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Just as the thread title suggests really. For those of you with experience of steiner education, what do you make of this ‘spiritual science’?
I am looking into all my choices with regard to my childrens education….state schools, alternative schools & HE. I have really enjoyed my time at the parent & child group at the steiner school near me in Ireland. The other parents are lovely & I feel I can connect with them. The school has a beautiful rural setting & interestingly it is part of the early years free school year scheme, which would if we move into a smaller rented property, make schooling affordable. I have some good first hand reports of the school from reliable sources.
On the other hand, I have researched Anthroposophy on the internet & am uncomfortable with some of it. Steiner as white supremist etc! Views on children with disabilities & how this is their ‘karma’.
Then just to freak me right out, I have been on websites & forums where parents with personal experience of Steiner schools, warn you off with tales ranging from bullying/poor academic teaching later in the school (lots of copying from the board/no books etc to things like their views on gnomes & how you must be quite bad if you cant see them etc Theres loads of it on mumsnet.
In the handouts the Steiner school gave me, it talks about Anthropophy, so they are not hiding anything.
Any views? Any experiences to share?
Sorry Yamba, this isn’t answering your question but we would have loved to have sent our kids to a steiner school and you know I really don’t know why?? I think I’m just drawn to the outdoor, natural play, art, how they celebrate the seasons, etc and no pressure put on the kids at such a young age….. there is a link on steinerireland for one to be set up in Meath but there just doesnt seem to be any interest… there are very few people I know who have ever heard of him and when I try to explain to those who don’t know, they look at me all funny. I’m reading a book on Steiner at the moment to try and really learn about what he was all about because I do get the impression that true anthroposophists are like a bit of a cult - I don’t know - I’m hoping I’m wrong….. I have a friend who’s a member of the anthroposophy Society who’s a biodynamic farmer and don’t get that impression off him… anyways off tomorrow to the kindergartan in kildare to have a chat with the teacher to get some ideas of introducing it at home - get loads of ideas from blogs which I love but just want to see it in person - so excited!!! Was at the camphill village there last week and it was a really nice set up…...
Youre going to the Kildare Steiner School? Well, that is the one Im talking about. Its just outside Kilcullen. Unless theres another kindy?
I know what you mean about the outdoor/arty/nature/no pressure on kids etc Im sure thats the attraction for most parents, it is for me. When you emulate it at home, you can take the bits you like & leave stuff you dont….not so with sending them to the actual school though….this is what Im debating. I did notice when I went to the open day that the projects the older children were doing were all the things Steiner studied & enjoyed himself! So I am worried that there is nothing really ‘free’ or child led about the education atall, that the curriculum is quite rigid. I also noticed the older ones did their maths from a textbook just like you would in a state school. I dont know, Im just naturally suspicious probably…..and when it comes to the kids schooling, maybe I just wont find perfection. I just dont want to be duped & end up looking foolish, or worse, that my kids look back & hate me for sending them there!
Enjoy your visit taragirl, if it is Kildare Steiner school, its lovely & the staff are really nice.
I don’t think, post 7, there is much free or child led about the curriculum. I think they will attempt to tailor their presentation of the lessons to their understanding of your child’s personality. However this will all take place within a Steiner world view, so the curriculum is pretty much entirely fixed (based on what steiner believed to be a good idea in the 1920s), and also, their way of moulding your child to the curriculum (that’s the way round it will work) is based on anthroposophical beliefs about children, about different temperaments, about what works at different ages.
I don’t actually think the curriculum is any less rigid than the national curriculum, its just that a lot of people, myself included, consider it a better fit for a lot of kids. It is absolutely NOT a free school and post 6/7 kids don’t run around and play all day. They are outside probably a lot more than in a state school, but they don’t get a whole lot of choice about when they go outside or, breaks aside, what they do when they are outside.
What they do do is have them not doing anything structured up to 6 or 7.
Anthroposophy is a cult, basically, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Kids don’t generally come out of Steiner schools as anthroposophists though. Anthroposophists aren’t especially interested in converting anyone, and certainly not kids, they are interested in providing an educational experience for them consistent with their world view. Having said that, there is a lot, I think, to make hardened atheists like myself uncomfortable. Think it might suit well a person of another faith or a person with generalised religious/spiritual ideas. For us, mainly because of what I perceive as an anti-scientific bias, our kids will not continue beyond 7.
oh and the stuff on kids with disabilities and the white supremacist stuff is appalling. But i think the consensus in the movement is that steiner was a product of his time and they quietly ignore the less savory bits. the other side to this is that steiner schools do great work all over the world, and do tailor the curriculum to respect cultural differences, and also, through the Camphill villages, they do amazing, groundbreaking work with people with disabilities.
I’ve met and spoken to a few adults who have gone through the steiner regime, for want of a better word - and have loved it. I’ve heard worrying things about steiner schools.. but it has to be said, this is about SOME schools… just with mainstream schools, some steiner schools will be fab and others will be, not so fab. I think too, you have to take Steiner’s writing from a historical point of view too - after all he was writing what in the 1920’s? What I’m saying is there’s long being held the view that white people are a superior race to those races whose skin is a different colour, the distate for racism and this white supremist thinking is a fairly modern development. He’s writing from his time - doesn’t make it ok now of course, (or even back then), and I would hope those schools etc implmenting his philosophies would update and adapt for our modern and multicultural society.
Similar teaching, some schools are fab, some are not… regardless of being mainstream or alternative.
I would also imagine that being very child led in a school setting, no matter how alternative, would be difficult, there would need to be curriculum for the simple reason 1 teacher to a classroom of children, even a smallish classroom would require some structure - can you imagine trying to keep track and help along say even 10 children all doing there own thing?
I would say you need to discuss your concerns with the school, ask them their views on anthroposophy, how they will be approaching it.. and the stuff I’ve looked at, to my eyes has a distinct Christian flavour to it… of course I’ve read books that other people have written about Waldorf, rather than Steiner himself, as I have only wanted to incorporate certain parts.
And remember Steiner is an alternative type of education, and I’ve often noticed that someone will say “Oh yes, I did that it was awful because of ....xyz” and then you get folks saying, “Gosh tha sounds awful, no way I’m doing that…” and then they mention it to friends, they see a threasd on a forum and say, “Oh yes I heard that, awful, I’d never send my child…..” basically chinese whispers. I mean we all do it - I’ve done it. These things take on a life of their own
And you know it sounds like you really like the school, you like the teachers… the people you’re reading aren’t writing about YOUR school - so yeah, I’d talk to the teachers, tell them your worries and concerns; I’m sure they would be more than happy to sit down and chat with you.
Thanks Edith & Joxy. That has actually put my mind at ease & Im going to get DH to read your comments as you make so many interesting points. Of course Steiner was a product of his time, and thinking about it, the Kildare steiner school does have a variety of nationalities attending. Infact its prob more multi-cultural than our local state school. Also I feel I must go & take a look at the Camphill community myself & see the work they do there.
I realise there is a fixed curriculum, but their slogan is ‘heart, head & hands’, so most importantly, Im hoping this means the delivery appeals to the child on a more holistic level?
At this stage we are only thinking of the kindy anyway & dont have plans (or finances) to keep them there long term. I still want to HE, but DH is dead against it still. The local state schools Ive seen so far make my heart sink tbh.
Joxy, the only school system which is entirely child led I guess would be Montessori. I have checked out the one near us, its great but I just dont think we can afford it.
You are right about the chinese whispers….I do get what you mean! And of course these people make such sweeping statements like ‘children who go there have a reading age of 6 by the time they leave’ based on one person they know….but you could say the same about the state system, sadly I have come across plenty of children who cannot read & write on leaving primary school.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment.
Hi Sarah, it is the school outside Kilcullen we are going to visit - it’s out the dunlavin Road past a church. We drove out to have a look at it last Thursday and it looked really nice - there was a parent teacher meeting on so we didn’t get out for a walk around. My husband has spoken to the kindergartan teacher twice on the phone and he said she sound really nice, we have an appointment with her at 1.00 tomorrow. the camphill village is at the bridge in Kilcullen - The coffee and craft shop is called An Tearmann - I was so impressed with the collection of steiner books they had upstairs - got carried away:) Also they had some of the camphill toys that they have at Myriad which Iplanned to get for my son’s 2nd birthday (Nov) and for Christmas so that saved me overseas postage - prices worked out more or less the same….... the people there were so friendly and helpful, will definitely go back again.
I think any school that isn’t main stream school is going to be criticised, I do hear of our local montessori school that kids who transferred to mainstream school had to be kept back a year because they were way behind in their reading, etc. Also we have our daughter enroled for next september in the local gaelscoil and my family and extended family think I’m mad in the head because they are listening to stories from others, there’s always someone who knows someone… that when they go into secondary school their english is way behind…. but then I know people who have been educated through irish and transfered and have no problems and are actually brilliant at languages… think if it’s not the norm it’s bad…..
And I’m sure the steiner education has got to have moved with the times - Jennifer Aniston and Anne Lennox were both steiner educated and they turned out very well…....... the book I’m reading on steiner is by Gary - think Lachman. Have a few of Steiner’s books but they are so hard to get into…...
Will let you know what I think about the place tomorrow - I’m so excited that I’m afraid that I’m blowing the place up so much in my head that I’m going to be disappointed….. I can imagine the conversation coming home tomorrow will be oh if only we could move…........... :(
I think you are right…anything different gets critisiced (sp?). Apparently Cross & Passion college in Kilcullen like getting Steiner students, because they are able to study independantly & have such a love for learning. Im aware that I would prob have to support the academic side at home possibly though.
Well I think you’ll love Kildare Steiner school, we are on the waiting list, can you believe they were over subscribed this september! Must be cos they have embraced the early years free year.
I’ll be very interested to hear your opinion on the kindergarten, I found it a bit drab & the other classrooms for the older ones were much nicer. You just cannot beat the surrounds though, just fantastic.
Looking forward to your feedback!
I have been investigating our local Steiner for about six months now. We attend the parent and child group and the forest kindergarten. I fell in love with the place when we were shown around and the vibe was lovely. A very peaceful artistic place with small class sizes, children’s work and murals adorning all the walls - the teachers had joined in and done projects too which were displayed. Class rooms empty in favour of the garden for lessons. They had an elemental garden as well as their big garden full of trees to climb, sandpits and garden houses.
I have to admit I have not read any Steiner books. I have read websites for many of the schools in the uk and I have read their guide to early years and their guide to primary education and all I read in those resonated well with me and affirmed my own attitudes to education and children’s lives in general (made my b/f read the section on daily TV interfering with a child’s imagination!) - you can ask for a handbook when you visit.
Hearing some things written in this post make me think hmmm, but like Joxy said - the particular school you are involved in is not the one being written about and I like to go on instinct as well as research.
I think having read this thread maybe I should read a book for background knowledge - can anyone recommend anything, not about Steiner himself but the education system - as recent as possible?
I would say my latest personal experience with Steiner was an insensitive one - that was to do with me rather than my children and this did make me sigh as I expected better of them but all I have experienced so far for my children has been positive and very nourishing. My kids cannot wait for Steiner days to come around and I have started incorporating it into our home lives. The rhythmic nature of the approach is most comforting I think.
I too wanted to home educate but I am not sure I have the patience so I am trying to find the most holistic alternative outside my home and so far I’m still plumping for Steiner. I wil enrol them at Kindy and se how far we get, take it a year or even a term at a time. I’m of the opinion that some Steiner is beter than none. And remember - bursarys are available to everyone to apply for. If you can’t afford the fee’s you can get help, it’s tottaly negotiable.
I hope you enjoy your visit there
Much love X
Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am
thankful that thorns have roses
Mamma to Zander River nearly 5, Gaia Arwen Sky nearly 3
oh we had a lovely visit yesterday - the kindergartan teacher was so lovely. My dd fell in love with the place and keeps asking when she is going to return. oh god I’ve a screaming child who’s not settling, sorry I’ll continue my post later if I don’t fall asleep with him…... gypsyrose - I got a book yesterday on the introduction to steiner education - the early years, will let you know exact name and author, don’t have it at hand right now…...
Yamba, it’s all good good good!!!
Taragirl Im glad your visit went well. Im kind of coming around to the fact that it isnt going to get better than Steiner anyway! I still have a couple of other schools to visit, so Im staying open minded for now…..though DD says she is NOT going to ‘big’ school unless its Kildare Steiner, because then DS can go with her & they will be in kindy together. Bless.
DH says hes happy with Steiner, basically hes happy as long as its school! He doesnt seem to care if they dance to communicate with the spirit world, or see gnomes or never use black crayons…...as long as I dont HE…..bit insulting really but for me the top priority is that DD and DS are happy.
Gypsyrose, mostly the books Ive read have been on Steiner himself, although I did read another one about the education system, but I cant remember the name & anyway I couldnt make head or tail of it! I just read whatever my library stocked. I dont know why but it is so hard to get straightforward answers about Steiner, but reading about himself actually gave me the best insight into the education system because its all based on his own personal experiences.
Gypsyrose the book I got and have just started reading (very slowly) is Free to Learn by Lynne Oldfield (it was wrote in 2001 and reprinted 2003).........
sorry Yamba but yep really liked the place - thought the kindergartan was lovely - it was very relaxing but then again maybe that’s because there were no children there except my own 2 couldn’t get over how few toys there were compared to my daughter’s playschool there are toys everywhere of all shapes and sizes. The teacher really made us feel welcome and at ease and talked us through the rhythm of their day and how it works…. I think it’s nice to have the mixed group of ages that the younger ones imitate the older kids. The KG teacher also was telling us that one of her sons has just gone into secondary school - must be the one that you mentioned and that the teachers there hate teaching the kids from the steiner school because they ask so many questions but that the principal loves it because he thinks its good for the teachers to be tested every so often… It took the boy a few weeks to get used to so much homework and doing test every week but loves it now as he’s getting good results so that’s encouraging… The Gary Lachman book on Steiner I was reading - my oh has taken it and has his head stuck in it ever since. he was saying yesterday that he thought that maybe we should go to the parent toddler group - are there places and do you have to go every week??? If we did decide to go it would be every second week - may my oh one week and me 2 weeks later??? it’s a bit of a journey to be going every week and i’d have to take dd who’s 4…. the KG teacher is going to contact us re. festivals so we can go down and join in - think the next one is early November…. Also we were told that a lady from Co. Meath living about 20 miles away contacted the school about a week ago so we ok’ed it that she give our phone number and hopefully maybe we’ll get together if she wants!! It’s just so difficult to move on and make the little changes in our lives when all around us are on a totally different wavelength but over the past month we’ve started making progress in a new direction that pleases us and not others…... the big thing that would make us so happy is that if there was a steiner school close by…............. hugs and good luck with your decision!!
Hi Taragirl, you can just turn up to the parent & toddler, although guess you could ring just to say youre coming. It was Tuesdays, think its still then. I didnt used to go every week, just kind of now & again. I will go back with DS but felt that I needed a bit of space from it for a while to decide what path we were taking school wise. If you are definately going then PM me & I can meet you there if you like. It wont matter if you take DD, I sometimes take my DD too & she is also 4, no-one seems to mind.
thanks for that Sarah. Think they meet on Wednesdays also - so the KG teacher said anyways. What time do they meet up?? will definitely contact you when I decide to go down. I don’t work Wednesdays so that day would suit me best but maybe KGT got it wrong and they don’t meet then??? anyways, will be in touch:) hugs x Orla
Well thats a pain if theyve changed it to wednesdays, it was Tues last year but maybe its changed! Oh no, I arranged the kids playschool around that. Guess I could try swapping the days DS is at playschool. Anyway yes be in touch & I’ll see what the story is.