Steiner Schools

The state of education across the world

Steiner Schools

Postby Mike » 01 Dec 2013, 00:50

Has anyone else had any experience with Steiner education? Some friends of mine have been through that system, and last night I had a long alcohol-fuelled chat-cum-argument with a friend of a friend who had sent her kids there. My gut feeling is that the whole thing is a massively expensive and exclusive vanity project for leftover-hippie parents, but not having much experience of these schools up close, I'm reluctant to be too dogmatic about it.

Anyway, this woman (a theatre director, from a very comfortable middle-class background) pushed my buttons by lauding our old friend SIr Ken Robinson to the skies, upon which (we were already half an hour into the conversation and I felt I could speak a bit more freely), I expressed the view that he was a complete charlatan. We traded blows on this for a while, with me pointing out that his "creativity is just as important as literacy" nonsense was fine if you were a middle-class parent whose home environment was conducive to literacy, but completely destructive to a child's opportunities if he/she does not come from such a background. The conversation then went something like this:

"But why shouldn't middle-class parents have the opportunity to educate their children that way?"

"Of course they can, this is why we have a private school system, which takes in Steiner schools as well as the traditional private schools."

"But it's wonderful the way the first two years at these schools are all about play. Don't you think there's something to the fact that these kids aren't taught to read until seven, but then they cope OK later on?"

"That's because they're all from comfortable, literate backgrounds, and they have the capacity to make up the ground later on if they want. Most kids don't."

Tellingly, it later came up that this woman's daughter was "seriously dyslexic" (i.e. not taught to read properly), and that she was spending a pile of money on private tutors to get her daughter up to speed with reading and writing! It just astonished me that she refused to put two and two together here, although she ultimately did seem to concede the point that a kid without the resources she had would, erm, be in some difficulties.
Mike
 
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Re: Steiner Schools

Postby Elliott » 01 Dec 2013, 00:56

That's an interesting post, Mike, and I'm sorry to respond with such an anaemic one but it contains all I know about Steiner schools. Circa 2005 somebody told me gushingly about a Steiner school nearby (in a posh area of London) where the ethos was that every child should at all times be busy "doing" some activity or other, to keep their brain stimulated. The way it was explained, no child was ever allowed to be "inactive". The idea of forcing people to be busy at all times strikes me as hysterical and paranoid, and I think it would lead to hysterical and paranoid teenagers with little ability to concentrate or contemplate.
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Re: Steiner Schools

Postby Vincent » 01 Dec 2013, 10:32

One of my grandsons went to a Steiner school ...
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Re: Steiner Schools

Postby Mike » 02 Dec 2013, 02:53

Many thanks for the insights, Vincent.

There's certainly something to be said for some of the Steiner ideas. I actually remember finding some of his comments on language teaching quite accurate, and surprisingly down-to-earth. He was certainly a fan of classics, as well, and apparently a large amount of time in the primary years of Steiner schools is dedicated to studying great ancient civilisations, which gets a plus sign in my book.

I think what tends to irk me about parents like the one I encountered is that they have such a caricatured conception of mainstream education. They seem to believe that five- and six-year-olds in government schools still spend all of their time sitting behind desks, back-straight, reciting multiplication tables or chorusing the spelling of a difficult word. It couldn't be further from the truth.
Mike
 
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Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia


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