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Is Steiner Education the Answer?

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

We are facing a mental illness epidemic and if actions aren’t taken soon, I fear for our future. It is scary, shocking and daunting teaching in today’s age and witnessing first-hand the rise in depression, suicide attempts, eating disorders, perfectionism, trauma and anxiety.

I am a primary school educator, certified youth mentor and holistic life coach. My questions and answers about mental health always lead back to, how we are educating our children.

I wholeheartedly believe that if the majority of schools took a Steiner approach, we would see a significant drop in mental health statistics.

Technology vs. divergent thinkers:

Preschools, prep and schools today have taken on an IT approach to learning as they believe that keeping up with the times will better prepare students for the future. Unfortunately, this approach fails to recognise the beauty that lies in childhood.

Many parent/s that are employees of Silicon Valley, Google, Apple and Yahoo send their children to Steiner schools and kindergartens. There are no screens or technology in Primary Steiner Schools and here is why. [1]

If you give a child a paper clip, they can come up with over 200 different ways the paper clip can be folded. An adult would be lucky to create 10. Children have an incredible imagination and the ability to think outside the box. This is known as divergent thinking. [2]

A longitudinal study was done on kindergarten children. The study measured kindergarten children having a 98% genius level in divergent thinking. They continued to watch these children and found that 5 years later (ages 8-10) those at genius level dropped 50%. As the children grew older, their genius level in divergent thinking continued to drop. In other words, our capacity for divergent thinking deteriorates with age. [2]

So, what happened to these children?

Unfortunately, they became ‘educated.’

So, what are we doing wrong?

Whether you like to admit it or agree with it or not, technology inhibits creative thinking, higher-order thinking, movement, attention spans and human interaction. Technology has also been designed to be as ‘brain-dead to use as possible’- says Mr Eagle who is a Steiner parent and works at Google. “It’s super easy, like learning to use toothpaste.’ [1]

By allowing for an unrushed childhood, a child can learn about themselves and the world around them through love, warmth, joy, gratitude, reverence, wonder, creativity, curiosity and meaningful experiences.

Susan Perrow founder of Periwinkle Steiner Kindergarten says that “what I accomplish with a child, I accomplish with a grown-up person in their 20’s. [3]

When a child is playing, they are at work. They are developing their ability to problem solve, plan, communicate with others, construct, design and ask for help when required.

By giving a child an iPad or seating them in front of the television, we are robbing them of creativity, imagination and sensory play as they become absorbed in the screen and it interferes with their innate wish to play and explore. [6] Each activity provokes a purpose that develops a child’s sense of wonder, willpower and own thinking skills. Children today are being taught what to think, not how to think and this has detrimental effects on their connection to learning particularly throughout high school.

I want to give you a little background on some of the activities in a Steiner Kindergarten and school setting to help you understand that everything is built on profound meaning and purpose.

Knitting has more purpose than you know:

In Steiner kindergarten’s children spend a whole term knitting a rainbow recorder case that will last their whole schooling journey. From an obnoxious perspective, this may seem like a ‘hippy’ exercise but in fact, it is teaching the child, the work that goes into a product an