.
WALDORF / STEINER
NEWS



We have entered the summer doldrums.
Activity here will probably slow down accordingly.
But please check back occasionally — 
I will continue covering major news when it breaks.
                                           — Roger Rawlings

Steiner, addressing the teachers of the first Waldorf school soon after the opening of the school:

"We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... [W]e wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work. I ask you to understand these introductory words as a kind of prayer to those powers who stand behind us ... It is our duty to see the importance of our work. We will do this if we know that this school is charged with a particular task ... We can do this only when we do not view the founding of this school as an everyday occurrence, but instead regard it as a ceremony held within Cosmic Order ... We wish to see each other as human beings brought together by karma, who will bring about, not something common, but something that, for those doing this work, will include the feeling of a festive Cosmic moment ... Our task is not different because we believe in vain arrogance that we should establish a new direction in pedagogy, but because, through spiritual science, we are clear that each period in the development of humanity always sets itself new tasks. Humanity had a different task in the first post-Atlantean developmental period, another task in the second, and so forth, right up into our fifth period." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 33-35.








NEWS


August 17, 2019

FLATS GOING UP ON SITE 
OF FORMER STEINER SCHOOL 


As a general trend, the Waldorf movement has been growing. Overall, from year to year, the total number of Waldorf schools in the world has been inching upward.

The trend has seemed inexorable. But within the trend, there is considerable churning. New schools open, but some of them fail. Meanwhile other, older schools also shut down, once in a while, here or there. [See, e.g., "Failure" and "The Seiner School Crisis".] Sometimes these closures reflect systemic conditions within the Waldorf movement, problems that can be found in many Waldorf or Steiner schools. In other cases, a Waldorf/Steiner school may close due to unique misfortunes, chance events that seem to carry few if any larger lessons.

The following is from The Evening Times [Glasgow, Scotland]:


Housing development begins on 
fire-hit Steiner school in Glasgow's Yorkhill

By Niall Christie

Work has begun on a development which will see 36 flats built on the site of a West End school [the Glasgow Steiner School] destroyed by a fire more than five years ago...

When the fire hit the school in March 2013, dozens of children and staff were evacuated as flames tore through the school.

The fire broke out during morning break and led to a tower on the roof collapsing into the building...

In total, around 85 students and staff were displaced as a result.

The [housing] development comes despite attempts by campaigners for the city's Steiner School to rebuild the school...

The school's former manager, Kathryn Turner, told the Evening Times in 2013: "...[W]e are hoping to rebuild, as the external walls are structurally sound and there is no reason to demolish them."

However, a statement of closure was posted in 2017 regarding the immediate closure of the school...

[A] community of those who supported the former school continue to hold sessions promoting the idealogy [sic....



It is probable that supporters of Steiner education will continue attempting to reopen the Glasgow Steiner School or create a new Steiner school to replace it. The ideology of Waldorf/Steiner education is Anthroposophy, the religion initiated by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Convinced that they are on a mission of cosmic importance, Steiner's followers are generally tireless in attempting to go over or around obstacles that might otherwise block their path.

The chief obstacle in this instance seems to be the inability to raise sufficient funds to rebuild — which may, in turn, indicate limited interest in Waldorf/Steiner education in the larger Glasgow community. This is a problem Steiner supporters often confront. Their general response is to foster small Anthroposophical enterprises, hoping to expand them gradually in future years. Thus, Waldorf/Steiner schools often begin (or begin again) as tiny operations, with just a handful of students and very few teachers (perhaps just one or two). Typically, a new school may start out as a kindergarten, aiming to add progressively higher grades — and hire additional faculty — as the first batch of students ages. Meanwhile, vigorous student-recruitment and fundraising efforts are usually undertaken, continuing virtually without cessation, year after year. This may be the narrative that will be repeated now in Glasgow.

— R.R.









August 13, 2019

◊ News Briefs ◊


1.


From iBerkshire.com [Massachusetts, USA]:


Berkshires Beat

The Berkshire Waldorf School (formerly known as The Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School) is starting a new early childhood two-day program for children ages 2 1/2 to 3 1/2. The new program, starting on Sept. 9, will be held on Thursdays and Fridays through the school year. Located in the Rose Room nursery at the Betty Szold Krainis Early Childhood Building, this gentle first introduction to school includes artistic activities, singing, music and movement, wholesome snacks which the children help to prepare, and visits to the chickens and cows....






2. 


From The Northern Star [New South Wales, Australia]:


Most Expensive Private Schools
Might Surprise Some 

...July's Edstart school fee report revealed that the majority of the most expensive private schools in the region had increased their fees above the current inflation [rate]...

Shearwater Steiner School...came in as the dearest [most expensive] school in the region at $8300 per Year 12 student...

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School...was second with a total of $7476 [per student]...

[8/13/2019    https://www.pressreader.com    This item originally appeared on August 10.]





3. 


From The Texas Tribune [Texas, USA]:


Texas vaccine exemption rates: 
Look up your district or private school 

Health officials are watching pockets of Texas closely because of the number of parents requesting exemptions under Texas’s broad vaccine exemption law. Texas is one of 16 states that allow parents to bypass vaccine requirements for enrolling their kids in school by claiming a conscientious exemption...

...Some smaller private schools...have exemption rates that are significantly higher than those of other schools. The Austin Waldorf School had the highest vaccine exemption rate for the 2018-19 school year, at 52.9%....






4. 


From Heavy.com [New York, USA]:


Philip Manshaus: 
5 Fast Facts You Need to Know 

Philip Manshaus has been identified as the suspect in a terror attack on a mosque in Baerum, Norway, near Oslo...

The 21-year-old Manshaus posted [racist messages] on an anonymous online message board ... Manshaus tried to inspire others to continue the “race war” ... Police said Manshaus had previously shared “far-right” and “anti-immigrant” views.

Philip Manshaus attended Oslo Waldorf School...

Police said Manshaus does not have a “criminal background”....

[8/13/2019    https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/philip-manshaus/    This article was updated on August 12.]





5. 


From The Daily Sentinel [Colorado, USA]:


Juniper Ridge starting year
in new facility 

Juniper Ridge Community School's new campus is almost ready for students.

The school's new location...includes a 17,000-square-foot main building for offices, a community room, art room and three kindergarten classrooms. The school also moved seven classroom modulars from its previous location...

"We were out of space where we were at," [a school spokesperson] said...

The new Juniper Ridge campus will also allow for a bigger school garden and outdoor exploration, both of which school leaders said are fundamental to the Juniper Ridge's Waldorf education philosophy....











August 9, 2019


"NEW" STEINER SCHOOL 
OFF ON WRONG FOOT 


As one of the many Steiner schools in the United Kingdom found to have serious deficiencies, Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) was ordered to close. [1] Supporters of the school reluctantly complied with the closure decree, but they also set to work looking for ways to revive the school in some slightly modified form (the slighter and fewer the modifications the better). The result is Langley Hill Independent School, which is scheduled to open soon on the same site as RSSKL, with much the same curriculum, and many of the same teachers. [2]

But there is a glaring problem. The official inspection service that brought down RSSKL — the government's Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) — has reported that Langley Hill seems set to repeat the mistakes committed by RSSKL. [3]

The following is from The Watford Observer [Hertfordshire, England]:


Langley Hill Independent School 
may not be free of failings of previous 
Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School

By Daisy Smith

A new private school is unlikely to meet all standards when it opens in September, Ofsted has said.

Langley Hill Independent School will open in place of the former Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley.

The troubled school closed earlier this year after Ofsted inspections in November 2018 and December 2016 rated it inadequate [4] and pointed to leadership and student safeguarding issues [5].

Langley Hill Independent School will be a new Waldorf-inspired school [6]...

An Ofsted inspection in May found the new school is “unlikely to meet all the independent school standards [7] when it opens”.

It will retain around half of the former Rudolf Steiner School employees. But Ofsted inspectors said the school had not considered how staff from the former school will be well supported and trained [8]...

The report also found it was not clear how teaching will be monitored and supported by senior leaders [9]...

Ofsted inspectors said they thought the welfare, health and safety standard of pupils is unlikely to be met [10].

Despite the shortcomings, inspectors said the new school has a clear vision [11] and has created policies about how it intends to support pupils’ development...

Langley Hill Independent School had been contacted for comment. But no response was received at the time of publication.






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See "RSSKL".

[2] See "Langley Hill".

[3] For an overview of problems found during official inspections of UK Steiner schools, including RSSKL, see "The Steiner School Crisis".

[4] "Inadequate" (equivalent to a grade of F) is the lowest rating Ofsted issues — it indicates that a school is seriously deficient.

[5] Poor leadership and failure to adequate protect students have been prominent findings in many Ofsted inspections of Steiner schools. Poor teaching has also often been cited.

[6] The term "Waldorf-inspired school" is somewhat amorphous. It may be applied to a school that adopts a few Waldorf pedagogical methods without adopting the underlying mystical Waldorf worldview, Anthroposophy. [See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] But the term "Waldorf-inspired" may also be applied to a school that seeks to become, sooner or later, a full-bore Waldorf/Steiner institution, wedded to Anthroposophy.

[7] Independent school standards published in draft form by the UK's Department for Education in 2018 include 

1. Quality of education
2. Spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of students
3. Welfare, health, and safety of students
4. Suitability of staff, supply staff, and proprietors
5. Premises of, and accommodation at, schools
6. Provision of information [to parents, pupils, applicants, agencies, etc.]
7. Manner in which complaints are handled
8. Quality of leadership and management of schools


Ofsted seems particularly concerned that Langley Hill, like RSSKL, may fail to meet the first, third, fourth, and eighth of these standards (quality of education, safeguarding, suitability of staff, and management). Supporters of Waldorf/Steiner schools would likely argue that Langley Hill will be particular strong in meeting the second standard (spiritual, moral, etc., development of students). Critics, however, would likely argue that the school could be particularly censurable in this area, if the school effectively leads students toward embracing Anthroposophy.

[8] If Langley Hill is to be different in any significant way from RSSKL, teachers held over from RSSKL will presumably need to be retrained at least to some extent. Ofsted indicates, however, that no provisions seem to have been made for such retraining.

[9] This point covers both the management of the school and the quality of teaching the school will provide.

[10] This is the issue of safeguarding, which has been prominent in the inspections of Steiner schools and in the media accounts that have resulted. Here Ofsted indicates it doubts that Langley Hill is making adequate efforts to protects its students.

[11] Steiner or Waldorf schools usually have a clear vision, derived from the purposes and educational practices originally propounded by Rudolf Steiner. [See, e.g., "Waldorf's Spiritual Agenda".] The underlying question about Langley Hill is whether its purposes and practices will diverge to any significant degree from Steiner tradition. (I.e., the question is whether Langley Hill will be a thoroughgoing Waldorf/Steiner school like RSSKL, or whether it will be merely "Waldorf-inspired.") 

— R.R.









August 8, 2019

CHILD WELFARE AND WALDORF: 
DANGERS OF CONTAGION


Waldorf schools continue to make news as centers of anti-vaccination belief and behavior. The schools are thus potentially dangerous places, institutions where contagious diseases are likely to break out and spread.

The following is from EdSource [California, USA]:


California Charter School 
Vaccination Rate Dips to 57% 

California charter, private schools report lower 
vaccination rates than traditional public schools

By Diana Lambert and Daniel J. Willis

California’s charter and private schools dramatically lag traditional public schools in the percentage of students vaccinated for contagious diseases [1].

Last year, 78 percent of traditional public schools reported that its students had all required vaccinations necessary to protect the community, while only 68 percent of private schools and 57 percent of charter schools met that goal, an EdSource analysis of California Department of Public Health data reveals.

Ninety-five percent of children at a school must be immunized to prevent transmission of disease in a community, according to the state Department of Public Health [2]...

Under state law, children must be immunized against 10 serious communicable diseases if they want to attend public or private schools and child care centers. Studies have linked clusters of unvaccinated children to outbreaks of measles, pertussis and chickenpox...

Schools with vaccination rates of less than 50 percent are largely charter schools in Sutter, Placer and Nevada counties in Northern California...

Most of the 63 schools with less than 50 percent of students vaccinated were charter and private schools: 47 were charters, 10 were private and six were traditional public schools. The private schools include five Waldorf schools...

Among all schools [having large numbers of unvaccinated students], there are 20 with Waldorf in their name [3]: five had vaccination rates under 50 percent and 11 had vaccination rates between 51 and 75 percent. Waldorf schools are usually independent private schools, but some, often called Waldorf-inspired schools, are public [4]...

Sebastopol Independent Charter, a K-8 school in Sonoma County with 293 students, had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state for incoming kindergartners in 2018-19. Nearly 57 percent of the 44 incoming kindergartners at the public Waldorf school did not have all their required vaccinations. That’s an improvement over 2010-11 when the non-vaccinated rate was 88 percent [5].

At the same time, the school’s medical exemptions are up. No child at the school had a medical exemption in 2013, but a quarter of the school had exemptions by 2016 and nearly half by 2018 [6]....






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] For readers unfamiliar with American educational terminology: Traditional American public schools are funded by taxpayers, they follow standard state-approved curricula, and they are open to all students in particular geographic areas. Private schools are self-funded, they have their own curricula, and they usually have selective admissions policies. Charter schools fall between: They operate much private schools do, but they receive state funding, and they are generally open to most students in their surrounding communities. (In the UK, these institutions would be called free schools.)

[2] This level of vaccination should protect almost everyone in the school, including those who have not been vaccinated. When the vaccination rate falls below 95%, contagions are far more likely to spread and they may affect even individuals who have received vaccinations.

[3] Not all Waldorf school include "Waldorf" in their names. (For example, one of the oldest Waldorf schools in the USA is the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City; "Waldorf" is not part of this school's name.) Thus, the total number of Waldorf schools in California with low vaccination rates may be higher than the EdSource study reveals.

[4] "Public" Waldorf schools are Waldorf charter schools or magnet schools. (Magnet schools are public schools that offer special programs meant to attract a diverse group of students who share particular interests or talents.) "Waldorf-inspired" schools are generally schools that emulate Waldorf education to some degree; in many cases, the backers of these schools hope to make the schools full-fledged Waldorf institutions eventually.

[5] Many Waldorf schools are responding — not always promptly or willingly — to governmental requirements for the vaccination of children. Nonetheless the percentage of unvaccinated students in Waldorf schools still tends to be high.

[6] Medical exemptions are meant to excuse students from vaccination requirements if there is a sound medical reason for such exemption. But critics contend that too often such exemptions are claimed or granted without a valid medical justification.

— R.R.









August 3, 2019


WORLDWIDE WALDORF 
CRITICS AND QUESTIONERS 


Former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra hosts the website La Vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf {The Truth About Steiner-Waldorf Schools}, where he presents his informed critiques of Waldorf education and its underlying ideology, Anthroposophy.

At his site, Perra has now posted a list of websites posted by Waldorf critics in many lands. The list was prepared by former Waldorf parent Margaret Sachs (she once enrolled her children in a Waldorf school): 


Those who criticize Anthroposophy 
and Steiner-Waldorf schools 
all around the world 

A contribution from Margaret Sachs

[Ms. Sachs writes:] Grégoire Perra is not an isolated critic of Waldorf schools. Here are some websites and blogs dedicated exclusively to the criticism of anthroposophy and Waldorf schools (in alphabetical order):


Anthroposophical Behaviour - bringing forward Waldorf/Steiner issues (English)

Anthroposophie.blog (German, with instant automatic translation into 105 languages)


Delirio Waldorf (Spanish); English, German, Dutch)

Freebird: What Is Anthroposophy (Spanish, French, English, Italian, German)





Steiner's Mirror (English)

Steinerkritik (Danish)

Steinerkritikkk (Norwegian)



The ethereal kiosk (English, Swedish, German)




UK Anthroposophy (English)

Waldorf - Steiner Watch (English) [expired or restricted?]


Waldorf Critics (English)*



Waldorf Watch (English)*

WaldorfBlog (German)


* Waldorf Critics and Waldorf Watch are perhaps the most complete.


Other blogs and websites have published critical articles about Waldorf schools. Former Waldorf students, parents and teachers shared their negative experiences in online discussion forums. Newspapers in Europe and the United States have published articles on abuses, security issues and other problems in anthroposophic institutions.


[8/3/2019 "Tout ceux qui dénoncent l’Anthroposophie et les écoles Steiner-Waldorf à travers le monde", La Vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf.   The list was orginally posted on August 2.  Translated from French with www.DeepL.com/Translator.   For more of Margaret Sachs' work, see, e.g., "Our Experience".]









July 30, 2019


WORD GETTING OUT 
ABOUT STEINER SCHOOLS 


Waldorf schools in the United Kingdom — they are usually called Steiner schools there — are reeling. Inspectors have found serious problems in many of these schools, and they have concluded that the great majority of inspected Steiner schools in the UK are subpar. These finding have had tangible effects. Two Steiner schools have shut down, and others are now in peril. [1]

The drama has been intense — but it has gone largely unnoticed. News in the UK has been dominated by Brexit, the fall of a prime minister, and the elevation of a new prime minister. Most people have had little attention to spare for the plight of a fringe form of education.

But major media have occasionally put out stories about the Steiner crisis. A case in point: The Daily Mail, a newspaper with an enormous circulation [2], published the following report recently:


More than 75 per cent of 
Steiner schools across the UK 
are failing to provide a decent education, 
Ofsted inspectors announce 

By Eleanor Harding

Three quarters of Steiner schools across England are not providing a decent education, Ofsted [3] announced yesterday.

The watchdog [4] this year launched a crackdown on [Steiner] schools...

[F]ollowing inspections of 26 Steiner schools — 22 private and four state-run [5] — Ofsted found ‘serious issues’ in some.

Although six were rated good [6], 13 were judged as ‘inadequate’ [7] and seven were judged to ‘require improvement’ [8].

In total, 77 per cent of Steiner schools have been judged to be less than good, compared with just 15 per cent of state-funded schools [9].

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools...highlighted concerns over safeguarding practices [10], provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) [11] and the quality of education [12] and leadership [13].

A third of Steiner schools inspected had ‘ineffective safeguarding’, and the issues were ‘serious’...

Fewer than a third of the inspected [Steiner] schools were judged to have good teaching, learning and assessment [14]....

[7/30/2019    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7274795/More-75-cent-Steiner-schools-UK-failing-provide-decent-education.html    This article originally appeared on July 22, and it was subsequently updated.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:



[2] The Daily Mail has the second-largest circulation (approximately 1.2 million) of all newspapers in the UK, second only to The Sun.

[3] Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education. Part of the UK government's Office of Education, Ofsted inspects various types of schools in the UK.

[4] I.e., the watchdog agency (Ofsted).

[5] Most Steiner schools in the UK operate outside the state or public school system, but four are "free schools" — what, in the USA, are called charter schools. These schools follow their own curricula, but the state pays the tuition fees for the students.

[6] A school is rated "Good" if it meets Ofsted's standards and has no serious shortcomings. "Good" is the second-highest Ofsted rating (equivalent to a "B"). The highest rating — indicating a school is excellent — is "Outstanding" (equivalent to an "A"). Ofsted has not found any Steiner school to merit the highest rating.

[7] "Inadequate" is a failing grade (equivalent to an "F) — it indicates that a school has serious shortcomings.

[8] "Requires Improvement" is a low passing grade (equivalent to a D or C-) — it indicates that a school is below average.

[9] The wording, here, is imprecise. Technically, the four Steiner free schools are "state-funded schools." The article means to say that only 15 percent of ordinary public schools in the UK have been judged to be less than good, whereas more than three-quarters (77 percent) of inspected Steiner schools have been judged to be less than good.

[10] I.e., measures taken to ensure the safety of the students.

[11] I.e., measures taken to accommodate students who have learning disabilities or other handicaps.

[12] This, surely, is the central criterion. Does a school give its students a good education or not? Inspectors have concluded that most of the inspected Steiner schools do not.

[13] I.e., school management.

[14] "Assessment" refers to efforts made to determine whether students are benefiting from their schooling. Inspectors have found that most inspected Steiner schools have poor teaching; students evidently do not learn as much as they should; and the schools make insufficient efforts to gauge how well teachers and students are doing.

— R.R.









July 29, 2019


News Briefs


1.


From NBC News 10 [Southeast New England, USA]:


A year after devastating fire, 
Meadowbrook Waldorf School looks to future

One year ago Monday, a school in Richmond burned to the ground [1].

Firefighters from throughout South County were called to the Meadowbrook Waldorf School [2].

Officials believe the fire was sparked by lightning.

Classes are being held at the former South Road School in South Kingstown while the Meadowbrook campus is rebuilt.

School officials said they hope the building will be completed by next year.






2. 


From Wicked Local Beverly [Beverly, Massachusetts, USA]:


Homeschool program launched at 
Waldorf School at Moraine Farm in Beverly 

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm [3] has announced the launch of a new homeschool program [4]. Offering on-campus classes to home schooled children in grades 1-8, the program is offered Tuesdays and/or Thursdays from 10:35 a.m. to 12:10 p.m...

Courses offered span a range of topics and include Cyber Civics, Fine Arts, Handwork, Outdoor Science in Nature, Spanish, German, Strings/Music, and Theater. All courses are taught by Waldorf School at Moraine Farm faculty.

The cost for an eight-week session is $250 and includes all materials needed for the course....






3. 


From Newsport [Port Douglas, Austalia]:


STEINER INFORMATION SESSION 
GIVES NEW EDUCATION INSIGHTS 

The newest education option for families in the Douglas Shire [5] will be hosting an information session this Wednesday to drum up interest in the new school.

The Tropical North Steiner School [6] will open its doors to students in 2020 if enrollment numbers can support the funding for a teacher.

Director and pioneer of the school, Julie Verri, said the information session on Wednesday would give Douglas Shire residents a chance to find out more about the new school...

The school is aiming to begin with Prep to Class three next year with a view of growing naturally each year to Class six [7]....






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See "No Injuries at Waldorf School Destroyed by Fire", July 30, 2018.

[2] See https://www.meadowbrookschool.com. The school's campus is in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

[3] See https://waldorfmoraine.org. The school is located northeast of Boston, Massachusetts.

[4] Waldorf homeschooling is a fairly recent phenomenon
Oak Meadow is one source offering Waldorf homeschooling materials. 

The new program at Waldorf School at Moraine Farm is designed to supplement the efforts of parents and others who undertake to educate children at home — the children would be brought to the school for occasional on-campus classroom experiences led by Waldorf faculty. In Waldorf pedagogy, the teacher exercises enormous authority; s/he is, Steiner asserted, the earthly emissary of the gods. [See "Here's the Answer".] Homeschooling — which usually eliminates involvement by professional teachers — runs contrary to long-established, hallowed Waldorf practice. Programs such as the one described here would re-establish involvement by trained Waldorf teachers. Thereby, it might help assure that Waldorf goals (fundamentally, the promotion of Anthroposophy) remain central in the educational process.

[5] In Australia, a "shire" is a rural local government. Douglas Shire is located in northern Queensland, Australia.

[7] This is how Waldorf or Steiner schools often are established: very small, with an eye to growing year by year as the first group of students ages.

"Prep" is the initial year of schooling — essentially, it is pre-schooling, intended to prepare students for entry into the first grade (class one). 

The planned Tropical North Steiner School exists, at this stage, only as an idea. The current goal is to hire the first teacher who would teach all subjects to all of the prospective students.

— R.R.









July 26, 2019


STEINER VS. OFSTED - 
LETTER WRITERS CLASH 


An official schools inspection agency in the United Kingdom (UK) — the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) — has found the great majority of inspected Steiner schools in the UK to be doing a poor job. [1] Critics of Steiner schools are now suggesting that these schools probably should be closed. Defenders of Steiner schools argue that, to the contrary, Ofsted should be abolished.

Letters are appearing in UK newspapers and online, taking both sides of the debate. Here are samples.


1.


CHANGE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE !!

An Open Letter to Amanda Spielman (head of Ofsted), and to Steiner Schools Recently Rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted

Dear Ms Spielman,

We are writing as educationalists to express our grave concerns about recent Ofsted decisions to grade a number of England’s Steiner schools as “Inadequate”. The high-stakes grading system which you use is not only unfair on those schools; it is in general inconsistent, unreliable, and lacks any sense of objectivity...

First and foremost, there are several Steiner schools where the level of parental satisfaction with their school is measured at approaching an extraordinary 100 per cent, and yet which Ofsted has deemed to be “Inadequate” [2]...

Secondly, can you please tell us how much inspectors knew about the Steiner ethos, and its many differences from mainstream Gradgrind education [3], before they were unleashed on these schools?...

Thirdly, what confidence can anyone have in the reliability of an inspection system whereby a nursery was deemed “Good” on re-inspection three months after a previous “Inadequate” grading, even though nothing had changed? [4]... 

Fourthly, many have commented on how unrealistic it is for a two-day visit, spot-checking just certain classes, to be considered representative of a whole school...

Given the highly problematic nature of the Ofsted grading system and its questionable validity...the whole approach to inspection evaluation and judgement needs root-and-branch transformation...

In our view, as Ofsted seems incapable of significantly changing its regime and approach, the only realistic way to reverse the malaise is to replace Ofsted with a supportive inspectorate that empowers, rather than punishes, bullies and publicly humiliates....

[By Richard House, Richard Brinton, Rowan Williams, and other signatories    https://m.facebook.com/notes/a-path-of-discovery-waldorf-for-everyone/change-before-it-is-too-late-/1353949554761398/    July 13, 2019.] [5]


2.


YOUR LETTERS: 
Steiner Schools must change, 
if not they will close

Richard Brinton (letters July 17th) calls for Ofsted to be changed or abolished following a very critical inspection of a local Steiner school.

Whilst I certainly do not think Ofsted is above criticism this seems to be a blatant case of shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message.

His response typifies the arrogance of many who promote Steiner education believing it to be beyond judgement according to the standards expected of all schools [6].

Since it is inconceivable to them that the schools are indeed failing it must be the inspection process which is at fault. This despite the fact that the failings found in Steiner schools, which have led to some closing, are so consistent as to suggest a failing in the underlying pedagogy [7]...

[I]t is the Steiner schools themselves which must change and if they will not they must close.






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See, e.g., "The Steiner School Crisis".

[2] Of course, whether parents like a school may be a different question from whether the school is actually educating children well.

[3] This is a reference to Thomas Gradgrind, a numbers-crunching, hardhearted school superintendent in Charles Dickens' novel HARD TIMES.

[4] This example does not concern a Steiner school, the writers say.

[5] For previous coverage concerning this letter, see "Harsh Inspections Called Unfair", July 3, 2019.

[6] Labeling opponents "arrogant" is an ad hominem attack that, like all ad hominems, is unhelpful. By contrast, Mr. Watson is correct to say that many Steiner proponents deny the applicability of ordinary standards to Steiner schools. Thus in the letter from Richard House, et al, we find this: "Steiner schools have a fundamentally different ethos and pedagogy from mainstream schooling, the subtlety and depth of which Ofsted’s managerialist bean-counter approach is distinctly ill-equipped to comprehend, let alone assess in an informed way."

[7] This is the key issue raised by Amanda Spielman: whether there are systemic failings in the Steiner system that may be present, to varying degrees, in all Steiner schools. [See, e.g., "Ofsted May Seek Systemic Steiner Flaws", January 31, 2019.]

— R.R.









July 24, 2019


CHIEF EDUCATION INSPECTOR 
PANS STEINER SCHOOLS - II


Here is a follow-up to yesterday's coverage of the Steiner school crisis in the United Kingdom (UK). Yesterday we looked at a report in a British general-interest newspaper, The Telegraph. Today we will consider an article in a British magazine that focuses on education issues.

From TES [formerly the Times Educational Supplement; London, England]:


Spielman brands majority 
of Steiner schools 'very weak'

By Catherine Lough

Ofsted [1] chief inspector Amanda Spielman has expressed concerns over the quality of education provided at Steiner schools, after 77 per cent of the schools were rated less than good [2] by Ofsted in the 2018-19 academic year.

In a letter to education secretary Damian Hinds, Ms Spielman described the inspection results for both independent and state-funded Steiner schools as “very weak”...

Ms Spielman said that “the performance [3] of Steiner schools overall remains poor”. She also raised concerns over the ineffective safeguarding [4] procedures identified in many of the schools by inspectors.

Ofsted found that over a third of Steiner schools had ineffective safeguarding ...

Ms Spielman said teaching and learning were of poor quality in the majority of [Steiner] schools inspected, with fewer than a third of schools judged as good in this area. Provision for pupils with special educational needs and disability [5] was also found to be weak in many schools...

Steiner schools have consistently received poor inspection grades from Ofsted.

In June, Beechtree Steiner Initiative, in Leeds, and the Brighton Waldorf School were given notices to improve after inspections found they had serious regulatory failings.

And in July, York Steiner School, a private school for three- to 14-year-olds, was rated “inadequate” by Ofsted when its curriculum was found to be too narrow to allow pupils to develop sufficient knowledge and skills. [6]

Earlier this month, Steiner supporters called for Ofsted to be scrapped [7]...

In [her] letter, Ms Spielman said that “several [Steiner] schools had recognised their leadership issues [8] and have begun to tackle their problems.”

“We can see that some schools want to improve, which is welcome news [9]. However, the desire for change has to be accompanied by the capacity and capability to do so,” she said....

[7/24/2019    https://www.tes.com/news/spielman-brands-majority-steiner-schools-very-weak    This article originally appeared on July 22.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] Ofsted is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, or (abbreviated) the Office for Standards in Education. [See https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted.]

[2] Ofsted rates a school "Good" when that school meets Ofsted's standards adequately (this rating is equivalent to a grade of B). A rating of "Outstanding" is awarded to schools that excel (this rating is equivalent to a grade of A). In the recent Ofsted inspections, about a quarter of the Steiner schools (23%) were considered "Good"." None were considered "Outstanding".

Hence more than three-quarters (77%) of the Steiner schools were rated less than "Good."

According to the article in The Telegraph, seven of 26 Steiner schools inspected were rated "Needs Improvement," meaning they barely provide an adequate education (this rating is equivalent to a D or a low C). Thirteen on the 26 schools were rated "Inadequate," meaning they are failing as educational institutions (this rating is equivalent to an F).

Ofsted rates schools according to their performance in six areas:

1. Effectiveness of leadership and management
2. Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
3. Personal development, behavior and welfare
4. Outcomes for pupils
5. Early years provision [i.e., provisions for the youngest students]
6. Sixth form provision [i.e., provisions for the most senior students]

An “overall effectiveness” rating is then given, based on assessments in the six areas.

[3] "Performance" is chiefly a matter of the quality of teaching provided by a school and the outcomes for the students (how much they learned).

[4] "Safeguarding" is protection of students — ensuring the children's safety.

[5] I.e., the quality of special education services provided to students facing the greatest challenges. In the UK, "special educational needs and disability" is often denoted by the acronym SEND.

[6] The schools in Leeds, Brighton, and York are only a few of the Steiner schools inspected and rated recently. [See, e.g., "A Site Returns and Tots Up the Damage", May 26, 2019.]

[7] See "Harsh Inspections Called Unfair", July 3, 2019.

[8] "Leadership" has to do, chiefly, with school management. Ofsted inspectors have found that Steiner schools are, in general, poorly managed.

[9] Leaders of some Steiner schools accept that their schools have shortcomings. They are attempting to cooperate with Ofsted or at least make gestures in that direction. On the other hand, some Steiner leaders and their supporters have taken an adversarial stance, as in the effort being mounted to make Ofsted — not Steiner schools — the issue. (Rather than changing their schools, these Steiner proponents want to abolish Ofsted.)






In general, inspectors have found that Steiner schools fail in almost every conceivable way, ranging from teaching to management to the protection of students.

For a broad review of the current mess in UK Steiner schools, see "The Steiner School Crisis".

— R.R.









July 23, 2019

CHIEF ED INSPECTOR 
PANS STEINER SCHOOLS 



Steiner schools in the United Kingdom (UK) have been in crisis for some time now. [1] Official inspectors have found numerous deficiencies in many of these schools, ranging from poor teaching to inadequate protection of the students. Now the head of the official inspection agency is waving a red flag: Steiner schools in the UK are, by and large, failing their students.


From The Telegraph [London, England]:


Ofsted chief warns over Steiner schools 
as she reveals that three quarters failed inspection

By Camilla Turner

The head of Ofsted [2] has issued a warning over Steiner schools after more than three quarters failed their inspection.

Amanda Spielman revealed that of the 26 Steiner schools that have been inspected by Ofsted over the past year, 13 were branded “inadequate” [3] and seven were rated as “requires improvement” [4].

In a letter to the Education Secretary [5], Ms Spielman said: “The performance of Steiner schools overall remains poor, and there are areas of weakness that need to be addressed.

“Most worryingly, inspectors found that a significant minority of the schools had ineffective safeguarding practices [6], and I continue to be concerned about the provision for pupils with SEND [7], about quality of education more generally [8] and about leadership [9].”

All but four of the Steiner schools in England are private, meaning they must adhere to independent school standards. But Ms Spielman revealed that 15 of the 22 fee-paying schools [10] failed to meet these standards...

Two private Steiner schools have closed down in the past year [11], while three of the four Steiner state-funded academies [12] are in the process of being taken over by multi-academy trusts [13].

Ms Spielman added that inspectors did find some “encouraging signs of good practise and change” in some schools....

[7/23/2019 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2019/07/22/ofsted-chief-warns-steiner-schools-reveals-three-quarters-failed/ This article originally appeared on July 22.]




Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See "The Steiner School Crisis". Steiner schools  are also sometimes called Steiner-Waldorf schools or, simply, Waldorf schools.

[2] Ofsted is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education. 

[3] "Inadequate" is the lowest evaluation issued by Ofsted; it is a failing grade.

[4] The Education Secretary is the head of the Department of Education, a section of the UK government.

[5] "Requires Improvement" is the next-lowest evaluation issued by Ofsted; it is a very low passing grade (approximately equivalent to a D).

[6] The term "safeguarding," as used in UK schools, is the protection of children — it consists of practices and policies meant to ensure the safety of students.

[7] "SEND" stands for "special education needs and disabilities." Inadequate "provision for pupils with SEND" means a school fails to provide adequately for its most challenged students.

[8] "Quality of education more generally" has to do, chiefly, with teaching. Ofsted inspectors have found that the teaching in Steiner schools is often poor.

[9] "Leadership" has to do, chiefly, with management. Ofsted inspectors have found that Steiner schools are, in general, poorly managed.

(In summary, inspectors have found that Steiner schools fail in almost every conceivable way, ranging from teaching to management to the protection of students.)

[10] "Fee-paying" schools are private schools — the families of the students must pay fees in order for their children to attend.

[11] These are Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley [see "RSSKL"] and Michael House School [see "Another Steiner School Will Close Its Doors", March 6, 2019.]

[12] These are the Steiner academies in Bristol, Exeter, and Frome. [See "Three of Four Steiner Academies Turn to a Hindu Trust", June 19, 2019.] "Academies" are schools that operate within the public school system while implementing their own curricula and methods (much as charter schools do in the USA). Fees are paid by the government rather than by the families of the students.

[13] Multi-academy trusts are educational organizations that operate two or more schools under a single board of trustees. The danger for a Steiner school that enters such a trust is that the faculty may lose control — the trust may enforce policies that run counter to Steiner methods and objectives. [See, e.g., "Steiner Schools a Poor Fit in Hindu-Centric Trust?", July 11, 2019.]

— R.R.









July 18, 2019

SOULS, SEALS, 
AND STEINER 


Astrology looms large in Rudolf Steiner's teachings — and, thus, in the doctrines that underlie Waldorf education.

Here is a new book currently featured on the SteinerBooks website (the description was provided by the publisher, 
Temple Lodge Publishing):




[Temple Lodge Publishing, 2019]



The Seat of the Soul

Rudolf Steiner’s Seven Planetary Seals

by Yvan Rioux

How are the internal and external forms of the human organism shaped? How does human consciousness emerge? These are questions that conventional science cannot answers [sic].

In The Seat of the Soul, Yvan Rioux invites us to consider new concepts that explain these phenomena. His exposition is based on the existence of external “formative forces” — morphic fields — that, he asserts, create the human body or organism in conjunction with forces that resonate within us from the living solar system...

In his previous book The Mystery of Emerging Form, Rioux explored the formative forces of the twelve zodiacal constellations. In this absorbing sequel, he investigates how such activity from the planetary spheres works within us ... In seven chapters, he explores the impact of each of these planetary spheres ... Rioux also describes, from a biological perspective, Rudolf Steiner’s seven “planetary seals.” According to Steiner, these seals are “...occult scripts, meaning that, as hidden signatures, they show their ongoing etheric impacts on the seven stages of our metabolism”....





Like Rudolf Steiner, Yvan Rioux clings to the ancient belief that there are seven planets in our solar system (among which he, like Steiner, counts the Sun and the Moon). Modern science tells us there are actually eight planets in the solar system (or nine if you count Pluto) — and neither the Sun nor the Moon is counted as a planet.

The "sphere" of a planet, Steiner and Rioux affirm, is the region of space dominated by a particular planet. Each of the planets, or its "sphere," has astrological impact on us, Steiner and Rioux indicate: Each has powers that it sends down, affecting our development and the pattern of our lives.

In a word, this is astrology. Astrology runs like a refrain throughout Anthroposophical discourse. [1] Steiner sought to distance himself from ordinary astrology; he rejected the notion that the stars and planets absolutely control us, depriving us of free will. But he affirmed what he called "genuine" astrology, which is essentially astrology as conceived by himself, and this form of astrology reverberates in Waldorf thinking. [2] The stars and planets do not control us, Steiner said, but they affect us deeply. So, for instance, when Steiner informed Waldorf teachers that there are basically four types of students (choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic) [3], he indicated that each of these types is influenced by a specific zodiacal constellation (Libra, Virgo, Leo, and Cancer, respectively). [4]

Steiner's seven planetary seals are insignia meant to represent the mystical powers of the planets or planetary spheres. They are reproduced, somewhat vaguely, on the cover of THE SEAT OF THE SOUL: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus. [5]





Steiner had many marvelous things to say about the "planets." He spoke of the planets as living entities, he specified the gifts the planets potentially hold for us, and he told about the beings who live on the planets. Here are some samples [6]:


The Moon

“When we speak of the Moon as a physical body in the heavens, its physical nature is only the external, the most external, revelation of the Spiritual [i.e., spiritual reality] behind it ... [T]he Moon in our universe presents itself to begin with as a gathering of spiritual Beings living in great seclusion ... They live in their Moon 'fortress' ... [T]hese Beings who have now entrenched themselves in the Moon fortress were once the great Teachers of earthly humanity ... [T]he highest wisdom once possessed by the Earth lies concealed within the Moon fortress.”


Saturn

"[Saturn is] a kind of antithesis to the Moon ... Saturn is an entirely self-engrossed heavenly body in our planetary system, raying [i.e., projecting] his own being into the universe ... He speaks only of himself, tells us only what he himself is ... [T]he hosts of Beings indwelling Saturn [i.e., living there] lend their attention to the outer universe, but...they speak only of past cosmic events. That is why Saturn is like a kaleidoscopic memory of our planetary system ... Saturn is the constant tempter of those who listen to his secrets ... Those who have a particular inclination towards Saturn in earthly existence are people who like to be gazing always into the past, who are opposed to progress, who ever and again want to bring back the past."


Jupiter

“Jupiter is the Thinker in our planetary system, and thinking is the activity cultivated by all the Beings in his cosmic domain. Creative thoughts received from the universe radiate to us from Jupiter ... Whereas Saturn tells of the past, Jupiter gives a living portrayal of what is connected with him in the cosmic present ... A man who has tried hard to apply clear thinking to some problem but cannot get to the root of it, will find, if he is patient and works inwardly at it, that the Jupiter powers will actually help him during the night.”


Mars

“Mars may be called the great 'Talker' in the planetary system ... Mars is constantly blurting out to the souls in his sphere whatever in the cosmos is accessible to him — which is not everything. Mars...is particularly active when human beings talk in sleep or in dream ... Mars does little thinking. He has few thinkers, but many talkers, in his sphere. The Mars Spirits are always on the watch for what arises here or there in the universe and then they talk about it with great zest and fervour ... In a certain sense Mars may be called the Agitator in our universe. He is always out to persuade, whereas Jupiter wants only to convince.”


And so on. Steiner made similar statements about Venus, and Mercury, and the Sun. And all of it made as much sense — or as little — as what you've just read. [7]

Anthroposophists do not live in the universe revealed by modern astronomy and other genuine sciences. They live in an imaginary universe, the astrological universe described by Rudolf Steiner.





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See "Astrology" and "Star Power".

[2]  See "Waldorf Astrology".

[3]  See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".

[4]  See, e.g., FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 91.

[5]  For clearer reproductions, see, e.g., a web page posted by The Sophia Institute: https://www.sophiainstitute.us/ic17.html.

[6] The quotations given here — concerning the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars — are drawn from Steiner's lecture "The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets" (THE GOLDEN BLADE, Hawthorn Press, 1988), GA 288.

[7] See, e.g., "The Planets".
— R.R.









July 17, 2019

◊ News Briefs ◊

MORE ON MEASLES 
— AND WALDORF 



From Fox 7 News [Texas, USA]:


Anti-vaccination movement 
creating disease outbreak hotspots 

By Jennifer Kendall

Doctors in Texas are worried the anti-vaccination movement could create a widespread disease outbreak.

In fact, the Texas Department of State Health Services said the number of children exempt from vaccines in schools rose 14 percent last year.

What's even more concerning to local doctors is that exempt students tend to be grouped together. For example, 46 percent of students at the Waldorf School in Austin haven't been vaccinated.

"Measles, flu, all these different diseases, they are preventable," said Dr. Stephen Line, family medicine resident physician at the University of Texas... 

[M]ore than 60,000 Texas parents chose not to vaccinate their children since 2003...

[Dr. Line added:] "It's not all about you. It's about protecting other people too...."






From The Middletown Press [Connecticut, USA]:



Connecticut seeks dismissal 
of child vaccine lawsuit 

By Jenna Carlesso

Lawyers for the state have asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a Bristol couple suing to block the release of data that highlights what percentage of children at each Connecticut school are unvaccinated.

The state health department, named as a defendant in the case, in May released the first school-by-school assessment of child immunization rates. The data from the 2017-18 year show 102 schools where fewer than 95 percent of kindergarten students were vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella — the threshold recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [for community-wide immunity]...

The proposal would not have forced children to be immunized. It would have prohibited unvaccinated children from attending Connecticut’s public schools...

Data show Housatonic Valley Waldorf School, a private school in Newtown, came out on top, with 37.7 percent of students reporting religious exemptions [from vaccination] ....






From The Santa Monica Mirror [California, USA}:


Low Vaccination Rates 
at Westside Kindergartens 

By Sam Catanzaro

California law requires all children to receive certain immunizations in order to attend both public and private schools, but in the past year, the vaccination rate among many kindergarten students in and near Santa Monica are declining...

According to data released recently by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)...vaccination rates at three kindergartens on the Westside serving many Santa Monica families declined by more than 13 percent over the past year. At a fourth local school, while vaccination rates increased, less than half the kindergarten student body was fully vaccinated, according to CDPH...

[A]t Garden of Angeles a private school located on 18th Street in Santa Monica, vaccination rates among kindergarteners decreased by 24 percent...

At another private school, Westside Waldorf located on Sunset Boulevard, while vaccination rates increased from previous years, according to CDPH data, the vaccination rate among kindergarteners in 2018-2019 was only 43 percent. The school did not report 2017-2018 data, but between 2015-2017, the rate [at Westside Waldorf] was only 27 percent....










July 12, 2019


THE BLACK BEAST 
FACES HIS ACCUSERS





Grégoire Perra, 2019.





The testimony phase of Grégoire Perra's latest trial has been completed [1]. The judges who heard the case will now consider the evidence and reach a verdict — a process likely to take months.

Perra is a former Waldorf student and teacher who, after rising to prominence in Anthroposophical circles [2], underwent an intellectual conversion and repudiated Rudolf Steiner and his works — including Waldorf education. At his website, La Vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf {The Truth About Steiner-Waldorf Schools} [3], he has published numerous critiques of Anthroposophical undertakings — chiefly Waldorf education. In response, his former colleagues have accused him, repeatedly, of libel and defamation [4].

An ironic consequence of Anthroposophists' legal challenges to Perra has been to elevate him in the public's consciousness, producing far wider knowledge of his arguments than would have been likely otherwise. Now one of France's most storied news organizations, Le Figaro [5], has published a brief account Perra's recent experiences in court. Here are some excerpts:


In front of the judges, 
Steiner schools defend themselves 
against charges of sectarianism

By Marie-Estelle Pech

...Do Steiner-Waldorf schools serve as fronts for a secretive cult, or do they embrace a simple, inoffensive humanistic philosophy? This is the underlying debate that took place on Tuesday before the Strasbourg Criminal Court.

Several members of the Steiner-Waldorf schools marched through the court to defend the validity of their educational methods ... Their bête noire, whom they have accused of defamation...is named Grégoire Perra, a former student and former Waldorf teacher...

Dressed all in black, now a philosophy teacher at a public high school in the Paris region, [Perra] has made the denunciation of Anthroposophy the fight of a lifetime. For the past six years, he has been writing numerous articles on a blog, denouncing the fact that, in these schools, students are reportedly indoctrinated in a secretive way [6]...

...Steiner schools absolutely forbid mixing Anthroposophy with their teaching practices, [Waldorf teacher Virginie Macé] testifies [7].

...A question is raised in the court [directed at Waldorf schools]: "Since you claim to teach much as other schools do, what is the point of offering yourself as an alternative form of education? Why don't you affirm the obvious link between your schools and Anthroposophy?" Don't Anthroposophical meetings take place in this or that school? ...

A former civil servant takes the stand. His five children were enrolled in Alsatian Steiner schools ... He claims that he has "never noticed any hidden teaching, any recruitment or closure of the mind, quite the contrary"...

...[T]he president of the court [8] asks this father about the practice of "eurythmy" in the schools, an Anthroposophical corporal and artistic discipline that represents sounds and their meanings in order to enact soul movements [9].

In October, the court will have to decide between "a sect which, according to our malicious detractor, practices a century-old art of deception," as the lawyer for the schools says sarcastically, and Grégoire Perra, who presents himself as a whistleblower in good faith, "even if," as his lawyer says, "his pen, it is true, sometimes lacks a light touch."

[7/12/2019    http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/devant-les-juges-les-ecoles-steiner-se-defendent-de-toute-derive-sectaire-20190709    This article originally appeared on July 9. Translation by Roger Rawlings, relying heavily on DeepL Translator and Google Translate.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] For Perra's account of his first trial, see "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", Part 3.

[2] See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", Part 1 and Part 2.


[4]  See, e.g., “Fourth lawsuit Filed Against Waldorf Whistle-Blower”, March 30, 2019.

[5] Le Figaro is a long-established newspaper, having a generally conservative editorial stance. A magazine supplement, also called Le Figaro, is also published.

[6] See "Indoctrination".

[7] This is, indeed, the key issue. Do Steiner or Waldorf schools bring Anthroposophy into the classroom? For the answer, see "Here's the Answer", "Sneaking It In", and the section "We Don't Teach It" in "Spiritual Agenda".

[8] I.e., the Chief Justice.

[9] Eurythmy is a form of spiritual dance instituted by Rudolf Steiner. Typically, all students in a Steiner or Waldorf school are required to perform eurythmy. [See "Eurythmy".]

— R.R.








July 11, 2019


STEINER SCHOOLS A POOR FIT
IN A HINDU-CENTRIC TRUST? 


As reported here previously, some failing Steiner schools in the United Kingdom are seeking shelter within an educational trust that, to date, has specialized in sponsoring Hindu schools [1].

At the website The Quackometer, Andy Lewis has posted a page contemplating this situation: "Steiner Free Schools Transferring to Hindu Academy Trust." Here is the conclusion of that page, along with some footnotes I have appended:


In a Steiner School, there is no need to have fully paid up members [2] everywhere. You just need people to follow the curriculum and the rules of governance [3] – and not worry too much about what it all means. There will be some First Class Anthroposophists [4] around though – the holders of blue cards [5] – the highest initiates – who will be most concerned that the doctrines of Steiner are followed. The Schools will not be allowed to carry the Steiner name unless [they] adhere to the anthroposophical curriculum and governance – the very practices that ended up with all these schools being deemed inadequate in just about every dimension by Ofsted [6].

A clash is bound to follow. If the Avanti [7] sponsors try to raise educational standards [8], that will be resisted (young children should not be taught to read [9]), if more openness and transparency is required, this will be resisted by [the Steiner] culture of secrecy, lying and dishonesty [10]. If better safeguarding [11] is demanded, this will be countered by an ethos of improper relationships and staff who know no boundaries [12].

There would appear to be only two outcomes possible here: either Avanti purge the school of anthroposopy and anthroposophists, or they walk away. Will the parents allow Avanti to drastically change the school approach [13]? They joined the Steiner movement precisely because it did not push children academically, it favoured play and art, and had few apparent rules [14]. If Avanti walk away, then who will sponsor the schools? (I have heard one report of a prospective sponsor declining to take on the school due to the inability for the school accounts to be signed off [15].)

Once again, I can only conclude that there has been a lot of naivety in the understanding of the Steiner school movement. Whatever happens, children are likely to be the ones who suffer the most.






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See, e.g., "Three of Four Steiner Academies Turn to a Hindu Schools Trust", June 19, 2019.

[2] I.e., fully committed Anthroposophists.

[4] See "First Class" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Members of the First Class are essentially "fully paid up members" of the Anthroposophical movement.

[5] "Blue cards" are effectively Anthroposophical certificates identifying the holders as devout Anthroposophists, qualified to enter exclusive Anthroposophical circles.

[6] Oftsed is the inspection service that has found so many Steiner schools deficient; it is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education. [See "The Steiner School Crisis".]

[7] This is the educational trust mentioned earlier: the Avanti Schools Trust.

[8] Educational standards in Steiner or Waldorf schools are often lax. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

[9] Steiner or Waldorf schools usually do not teach children to read until at least age seven. The schools are waiting for the kids' "etheric bodies" to incarnate. [See "Incarnation".] 

[10] A common complaint against Steiner/Waldorf schools is that they are secretive and deceptive. [See, e.g., "Our Experience" and "Secrets".]

[11] Ofsted has found that various Steiner schools have not adequately protected their students. [See, again, "The Steiner School Crisis".]

[12] See, e.g., "Mistreating Kids Lovingly" and the sections "Questionable Closeness Between Students and Teachers" and "A Confusion of Roles" in "He Went to Waldorf".

[13] Equally important, will the Steiner faculties allow this? To the extent that the schools are staffed by devout Anthroposophists, the resistance will be intense.

[14] The appeal of Steiner/Waldorf schools can be great. [See, e.g., "Glory".] But parents who choose these schools thinking they are progressive institutions have almost certainly been misled. [See the section "Are Waldorf Schools Progressive?" in "Waldorf Now".]

[15] I.e., proper financial accounts have not been kept. (This is evidently a problem at various Steiner/Waldorf schools. As one board member discovered at her Waldorf school, "The financial statements were literally made up and had nothing to do with the true financial picture of the school." [See "Coming Undone".])

— R.R.




















For previous Waldorf-related news items,

see the News Archive

at the 

Waldorf Watch Annex.












The news items on this page are culled from media around the world, especially those in English-speaking countries. The commentary appended to most items is my own. (I sign my contributions, not because I like seeing my name or my initials, but to keep authorship — and responsibility — clear.)


I often generalize about Waldorf schools. There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; describe the schools based on available evidence concerning their structure and operationsBut not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes, its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), and the composition of its faculty. 

If any of the terminology used here ("Anthroposophy," etc.) is unfamiliar to you, consulting The Semi-Steiner Dictionary and The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia should help.

Momentous events, with potentially enormous consequences, are afoot in the wide world. Seen in this real-world context, events in and around Waldorf schools may seem insignificant. But as long as we care about the well-being of children who have been sent to Waldorf schools, or who may be sent there, we should carry on with our work here.











Waldorf Watch News Editorial Rationale

The world faces more urgent problems than the proliferation of Waldorf schools. But if we are to solve those problems, we need to educate our future leaders rationally and well. We need to equip children to understand reality, not lure them into miasmas of occult falsehoods. Waldorf schools may not be one of our biggest problems, but they constitute one obstacle deflecting us from sensibly addressing our biggest problems.

— Roger Rawlings, editor












.
































Artwork, such as it is, by R.R.