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'Steiner' and other 'alternative'; forms of education? (esp M/cr)

(64 Posts)
Levanna Wed 15-Dec-04 00:25:12

Does anyone know where I can go to find out more? Or, if there are any in or around the manchester area?
TIA

spacedonkey Wed 15-Dec-04 00:26:16

I think the Steiner schools are a bit mad (from what I've heard).

Montessori is good though. Or home ed?

spacedonkey Wed 15-Dec-04 00:37:28

Steiner Information

spacedonkey Wed 15-Dec-04 00:38:49

Montessori Information

spacedonkey Wed 15-Dec-04 00:39:22

Home Ed Information

Jimjambells Wed 15-Dec-04 12:11:46

I like Steiner- wouldn't say it was mad, quite sane compared to a lot of the State system at the moment- although you need to check out each school individually (when we lived in london I loved the local Stenier school, not so keen on our local one now we've moved).

There are quite a few previous threads that taqlk about Steiner so you may want to do a search, can't remember what was said, but could have some good links. A good book about early years Steiner education is Free to Learn by Lynne Oldfield.

spacedonkey Wed 15-Dec-04 12:15:29

Jimjams, I think the steiner philosophy is great, just that I've heard some barking stories about how that philosophy has been interpreted by some rather earnest parents ...

I'm sure there are some excellent steiner schools - my comment was unnecessary!

Jimjambells Wed 15-Dec-04 12:18:59

don't worry - I've certainly met some crazy Steiner parents! My children don't go to a Steiner school (and won't be- logistics make it impossible anyway) but it dos have some very good points. However I do think the individual schools vary a lot- and its a bit luck of the draw where you live. I have no idea what the ones in Manchester are like, but probably best to have a nose, or see if they have a parent and toddler group (if that's the right age).

MancMum Wed 15-Dec-04 12:31:48

am watching this one as was keen for my kids to go to a Steiner or Montessorri school in Manchester - but the year I had DS, Montessoru school in Didsbury closed - think the nearest one is in handforth but ony goes to about 7 and I don't want to move them at that age.

Where abouts are you? MY DS is now at a local primary school which I am quite happy with - the head master has an approach that I like - he sees prmary ed as being about building community skills not academic ones as priority.. hence SATS don't look great but kids a re happy, well rounded and creative... unlike another local school where too much pressure is put on the SATS so school looks better..

Gumbee Wed 15-Dec-04 19:48:09

I've recently contacted a Montessori pre-school in Worthing for my daughter to attend when she is 2.5. Didn't know much about Montessori methods but searched around on the internet and liked the teaching methods. Have put her name on waiting list - couldn't believe there are waiting lists for pre-schools and nurseries.

Miriam2 Wed 15-Dec-04 19:52:07

There have to be waiting lists, gumbee, they have to have a certain number of children to cover costs so need to know how many each term.
Otherwise a) nurseries would go under and b) you'd turn up with child aged 2.5 but no places available!

merglemergle Fri 17-Dec-04 20:47:41

Steiner philosophy IMO is spooky and worrying. Basically Rudolf Steiner was an occultist Spiritualist. A lot of what kids actually do in the schools (eg the pictures they draw) relates to his rather odd beliefs. He also believed in the supremacy of white Germanic Europeans (he was writing about ooh 1920s I think, in Austria). Although the Steiner fellowship does a lot of good work with people with disabilities, one of his beliefs was that some disabiliteis were caused because a child rejected their parents just before birth, and also that some kids with disbilities were demons in disguise.

There is a religion/belief system/philopshy behind the schools. This is known as anthroposophy. From the POV of an anthroposophist (who in practice tend to comprise the board of trustees)the purpose of Steiner education is to allow the child to reincarnate sucessfully into their new body.

Steiner teachers do study his work. There tends to be a reverance for the teacher in a lot of schools and it can be impossible to criticise teaching methods because there is such a strong dogma behind them.

Another consideration is arts/craft and music. Both are highly stylised. A lot comes down to copying the teacher (this is deeply ingrained in the philosophy). Basically, creativity is often not much encouraged. Our ds so far loves drawing, dancing etc and I am concerned that a Steiner school would not allow him to do these things. Children are not allowed to listen to electronic media, including CDs/radio-this is in part because there is some evil demon of electricity which kids must be protected from (honestly, this is what they believe). They are also not allowed to draw in black crayon because black is an evil colour. See comments re white Germanic race above.

HOWEVER in practice Steiner schools offer kids things that they just don't get in the state system, eg prolonged time outdoors, lack of pressure to learn to read and write early, etc. Like anything else you can take good things from it. Just bear in mind that unlike Montessorri, Steiner schools are religious, and the exact nature of the religion is basically, to a lot of people, weird.

I spent time at a Steiner school and my mother is an anthroposophist. I also do take ds to a parent and toddler group at the local Steiner school,and have been to several lectuers.

Second Spacemonkey-have you thought of home-ed?

Levanna Tue 21-Dec-04 00:51:40

Thank you for the opinions and advice you've shared. Merglemergle
^HOWEVER in practice Steiner schools offer kids things that they just don't get in the state system, eg prolonged time outdoors, lack of pressure to learn to read and write early, etc. Like anything else you can take good things from it.^
I think I have been given a possibly biased view of Steiner schooling, so far. This paragraph is the gist of what I was told. I had no idea of the religious aspects of Steiner schooling, so I'm grateful to have been forewarned and therefore, it's not what I'm looking for for my children! Thanks Spacedonkey for the links. I'll have a good read of them.

merglemergle Tue 21-Dec-04 06:46:02

I've been looking for this link for you:-

openwaldorf

(Steiner education is also known as Waldorf)

I know that there are people here who have had positive experiences of Steiner education. TBH, we are seriously considering it for ds for a few years. He is a somewhat hyper boy who is not yet talking with an August birthday and I know (becuase my brother was just the same) he will NEED to run around for a couple of hours a day at primary. I'd love to home ed but circumstances don't really allow it at that stage.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Bear in mind I am biased-I went through the Steiner system to an extent and didn't get on with it. In order to feel comfortable I have to know that I can question how things are done and that just isn't the case with Steiner schools. I could go on and on...

Jimjambells Tue 21-Dec-04 21:04:56

Think it does depend on the school. The parent toddler group I used to attend was attached to a small school- where the parents were enthusiatic but not really brainwashed iykiwm. They seemed more interested in the freedom aspect. Very much an active community and welcoming to "outsiders".

The local Steiner school (we moved) is much larger and much more all embracing of the whole philosophy - and much less welcoming to outsiders. More rooted in the doctrine I guess.

Levanna Tue 21-Dec-04 23:37:51

That's interesting. I suppose in that case it's like any school. Some adhere more stringently to curriculum than others? I would love to home school but I do have a learning disorder and wouldn't be able to help my children in certain areas (though I am on a course for that at the moment).
I have found all of this and the links given extremely interesting, but there doesn't seem to be a Steiner/Waldorf school within a reasonable distance from us anyway. I have also come to a misty sort of conclusion in that the things I wish to be available for my children to learn from, can of course be provided by me outside of school. That in itself might take the emphasis off any 'stringent' curriculum that is presented to them. I hope!
Thank you

spacedonkey Wed 22-Dec-04 00:35:58

Levanna, have you read any john holt?

Carla Wed 22-Dec-04 01:02:25

mm, just wanted to say, that was fascinating!

Levanna Wed 22-Dec-04 01:16:36

Spacedonkey, no I haven't......could you tell me more please?

spacedonkey Wed 22-Dec-04 12:54:23

How Children Fail

How Children Learn

Anyone considering or interested in home ed must read these books!

pabla Fri 07-Jan-05 12:28:40

Would just like to say that if you do go ahead with a non-mainstream type of education, especially if you will have to pay privately, please think through the long-term commitment you should make. A friend of mine started her ds in the Steiner system. I have no strong views either way on this system btw. He went to a kindergarten first and started at a school when he was 6+. After a year and a bit she decided to change him to a state school (she gave various reasons for this but I still don't really understand why - he was very happy at the Steiner). He started in Yr 3 last October and is really struggling because he is effectively 3 yrs behind the rest of the class. I'm sure once he learns to read he will find other subjects a lot easier (he is actually a very bright kid) but it really makes me mad that she has put him in this situation (he now gets teased by other kids because he can't do the work). I actually thought she should have given the state system a try first (she thought he was immature and the steiner system would suit him better) but once she started with the steiner she should have stuck with it until he was at a stage where transferring to the state system would be less traumatic for him.

northernrefugee39 Wed 31-Oct-07 15:06:38

I completely agree with merglemergle- just removed three children and heaving a unanimous sigh of releif. The Anthroposophical views are bonkers and they are very secretive about it. Haven't much time now as have to pick up children from their lovely primary - where they are both catching up brilliantly- aged 8 and 10. Don't be worried to remove them to mainstream- Steiner does a great deal of damage.

lailasmum Wed 31-Oct-07 15:15:52

I plan to home ed my dd but was originally into the idea of steiner until I actually visited a school fopr many of the reasons other have mentioned. So that idea went away and home ed was our choice. There are also a lot of small schools with varying philosphys. Human scale education has a list on their site.

LoveAngel Wed 31-Oct-07 15:39:56

Another vote against Steiner here. Visited our local Steiner in north London and the staff were ghastly - cold, condescending, rude, very vague bordering on evasive about the school's philosophy.

PeachyFleshCrawlingWithBugs Wed 31-Oct-07 15:45:54

A vote for Monetessori here- my ds1 and ds2 attended a fabulous Mont4essori pre-school and would attend a school if it were feasible. I did a lot of reading (including my Access project) into the system and i think it makes sense- really its about allowing the child to find their own development in a supportive environment with clear boundaries- so there will be lots of self motivated learning (eg playing with apparatus- which is always in natural materials!) with careful interventions from teachers. boundaries are clear- for example a piece of apparatus might be set on a rug which defines the area that the play can take place.

there is also some emphasis on self help- children help at meals for example, and to tidy up.

With all alternative schools I firmly beleive that the visit is the key: an alternative school run by a cold eprson could be awful, however the aldy who ran ours in Somerset was the warmest huuman being yu could imagine, and the balance with the montessori approach this created was wonderful- and sorely missed after we moved.

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