The author has previously argued against ‘early closure’ – the tendency to close down children’s curiosity through an over‐zealous approach to issues‐based education. Indoctrination might be a result but ‘burn‐out,’ a potentially permanent attitude change that sets in before puberty, is more likely. This article is based on the author’s recent work on a project on Steiner Schools in England, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and is an examination of the apparent paradox of authority in the Steiner schools. There is a particular view that the teacher is the authority who mediates the world to 7–14‐year‐old pupils. However, the ultimate goal of Steiner education is freedom and autonomy. In Steiner’s words ‘our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able to impart freedom and direction to their lives.’ The DfES research has suggested that pupils subjected to teacher authority in the Steiner tradition do so develop and that the spiritual dimension is significant. This requires further research. This article suggests that the preservation of childhood through a spiritually based developmental approach, true to Steiner’s ideal of integrating the scientific, the artistic and the religious, may be worthy of attention.