• Religion - Is Waldorf Religious or Not?


Q. Are Waldorf schools religious institutions?

A. Yes. The Waldorf curriculum is shaped by Anthroposophy, which by any normal standards must be termed a religion. It involves prayer, meditation, reverence, observances, etc.; hence, numerous authorities recognize it as a religion. However, Steiner and his followers call Anthroposophy a science (they say that Anthroposophical procedures let them scientifically study the spirit worlds), so by this definition they can deny that they practice a religion. Also, the presence of Anthroposophy in the Waldorf curriculum is subtle and to a large extent hidden, so once again denial becomes apparently plausible. Finally, Waldorf schools welcome students of all faiths, so they may seem nondenominational. Despite all this, Anthroposophy is distinctly a religion [see "Anthroposophy - What Is It?"] and this religion is practiced in Waldorf schools [see "Morning Verses - What Are They?"].

Here are two telling statements by prominent Waldorf teachers:

• “One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ ... It is not a religious school in the way that we commonly think of religion ... And yet, in a broad and universal way, the Waldorf school is essentially religious.” [1]

• "I think we owe it to our [students'] parents to let them know that the child is going to go through one religious experience after another ... [W]hen we deny that Waldorf schools are giving children religious experiences, we are denying the whole basis of Waldorf education."  [2]


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[1] Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION  (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 134.

[2] Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, "Waldorf Education - For Our Times Or Against Them?" (transcript of talk given at Sunbridge College, 1999).





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