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Den 19 november 2012 sände BBC Inside Out Southwest ett delvis förtalande inslag om Waldorfpedagogiken.

För några kommentarer till det, se Incomplete research by BBC Inside Out Southwest

In the UK, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspect schools to see to it that they achieve excellence in the care of children and young people and in education and skills for learners of all ages.

Like other schools, Steiner schools are inspected by Ofsted. Ofsted sub-contracts its inspection work to private educational companies.  The main three companies doing this work on Ofsted’s behalf are: Tribal Group (South of England); SERCO (Midlands) and CfBT Education Trust (North of England).

Ofsted has also recognised that its three main contractors do not have the expertise to inspect independent schools like Steiner schools and other independent schools and therefore it has another contractor to do this work: School Inspection Service (SIS).  According to SIS:

SIS was approved by the Secretary of State in 2006 and is staffed by a Co-ordinating Inspector, approved by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF, now replaced with the Department for Education, DfE) and a team of inspectors most of whom are ex HMIs (Her Majesty’s Inspectors) and all of whom are approved for their operations in SIS by DCSF. Included within the team are a number of HMIs who have specialised in particular educational disciplines such as special needs, post 16 education, primary class specialists, school management, and other specific areas.

Ofsted has been highly complimentary about the work of SIS and has commented that it found all the inspections monitored by HMI to be of good quality with no areas noted for development. HMI also found the regulatory checks to be rigorous.

Most schools inspected by Ofsted (i.e. the state funded or maintained sector) are following the government’s National Curriculum.

Steiner schools are following the Waldorf curriculum as well as the examination curricula in the Upper School.

Ofsted inspects under several headings, i.e.:

The Quality of the Education (including Quality of the Curriculum and the Quality of Teaching and Assessment)
Early Years Foundation Stage
The Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development of the Pupils
The Welfare, Health & Safety of the Pupils
The Suitability of Staff, Supply Staff and Proprietors
The Premises and Accommodation at Schools
The Provision of Information for Parents, Carers and Others
The School’s Procedures for Handling Complaints

Like other schools, Steiner schools are inspected on all of the above, but in addition there are some Steiner-specific items inspected by SIS.

The inspections are just as rigorous as any other Ofsted inspection but because they are carried out by inspectors who are familiar with Steiner schools, they are even more searching, because the inspection team knows where to look.

What will happen with the present Ofsted inspections of the Steiner Waldorf schools in the UK that become accepted as Free Schools in accordance with the Academies Act 2010 implemented by the new LibCon government in the UK?

According to the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship there is a recognition on the part of the government that the inspection regime will need to be adapted to take account of the diversity of curriculum which the new policy allows.

For some comments on this and other questions regarding the at present changing and developing situation for the Steiner Waldorf schools in the UK, see Frequently Asked Questions regarding Steiner Free Schools.

For a well sourced and penetrating description of Steiner Waldorf education, see Wikipedia.

Other good sources are The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE), Why Waldorf Works (US), and Waldorf Answers.

(Published in its first form August 30, 2008. Last updated in April 2013.)

August 27, 2008, the Swedish Christian daily Dagen (The Day) published an interview with Alicia Hamberg, an intelligent, sensitive and humorous former Steiner Waldorf pupil, 30 in 2008. She went to ”Kristofferskolan” (The Christopher School) in Stockholm between the ages of three and 12 during the 1980s, at first in Kindergarten and then during the first six grades.

The interview was made after she had supported and promoted a crusade Alicia Hamberg 2008against Steiner Waldorf education in an English discussion forum during the Spring, with the discussion extending over thousands of postings during five months. The crusade was pursued by a small group of rabid members of a small fringe anti-Waldorf group, on whose board she participated as its ”European representative”, and that she had drawn to the discussions.

The reason was that the undersigned had started to participate in the forum to address a long discussion defaming Steiner Waldorf education, introduced by one participant by referring and linking to an article by a Peter Staudenmaier, who started his career as solo writer on anthroposophy as part of the basis for Steiner Waldorf education with an invented, defamatory untrue  con story about a lecture series by Rudolf Steiner now 100 years ago in Oslo, Norway.

The culmination of the lecture series is a prediction by Rudolf Steiner that an increasing number of people from the middle of the 20th century will have a similar experience of Christ as Saul had at Damascus. In Sweden Peter Staudenmaiers’s con stories about the lecture series  is published and promoted by the missionary secular humanist association ”Science and Education of the Public” since 2000.

When his untruth abut the lecture series was exposed, he invented a number of further con stories to cover up for his original untruthfulness, without being able to document their truthfulness either.

Staudenmaier plays a similar role to critics of Steiner Waldorf education as David Irving does to antisemites, (though Staudenmaier is much younger) and Alicia Hamberg always defends him when he is criticized for being untruthful in his writings, or criticized in any way.

(The latest example of this is January 12, 2013.

The day before, January 11, I had told her at twitter that

what infuriates me about Peter Staudenmaier is his way of playing intellectual mind games to with little foundation incite hatred against Steiner Waldorf education in especially the Jewish Community.”

The following day, January 12, Alicia lies about this in a comment at her blog, aptly titled ”Mind games”, to – again – faithfully  – protect Peter Staudenmaier from exposure.

She writes about this

What Sune is infuriated with — he used that word, and I do believe it’s accurate, he is infuriated — is not me or Melanie or Peter or Diana or anyone else. He’s infuriated with poor old Rudolf S who said some silly things that don’t sound very appealing today and probably didn’t to lots of people even back then.”)

As he publishes libel in what he writes, I pointed out to the forum owners and moderators that postings that directly or indirectly linked to his writings as ”explanation”  of the experiences of parents at one or other Steiner Waldorf school constituted promotion of libel that violated UK legislation. On this ground a number of the postings were deleted, something critics in continued anti Steiner Waldorf campaigns and arguments polemically have described as suppression of free speech.

After five months, the group was banned from the discussions. The reason was that the forum did not allow crusades by single issue participants, and that the forum owners and administrators not were convinced that the defamation was justified. (I was banned too, for defending against it …)

During the year, the education of Steiner Waldorf teachers had been moved from the Teachers College in Stockholm to the University of Stockholm. In connection with the transition, the University decided that a number of the courses did not fulfill what it considered to be the necessary academic standards for the education of teachers. It is part of a process still going on in Sweden to remove all courses not primarily based on academic research from higher education at universities and colleges. Following the transition, the Board of the Faculty of Science at the university decided to terminate the cooperation between the Teachers College and the Rudolf Steiner College that had been going on since 2002 in a joint education of Steiner Waldorf teachers.

In connection with a public discussion of the decision, the Christian daily ”Dagen” (The Day) made the mentioned interview with Alicia, and another interview with Bo Dahlin, Professor of Education at Karlstad University about Steiner Waldorf education.

Who is Alicia Hamberg, or Zooey/Zzzooey as she calls herself on the net, this relentless critic of Steiner Waldorf education?

On the internet, she has described herself as obsessed with words and letters and in a personal correspondence 2007/2008 described how difficult she finds it to listen to people and for that reason hardly watched TV.

As reason for her parents to put her at ”Kristofferskolan”, the main Steiner Waldorf school in Stockholm, she has stated that she was more difficult to handle than the average child, as she expressed it.

She also told how much she disliked doing especially that which is done a lot at Steiner Waldorf schools; paint, sing, play different instruments, handicraft, and eurythmy, a dancelike form of art movement.

Her difficulty to listen to people probably made it especially difficult for her to go to the Steiner Waldorf school she went to as Steiner Waldorf education, much based on anthroposophy as philosophy and view of man, to such a high degree is built on the spoken word. During her school time, according to herself, she refused to go to school without her watch, making it possible to see how many minutes remained till class was over.

With her great interest in numbers and written text, her difficulties to listen to others (according to herself, she did not care much about what they said) and her deep aversion towards especially the artistic and handicraft elements that distinguish Steiner Waldorf schools from other schools, she soon seems to have become an outsider in her Kindergarten group and later in grade school, and as such bullied by especially one other pupil.

The strife to integrate also a developmentally challenged pupil with outbursts at time in her class also put its mark on the situation of her and others during the time she went there, something she has described with bitterness on the net.

Since the end of 2007, she has started to work through her experiences at school and criticize and heckle everything related to Steiner Waldorf education at a blog and in different discussion forums in an often well formulated way, that however can stand out as somewhat obsessive.

In response to a question who she is, she answered in 2008

I am someone who eats anthroposophists for breakfast ;) Welcome back to the blood bath :D

She is a secular humanist and the interview describes how she is a member of what is described as ”a network that reviews Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf schools”. (It refers to this group …) As such, she is one of the, if not the most active Steiner Waldorf critic on the net since 2007.

Since 2008 she has made some 3.000+ postings in different waldorf critical discussions and in addition has written (March 2011) 20,000+ tweets at Twitter. (Since then, she has added 18,000 more tweets.) So she’s a little talkative, internet-wise. She has also told that she’s constantly febrile and how she can’t sleep without sleeping pills. An important part of what she writes – like before – consists in promoting and spreading criticism of everything connected with Waldorf education and anthroposophy, now in cooperation with three British ”Humanists”.

But she has also, after among other things having read descriptions of Steiner as autistic as a child and the peculiarly challenging way he at times describes things, developed an expressed sympathy for him (she has described how she experiences herself as a creature from outer space).

She has described how much she likes the architectural form language in the second Goetheanum and thinks that an exhibition ”Rudolf Steiner – Die Alchemie des Alltags” on display in Germany from May to October 2010 also should be shown in Sweden. At her blog, she has written several (so far 16) postings with ”Love greetings” to Jaerna (a center of anthroposophical activities in Sweden) with pictures she has taken herself of the anthroposophical ”Kulturhuset” (House of Culture) and the garden of the Rudolf Steiner College.

Maybe this (some comments on her ambivalent attitude to anthroposophy and biodynamic farming) can complement the somewhat complex picture through which she expresses herself on the net.

What the Christian ”The Day”-article does not link to is an extensive answer to what the waldorf critics (WC) write.

While it links to a study of Steiner Waldorf education by prof. Bo Dahlin at the University of Karlstad, Waldorfskolan – en skola för människobildning? (The Waldorf school – a school for the cultivation of humanity?), it could also have included a link to one of the most extensive sites on the internet on Steiner Waldorf education, Waldorf Answers. A similar site in Swedish is under construction.

Since 2008, she pursues a personal campaign against the undersigned for my description here in this posting of parts of what she has written about herself on the net, to make her understandable. She also does not like what I have written about Peter Staudenmaier after having analyzed his writings in relation to the sources he refers to as basis for them, or an anti-Steiner crusade by one of the most rabid Steiner Waldorf critics on the net the last years.

August 30, 2008, I wrote this posting in its first form, based on and describing what she has written about herself on the net.

After the banning of the rabid mostly American anti Steiner Waldorf crusaders from the British discussion forum, she developed an extensive personal criticism of the undersigned in the discussion forum of the Swedish missionary secular humanist group ”Science and Education of the People”, where I did not participate.

I instead invited her for a cup of tea at the Tea House in Stockholm (famous for its location under a group of Elms, that were the center for the ”Battle of the Elms” in 1971 in the ”Kings Garden” in the center of Stockholm. The City planners had planned to cut them down and replace them with a subway station, but failed to implement this when Stockholmers of all ages protested against it, some by climbing the trees when the police was called in to support the cutting of the trees.).

I wanted to hear more from herself about the background of her intense antipathy against Steiner Waldorf education, but she answered that she’d rather have tea with ”Ahriman” (the representative of Satan in Persian Mythology) and was somewhat later interviewed by the Christian daily ”The Day”. I did not quite think the interview did her or the ”Kristoffer school” justice and therefore wrote this blog posting in its first form, based on what she had written about herself, to make her understandable.

When she saw it, she wrote a long commentary in one discussion forum, introducing it with

anthroposophy is rotten, it’s a religion for compulsive liars

and it’s absolutely irredeemable. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point in fighting stupidity. There’s no point in thinking that however good my arguments are, scumbags like (this blogger) will have 10 times the amount of time to just be the asshole that he is (It’s no struggle for him, I’m sure.) First a greeting to all the Swedish anthroposophists: fuck you. You’re a group of lying, deceiving, evil people in a society which kisses your feet and the ground you walk on–and showers you with money”…

Later, she continued with among other things a long posting that mainly consisted of a list of links to 74 pages on the net, that I had written over the last ten years as comments on different discussions of Steiner Waldorf education, which has upset her, and that she described as ”drivel”.

When someone wrote to her in December 2009 (a rabid German co-Waldorf critic according to her) to ask if she had seen a psychologist, she commented at her blog (from which she has banned the co-critic in question)

”I can hardly even remember anymore. I probably have. Mostly, though, I’ve seen psychiatrists. For a multitude of reasons.”

As she hasn’t seemed to feel that well, since last year, I try as much as possible to avoid public discussions with her, and have only as an exception commented on what she has written, beyond this blog comment.

Someone else, who seems to have read her blog and commented on it is Marlene Olsson, a Waldorf mum with radically different experiences of her children’s Steiner Waldorf school than Alicia.

Outside internet discussions, we however have had friendly mail exchanges and during late Autumn (2010) she mainly seems to have felt better. At the beginning of the year, a support teacher at the ”Kristoffer school”, where she went to school during the 1980s, asked me for help to contact her, after having read what she had written on the net. I did, they are now Facebook friends, and Alicia has expressed her gratitude for the contact with the support teacher.

At the beginning of August (2010), I happened to see a comment by her at Twitter, telling how difficult she found it to log out from a yahoo account. As I had had similar problems at one time, I wrote to her and told where she could find the log out text.

She answered the same evening:

”Hello Sune,

Funnily enough, I succeeded in logging out 5 minutes ago. After having gone out at yahoo outside the mail itself. Then suddenly that small ‘log out’-thing appeared at the top of the page. Small it was, but it was visible. I think I have a rather high resolution at my screen. It is actually rather peculiar. I tried to log out already a week ago, but gave up. I have two yahoo email addresses and sometimes I have to log in to the second one to see what new offers I have gotten from Burkina Faso and such places where the forgotten accounts grow on trees. The billions rattle in.

Many thanks anyhow!

-alicia”

So what she writes varies, but the comment feels like an expression of her actual basic positive attitude to life, when nothing troubles or disturbs her.

After the internet discussions in 2008, I suggested to the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf Schools that they employ me part-time as media consultant to follow and report what is published in different media on and related to Steiner Waldorf education, mainly in Sweden, but partly also abroad and they agreed. My work only included reporting about it, and not to write for or in any way represent the Federation. Last December (2011), I stopped working for the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf schools.

Outside of my part time employment I continued and continue to participate in discussions of Waldorf education as a free debater the same way I have done the last decade before and after the employment. In those discussions, as in all discussions, I only represent myself and my own personal views.

If you have any questions or comments on this, feel free to write to me at

In a report, based on the PISA study in 2006, the Austrian Bundesinstitut for Educational Research Innovation and Development (BIFIE) recommends Steiner Waldorf schools as models for teaching in the sciences. According to the PISA study, Austrian Steiner Waldorf schools are better at teaching the sciences than schools in OECD countries and Austrian schools in general. The report writes:

The results of pupils at Waldorf schools in the sciences are better than the average for pupils in OECD countries with 524 points and 500 points respectively and are also higher than the average for Austrian schools. In comparison, the average results in this area lie between the two higher school types (AHS, BHS) and the occupational middle schools. The difference in results is smallest in the sciences in relation to the AHS with 50 test points and to the BHS with 30 test points in comparison to the two other areas of competence (reading and mathematics)

It also writes

Recommendations for educational policies based on the PISA results can be made especially for the teaching of natural science. Based on the relatively high competence of Waldorf pupils in natural science, combined with exceptionally high indicators of motivation and reflective cognition in these subjects as well as the different pedagogical principles, it is reasonable to conclude that public education can learn from the Steiner Waldorf schools, in particular with regard to being able to concretely apply knowledge in natural science.

(In the original:

Die Schüler/innen der Waldorfschulen liegen in Naturwissenschaft mit 524 Testpunkten über dem OECD-Mittelwert von 500 und auch über dem österreichischen Mittelwert. Im Vergleich zeigt sich bei diesem Kompetenzbereich, dass die durchschnittlichen Leistungen der Waldorfschulen zwischen den beiden höheren Schulsparten (AHS, BHS) und den Berufsbildenden Mittleren Schulen (BMS) liegen. Die Leistungsdifferenz zur AHS mit gut 50 Testpunkten und zur BHS mit gut 30 Testpunkten ist im Vergleich zu den anderen beiden Kompetenzbereichen (Lesen und Mathematik) am geringsten.

and

Bildungspolitische Empfehlungen auf Basis dieser Ergebnisse lassen sich vor allem für den Unterricht in naturwissenschaftlichen Fächern ableiten. Auf Grund der relativ hohen Naturwissenschafts-Kompetenz der Waldorfschüler/innen in Kombination mit äußerst hohen motivationalen Merkmalen und selbstbezogenen Kognitionen in diesen Fächern sowie den unterschiedlichen didaktischen Prinzipien liegt der Schluss nahe, dass die Regelschule von der Waldorfschule lernen kann, insbesondere was den konkreten Anwendungsbezug in der Naturwissenschaft betrifft

For the full  report by the research institute,  see

”Kompetenzen und individuelle Merkmale der Waldorfschüler/innen im Vergleich” by Christina Wallner-Paschon

FROM A CULTURE ORIGINATING WITH NOAH
TO THE FINAL MIXING OF PEOPLE OF ALL RACES

One of the many myths about Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy, cultivated by anti-Steiner ”rationalists” crusaders is

”Steiner’s theory of reincarnation states that souls travel an upward path of consciousness, beginning with the ‘sub-races’ (Africans) and ending with Aryans — the most ‘enlightened’ race.”

The myth is a typical distorted misconstruction.

Steiner’s ”theory of reincarnation” does not state that ”souls travel an upward path of consciousness, beginning with the ‘sub-races’ (Africans)”. It was his much more radical view that we as humans in the early stages of our development started our ”upward path of consciousness” long before there was something that could be called human ”races” on Earth, and long before the time for which fossil remains can be found.

For more on this, see here and here.

Rudolf Steiner did not consider Africans to be, or describe them as a ”sub-race” as sometimes stated. Instead he considered both Caucasians and Africans, as well as the three other of the ”five main races of humanity” (a term commonly used at the beginning of the 20th century), to constitute an abnormal differentiation of humanity. In Steiner’s view, these ”main races” arose before the end of the last glacial age, but started to lose their reality and significance after that, and today constitute only vestiges of the past, which will disappear in the future (1).

Closer reading of Steiner also tells us that he was of the view that intermarriage, the breaking down of the tribal principle, was a natural step in the history of every race and people, and considered the beginning of intermarriage between people of different ethnic backgrounds to have constituted an important step in the development of mankind.

The reason was that, in Steiner’s view, intermarriage contributed to the disappearance of an instinctual clairvoyance and wisdom of the past and to the development of the waking consciousness of the present day, bringing humanity to a higher stage of development (2).

He also considered it to be one of the central tasks of anthroposophy to work especially in support of overcoming that which relates to ‘racial character’ and to support that which is individual in each of us as human beings (3), independent of our ”race”, gender and other temporal, external characteristics we happen to have.

For more on Steiner’s view on the relation between us as individuals, and the ”race” or other temporal external qualities we might have, see here.

Steiner’s ”theory of reincarnation” also does not state that our ”upward path of consciousness” ends with ”Aryans — the most ‘enlightened’ race” as the article states.

Instead, Steiner’s ”theory of reincarnation” states that our reincarnations during the cultural development of humanity, since the last glacial age, will ”end” with something quite else. This ”end” in his view will be a culture thousands of years in the future, developing as what he called a global ”American cultural epoch”. The history of this culture so far indicates that one of its main characteristics will be that it will develop out of a mixing of people of all ”races”. In Steiner’s view, the time in question will lead finally to the end of the meaning of the concept ”race” as we understand it.

The concept ”Aryans”, controversial today because of the way it was misused by the Nazis, in its original sense does not refer to white Europeans, as is often thought, but to a little known and little understood group of people, whose descendants, according to a commonly held historical theory, invaded the Indian subcontinent some 1500-1800 years B.C. along the river valleys of the Indus and Ganges. Among those who have the most right to call themselves ”Aryans” in the West today, would be the ”Roma” or gypsies.

In the theosophical tradition, in which Steiner worked for some years at the beginning of the 20th century, the cultural development of humanity from the end of the glacial ages and far into the future, was referred to with the misnomer ”the Aryan root race”, a concept that Steiner early on criticized as an expression of a childhood illness of the theosophical movement (4). Steiner did not use this concept when developing anthroposophy separate from theosophy.

This misnomer came from the assumption that the main post-glacial cultures originated in the previously mentioned, little understood Asian cultural-linguistic group, which called itself the ”Aryans”, which was considered by historians to be the origin of the so-called Indo-European cultures and languages.

Later however, this original cultural-linguistic concept was distorted into a racial concept by people of the 19th and early 20th century who were obsessed with the concept of ”race”. The term ”Aryan” was used by the Nazis in a way which today understandably evokes an almost instinctual aversion.

Steiner’s view on the issue is quite different from what the theosophical misnomer ”Aryan root race” may seem to indicate.

The main post-glacial development of humanity, in Steiner’s view, began in this mythical Indian ”Aryan” culture. This culture was however — in the unexpected view of Steiner — initially led by Noah, in Indian mythology referred to as ”Manu”. In Steiner’s view, the ”Aryans” in question in turn had their origin in a group of ”original Semites” from the time preceding the end of the glacial ages, a group which Steiner considered to have been the most developed group before the end of the glacial ages.

He also considered the essence of the myth of the Flood, as described by the Torah, to be a reflection of the transition from the time preceding the end of the glacial ages to the following time.

This shows that Steiner’s view of the actual meaning of the misleading theosophical concept ”Aryan root race” differs radically from the associations generally evoked by the term today.

In Steiner’s view, the original postdiluvian ”Aryan” (meaning ”noble”) high culture, under the leadership of Noah, was later followed by a mythical Persian culture, also occurring far in the past. Like the preceding mythical original Indian culture, the original Persian culture developed, in Steiner’s view, before the more well-documented cultures of historical time, starting out later as river cultures in China, India and the fertile crescent of the Middle East from around 3,000 B.C.

As to the time up to the future “American cultural epoch”, predicted by Steiner, which in his view will mean the end of the meaning of the concept “race” as we still experience it as a vestige of the past,

Steiner described in 1924 (5) what he considered increasingly in the future will characterize people who, in the spirit of our time, make themselves free of their bonds to nationality and ”race”.

”It will be said: Where does that person come from? He does not belong to one people, he is not from one race. He is as if he had grown out of all races and peoples.”

It shows the degree to which the typical misconstruction  by Steiner critics distort and misrepresent the views of Steiner, as the founder of Waldorf education.

For more, see
- Myth: ”Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are racist”
- Myth: ”Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are anti-Semitic”

Sources:

(1) Rudolf Steiner: Lecture December 4, 1909. In: The Deeper Secrets of Human Evolution in the Light of the Gospels (GA 117).
(2) Rudolf Steiner: Lecture October 25, 1906. In: Supersensible Knowledge (in Our Time, and its Significance for Life Today) (GA 55).
(3) Rudolf Steiner: Lecture December 4, 1909. In: The Deeper Secrets of Human Evolution in the Light of the Gospels (GA 117).
(4) Ibid.
(5) Rudolf Steiner: Lecture August 3, 1924. In Karmic relationships (GA 237).

Peter Nitze, Waldorf and Harvard graduate, and Director of an aerospace company:

”If you’ve had the experience of binding a book, knitting a sock, playing a recorder, then you feel that you can build a rocket ship-or learn a software program you’ve never touched. It’s not bravado, just a quiet confidence. There is nothing you can’t do. Why couldn’t you? Why couldn’t anybody?”

What did Gilbert H. Grosvenor (1875-1966), President & Chairman of The National Geographic Society, as Waldorf parent, think about his son’s school:

”It is a pleasure for me to write an endorsement for Waldorf Education …[which] has been extraordinarily successful for my son. In three years, the remarkable, dedicated faculty has directed his attitude and energies toward academic achievement and civic responsibility… The school draws out the best of qualities in young people. While this is not an instant process, the values they learn by constant contact with the faculty will provide a lifetime platform from which to grow… – In summary this system works!”

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