26 Nov 2011, Comments (4)

Public education: Free, compulsory and…?

Author: Helen

Some parents around here are up in arms about the sudden axing of the Steiner education stream which has been maintained at Footscray Primary school for the last few years.

Footscray Steiner parents, I am sorry to hear that this was done so suddenly, and – according to newspaper reports – in such a cackhanded way. The program should have been phased out gracefully over another year, allowing parents to plan and children to transition more easily.

On the other hand, the situation should never have arisen because a Steiner stream should never have been allowed into a State primary school in the first place.

Public education was supposed to be free, secular and compulsory. The “secular” part is under siege, as it is, from Liberal government initiatives to put chaplains in schools and to force them to accept religious education classes, often by dubious practitioners. Steiner education is based on a kind of quasi-religious “spirituality” (I’d say “the random thoughts of an early Twentieth Century German crank”, but let’s go with that), and as such it drives the non-secular wedge in a little further. What’s the argument against having a Scientology stream if we allow this in our schools?

A Steiner parent at Footscray Primary was able to have a complaint about the Steiner annexe closure published in the Opinion page of the AGE, no less, by a prominent grandparent. This was published soon before the National Day of Action for public education, but the article made no mention of this. Come November 15, it would have been wonderful to see famous grandparents protesting about the ongoing defunding of public education in the AGE editorial, but there were none. Public education really needs defending in Victoria; it’s an inestimably valuable public good which we take for granted and fail to properly appreciate.

Educate your child at a Steiner school if you must, but keep religion and “spirituality” out of our Government school system, please.

Comments (4) »

  • blue milk says:

    Ooh controversy. I have to admit I am right on the intrusion of religion into our schools but I have to admit to never before considering nor being concerned by a Steiner school stream, which is because I’m a lefty in the alternative education system. Plus, am hypocrite.

  • M-H says:

    Shocker. So much confusion over the nature of secular schooling. You’re right – these ‘streams’ shouldn’t have ever been allowed.

  • armagny says:

    Well. Fighting words =)

    I looked at Steiner. I don’t really like the model of mainstream education much, but I value education. I stopped when I read something about kids not reading until they are 7, apparently because reading is some miserable adult chore. I loved reading by that age, and Bear and Mitts both love books, so I just couldn’t get my head around the sense in that.

    I’m not entirely against different approaches to teaching being allowed, however. I think there is a difference between a different approach to teaching (lets say something like Reggio Emilia sp?) and telling kids ghosts and goblins are real. But I take your slippery slope inference on board…

  • John Waldsax says:

    Helen, [name redacted] swore that a Steiner education was a disaster for him, but mainly because it washed out any expectations of his ever achieving anything, and “achievement didn’t matter”; it certainly wasn’t a “spiritual” problem.

    Still, at least they taught him how to spell (cf. “practitioner”). [Fixed – H]

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>