Thursday, December 19, 2013

PRESS RELEASE- Wednesday 18th December

Re - Article Published in the Guardian 15th December 2013: “Free Schools: why the fight goes on” by Zoe Williams

In an unashamedly partisan article, attacking free schools in general, the writer has chosen to repeat unfounded allegations made in a brief BBC South West news report on the opening of the Steiner Academy Frome.

The writer quotes from a statement made by a local resident opposing the new Academy. The writer describes those remarks as “mild”. In the interest of making her more general point, she then goes on to make an explicit link between Rudolf Steiner (miss-spelt “Rudolph”) & Nazism. Apart from the anachronism (Steiner died in 1925, a point conceded by the speaker she quotes), this linkage hides the fact that the Waldorf School founded by Steiner was closed by the Nazis as being inimical to their aims, prohibition on the admission of pupils being introduced in 1936 (www.waldorfanswers.org). Furthermore, the writer ignored information in the public domain from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (www.steinerwaldorf.org), or similar organizations (www.ecswe.org). That these might be considered biased in favour of this form of education, is no defense when uncritical use is made of blogs & other sources in which there is extreme prejudice against everything Steiner Waldorf schools stand for. Andy Lewis, for example, is quoted without regard to the fact that he is an activist preparing a market for his book on the subject. Lewis has, by his own admission, never visited a Waldorf school. He, in turn, draws copiously from the writings of a minor USA-based academic & self-styled Anarchist historian, Peter Staudenmaier. Staudenmaier recently stated in a lecture, “I’m a person who makes copious use of insinuation and innuendo in polemical contexts. I’m a big fan of using those as a way of getting a point across.” He is also someone who has been found manipulating & sometimes inventing of references that suit his tendentious purpose.

The evidence of Steiner Waldorf schools in practice should quickly dispel any doubts that the schools represent anything other than a serious & thorough educational contribution to young people learning in an enlightened & humane environment. To the specific allegation that our international & multi-cultural schools are in some way informed by ideology of racial, or any other form of supremacy, an independent academic study conducted in Germany concluded the opposite. An empirical study by Christian Pfeiffer of Lower Saxony’s Criminological Research Institute (2007) concluded that 15-16 year old showed pupils in German Waldorf schools far less likely to respond with approval to stereotyping of any sort .

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