“Our highest endeavor must be to develop
free human beings who are able, of themselves,
to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”
— attributed to Rudolf Steiner
This website deals with
◊ Waldorf schools, also known as Steiner schools;
◊ Rudolf Steiner, the professed clairvoyant who established the first of these schools; and
◊ Anthroposophy, the religion promoted by the schools.
There are approximately 1,000 Waldorf schools in the world today. Proponents of Waldorf education boast that theirs is the fastest growing independent-school movement in the world. Many thousands of children attend Waldorf schools — where they are often subjected to covert religious indoctrination.
The underlying purpose of Waldorf schools is to spread the religion created by Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophy. [See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]
Despite the religious nature of Waldorf education, efforts are increasing — in the United States and elsewhere — to secure taxpayer support for Waldorf schools.
Humanity faces bigger problems than the proliferation of Waldorf schools and the spread of Rudolf Steiner's mystical doctrines. Nonetheless, the Waldorf movement should trouble anyone who prizes rationality and abhors the clandestine indoctrination of children.
My name is Roger Rawlings. I attended a Waldorf school from second grade through high school. My mother was secretary to the headmaster at that school. Because I was in the school for so long, and because I occasionally questioned the headmaster, I gained some insights into the Waldorf movement's secret agenda. More to the point, in recent years I have conducted an extensive study of Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. This website is the result.
There is nothing for sale at this site; there are no advertisements; I do not solicit anyone's financial support. I am not looking for money or applause. My purpose is simple: It is to tell you the truth about Waldorf schools.
Many Waldorf schools proudly display the quotation that you see at the top of this page, implying that it summarizes their educational approach. The quotation certainly sounds good. Undoubtedly many Waldorf teachers and administrators take such statements seriously.
But what does the quotation really mean, in the context of Waldorf education? Explaining fully will take some time — in a sense, the rest of this website is devoted to providing a highly detailed explanation.
But for now, for starters, here is a glimpse:
The belief system underlying Waldorf schools is an occult religion that involves doctrines of evolution and reincarnation. Human beings evolve upward as they gain “knowledge of higher worlds” — that is, knowledge of the spiritual worlds above the ordinary plane of existence. To gain this knowledge firsthand, people must develop clairvoyance. Preparation for clairvoyance involves such things as heightened imagination and dream consciousness.
Waldorf schools aim to assist children on the path toward knowledge of the higher worlds. To this end, Waldorf teachers serve as missionaries or priests.* However, they generally do so secretively, believing that they possess "mystery wisdom" that other people cannot appreciate. According to Steiner, outsiders who should be told as little as possible include the parents of Waldorf students.
Anthroposophical doctrine teaches that humans are born and reborn on Earth many times as they reincarnate. Moreover, each person is "born" multiple times during each earthly life, as her/his various invisible bodies emerge (the etheric body, the astral body, the ego body...). Waldorf teachers try to help their students incarnate properly, so that the children may fulfill their karmas and evolve to higher levels of spiritual attainment. Humans who evolve "normally" will stay abreast of the entire solar system as it evolves and reincarnates in ever loftier forms (Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan...).**
Returning to the quotation, above: There is only one correct “purpose and direction” in life: It is the spiritual evolutionary path laid out by Steiner. Individuals are encouraged to move upward on this path as “free human beings.” According to Steiner, freedom is the birthright of all real human beings (things are different for "abnormal" people who are not really human). According to Steiner, true freedom means willingly submitting to the intentions of the many good gods who stand over mankind. Of course, we also need to resist the evil gods. In practice, becoming truly "free" means giving up your liberty and accepting Steiner’s religious teachings.***
That’s it, in brief. I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s what Waldorf schools are all about: promoting the religion of Anthroposophy.
As for the strange reference to people who aren't really human, you should know that for every Steiner quotation that sounds attractive, there are others that are the reverse. Here's one: Telling Waldorf teachers to conceal his doctrines from outsiders, Steiner said, "Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings."**** A world of sorrow can be found in such statements.
Don’t take my word for any of this. To penetrate to the truth about Waldorf education, scrutinize the quotations I provide throughout this website — the words spoken and written by Rudolf Steiner and his followers. Read as much of this material as you wish; buy and read some Anthroposophical publications; visit other websites [see "Links"]; and then draw your own conclusions.
* See "Schools as Churches". Not all Waldorf teachers are fully committed to, or fully understand, the Waldorf mission. Newly hired teachers may undergo a gradual process of indoctrination, a process that some may resist while others succumb. See the section titled "The Indoctrination of Teachers" on the page "Indoctrination".
** For more about these invisible bodies, see "Incarnation". To pursue Steiner's cosmic narrative a bit further, see the section titled "The Creed" on the page "Here's the Answer".
*** For more about the Anthroposophical conception of freedom, see "Freedom". For more about the many gods of Anthroposophy, see "Polytheism".
**** Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 650. Note that Steiner said this during a Waldorf faculty meeting. See "Faculty Meetings" and "Secrets".
Waldorf students and faculty produce a lot of art, some of it in distinctive Waldorf styles,
and much of it intended to have spiritual meaning or spiritual effects —
although students and their parents are usually not fully informed about the schools' spiritual purposes.
(Clicking on these titles will take you to these pages.)
I have pointed out some problems with the quotation shown at the top of this page. Here is one more problem. Many proponents of Waldorf education attribute the quotation to Rudolf Steiner, and some Waldorf schools give it prominence in their promotional materials. But the statement actually was made by someone else: The words were written by Steiner's second wife, Marie Steiner. You will find the statement on p. 27 of THE NEW ART OF EDUCATION (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Publishing, 1928) — introduction by Marie Steiner. I mention this because it reflects a difficulty confronting anyone who sets out to investigate Waldorf education. Much of the "information" provided by Waldorf schools is incomplete, misleading, or false. Sometimes, the deception caused by such misinformation is minor. But in other cases, the deception can be great, leading the unwary far from a clear understanding of Waldorf belief and practice. Indeed, one of the chief complaints made against Waldorf schools is that they deceive students' parents about Rudolf Steiner, his teachings, and the real nature of Waldorf schooling. [See "Secrets", "Our Experience", "Cautionary Tales", and "Summing Up".]
Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant.
Many of his followers — including many Waldorf teachers —
make the same claim for themselves.
The problem is that clairvoyance is a delusion; it doesn't exist.
This knocks the props out from under Waldorf education.
If Waldorf education is based on Anthroposophy (and it is),
and if Anthroposophy depends on clairvoyance (and it does),
and if no one is truly clairvoyant (and no one is),
then there is no valid basis for Waldorf education.
I wrote most of the essays presented at this site, but you will also find plenty of commentary written by others. Waldorf-critical authors represented on the site include Geoffrey Ahern, Dan Dugan, Pete Karaiskos, Grégoire Perra, Ian Robinson, Margaret Sachs, Debra Snell, Peter Staudenmaier, and Diana Winters.
Anthroposophists and advocates of Waldorf education quoted on this site include Clopper Almon, Christopher Bamford, Hermann von Baravalle, Henry Barnes, Stewart C. Easton, John Fentress Gardner, A. C. Harwood, Margaret Jonas, Ronald E. Koetzsch, Charles Kovacs, Robert A. McDermott,
Sergei O. Prokofieff, Richard Ramsbotham, Eugene Schwartz, Richard Seddon, Andrew J. Welburn, Roy Wilkinson, Lawrence Williams, Franz E. Winkler — and, of course, Rudolf Steiner himself.
The pages here at Waldorf Watch are various and, I hope, stimulating. If you don't find value in any portion of a page, scroll down and you'll soon come to something else, often written by yours truly but fairly often written by someone else.
I feel that I should apologize for writing so much about Steiner and his works. But please recognize that I am trying to cover the output of a man who published many books and delivered literally thousands of lectures on a vast array of subjects. My own work — reading Steiner, investigating Waldorf education, and creating Waldorf Watch — consumed the better part of a decade (2005-2014). Because of the scale of the task, I have probably made some minor errors here or there, and I have undoubtedly committed typos. But I am confident that the central assertions I make on each page on this site, and the evidence I marshal to support these assertions, will stand up to close scrutiny. [See "So? Can You Trust Me?"]
Rudolf Steiner summarized his teachings in a book that has been published under such titles as
AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE
and, in a more recent translation,
AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE.
[Anthroposophic Press, 1997.]
In essence, the book lays out the core doctrines of Anthroposophy,
the worldview that underlies Waldorf education.
Defenders of Waldorf education sometimes argue that Steiner's occult or esoteric teachings no longer hold a prominent place in Waldorf belief or practice. But this is untrue. Below is a photo of a class for aspiring Waldorf teachers held recently at Rudolf Steiner College, a Waldorf teacher-training institution in the USA.
Note the book on the student's desk: It is AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE. You might also note the portrait of Steiner on the wall along with an interior shot of the Anthroposophical headquarters building, the Goetheanum.
Training to become a Waldorf teacher looks a lot like training to become an Anthroposophist: It entails immersion in Rudolf Steiner's metaphysics. To be a right-thinking Waldorf teacher, you need to be an Anthroposophist. Steiner said so: "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.”* Waldorf authorities today still make the same point. For instance: "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second."**
For more on all this, see "Teacher Training", "Waldorf Now", and "Who Says?".
* Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.
** Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 166.
For a quick overview of Anthroposophy and its reflection in Waldorf schooling,
you might take a look at "Manifestations".
To delve into the central issue dealt with at this site,
the nature of Waldorf education, see "Here's the Answer".
To consider the religious underpinnings of the Waldorf movement,
see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"
For a portrait of the man who created Waldorf education
and who is still the guiding light of the Waldorf movement
— Rudolf Steiner — see "What a Guy".
Many of the drawings and paintings here at Waldorf Watch
— generally the less accomplished ones —
are my efforts at copying or emulating Anthroposophical art.
All art having distinctly Anthroposophical qualities derives,
ultimately, from Rudolf Steiner's visions.
To delve into the standard Waldorf curriculum, Waldorf methods,
and other elements of the Waldorf approach,
To review the text that, according to Waldorf authorities,
most fully accounts for the Waldorf approach,
The word "occult," which I have used several times on this page, is potentially both frightening and confusing. Steiner himself often used this word (in his native German, "Okkult"), applying it to his own work. He meant that his teachings deal in dark or hidden (secret or mysterious) wisdom that is possessed by only a few spiritual savants such as himself. [See "Occultism" and "Inside Scoop".]
Earlier on this page, I reproduced the cover of the book AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE. Most editions of this crucial Steiner text have been published under more striking titles: either 1) AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, or 2) OCCULT SCIENCE — AN OUTLINE. Thus, for instance, in 2009 Rudolf Steiner Press released the edition shown below:
Anyone who really wants to understand Rudolf Steiner's teachings should tackle this dense tome in one edition or another, under one title or another. For a guided tour through the text, a tour in which I try to state plainly what Steiner often states obscurely, see "Everything". To look through a companion volume in which Steiner describes techniques his followers should use in their efforts to learn about the higher worlds, see "Knowing the Worlds".
Steiner taught his followers that they are on a holy, messianic mission to save humanity and, indeed, to save the entire created universe. Thus, many Anthroposophists today feel that they are justified in resorting to almost any strategems to advance their mission. On occasion, this leads them to shade the truth, hide the truth, and deny the truth. Occasionally they also twist the truth, making deceitful statements about anyone they see as standing in their path.
Quite understandably, my criticisms of Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Waldorf education are upsetting to Steiner's followers. Various attacks have been aimed at me as a result. They are unimportant. The occasional true statements made about me in such attacks are unimportant; the many false statements made about me are equally unimportant. I am unimportant. (Some time ago, I decided not to respond to even the harshest attacks. Ad hominems are inherently pointless. I suggest that we turn our attention instead to what actually matters.)
What matters is the truth about Waldorf education and the occult fantasies on which it is founded. I have striven to present the truth on every page of this website. Check this claim. I have included extensive documentation throughout the site, making it easy for you to see what sources of information I have used. So check up on the work you find here, and then determine the truth for yourself.
— Roger Rawlings