Teacher Talk

Roxana Bibi is a class teacher at St Paul's Steiner School in London which provides a unique approach to education for 120 pupils from kindergarten to age 12
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The Independent Online

I went to the London School Economics but felt I couldn't bear to work in finance. I had always been interested in education, even as a child. I went to a state school, and I remember thinking "this just isn't how it should be, this isn't education". Because of that, I searched around. I studied the Montessori system, but it didn't fit. I came across a course on Steiner education and immediately there was a connection. I had a sense that it was what I was looking for.

How do Steiner schools compare with traditional state schools?

What makes them different is the vision we have for the children. We see them as incarnating spiritual beings having not only physical bodies but also subtle bodies governing emotions and desires, and energy bodies controlling the growth of the physical body. From Steiner's lectures, we have a huge volume of work that talks about how these subtle bodies develop and how the child slowly incarnates from the spiritual world into the physical matter of their bodies. Teaching needs to be aware of where the child's consciousness is, how the child is incarnating, and to be aligned with that. The understanding of the human being and the changing consciousness of the child is the vital seed from which the educational methods come.

What benefits would a Steiner school like yours gain from joining the state sector?

Steiner education would be available for all. Also, most Steiner schools tend to run on too few teachers because staff are so difficult to recruit and to keep. The schools would really benefit from learning from the state sector about organisation and management.

How do you feel the state system can benefit from Steiner ideology?

The fact that if you visit a Steiner school you find happy children is really important. I think it is the way we teach and the use of rhythm, repetition and the awareness of the child's consciousness that can benefit the state sector as well.

How is discipline maintained in such a free environment?

Class one is where a teacher takes the time to develop positive classroom habits. The relationship between teacher and pupil is built up so that discipline happens through that relationship and through the order created in the group.