Just up the road at Ringwood a class of children was settling down for an art history lesson; the part-time teacher at the Waldorf School had a real treat for them.
There was to be no analysis of how Gothic Art has affected architecture during the 1900s. Oh no, this lesson took a somewhat macabre twist.
The teacher, in all her wisdom, distributed blades among the children and let them cut themselves.
Apparently the school’s approach is based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and social reformer.
The school likes to provide practical hands-on activities to encourage creative play. Well, they certainly met the ‘hands-on’ criteria with that one.
What do they do in PE? Let the kids pick weapons from the woodwork department and battle to the death in an electrified cage? And God only knows what happens in the Personal Social and Health Education class.
What teacher wakes up in the morning and thinks it’s a good idea to let kids slice themselves open? It’s the sort of thing you could imagine happening in a horror film, with a demented teacher cackling at the front of the class and blood spurting everywhere.
The Rudolf Steiner model of education aims to ‘bring joy into the learning process’. Some ‘joy’ this lesson must have brought. I’m sure there are too many of these alternative weirdo schools around the country going without proper checks, preaching god knows what. Parents actually pay to send their kids to these places.
The school seeks to encourage children to seek goodness, beauty and truth within themselves. This sounds like some hippy mantra. It might be a nice after-school club; but basing your whole syllabus on it? What do they do in those lessons? Hand out acid to the kids while a shaman plays the panpipes at the back of the class?
And another thing, the kids went along with it. I can’t imagine kids from many schools in Portsmouth accepting this. I expect the razor blades are more likely to come out in the staff room. I suppose the only good thing to come out of this was that the art lesson wasn’t about Van Gogh.