Steiner schools
Nov 10, 2009
Bishop Hill in Civil liberties, Education, Liberalism

Unity has posted up one of those very, very long posts which have become his blogging trademark. Today's sermon is on the subject of Steiner schools, which Unity opposes. Wholeheartedly. The Steiner movement, and its underlying philosophical movement, Anthroposophy, are, he says, "cultish".

I don't know very much about Steiner schools but the use of the term "cultish" is a strong one, implying to most readers a degree of brainwashing and coercion of the kind that is popularly associated with, say, scientology or the Branch Davidians. In fact, Unity makes this link explicit when he say that

there are marked similarities between approaches of the Anthroposophical movement and Scientology

However, he doesn't present any actual evidence for this statement, beyond  a vague statement that Steiner schools don't teach Anthroposophy explicitly but that what they do teach is designed to prepare children to receive those beliefs. Perhaps there is more to it than that, but on the face of it this is no different to most other forms of schooling. One might equally argue that state schooling doesn't explicitly teach statism but that everything it teaches is designed to prepare children for a belief in the beneficence of the state.

Much of Unity's piece is an eye-opening exposition of the eccentric beliefs of anthroposophists - take this quote for example:

[A]ngels – the spirits closest to human beings – are seeking to create images in human astral bodies. These images are given with the intention of bringing about ‘definite conditions in the social life of the future’ related to brotherhood, religious freedom, and conscious spirituality…

Far out, man.

But so what? Is this any more eccentric than the whole water-into-wine malarkey that informs mainstream christianity, or for that matter the weirdness of any of the other mainstream religions? Many, many people have deeply irrational beliefs, and want children to be brought up in those beliefs. In a world without state education they would be able to do so.

The advent of state education has put the whip in the hands of the state and its acolytes. With the purse strings now held by the bureaucracy rather than the individual the opportunity has arisen to crush dissenting belief systems. Funding will be withdrawn from those that do not toe the line. In the case of the Steiner schools, the argument is being put forward not on the grounds that the education provided is inadequate or any other rational basis, but simply because these people are marginal and unacceptable - "cultish", in Unity's terms.

I've said it before, but I think it is worth repeating. The mindset of most of the writers at Liberal Conspiracy is not that of the liberal. It is that of the conservative. These are people who hate diversity, who despise people who don't think like they do.  They are Tories of the left.


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