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Steiner Schools...

(52 Posts)
princesss Tue 02-Aug-11 22:25:19

Any experiences/ views on a Steiner education, I'm looking at St. Pauls in Islington

EveryonesJealousOfWeasleys Tue 02-Aug-11 22:42:49

Tis a bit of a taboo subject on here, have you searched for threads? Use advanced search at top right and have a look.

Iamkenny Wed 03-Aug-11 00:59:14

Well I quiet like them (did teach in one once so maybe biased). Especially primary school aged but after that I'm skeptical -especially around GCSE/A-level age - knowing kids who have entered mainstream after Steiner/Waldorf who have struggled.
My only thing esp as they get older (into top junior age) is in the organisation which if you where thinking 14+ in mainstream just being dumped into a very structured environment could be difficult.
But when young - does have a lot going for it, if you do reinforce learning at home as well.

I know kind or taboo - but heck taboos are fun to break

EveryonesJealousOfWeasleys Wed 03-Aug-11 08:23:02

It's not taboo to say nice things about them kenny!!!

generalhaig Wed 03-Aug-11 08:29:16

wouldn't send my worst enemy to one ... ds had a hideous experience at our local Steiner 'school' - ime it's 'education' only in the very loosest sense

I wish we'd done more research but other people's experiences are a lot easier to come across now than then (9 years ago)

I would just say read as much about it as possible - if you're thinking of it you've presumably read all the pro stuff - make sure you read the criticisms too (absolutely spot on in our case)

onadifferentplanettoday Wed 03-Aug-11 10:25:10

My youngerst now 13 is at our local Steiner and I have nothing but praise for it. he loves it . We are not by the way lentil weaving hippies infact right now he is on xbox live with some other boys in his class!
I would suggest that you go along and look for yourself like I did .I do appreciate there are people out there with horror stories but there are in every type school. My ds is often complimented on his excellent behavior and is far more confident and outgoing than many other children I know of the same age. His academic work is of a high standard and his knowledge and skills in practical subjects such as gardening,woodwork,cookery etc astounds me.
I accept that Steiner is not for everyone, I have 3 other children and it wouldn't have suited any of them, but I have never regretted my decision to send him there and 3 weeks into the holidays he can't wait to get back to school.

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 09:04:16

thanks everyone for this this is all really useful...i am looking to send him to St. Pauls in Islington. I myself had a very expensive private education and could read by the age of 3.5, hated every second of it, attempted suicide in my teens from the pressure I was put under and the only career I wanted out of it was to be a mother! My husband on the other hand got expelled from comprehensive at 14 and took ten years to re enter education! so we are looking for a more enjoyable free school experience for our son that includes all the extra activities, and learning through experience and more consideration about the child as a whole; than just exams.

A lot of the research I've done suggests steiner students are more confident and aware of who they are and their abilities, and that the student teacher relationship is really really strong and that there is a real community feel between the students and the parents, onadiffplanettoday would you say this is the case?

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 09:05:47

generalhaig, what kind of bad experience did you have, if you are willing to share it?

TheRealMBJ Thu 04-Aug-11 09:09:32

Are you religious at all princess? Have you any knowledge of Rudolph Steiner's philosophy and anthroposophy?

Please have a look at previous threads on this matter before you decide finally.

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 11:18:56

If you're looking for an alternative education, have you also researched Montesori schools? There are a couple in London.

They're just hard to find because often montessori nurseries call themselves montessori schools. But I know there are at least 3 schools in London.

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 11:20:09

hi realmbj, yes I am aware of his philosophies and my husband is an anthropologist (diff to anthroposophy) but some of the theorists from the 1800's from both strains coincide so i have been schooled by him about the grounding in the steiner methods of practice.

I'm not religious, and that one of the benefits I see of steiner as it is non demoninational...

do you have any experiences of it at all you could share with me? Im struggling with the other threads on it, there seems to be a lot of personal bias against Steiner but without actual experiences. in my opinion whenever something is a bit diff to mainstream there is always a back lash but that is just mass society...however that said i am really generally interested in negative feedback about the methods or experiences. my husband and i wrote a list with 12 pros to the school, but are really struggling to think of negatives, so any feedback is most

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 11:22:44

Rainbow Montessori School

Walthamstow Montessori school

The Gower School Islington

River school

And there's more.... So actually a fair few to choose from.

Research Montessori, it's really interesting and really inspiring.

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 11:23:35

hi indigo thanks for that info, I went to montisourrii myself,they are the complete opposite to the steiner method....with a very rigid structure from a younger than school age....we did look at them initially but i really dont agree with the regimental methods of learning, in some ways they are brilliant (i could read by 3.5) and my first memories are sitting at a desk in my nursery doing work books, but i think i want something a bit more fluid for my son.

CoteDAzur Thu 04-Aug-11 11:33:50

princess - If you take the time to read a bit of the earlier Stein threads, you will surely not accuse people of "personal bias without actual experience", because they have told their experiences in detail.

Of you are struggling to find any negatives re Steiner schools, it sounds to me like you don't know about the nutty bits like teaching them a dance to help them communicate with the spirit world, their view of education as a means to facilitate the reincarnation of some old spirit into your child's little body, etc.

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 11:42:19

Montessori rigid? really?

That's totally against all the things I've read about it...... (But no personal experience of it)

All I can say, is that Montessori isn't a trademarked name. Any school (or nursery) can call themselves a Montessori school - doesn't mean they are one.

Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience of it, and I can totally understand why you wouldn't want to send your DC to one.

But what you're saying about Montessori being rigid, and no negatives to Steiner is very different to all the stuff I've learnt.......

Which is why parental choice is great. It's great that you get to choose a steiner school for your DC if that's what you want.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Aug-11 11:55:52

My DD is at the local Steiner school (early years) and we love it. As I've said before, the best advert for any school is the young adults it turns out into the world, and my daughter's school is very impressive in that respect. The children are polite, confident, able academically and practically, with a high proportion going to Oxbridge. If you google Steiner Alumni you'll find a list of ex-Steiner pupils which will also help dispel the myth that Steiner pupils are turned out into the world unable to cope with real life.

As with all schooling systems, there are good and bad, so go along to the school and meet the older pupils. Steiner isn't right for all children, but for those that it suits, they really do seem to shine.

We're not lentil weaving hippies and I don't find that many of the other parents are either.

If you want any other info please drop me a pm. Steiner threads tend to draw several single-issue anti-Steiner posters out of the woodwork.

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 11:57:25

Hi cotedazur, if you read what i wrote i said i am struggling with the other threads as there seems to be a lot of personal bias...i did not say it is all personal bias with no experiences either. i spent 3 hours trawling through it all and yes there are some very good in depth experiences but not many. i am not accusing anyone of anything, i merely wanted some advice from people.

i really agree with eurythmy, it is type of dance movement that is taught every morning before lessons, to heighten childrens self awareness and self knowledge! it is not about invoking spirits (well at least not at the two schools im looking at!) i think the steiner enthusiasm for a childs spirituality is brilliant, allowing them to be aware of who they are and what they want to become.

Indigo...I'm not trying to criticise montisourri at all, its just not for me or my son who is called Indi! (short for Orindi though!) but thank u for your input do really appreciate it xx

CoteDAzur Thu 04-Aug-11 12:43:05

I'm not surprised that you think eurythmy is about heightening the child's self-awareness. One major problem a lot of people have with Steiner schools is that parents are given sweetness & light stories about why things are done in a certain way and never the real reason. It is only if you research Steiner's teachings and anthroposophy that you realize why that morning prayer contains the phrase "the soul that lives in me", why artwork is primarily washed out watercolors, why teachers talk in sing-song voices, or why children are not taught to read before their adult teeth start coming in.

Did you know that Steiner schools are in government's list of cults in some European countries? I would recommend reading up on why it is considered a cult in the same short list as Scientology, before you sign up your child. It may be that your personal beliefs are similar to theirs, in which case it could be a perfect school for you, but do find out about what those beliefs are beforehand.

TheFantasticFixit Thu 04-Aug-11 13:46:34

I'm a bit hmm at the fact that you say that you went to Montessori, could read at age of 3.5, but can't spell Montessori correctly, nor do you appear to have an accurate concept of their teachings. Perhaps Indigobell is right, and the school you went to for some reason used that name and not any of their teachings. Bizarre.

If you want child centred learning, that is fluid and where the child is able to have a direction in the education that they receive then Montessori is something for you. I'll admit that you do sound like you have set your heart on Steiner already and actually want validation for that decision for some reason - if you want to educate your child through the Steiner method that is absolutely your choice and perogative, but if you want to explore other options then do take on board some of the advice that has been written here for you. Steiner isn't the only child centred learning option - but the main thing whether it suits you, your child and your aspirations for their education and beyond.

AMumInScotland Thu 04-Aug-11 13:47:54

princess - it is very difficult for parents who have had bad experiences of Steiner schools to post on here about them, as many have been told they must stay away from the subject or risk being banned from MN. This is because MNHQ have been threatened with legal action from the Steiner Waldorf organisation if they allow posters to repeat their allegations on here.

As MN would be legally responsible for any libel, and as MNHQ cannot personally vouch for the accuracy of the allegations, they felt it necessary to protect themselves from possible expensive legal actio, after the Gina Ford problems.

Jesusgirl Thu 04-Aug-11 14:07:26

I have no experience whatsoever about Steiner education. I only heard of it on MN, but I wanted to comment on Montessori. I actually did a diploma in Montessori pedagogy, not because I'm a teacher or abything but I love the idea behind it as it is 99% child centred, the 1% being because you need an adult to prepare stuff! There's no Montessori school close to me, I would have loved my kids to go to one. So I did the diploma just so my kids can have the feel of it.

Kids get to choose their activities and get to figure things out on their own. They learn independence and responsibility. Not in any way rigid at all.

If you have researched Steiner and are convinced that's the best for your child, then by all means, let him go there.

AgonyBeetle Thu 04-Aug-11 15:30:47

St Paul's Steiner school is pretty hardcore orthodox Steiner. It's definitely not Steiner-lite. They take themselves immensely seriously, so if they're spinning you lines about eurythmy being about no more than heightening children's self-awareness, I'd dig a bit deeper. The concerning thing about STeiner is not that they have assorted strange beliefs, but the fact that they are not upfront about these beliefs and how they inform the content and method of the teaching. They will say, "Oh, we don't teach the children about anthroposopy", but it affects absolutely everything they do, and they're not very honest about this. It's more than just free-flowing, tree-huggy, alternative schooling, and some aspects of it can be very coercive, as you will find out quite quickly if your or your child's face turn out not to quite fit.

If you want a genuinely alternative but non-culty school in the area, have you looked at Dallington? Or save your cash and go to William Tyndale.

CoteDAzur Thu 04-Aug-11 18:32:27

TFF - Thank you, I've been itching to say the same thing.

princesss Thu 04-Aug-11 18:36:18

hi everyone, thanks for your genuine comments on experiences of steiner they are really useful, and I will PM you too worldgonecrazy....

Those of you who question my previous schooling it a bit childish and not what I would expect on here really from adults, other mothers, you have no idea who I am or where I have come from! I started this thread for advice and actual experiences of Steiner education. I am not knocking montissouri for not being child led or critisizing it, it is just too formal for what I want for my child. Having actually been through it myself and recently viewed three montessori's I think this would allow me to judge that myself better than those those of you who havn't actually been through it, but yet have judged me! Please can we keep this thread to steiner info.

I am very interested on what u say about St Pauls agonybeetle, I happen to agree with anthroposopy so would be happy if they taught it, but the co ercive side is important to find out more about.

If anyone has any negative experiences they don't want to post on here, please PM me, I am very intrested

Thanks all smile

TheFantasticFixit Thu 04-Aug-11 22:46:37

Argh - I hate these type of threads; the ones that start of with 'looking for advice/ experiences', which posters offer and then the OP starts with the whole 'you are judging me, you are all childish', because in actual fact they had made their minds up all along and actually just wanted everyone to be impressed agree with them. It's like validation by stealth or something..

OP it surprises me not a jot that you agree with anthroposopy. I hope your son enjoys his Steiner education.

And for the record, regardless of your 'experience' OP, you are wrong about Montessori methodology. Perhaps next time you google, spell it correctly.

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