The letter invoking fear of `pseudoscience` in proposed Free Schools (Observer Sunday 13 May) suggests that Steiner education poses a `grave threat to science education`, whilst offering no evidence to support the statement. Is an evidence-based approach not central to all good science? In Steiner schools it certainly is. In Steiner schools all science teachingbegins with the close observation and direct experience of physical phenomena in order to gather evidence, rather than with a description of prevailing theories and models. An open mind as to causes and first principles is encouraged. Conclusions and concepts are then derived from the observations and finally the theories that explain the whole are introduced. This approach reflects the way that science has developed historically. It is an approach that resulted in the 2006 PISA study into Austrian Steiner schools concluding that state schools could learn from Steiner methods `especially concerning science teaching`; an approach which led to the same recommendation from a National Academies report in the USA; an approach that assists Steiner pupils in their generally excellent results in GCSE science subjects; an approach that has produced scientific alumni such as John Fitzallen Moore, Prof. Dr. Wolf-Christian Dullo and Kristen Nygaard, and an approach favoured by the parents who want their children to receive a scientific education that empowers them to question, enthuses them to explore, and equips them with a context in which to consider the ethical and moral issues that surround science. The `grave threat` our youngsters face is one posed by science-as-orthodoxy, not by an educational approach that is rigorous, open-minded and questioning.
The SWSF response to the letter in the Observer, Sunday May 13th, re. `pseudoscience`.