"I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings.
- Henry David Thoreau
I reply to it along these lines. Imagine two walls. Both made of brick. One is put together 'like everyone elses', with average mortar, basic footings etc. When it rains, nothing shelters the wall as it's being built, the mortar is weakened... when the sun blasts it and dries it out too early, there's no protection... nor from cyclones nor anything else that comes past - afterall the wall will have to stand up to these things when it's finished so it better get used to it... It's built, finished and left. No garden to grow around it, just fulfilling the contractual requirement of building a wall and ticking the boxes.
Compared to the second wall. Built with care, extra time taken by a quality builder with quality tools and materials and supported by his/her community as the wall is being built. When it rains, or the weather is extreme, the wall is sheltered, the mortar doesn't get watered down nor dry out... there is plenty of time to withstand the onslaught of the world, now is the time for building a solid wall... All care is taken from start to finish, particular attention paid to what this wall requires and it's location. When the wall is complete, it finds itself within a an established garden, tended to regularly.
So at the end of the process you have two walls. Which one will be more likely to stand the test of time? Be more resilient? Giving that wall the 'skills' it required and protecting it from extremes, only made it stronger in the long term, to be structurally more able to handle whatever comes it's way. If the wall is damaged, the second wall has the Community and the will around it, to make the neccesary repairs and has people around it to notice early that repairs might be needed.
That's how I look at it with children and schooling options... bearing in mind that it's a generalisation, the way I see it is that from both a Steiner and mainstream school they may all be able to tick the boxes of reading, writing, maths, science etc but it's what extra Steiner School offers as well as what it doesn't, that significantly changes the end product - the education of the whole child, for life.
Head over here for some more reading... and here for why there's more to reading than meets the eye... As to computers and the absense of them in the Primary of a Steiner/Waldorf school, perhaps that will be for the next post... :)