Stockholm University ends Steiner teacher training

Stockholm University has decided to wind up its Steiner-Waldorf teacher training. Steiner science literature is 'too much myth and too little fact', the university's teacher education committee has ruled.

“The courses did not encompass sufficient subject theory and a large part of the subject theory that is included is not founded on any scientific base,” Stockholm University wrote in a statement on Monday.

The decision has been criticized by a group of professors in a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet.

“The decision is a direct threat to Sweden’s 105 Steiner-Waldorf schools and pre-schools. 7,000 pupils will be taught by teachers without qualifications in Steiner pedagogy.”

The authors described the decision as “a sign of the times” brought about by the Bologna process – a process of standardization of education and courses across the EU.

Stefan Nordlund, the dean of Stockholm University’s faculty of natural sciences, has defended the decision.

“The syllabus contains literature which conveys scientific inaccuracies that are worse than woolly; they are downright dangerous.”

Stockholm University has previously offered a four-year full-time teacher training in Steiner-Waldorf education, which has been state-funded since 2002. The course has been conducted in cooperation with the Rudolf Steiner College in Bromma and the Stockholm Institute of Education.

The Stockholm Institute for Education has, since January 1st 2008, been a part of Stockholm University and the Steiner-Waldorf teacher training the responsibility of the faculty of natural sciences, as with all other teacher training courses.

The courses and literature have been discussed and reviewed by the faculty “in the customary manner” in the spring and the faculty’s findings were forwarded to the education committees of the faculty and the university.

The university’s teacher education committee decided on June 4th against approving all the teacher training courses included in the Steiner-Waldorf education.

“The committees do not criticize the Waldorf pedagogy in itself, but the literature which does not meet the university’s scientific standards,” Stockholm University rector Kåre Bremer wrote on his blog on Monday.

The decision means that the courses can not continue and all those accepted to courses beginning in the autumn have been offered alternative education. Students that have already begun their courses will be able to complete their teacher training.

Professor in pedagogy Bo Dahlin, one of the authors of the Svenska Dagbladet debate article, has criticized Sweden for not being as broad minded as its Scandinavian neighbours.

“It is remarkable that we in Sweden are unable to allow other perspectives. In Norway and Finland the state has long since financed the education of Waldorf teachers.”

The Rudolf Steiner College is now faced with a choice: to approach another seat of learning with whom to cooperate or to apply to the National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) for its own examination licence.