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Selections from The Green Parent Forum

March 31, 2008

Re: steiner advice wanted!!

´ Reply #17 on: March 31, 2008, 08:09:26 PM

The folk I know who have removed their children from the Steiner system seemed to have the most trouble when moving their children from the kindergarten to the main school. Problems they had were then bashed by the teachers, and seen as totally the 'problem' of the child (rather than the class teacher, the environment, the methods used or the school it's self) they viewed their teaching and practices to be totally sound in every way shape and form and were very unwilling to discuss in an open minded way any changes. I lived previously near Botton Camphill community and when visiting once at a festival spoke to one boy just happenstance, in a queue, who went to school there and he was really down, told me about being bullied (I was shocked at his willingness to mention such a thing as I know those being bullied keep it hidden from shame), later I heard another similar story about being bullied and the whole issue being ignored by the school totally (again it was the fault of the individual child) - this girl was 20 and worked in the cafe after having returned from living in London. She said she was bullied her entire life (brought up in the community) at the school and moved away as soon as she could (didn't ask why she was back). She must have sensed my unease and said oh don't worry nothing like that happens there now! Yeah. Right.

But it was not just the bullying, the teaching was stagnant. The same things over and over, the same methods from every child, regardless. Sure everything is so pretty and subtle and so much emphasis on handwork and creativity, but I always just had a sense of unease there. Lovely beeswax crayons and nature tables or not. Too rigid? Too focused on the method and theory at the expense of the individual child. I feel it is only ever one gets a true sense of something by looking at how it effects on an individual level. I saw boys being snide and fighting being told off by adults (oh of course, in that saying no but in a nice thoughtful, long drawn out way - yawn) then hiding around the back to play football because they knew they were not 'allowed'. I have had three friends who were training to be teachers and attended Emerson. One was ended up preaching about Steiner like he was some sort of Jesus figure, and really that was the vibe I had from all of them, constantly harping 'Steiner said...' . So what, I once asked!!! He was one guy, this one weirdo who didn't even have children! No reply Another friend actually studied art and wanted a free and not curriculum led way of teaching, so she thought she'd try the Steiner system. OMG, she was appalled. Then she ended up by saying the whole art curriculum was even more rigid and structured than anything she had ever seen. No self expression, only using yellow for like, a year. Then progressing to blue. Finally a dab of red.... No black pencils, everything smudged. Sure, to us adults it all looks so beautiful - but look closer - look at that wall of drawings! They are all exactly the same! They are all told to draw exactly the same things in exactly the same way - and that basically seems to be the essence of what Steiner education is at from my pov. One American friend who came over here fro the training at Forest Row (but lived in Wales) was so smilely, so happy, so have a nice day. Her dd never ever smiled. I kid you not. Oh, ok she did, this one afternoon I looked after her and took her to the beach with my kids. Her mum started this from home Steiner based morning kindergarten, which sounded oh so sweet - baking bread, preparing the veg for lunch, playing with unformed wood 'toys', time in the garden..... but one boy was using the wood circles to roll and measure and she took him aside several times to explain that this was 'imaginative' play time, that these could be pretend food or what ever but were not for rolling and measuring distance. She had to take him aside about five times after he continued and in the end made him sit on the stairs ('time out') all the while smiling like a crazy person and being like syrup. Now why was what he was doing not imaginative??? Scary this training of hers I tell ya. Certainly not 'practicing' on my kids. She is by the way, a proper kindergarten teacher now. The other teacher training 'friend' I no longer see. Her son is, well shall we say, boisterous. He likes to be ACTIVE. At all times if possible. He is not interested in looking at Gerda Muller picture books of spring lambs, or playing with his Camphill tractor. He wants to shape his sticks in to rifles and run around screaming at everyone and talk endlessly about jails and prison, or dungeons or fighting. He is a real BOY. And quite endearing. But this mother of his squashes him at every turn. Always in the sugar coated Steiner kindergarten voice, always sweetly, but always making him sit down, be quiet, listen to the birds, eat slowly, lions don't kill... no no no, they only chase, in a fun way, I heard her say once. He was so pent up constantly, so frustrated, he lashed out at the other kids, always. He bludgeoned them with boulders and smashed them with sticks and poked them in the eye. Just for fun. Just because. Because he had so much of his self, who he was and wanted to be, squished down and away in favour of this smooth, bland, smudged edged world where one must pretend the piece of cloth is a baby doll and play so nice and quietly in the corner with it. He just could not do it, bless him. I saw that a lot with the boys.

Ok, so far too much personal stuff here, but I feel it is needed in order to get the individual view, which collectively makes up the whole.

Re: steiner advice wanted!!

´ Reply #21 on: March 31, 2008, 08:53:12 PM

Yeah, I think the reason why they thought their paths, their teaching methods were so 'right' was because they did see themselves as spiritual guides or some such thing. So the behaviours and preferences of the child mean *nothing* in the scheme of their 'bettering' or 'enlightening' of this child and it's peers. They *know* what they are doing and would like it to be none of our business - indeed believe it is non of our business. In a way our entrusting of our children in their care reinforces that for them. Like it is their (the child's) karmic path to be taught by these masters of enlightenment (which they see themselves - I swear they are so far up their own asses there is really no *point* in talking to them, so sure of themselves and teachings). Perhaps even a child *needs* to be bullied in order to learn their life's lesson this time around. That was the impression they give, when pushed. But who pushes them? Who bothers to delve when it all looks so attractive? When it's always so easy to give over to the 'experts'. They do after all have 'qualifications' to be doing what they are doing....

I get irritated when reading the entire Hawthorn Press series of the Steiner books since there is no mention of Anthroposophy. None. Ok, little hints that add this cool spiritual element to the child's education which alternative style parents really go for because what State primary teacher is going to ever mention the spiritual side to their teachings? And now we are all about creating and educating the *whole* child..... it's kind of perverse that the 'alternative' parents wanting a 'better' sort of education for their child end up not only getting a (very pretty) but strange and rigid education - but end up being the ones less likely to question, precisely because it's likely more 'alternative' than they are!!!

I don't personally know anyone here who sends their kids to Steiner schools, there are likely to be some, no offense intended to you for choosing this form of education. I am sure there are lots of nice stories out there too to counter balance. Well, maybe

If my kids ever did want to go to school, I'd feel stuck. Because I view our family as an autonomous collective and therefore I'd need to totally respect their opinions and needs on this and of course - look for a school for them. But what sort of school? I ruled out Steiner pretty much pre-school from my whittling away at visitings and having friends and so on in this area and dabbling in it. State ed. I'd stumble on too..... so much to dissect about that but this is not the thread to do it (different topic) I guess I'd see if the local was ok, let them try it and hope with my fingers crossed that they would come back home and want to be out of the system. I so firmly believe in autonomy and just feel reverent about self directed learning.

One thing about the reincarnation stuff - I think most gurus on this think that the child chooses the parent. Which means that the parent his/her self is the karmic guide this child needs through life, since they themselves picked them. It is very arrogant to decide to become a teacher in order to take this job over - dontcha think :lol

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