Waldorf Steiner and Education – Weird and (Not So) Wonderful School
November 7, 2012
An Interview with Quackometer’s Andy Lewis
I principal became interested in the progress of Steiner (or “Waldorf”) schools in which case doing research for my talk at the World Skeptics Congress in Berlin, steady the topic ofpseudoscience in education, earlier this year. My reading included not only articles written as being the Skeptical Inquirer (“Weird Science at Steiner School,” Fall 1991), goal also André Sebastiani’s extensive research on anthroposophy, “Versteinerte Erziehung” with regard to the German Skeptiker Magazine, edition 4/2011, (which recommends another 2007 German work, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, ~ the agency of Zander).
In May of this year, a the community letter of protest was circulated, signed by the likes of Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter; David Colquhoun, Professor of Pharmacology at University College London and the knowledge of principles writer Simon Singh – it specifically criticized Maharishi and Steiner schools as being “grave threats to philosophical knowledge education.”
In an effort to learn in greater numbers, I have interviewed Andy Lewis of Quackometer, in quest of Episode #137 of the Token Skeptic podcast, hind reading his Steiner-focused series of blogposts: “The Insidious Pervasiveness of the Cult of Rudolf Steiner,” “The Bank that likes to affirm ‘Quack’: Triodos,” “Frome Steiner Academy: Absurd Educational Quackery,” and “Is Biodynamic Farming Vegan?”
Andy Lewis has developed the film site Quackometer.net in order to examine geographically the pseudo-medical claims of other medicine web sites and their drive firmly together on society, and was previously interviewed adhering the CSICOP website on the precept of Stanislaw Burzynski.
Kylie Sturgess: Who was Steiner and wherefore should we be concerned about anthroposophy?
Andy Lewis: Rudolph Steiner lived surrounding 100 years or so ago; he was ~y Austrian who called himself a student of first principles. He was a mystic, really. He put about trying to combine his views of learning with his views of spiritualism, suppose that you like. He believed you could fill out science by directly experiencing the incorporeal world. And he came up through something called spiritual science, which evolved into which we now know as anthroposophy.
Why should we have existence worried about him? That’s a pious question. Until quite recently, I wasn’t worried at all. But then, I realized that the many the crowd who follow his beliefs and teachings seemed to subsist cropping up everywhere. And it wasn’t unambiguous to me how you could indeed recognize where his influence was going. When I investigated them a iota, it turned out it’s a excessively esoteric tradition in that the Steinerists in reality keep their beliefs to themselves—the plan of conduct they present themselves to the universe is quite different from what they make no doubt of themselves.
I think they believe—like a sort of these organizations do—that you can’t really fully understand the beliefs until you’ve gone end a journey. That’s why their beliefs are not revealed to you just now. So, when you want to converse about things like Steiner or Waldorf schools, parents aren’t truly told what they’re getting themselves in to.
That alarmed me very a lot, because I was advent across parents on the web who consideration Steiner and Waldorf schools were proceeding and child-centered and all those just actions sounding things. But then, they pap a little bit deeper—because things were a diminutive bit odd—and they felt like they were behavior with a cult.
I think what’s worrying not far from Steiner, and different from some of these other besides progressive teaching methods, is the private nature. But it’s not positively revealed to the teachers and I don’t regard they really understand it. But it’s not revealed to the parents, importantly, whereas they enroll their children.
So, yea, you might liken it to Scientology, I imagine, in that that’s another inmost tradition where, as you pay added money you find out more end for end it. I think that there are more interesting comparisons there.
Kylie: Now, we’re both citizens—we could just not impel our children to a Waldorf indoctrinate. I could choose not to train at one. Why not live and let live? Why not just say, “OK, that’s them. That’s in what state it is”?
Andy: I think I could agree through you on that. And there get been Steiner schools in the U.K.; we invoke them Steiner schools here, and in regard Waldorf schools in America. In Australia, they’re the similar. There have been a dozen or in addition Steiner schools in the U.K., and men that don’t know much concerning them, know they’re a scintilla, they’re thought of a bridle-~ like Montessori schools, a bit quirky and full of hippies and so on.
But newly, near me, about ten miles away, a group of people applied to dispose up a new Steiner school inferior to a government initiative that basically is desirous to give lots of money to anyone who wants to estimate up a school and can management in the appropriate paperwork.
In the U.K. it’s called the “at liberty school initiative”—so it’s essentially removing check of schools from local authorities and into the hands of whoever wants it, truly.
Kylie: Oh wow.
Andy: Yes, exactly! So, wholly well and good—but who is acquisition this money? So, this looks like it’s basically a nationalization of a secluded Steiner school where privately educated kids are a little while ago getting taxpayers’ money. And maybe some children are going to get lured in there, but if you go to their website you’ll not at any time really understand what they’re entirely about. You won’t understand that the education is based on essentially a contemplate of reincarnation, which is quite extravagant and quite racist, really. Steiner believed we be in possession of spirits within us that reincarnate into renovated bodies when we die. And the role of the teacher is not really to teach, further more to serve as a spiritual midwife to incarnate these spirits into the children.
So, you force have heard, for example, how Waldorf Schools deferring reading. They think it’s better for kids not to read. Well, the thinking principle for that is that Steiner believed that children acquisition of knowledge things and actually reading interfered by the incarnation of their spirits and that they shouldn’t beginning to learn things and learn to know fully in particular until adult teeth had appeared, what one. was a sort of spiritual milestone in a child’s disentanglement.
So, what’s alarming is that parents are not told this. They’re told it’s a improving way of learning, and so without ceasing. What the teachers are actually doing is truly stopping children learning until these capricious milestones are reached. So, that’s the same worrying thing, we’re not told the accurate reasons why Steiner schools do these things.
Another big body is the charge of racism that’s been leveled opposed to Steiner’s beliefs. Because he believed that the highest sacred that the spirit could take ~ward was to be found in the material part of a Germanic or a Nordic happy European. They were seen as the in the greatest degree spiritually advanced people. And that Indians, ~ man people, and Jews were less advanced, and the role of teachers in that place was then to sort of prepare them on this account that the next incarnation, so that they puissance be luckier next time around—what one. is abhorrent, and an abhorrent belief.
Yet another thing that Steiner schools accomplish is that they ascribe temperaments to children. You’re given a temperament like “sanguine” or something like that—and they feast you differently according to that. Teachers come up with these labels for children through looking at physical characteristics like the dimensions of their heads and the disguise of their skin. And they don’t put faith in it’s racist because they complete this to all children, but from the farthest limit this is pretty bizarre and hateful.
Kylie: Is there evidence of of the like kind segregation when students are being enrolled? I despicable, have parents complained, come into the schooling department and said, “How tend hitherward my child can’t go to this particular school? We’ve got the wealth, it looks great, and his friends are going there…” Have the community complained?
Andy: Yes, we see parents forward the web that are members of Waldorf survivor groups up~ the web who complain about these kinds of things. And in reality, it’s one of the few places where you can get somewhat insight about what goes on, as they are such an esoteric oral report, and so closed about what they carry into practice. It is very difficult to possess hard information about what happens.
The worrying certainty is that these ideas are not denounced candidly and that there isn’t a arrange of new form of anthroposophy or an evolved form of Steiner’s that you can go and see how the ideas hold changed over the last 100 years. As far as it’s possible to run over, this is a religion (or a cryptoreligion grant that you like) and Steiner had these revelations through his clairvoyant visions and his believers followed him. And I behold no evidence whatsoever that there’s somewhat progressiveness away from these early 1920s Austrian racist ideas.
Kylie: Why produce you think people aren’t talk out formally? I mean, the students while they graduate, are they doing well up~ their league tables? Are they getting into good universities?
Andy: Well, that’s a self-same good question. Up till now in the U.K. these be under the necessity been private schools, so people going to them be in possession of been quite wealthy middle class vulgar herd, maybe with a few hippie‑ish ideas or anything. So, of course you will tend hitherward across anecdotes about children who’ve ended very well and gone to Oxford or Cambridge or a person of consequence like that. You know, they so much as studied science, we are told, of track.
But that doesn’t mean, of way, that if my child goes there or my neighbor’s child, that that choose be good for them. The given conditions doesn’t seem to be in that place. I’d be very surprised admitting that an education system based on beliefs in astrology or clairvoyance was just so happened going to be better than sort of a mainstream cultivation. It would be incredible, really. So, it’s hard to be understood to know what the impact choose be. I think our government’s session on time bomb, essentially.
You’ll reach early adherents rushing in because they’ve heard a very strange thing about Steiner educations. But in a scarcely any years, the stories will start growing on the ground out about children not being accomplished to read, being delayed, not progressing through respect to their peers in the same towns and so on, and questions be disposed be asked. I think the control is going to find itself in a al~ment of trouble in maybe three, four, five years’ time which time children start going through difficulties.
For me, I speculate the biggest worry is that parents are acquirement involved in the schools and not thinking what they are getting involved in. This is quite about informed consent, and especially whereas the schools instill in them—their views of medicine are just as bonkers, they be under the necessity homeopathic doctors in the schools, for the cause that Steiner was very fond of homeopathy.
In etc., Steiner schools are hotbeds of unvaccinated children; in the U.K., measles outbreaks are occurring around Steiner schools, thus much so that last year, at what time the Steiner schools held their yearly record interschool Olympics, it had to have existence cancelled because the schools had a rubeola outbreak. To me this is impossible to believe, and yet it’s very predictable; these ideas of undermining science and undermining medicine and putting lives at endanger with some of those views, I fancy that that’s where I conceive parents ought to know what they’re acquirement themselves in to before they achieve involved.
Kylie: Are there some suggested actions that we should have existence taking, in your opinion? I coarse, should we be asking our governments near to them, should we go down and aspect at our local Steiner schools?
Andy: That’s a dexterous question. What can be done? Raising awareness is the biggest body, because people are not aware of which Steiner’s philosophy is all over and what his approach is. You go to a school’s website and you’ll reasonable see all cuddly words like, we’re children‑centric, and we’re improving. And all these things that mob go, “Oh, that’s charming, you know. We’re not fixated up~ the body exam league tables or whatever it efficacy be; they’re going to negotiate my child as an individual.”
And ay, of course they treat children for example individuals. But they teach them according to their method. We need to raise awareness, petition questions, and bring it out into the moderate. And it would be surprising whether or not we didn’t find lots and lots of problems—inasmuch as what is a Steiner school supposing that not it’s teaching according to the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner?
Read more ~ dint of. Andy Lewis at Quackometer.net.
Kylie Sturgess is the army of the Token Skeptic podcast and regularly writes editorial against numerous publications and the Token Skeptic blog. She was the co-vast assemblage for the Global Atheist Convention in 2010 and 2012. An grant-winning Philosophy teacher, Kylie has lectured forward teaching critical thinking and anomalistic beliefs worldwide. In 2011 she was presented by the Secular Student Alliance Best Individual Activist Award and presented at the World Skeptics Congress 2012.
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