Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Fairy-tale fallout

9 Comments

Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy has come under scrutiny in a racism row at a New Zealand Steiner school.

The Steiner philosophy that on the surface appears to be a viable alternative to the state school system has a darker side. Steiner believed humanity progressed through reincarnation from primitive dark races through child-like Asian races to eventually reach the pinnacle of the Aryan race.

Parents and teachers are often unaware of the racist ideas that are part of the Steiner system. My daughter and son in law sent their children to a Steiner school until they discovered the racism built into the Steiner philosophy. They were part of a parent and teacher walkout at the school in 2012.

Racist philosophies have no place in the NZ education system and it is appalling that the government subsidises schools that hold them.

An article about the Steiner school that my grandchildren attended can be read at http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/education/fairy-tale-fallout/

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Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

9 thoughts on “Fairy-tale fallout

  1. Before reading the article you linked to, I thought maybe it was a matter of some long ago founder’s principles in question and not what it taught or promoted at the schools. But it seems that Steiner’s racist ideologies are being subtly promoted and that is totally unacceptable. Wow.

  2. When my daughter and son in law first discovered the racist beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, they too wanted to believe that it was of historical significance only. However they began to discover that it came out in subtle ways. My daughter is of pakeha/Japanese parentage and son in law of pakeha/Maori parentage, and they began to notice some less than ideal aspects of the Steiner philosophy. Their children are now home schooled.

  3. There’s a lot to react to in this article. I find myself confused – there are Waldorf schools here, too, and the most controversial thing I’ve heard about them is the delayed reading program, which has always seemed crazy to me. How does one make sense of this system’s established presence basically everywhere? Are there regional differences? How do these issues not come up more often? I know that last question was addressed in the piece – the “bonding” and the loyalty issue – and it’s also kind of a pop-culture cliché in America that parents with certain aspirations for their kids will defer to the staff of desirable schools. But it’s still hard to comprehend that endemic racism would not be called out.

    • If the NZ model is common elsewhere, each Steiner school is independent, so it’s likely that to what degree each school follows anthroposophy will vary considerably. In the case of the school my grandchildren attended, the racism was not identified until after the writings of Rudolf Steiner were discovered in the school library. It’s possible that some, but not all of the perceived racism was due to the school vilifying parents who questioned his ideas. Under those circumstances accusations of racism may have been exaggerated.

      My daughter really wanted to believe Steiner’s ideas were from a “man of his time”, and that the racial ideas he had were no longer accepted. It was subtle things such as the retelling of European myths but not non-European myths, and that Kapa Haka was discouraged, along with the school’s refusal to enter into dialogue with parents that persuaded her that element of racism existed at the school.

      As Tanemahuta mentioned in the article, one only needs to google “steiner + racism” to see numerous articles and discussion both for and against the proposition that anthroposophy is racist. I found a SkepticReport article that is typical of many questioning the Steiner philosophy.

      • Thanks for the link; I read the article. That “unprepared people” bit sounds so cultish. Good for your daughter, for having her head on her shoulders.

  4. That’s an amazing story Barry. I read the article and it seems pretty convincing but with few real examples. The exclusiveness of the school seems to be controlling information very tightly – like parents not being allowed to visit classrooms. This lack of tranparency alone makes me worried. At first I couldn’t understand why the beliefs of Steiner were not obvious, so I googled anthroposophy – the basis of the Steiner system. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I read the whole Wiki article (and it is long) and it has only one sentence that refers to the “evolution” of the human through various races and that statement was at the bottom , was presented as a voiced criticism, and was very vague. It was immediatel\y refuted by a statement of the Steiner believers.

    The whole thing smacks of information control and lack of transparency. There is also the psychological trap of the school subtly convincing parents of its superior knowledge and their lack of understanding – leading to parental abdication of control of the students and their environment. Such a classic tactic – divide and conquer. Pyschological warfare.

    Excellent article Barry. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Oh, and hey, thanks for dropping by my guest post. I did answer but Willow is in the UK and it is about 4am there and she moderates, so you likely won’t see the response for a few hours yet. Thanks.

    • For another view on the Steiner philosophy, have a look at the SkepticsReport article I linked to in my reply to EA

      I guess I’ll need to wait a few hours then before I see your reply. I always find your comments interesting even if I don’t always agree with them 🙂

      BTW I’ve posted a new article, on which I’ sure you will have lots to say.

      • Yep the SkepticsReport seems very clear doesn’t it? What struck me the hardest was the assertion that non-believers weren’t permitted to see the fundamentals because they wouldn’t understand.That is the first alarm bell right there. Something to hide, divide and conquer, basics that would be abhorrent to outsiders, and a sense of having higher and more valuable knowledge. Nope this is definitely a bad news story. Thanks for bringing it up Barry. Good luck with getting the Steiners out of your educaton system.

  5. The Ministry of Education here has been very reluctant/slow in piecing together a response that actually indicates its awareness and understanding of the role of anthroposophy (and its racist views)… but at least the debate has gone public and sadly key anthroposophists in NZ are revealing their actual thoughts (and espousing that of Steiners) see:

    http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/new-zealand-steiner-teacher-talks-about.html

    The whole things has been very very disturbing for us (I’m Barry’s daughter), not the least was how on earth we were duped for four years!

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