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Steiner education: a parent’s testimony

More on Steiner schools (see last post), and how they might appear child-centred and cuddly, while hiding their true objectives. A comment has appeared on Alicia Hamburg’s blog from the parent of a child who attended the Leeds Steiner kindergarten. He or she wrote:

It is imperative now that the very highest education authorities intervene here, and under no uncertain terms ensure that all Steiner establishments publish full and precise disclosure of their beliefs and intentions. It is paramount that the uninformed and unsuspecting are given protection. Personally, we count ourselves among the lucky ones. The number of victims this cover-up has claimed over the past 90-odd years of Steiner schooling doesn’t bear thinking about, but in these times of the nanny-state, litigation, think-tanks and watch-dogs, it is almost inconceivable that this problem can still exist.

You should read the whole post and all the comments. If you don’t know what anthroposophy is, click here to find out what Steiner Waldorf teachers learn at college.

Steiner Free School in Suffolk one step closer

The people behind the Fullfledge Ecology School, a Steiner school planned for the Woodbridge area, report:

Our proposal has passed the first stage of approval and we are now on the second stage, which is an interview with the DFE. We are preparing for this now.

Five members of the project team will represent Fullfledge Ecology School at the interview.

The DFE will inform us ‘in the summer’ whether we have the final go ahead to start the school in September 2013.

Click here to read our previous posts on this proposal, any why it’s not good news. Click here to read what the Steiner Waldorf critics say.

Lunacy in Jerusalem

The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.

Religious TV in America – please not here!

UK comedian Jake Yapp spent some time in the US watching religious TV, so we don’t have to. I’ve heard you can see stuff like this in the UK, but it’s not on Freeview so who cares?

A book that sets out to demonstrate that atheists aren’t miserable

New York photographer Chris Johnson has found subscribers to publish a book of portraits of happy atheists, to dispel the myth “that our lives are devoid of joy and happiness because we are not religious.” It looks interesting, but the sample list of subjects gives the impression that the book could be male-dominated. Maybe the gender balance will be 50/50?

Click here to read more.

Which version of Easter do you prefer?

Easter eggsFor a majority of people in the UK, Easter is mainly about a long weekend, chocolate eggs, and spring. The origins of the spring holiday are disputed but they go back to pre-Christian times, when Pagans celebrated the spring equinox, which was on March 20th this year, and the end of winter.

The word Easter is derived from the name of a Germanic Pagan goddess of Spring, variously known as Ēostre, Ēastre or Ostara. The Easter bunny, accordng to some, was actually a hare, but either way it was a symbol of fertility, and likewise the egg. Chocolate manufacturers, including Cadbury’s, saw the opportunity to increase their profits by creating chocolate eggs as a substitite for the painted eggs that were previously given as gifts.

No one knows if or when the Christian’s Jesus was crucified (a common form of execution by the Romans between 6BCE and 4AD), but it probably wasn’t at Easter. Just as the early church adopted the pagan midwinter solstice festival and renamed it Christmas, they almost certainly did the same with the spring festival.

A new science of religion?

New ScientistAs reported by our secretary in the AGM newsletter (pdf), the 19th March issue of New Scientist was The God Issue. An editorial ends:

This is not an apologia for god. Religious claims still wither under rational scrutiny and deserve no special place in public life. But it is a call for those who aspire to a secular society to approach it rationally – which means making more effort to understand what they are dealing with. Religion is deeply etched in human nature and cannot be dismissed as a product of ignorance, indoctrination or stupidity. Until secularists recognise that, they are fighting a losing battle.

It’s a pity that the words “secularists” is used, as so often these days, as synonymous with atheists or anti-theists, which isn’t what it means. See the BBC site for a definition of secularism, which notes, correctly, 

You may be surprised to know that while most secularists are atheists, some secularists are actually believers in a faith. While they believe, they don’t think that belief is a reason for special treatment.

However, it is true that many anti-religionists, like many religionists, make no effort to understand “what they are dealing with”. Whether the contributors to this issue of New Scientist can enlighten us is debatable.

One is Justin L Barrett, author of Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Beliefs, which makes the controversial claim that children “arrive in the world with a strong, cognitively driven propensity for religious belief ‘preinstalled’.”