Steiner Education

BHA has a current campaign “against” Rudolf Steiner schools and Anthroposophy, same as it campaigns against religious faith schools. I’ve noted Steiner and Anthroposophy many times before, but I’ve not come across Steiner as an active education movement until recently, but …

Steiner education is based on an esoteric/occultist movement called Anthroposophy, founded by Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner. Anthroposophy, or spiritual science, is centred on beliefs in karma, reincarnation and advancing children’s connection to the spirit world.

Steiner schools will always argue that they do not teach Anthroposophy, and in a narrow sense this is true as it is not a term that pupils will ever come across. However, the beliefs of Anthroposophy form the core of the teacher training courses and are the pedagogical motivation for everything that is taught in Steiner schools.

Sure, Steiner and Anthroposophy are mystical – they’ve been in my whacky list for some time. You wouldn’t want to teach Anthroposophy to any immature mind, but anyone teaching (in any school) would do well to understand Anthroposophy rather than simply dismiss it.

[…] SWSF schools do not teach children to read and write before the age of 6/7, or use computers before 13, […] because anthroposophists believe that to do so damages this connection by quashing this naivety and playfulness. In reality, all it does is damage children’s education.’

Everything ? All ?

Clearly trying to couch mysticism as “science” is mad, bad and dangerous, and it’s another symptom of scientism, that even non-scientific things somehow need to be made scientific (or branded scientific) to have value knowledge-wise. Conversely the scientistic zealots believing science is the one true knowledge, not only rightly dismiss pseudoscience, but wrongly dismiss any knowledge that is not scientific, full stop.

Education is not a science. Education is not all about science. Some education benefits from wise pedagogy. It is not possible to learn scientifically (empirically) in one lifetime all that is useful that humans have come to know – that’s a reductionist fallacy and a waste of valuable learning time. And yes, discouraging reading (computer aided or otherwise) is equally mad, bad and dangerous, but stating the obvious misses the real point, that quantity of unqualified input is no substitute for quality – there is such a thing as too much information communication – quality control has its value.

What is important is balance – a balance between trust and authority on the one side and empirical discovery on the other. The balance may be difficult and problematic, but either extreme is lunacy.

The problem with the BHA is that we know what it’s against, but not what it’s for. If scientism is all they believe humanism is then they’re a waste of time. Was Philip Pullman just an anomaly?

All science and no mysticism makes Jack a dull boy.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.