Mon article Une emprise et un endoctrinement presque indétectables a été traduit par Roger Rawlings et mis en ligne sur Waldorfwatch, à disposition du public anglophone. Pour tous ceux qui veulent connaître la vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf, son site constitue un outil remarquable. Avant cet été, je ne soupçonnais même pas qu’un tel travail de fond avait été réalisé. Roger Rawlings y dévoile tout ce que les écoles Steiner-Waldorf voudraient tenir caché au public, aux parents et aux institutions. Son travail est sérieux, authentique, minutieux et, oserais-je dire, d’une probité intellectuelle qui touche à la dimension de la moralité. Être traduit et publié par ses soins est un honneur.
We meet at a little table at a Parisian cafe. I am amazed by his appearance, changed so much by the years, and he’s amazed at mine. It has been almost twenty years that we have not seen each other. For several minutes we exchange news about our work and family situations, then the conversation lags. Discomfort suddenly seems to arise, until my questioner finally finds the courage to begin:
”You know, Grégoire, I read your article that appeared on the UNADFI website not long ago. It made me think quite a bit. But I tell you frankly, I do not have the impression that I was indoctrinated during my schooling at [a Steiner-Waldorf school]. As for me, I have wonderful memories of our teachers. Incredible people! You remember so-and-so? And this other one? They were extraordinary people! On the other hand, for the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf schools to take you to court, it’s really ugly on their part. They have the right to disagree with what you wrote, but it is not proper that they should want to prohibit publication!”
I study this old classmate for a long while without saying anything. I am touched by his sincerity and don’t quite know how to answer him. He has read my article, he acknowledged the veracity of each of the elements that I describe and the authenticity of my approach, but he seems incapable of perceiving the process of indoctrination that is the heart of this article. Is it not apparent from the facts? How can we explain such blindness in someone whom I knew for many years to be intelligent and shrewd? After a while, I decide to answer him this way:
“You know, indoctrination is not the same thing as a brainwashing. It can be defined by two elements: a doctrine is transmitted and an emotional grip is achieved. Let’s start with the latter. Do you remember how our class teacher shook our hands tightly each morning, looking straight into the eyes, as we entered the classroom, one by one? Do you remember also, on our first class trip in third grade, how he ritually came to see each student individually in their beds to give each a ‘comfort hug’ so they would not be afraid, sleeping for the first time away from their families? Remember also that, on each class trip, he slept with us in the same dorm?”
« Yes, it’s true, when I think about it now, it’s weird!” my old friend interrupts me. “It was fascinating to watch his throat when he snored. We spent part of the night watching him sleep,” he adds, laughing. “But it was thirty years ago, before all the stories about pedophilia, no? Steiner-Waldorf schools no longer allow such things today, do they?”
« To my knowledge, and according to a few reports I have collected, quite possibly they still do,” I replied. “For class trips, some teachers settle in dormitories with the students. Not right up beside them, but somewhere in their midst. On the other hand, you’re right, after some disturbing stories that came our a few years ago, for safety the ‘evening hug’ is only given by female teachers, now. That said, between us, this is not very safe either. Female pedophiles may also exist. And in my opinion, this does not solve the basic problem that is behind this kind of practice. Indeed, do you not think that such very intimate gestures (hugging children in their beds!) creates an emotional situation more like a family than a teacher-student relationship?
« Certainly such an embrace is more the gesture of a mother or a father than a teacher, I agree. Warm paternal or maternal affection should be found inside a family, not with your teachers! Otherwise we end up all mixed up. It’s dangerous to create substitutes for the family! But outside of this ritual, there are no other such practices, surely? »
« Don’t you remember how, in kindergarten, the teachers often held you on their knees? Don’t you remember, later in the lower grades, the frequent caresses of our teachers? How they took us in their arms, sat next to us in class, draping their arms around our necks while we wrote or drew? »
« But it was not something systematic and organized,” he replies animatedly. “These were just spontaneous gestures made by tender teachers to their young students! »
« I don’t think so,” I say. « When I did my training in the Institute Rudolf Steiner de Chatou, the future kindergarten teachers said they were often told to be physically demonstrative with children, to make affectionate gestures, take children on their knees, etc. These are educational instructions, not spontaneous gestures. It is repeatedly stressed that the teacher must be like a mother to the children in her care. In his powerful book, MORAL HARASSMENT, Marie-France Harvey explains that practices like this used by manipulators have the effect of a kind of hypnosis, putting the victims in a daze. Up to 80% of this is achieved by nonverbal communication and gestures, glances, etc., that little by little exert their influence. In the public institution where you put your son, are teachers allowed to use such emotional gestures? »
« No,” he admits. « I would find it rather suspicious if my son returned in the evening telling me that his teacher took him in her arms or on her lap. »
« Then why, according to you, are such methods still advocated in Steiner-Waldorf teacher training, despite the risks they may pose? »