the vitality of our school.
As I already asked, on Andy’s blog, one wonders what those different viewpoints are, from which Steiner education can be approached. Other than that, all I have to say is what I have already said. I do wonder what impression the school wants to give when it, misleadingly, states that spirituality is a matter of ‘private belief’. In Steiner education spirituality is patently not merely a matter of personal belief, and the school is doing nobody a favour by pretending it is so. In fact, it does itself and all those who don’t want an education founded upon anthroposophy a huge disservice.
In addition, I strongly question this misleading claim:
Steiner himself insisted that his ideas should be tested and disputed rather than being simply accepted and this critical spirit has allowed Steiner education to evolve to meet contemporary needs.
Whether Steiner ‘insisted’ this, might itself be disputed (he did, but he also spoke and acted in ways that are contradictory), but what is clear is that his followers and, specifically, waldorf teachers, teacher trainers and other proponents of the pedagogy have done very little of the sort. I do not see how anyone can actually truly believe that Steiner education has evolved to meet contemporary needs with the help of a sense of critical spirit. Rather, the opposite is true: Steiner education is in difficulties because a critical spirit has been so sadly absent, and the method has not been able to evolve and it certainly has trouble meeting contemporary demands and exist in (or accept the ways of) contemporary society. This situation might not be what Steiner envisioned or hoped for, but it is really quite strange to claim something that is so patently untrue. Even waldorf supporters often admit that there has been too little change, too little adaptation to new circumstances and too strong an attachment to the past and to old dogma.
I would like to ask the Bristol Steiner Academy this one thing: which of Steiner’s ideas on education and child development have been tested and, in the spirit of critical questioning, rejected? Can you name even one pedagogically relevant tenet that has been examined — and trashed as invalid or irrelevant? Just one?
The school then concludes:
Steiner education works.
Oh well, then, move along, nothing more to see!