Education: Des iphones et des ipads, oui, mais pas pour mes enfants (Silicon Valley chooses Waldorf: Did Steve Jobs know something the rest of us don’t ?)

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The two of us would go tramping through San Jose and Berkeley and ask about Dylan bootlegs and collect them. We’d buy brochures of Dylan lyrics and stay up late interpreting them. Dylan’s words struck chords of creative thinking. I had more than a hundred hours, including every concert on the ’65 and ’66 tour. Instead of big speakers I bought a pair of awesome headphones and would just lie in my bed and listen to that stuff for hours. Steve Wozniak
Steve adorait ce lien subliminal avec Dylan. Elizabeth Holmes
We limit how much technology our kids use at home. Steve Jobs
I’ve never used email because I don’t find it would help me with anything I’m doing. I just couldn’t be bothered about it. As far as the cellphone goes, it’s like that whole thing about « in New York City, you’re never more than two feet from a rat » — I’m never two feet from a cellphone. I mean, we’ll be on a scout with 10 people and all of them have phones, so it’s very easy to get in touch with me when people need to. When I started in this business, not many people had cellphones, I didn’t have one, I never bothered to get one and I’ve been very fortunate to be working continuously, so there’s always someone around me who can tap me on the shoulder and hand me a phone if they need to. I actually really like not having one because it gives me time to think. You know, when you have a smartphone and you have 10 minutes to spare, you go on it and you start looking at stuff. Christopher Nolan
I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow. Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close. Nick Bilton (NYT)
Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices. Walter Isaacson (author of « Steve Jobs »)
My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists. They say that none of their friends have the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology first hand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. Chris Anderson (former editor of Wired)
Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs. Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues, losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people, is one of the costs. Prof Patricia Greenfield (UCLA)
You cannot learn non-verbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication. The research implies that people need more face-to-face interaction, and that even when people use digital media for social interaction, they are spending less time developing social skills. Dr Yalda Uhls (UCLA)
Removing smartphones and gadgets from children for just a few days immediately improves their social skills, a study has found. Researchers discovered that depriving 11 and 12-year-olds for just five days of all digital media – including television – left them better able to read others’ emotions. The Telegraph
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles recently published a study which demonstrated that just a few days after abstaining from using electronic gadgets, children’s social skills improved immediately. Which is definitely food for thought considering recent research showed that an average American child spends more than seven and a half hours a day using smart-phones and other electronic screens. Inquisitr
Just as I wouldn’t dream of limiting how much time a kid can spend with her paintbrushes, or playing her piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming. Ali Partovi (founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos)
If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17. (…) At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older. Alan Eagle (Google employee)
For three weeks, we ate our way through fractions. When I made enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone, do you think I had their attention? Cathy Waheed (Waldorf teacher)
A spare approach to technology in the classroom will always benefit learning. Teaching is a human experience. Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking. Paul Thomas (Furman University)
You can look back and see how sloppy your handwriting was in first grade. You can’t do that with computers ’cause all the letters are the same. Besides, if you learn to write on paper, you can still write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out. Finn Heilig (10, Google employee’s child)
Some education experts say that the push to equip classrooms with computers is unwarranted because studies do not clearly show that this leads to better test scores or other measurable gains. Is learning through cake fractions and knitting any better? The Waldorf advocates make it tough to compare, partly because as private schools they administer no standardized tests in elementary grades. And they would be the first to admit that their early-grade students may not score well on such tests because, they say, they don’t drill them on a standardized math and reading curriculum. When asked for evidence of the schools’ effectiveness, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America points to research by an affiliated group showing that 94 percent of students graduating from Waldorf high schools in the United States between 1994 and 2004 attended college, with many heading to prestigious institutions like Oberlin, Berkeley and Vassar. Of course, that figure may not be surprising, given that these are students from families that value education highly enough to seek out a selective private school, and usually have the means to pay for it. And it is difficult to separate the effects of the low-tech instructional methods from other factors. For example, parents of students at the Los Altos school say it attracts great teachers who go through extensive training in the Waldorf approach, creating a strong sense of mission that can be lacking in other schools. (…) The Waldorf experience does not come cheap: annual tuition at the Silicon Valley schools is $17,750 for kindergarten through eighth grade and $24,400 for high school, though Ms. Wurtz said financial assistance was available. She says the typical Waldorf parent, who has a range of elite private and public schools to choose from, tends to be liberal and highly educated, with strong views about education; they also have a knowledge that when they are ready to teach their children about technology they have ample access and expertise at home. NYT
Les uns soulignent la pratique positive d’une éducation « complète » adaptée à l’enfant et passent sous silence l’anthropologie métaphysique de Steiner. Les autres critiquent justement sans merci cette néomythologie occulte de l’éducation et mettent en garde contre les risques d’endoctrinement qui en découlent (« école où est enseignée une conception du monde ») leur insistance sur ce point les empêchant de juger impartialement les multiples facettes de la pratique steinérienne. La position des critiques idéologiques est encore confortée par l’assertion des pédagogues anthroposophes selon laquelle toutes les normes et toutes les formes de leur pratique éducative procèdent de l’anthropologie « cosmique » du maître. Heiner Ullrich (Université de Mayence)
On compte en France une trentaine d’écoles se réclamant de la pédagogie de Rudolf Steiner, fondateur et inspirateur de l’Anthroposophie qui se veut l’héritière de sa doctrine. S’il est clair que toutes ces écoles ne revêtent pas un caractère sectaire, plusieurs mériteraient cependant une investigation approfondie. La Commission a, en effet, eu connaissance de dérives. Les méthodes pédagogiques particulières à certaines écoles ont été critiquées notamment par l’Inspection de l’Éducation nationale. Ainsi, les apprentissages du langage structuré, de l’écrit et du calcul ne seraient pas engagés avant l’âge de 7 ans. En outre, les enfants inadaptés à la méthode Steiner seraient soumis à des sévices et beaucoup ne seraient pas à jour de leurs vaccinations. Alors que les tarifs de la scolarité affichés peuvent être considérés, pour certaines familles, abordables (entre 14 000 et 18 000 francs par an), l’Inspection de l’Éducation nationale a repéré des établissements où les tarifs pratiqués étaient si élevés que des parents d’élèves, afin de pouvoir les honorer, s’étaient trouvés contraints de travailler pour l’Anthroposophie. Rapport interministériel – les sectes et l’argent
De plus en plus, les gens voient des sectes partout. (…) Nous ne nous intéressons qu’aux victimes et nous n’en avons jamais reçu des écoles Steiner. Je trouve cela anormal qu’elles soient cataloguées comme sectes et que l’on me reproche de les soutenir car mes petits-enfants y sont éduqués. Janine Tavernier

Faites ce que je dis mais pas ce que je fais !

Qu’est-ce qu’une école au nom d’une usine de cigarettes emprunté lui-même à celui de la ville natale du premier milliardaire de l’histoire des États-Unis qui donnera à son pays d’adoption une longue dynastie,  une ville d’Oregon et une chaine d’hôtels de prestige

Et qui, dans la foulée du grand mouvement de l’école nouvelle d’il y a bientôt un siècle à qui nous devons aujourd’hui nombre d’écoles dites alternatives telles que Montessori, Neill ou Freinet (mais avec la dimension toute particulière liée à sa création par le fondateur d’un courant de pensée ésotérique allemand, mélange de syncrétisme d’hindouisme et de bouddhisme et de mythologie nordique qui lui valut en France les foudres de la commission interministerielle anti-sectes), prône une approche résolument low-tech …

Peut avoir en commun avec un Steve Jobs obsédé par Dylan au point de vouloir épouser son ancienne compagne

Et la digitsia, cette nouvelle intelligentsia des fondateurs et employés des fameux GAFA, les géants actuels de l’Internet et des nouvelles technologies comme de l’optimisation fiscale

Qui refuse contre toute attente, pour ses rejetons, le tout-informatique prôné par ailleurs pour nous autres simples mortels comme l’éducation du futur ?

A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute
Matt Richtel
The New York Times
October 22, 2011

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

On a recent Tuesday, Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates refreshed their knitting skills, crisscrossing wooden needles around balls of yarn, making fabric swatches. It’s an activity the school says helps develop problem-solving, patterning, math skills and coordination. The long-term goal: make socks.

Down the hall, a teacher drilled third-graders on multiplication by asking them to pretend to turn their bodies into lightning bolts. She asked them a math problem — four times five — and, in unison, they shouted “20” and zapped their fingers at the number on the blackboard. A roomful of human calculators.

In second grade, students standing in a circle learned language skills by repeating verses after the teacher, while simultaneously playing catch with bean bags. It’s an exercise aimed at synchronizing body and brain. Here, as in other classes, the day can start with a recitation or verse about God that reflects a nondenominational emphasis on the divine.

Andie’s teacher, Cathy Waheed, who is a former computer engineer, tries to make learning both irresistible and highly tactile. Last year she taught fractions by having the children cut up food — apples, quesadillas, cake — into quarters, halves and sixteenths.

“For three weeks, we ate our way through fractions,” she said. “When I made enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone, do you think I had their attention?”

Some education experts say that the push to equip classrooms with computers is unwarranted because studies do not clearly show that this leads to better test scores or other measurable gains.

Is learning through cake fractions and knitting any better? The Waldorf advocates make it tough to compare, partly because as private schools they administer no standardized tests in elementary grades. And they would be the first to admit that their early-grade students may not score well on such tests because, they say, they don’t drill them on a standardized math and reading curriculum.

When asked for evidence of the schools’ effectiveness, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America points to research by an affiliated group showing that 94 percent of students graduating from Waldorf high schools in the United States between 1994 and 2004 attended college, with many heading to prestigious institutions like Oberlin, Berkeley and Vassar.

Of course, that figure may not be surprising, given that these are students from families that value education highly enough to seek out a selective private school, and usually have the means to pay for it. And it is difficult to separate the effects of the low-tech instructional methods from other factors. For example, parents of students at the Los Altos school say it attracts great teachers who go through extensive training in the Waldorf approach, creating a strong sense of mission that can be lacking in other schools.

Absent clear evidence, the debate comes down to subjectivity, parental choice and a difference of opinion over a single world: engagement. Advocates for equipping schools with technology say computers can hold students’ attention and, in fact, that young people who have been weaned on electronic devices will not tune in without them.

Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Boards Association, which represents school boards nationwide, said computers were essential. “If schools have access to the tools and can afford them, but are not using the tools, they are cheating our children,” Ms. Flynn said.

Paul Thomas, a former teacher and an associate professor of education at Furman University, who has written 12 books about public educational methods, disagreed, saying that “a spare approach to technology in the classroom will always benefit learning.”

“Teaching is a human experience,” he said. “Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”

And Waldorf parents argue that real engagement comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans.

“Engagement is about human contact, the contact with the teacher, the contact with their peers,” said Pierre Laurent, 50, who works at a high-tech start-up and formerly worked at Intel and Microsoft. He has three children in Waldorf schools, which so impressed the family that his wife, Monica, joined one as a teacher in 2006.

And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

“It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Eagle said. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”

There are also plenty of high-tech parents at a Waldorf school in San Francisco and just north of it at the Greenwood School in Mill Valley, which doesn’t have Waldorf accreditation but is inspired by its principles.

California has some 40 Waldorf schools, giving it a disproportionate share — perhaps because the movement is growing roots here, said Lucy Wurtz, who, along with her husband, Brad, helped found the Waldorf high school in Los Altos in 2007. Mr. Wurtz is chief executive of Power Assure, which helps computer data centers reduce their energy load.

The Waldorf experience does not come cheap: annual tuition at the Silicon Valley schools is $17,750 for kindergarten through eighth grade and $24,400 for high school, though Ms. Wurtz said financial assistance was available. She says the typical Waldorf parent, who has a range of elite private and public schools to choose from, tends to be liberal and highly educated, with strong views about education; they also have a knowledge that when they are ready to teach their children about technology they have ample access and expertise at home.

The students, meanwhile, say they don’t pine for technology, nor have they gone completely cold turkey. Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates say they occasionally watch movies. One girl, whose father works as an Apple engineer, says he sometimes asks her to test games he is debugging. One boy plays with flight-simulator programs on weekends.

The students say they can become frustrated when their parents and relatives get so wrapped up in phones and other devices. Aurad Kamkar, 11, said he recently went to visit cousins and found himself sitting around with five of them playing with their gadgets, not paying attention to him or each other. He started waving his arms at them: “I said: ‘Hello guys, I’m here.’ ”

Finn Heilig, 10, whose father works at Google, says he liked learning with pen and paper — rather than on a computer — because he could monitor his progress over the years.

“You can look back and see how sloppy your handwriting was in first grade. You can’t do that with computers ’cause all the letters are the same,” Finn said. “Besides, if you learn to write on paper, you can still write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out.”

Voir aussi:

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent
NICK BILTON

NYT

SEPT. 10, 2014

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.

I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.

Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

The dangers he is referring to include exposure to harmful content like pornography, bullying from other kids, and perhaps worse of all, becoming addicted to their devices, just like their parents.

Alex Constantinople, the chief executive of the OutCast Agency, a tech-focused communications and marketing firm, said her youngest son, who is 5, is never allowed to use gadgets during the week, and her older children, 10 to 13, are allowed only 30 minutes a day on school nights.

Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium, and his wife, Sara Williams, said that in lieu of iPads, their two young boys have hundreds of books (yes, physical ones) that they can pick up and read anytime.

So how do tech moms and dads determine the proper boundary for their children? In general, it is set by age.

Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.

“We have a strict no screen time during the week rule for our kids,” said Lesley Gold, founder and chief executive of the SutherlandGold Group, a tech media relations and analytics company. “But you have to make allowances as they get older and need a computer for school.”

Some parents also forbid teenagers from using social networks, except for services like Snapchat, which deletes messages after they have been sent. This way they don’t have to worry about saying something online that will haunt them later in life, one executive told me.

Although some non-tech parents I know give smartphones to children as young as 8, many who work in tech wait until their child is 14. While these teenagers can make calls and text, they are not given a data plan until 16. But there is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled.

“This is rule No. 1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever,” Mr. Anderson said.

While some tech parents assign limits based on time, others are much stricter about what their children are allowed to do with screens.

Ali Partovi, a founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos, said there should be a strong distinction between time spent “consuming,” like watching YouTube or playing video games, and time spent “creating” on screens.

“Just as I wouldn’t dream of limiting how much time a kid can spend with her paintbrushes, or playing her piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming,” he said.

Others said that outright bans could backfire and create a digital monster.

Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, told me he and his wife approved of unlimited gadget use as long as their two teenage children were in the living room. They believe that too many time limits could have adverse effects on their children.

“When I was at the University of Michigan, there was this guy who lived in the dorm next to me and he had cases and cases of Coca-Cola and other sodas in his room,” Mr. Costolo said. “I later found out that it was because his parents had never let him have soda when he was growing up. If you don’t let your kids have some exposure to this stuff, what problems does it cause later?”

I never asked Mr. Jobs what his children did instead of using the gadgets he built, so I reached out to Walter Isaacson, the author of “Steve Jobs,” who spent a lot of time at their home.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Voir encore:

How digital technology and TV can inhibit children socially
Researchers discovered that depriving 11 and 12-year-olds for just five days of all digital media – including television – left them better able to read others’ emotions
Telegraph Reporter
Daily Telegraph

25 Aug 2014
Removing smartphones and gadgets from children for just a few days immediately improves their social skills, a study has found.
Researchers discovered that depriving 11 and 12-year-olds for just five days of all digital media – including television – left them better able to read others’ emotions.
Prof Patricia Greenfield, the senior study author and professor of psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, said: “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues, losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people, is one of the costs.”
Psychologists studied two sets of 11 and 12-year-olds from the same school, 51 who lived together for five days at a nature and science camp and 54 others.

The camp does not allow students to use electronic devices.

At the beginning and end of the study, both groups of students were evaluated for their ability to recognise other people’s emotions in photographs and videos.

The students were shown 48 pictures of faces that were happy, sad, angry or scared, and asked to identify their feelings.

The children who had been at the camp improved significantly over the five days in their ability to read facial emotions and other non-verbal cues to emotion, compared with the students who continued to use their media devices.

The findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, applied equally to boys and girls.

The study’s co-author Dr Yalda Uhls, a senior researcher with the UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Centre, said: “You cannot learn non-verbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication.

“The research implies that people need more face-to-face interaction, and that even when people use digital media for social interaction, they are spending less time developing social skills.”

Voir encore:

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores
Matt Richtel

NYT

September 3, 2011
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at their desks or in clumps on the floor. They’re studying Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” — but not in any traditional way.

In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages from the perspective of Shakespeare’s characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius.

The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies.

The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.

“This is such a dynamic class,” Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. “I really hope it works.”

Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.

Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

This conundrum calls into question one of the most significant contemporary educational movements. Advocates for giving schools a major technological upgrade — which include powerful educators, Silicon Valley titans and White House appointees — say digital devices let students learn at their own pace, teach skills needed in a modern economy and hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets.

Some backers of this idea say standardized tests, the most widely used measure of student performance, don’t capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop. But they also concede that for now there is no better way to gauge the educational value of expensive technology investments.

“The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. When it comes to showing results, he said, “We better put up or shut up.”

And yet, in virtually the same breath, he said change of a historic magnitude is inevitably coming to classrooms this decade: “It’s one of the three or four biggest things happening in the world today.”

Critics counter that, absent clear proof, schools are being motivated by a blind faith in technology and an overemphasis on digital skills — like using PowerPoint and multimedia tools — at the expense of math, reading and writing fundamentals. They say the technology advocates have it backward when they press to upgrade first and ask questions later.

The spending push comes as schools face tough financial choices. In Kyrene, for example, even as technology spending has grown, the rest of the district’s budget has shrunk, leading to bigger classes and fewer periods of music, art and physical education.

At the same time, the district’s use of technology has earned it widespread praise. It is upheld as a model of success by the National School Boards Association, which in 2008 organized a visit by 100 educators from 17 states who came to see how the district was innovating.

And the district has banked its future and reputation on technology. Kyrene, which serves 18,000 kindergarten to eighth-grade students, mostly from the cities of Tempe, Phoenix and Chandler, uses its computer-centric classes as a way to attract children from around the region, shoring up enrollment as its local student population shrinks. More students mean more state dollars.

The issue of tech investment will reach a critical point in November. The district plans to go back to local voters for approval of $46.3 million more in taxes over seven years to allow it to keep investing in technology. That represents around 3.5 percent of the district’s annual spending, five times what it spends on textbooks.

The district leaders’ position is that technology has inspired students and helped them grow, but that there is no good way to quantify those achievements — putting them in a tough spot with voters deciding whether to bankroll this approach again.

“My gut is telling me we’ve had growth,” said David K. Schauer, the superintendent here. “But we have to have some measure that is valid, and we don’t have that.”

It gives him pause.

“We’ve jumped on bandwagons for different eras without knowing fully what we’re doing. This might just be the new bandwagon,” he said. “I hope not.”

A Dearth of Proof

The pressure to push technology into the classroom without proof of its value has deep roots.

In 1997, a science and technology committee assembled by President Clinton issued an urgent call about the need to equip schools with technology.

If such spending was not increased by billions of dollars, American competitiveness could suffer, according to the committee, whose members included educators like Charles M. Vest, then president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and business executives like John A. Young, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

To support its conclusion, the committee’s report cited the successes of individual schools that embraced computers and saw test scores rise or dropout rates fall. But while acknowledging that the research on technology’s impact was inadequate, the committee urged schools to adopt it anyhow.

The report’s final sentence read: “The panel does not, however, recommend that the deployment of technology within America’s schools be deferred pending the completion of such research.”

Since then, the ambitions of those who champion educational technology have grown — from merely equipping schools with computers and instructional software, to putting technology at the center of the classroom and building the teaching around it.

Kyrene had the same sense of urgency as President Clinton’s committee when, in November 2005, it asked voters for an initial $46.3 million for laptops, classroom projectors, networking gear and other technology for teachers and administrators.

Before that, the district had given 300 elementary school teachers five laptops each. Students and teachers used them with great enthusiasm, said Mark Share, the district’s 64-year-old director of technology, a white-bearded former teacher from the Bronx with an iPhone clipped to his belt.

“If we know something works, why wait?” Mr. Share told The Arizona Republic the month before the vote. The district’s pitch was based not on the idea that test scores would rise, but that technology represented the future.

The measure, which faced no organized opposition, passed overwhelmingly. It means that property owners in the dry, sprawling flatlands here, who live in apartment complexes, cookie-cutter suburban homes and salmon-hued mini-mansions, pay on average $75 more a year in taxes, depending on the assessed value of their homes, according to the district.

But the proof sought by President Clinton’s committee remains elusive even today, though researchers have been seeking answers.

Many studies have found that technology has helped individual classrooms, schools or districts. For instance, researchers found that writing scores improved for eighth-graders in Maine after they were all issued laptops in 2002. The same researchers, from the University of Southern Maine, found that math performance picked up among seventh- and eighth-graders after teachers in the state were trained in using the laptops to teach.

A question plaguing many education researchers is how to draw broader inferences from such case studies, which can have serious limitations. For instance, in the Maine math study, it is hard to separate the effect of the laptops from the effect of the teacher training.

Educators would like to see major trials years in length that clearly demonstrate technology’s effect. But such trials are extraordinarily difficult to conduct when classes and schools can be so different, and technology is changing so quickly.

And often the smaller studies produce conflicting results. Some classroom studies show that math scores rise among students using instructional software, while others show that scores actually fall. The high-level analyses that sum up these various studies, not surprisingly, give researchers pause about whether big investments in technology make sense.

One broad analysis of laptop programs like the one in Maine, for example, found that such programs are not a major factor in student performance.

“Rather than being a cure-all or silver bullet, one-to-one laptop programs may simply amplify what’s already occurring — for better or worse,” wrote Bryan Goodwin, spokesman for Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, a nonpartisan group that did the study, in an essay. Good teachers, he said, can make good use of computers, while bad teachers won’t, and they and their students could wind up becoming distracted by the technology.

A review by the Education Department in 2009 of research on online courses — which more than one million K-12 students are taking — found that few rigorous studies had been done and that policy makers “lack scientific evidence” of their effectiveness.. A division of the Education Department that rates classroom curriculums has found that much educational software is not an improvement over textbooks.

Larry Cuban, an education professor emeritus at Stanford University, said the research did not justify big investments by districts.

“There is insufficient evidence to spend that kind of money. Period, period, period,” he said. “There is no body of evidence that shows a trend line.”

Some advocates for technology disagree.

Karen Cator, director of the office of educational technology in the United States Department of Education, said standardized test scores were an inadequate measure of the value of technology in schools. Ms. Cator, a former executive at Apple Computer, said that better measurement tools were needed but, in the meantime, schools knew what students needed.

“In places where we’ve had a large implementing of technology and scores are flat, I see that as great,” she said. “Test scores are the same, but look at all the other things students are doing: learning to use the Internet to research, learning to organize their work, learning to use professional writing tools, learning to collaborate with others.”

For its part, Kyrene has become a model to many by training teachers to use technology and getting their ideas on what inspires them. As Mr. Share says in the signature file at the bottom of every e-mail he sends: “It’s not the stuff that counts — it’s what you do with it that matters.”

So people here are not sure what to make of the stagnant test scores. Many of the district’s schools, particularly those in more affluent areas, already had relatively high scores, making it a challenge to push them significantly higher. A jump in students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches was largely a result of the recession, not a shift in the population the district serves, said Nancy Dundenhoefer, its community relations manager.

Mr. Share, whose heavy influence on more than $7 million a year in technology spending has made him a power broker, said he did not think demographic changes were a good explanation.

“You could argue that test scores would be lower without the technology, but that’s a copout,” he said, adding that the district should be able to deliver some measure of what he considers its obvious success with technology. “It’s a conundrum.”

Results aside, it’s easy to see why technology is such an easy sell here, given the enthusiasm surrounding it in some classrooms.

Engaging With Paper

“I start with pens and pencils,” says Ms. Furman, 41, who is short and bubbly and devours young-adult novels to stay in touch with students. Her husband teaches eighth grade in the district, and their son and daughter are both students.

At the beginning of the school year, Ms. Furman tries to inspire her students at Aprende Middle School to write, a task she says becomes increasingly difficult when students reach the patently insecure middle-school years.

In one class in 2009 she had them draw a heart on a piece of paper. Inside the heart, she asked them to write the names of things and people dear to them. One girl started to cry, then another, as the class shared their stories.

It was something Ms. Furman doubted would have happened if the students had been using computers. “There is a connection between the physical hand on the paper and the words on the page,” she said. “It’s intimate.”

But, she said, computers play an important role in helping students get their ideas down more easily, edit their work so they can see instant improvement, and share it with the class. She uses a document camera to display a student’s paper at the front of the room for others to dissect.

Ms. Furman said the creative and editing tools, by inspiring students to make quick improvements to their writing, pay dividends in the form of higher-quality work. Last year, 14 of her students were chosen as finalists in a statewide essay contest that asked them how literature had affected their lives. “I was running down the hall, weeping, saying, ‘Get these students together. We need to tell them they’ve won!’ ”

Other teachers say the technology is the only way to make this generation learn.

“They’re inundated with 24/7 media, so they expect it,” said Sharon Smith, 44, a gregarious seventh-grade social studies teacher whose classroom is down the hall from Ms. Furman’s.

Minutes earlier, Ms. Smith had taught a Civil War lesson in a way unimaginable even 10 years ago. With the lights off, a screen at the front of the room posed a question: “Jefferson Davis was Commander of the Union Army: True or False?”

The 30 students in the classroom held wireless clickers into which they punched their answers. Seconds later, a pie chart appeared on the screen: 23 percent answered “True,” 70 percent “False,” and 6 percent didn’t know.

The students hooted and hollered, reacting to the instant poll. Ms. Smith then drew the students into a conversation about the answers.

The enthusiasm underscores a key argument for investing in classroom technology: student engagement.

That idea is central to the National Education Technology Plan released by the White House last year, which calls for the “revolutionary transformation” of schools. The plan endorses bringing “state-of-the art technology into learning to enable, motivate and inspire all students.”

But the research, what little there is of it, does not establish a clear link between computer-inspired engagement and learning, said Randy Yerrick, associate dean of educational technology at the University of Buffalo.

For him, the best educational uses of computers are those that have no good digital equivalent. As examples, he suggests using digital sensors in a science class to help students observe chemical or physical changes, or using multimedia tools to reach disabled children.

But he says engagement is a “fluffy term” that can slide past critical analysis. And Professor Cuban at Stanford argues that keeping children engaged requires an environment of constant novelty, which cannot be sustained.

“There is very little valid and reliable research that shows the engagement causes or leads to higher academic achievement,” he said.

Instruct or Distract?

There are times in Kyrene when the technology seems to allow students to disengage from learning: They are left at computers to perform a task but wind up playing around, suggesting, as some researchers have found, that computers can distract and not instruct.

The 23 kindergartners in Christy Asta’s class at Kyrene de las Brisas are broken into small groups, a common approach in Kyrene. A handful stand at desks, others sit at computers, typing up reports.

Xavier Diaz, 6, sits quietly, chair pulled close to his Dell laptop, playing “Alien Addition.” In this math arcade game, Xavier controls a pod at the bottom of the screen that shoots at spaceships falling from the sky. Inside each ship is a pair of numbers. Xavier’s goal is to shoot only the spaceship with numbers that are the sum of the number inside his pod.

But Xavier is just shooting every target in sight. Over and over. Periodically, the game gives him a message: “Try again.” He tries again.

“Even if he doesn’t get it right, it’s getting him to think quicker,” says the teacher, Ms. Asta. She leans down next to him: “Six plus one is seven. Click here.” She helps him shoot the right target. “See, you shot him.”

Perhaps surprisingly given the way young people tend to gravitate toward gadgets, students here seem divided about whether they prefer learning on computers or through more traditional methods.

In a different class, Konray Yuan and Marisa Guisto, both 7, take turns touching letters on the interactive board on the wall. They are playing a spelling game, working together to spell the word “cool.” Each finds one of the letters in a jumbled grid, touching them in the proper order.

Marisa says there isn’t a difference between learning this way and learning on paper. Konray prefers paper, he says, because you get extra credit for good penmanship.

But others, particularly older students, say they enjoy using the technology tools. One of Ms. Furman’s students, Julia Schroder, loved building a blog to write about Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

In another class, she and several classmates used a video camera to film a skit about Woodrow Wilson’s 14-point speech during World War I — an approach she preferred to speaking directly to the class.

“I’d be pretty bummed if I had to do a live thing,” she said. “It’s nerve-racking.”

Teachers vs. Tech

Even as students are getting more access to computers here, they are getting less access to teachers.

Reflecting budget cuts, class sizes have crept up in Kyrene, as they have in many places. For example, seventh-grade classes like Ms. Furman’s that had 29 to 31 students grew to more like 31 to 33.

“You can’t continue to be effective if you keep adding one student, then one student, then one student,” Ms. Furman said. “I’m surprised parents aren’t going into the classrooms saying ‘Whoa.’ ”

Advocates of high-tech classrooms say computers are not intended to replace teachers. But they do see a fundamental change in the teacher’s role. Their often-cited mantra is that teachers should go from being “a sage on the stage to a guide on the side.”

And they say that, technology issues aside, class sizes can in fact afford to grow without hurting student performance.

Professor Cuban at Stanford said research showed that student performance did not improve significantly until classes fell under roughly 15 students, and did not get much worse unless they rose above 30.

At the same time, he says bigger classes can frustrate teachers, making it hard to attract and retain talented ones.

In Kyrene, growing class sizes reflect spending cuts; the district’s maintenance and operation budget fell to $95 million this year from $106 million in 2008. The district cannot use the money designated for technology to pay for other things. And the teachers, who make roughly $33,000 to $57,000 a year, have not had a raise since 2008.

Many teachers have second jobs, some in restaurants and retail, said Erin Kirchoff, president of the Kyrene Education Association, the teacher’s association. Teachers talk of being exhausted from teaching all day, then selling shoes at the mall.

Ms. Furman works during the summer at the Kyrene district offices. But that job is being eliminated in 2014, and she is worried about the income loss.

“Without it, we don’t go on vacation,” she said.

Money for other things in the district is short as well. Many teachers say they regularly bring in their own supplies, like construction paper.

“We have Smart Boards in every classroom but not enough money to buy copy paper, pencils and hand sanitizer,” said Nicole Cates, a co-president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Kyrene de la Colina, an elementary school. “You don’t go buy a new outfit when you don’t have enough dinner to eat.”

But she loves the fact that her two children, a fourth-grader and first-grader, are learning technology, including PowerPoint and educational games.

To some who favor high-tech classrooms, the resource squeeze presents an opportunity. Their thinking is that struggling schools will look for more efficient ways to get the job done, creating an impetus to rethink education entirely.

“Let’s hope the fiscal crisis doesn’t get better too soon. It’ll slow down reform,” said Tom Watkins, the former superintendent for the Michigan schools, and now a consultant to businesses in the education sector.

Clearly, the push for technology is to the benefit of one group: technology companies.

The Sellers

It is 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Mr. Share, the director of technology at Kyrene and often an early riser, awakens to the hard sell. Awaiting him at his home computer are six pitches from technology companies.

It’s just another day for the man with the checkbook.

“I get one pitch an hour,” he said. He finds most of them useless and sometimes galling: “They’re mostly car salesmen. I think they believe in the product they’re selling, but they don’t have a leg to stand on as to why the product is good or bad.”

Mr. Share bases his buying decisions on two main factors: what his teachers tell him they need, and his experience. For instance, he said he resisted getting the interactive whiteboards sold as Smart Boards until, one day in 2008, he saw a teacher trying to mimic the product with a jury-rigged projector setup.

“It was an ‘Aha!’ moment,” he said, leading him to buy Smart Boards, made by a company called Smart Technologies.

He can make that kind of decision because he has money — and the vendors know it. Technology companies track which districts get federal funding and which have passed tax assessments for technology, like Kyrene.

This is big business. Sales of computer software to schools for classroom use were $1.89 billion in 2010. Spending on hardware is more difficult to measure, researchers say, but some put the figure at five times that amount.

The vendors relish their relationship with Kyrene.

“I joke I should have an office here, I’m here so often,” said Will Dunham, a salesman for CCS Presentation Systems, a leading reseller of Smart Boards in Arizona.

Last summer, the district paid $500,000 to CCS to replace ceiling-hung projectors in 400 classrooms. The alternative was to spend $100,000 to replace their aging bulbs, which Mr. Share said were growing dimmer, causing teachers to sometimes have to turn down the lights to see a crisp image.

Mr. Dunham said the purchase made sense because new was better. “I could take a used car down to the mechanic and get it all fixed up and still have a used car.”

But Ms. Kirchoff, the president of the teachers’ association, is furious. “My projector works just fine,” she said. “Give me Kleenex, Kleenex, Kleenex!”

The Parents

Last November, Kyrene went back to voters to ask them to pay for another seven years of technology spending in the district. The previous measure from 2005 will not expire for two years. But the district wanted to get ahead of the issue, and leave wiggle room just in case the new measure didn’t pass.

It didn’t. It lost by 96 votes out of nearly 50,000 cast. Mr. Share and others here said they attributed the failure to poor wording on the ballot that made it look like a new tax increase, rather than the continuation of one.

They say they will not make the same wording mistake this time. And they say the burden on taxpayers is modest.

“It’s so much bang for the buck,” said Jeremy Calles, Kyrene’s interim chief financial officer. For a small investment, he said, “we get state-of-the-art technology.”

Regardless, some taxpayers have already decided that they will not vote yes.

“When you look at the big picture, it’s hard to say ‘yes, spend more on technology’ when class sizes increase,” said Kameron Bybee, 34, who has two children in district schools. “The district has made up its mind to go forward with the technologically advanced path. Come hell or high water.”

Other parents feel conflicted. Eduarda Schroder, 48, whose daughter Julia was in Ms. Furman’s English class, worked on the political action committee last November to push through an extension of the technology tax. Computers, she says, can make learning more appealing. But she’s also concerned that test scores haven’t gone up.

She says she is starting to ask a basic question. “Do we really need technology to learn?” she said. “It’s a very valid time to ask the question, right before this goes on the ballot.”

Voir par ailleurs:

The waldorf cigarette factory
Alicia Hamberg

November 16, 2010

So — the first waldorf school was named after a cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. The waldorf salad got its name from the Waldorf Hotel in New York (later the Waldorf Astoria), where it was created. But were there any connections between the cigarette factory in Stuttgart and the hotel in New York? Incidentally, the company that owned old cigarette factory in Stuttgart also bore the name Astoria — The Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company — though nowadays the factory is occasionally mentioned only as the Waldorf cigarette factory. (I believe? I may be mistaken here though.) And the waldorf schools, as far as I know, never adopted the entire name Waldorf-Astoria.

And, more importantly, what happened to the Waldorf cigarette factory? My google searches didn’t bring up anything but a very brief history of the factory itself on wikipedia. I may have come across more substantial information at some point in the past, but I cannot remember.

The Waldorf Hotel, opened in 1893 according to Wikipedia, clearly predates the Waldorf school. The salad, likewise, was a creation of the 1890s. The Waldorf Hotel closed for relocation, merged with the Astoria Hotel and opened as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1931.

The Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company, on the other hand, was established by Emil Molt — the anthroposophist who would later be involved with Rudolf Steiner in setting up the first waldorf school — and colleagues in 1906. It had been named after John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) from a German town called Walldorf. He had emigrated to the US and become enormously wealthy. Molt’s Waldorf-Astoria cigarette company went out of business in 1929 — that is, before the joint Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York had even been opened.

To make the story more complicated, the Waldorf-Astoria hotel had originally been two hotels, both of which were established by descendants of the same rich emigrant John Jacob Astor, whom the cigarette company had been named after. As already mentioned, the Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893. The other hotel — the Astoria — was established four years later. By this time, it seems, the family had adopted the name of John Jacob Astor’s home village, Walldorf, though with another spelling: Waldorf.

The Waldorf-Astoria Tobacco factory may have ceased to exist in 1929, but the tobacco brand remained in production, during many years manufactured by a company called Remtsmaa. The waldorf schools are still around. When the Stuttgart school had been established by Molt and Steiner in 1919, Molt was manager of the cigarette company, and he and the company provided the building space the school needed.

 Voir aussi:

Les maths à la sauce New Age

Isabelle Roberge

Science presse

Décembre 2003

« Un, deux, trois, quatre. Cinq, six, sept, huit. » Ils étaient une dizaine d’adultes, en rond, à compter tout haut, à culbuter leur petit sac de sable de la main gauche (neuf) à la main droite (dix), puis à la gauche (onze), pour le passer au voisin de droite (douze). Avec ce ballet, des parents expérimentaient… la table de multiplication de quatre.

Du moins, telle qu’elle aurait pu être enseignée à leur petit, s’ils l’avaient envoyé en première année dans une école à pédagogie Waldorf. Un type d’école que plusieurs aimeraient voir se multiplier au Québec, qui soulève plus que sa part de controverses en Amérique du Nord, et dont la philosophie flirte avec le New Age.

Caractéristique dominante de cette pédagogie : « les rythmes de développement » des enfants. C’est ainsi qu’on n’enseigne que par le jeu et l’imitation aux moins de sept ans… parce que l’âme n’a pas encore intégré le corps. De 7 à 14 ans, on mise sur l’oralité. Contes de fées, légendes et mythes sont alors à l’honneur des cours d’histoire… et de biologie !

Les mathématiques sont également revues à travers le tricot. L’histoire, par un modelage en cire d’abeille. L’idée étant que les matières de l’après-midi -comme le jardinage, les travaux manuels ou l’artisanat- consolident les apprentissages du matin. Ici, pas de manuels scolaires. Pas d’ordinateurs, ni de médias électroniques avant le secondaire, parce qu’on est convaincu que ceux-ci  » briment l’imagination  » des jeunes.

La réincarnation au programme scolaire

Une demande a été présentée aux commissions scolaires de Montréal et de Marguerite-Bourgeoys, afin d’implanter « la première école publique à vocation particulière basée sur la pédagogie Waldorf à Montréal ».

Après avoir étudié le projet appelé à l’époque Élan Waldorf Montréal, les deux commissions scolaires ont décliné la demande pour les rentrées de septembre 2002 et 2003. La commission scolaire de Montréal n’offrait que des locaux à partager, alors qu’Élan Waldorf tenait à une école entièrement dédiée à « sa » pédagogie. Marguerite-Bourgeoys justifiait son choix par la réforme scolaire qui requiert toute l’attention du personnel, mais ce n’est que partie remise: le dossier Waldorf demeure sur sa liste des projets à étudier.

Depuis, le groupe Waldorf Montréal s’est rebaptisé EWM pour ne pas utiliser le mot « Waldorf », une marque de commerce du Waldorf School Association of Ontario. Dans une lettre acheminée au Devoir le 19 décembre 2003, le parent fondateur et membre du comité de coordination, Philip van Leeuwen, affirme que EWM attend toujours cette école publique.

Au cours de l’été 2002, onze parents ont tenté, au cours de séances d’information de trois heures, de convaincre d’autres parents de rallier leur cause. L’atmosphère s’avérait plutôt chaleureuse et familiale. La salle soupirait d’envie lorsque trois anciens Waldorf, dans la vingtaine, se souvenaient du climat « non-compétitif » des classes (pas d’examens notés au primaire). Mais les questions étaient soigneusement évitées.

Au cours des trois heures – consacrées en grande partie à des contes, des mises en situation et des chansons- personne n’a prononcé le mot « anthroposophie ». On n’en fait non plus aucune mention dans les 23 pages du document remis aux commissions scolaires en novembre 2001.

C’est pourtant derrière ce terme que se dissimule toute la philosophie créée en 1919 par le fondateur des écoles Waldorf, Rudolf Steiner (voir encadré).

Rudolf Steiner à 57 ans (1918).
WaldorfCritics.org
Imbibant l’ensemble de la démarche scolaire, l’anthroposophie reprend entre autres la thèse de la réincarnation et du karma.

Les « rythmes de développement » de l’enfant sont basés sur l’arrivée successive de trois « corps » qui, selon Steiner, composent l’être humain : le corps physique qui s’incarne à la naissance, suivi du « corps éthérique » à la chute des dents (vers sept ans) et le « corps astral » qui provoque la puberté, à 14 ans.

Steiner était convaincu que les humains ont déjà vécu sur l’Atlantide et vont un jour vivre sur Vénus, Jupiter et Vulcain (?) lorsque, dans une vie future, ils auront atteint un stade plus élevé de ce  » développement  » (voir la carte de l’évolution).

Philip van Leeuwen assure pour sa part, dans sa lettre du 19 décembre, que « nous ne sommes pas des anthroposophes et l’anthroposophie n’est pas enseignée dans une école waldorf; nous ne sommes que de simples parents qui reconnaissent les bénéfices de la pédagogie waldorf et qui voudraient offrir ce choix pédagogique aux familles de Montréal. « 

Atlantis. The Fate of the Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge. Sélection de textes de Rudolf Steiner
« Les enfants n’entendent pas directement parler de réincarnation. Mais la pédagogie est basée sur ce fait », admet Vincent Breton, le fondateur de l’association Rudolf Steiner de Québec. Cette association anthroposophique tente depuis 20 ans de lancer une école privée Waldorf à Québec. Dès 1994, elle a organisé un congrès d’information sur la pédagogie Waldorf et l’anthroposophie.

Sans blâmer le silence qu’EWM choisit de garder au sujet de l’anthroposophie, Vincent Breton se dit favorable à ce que les parents sachent que le projet est directement relié à cette philosophie et y inscrivent leurs enfants en toute connaissance de cause, plutôt que de le découvrir après coup.

Un enfant a-t-il une âme?

Selon M. Breton, lui-même père de quatre enfants, si les lettres sont assimilées en 2e année plutôt qu’en 1ere, c’est parce que l’esprit, qui vivait avant la naissance de l’enfant, n’a pas encore fini de « s’incarner dans son corps physique ».

« On nous a parlé du développement de l’enfant, mais jamais que l’âme s’incarne à l’âge de sept ans », s’insurge un père qui a retiré ses deux enfants de l’école privée Rudolf-Steiner dans les années ’90 -la seule école Waldorf sur l’île de Montréal- et désire demeurer anonyme. Comme les enfants ne rapportent pas de devoirs à la maison, les parents ignorent ce qui se passe réellement. Lorsque ce père a parcouru les ouvrages anthroposophiques de la bibliothèque de l’école, il a déchanté.

Il se rappelle les rencontres avec les professeurs :  » Tout est très contrôlé. Le professeur parle. On ne pose pas de questions.  »
Un des slogans des critiques de Waldorf: posez des questions.

Les professeurs, eux, entendent bel et bien parler d’anthroposophie. Ils complètent leur certification d’enseignement du Québec par une formation spéciale d’un à trois ans, en Californie, en France, au Séminaire de formation de l’École Rudolf Steiner de Montréal ou au Rudolf Steiner Centre à Thornhill, en Ontario. Sur son site Internet, on peut lire qu’ils font un  » travail intensif en anthroposophie pour une éducation en profondeur », qu’ils étudient la  » sagesse dans les contes de fées  » ou qu’ils apprennent l’existence de « douze sens ».

Faire des maths avec les anges

Yves Casgrain, ex-directeur de la recherche à Info-secte et auteur d’un livre sur les sectes, prépare actuellement un ouvrage sur les écoles Waldorf. La somme de trois ans d’entrevues avec des professeurs de nombreuses écoles privés. « On leur conseille d’être évasif, de savoir à qui parler et quoi taire. » Sans qualifier l’anthroposophie de sectaire, Yves Casgrain rapporte des propos d’un ancien étudiant : « Si je décidais de pratiquer l’anthroposophie à nouveau, ce serait via l’eurythmie (la « science du mouvement »), qui est un moyen d’entrer en contact avec l’au-delà ». Ce même élève lui racontait aussi qu’à l’école, on maintient que « quand on fait des maths, il y a des anges qui se promènent dans la classe ».

Même si, poursuit Yves Casgrain,  » le but de ces écoles n’est pas de transformer les jeunes en anthroposophes », la pédagogie a un caractère  » initiatique  » :  » les professeurs ont une vision à long terme: préparer l’enfant à son karma, et l’outiller pour ses futures vies, dans trois ou quatre vies. C’est plus ou moins à l’insu des parents. « 

Le fait que les organisateurs d’EWM soient si discrets sur la philosophie de Rudolf Steiner s’explique peut-être par le fait qu’ils ont déjà eu maille à partir avec les médias. Depuis 1998, les parents de l’école La Roselière de Chambly observent un moratoire de silence. À l’époque, la ministre Pauline Marois n’avait pas voulu renouveler le permis d’établissement à vocation particulière: l’école n’utilisait pas de matériel didactique approuvé, son directeur était aussi le commissaire, et certains parents avaient quitté, choqués par son caractère ésotérique (dont une prière au soleil). Une mère se plaignait que l’orthopédagogue avait suggéré un traitement à sa fille pour lui faire écrire de la main droite.

Pour l’instant, la seule école Waldorf primaire et secondaire sur l’île de Montréal, l’École Rudolf Steiner, est donc une école privée. Il existe trois écoles primaires publiques au Québec, à Waterville, Victoriaville et Chambly. L’une d’elles a été mentionnée à quelques reprises dans l’actualité ces derniers mois, lorsque Louis Taillefer, spécialiste des supraconducteurs à l’Université de Sherbrooke, a récolté des honneurs dans le milieu scientifique, et en a profité pour souligner que ses enfants y sont inscrits (voir encadré). Il existe également des jardins d’enfants, dont l’Oiseau d’or à Lennoxville. Chaque fois, les promoteurs de l’école sont les parents, comme M. Taillefer.

Depuis un an et demi, près d’une dizaine d’initiatives convergent pour relancer la défunte Association pour la pédagogie Waldorf au Québec. L’école de Chambly souhaite élargir son enseignement au secondaire. D’autres travaillent à s’implanter en Abitibi, à Adamsville et dans des quartiers de Montréal. À Québec, des parents anthroposophes ont tenu une conférence publique en janvier.  » Depuis que des parents sont les maîtres d’œuvre avec les conseils d’établissements, explique Vincent Breton, on voit de plus en plus de ces initiatives pour un enseignement différent.  » Élan Waldorf Montréal compte aussi reprendre ses conférences publiques.

Qui est Steiner et qu’est-ce que l’anthroposophie?
Des poursuites en justice aux Etats-Unis
Un physicien parmi les parents
Collaboration à la recherche: Isabelle Burgun

Voir de même:

CHASSE AUX SORCIERES ?
JANINE TAVERNIER, LA PLUS CONNUE DES CHASSEUSES DE SECTES, PREFERE QUITTER UN COMBAT QUI PREND UNE TOURNURE TROP IDEOLOGIQUE. TROP SECTAIRE.
«SI ON EN VEUT A SON VOISIN, ON L’ACCUSE D’APPARTENIR À UNE SECTE.»
Entretien Joseph Veillard

Technikart

Novembre 2001

La médiatique présidente de l’UNADFI (Union Nationale des Associations de Défense de la Famille et de l’Individu qui aide les victimes des sectes) nous reçoit dans son pavillon de la banlieue ouest de Paris. Elle vient de démissionner de son poste de présidente et semble soulagée de passer le relais dans un combat où elle s’est jetée il y a vingt ans, à la suite de l’entrée de son mari dans la secte écolo-intégriste Ecoovie.

Ironie du sort : l’ex-première chasseuse antisectes de France se retrouve au banc des accusés puisque sa fille travaille comme éducatrice spécialisée dans un établissement inspiré de la pédagogie de Rudolph Steiner, classé comme secte.

Choquée de la mise à l’index dont ont été victimes les écoles de ses petits enfants, raillée par certains chasseurs de sectes qui lui reprochent sa complaisance envers un mouvement sectaire, elle s’inquiète d’une atmosphère de chasse aux sorcières qui peut conduire à une confusion générale, voire à certaines bavures.

Janine Tavernier, pourquoi quittez-vous la présidence de l’UNADFI ?

Après vingt ans dans cette association, et dix ans de présidence de l’UNADFI, j’estime qu’il est temps de passer la main.

Par ailleurs, il y a des personnes qui arrivent dans nos associations avec des idées nouvelles et qui ont envie de changer un peu le cours des choses.

C’est-à-dire ?

Il y a toute une équipe de personnes qui ont envie de s’intéresser aux doctrines et aux philosophies. Moi, je n’y tiens pas. je suis rentrée à l’association justement parce qu’on ne s’occupait pas des doctrines ni des croyances. On ne s’occupait que des victimes de groupes totalitaires.

Le Phénomène sectaire change complètement en France. Je pense que le grand public sait ce que c’est qu’une secte alors que, en 1974, date de la création de L’ADFI, il fallait tout faire découvrir. Aujourd’hui, il y a un renouveau dans ce milieu et j’ai envie de prendre du recul pour réfléchir.

Est-ce qu’il a pu y avoir des amalgames dans la campagne antisectes ?

De plus en plus, les gens voient des sectes partout. Si on fait du yoga, si on se soigne à l’homéopathie ou à l’acupuncture, on fait partie d’une secte Je trouve cela extrêmement grave parce qu’on doit avoir une grande ouverture et accepter les médecines parallèles sans juger ni cataloguer. De plus, on se sert du phénomène sectaire pour dénoncer et créer des rumeurs.

En gros, si on en veut à son voisin, on l’accuse d’appartenir à une secte.

Des gens qui vous sont chers, impliqués dans les écoles Steiner, ont ainsi été directement accusés…

Nous ne nous intéressons qu’aux victimes et nous n’en avons jamais reçu des écoles Steiner. Je trouve cela anormal qu’elles soient cataloguées comme sectes et que l’on me reproche de les soutenir car mes petits-enfants y sont éduqués. Je me pose des questions. Je voudrais lutter contre cela, notamment quand je vois que des magasins comme Nature et Découvertes sont présentés comme faisant partie de la scientologie. Toutes ces rumeur sont inadmissibles et je ne veux pas jouer ce jeu – là. Moi je me sens tout à fait libre, je n’ai aucune croyance, aucune philosophie. Il faut faire la différence entre les nouveaux mouvements religieux et les sectes. Les premier tout à fait respectables tandis que les secondes sont nocives.

Votre départ de l’UNADFI laisse la place libre à d’autres personne plus dogmatiques. N’est-ce pas un mauvais signe ?

J’espère que non. C’est important de changer, de tout remettre à plat pour permettre une meilleure étude du phénomène. Moi, j’ai fait mon temps ce fut une période formidable, pas toujours facile, durant laquelle j’ai acquis beaucoup de maturité et d’humilité. Face au phénomène des sectes, il faut tout le temps se remettre en question. Il n’y a pas de mode d’emploi pour aider quelqu’un à sortir d’une secte, pour aider les familles.

Aujourd’hui il y a moins d’importance à faire connaître le phénomène sectaire car le monde est plus ou moins au courant. Ce qu’il faut, c’est travailler dans la finesse et faire en sorte que les personnes ne se fassent plus avoir.

Voir enfin:

Anthroposophie, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) et Écoles Waldorf

Les écoles Waldorf mettent en oeuvre les théories pédagogiques de Steiner, selon lesquelles l’enfant passe par trois stages… au cours du premier stage, qui s’étend de la naissance à l’âge de sept ans, l’esprit habitant le corps de l’enfant s’adapte à son environnement, et les premières classes des écoles n’offrent qu’un contenu éducatif minimal. L’apprentissage de la lecture ne commence pas avant la deuxième ou la troisième année. Durant le second stage, qui va de sept à quatorze ans, l’enfant s’intéresse surtout à l’imagination et au rêve; on lui enseigne alors la mythologie. À l’âge de quatorze ans commence le troisième stage; on croit alors qu’un corps astral est attiré par le corps physique, ce qui déclenche la puberté. (Boston)
L’Autrichien Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) a dirigé la section allemande de la Société de théosophie de 1902 à 1912, avant de la quitter pour fonder la Société d’anthroposophie. Il a peut-être troqué la sagesse divine pour la sagesse de l’Homme, mais l’une des principales raisons pour lesquelles il a rompu avec les théosophes était qu’ils n’accordaient pas une place spéciale à Jésus et au Christianisme. Steiner n’en eut pas moins aucune difficulté à accepter certain concepts hindouistes comme le karma et la réincarnation. En 1922, Steiner avait établi ce qu’il appelait la Communauté des chrétiens, qui comportait une liturgie et des rites propres aux anthroposophes. La Société anthroposophique et la Communauté des chrétiens existent encore de nos jours, mais comme entités distinctes.

Ce n’est pas avant d’atteindre la quarantaine, au moment ou le dix-neuvième siècle tirait à sa fin, que Steiner s’est senti attiré par l’occultisme. Steiner était un véritable esprit universel, intéressé, entre autres, par l’agriculture, l’architecture, l’art, la chimie, le théâtre, la littérature, les mathématiques, la médecine, la philosophie, la physique et la religion. Sa thèse de doctorat, à l’Université de Rostock, portait sur la théorie de la connaissance de Fichte. Il a écrit de nombreux ,ouvrages et a donné une foule de conférences portant des titres comme La Philosophie de l’activité intellectuelle (1894), La Science de l’occulte (1913), Enquêtes sur l’occultisme (1920), Comment connaître les mondes supérieurs (1904) et L’Illusion ahrimanienne (1919). Cette dernière conférence décrit sa « vision extralucide » de l’apport de divers esprits à l’histoire humaine, et se lit comme les mémoires de . Il a également été très attiré par les idées mystiques de Goethe, dont il a publié les œuvres sur plusieurs années. Une bonne partie de ce qu’a écrit Steiner semble reprendre Hegel. Il pensait que la science et la religion voyaient juste, mais pas de façon globale. Marx s’est trompé: c’est véritablement l’esprit qui fait avancer l’histoire. Steiner a même parlé de la tension entre la recherche du communautaire et l’expérience de l’individualité, qui ne constituaient pas vraiment une contradiction, selon lui, mais représentaient plutôt deux pôles enracinés dans la nature humaine.

Steiner s’intéressait à un nombre phénoménal de choses, mais à l’approche du vingtième siècle il s’est concentré surtout sur l’ésotérique, le mystique et l’occulte. Deux idées théosophiques l’attiraient avant toute autre: 1) il existe une conscience spirituelle qui donne un accès direct à des vérités supérieures; 2) la fange du monde matériel entrave l’évolution spirituelle.

Steiner a peut-être rompu avec la Société de théosophie, mais il n’en a pas abandonné son mysticisme éclectique pour autant. Il voyait dans l’anthroposophie une « science spirituelle ». Convaincu que la réalité est essentiellement de nature spirituelle, il désirait former l’individu de façon à ce qu’il puisse dépasser le monde matériel et apprendre à saisir le monde spirituel grâce à un soi supérieur. Il enseignait l’existence d’une espèce de perception spirituelle indépendante du corps et des sens. Apparemment, c’est ce sens spécial qui lui a permis de comprendre le monde occulte.

Selon Steiner, il y avait des êtres humains sur Terre depuis la création de la planète. Ils étaient d’abord apparus sous forme d’esprits, pour passer ensuite par diverses stades et en arriver à leur forme présente. L’humanité vivait actuellement sa période post-Atlantide, qui avait commencé avec la submersion progressive de l’Atlantide en 7227 avant Jésus-Christ… La période post-Atlantide se divisait en sept époques, la présente étant l’époque européenne-américaine, censée durer jusqu’en 3573. Après elle, les humains regagneraient les pouvoirs de clairvoyants qu’ils possédaient apparemment avant la Grèce antique (Boston).
C’est cependant dans le domaine de l’éducation que Steiner a eu le plus d’influence, et ce, de façon durable. En 1913, à Dornach, près de la ville suisse de Bâle, il a fait construire son Goetheanum, une « école des sciences spirituelles », qui servirait de précurseur aux écoles Steiner ou Waldorf. Le nom de « Waldorf » vient de ce que Steiner a ouvert un établissement pour les enfants des travailleurs d’une fabrique de cigarettes Waldorf-Astoria à Stuttgart, en Allemagne, en 1919. Le propriétaire de la fabrique, qui avait invité Steiner à prononcer une série de conférences pour ses travailleurs, fut apparemment si impressionné par l’homme qu’il lui a demandé d’ouvrir une école. La première école Waldorf des États-unis a été créée en 1928. Aujourd’hui, selon les adeptes de Steiner, il existe 600 écoles du genre, comptant quelque 120 000 étudiants, dans 32 pays. On croit qu’il y a 125 écoles Steiner en Amérique du Nord. On retrouve même un Collège Rudolf Steiner non accrédité, qui offre des baccalauréats en études anthroposophiques et en éducation Waldorf, ainsi qu’une maîtrise en éducation Waldorf.

Steiner a créé son programme d’études à partir de concepts apparemment dictés par son intuition au sujet de la nature du monde et des enfants. Il croyait que chacun de nous est constitué d’un corps, d’un esprit et d’une âme. Selon lui, les enfants passent par trois phases de sept ans, et le système d’éducation doit se plier à chacune de ces phases. De 0 à 7 ans, l’esprit doit s’adapter à son existence dans le monde matériel. À ce stade, les enfants apprennent avant tout par imitation. La matière scolaire doit rester minimale durant ces années. On raconte aux enfants des contes de fées, et on leur montre l’alphabet et l’écriture dès la première année, mais ils n’apprennent à lire qu’à partir de la deuxième.

Toujours selon Steiner, la deuxième phase de la croissance se déroule sous le signe de l’imagination et de la fantaisie. De 7 à 14 ans, l’enfant apprend le mieux par l’acception de l’autorité et l’émulation. Durant cette période, il n’a qu’un seul enseignant, et l’école devient une « famille », dont les enseignants sont les « parents ».

De 14 à 21 ans, le corps astral est attiré dans le corps physique, ce qui produit la puberté. Les idées anthroposophiques ne font pas nécessairement partie du programme des écoles Steiner, mais apparemment, ceux et celles qui s’occupent d’établir ces programmes y croient. Les écoles Waldorf laissent la formation religieuse aux soins des parents, mais on y retrouve habituellement une certaine tendance spirituelle, fondée sur une perspective chrétienne.

Malheureusement, comme elles ne font pas dans le fondamentalisme chrétien et l’interprétation littérale de la Bible, certains prétendent souvent qu’elles encouragent le paganisme, et même le satanisme. C’est sans doute parce qu’elles mettent l’accent sur la Nature et les rythmes naturels, y compris les festivals, les mythes, les cultures anciennes et différents rituels non chrétiens. (L’arrondissement scolaire unifié de Sacramento a abandonné son projet de transformation de l’école élémentaire Oak Ridge en établissement d’enseignement spécialisé Waldorf après que de nombreux parents ont formulé des plaintes, et qu’au moins un enseignant a parlé de satanisme. L’arrondissement a décidé de réserver le programme Waldorf à un autre endroit, et PLANS, Inc., un groupe critique à l’égard des écoles Waldorf, le poursuit en cour fédérale pour non-respect du principe de la séparation entre l’église et l’état.)

Certaines des idées mises en valeur par les écoles Waldorf ne viennent pas de Steiner, mais sont néanmoins conformes avec celles du maître. Par exemple, elles ne recommandent pas la télévision en raison du contenu qu’on y retrouve habituellement, et parce qu’elle ne favorise pas l’imagination. C’est là chose propre à attirer certains parents, puisqu’il est difficile de trouver quoi que ce soit de positif pour les jeunes enfants à la télé. L’auteur des présentes lignes est bien d’accord avec le fait que lorsqu’ils sont tout jeunes, les enfants devraient apprendre à se faire des amis, à parler, à écouter, à interagir avec la nature et les gens, au lieu de se retrouver plongés dans un état relevant de l’hypnose devant un écran cathodique. On peut présumer que les enseignants de la méthode Waldorf découragent également les jeux vidéo pour l’image déshumanisante qu’ils donnent de la violence, mais aussi parce qu’ils étouffent l’imagination.

Les écoles Waldorf n’encouragent pas non plus l’utilisation de l’ordinateur par de jeunes enfants. Les avantages de l’informatique dans la formation des jeunes restent apparemment à démontrer, même s’il semble y avoir un consensus généralisé à ce sujet dans le monde de l’éducation, où l’on dépense des milliards chaque année pour acquérir le matériel dernier cri, et ce pour des élèves qui savent à peine lire ou écrire, et encore moins penser de façon critique ni faire preuve d’un minimum d’habiletés sociales ou verbales. D’un autre côté, les écoles Waldorf sont peut-être aussi gagas des arts que les écoles publiques le sont de la technologie. Ce que l’on considère superflu au public est vu comme essentiel par les écoles Waldorf, par exemple, le tissage, le tricot, la musique, la sculpture sur bois et la peinture.

L’un des volets les plus inusités du programme scolaire porte sur ce que Steiner appelait l' »eurythmie », un art du mouvement qui s’efforce de rendre visible ce qui correspond, croyait-il, aux formes et aux gestes intérieurs du langage et de la musique. Selon la foire aux questions d’un site dédié à l’enseignement Waldorf, « elle laisse souvent perplexe les parents peu familiarisés avec notre forme d’éducation, [mais] les enfants répondent aux rythmes simples et aux exercices qui les aident à renforcer et à harmoniser leurs corps et leurs forces vitales. Plus tard, les élèves plus avancés s’exercent à des représentations eurythmiques de la poésie, du théâtre et de la musique, ce qui leur permet d’acquérir une perception plus approfondie de la composition et de l’écriture. L’eurythmie améliore la coordination et renforce la capacité d’écoute. L’enfant qui se voit lui-même comme un orchestre et qui doit acquérir une relation claire avec autrui au sein de l’espace se renforce également sur le plan social ».

La conséquence la plus intéressante de la pensée de Steiner au sujet de l’éducation a sans doute été sa tentative d’instruire les handicapés physiques et mentaux. Il croyait que c’est l’esprit qui saisit la connaissance, et cet esprit devait être le même pour tous, sans égard aux différences mentales ou physiques.

La plupart de ses critiques s’accordent à dire que Steiner était un homme remarquable, honnête et admirable. Contrairement à de nombreux « gourous », il semble avoir obéi à une morale stricte, n’a pas tenté d’envoûter ses disciples, et a conservé toute sa fidélité à son épouse. On a remis en question son envergure morale par des accusations de racisme, mais une longue apologie a été rédigée pour le défendre. Steiner, qui croyait à la réincarnation et au passage des âmes par différents niveaux, y compris des niveaux raciaux, situait les races africaines sous les races asiatiques, les races européennes étant au sommet de la hiérarchie. Les défenseurs de Steiner renvoient à des écrits tels que sa Philosophie de la liberté, où l’on trouve des passages vagues et apparemment contradictoires semblables à celui-ci:

Un groupe ethnique constitue un tout, et chacun de ses membres est marqué des signes caractéristiques de ce groupe. La physionomie et le comportement de chacun sont conditionnés et imprégnés par le caractère ethnique. Lorsqu’on cherche à comprendre tel ou tel trait, telle ou telle manière d’être d’un homme, on est ramené de l’individu à l’espèce. C’est elle qui nous explique la forme que revêt une tendance observée chez un individu.Mais l’homme se libère de cette emprise de l’espèce. Appréciée à sa juste valeur, elle cesse d’être une entrave à la liberté humaine, et ne doit pas le devenir sous l’effet d’une quelconque institution artificielle. L’être humain développe certaines qualités et accomplit certaines fonctions selon des mobiles qui lui sont propres. Les traits typiques de l’espèce chez lui ne sont que des moyens grâce auxquels il arrive à exprimer son entité personnelle. Les qualités spécifiques données par la nature lui servent de base, et il les façonne d’après les tendances de son être le plus intime. Dans les lois de l’espèce, on cherchera en vain la source des manifestations de cet être intime.*
Sans aucun doute, Steiner a beaucoup fait dans bien des domaines, mais comme philosophe, scientifique et artiste, il dépasse rarement la moyenne et demeure fort peu original. Quant à ses idées spirituelles, elles semblent bien moins crédibles, et n’ont certainement rien de scientifiques. Certains de ses principes en éducation, cependant, demeurent intéressants. Il avait raison de dire qu’il est dangereux d’éduquer de jeunes cerveaux au sein d’écoles dépendant du gouvernement. L’éducation financée par l’état peut mener à un programme au service de l’état, c’est-à-dire axé sur ses politiques économiques et sociales. L’éducation ne cherche alors plus à répondre aux besoins de l’enfant, mais aux besoins économiques de la société. La concurrence qui sous-tend la majeure partie de l’éducation publique peut bénéficier à la société, mais sans doute pas à tous et chacun. Une éducation où la coopération et les bons sentiments, plutôt que la concurrence et le ressentiment, marquent les relations essentielles entre élèves pourrait être plus avantageuse pour leur développement intellectuel, moral et créatif.

Steiner a également fait preuve d’avant-gardisme par sa compréhension du sexisme :

Si la situation sociale des femmes est souvent indigne d’elles, c’est qu’elle est déterminée, sous bien des rapports, par l’idée générale que l’on se fait des besoins et des devoirs naturels de la femme, et non point, comme ce devrait être, par ses qualités individuelles. Les occupations de l’homme s’orientent d’après ses aptitudes et ses goûts personnels, celles de la femme dépendent du seul fait qu’elle est femme. La femme doit être esclave de l’espèce, du typique féminin. Discuter si « de par sa nature » la femme est prédisposée à tel ou tel métier, c’est maintenir la question féministe au stade le plus élémentaire. Laissons à la femme le soin de juger ce qu’il est dans sa nature de vouloir.*D’autre part, il est vraisemblable que certaines des idées les plus bizarres de l’anthroposophie, comme les corps astraux, l’Atlantide, les Aryens, les Lémuriens, etc. soient transmises par le système d’éducation Waldorf, même si les théories philosophiques de Steiner ne font pas partie du programme qu’il destinait aux enfants. Est-il si difficile de défendre l’amour et la fraternité sans avoir recours à des fantasmes cosmiques quelconques? Lorsqu’on cherche à critiquer le mal que représente une vie entièrement consacrée à la recherche de biens matériels, sans égards pour autrui ou la planète, pourquoi s’appuyer sur un mysticisme échevelé? Pourquoi faut-il attribuer à l’absence de vie spirituelle le mal que l’on voit autour de soi? On pourrait aussi bien dire qu’une trop grande spiritualité en est à l’origine: les tenants de la vie spirituelle se soucient si peu de la vie matérielle qu’ils n’en font pas assez pour rendre notre monde meilleur. En outre, qu’est-ce qui interdit de raconter des histoires, de danser, de chanter, de faire de la musique, de créer des œuvres d’art et d’étudier la chimie, la biologie et la physique? Enfin, pourquoi serait-il impossible d’étudier le monde naturel sans qu’on considère la chose, soit comme un moyen d’obtenir un boulot assuré et d’acquérir des richesses matérielles, soit comme une façon d’harmoniser son âme avec le cosmos?

On ne doit pas bourrer le crâne de nos enfants d’idées matérialistes ni métaphysiques. Il faut les aimer, et leur apprendre à aimer. On doit leur permettre de grandir dans une atmosphère conviviale. On ne doit pas les typer selon la vieille théorie des tempéraments. Il faut leur offrir ce qu’il y a de mieux dans la nature, l’art et la science, de façon à ce qu’ils évitent de tout ramener à leur âme ou à leur future carrière. Malheureusement, la plupart des parents, semble-t-il, se prononceraient contre un tel type d’éducation.

Voir également: Médecine anthroposophique et Théosophie.

En savoir plus

Anthroposophical Medicine William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.
PLANS: People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools -educating the public about Waldorf Education
Anthroposophy: Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Spiritual Science’ by Rob Boston
Is Anthroposophy Science? by Sven Ove Hansson
The Rudolf Steiner Archive
Henry Barnes on Waldorf Education
Waldorf Homeschoolers
Steiner and Gardening, i.e., Biodynamics?
Sympathetic Vibratory Physics
New Myths About Rudolf Steiner by Peter Normann Waage
The Janus Face of Anthroposophy Peter Zegers and Peter Staudenmaier Reply to Peter Normann Waage, New Myths About Rudolf Steiner
Anthroposophy and Ecofascism by Peter Staudenmaier
Lawsuit against Waldorf revived by Bill Lindelof (Sacramento Bee/March 31, 2003)

Voir aussi:

Luxembourg : les géants du Net champions de l’optimisation fiscale
Plus de 300 multinationales pratiquent l’évasion fiscale au Luxembourg, selon les révélations du consortium de journalisme ICIJ. Parmi elles, on trouve de nombreux géants de la high-tech comme Apple ou Amazon.
01net avec AFP
01net.
le 06/11/14

Pays-Bas, Irlande et maintenant Luxembourg, les révélations se suivent en cascades concernant les pays qui accordent d’énormes ristournes fiscales aux multinationales pour les attirer sur leur sol. L’ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) vient de révéler le détail des montants consentis par le Luxembourg. Et les géants de la high-tech et des télécoms figurent en bonne place des bénéficiaires. A commencer par Amazon, Apple, Verizon ou encore Vodafone.

Des pratiques qui remontent à 2002

Entre 2002 et 2010, selon une enquête publiée jeudi par 40 médias internationaux dont le journal français Le Monde, le Grand-Duché a passé des accords fiscaux avec 340 multinationales, dont Apple, Amazon, Ikea, Pepsi, Heinz, Verizon, AIG ou Axa, afin de minimiser leurs impôts.

L’enquête, qui a duré six mois et s’appuie sur 28 000 pages de documents, porte sur la pratique des accords fiscaux anticipés, ou « tax ruling ». Cette pratique est légale et ne concerne pas que le Luxembourg. Elle permet à une entreprise de demander à l’avance comment sa situation sera traitée par l’administration fiscale d’un pays, et d’obtenir certaines garanties juridiques. Cela influence la répartition du bénéfice imposable d’une multinationale entre ses filiales situées dans des pays différents, ce qui lui permet de faire de l’optimisation fiscale.

Des révélations qui ne vont pas manquer de fragiliser Jean-Claude Juncker, l’actuel président de la Commission européenne et premier ministre du Luxembourg de 1995 à 2013.

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