Lewes Forum thread

Go on, tell 'em what you think

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On 27 Jan 2013 at 8:01pm codswallop wrote:
Anyone else see the article in Viva Lewes about the talk on Steiner schools coming up at Lewes Skeptics ? I'm not sure what this guy's point is. He came across a few things about Steiner schools whilst researching his blog and now is concerned that Rudolph Steiner believed in reincarnation ? And that children shouldn't be taught to read and write before the age of 7 ? Seems to me yet another of the Richard Dawkins brigade getting their fascistic empirical atheism hats on and objecting to anything that can't be proved in a petri dish.....

By the way, I'm an atheist and scientist, but I'm starting to get really peed off with this lot who seem determined to close down any freedom of religious thought.
On 27 Jan 2013 at 10:57pm Deelite wrote:
Good to see you are sceptical. Hope you enjoy the talk. Looking forward to your questions afterwards.
On 28 Jan 2013 at 7:27pm Hey Zeus wrote:
Hit a nerve Codswallop? If you manage to get a ticket there's always a chance to put across your point of view in the Question and Answer session.
If you want a taste of what the talk is about check out his blog. See link below.

Check it out here »
On 29 Jan 2013 at 8:45am Cheeky Monkey wrote:
It's not the education system that wrecks the children, it's the parents.
The trouble is, is that the type of people who are attracted to Steiner, can be, a total nightmare as parents because they think that it all needs to be free and easy and no rules and boundaries. That is the perfect recipe for very unhappy children.
On 29 Jan 2013 at 1:48pm codswallop wrote:
From what I read in Viva Lewes, it was very much based on the speaker's opinions and fears. My personal view is that different education systems suit different children and if Steiner or a more arts-based curricula is what some parents would like for their kids, then that's okay. I don't see it as an organisation trying to brainwash children into some sort of spiritual conversion although I know there is a spiritual belief at the base of Steiner's teachings. I'm not a Steinerist by any means and some of the teachings as stated in the author's blog, if true ( I note there were no sources or references) are abhorent to me.

Regarding the educational outcomes for children who attend Steiner schools - what is the evidence they do any better or worse than their peers at State schools - and what parameters are they being judged upon ?
There is plenty of educational evidence that children who have reading and writing forced onto them before they are ready suffer as a result. Many kids in the UK are being sat down at desks at the ages of 2 - ridiculously early. Some countries in Europe and in the USA do not start formal teaching of reading/ writing until a child is 6/7. Those children do just as well and are less pressured. Academic and exam success are not the only indicators of a good, well-rounded education and the rigidity of the current UK system is currently switching many kids off when they should be loving learning. Among educationalists, you'll find general agreement that most children - and adults - learn best through play and enjoyment, which is why having fun at school is so important - and why it's so important that the creative arts and sports are given more, not less, prominence in the curriculum.
What I object to is a kind of scaremongering by the Skeptics who reject absolutely anyone's belief system if they cannot be empirically proven by scientific methods. Many people (in fact most) adhere to some form of belief system, whether religious, political, scientific, sceptical etc etc. I truly think there's a form of fascism or fundamentalism in the Skeptics camp based on their absolutism and insistence on adherence to 'facts'. I have been to a couple of the talks and quite frankly was switched off by the aggressive arguing that came from some of the participants. It wasn't debate, it was intolerence and a form of blindness to other ways of thinking.
On 29 Jan 2013 at 11:48pm Fairmeadow wrote:
Atheism is a belief system, in exactly the same way as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. You can no more prove empirically that there isn't a God than you can prove there is. And anyone who pretends that they have the slightest evidence for their ideas about how life came about, well, they are either a fool or a rogue. Atheism is just a different faith.
On 30 Jan 2013 at 3:05am Hey Zeus! wrote:
If atheism is a belief system then being bald is a hairstyle. Off is a TV channel and not skiing is a sport.

The atheist returns from the market of religious belief with an empty basket.

Atheism is not in itself a positive claim it is a rejection of the claims made by theists that there exists an unseen mind-reading omnipotent being that created and controls the Universe. Whenever a claim is in dispute the burden of proof always falls upon the person making the claim. If you want to claim that such a being exists it's up to you to demonstrate it and provide positive evidence and and not up to anyone else to disprove it. If someone claims that invisible dragons live on Mars, it's not up to you or me as an adragonist, to disprove it. We should reject the dragonist's claim outright unless he offers evidence to support. That which is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

Atheism requires no more faith then does adragonism.
On 30 Jan 2013 at 7:31am grafter wrote:
In the past people just said "I'm not religious". Now more people seem to need to identify as an atheist. Nobody wants to be seen to be passive on the issue anymore. Is it because they feel threatened by something? It is interesting that the growth of assertive atheism coincides with the decline in mainstream Christianity. Maybe the skeptics movement is filling a gap in the market left after people stopped going to church hall meetings on the latest moral panic?
On 30 Jan 2013 at 9:25am Kettle wrote:
People are identifying themselves as atheists as a response to the increased craziness of religious folk.
On 30 Jan 2013 at 10:36am Not my real name wrote:
First I'd observe that you can't prove - or test - a negative. The response of the faithful to not being able to prove the existence of "god" (or a spaghetti monster or dragons on Mars) is that the absence of proof is a test of your faith. The more firmly you believe in this complete absence of proof the more conclusive the demonstration of your righteousness. The problem with this is that the logical conclusion of absolute faith is that you're right and everyone else is wrong and therefore hateful/damned/dangerous and can and should be put to death. So Kettle is right, I think: fundamentalists who "know" that they're right are dangerous.

I identify as an atheist. I'm not a "militant atheist" and I'm happy for people to embrace ideas of "higher beings" as long as they don't feel obliged to force their views on me, in thought or deed. Religious belief has produced breathtaking art and I'm more than happy to enjoy that. As it happens, I think that it demonstrates the creativity of humanity rather than the omnipotence of a "higher being", but each to his own.

Where I do part company with believers is when they reject logic or scientific understanding because it interferes with their narrow views, and having done that they impose those views on their children through education. This is happening in the US, where several states are allowing creationism to be taught alongside evolutionary theory as though it had equal weight. Children who emerge from a system like that will be intellectually crippled, and actually we have a duty, I think, to challenge that.

That's why it's perfectly reasonable to ask whether schools founded on a belief system should be part of the publicly funded educational establishment. Now as it happens I went to a Steiner school. I quite enjoyed it. The teachers were well-meaning and on the whole no-one tried to indoctrinate us. The fact is though that unless you were very bright you would emerge from that system with little to show for it. I got 7 O levels, but five of those were languages I'd acquired pretty much independently. Most of my peers got two or three O levels and were going to struggle - and they did, it turns out. I can only report anecdotally, but the year groups my siblings and I were part of have not been very economically successful (although actually I did fine eventually).

So it is a very reasonable question: should the state be paying for schools whose practice and results are at the very least debatable? It's one thing for hippy parents like mine to make a positive decision to send their little darlings to a particular school, and quite another for it to be the only viable state school choice.
On 30 Jan 2013 at 10:46am Clifford wrote:
Not my real name wrote: 'First I'd observe that you can't prove - or test - a negative.'

I've gt no money in the bank, which I can prove. (Though I agree with the rest of what you say).
On 30 Jan 2013 at 1:22pm Pedantic Bank Manager wrote:
Go on then Clifford, prove it... Bet you can't.

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