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Talk to me about Steiner....

(38 Posts)
Scarredbutnotbroken Mon 13-Aug-12 21:12:49

I have a dd at a montessori which I love. Thinking about independent school options in Devon as I am currently Plymouth bit would consider a move up the line. There is a Steiner school not far. What's the latest mn verdict of Steiner?

epeesarepointythings Mon 13-Aug-12 21:42:11

<sits back>
<gets popcorn>

Scarredbutnotbroken Mon 13-Aug-12 21:47:41

Yeh I know it's that kind of thread wink make them hurry!

louisianablue2000 Mon 13-Aug-12 21:51:40

Ha, ha. I'm on another forum where there was just a discussion about this that had to be pulled after the salad lovers and haters found it. Let's just say you'll get a lot more heated debate than you would about Montessori.

notheroldie Mon 13-Aug-12 21:54:12

I do know of folk whos Dc go to the Totnes Steiner, is that the one you mean? It is very very popular, look on the website and get contact info, Steiner is brilliant, and anyone who goes will be able to talk to you about it. good luck, sorry i have no more info!!

Scarredbutnotbroken Mon 13-Aug-12 22:01:36

I have colleagues whose kids go there but I'd rather have a conversation with pros and cons iyswim

epeesarepointythings Tue 14-Aug-12 18:21:06

Have you visited the school? I'd do that before making any decisions, armed with all the things from both sides of the debate, and then go with your gut.

FWIW I wouldn't do it - having met some people who followed Steiner's teachings in daily life and sent their children to Steiner schools I found it all very worrying - children not allowed to learn to read when they were clearly ready to do so, children not allowed certain colours of crayons/pencils, and most of all the unquestioning adherence to the faith. Mind you, I'm an atheist who believes that everything should be questioned, so not unbiased.

I went to a Montessori primary and it really worked for me because they allowed me to work at my own pace (fast) - I don't think I could have handled waiting to learn to read until my front teeth started falling out, even though that happened when I was 5 - I could read before age 4, my parents taught me because I was driving them mad.

The Steiners I met were lovely friendly people though.

bebanjo Tue 14-Aug-12 21:33:00

not all Steiner schools will stop a child learning to read, the local one to me will not help but i dont see how they can stop it, unless the parents withhold the written word. i used to go to a toddler group at local Steiner and no colors were denied.
i would agree with the unquestioning bit and i am an atheist as well.
Dont forget that many country's do not start teaching reading and writing tell 6 or 7 and it has noting to do with any faith.

SeventhEverything Tue 14-Aug-12 21:36:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Tue 14-Aug-12 21:38:22

In redibly prescriptive under the pretence
Of being all free and easy. Individualism frowned on unless it is the right sort of individualism. No computers. Parents expected to buy into the philosophy. And crap gcses. Apart from that, fine! Oh and the same teacher from reception to leaving. Which I think is so wrong it couldn't be wronger.

MangawhaiHeads Thu 16-Aug-12 22:41:16

I often confuse it with Scientology. Easily done I suppose.

happygardening Thu 16-Aug-12 22:59:27

I'm no Steiner fan but its not "the same teacher from reception to leaving." Its the same teacher from yr 2 to I think yr 8/9
I did know of a truly inspirational teacher teaching this age group and there must be other good Steiner teachers out there but also a lot of rubbish teachers. I suspect if it is going to work for your DC you have to sit it out through the whole process from Kindergarten which goes to yr 2 till the bitter end because the structure is so unlike anything you would find anywhere else that your DC would struggle to fit back into normal ed. To sit it out you would obviously need brilliant teachers at the three stages and theres no guarantee of this. There a weird medical ethos associated with it (cant remember what its called) but its a load of unresearched rubbish and the parents are usually bloody weird who talk a load of old rubbish and frown on those who feed their children doughnuts and chocolate biscuits.

Greige Thu 16-Aug-12 23:08:10

We send our DD to a Steiner school because over here the only other option was catholic school - with religion fully integrated into the curriculum. We pulled DD out of our local school after they started taking her to church without our consent.

Around 50% of families in the school are there for the same reason, and we're a pretty vocal bunch so are able to stand up to the teachers if things get too woo. There is also a wide spectrum of families there - its not just middle class.

There are also several children with SN in the school - Aspergers and Downs syndrome.

Some schools seem to be more hardcore than others, there is a lot of parental involvement in the running of the school which means that parents get some control over the school ethos.

We have some reservations but on the whole think (hope!) that it is better than the alternative. At least DD no longer comes home saying 'God is real, Father Jones said so!' I was dreading first communion time.

happygardening Thu 16-Aug-12 23:33:09

Some are definitely better than others the one near Canterbury had and maybe still has an awful reputation the one in Gloucestershire is meant to be OK. I've heard mixed things about the big one at East Grinstead. Many won't take SN partly in fairness because they don't have the teachers/staff/infrastructure to cope with it. There are lots of vegetarian homeopath bunny hugging parents at Steiner schools who are quite judgemental of those who use calpol eat the odd sausage roll and think a childs party is not complete with crisps and jellies. Not all allow parents to be involved in how the school is run although you can find your expected to make thiry shepherds out of pure wool felt and sheep wool for an advent string to be sold at the Xmas fair!! On the positive side if done properly it can really develop a child's creative side and for boys who don't want to start reading at three/four it is a welcome alternative although pretend guns etc are very frowned upon. Many don't like your DC's to wear clothes with names on e.g. Gap and TV computer games are also discouraged and certainly at Kindergarten children play outside in all weathers which is good.

Maria33 Thu 16-Aug-12 23:59:21

Read up properly on anthroposophy, the belief system that informs Steiner. Go to the kindergarten ask why they have no black crayons, why corners are cut off the paper, why kg and school kids only ever do wet-on-wet painting, what kind of temperament they think your child has, whether it's ok for children to watch tv, play on computers, play with plastic, wear polyester. Notice how the classrooms are painted in a swirly pattern. KG will be pinky, class 3 will be green. Ask why. Ask whether they believe that your child is fully incarnated before they're 7.

If you like what you hear, go for it.

It's a full on cult lifestyle choice. Some people love it, some people stay for about 3 years and leave, feeling angry.

We're over it now
grin

One of our 3 dc's had a particularly shitty time sad and it wasn't a great start to school for him.

Be careful. Make sure you know what you're getting into. It's not just a normal school with greater emphasis on nature and individual creativity. It does work for some kids- it really doesn't for others.

Good luck!

bebanjo Sat 18-Aug-12 20:54:59

Also ask at your local state school why all children have to where a uniform, why all the children have to learn to read and right as soon as they start school, weather they are ready or not, why out side time is restricted so much and why they are denied any time outside if they do not keep up with written work. why so many children wet themselves in class. why children have to do homework when they are so young and need play and sleep.
different education systems suit different family's, its that simple, we should all be great full we have the choice.

ThreadWatcher Sat 18-Aug-12 21:11:09

Read up on Anthroposophy, Eurythmy.
Have a look at the wall colour and question why it is peach - looking at your own skin tone may (or may not) give you a clue.
Ask about the policy on bullying and SEN (once you have stopped gawping at why the walls are peach)

If you as a parent dont believe (or have any wish to believe) in Anthroposophy as a belief system dont even consider sending your child to a Steiner school.

At an open day a steiner school may seem floaty and lovely but look beyond the veneer and there is an entirely different darkness underneath.

merrymouse Sun 19-Aug-12 06:30:29

I think it depends on the school, and there are many good things about Steiner.

However, Steiner and Montessori do disagree on some major points, e.g. Montessori generally starts reading at 4/5, and Steiner would not encourage reading till 7. To be fair, Steiner is very hot on pre-reading and writing skills like listening to stories, clapping games and movement. However it might be a bit confusing to spend your days with the 'movable alphabet' in montessori and then to spend a couple of years in an environment where people can be a bit funny about 5 and 6 year olds reading.

I think the problem with both theories is that they were devised over a century ago and schools that follow them can be very close minded to any educational advances that have taken place since then. I'm not talking about computers in schools, but changes in the way Maths and language are taught.

Takver Sun 19-Aug-12 14:41:17

I think that Steiner schools must vary a lot. The one local to us has a lot of pupils whose parents have moved them from the state system for various reasons - there's minimal choice around here at primary age. As a result, you'll find plenty of crisps, fizzy pop and burgers at their birthday parties (dd has several friends who go there).

A friend is considering applying for a teaching job there - she has a regular PGCE and no Steiner training - in her initial discussions with them the latter didn't seem to be a problem.

Urielemil Tue 28-Aug-12 14:19:30

I won't repeat what those who already warned you said. I'll just add this: do a google search combining the name of that particular Steiner school you are considering and also add the word "bullying". See if anything comes up.
If only I did this little exercise before sending my ds to such a Steiner school a year ago... Now I know better.

LoopyLoopsOlympicHoops Tue 28-Aug-12 14:27:29

Please google gnomes.

worldgonecrazy Fri 31-Aug-12 10:17:35

All schools are different. Just as there are good and bad state comprehensives, there are good and bad Steiners.

My advice is to go and look at the young adults the school sends out into the world - what are they like? Unless you visit and see for yourself all you will have is rumours.

At our daughter's school, those leaving at the age of 17 do themselves, their school and their families credit. They are polite, informed, well-mannered, keen learners, confident, and able to hold a conversation that doesn't consist of grunts (a rare thing in teenagers!). The school's ethos is about encouraging a love of learning and that really shows through when the pupils move on to study A-levels, and then degrees. If you google "Steiner alumni" you will see some of the jobs that Steiner pupils have gone on to do - there's quite a few arts-oriented types, but also some surprising ones, such as the ex-CEO of American Express, some physicists, engineers and the lady who helped develop modern computer programming.

To answer some of the myths, black crayons and paint are allowed, dolls do have faces and children are allowed to read if they want to, it's just not taught at the school. I don't know any of the parents at DD's school who follow anthroposophy, we just like the school and it's ethos. I like that the school never closes, regardless of the weather (but they do get to go sledging if it snows). I like that the children are allowed to climb trees and learn risk-management through doing stuff and being shown how to do it safely by adults. I like the mutual respect between pupils and teachers.

There is a bullying and SEN policy in place, though the school recognises because of staffing numbers they can only take a small number of SEN pupils at any one time.

As for the gnomes, it's the name Steiner gave to earth spirits (being German). These earth spirits are either helpful or unhelpful. It's no different to those people who believe in gods, angels, fairies, land wights or Santa Claus. Some believe, some don't. It's not a big thing but does look very cute when the children prepare a "gnome garden" at the winter fete smile.

I'm definitely not a lentil weaver (unless the lentils are being weaved into lentil soup, which is yummy), though obviously there are probably larger numbers of lentil-weavers amongst Steiner parents as they are attracted by the alternative nature of the Steiner education. There are also lots of normal parents (like me!) too.

worldgonecrazy Fri 31-Aug-12 10:37:42

Apologies - the person who developed the computer programming language was a man, I mistakenly thought Kristen was a female name!

tottytrot Sat 01-Sep-12 19:56:33

I live very near the Steiner school outside Totnes but my sons don't go there. They teach only 5 GCSEs - English, Maths and three languages - no science - which is one of a number of reasons there's a lot of turnover of children. If your children are at primary age, consider the nearby state primary - Dartington - no uniform, eco buildings, lots of outdoor space and creativity.

crackcrackcrak Sat 01-Sep-12 20:37:44

Totty - v useful info re the state school - thank you grin

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