First-Person Accounts
by Some Who Got Burned

It is easy to find testimonials that make Waldorf schools sound good. But it is also easy to find testimonials that make Waldorf schools sound bad. The latter should at least give us pause. Why do so many people have bad or even terrible Waldorf experiences? 

Here is a summary of troubling testimonials about Waldorf schools. Most were written by individuals who were once deeply involved with Waldorf, who indeed loved Waldorf initially only to become disillusioned later. A few were written by people who disliked Waldorf from the get-go. One or two were written by individuals who still find much to admire in Waldorf and who would probably be surprised that their statements can be taken as cautionary tales.

Critics of Waldorf schooling find compelling arguments against Waldorf in the sorts of things you will read here. Some themes run like threads through many of these testimonials: charges that Waldorf schools misrepresent themselves, that they secretly try to induct children into an occult worldview, that they are defensive and insular, that they discriminate unfairly, that they tolerate bullying and abuse, that they are torn by jealousies and bickering, that they are staffed by overworked teachers who do not know their subjects well, that...

But I'm giving the plot away. 

Waldorf critics find much that is interesting and important in the following narratives. Defenders of Waldorf schools tend to dismiss such narratives as irrelevancies — malicious and mean-spirited, or misinformed, or innocent remarks misconstrued by malicious and mean-spirited outsiders.

Draw your own conclusions.

For links to sites that praise Waldorf 
and others that criticize Waldorf, 
see "Links”.

For a statement about the identity of individuals 
quoted and paraphrased at Waldorf Watch, 
see "Trolls?"

A word about the format, below. 
The first statement by any individual is headed by a long horizontal line.
If there are two or more statements by an individual, 
the statements are separated by short, thin lines.
In most instances, the interspersed photos have 
no direct connection to any particular statements; 
generally, they provide typical Waldorf scenes.

"Several years ago, I picked up and moved from another state specifically to enroll my daughter in a Waldorf School. I was excited that art would permeate the curriculum. That there would be lots of drama and music. That there would be an emphasis on environmental issues. That fairy tales and myths would be taught. I was happy that organic food would be the norm and that my child would have other vegetarians in her class....

"When we arrived in rural WI [i.e., Wisconsin, USA] we enrolled our child in the Waldorf School, and began to have some peculiar experiences ... I began to suspect that I'd joined a spiritual movement, but because I was told 'NO NO, not true,' and because I didn't know what Anthroposophy was (I'd heard the word enough at this point so I could say it and spell it), I just kept on going along with the program but couldn't quite figure out what was going on!

"...[Eventually] I realized that the fairy tales were often sexist, patriarchal and very religious. Creationism was taught ... My child was made to recolor Eve's hair blond after choosing black. She was taught about angels, and demons, and page after page of her exercise books reflected a very religious perspective ... I became really depressed and had nothing to do with the school. I just answered their pleas and sent them money, lots of it.

"I had made a very poor choice of school for my daughter." — Sharon Lombard. [See “Thanks PLANS!”.]

"It frustrates me when people deny that Anthroposophy is a religion and [claim] that the schools don’t teach Anthroposophy to children ... My daughter’s books [i.e., class books created by copying from the chalkboard] show that indeed she was taught Anthroposophy, in picture form as well as in written form. ‘The human being is like a little universe inside a big one. Sun, moon and stars find their likeness in mans head, trunk and limbs’; ‘The Sylphs, Salamanders, Gnomes and Undines are the earth’s scribes’; ‘The body is the house of the spirit,’ etc. If you deconstruct the lessons, the curriculum and the pedagogy, you cannot ignore the fact that Waldorf is a mystery school, a magical lodge for juniors." — Sharon Lombard. [See “Spotlight on Anthroposophy”, CULTIC STUDIES REVIEW, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2003.]

"The Waldorf school did not present itself as a religious movement but, instead, claimed to be a scientific, art-based, nonsectarian school, having a multicultural emphasis incorporating stories and festivals from around the world as well as having an environmental focus. We believed Waldorf’s claim, because Steiner was portrayed as a scientist, educator, and philosopher ... Initially, it never dawned on us that he was a religious leader and that Waldorf would be a hub for the dissemination of his beliefs ... In the occult tradition, the [Waldorf] group also used veiled vocabulary devised by Steiner, i.e., the use of words having alternate meanings ... For example, ‘psychic sight’ was termed ‘imagination’ ... Developing ‘imagination,’ which you’d expect at an art-based school, really meant developing ‘psychic sight [i.e., clairvoyance].'" — Ibid.

"In the early years of Waldorf, I did not know that some fairy tales being taught were occult parables. Nor had it dawned on me that the 'festivals' celebrated throughout the school year were in reality Anthroposophic rituals devised by Steiner with deep esoteric meaning." — Ibid.

"The reality was slowly sinking in. Waldorf did not offer the kind of art I had expected. There was no free artistic expression. Typical children’s drawings were missing from the classrooms ... Waldorf is like a cult, you all follow Steiner, he is your guru. I have never felt so oppressed ... I had no inkling at that time that thousands of Steiner’s sermons had been published and distributed by devotees from within the closed world of Anthroposophy." — Ibid.

"My daughter cried at bedtime and in the mornings as she vehemently resisted going to [the Waldorf] school. However, thinking we should work through her intensifying revolt, because it was in her best interest, we ignorantly kept sending her off as we were dubious about our other options for schooling. When her accumulated wet-on-wet ‘artwork’ came home, I was aware that, unlike her prolific creative drawing done at home, at school the self-expression we had anticipated was actually being frustratingly suppressed.

"Mounting idiosyncrasies, prayers, and religiosities (including my daughter's announcement that she had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other) suggested an undercurrent that emanated from the faculty. These were not just isolated beliefs of the mystical seekers in the parent body. Legends of holy people, Old Testament stories, and much ado about demons, devils, angels, fairies, gnomes, and Saint Michael (all taught as fact) added to the fear that we had allowed [our child’s] tiny head to be opened and filled with a syncretic, superstitious miasma of ages past. Contrary to the claims of nonsectarianism, it was becoming very apparent that everything revolved around Rudolf Steiner; the founder of Anthroposophy and Waldorf education." — Sharon Lombard. [See "Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner" at]

“I remember when I was a wide-eyed believer receiving a letter from parents who had been harmed by the [Waldorf] school ... I remember skimming the letter and thinking that they were sadly mistaken malcontents ... I remember feeling superior and floating in a sense of knowing so much more than my non-W friends. I had the key to paradise...the Waldorf Way....

“I can't begin to describe to you what it has been like to be pushed off of this beautific throne....

“I was seduced by the beauty [of the school] — by the promise of giving my children a glowing, golden soul. Little did I know that the beauty was gold-plated, propped by deception ... [My children] almost had their spirits robbed by well-meaning, poorly trained, neurotic humans calling themselves teachers and spiritual guides.

“...I feel spiritually connected [and] I believed that this school would protect my children from the soul death of the media and capitalistic culture. I blame myself for...BLINDLY, faithfully, following advice that was justified [i.e., defended] using Steiner and spiritual science.

“I believe my worst mistake is not believing in myself as an authority on my own children, ignoring my feeling of humiliation in the presence of fellow humans who market themselves as spiritually aware.” — Former Waldorf parent A. [See "Anonymous Testimonial From Waldorf Parent" at]*

“I worked at this [Waldorf] school for seven years ... Despite being chosen Employee of the Month and receiving several national awards and grants, including Teacher of the Year...I was subjected to ongoing harassment and character assassination after I began to question the legality of Anthroposophical religious indoctrination in staff training sessions led by uneducated, unaccredited Anthroposophists brought over from Europe. Both staff and students were subjected to nonacademic, occultist activities through the Waldorf training and pedagogy adopted from the Rudolf Steiner College, a nonaccredited Anthroposophical religious institution located in Fair Oaks, California. I quit in frustration over the academic dearth of Waldorf education and grief at watching...students being subjected to occultist religious indoctrination in the place of [i.e., instead of] a sound academic program.” — Former Waldorf teacher Kathleen Sutphen. [See “Ex-Teacher 6".]

“Did Mr. Oppenheimer [author of an article praising Waldorf education] compare student books [i.e., class books created by the students]? If he had done so, he would have found that most contain almost identical information, word for word. The books are seductive in their beauty, but they are not original creations. Even the artwork is largely copied and adheres to occultist color exercises designed to encourage the incarnation of the soul per Anthroposophical religious belief.” — Ibid

“[W]hy didn't Mr. Oppenheimer ask about staff turnover or attempt to talk to teachers that quit in frustration over the unsound academic principles being practiced on these...students? Did he inquire as to whether any staff had protested the religious indoctrination subtly infused in Waldorf teacher training? Did he check to see if current teachers had attended state approved certification and teacher training programs prior to their hiring? Did he speak to any parents?" — Ibid.

“I wonder why [Oppenheimer's article] didn't ask how many of [Thomas E. Mathews Community School’s] students were able to obtain their high school diploma since the Waldorf pedagogy was adopted. The answer is zero or very close to it. Mathews' students leave the campus with little or no increase in academic skills. They do not have the ability to pass the GED [i.e., General Equivalency Degree]. Instead of learning minimal competencies to pass the GED or read on the most elementary level, these students are copying their lesson books off the blackboard; playing plastic recorders; and chanting anthroposophical verses.” — Ibid.

“I enrolled my son in the San Francisco Waldorf School halfway through the sixth grade. I was very impressed with the school. I liked very much the way art is integrated into the curriculum in Waldorf....

"One day while visiting the school, I browsed through some books by Rudolf Steiner that they had for sale. I saw some very strange things about 'astral bodies' and 'root races.' I asked my son's teacher whether these subjects were taught in the classroom. She assured me that though the teachers studied Steiner, only Steiner's teaching methods were used in the classroom, and Steiner's philosophy wasn't taught to the children. I learned later that this is a standard disclaimer, and it is far from the truth. I should have known better, but I was so in love with the facade of the school that I looked the other way.

"Over the year and a half my son was in the school, I became increasingly disturbed about three things: 1. Weird science ... [W]hen I obtained Waldorf curriculum guides, I discovered that the inadequate and erroneous science [I had observed in the school] was part of the Waldorf system. 2. Racism. I was shocked to pick up a Steiner book [containing racist passages] for sale at the school ... 3. Quack medicine. An 'Anthroposophical physician' gave a lecture to the parents ... It was classic quackery....

"...I requested a meeting with the College of Teachers, the committee of senior teachers that ran the school. They were 'too busy.' Instead, a committee of three teachers was delegated to give me an ultimatum: 'You don't have to believe what we believe, but if you are going to talk about your disagreements with the other parents [i.e., tell the other parents about your disageements with the school], you will have to leave.' We left.” — Former Waldorf parent Dan Dugan. [See “Pops”.]

“Often, when ‘difficult’ tenets of Anthroposophy are brought up in connection with either private or public Waldorf schools, the defense is made that Anthroposophy is not taught in the schools. They claim that only Steiner’s teaching methods are used, and that they take what's good and discard the nonsense. I believe Waldorf without Anthroposophy might be possible, but it would be so difficult that I would be surprised if it ever actually happened. Anthroposophy is so tightly interwoven into the Waldorf movement that removing it would leave little but a constellation of pedagogical techniques that, taken separately, aren’t unique to Waldorf.” — Dan Dugan, “Why Waldorf Programs are Unsuitable for Public Funding”, CULTIC STUDIES REVIEW, Vol. 2, No. 2.

“[D]isenchanted Waldorf parents express a common sense of being misled by the school’s wholesome image. 

“’There is nothing in the [school brochures] about incarnating children’s souls,' says a Waldorf parent-turned-critic in British Columbia who requests anonymity due to pending legal action with a local Waldorf school. 'How many parents even know that Waldorf teachers study Steiner’s occultism in order to teach at a Waldorf?’*

“’When our son started in the San Francisco Waldorf,' recalls critic Dan Dugan, 'I thought it was a progressive, artistic school. The teachers said they teach a standard curriculum, just based on Steiner’s teaching methods. In fact, it is more than that. Waldorf schools are actually about Anthroposophy.’” — Carol Milstone, “Gnomes and Critics at Waldorf Schools”, ReligionNewsBlog.

"I have recently become a so-called Steiner survivor.

"Embarrassed to admit that as a well educated and worldly individual I also fell for the ‘creative’ / tree hugging hype, desperate for some kind of alternative to the ‘processed peas’ ’test’ culture of mainstream schools – only to find out the true meaning of Anthroposophy after my daughter had been at the school for a few terms.

"Like most people, I had never heard of Anthroposophy and certainly had no idea of the ‘wackery’ that supports it. I only started to research into this when I got a letter saying my child would be required to ‘jump-over-the-fire’ at one of their festivals that I then found sites like yours...

"Deciding that I did not want my child at this type of school – It cost me over £1,500 to employ a private tutor to bring her up to a reasonable academic standard, and even after intensive ‘one-to-one’ tutoring she has been placed a year below her peers at mainstream school because she is so far behind...

"This weird and bizarre religion may (as they claim) not be taught directly to the children, but it is certainly done by stealth – it underpins absolutely everything that is said and done in these schools and parents are not told this.

"I took my daughter out of the school a term before I was contractually obliged to, as I had grave concerns over her emotional well-being (being reduced to tears by the teacher because she would not write the letter ‘M’ in the prescribed four-stroke Steiner way and also she was made to sit alone at the back of a class of 12 – the reason given was that it was the teacher’s class and he could do what he wanted) as well as worries over her general health and safety.

"I refused to pay the outstanding fees. The school threatened me with Debt Collectors but after saying I wanted the matter to go before a Small Claims court so I could put on ‘public record’ the disgraceful nature of the school, they backed down...." — Anonymous mother []*

Note: Fire jumping is a midsummer ‘St John’s day’ ritual practiced at many Steiner schools. Often, unkind thoughts are written on paper and thrown in the fire and then the children jump over the fire.

“For many years our family was part of a Waldorf Community. I was there often, helping with classes, field trips, meetings, fairs, etc. I knew nothing of Anthroposophy before we joined and was told it was not in the school. I gradually realized that this is the driving force behind Waldorf Education.

“...After years of wanting to believe in this community and trying to help solve some of the problems the school encountered, our family was hit between the eyes by an Anthroposophical 2x4 and the pain was intense....

“The word I heard from ex-Waldorf families to describe how they felt about Waldorf was...'Cult.' ... As painful as it was to leave I am so very relieved to have done so. My children are doing well. We did not have one inquiry from the school as to our children's well being. And still I have nothing against Anthroposophy or Waldorf Education for those who understand and choose this very religious/occult based education [sic; emphasis by author]. Unfortunately, Waldorf Education promotes itself in a misleading manner. This accounts for many painful misunderstandings.

“...While some of our Waldorf experience was good (knitting, baking, etc.) the fundamental essence of Waldorf is steeped in occultism, mysticism, karma and (re)incarnation. This is not what I was led to believe prior to enrolling our children. I understand this now. If I had known this before we would not have joined.”  — Former Waldorf parent B. [See "Anonymous Testimonial From Waldorf Parent" at]*

"I am newly out of a Waldorf community, having been deeply involved in it for almost a decade.

"My family was horrifically kicked out, with the brunt of the focus on our child. We are heartsick, in shock and vacillate between grief and rage.

"We are still being harassed and I need some support getting through this turbulent time.

"I tried calling a cult hotline, but have been having trouble finding one that is still in operation.

"Do you any of you know someone who is well-versed in Waldorf and has training as a counselor? Who is smart and sane?

"I am having a hard time fully functioning in my life right now. We have lost the bulk of our community and our child's school. I am reeling from the reality of actually SEEING the truth of this community and it is hard for me to integrate." — Former Waldorf parent "Ella." [See "January, 2013".]*

"My first board meeting [at a Waldorf school] included a faculty grilling re: sexual preference, directed at a young gay teacher ... I kept saying, 'This is a violation of her civil rights.' ... [But] regular rules do not apply in Waldorf schools. Anthroposophy is more important than individual rights, laws, or common truths.

"...The healthy teachers were eventually run out [of the school] and the ill ones took over hiring ... There was deceit everywhere ... The financial statements were literally made up ... Unpaid payroll taxes, marked as paid, were seized from our bank account ... [T]he school wasn't making enough money to pay rent, salary, and the electricity bill. One classroom was red-flagged for sewage backing up in the tub....


"...[A]t parent gatherings...the teachers would stand on the stage with their arms around each other, singing songs, while the parents beamed ...  [B]ehind closed doors [these teachers] were all backstabbers...insecure people competing for the top position on the Anthroposophical dog pile ... Board meetings were always exhausting because you could cut the tension between the teachers with a knife....

"...I think it's easier to walk away from Waldorf when Anthroposophy doesn't speak to your spirit, but it still isn't easy. I took 63 families with me to [create] a new school ... My aim was to make a school like we were told Waldorf was but was not. Sixty-three families were ready to move, so I went back to work.” — Former Waldorf parent Debra Snell. [See “Coming Undone”.]

"My youngest son, who began Waldorf in kindergarten, complained that he was not learning anything [in first grade] ... After many months of frustrating communication with the school, we placed our Waldorf educated son in public school ... During my last meeting with his Waldorf teacher, I stated that perhaps Waldorf was inappropriate for him. She replied, 'It sounds to me like you are questioning Anthroposophy. If you are, you should leave, because every teacher here is an Anthroposophist except for one, and she is coming to Anthroposophy.'"  — Debra Snell, interviewed by Jeff Horseman [“An Interview with PLANS President”,]

"It is extremely gratifying when someone takes the trouble to write a poem about you [as Waldorf teachers often do for their students]. Who normally writes such poems, except distraught lovers? This explains the hazy feeling that alumni of these schools often express. They feel that they were recognized there as they have never been recognized again anywhere else. Something in them keeps a nostalgic memory of a time when their souls were supposedly seen with such clarity by their teachers. In principle, when someone unveils your inner being — which is a pretty rare experience — this creates a lasting connection. When people see deeply inside each other, they will always matter to each other. But then students fall out of the clouds when they realize that their teachers have not really understood them but have only pretended to see deeply inside. This can create a terrible disillusionment at the core! When some students eventually realize that their teachers didn’t really care about what they could become, and didn’t really understand who they were, they begin to realize the falsehood of what they lived through. But they are the lucky ones if they are able to penetrate such terrible deceit, compared with other students who don’t come to this realization and therefore stay caught in their teachers’ psychological grip." — Former Waldorf student and teacher Grégoire Perra. [See "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".]

“In my view, freedom of thought is more important to your humanity than any ideas you have received. It is better to make mistakes on your own than to have ideas put into your head that blind you ... What a lack of respect [Waldorf] shows for individuals’ freedom of conscience! The most important thing is to be sincere with yourself. And to think! That is the true dignity of the individual. And that is what the Steiner-Waldorf schools infringe, imposing their own visions! ... The evil comes in not giving children the tools to evaluate those ideas later. To steer them by subtle indoctrination is a violation of their consciences. Conditioning their minds to welcome a special conception of the world is an attack on their free will. It destroys their future ability to think as adults. In addition, the students are placed in a position of unconscious opposition to the ideas and values of the rest of society." — Ibid.

"There is also a serious problem of sanctifying or deifying an institution. For Steiner, the school and the teaching he founded are direct emanations of the spirit world, they are true incarnations of celestial Anthroposophy, a pure gift of the gods ... In other words, the creation of this form of education results from divine action ... [Waldorf] teachers see it the same way. Steiner is the prophet of an educational revelation for them! Their schools therefore manifest the presence of the divine on Earth. But as soon as they have to choose between the welfare of the children and the reputation of the school — or its survival — won’t they be tempted to run any risk rather than sacrifice an institution they consider sacred? Won’t they deliberately risk endangering the children to save the school, if those are the alternatives they perceive?” — Ibid.

"There is an overemphasis on the ego and exaggerated exaltation of the mystic realm. Indeed, Steiner-Waldorf teachers place the highest possible value on dreamy and mystical attitudes. As a student, I indeed could see how our teachers showed the highest esteem for those who retained longest the attitudes of gullible children transported by imaginative stories. The student who seemed to be in a dreaming state was placed on a virtual pedestal in comparison to his peers. Later, as a teacher, I often heard teachers in faculty meetings praising the receptive qualities of students who were dreamy, naive, and enthusiastic. It was said of such students that they knew how to keep the soul intact and pure. We often even said that in principle a good Waldorf education should slow the maturation of students' intellectual faculties as far as possible. In addition, teachers flattered and lavished praise on students for abilities they didn't really possess, trying to keep them as long as possible in a sort of "floating" disconnection from reality. This is why the egos of students leaving Waldorf schools are so developed. At first sight, these students seem to have a self-confidence that could be considered a good quality. But looking more closely, we very often see that this colossal self-assurance is based on nothing but empty air. Quite often these students have done virtually no academic work for years: Rituals, religious chants, and preparing for holidays takes up so much time in Waldorf schooling that the time devoted to actual school work is literally reduced to a trickle.

"Kept in a thorough artistic-mythical-religious atmosphere and expanding their egos, these students are accustomed to a state of laziness that will make them social misfits, unable to escape except through bluster and seduction ... Having been in some way seduced by their teachers, these students may try to proceed through seduction. That is why their results for the baccalaureate exams in writing are so pathetic, although the same students can be tremendously good at oral presentations. Thus, in the school where I worked and tried to prepare students for the baccalaureate, hardly 40% of students were successful, and even they succeeded mostly due to the oral portion of the process. Of course, extension of the dream state greatly facilitates the ability to later become a Anthroposophist, as this mystical doctrine overwhelms those who plunge, as I did, into abstruse metaphysical speculations. Anthroposophical mysticism is a kind of natural extension of the dream state that is overdeveloped in Steiner-Waldorf institutions. Overdevelopment of the ego aids individuals who tend to arise in life lecturing or even becoming gurus. Later they may find, in the context of the Anthroposophical Society, the roles of spiritual guides, the roles they are in fact familiar with from their childhood. It is therefore common to find students in Steiner-Waldorf schools who systematically and blindly trust their own feelings, or hunches, sometimes up to the level of considering themselves apprentice mediums." — Grégoire Perra. [See "He Went to Waldorf".]

"I turn now to [the] subject [of] the recruitment of students into deceptive practices and concealment from authorities. Indeed, in these schools, misleading state officials is commonplace. For example, I witnessed that, when a teacher is scheduled to be inspected in class, s/he will commonly be replaced by another teacher who has the [necessary] skills or qualifications. Then the students are asked to 'play the game' in the presence of the inspector, and to act as if the teacher who conducts their class [this day] is their regular teacher. Similarly, it may happen that there are health and hygiene inspections. I remember one time when the inspectors had to check how the children ate in the canteen. However, in this school, the children did not eat in a canteen but in classrooms with their teachers who watched them and made them recite their prayers before meals. For this inspection, the teachers were notified 24 hours in advance, so we organized three successive meal services in a canteen for the students, so that everything appeared normal. In the evening, during a faculty meeting, teachers congratulated themselves that their students had 'played the game.'

"These various circumventions of the law make students participate in acts of defiance against outsiders perceived as hostile. They subtly teach the students that the rules and laws of the society at large are not so good ... This is likely to strengthen their students' feeling of living in a world apart. Anthroposophists view anything that does not belong in the 'milieu of Anthroposophy' as 'the outside world,'  so to the students the general society in which they live becomes, for them, the 'outside world'!'" — Ibid.

A former Waldorf teacher explains that many “Anthroposophical schools” — i.e., Waldorf schools staffed by committed Anthroposophists — exist mainly for one reason. This reason is not to educate or even benefit the students; it is to spread Anthroposophy: “Anthroposophical Waldorf [schooling] often fails to address the needs of the individual child and family ... The reason many Anthroposophical schools exist is because of the Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world ... Educating children is secondary in these schools....” — Former Waldorf teacher "baandje" [See “Ex-Teacher 7”.]*

“In Anthroposophical Waldorf schools, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING centers around the task of implementing Steiner's spiritual scientific theories. Educating children is looked upon in much the same way Anthroposophical spiritual concepts are embraced: children are 'temperaments' or 'stages of human development'; they're vessels for [the] purpose of receiving cosmic wisdom in the form of an Anthroposophical curriculum. One could go even further and say children in an Anthroposophical Waldorf school are looked upon as 'the future initiators of the Christ Impulse' [i.e., the new evolutionary force introduced by the Sun God]. Again, EACH INDIVIDUAL CHILD'S EDUCATION takes a back seat to the spiritual scientific and cosmic Christian tasks and ideals of the Anthroposophical initiative.” — Ibid.

“Anyone trapped in any dogmatic system of spiritual or religious belief will exhibit the same anti-social and alienating behavior anthroposophists often display ... Anthroposophy is an apocalyptic philosophy, and anthroposophists are quite consciously preparing the groundwork for the incarnation of [the arch-demon]  Ahriman, for the development of Sorat [i.e., the Antichrist] and accompanying demonic entities, for the far-future War of All Against All, etc.  ... [T]his is why that typical, never-ending community conflict dynamic in a Waldorf school is accepted and intellectualized away as necessarily preferable to happy, healthy and balanced (normal) human interaction. Conflict is a particular type of ecstatic union: the spiritual feast. I witnessed many teachers who literally went out of their way to create issues if it happened to be too slow a month, problem-wise.” — Ibid. [See "Ahriman", "Evil Ones", and "All v. All".]

“[A]nthroposophists welcome and allow themselves and others to be chewed up, swallowed and processed via conflict, which is why for instance a [Waldorf] teacher who is approaching emotional and psychic breakdown status is still supported by his/her colleagues and allowed to teach. It's all seen and understood as part of the great spiritual sacrifice — and you can't fault or fire someone so deeply spiritual and ultra-committed, can you? 

“And [this is] why parents who remove their children and leave are hardly if ever given the time of day afterwards. Those families are looked upon as uncommitted to the great spiritual task at hand, or as karmically incompatible and so forth.” — Ibid.

"My daughter, being defiant...was labeled a demon by her [Waldorf] teacher and was bullied for years...cutting herself and finally going into a mental breakdown. [Waldorf school X] denies any responsibility — despite years of permitting this to go unchecked.

"Waldorf is not harmless and Steiner's ideas are used by very insensitive people to harm children in the name of Waldorf! And everyone else stands by and watches. Why?" — Former Waldorf parent Pete Karaiskos. [See "Nuts".]

"[Here's] why Waldorf teachers think of children as demons... [W]hat other being would confront a Waldorf teacher who had been lying? Right? Only a demon would confront the Angels of education...Waldorf teachers. The teacher who labeled my daughter as a demon is TEACHING Waldorf TEACHERS ... Hopefully, they will be able to spot demonic children with pinpoint accuracy like this one could.

"Here's an experiment parents can try at home ... [C]onvince your child they are a demon...and see how they grow up ... [O]r you could save yourself the trouble and send them to Waldorf!" — Ibid.

"One cure for blindness is opening one's eyes. I hope to file a case with the attorney general, besides my own lawsuit. [Waldorf X], over the course of a decade, destroyed my daughter's mental health. I was finally able to get her out of [X] by the 9th grade ... The state of California is footing the bill for my daughter's health care and schooling ... [X] is responsible and should be paying these costs — NOT the taxpayer. I hope to get the attorney general involved to recover the taxpayer dollars that [X] should pay — and to investigate what happened to my daughter. I have a paper trail a mile long pointing out what happened and the lies that were told to cover things up. There is gross negligence here, conspiracy to commit fraud, and a whole lot of other crimes by various people. [X] WILL PAY for what they did...of that there is no question." — Ibid.

I pushed hard to do my student teaching in the [Waldorf] school ...To be honest, I did see some wonderful things; beautiful classrooms, art work, story time...but I had a problem with Waldorf’s way of handling academic subjects. Waldorf educational philosophy states that focusing children's learning on intellectual endeavors too soon distracts from their physical, spiritual, and emotional development, so reading, writing, and math are not taught at all during preschool. Instead, emphasis is placed fantasy, imagination, storytelling, rhyming, and movement games ... I wanted to teach children to learn to think for themselves; to analyze, synthesize, and extrapolate information as opposed to simply regurgitating it the way it is done in more traditional settings. What I soon found out was that children were simply regurgitating in the Waldorf settings ... Only instead of taking a standardized test or filling out a worksheet, in Waldorf it was copying a drawing or memorizing a poem. Although this was esoterically more pleasing to the casual observer, in essence it was still superficial learning.” — A former Waldorf student teacher who went on to teach in Montessori schools. [See “Ex-Teacher 5”.]*

Worse in my eyes than not teaching accurate facts in the classroom was the reality that children who had interests in things that were not part of the Waldorf curriculum for their age were not only not allowed to learn about those interests at school, but their parents were encouraged (dare I say 'pressured') to not allow them to pursue their interests at home either. Their parents were told that exposure to anything non-Waldorf would hurt their development....” — Ibid.

“The longer I spent at the [Waldorf] school, the more I saw what I considered an attack on the intellect and personal needs and interests of [the] child.

“Here are some examples that were burned into my memory forever. A first grade boy loved numbers. He had a firm grasp of numbers ... Yet he was forced to sit and draw numbers and then animals to go with those numbers (one dog, two cats...) during math time ... [T]his one child (and in all honesty some of his peers) was far beyond it and was bored ... I was told that it was OK for him to be bored....

“...I was once berated for over an hour because a preschooler drew a happy face ... Twenty years later I still remember the teacher screaming at me, ‘I cannot believe an educator like you would allow such a thing ... What in your right mind would make you think that such a thing would be allowed?!?!?’

“Later, the same child was ‘caught’ drawing a heart ... The school's way of handling this was to ask the parents not to bring the child to non-Waldorf activities until she was older.

“Another time a sixth grader asked me how the copy machine in the office worked. Before I could even open my mouth, a teacher ran over to the child, and told him that there was a gnome asleep in the box....” — Ibid.

“What I saw as a lack of honoring of personal interests inhabited everything [at the Waldorf school]. Only certain colors [for drawing pictures] were used at certain ages, only certain materials for certain groups. No black, no lines, no exceptions. I hated seeing the joy in a child’s face fade ... None of these rules made sense to me. Yet when I asked why they were there, the only response I received was that there was a higher meaning to everything and I was not ‘enlightened’ enough to understand.“ — Ibid.

"[A]lthough the teachers believed that everything from the color crayon a child used at a certain age, to the knowledge that they were exposed to, had to be completely controlled, they [the children] could be left utterly alone on the playground. It was explained to me that this was because ‘The angels watched over and protected them’ while they were playing ... Once, when a child was in tears because the other children kept on pushing her off of a stump they were playing on, I tried to teach conflict resolution skills to the group and was, once again, admonished by the staff. I was told that all of the children were ‘working through’ things [i.e., discharging karma] and needed to be left alone. Eventually the bullying got so bad that it permeated every part of the child’s school day. Yet still the teachers would not intervene. The child became sullen and withdrawn....” — Ibid.

“As I was walking [into the house where I had taken a room] with my first box of things my new housemate [a Waldorf teacher] confronted me about my belongings.  She was upset that I had so many books and made it clear that I had to keep them locked away in my bedroom! After that first encounter everything I did seemed to be horrible in her eyes. She didn’t like the medicine I took; it was made in a lab. I needed to go to anthroposophical doctor and use only natural medicines. She didn’t like the clothes that I wore; they weren’t all cotton and dyed with natural dyes. She didn’t like me talking on the phone even though it was in the kitchen and belonged to the house; the phone was a tool of [the devil] Ahriman....

“...[T]here were teacher gatherings and study groups at our house often ... [A]ll the teachers were passionate and really believed in what they were doing. It soon became obvious to me that...what I had hoped was a misinterpretation of Steiner’s philosophy was in actuality the perfect implementation of it. As far as the outright distortion scientific or historical facts in the Waldorf curriculum, I was asked, 'Whose facts are they? How sure are you that yours are true?' ... For many of the teachers, the only science or history they knew were what they learned in their Waldorf teacher training courses. Then came the statement that clarified all their misinformation for me. I was told, 'Steiner had exceptional powers, he saw the future, he knew the truth. If you truly need to learn, you need to study and follow Steiner. Steiner is all anyone ever needs to know.'” — Ibid.

[P]arents need to be aware of the fact that Waldorf Schools ARE teaching religion [i.e., Anthroposophy]....

“...The almost outright ban of media in any form for preschool and elementary children, especially TV and computers, can sound wonderful to the average parent, most of whom are all too aware of the problems that too much exposure to the mass media will bring, but for the Waldorf educator it has a much deeper and important meaning. They believe that Steiner stated that such things embody a materialistic spirit named Ahriman who alienates the human being from his spiritual roots.

“...The gnomes that permeate Waldorf schools, craft fairs and publications are not just a return to a fanciful lost world of childhood, they are beings that are truly believed in and are used in a variety of ways. They can displace teachers and students emotions and reactions, they can evade children's questions about the world and how it works, they mystify children asking questions about things like sex, violence, illness or death. They can even be threatening and confusing since children who don't see [invisible] gnomes often feel like there is something wrong with them....

“... I know now that what [Waldorf schools] present to the world is a beautiful façade that is covering their new-age beliefs, only one of which is a fear of the intellect. For a parent who believes in Anthroposophy a Waldorf school will be a heaven-sent. For parents who are willing to overlook the religious concepts and themes for the beautiful setting and art based curriculum, a Waldorf school might be fine also.  But parents should be told that their children will be taught religious beliefs while they are in a Waldorf school. They need to know what these religious beliefs are, and they need to know that they will take precedence over their child’s individual needs and interests. Parents also need to know that their children will not be academically on par with many of their peers unless [the parents] take to breaking with Waldorf guidelines and teach [their children] academics at home.” — Ibid.

"My math teacher [at Green Meadow Waldorf School], whose ominously apropos nickname was Tomcat, Tommy for short...was famous for molesting all the teenage girls. He had even gotten one of them pregnant ... [Yet] he went right on being a respected community member and teaching math at Green Meadow and molesting every other girl he could get his mitts on ... He started coming over and taking me on 'walks' after dinner, ostensibly to give me guidance and sympathy because I seemed to be having 'a difficult time' but in fact to lead me into the deserted fields and rub his hard-on against me while trapping me in his arms as I struggled to break free ... I loathed and feared him ... His rationale for abusing so many girls was that they didn't tell him not to ... It never seemed to occur to him that laws protecting minors from predators like him were in place because we were too young and vulnerable to protect ourselves. He didn't actually rape me, but some of my friends were't so lucky." — Kate Christensen, BLUE PLATE SPECIAL (Doubleday, 2013), p. 131. [See "Extremity".]

"[Eventually] I broke down and told my mother about Tommy. She was horrified and livid and immediately wrote a letter to the school to report him ... [N]othing changed. Later that year, my mother came to visit ... [S]he called Tommy and asked him to come over ... He arrived and sat down, and my mother told him he had to stop molesting me. She was apparently very firm about it and very insistent.

"After my mother left, Tommy...came into my bedroom and sat on my bed ... He said, 'I want to hear it from you. I don't believe you feel that way.'

"I mumbled something, terrified, unable to look at him or tell him to stop.

"And he kept taking me for walks." — Ibid., pp. 133-134.

"During my senior year, Tommy stopped pestering me for the most part ... But he continued pestering one of my friends. She told me he wouldn't stop forcing her to give him hand jobs ... Who could we tell? They were all doing it. Almost everyone in that supposedly spiritually righteous community knew what was going on, but no one said or did anything to stop it; there was never the slightest sense that they thought they were doing anything wrong, having sex with the teenagers they taught, mentored, and hosted. Tommy was far from the only one. One of my other teachers had had a long affair with a former student that had started when he was her teacher; two other male teachers (married, with children) had sex with two sixteen-year-old girls ... It wasn't only the men. A female teacher was involved in a longtime liaison with a recent graduate that had started when he was in high school, another female teacher had slept with a boy in the class above mine." — Ibid., p. 143.

Academic subjects — the central substance of ordinary education — are often given short shrift at Waldorf schools. Waldorf students often lag far behind their peers in other schools, and many may never develop basic skills. The problem is especially acute in sciences and math. As a result, "In my thirty-two years as a Waldorf teacher I met very few classes in which more than a handful of students were fluent in the most elementary math." — Retired Waldorf teacher Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. 57. [See "His Education", "Academic Standards at Waldorf", "Steiner’s 'Science'", "Pseudoscience", "Science", and "Mystic Math".]

"I have attended countless [Waldorf] open houses ... I have seen scores of [student] notebooks, copied and illustrated with enormous care and devotion and riddled with all kinds of errors, placed where parents and visitors are most likely to see them ... Copying is the curse of the Waldorf Schools. There is altogether too much of it, and it is not confined to the elementary school. In high school, where there is much less excuse for it, it still goes on. The way in which many [Waldorf] teachers organize their work implies that they consider that the whole object of the course is the creation of a gorgeous notebook. And the way in which some teachers judge the work of other teachers implies the same thing.” — Ibid, p. 131.

Not only do Waldorf students copy from their teachers, but the teachers copy from other Waldorf teachers, whose work often contains multiple errors. These problems stem from at least two underlying problems. One is that teachers who have gone through Waldorf teacher training may know a lot about Waldorf methods and rationale, but they often have little or no mastery of the subjects they are assigned to teach. The other problem is that Waldorf teachers are often expected to move rapidly from subject to subject (math, geography, history...). Even when a particular teacher is well-grounded in some subjects, s/he is inevitably less well-equipped to teach other subjects. So s/he copies from books or booklets written by other Waldorf teachers, and if these contain errors (as they often do), s/he unwittingly passes these errors along. "Class teachers have to cover an immense range of topics. A seventh grade teacher, for example, has to teach courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, physiology, English language and literature, geography and history. Since most people have specialized knowledge of at most one or two of these subjects this means...the teacher is at the mercy of his or her sources ... [I]f you have only a few weeks in which to prepare to teach a block in physiology or medieval history you may well find yourself simply copying what someone has told you or what you read in a few — maybe a very few — books. Very often the time available is considerably less than a few weeks. Having completed sixth grade you are in a state of exhaustion [as you try to get ready for teaching seventh grade] ... That means about one week of preparation for each main lesson block, provided you do not take a vacation." — Ibid. pp. 131-132.

Critical thinking is not highly prized at Waldorf schools or among Anthroposophists. Instead, Anthroposophists tend to be true believers who uncritically choose gurus for themselves. The gurus are, of course, almost always fellow Anthroposophists. "As anthroposophists we are enjoined to practice veneration and to silence the inner voice which is apt to be saying, 'But.. But... But...' ... Anthroposophists, however, seem to adopt their gurus uncritically, often simply on the strength of reputation or position. I have seen it happen often enough and it seems to be quite easy to become an anthroposophical guru ... I have no doubt that some of the anthroposophical authorities whom I have encountered over the years have been people of genuine insight ... Equally there are those who are ‘negative influences’, some of whom do it with charisma and some with bumbling sincerity. A few are self-serving charlatans." — Ibid., pp. 61-62.

An underlying problem at Waldorf schools is that real knowledge about the real world is often rejected. Anthroposophists believe the occult, "clairvoyant" teachings of Rudolf Steiner, not the knowledge produced by modern science and scholarship. A subsidiary problem is that Anthroposophists can become arrogant in their belief that they — and only they — know the Truth. "Anthroposophists generally practise what they preach...but only up to a point. We certainly have no difficulty in rejecting most of the world's recognized authorities, along with the orthodoxies of politics, economics, medicine, science, art, agriculture and education that they represent — except when they just happen to fit in with something that we are pushing. As a group we believe that we have access to knowledge that puts us in a superior position, and the tendency to let this feeling of superiority show is one of the most off-putting features of the anthroposophical personality." — Ibid., pp. 60-61.

There is often considerable turmoil within Waldorf faculties. • "When Waldorf teachers work together the external opposing forces [i.e., opponents of Waldorf education and/or Anthroposophy] can be resisted effectively, if not defeated. Bitter experience has taught me, however, that these periods of well-being do not last, and that when things go bad they do so from the inside." [p.94] • "When it comes to ordinary human weaknesses, we cannot assume that anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers will be any better than average for the human race as a whole. Since there is a tendency for anthroposophy to bring out the very best and the very worst in people, the deviations from the norm are greater than usual, and this only compounds the problems of making good decisions and keeping the school on course." [p. 99] • "Between them the school's managers and their protégés had turned the Rudolf Steiner School into a place where I didn't want to be ... I got myself a job at the Lenox School ... My work at Lenox was rather trying, since the students were much nastier than the ones at the Rudolf Steiner School and this was only partly compensated for by the fact that the teachers were considerably easier to get on with." — Ibid., p. 115.

Competitiveness and jealousy are not unknown among Waldorf teachers. Consider what happened after several teachers competed for a high position in a Waldorf school. "[T]he flamingly idealistic enthusiasts who did not get the job are still present [in the school] and may have some difficulty in channeling their will forces cooperatively. Waldorf communities make very convenient homes for loose cannons ... I remember several occasions when the work of the College [of Teachers] ground to a halt for weeks or even months because of implacable bees in the bonnets of one or two members. I remember other occasions when good people left the school because they couldn’t stand it any more." — Ibid., p. 103.

How Waldorf teachers talk about their students: "Amy and Jack must be very artistic children who are incarnating just a little slowly and need help ... Maria and Cliff are over-intellectual (tsk, tsk) and already too deep into the physical. Their intellectuality must be checked and they must be given more artistic work and made to recopy their main lesson books — several times, if necessary. Their parents must be instructed to keep them off the Internet, away from the TV and video games and to discourage them from reading the modern novels that fascinate them and doing many other things that an intellectually curious child is apt to do." — Ibid., p. 133.

At most Waldorf schools, the inner council of faculty members is called the College of Teachers. The members study Rudolf Steiner's teachings, pray and meditate, and make administrative decisions for the school. "The College of Teachers of which I was privileged to be a member for many years had a strong tendency to oscillate between two extremes and I have seen similar tendencies in my travels as a visiting teacher [at other Waldorf schools]. One extreme is the position that the College should concern itself with purely spiritual matters and leave the nuts and bolts to other groups or individuals. The other is that the College should take the responsibility for everything, right down to the shape of the bathroom doorknob. Proponents of the first view say that it is the task of the College to maintain the lines of communication with the spiritual beings who hover over the school, and if the College doesn’t do it perhaps no one will. The school is a spiritual organism and there must be an organ to receive and cherish what flows in from the spirit [realm]. Those who take the second view say that decisions about nut and bolts are spiritual matters." — Ibid., p. 134.

Waldorf faculties often have very high opinions of themselves, believing that they are engaged on a holy mission. "Before I left England I had realized that there was something close to consensus among the teachers at Wynstones [a British Waldorf school] that their school was the one place in the world where things were being done correctly according to Rudolf Steiner’s wishes ... I also learnt that the staff at Michael Hall [another British Waldorf school] in Sussex thought the same thing about their school, although the exactly correct things being done there were often in contradiction to the exactly correct things being done at Wynstones. It did not occur to me that the same kind of scholastic chauvinism might operate in [Waldorf schools in] the USA until I had my nose practically rubbed in it ... The teachers at Wynstones and Michael Hall knew that they carried the sacred flame of Waldorf education. Some people at Garden City [a Waldorf school in suburban New York] had the same idea about themselves." — Ibid., pp. 59-60.

"For many years, we were enthusiastic about the [Waldorf] school in spite of many red flags. Ultimately, however, we became disillusioned, in particular by what we considered to be Waldorf’s low academic standards. When we first enrolled, we were told that taking children out of the school between the beginning of first grade and the end of third grade could be a problem because many Waldorf students don't learn to read before the end of third grade; but by the end of third grade, we were told, Waldorf students are even with, or ahead of, students in other schools. That was not our experience, nor that of many other people I know.


“When my daughter went from Waldorf third grade to public school fourth grade, her new teacher told me she was two or three years behind grade level. Later in the year, she corrected that estimate and said that my daughter had been more than three years behind grade level. Walking around the public school classroom on parents' night, looking at the children's work, said it all. The children had written essays that were easy to follow, even with the occasional mistake here and there. Our daughter's essays were incomprehensible. She had made brave attempts to write words, guessing at the letters involved, but not succeeding in spelling a single word correctly. The other children's work was the result of four years of public education. Our daughter's was the result of four years of Waldorf ‘education.’ Our daughter worked extremely hard. As she began to progress, she told us she liked having grades and knowing whether she was learning how to do things right or not. When she finally started getting good grades in subjects other than art and physical education, she took pleasure in her own sense of accomplishment.” — Former Waldorf parent Margaret Sachs. [See “Our Experience”.


“I asked specific questions about Anthroposophy and its role in our local Waldorf school before enrolling our children [at Waldorf]. This was before the Internet was a part of people's lives. I later discovered the answers I was given were lies.

“I had no reason not to trust the information I was given [by the Waldorf school]. I've interviewed numerous private school directors and principals, and in those cases where my children ended up attending their schools there were no conditions or events that contradicted anything they told me about the schools. Because my father was in the army [so our family moved a lot], my parents interviewed many private school principals before sending my brother and me to new schools. None of those schools had hidden agendas. There are some people you expect to lie, such as criminals, politicians, and teenagers. It is not normal, however, for schools to lie to parents of prospective students.” — Ibid.

"During the many years my children were in a Waldorf school, I had no idea that Anthroposophy was based on racist beliefs. I also did not know that the movement was tainted by Steiner's anti-Semitic teachings and the Holocaust denials made by some Anthroposophists. Had my husband and I discovered any of this while my children were at the school, we would have removed them without much delay. For me, to do otherwise would be like voting for George Wallace when he was a segregationist or applauding a speech given by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Another thing you might want to consider is that many parents have concerns about safety and hygiene issues at Waldorf schools. At our Waldorf school, it was apparent to me that teachers were woefully ignorant in this area. A friend's son fell from a tree at school. He lay on his back, in pain. A teacher came over and scooped him up in her arms, completely unaware that moving a person who is lying on the ground after a fall could cause permanent paralysis. On a camping trip, teachers forced two girls to pick up other people's soiled toilet paper with their bare hands. They were ignorant of first aid rules that adults who supervise children on camping trips are supposed to know — in this case, that latex gloves must always be worn when touching anything involving other people's bodily fluids because they could transmit HIV or other dangerous infections. Another parent reported that on a badly organized field trip, chaperones failed to keep all children in view. Some of those children, exhausted from having to hike too far, hitchhiked in strangers' cars. I have heard many other stories like these.” — Ibid.

"We discovered our children had been surreptitiously exposed to Anthroposophy in many different ways, such as through rituals, 'art,' history classes filled with ancient myths, and a boring form of movement called 'eurythmy' which supposedly links people directly to Steiner's 'supersensible world.' Much of it might might seem harmless, but in the long run it affects the development of a child's thinking. One of my children, now an adult, is still angry at having been led to believe things that were not true." — Ibid.

“At our Waldorf school, my son's class teacher did take bullying seriously when it was brought to his attention and, as far as I could tell, handled the situation well. Parents in other classes, however, told me they were not satisfied with how teachers handled reports of bullying. One girl...actually broke other children's bones ... Several teen boys, including the son of Waldorf teachers, assaulted a girl ... A girl I knew was rammed against a wall by a teacher ... Yet another girl told me that a teacher hurt her when he yanked her arm to try to force her to cross a stream on a field trip and then grabbed her and shook her violently ... I saw a teacher go ballistic on two children for playing with some outdoor sprinkler lines ... Even a teacher whom we liked and respected had a reputation for occasionally going into extraordinary rages in the classroom. 

"In all fairness, there were some serious instances of student bullying and violence at a couple of other schools my children attended, although I never heard of teachers being out of control at any of them. 

"Clearly, though, our Waldorf school was far from being the peaceful, spiritually evolved environment we had originally believed it to be. It's my opinion that some of the teachers at our Waldorf school should not have been working with children and would never have been able to find employment in a non-Anthroposophical school." — Ibid. [See "Slaps".]

Using pseudonyms for her former colleagues, a former Waldorf teacher has written, “[F]aculty meetings were a disaster ... It didn’t take me long to realize there were too many Indians and not enough chiefs in the room. I think because there was no recognized leader and because the school was small everyone seemed to believe that we could hold an informal conversation every Thursday after school and organically figure it out ... One of the reasons why faculty meetings felt like a root canal was not only due to the fact that no one seemed to be able to speak [succinctly] thus toying with my nerves, but because of Mrs. Bear ...  Because the concept of clear and concise never entered a faculty meeting (a salt and pepper combination essential to everyday living), I started to react physically. After one particular name-calling session between Mrs. Bear and Mr. and Mrs. Turtle, I got sick with the flu....” — Former Waldorf teacher Lani Cox. [See “Ex-Teacher”.]

Describing the start of a school day: 
“After singing roll, I choose a child, perhaps this would be the child of the day (or my little helper) to come up and light the candle on the nature table. The candle is lit out of reverence, to set a mood, much like you would at church or at the dinner table. Then the child returns to his place and we say our morning verse which was written by Rudolf Steiner.

The sun with loving light makes bright for me each day. The soul with spirit power gives strength unto my limbs. In sunlight shining clear I do revere O God, the strength of humankind. Which thou so graciously has planted in my soul. That I with all my might, may love to work and learn. From Thee come light and strength. To Thee rise love and thanks.

“...[T]he candle is blown out and the class sits down.” — Ibid.

“Because we had little funding and because of everyone’s inexperience, all of my assistants [i.e., assistant teachers in first grade] were pulled from kindergarten and so they inevitably had to go back to their original classrooms. There was little consistency. Or you could say there was a great deal of consistent change. Just when one of the assistants stayed long enough to understand how to work with me and the children, she had to go back. 

“...Mrs. Peacock showed up one day unexpectedly and announced that she wanted to try her hand at leading the class. She always wanted to be a grade’s teacher and wouldn’t I let her have a chance? She played a few games with them and left smiling, satisfied by her performance. Another day Mrs. Blue Jay stopped by. She sat back and watched. Then on another Mrs. Bear. Mrs. Raven observed my class as well. Other days, I had no assistant or visitors.

“First grade had become a revolving door.”
 — Ibid.

"In September 2005, the [Waldorf] high school students, teachers and some staff members went to what was called a 'communication retreat' on an island set up for summer camps. 

"The retreat was the creation of two staff  members who claimed to be experienced in this kind of group work. It was later discovered that they had never tried this with a large group of students.

"The main activity of students (ages 14 to 19) and staff members was to sit in a large circle, 67 people in total, in the cafeteria for six hours divided by three sittings. 

"All were asked to keep silent unless [one] individual felt moved to speak. The beginning of this activity was signaled by a chime used by a staff member. No one could speak until they said their name each time they wanted to speak, i.e. 'My name is ...'. 

"The stated goal of this five-day activity was to bring all members of the group to one consensus of one thought. By the end of the second day, many students were intimidated by this process and were not able to express themselves. Many students showed signs of restlessness, agitation and they were clearly uncomfortable. They were not allowed to call their parents privately. Some students called this cult indoctrination and refused to attend meetings. " — Former Waldorf teacher "Alice Shapiro." [See "Satanic Cult?".]*

“Waldorf schools are a religious messianic-type cult built on the dogmas of theosophical principles and beliefs put in place by a charismatic cult leader, Rudolf Steiner, who is a self-proclaimed clairvoyant wielding his own style of New World Order.

“This is a polytheistic religion using the word 'verses' to replace 'prayer' used every morning in all classes. Teachers are expected to use these  prayers, meditations akin to the Buddhist method and Steiner prescribed spiritual exercises to gain knowledge of the gods, their hierarchies and their higher worlds.”

 — Ibid.

“According to a well-known present-day anthroposophist, Roy Wilkinson, [Waldorf] teachers are expected to develop clairvoyant faculties. Wilkinson outlines this path in the book THE  SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, The Waldorf Approach, noting specifically in the chapter ‘Esoteric Development and the Teacher’;  ‘This is the same path that should be followed by every teacher who takes his vocation seriously.’"

 — Ibid.

"My Waldorf school, and the kindergarten, too, was very violent; violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying. 

"The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I can't describe it better. You could count on being thrown into the wall, cupboards or into rocks, being hit, being pushed, those kinds of things — every day. 

"I've been scratched 'til I got bruises, been kicked in my back 'til I couldn't breath, been hit with a wooden 'club' on my head so that I saw stars (but no angels). But that's just the tip of an iceberg. 

"As far as I can remember, I was never physically maltreated by a teacher — my class teacher was a relatively decent human being, although misled by Steinerites. In kindergarten, I don't know, those teachers were more evil and more Anthro. Also, the teacher who was hired to bring me to school against my will when I was in 1st grade, she didn't mind hurting me while she stopped me from fleeing. But she didn't continue to hurt me just because she could.” — Former Waldorf student Alicia Hamberg. [See “Slaps”.]

"As an English teacher with a penchant for romantic poetry, Roger Graham knows how to write a love letter. But in 2001 when he began writing to one of his 16-year-old female students, the married Graham, in his fifties, may have penned the final chapter for the Newcastle Waldorf School, a Rudolf Steiner school he helped establish in the early 1980s.

"'Dearest heart! Most beloved, heart of my heart!' he wrote to the girl, then in the same class as his daughter. 'I yearn for your lips and arms ...'

"Graham wrote to 'my luminous goddess' some 20 times over the next six months, during which they began a physical relationship, hugging and kissing before, during and after school.

"He touched my chest a few times and often squeezed my bottom," she wrote in a 2006 report to the NSW [New South Wales] Ombudsman. They went to dinner together, and occasionally met after school at Newcastle's Dixon Beach, where Graham took the girl 'up to the bushy hillside and was on top of me, kissing'.

"She wrote: 'Perhaps the whole thing was a turn-on for him. Certainly he seemed to take more risks as time went on.'" — "No Class Act," The Brisbane Times, July 11, 2009.  [See "Extremity".]

"In 1995 eight children and several parents made statements to the child protection and investigation unit of Newcastle Police, alleging seven teachers [at Newcastle Waldorf School] shook, choked, hit and kicked students as young as seven. A teacher also reportedly pushed a boy through a classroom window, breaking his arm.

"The school — the recipient last year of $800,000 in state and federal funding — has since been the subject of complaints to the Department of Community Services, the NSW Ombudsman, the Association of Independent Schools, the Board of Studies and politicians.

"'And yet nothing ever seemed to change,' says Peta Ridgeway, who removed her children from the school at the end of 2006. 'It's a mystery to me how the place wasn't closed down.'” — Ibid.

"Parents, former students and former staff allege a culture of secrecy, denial and cover-up at the school, which they claim is run as a private fiefdom of [teachers] Montefiore and Graham, until the latter's dismissal.

"Montefiore — whose four children have taught at the school — 'is a power unto herself', says a former member of the school board. 'And they all idolise Roger. When the board dismissed him, two female teachers came to me, weeping, and begged me not to do it.'

"Several teachers have gone on to marry former students, who in turn became teachers at the school. 'The whole place is incredibly incestuous and parochial,' says the former board member." — Ibid.

"I have had so much telephone air time in the last week [i.e., phone calls] from survivors of this absurd and nasty education [i.e., Waldorf education]. One letter from a man whose daughter was sexually abused by a teacher named [X] in 1982 when she was seven. He is so angry and feels so helpless as his daughter is self-mutilating, in and out of hospital and generally broken. [X] was known by me to be sexually abusing little girls for sure in 1975. We suspected he was doing the same to little boys as well. This had been going on since he joined in the late 1960's. Any queries were dismissed, put down, isolated with the implication that the victim had somehow deserved it.

“...I personally had [one] main lesson teacher for eight years. I used to try and count the days I DID NOT get beaten. One term there were no days. I was humiliated verbally, described as a mess, slow and stupid. I was dyslexic. He died a few years ago much respected....” — Former Waldorf student “Rosie.” [“See Waldorf Student Testimonial - Rosie” at]

"If a system believes that we inherit our Karma and that all bad things are what we chose in a previous life, fair enough. But there is no place for this in education of children. The belief might be there, as we know racism is often there, but any sign that it is being acted out should be nipped in the bud. There is no way this should be an alibi for raping a small child, beating anyone for anything and actively preventing them from learning.

"Steiner schools have a reputation, created by themselves, for nurturing and caring. A third parent [i.e., the school is a third parent] is another description I have heard. This is so totally the opposite from my experience. So many children came from 'dysfunctional' homes. Parents either knew they needed help and hoped the school was the answer or needed an alibi for their own behavior and the school gave them that." — Ibid.

"I had been assigned [as classroom assistant] to the ‘main lesson’ teacher of a 2nd grade class [in a Waldorf school], but I also had the opportunity to obtain some inside views into the lessons given in other grades. In this class, forty-two (!) children sat in pairs at double desks, all facing the teacher. The organic form of the room and the pastel-colored walls didn't compensate for such an arrangement. I quickly learned that large classes were the rule at this school, and not the exception. In this light, a cap of thirty-three students in public school classes seems like paradise — even though we rightly complain that one cannot properly work with the individual student in groups that large.” — Claudia Pangh, “The Phlegmatic Sits by the Window”. 

 [See "Ex-Teacher 3”.]

“Every school day [at Waldorf] was so ritualized that a large part of the morning was taken up by the recitation of verses, either individually or as a group. I don't know how many parents are aware of the nature of these verses to which their children are exposed on a daily basis, and which the students have to learn by heart. From my point of view, they carried a distinctly Christian-Anthroposophical world view, which, in my opinion, should only have a place in religious instruction. I would even doubt that the seven- and eight-year-old kids had any understanding of the meaning of the words they parroted every day. Fortunately, conflicts with children from different religions or cultures did not arise; I found my Waldorf school to be a zone completely void of foreigners.” — Ibid.

“The actual instruction in [a Waldorf] class was executed...rigidly ... No matter whether students wrote, drew, or calculated, everything was done in rigid monotony. There were only a few moments in which the children could contribute their own ideas. Usually, people stuck to the prescribed schedule. Each of my shy questions about the reasons for the various measures and schedules was answered with a reference to Rudolf Steiner's works. For my host, the maxims Steiner had developed in the twenties [i.e., 1920's] contained clear and unconditional truth, and they were never questioned.”

 — Ibid.

“I could tell you more [about teaching in a Waldorf school]...[such as] the pedagogical criteria to judge students according to their temperaments, which were completely new to me, and the strange seating arrangement resulting from them. The sanguines sit by the wall, because they're already so wound up, but the phlegmatics sit by the window, because they need the energy of the light! Or I could talk about the often-praised foreign language instruction, which I found to be a stupid memorization of poems and verses.” 

 — Ibid.

. [See "Temperaments


“Based on my experiences, I think that many parents don't realize what immense importance the Anthroposophical ideology has in Waldorf schools. Families will probably get into conflicts right away if the parents aren't convinced and practicing Anthroposophists themselves; the impression of a certain amount of indoctrination appeared at least partly justified. As I said, Anthroposophically oriented families probably won't have a problem with that, but others should think twice about what they are getting into.”

 — Ibid.

“What bugs me most is that the Waldorf schools are still presented as THE ultimate progressive schools, and many parents who only want the best for their child blindly trust [this] concept. Of course, it is possible to find plenty of negative experiences with teaching and teachers in public schools, but this makes it even worse if Waldorf pedagogy is presented as THE shining counter-ideal. The expectations of many critical parents will remain unfulfilled, for example when it comes to self-determined and individualized learning. A pedagogical concept becomes questionable in my eyes if it tunes out the reality of society to the extent Waldorf pedagogy does. Some may view this as shelter for their children, but I would call it otherworldliness. If school is to prepare for an emancipated life in society, it has to confront the difficulties and problems of the children, no matter whether it is the media, violence, racism or other issues.

“Finally, one should realize in this public discussion that in the meantime the ideas and goals of progressive education have made their way into public schools. The picture that is painted in public about the teaching reality in public schools these days is often wrong. As a student of social pedagogy, herself a Waldorf graduate, said when she watched independent work in a [public school] classroom run by myself and a colleague: ‘Oh, how wonderful, I didn't know teaching like this can be so much fun!’"

 — Ibid.

"My name is Sarah ... I attended a Waldorf school from first grade to the beginning of sixth grade ... I have A
DD [attention deficit disorder] ... Waldorf is totally in the dark about ADD-related disorders and other types of disabilities.....

“My teacher was a man who I will refer to here as Mr. M, who was and is...a teacher bully ... Mr. M went out of his way to give me a hard time and bully me because of my difficulty paying attention, or if I made a mistake no matter how small ... I remember him in first grade screaming at me in front of the whole class, because I was having trouble understanding a math problem ... I remember in third grade, I misunderstood a homework assignment and he literally shamed me for the whole afternoon....

“...Whenever dealing with my parents Mr. M would pretend to act all sweet and nice, but when he was with me, he became a bully. My mom knows now that she should have taken me out of that school a lot sooner ... I recently learned that a lot of Waldorf students have stories like mine.

“...As far as Mr. M is concerned, he still teaches at [the same Waldorf] school and has done this kind of thing to other students and the administration has done nothing about it.” — A former Waldorf student. [See “Slaps”.]

During my eleven years at Waldorf, I stood quite close to the fire, and I was drawn to its warmth — yet I pulled back. My nearest approach to full allegiance came during the excitement and nostalgia of graduation day. On that June morning, I considered myself profoundly religious (although I could not list the Ten Commandments nor quote more than a few short Bible verses). I thrilled to the knowledge that the world is more spirit than physics, more ideal than actual. I was vain, moralistic, priggish, innocent, shy, racially bigoted, and (confusingly, for a kudo-swollen student) utterly lacking in self-confidence. I was judgmental yet uncertain. I had no patience with science and its shallow half-truths. I prized imagination over intellect, sensibility over sense. I was right about everything, always — don’t even ask. (Please, don’t ask.) I had only superficial knowledge of the US economy and the major political issues in the wide world — and I didn’t care. Everything that I saw outside the school seemed to be beneath me. I was directionless. I had no career ambitions, no academic focus, no marketable skills. I had precious few social skills. I longed for a beauteous, buxom Aryan mate. (Few real girls approximated my fantasy. Marilyn, where are you? I never dated much.) I half-yearned for easeful death, or better yet a crusade, or salvation. I dreamed of writing a book titled GOD that would reconcile all the world’s religions. I dreamed of becoming President of the United States. I dreamed of performing — I wasn’t sure what — something — a titanic, stupendous something. But I had no intention of lifting a finger. I was on hold, waiting... In other words, I had been brainwashed, with a thoroughness and intensity I could not fathom. (Call me the Manchurian Schoolboy.) And, I should add, I was — without quite realizing it — deeply unhappy. Thank God, I was deeply unhappy. As the realization of my dejection slowly dawned on me during the following years, I became motivated to try to comprehend my condition and then to repair it. Even so, only gradually was I able to fight my way down from the fog in which (metaphorically speaking: only a metaphor) I levitated and at long last find my footing in reality. It took me more than twenty years to fully deprogram myself.' — Former Waldorf student Roger Rawlings. [See "I Went to Waldorf".]

"When I returned to Los Angeles I was determined to go back to [college for graduate work] in a more humanistic and spiritualized course of study. I chose to study psychology and astrology. I found my perfect partner and was married in 1973 at my Saturn return [i.e., the return of Saturn to its previous location during a person's life].... 

"I went to work on a construction job ... I was there for one hour when a steel door slammed shut in an ‘accident,’ and I lost the tips of three fingers ... I recognized that I had a karmic relationship with the owner of the company ... In a previous life he had lived as a woman, and I had carelessly cut her fingers with my sword.

“...I began to study Anthroposophy ... I then found the Waldorf School teacher training program at Highland Hall [a Waldorf school] in Los Angeles ... After completing my course of study I went to work as a Waldorf teacher at the Denver Waldorf School.” — Former Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, in ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings, 2009). [See “Ex-Teacher 4”.]

“When it became time for my wife and I to find a Waldorf school for our own children, our search led us to Portland, Oregon. There we found a Waldorf school where I could teach and our children attend ... Teaching the Waldorf curriculum while incorporating Anthroposophy as a background for inspiration was of great benefit....

“[Later] I went to work as an insurance agent/financial planner ... I wanted to teach in Waldorf schools [again]. I found a position in Kona, Hawaii ... [Still later] we left to teach in Seattle. I was forced out due to political differences ... My last teaching attempt was at a Waldorf school in Bellevue, Washington. To my dismay I found that the Waldorf school was not following Rudolf Steiner’s indications....

“...I retired and began to devote my time to astrology.... ” — Ibid.

"[I pulled] my kids out of a ridiculous waldorf situation years ago ...  [N]ow, after a couple of years of being at the public school i have to say that yes — a lot of things are easier to accept at a Waldorf school. Aesthetically it is much more pleasing, they don't send home loads and loads of meaningless worksheets, the kids are outdoors — well, you know the pros. (And i hate to admit this prejudice; the parents are a heck of a lot more interesting than the parents at the public school!) BUT the secrecy, the 'us and them' mentality of the faculty and the 'born-again anthro parents' — it's lunacy!! Someone here once said that the Waldorfgang was the most unintellectual group of people she ever met and I completely agree. I've been in study groups where some old anthro is reinterpreting what Steiner said and basically spewing racist ideas and these (mostly) moms just sit there, absorbing it all! ... [I]t IS a cult. and it would be completely fine, if they just were open about it. Instead there is so much deception and secrecy going on that once you start exposing it, people just don't want to believe that they had been so gullible. The issue about prayers is a perfect example — are they just verses or are they prayers? You go sit in a classroom where a bunch of four year olds are thanking God for the trees and the blossoms and some of them even saying amen at the end of it and then try to pretend it's just a verse.” — Former Waldorf parent C. [See “Testimonial of a Former Waldorf Parent” at


I had previously read about Steiner Waldorf schools in a glowing article in a national newspaper. It described an holistic creative education based outdoors using 'nature as teacher.' Intrigued, I began by taking my son to a Steiner parent and toddler group. So enchanted was I at the time, I managed to persuade my family to move 40 miles away to be near a bigger Steiner school where our son would be able to attend long term. I remember attending the summer fair and whilst I stood in the queue to request a prospectus, a woman in front of me asked the administrator the following question: ‘How will the school meet the needs of my psychic daughter?’ He smiled and replied ‘We are all psychic here.’ I thought he was joking. 

“Once we had moved and enrolled our son, the teacher started to mention the word ‘Anthroposophy’ and the existence of a study group for new parents. I felt foolish that I had to ask what Anthroposophy was (I had previously looked for the word in my dictionary and had not found it) and was told it was the study of human wisdom. The teacher didn't tell me a core belief of Anthroposophy is the concept of reincarnation of the soul through racial hierarchies from Black to Aryan as a consequence of a person's karma; or the classification of a child's soul according to their physiognomy, nor was I told of the Anthroposophical movement's history. I didn't question further at that stage. As one parent recently observed ‘You don't expect a school to lie.’" — Former Waldorf parent D. [See “Coming Undone”.]*

"Many alarm bells rang during our time [at a Steiner school]. I remember the intense gaze of the teachers that would continue far longer than was comfortable. There was little laughter, everything was carried out in a very slow and purposeful way with a singsong voice, the lighting of candles, the wearing of strange hats, their infatuation with wool ... I recall the time the teacher took both my hands in hers and explaining my son had 'chosen me as his mother [before birth],' on a further occasion she stated he had 'chosen the school' ... I also recall politely refusing a teacher's offer [to] compile an astrological chart based on my son's birth date.


“...I noticed that some of the Steiner school parents became progressively withdrawn from family and friends outside the Steiner movement and gradually surrounded themselves only with those who followed the Anthroposophical belief system. I remember being invited to various other self-development programmes ... I remember the school reception displaying numerous leaflets promoting homeopathy. Mention of vaccination was conspicuously absent. I remember asking many questions and being told I was 'too in the head' and that I should 'learn to think with my heart.' I recall parents asking the teacher's advice regarding well-meaning grandparents buying electronic and plastic toys, both of which are frowned upon in Steiner schools. The teacher directed them to a specialist Steiner Waldorf toy catalogue. I began to think this was more about control than care.” — Ibid.

"[T]he Steiner dream ends for many families with the realisation that their child is academically far behind his or her peers. Susan Godsland, an independent reading intervention expert, has helped many ex-Steiner children learn to read at 8, 9 and 10. Though she acknowledges that some children can blossom in Steiner school, that a percentage will learn to read earlier in spite of the pedagogy, she believes it’s cruel to deny a child the chance to read until so late. In the last paragraphs of her 'Room 101' she explains why early reading isn’t encouraged [in Steiner schools]. A child is ‘blessed’ with not being able to read and write, since Steiner says early reading will hinder the later spiritual development of children. She adds: ‘this is simply mumbo-jumbo and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.’

“While it is evident that this failure in basic teaching could cause low self esteem, the influence of anthroposophical medicine within Waldorf schools is an added concern (for example, mistletoe as a ‘treatment’ for cancer). In addition the measles epidemics linked to European Waldorf schools are an indication of an anti-vaccination culture.” — Ibid.

From an article about Waldorf education, featuring Lillian Cooper, a former public school teacher who took Waldorf teacher training: "Tubman, which is a Waldorf school, promotes an offbeat ‘New Age’ religion known as Anthroposophy. Teachers, [Cooper] said, were told that Anthroposophy is ingrained in the curriculum of the school and that they would be responsible for the spiritual development of their pupils.

"'The red flag went up when I was told that I would be responsible for developing the soul consciousness of the children,' Cooper says. 'They started talking more and more about it ... To be a good Waldorf teacher, we had to develop our inner lives in a certain way. What I realized after quitting was that this inner path is the path according to [Waldorf schools founder] Rudolf Steiner.' 

"During one session, Cooper recalls, instructors posted a diagram labeled 'Teacher as Priest.' Says Cooper, 'I thought, "I can't do this; I have public school credentials." I just got real scared at that point....'" [See
 “Looking Into It”.]

The article goes on to quote M. C. Richards: "Waldorf writer, Mary C. Richards, asserts in TOWARD WHOLENESS: RUDOLF STEINER EDUCATION IN AMERICA, 'One could say that Waldorf education has a hidden agenda. Its curriculum is described in terms common to public schools in general; arithmetic, writing, reading, geography, botany, handicrafts, history, and so on. But in Steiner schools the dimensions of these subjects are threefold: they are artistic, cognitive, and religious ... Religion [at Waldorf] is not an affair for Sunday alone or for theologians and priests. It is a dimension applicable to all our experience [including education]....'" [Ibid.]

The article also says: "[C]ritics [contend] that Anthroposophy, while it may not be taught directly, permeates the Waldorf curriculum.

“Waldorf writings seem to back this up. In one book, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE, author Gilbert Childs writes, ‘Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second....[I]t must never be forgotten — and one must be emphatic about this — that the whole of teaching matter and method in Steiner schools is aimed at developing within each child the consciousness that spirit permeates everything in the world.’" [Ibid.]

“I was involved in a Steiner school for quite a few years....

“The kindergarten was a disaster... .

“The bullying was awful. The teacher ignored it, capitulated in it, or simply showed all these little kids how to do it best. One time my daughter told her kindergarten teacher a little boy had kicked her, hard, right then as they were sitting there, and the kindergarten teacher had said in her sing-song voice ‘Oh, I don't think he did, did he?’ 

"...The kids at that school were and are so angry because the parents were so busy arguing and getting exhausted and keeping up appearances and trying to hold down jobs as well so they could afford a certain kind of right-on organic whole-foods yoga-mum lifestyle in North London AND the Steiner school fees as well AND the time they were supposed to put in [volunteering at the school] ... [I]t made them all totally wired-up, short-circuiting really, quite crazy and paranoid and twitchy to be around....

“[Eventually] I really realised nothing about that school in particular could ever do my daughter any good ... [Many people there were] hardcore Steiner followers who didn't acknowledge me, or others I knew, time and time again, who would look straight through us, and only talk to each other....

“Don't send your children to Steiner school unless you are happy about conforming entirely to the beliefs of the majority, placing your trust in a sea of sometimes disturbing and odd beliefs, and 'letting go' of your children and your own intuition into that sea.” — Former Waldorf parent Suzanne Slack. [See]

"When my child was going through a bad time [at her Waldorf school] it was draining emotionally and my energy was gone. I needed to get him out of the situation, as a few other parents did with their children. I looked at the big picture and realized I wasn't up for the fight. The horizontal administration [i.e., 'collegial' faculty governance], not one person accountable, makes for very slow changes ... My child is now at a wonderful [non-Waldorf] school and his behavior and attitude have changed beyond belief ... [L]ast year 35 families, approximately 75 children left our [Waldorf] school, I was not an isolated case ... Obviously those families did not think the fight was worth it. The fifth grade class at our [Waldorf] school went from 24 children to 9 children, they lost most children this year and last year. The lower grades are faring better but there have been at least 5 families that have left Kindergarten through second grade this year, mid-term.” — Former Waldorf parent E. [See "Anonymous Testimonial From Waldorf Parent" at]*

"We pulled our child out [of her Waldorf school] not because of some incident that happened but because we read Steiner. We didn't like what we read and felt very violated that the school had been operating on a level that excluded us from the pedagogy [i.e., they accepted no input from parents]. I say this because in addition to not being provided the information up front, many questions that I asked of different teachers were not answered in a straightforward manner.

“In the case of the kindergarten teacher I know for a fact that her vague and deflective manner was not due to her limited knowledge of RS [i.e., Rudolf Steiner] and anthroposophy. In discussions I've had with another parent in that class there was a wide range of knowledge about anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner that this teacher shared with that parent. I found out at a meeting I attended after leaving the school that the teacher's husband (also a board member) stated that he had been studying Steiner for two decades.” — Former Waldorf parent Kathy H. [See “Parent Testimonial in waldorf-critics Post” at]*

"Have you seen it written somewhere that Steiner believed white people were most evolved??? This was blatantly apparent in the curriculum of the Waldorf school we visited.

"My daughter is African American, and this is one of the two reasons (along with the sexist dynamics) that we decided against the school. The teacher, telling me about the history part of the curriculum, said that since 5th graders are becoming rational, and rationality 'came in with the Greeks,' that's what they study in 5th grade.

"The whole 'history as a developmental process paralleling children's development, with Western civilization at the pinnacle' is inherently racist.

"I saw the unit study books one class had done about Africa. At the beginning, under their identical paintings of a traditional African man hunting in silhouette, they all had the same saying copied: 'Perhaps this life of ours which begins as the quest of the child for the adult, ends as a journey by the adult to rediscover the child ... It is in the Bushman wherein the two are finally and lovingly joined.' (Laurens van der Post) I shudder to think of my daughter learning about her heritage in this way."  [See “Woman See Waldorf Racism on First Visit" at]*

"We are very worried about how [our son’s] time at the Steiner school is still affecting him ... He left in May last year, and he still has nightmares. He will wake up very afraid at least 2 - 3 times a week, and while half-asleep will beg us not to send him back to Steiner school in the morning. He still talks about it almost every day, mentioning stupid, stupid things that the so-called teachers filled his head with. It still makes me so angry that he couldn't tell us the ridiculous things they were saying to him while he was there, as the teachers were belittling our role as his parents and telling him what they said was the real 'truth.' It’s still very much at the forefront of his mind, and for a six-year-old to remember those things in such detail almost a year on is worrying.“ — Former Waldorf parent F. [See “Slaps”.


"It infuriates me that so many people are hoodwinked by those [Steiner] schools. I have no problem with people wanting to send their children to Steiner schools if they know the whole truth, but there are so many people who are duped into sending their kids there, as I was. The trouble for Steiner education is, though, that if they did tell the whole truth, the number of children signing up for the schools would be cut dramatically, as most parents would think they [i.e., Steiner faculties] were barking mad!” — Ibid.

“[W]e had meetings, went to 'promotional' days, read the prospectus, asked for reading material about the education, and asked questions. Never once was Anthroposophy mentioned. We had limited access to the Internet then, too, and one expects school administrators and teachers, particularly such so-called gentle, caring child-centered ones as we thought they were, to be honest. We were deceived.

“It's true, too, that we were attracted to the school for what it wasn't in many ways; this was also how it 'sold' itself — the lack of tests, beautiful buildings and surroundings, wonderful food, so called creativity, music.

“To belittle the experiences of families who have been through these schools and seen the worst of Anthroposophy in action would be a grave mistake. Where our children went, not only was there unnecessary physical force from teachers (apparently quite violent), and bullying amongst the children. There were occasions when dark children with some non-European roots (including ours) were singled out; questioning this brought rage from the teachers; I constantly question the motives for this now; at the time, we hadn't read enough Steiner.

“Moving them [from the school] was traumatic. But the relief on our children's faces was palpable. Guilt, too, plays a huge part; if a parent can't shield their children from harm, but actually throws them into the arms of the perpetrators, it's not unnatural to react.” — Ibid.

From an article about David Gilmour, who sent his child to a Waldorf school:

"Several aspects of the Steiner system alarmed him. 'Steiner believes that six to seven is the age at which to start teaching reading and writing. My son, Matthew, was frustrated by not being able to write his name at seven. When he left, aged nine, he could only just read.'

"Another central plank of the philosophy is that, between the ages of eight and 14, children should remain with the same teacher for the main lesson every morning. This is designed to promote continuity and works well if child and teacher get on. If not, Gilmour says, 'it can be torture'.

"'The school had its good aspects, but overall, the system seemed slack. I found the children's knowledge was very patchy, and their school reports, which consisted only of praise, gave me little idea of how they were really doing.' Since the system is non-hierarchical, with no head teacher, Gilmour felt there was no one with sufficient authority to resolve his anxieties.

"So concerned did he become that he took his children to be assessed by educational psychologists. The results shocked him. Matthew, when first examined in 1994, was judged to have an average IQ of 101 but was considered to be 'seriously disabled in terms of literacy acquisition, with his reading and spelling lying a full three years below his chronological age'.

"Less than two years later [after leaving Steiner], Matthew was retested. The educational psychologist found him to have 'flourished' outside the Steiner system; his retested IQ was now 124." [See "We Don't Need No Steiner Education".]

"[I]t was not just the bullying, the teaching was stagnant. The same things over and over, the same methods from every child, regardless. Sure everything is so pretty and subtle and so much emphasis on handwork and creativity, but I always just had a sense of unease there. Lovely beeswax crayons and nature tables or not. Too rigid? Too focused on the method and theory at the expense of the individual child ... No black pencils, everything smudged. Sure, to us adults it all looks so beautiful — but look closer — look at that wall of drawings! They are all exactly the same! They are all told to draw exactly the same things in exactly the same way — and that basically seems to be the essence of what Steiner education is at from my pov [i.e., point of view].” — Former Waldorf parent G. [See “Selections from the Green Parent Forum” at]*

"[A]ll they are dished out is Steiner, Steiner, Steiner. [L.] wonders how his fellow participants are doing. Those who think everything's great had already been anthroposophists — that's how they refer to themselves.

"...Differences become more and more evident, conflicts are worsening on both sides, each citing Steiner. Some adore him in a rather cultic fashion, others want to be left alone, some ask whether they'll ever be able to understand all this. Open dispute erupts during the [discussion of the book] STUDY OF MAN (GA 293). The difference of...higher- and lower-standing peoples ... L. insists such thoughts are dangerous, after all Germany did see where all that can lead ... The lesson over, L. is left speechless.

"L. gets the impression the others...already came to understand [that] anthroposophy puts a lot of emphasis on hierarchies, human hierarchies, angel hierarchies, leaders ... None of the lecturers consider to offer a summary of a subject: lessons have more the feel of a church service interpreting Steiner's word. Lecturer Klein puts it this way: 'I am a missionary on behalf of Steiner.'" — Andreas Lichte. [See "Teacher Training".]

"[T]he reason why they [i.e., Waldorf teachers] thought their paths, their teaching methods were so 'right' was because they did see themselves as spiritual guides ... [T]he behaviours and preferences of the child mean nothing in the scheme of their 'bettering' or 'enlightening' of this child and it's peers. They know what they are doing and would like it to be none of our business — indeed believe it is none of our business. In a way our entrusting of our children in their care reinforces that for them. Like it is their (the child's) karmic path to be taught by these masters of enlightenment (which [is how] they see themselves — I swear they are so far up their own asses there is really no point in talking to them, so sure of themselves and [Steiner's] teachings). Perhaps even a child needs to be bullied in order to learn their life's lesson this time around. That was the impression they give, when pushed. But who pushes them? Who bothers to delve when it all looks so attractive? When it's always so easy to give over to the 'experts'. They do after all have 'qualifications' to be doing what they are doing.” [See “Selections from the Green Parent Forum” at]*

"Anthroposophy has a very screwed-up psychology, full of beliefs that are not conducive to mental health, such as (one of my favorites), ‘Thoughts are living reality,’ which leads a person to try to repress bad thoughts or bad emotions rather than accept and deal with them. Instead you're encouraged to project anxieties and fears and anger on spirit entities (e.g., gnomes). This stuff is also inflicted on the children, and it is particularly explosive with children, makes them extremely angry and uncooperative. So you have situations building in the classroom every day where lots of people are getting angrier and angrier, both teachers and students, and have no healthy outlets for it, particularly because with children, you can't talk about anything directly. 

“I could write a book on this ... We had a lot of teachers walking around who were anger time bombs, and the occasional explosions were truly memorable.” — Former Waldorf parent Diana Winters. [See “Slaps

"I think it is very important to at least try to understand what some children go through in Waldorf/Steiner schools — especially those where Anthroposophic extremism is the norm. There are the obvious questions around 'is Anthroposophic education good for children?' And then there are other issues: I've known more than a few children who were hit, screamed and sworn at by Waldorf teachers — with virtually NO repercussions, other than pathetic suggestions that those who raise concerns do not understand karma. Fact is there were no other available teachers, so the wild ones stayed, believing (and being supported by peers) they were destined to be with the children in their class. That is what Steiner says.” — Former Waldorf parent Steve Galliford ("Walden"). [See “Slaps”.]

"There are those within the Anthroposophy/Waldorf movement who believe their own public relations are less than forthright. There are some who feel as frustrated at the deceptive marketing and misleading information as the parents do who make the gut-wrenching decision to pull children from their school. This is not a decision parents take without much thought, sadness and trepidation. In most cases, however, the decision simply must be made. Something is wrong. The education the parents were sold was simply not the education their children received. Beautiful, gentle, arts-based, natural type of education has very little in common with a spiritual movement based on the religious/occult theories of one man and his followers.” — Former Waldorf parent Steve Galliford ("Walden"). [See “Our Experience”.


“I do not believe that the people running Waldorf schools are bad people. For a while, after discovering the things I did, I thought there may be something inherently bad or evil in the system of education itself, but I think the problem lies more in the attitude and needs of those people who are involved in this kind of education.

"...Waldorf schools are more than schools, they are communities, and very tight-knit communities at that.

"...Once in, the community demands much of your time and money, and this further tends to isolate you from other friends.

"....Both [of my children] have developed an aversion to anything remotely connected to the Waldorf School.

"...I continue to ponder why it all happened. How did I almost destroy my daughter by choosing to send her to an apparently caring, art-based, beautiful small private school? How could people who appeared to be good friends suddenly turn on us and later forget we exist?” — Former Waldorf parent H. [See “Our Experience”.]*

"The Waldorf schools present their anti-materialistic and [pro-]ecological values to people searching other ways to lead their lives — ourselves included ... What scared us the most was the fact that we, in order to find the very best pedagogical alternative for our children, were led to believe that the pedagogical tools of the Waldorf school were not closely linked to Anthroposophy....

"...Unfortunately we experienced the school to be a highly religious sect with no respect whatsoever for legal contracts, and with no continuing professional development, and [no commitment] to what we regard to be social responsibility. In very subtle ways, and with a mild and friendly smile, they assure you that the children’s education is in the best of hands. But, as time showed us, their teacher-training consists exclusively of the spiritual fantasies of one single man [i.e., Rudolf Steiner]. And having done teaching there ourselves, we found their curriculum not comparable to what is required from the state, nor [is it what they] claimed." — Former Waldorf parent Kristen A. Sandberg. [See “Our Experience”.]

"At the time our children were at the school, there were many unsettling incidents that happened on the playground in the unsupervised environment. Little boys were being beaten up, and bullying was seriously out of control. Children would come home worried and upset. Some parents were closer to what was going on than others, and tried unsuccessfully to convince the teachers to supervise the playground. There was rarely a teacher out there. It was especially disturbing in light of the fact that the boys being beaten up were not the kind of children who would ordinarily be involved in fighting or bringing on that kind of negative attention.

"An anxious parent spoke to a teacher who told her that those children were dealing with 'past life karma' they needed to work out together. The same parent finally called a member of the [school administration]...and told him she had observed children climbing the (high) play structure on stilts, children dragging other children around by ropes, children bullying and using foul language — but no teachers supervising. The teacher answered, 'You are not an initiate, and therefore you cannot understand the kind of energies we're dealing with here.' When the stunned parent reported this back to another teacher, she was met with wide eyes, 'He told you THAT?' The implication was that he had seriously erred in letting a cat out of a bag." — A former Waldorf parent. [See "January, 2013".]*

"One of the concerns some parents had was that their little girls were continually having their dresses pulled up by boys. This was very disturbing to the girls. When they screamed, it was only the girls who were reprimanded for causing a disturbance." — Ibid.

"There was a lot of parent time and energy that went into trying to make the playground a safe place, but the teachers never seemed to share the concern. One parent who dropped out ran into a parent (an Anthroposophist) the following fall who had stayed. The other parent, who had formerly been warm and friendly, was aloof, and commented ''s just so lovely and peaceful there this year. Everyone who had problems with the school is gone, and those left are people who really want to be there.' She was someone who had not cared to look at any of the problems that were being brought up. It was back to Business As Usual until the next batch of trouble-making parents would arrive in a year or two.

"The majority of people I've known who send their children to Waldorf schools have decided that the idea of public school is unthinkable. This makes them feel that they have to hang in and make it work or try to 'trust' and let it be. I got so tired of hearing the word 'trust' mouthed as if it were some kind virtue that separated the open and enlightened from the rabble."
 — Ibid.

"I used to regularly hear one parent or another discuss how miserable their child was for one reason or another, but they would do little or nothing to get the child out of the damaging situation. After [the parents' ] appealing unsuccessfully to the teacher and then to the [school administration], the child would stay in the situation ... [S]ome parents feel so personally fulfilled in the cultlike community [in and around a Waldorf school] that they are able to ignore or deny what they see, even when it affects their own children. The friend I spoke with yesterday recalled how she had been 'shunned' after finally leaving the school. It had been painful enough to let go of her dream, but then being cut off from the community that had meant so much to her made it that much worse.

"The [Waldorf] system is essentially set up in such a way that the teachers are responsible and accountable only to themselves to interpret Anthroposophy and apply it to the schools, without interference, in whatever way they choose."
 — Ibid.

"Because Waldorf is a private school, it does not adhere to the laws governing public schools, or any laws as we would soon discover. Parents are ruled by the school. I tried talking to the teacher and different members of the faculty only to be told to do what they ask and our child will benefit greatly. Any resistance on my part would have a negative impact on my daughter's education. So we did everything they asked. Did not question the ridiculous nature of what was asked, but went along with the herd. It was beginning to feel like a cult.

"This was the beginning of the slow and painful end to my love of the Waldorf School. There would be much worse incidents to come and one terrible, traumatic experience that left me and my family traumatized for life. I can no longer stay silent.” — Former Waldorf parent Carol Wyatt. [See “Our Experience”.]

"To enter a Steiner school is to enter a covert world of karmic reincarnation, the nurturing of the child’s 'soul journey' over any real education, the hidden classification of the children according to arbitrary 'Temperaments,' and a fundamental rejection of science, rationality, and technology.

"Just last night I heard from friends how they had taken their children out of a Steiner school for reasons now becoming familiar to me from talking to others: the extremism of views on what constitutes acceptable behaviour — 'No crisps!!'; the subtle way the community of the school becomes cultish and closes ranks, shunning any dissenters; the anti-vaccination attitudes; the weird and creepy classroom practices — no black paints allowed, formless, etheric paintings, faceless gnomes…." — "Graham" [See "
Coming Undone".]*

"My older son spent his first 11 years of education at a Waldorf school, and my younger son is just poised to leave his Steiner school after fifth grade. We are leaving because of a glaring weakness in Waldorf education, at least as it as practiced at this school: no focus on the individual student. Waldorf education sees children in collective terms, which is good for encouraging a non-competitive atmosphere, but is not good if your child happens to be an outlier who needs some special attention (and I am not necessarily talking about remedial education, but also special ed for the gifted and talented crowd). In his case, staying with the same teacher year after year has lost its appeal, as it is clear that this teacher has no particular interest in giving my son the additional challenges and opportunities that he needs to grow and shine. On a more general level, Waldorf education badly needs to grow itself ... [T]he egalitarian structure of our school, with a teachers’ council as the only authority, invites stagnation and complacency among the teachers ... [Y]ou’d think...there would be more energy around discussing ways to grow the Steiner approach for the times we live in ... [T]he curriculum could be far more open to the contemporary world than it is, especially once kids get to middle school. As for the angels on the moon [i.e., Steiner's occult doctrines], the jury is still out on that." — "simo1234" [See Brainstorm/Waldorf Education]*

"...[I]n my children's former Steiner school, a lot of students quit during primary school. Some research showed that out of 163 primary students who started in 2003, 80 of them left the school by 2007....

"...[T]he main issue in all kind of problems in Steiner schools is the role of the teacher ... Most Steiner teachers consider anthroposophy more important than academics. I saw this in my own experience as a student at an anthroposophical college. So it’s not surprising that parents, experts, insiders, and critics always come to the same conclusion: Most teachers in Steiner schools just don’t know how to teach! 

"Another important issue is the lack of awareness in Steiner schools [i.e., many Steiner teachers don't fully understand what the school is up to] ... [But the schools'] leaders on the contrary are well aware of what they are doing ... Could we object if people call this brainwashing and conclude that Steiner schools are cults? I don’t think so....

"I think the great danger in the anthroposophical movement is that a few people who know what anthroposophy stands for are trying to secretively foist their ideas onto uninformed people ... They exert control over the uninformed. And that’s abuse. ... [T]o use Steiner schools as a Trojan horse [sneaking Anthroposophy past people's guard] is not the right manner to reach a so-called spiritual goal. One cannot force ‘knowledge of higher worlds’ onto people who aren’t prepared for it. It’s time for the Steiner schools as well as the anthroposophical movement to come clean." — Ramon de Jonge. [See "Day and Night".]

At his websites Waldorf Awareness 
Pete Karaiskos has reproduced 
a large number of negative reviews
written about Waldorf schools 
by parents and students.

Here is a summary of some of the themes 
that run through the reviews.

Parents and students often praise Waldorf faculties — or at least some members of Waldorf faculties — for being devoted and caring. Real affection for Waldorf teachers is evident in many of the reviews. On the other hand, many reviews complain that Waldorf schools fail to provide a good education, which suggests a wide-scale failure by Waldorf faculties. The deficiencies are reportedly greatest in the core academic subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, and they are especially evident among students in the early grades. Waldorf schools generally acknowledge that they promote "slow learning," saying that they begin academic instruction later than other types of schools. But, Waldorf representatives claim, their students eventually catch up with, and even surpass, students in other schools. Many of the reviews challenge this, reporting that Waldorf students remain behind throughout middle school and even high school. In general, reviewers indicate that Waldorf schools fail to prepare their students well for college or for life outside Waldorf's walls. 

Several reviewers indicate that Waldorf preschool programs are lovely, but they suggest transferring your child to another type of school after kindergarten. (We should note, however, that Waldorf preschool provides almost none of the academic preparatory work found in mainstream preschools or in programs such as Head Start. Thus, Waldorf preschoolers may enter first grade already behind grade level, and the deficits may only increase in Waldorf elementary school.) Several reviewers indicate that although Waldorf education is sometimes represented as being progressive, in fact it relies on practices and theories laid out more than a century ago by an individual with no background as a educator — Rudolf Steiner. These reviewers comment that Waldorf faculties make little or no use of any educational innovations or improvements developed in recent decades.

While some Waldorf teachers are highly praised, others are severely criticized. Many are said to be reserved, withdrawn, harsh, and even incompetent. Various reviewers complain of teachers who have few if any real qualifications, teachers who have not gone through recognized teacher-preparation programs, and even teachers who have not gone to college. Because Waldorf class teachers often stay with the same group of children for many years (often from first grade through eighth), the qualifications and attributes of individual teachers is especially crucial in Waldorf schools, reviewers say. If your child is fortunate enough to be assigned to a group enjoying the attentions of an outstanding educator, all may be well. But if your child's class teacher is average or below-average, long-term problems will probably result.

Relations between Waldorf teachers and the parents of the students are often described as strained. Waldorf schools often encourage or even require parents to do volunteer work at the schools, and some parents sit on committees or boards holding real power within the schools. Thus, parental involvement is usually extensive at Waldorf schools, and a sense of community may be fostered. Nonetheless, parents often feel shut out by the teachers and administrators in various ways. (Rudolf Steiner indicated that Waldorf teachers should supplant parents as the most important adults in children's lives, and while this is not usually stated openly at Waldorf schools, it accounts for much of the tension that frequently arises between teachers and parents.) Parents are often not welcome in Waldorf classrooms while classes are in progress, whereas Waldorf teachers are often given free rein to conduct all classes according to their own preferences and intentions. Many parents complain that Waldorf teachers — who function with little supervision — are unresponsive to parental concerns, are unwilling to accept suggestions, seem set in their ways, and often refuse to explain themselves.

A major source of concern is that Waldorf schools are often far more immersed in Anthroposophy than they acknowledge. Parents frequently come to feel that they have been deceived, induced to send their children to schools that have unexplained esoteric beliefs and practices. The schools are widely praised for being beautiful and, thus, attractive. But in many cases parents come to feel that this superficial beauty masks both educational shortcomings and highly questionable spiritual/occult/religious views. Some reviewers indicate that they eventually concluded they had been lured into, or almost into, a cult. The Waldorf emphasis on beauty thus sometimes comes to seem deceptive. This is reflected in concerns expressed about the lovely classbooks that Waldorf students create. Some reviewers indicate that only gradually did they realize that Waldorf students create these books by carefully copying text and drawings put on the chalkboard by their teachers. A beautiful book is created, but the students have not done original work, and little real learning may result. Instead, a subtle process of indoctrination may be occurring.

Waldorf administrations come in for heavy criticism. Many reviews describe various Waldorf schools are disorganized, leaderless, and dysfunctional. Sometimes the fault is ascribed to incompetent administrators, and sometimes it is ascribed to the absence of administrators. (Many Waldorf schools attempt to operate under the collective control of the faculty, with no chairpeople, principals, or other administrative officers.) Either way, a large number of reviews indicate, Waldorf schools often suffer from a lack of effective leadership. This, along with concerns about the quality of the education provided and the hidden occult purposes of the schools, causes many families to leave. Reviewers indicate that drop-out rates at Waldorf schools are often extremely high. (Some reviewers also claim that Waldorf administrators and faculties mislead the public about such matters by posting numerous, false, positive reviews of their schools on the Internet.)

A surprising but prevalent complaint mentioned in many reviews is that Waldorf schools often allow bullying and other abusive behaviors among students and even staff. Lack of discipline is often cited, paired with failure to adequately supervise students during recesses or even in class. (While few parents seem to realize it, Waldorf teachers generally believe that children must be free to enact their karmas. Hence, if one child is fated to be a bully, and if another child is fated to be bullied, they should be given the freedom to enact these destinies.) Less common, but equally worrisome, is that some reviewers report racial prejudice, taunting, and discrimination in at least some Waldorf environs. (Steiner indicated that humans evolve upward through a series of racial forms, extending from the darkest and lowest to the whitest and highest. This belief is rarely if ever spelled out in Waldorf schools today, but at least some Anthroposophists evidently still accept it as truth.) The treatment of students with special needs in Waldorf schools is a subject of controversy. Numerous reviewers indicate that Waldorf schools are singularly ill-equipped to assist such students, while a few reviews claim just the reverse. (In Anthroposophical belief, afflictions are often the result of karma or astrological influences, and usually they should be left untreated. However, Steiner indicated that in at least some instances humane intervention is warranted.)  Some reviewers accept the Waldorf claim that individual differences are honored in the schools, but many other reviews report that students are actually stereotyped and subjected to one-size-fits-all processes.

Wading through the great number of reviews at Karaiskos's websites can be time-consuming and laborious. Many of the reviews repeat points already made by other reviews, while various reviews contradict one another. Still, reading this material can be eye-opening and, thus, valuable. I commend the undertaking to you.

Many, but by no means all, 
of the reviews collected by Karaiskos
are backed up on the pages Complaints

* I dislike using anonymous sources; I avoid doing so as much as I can. However, former Waldorf parents, students, and teachers often have good reason to withhold their names. [See, e.g., "Coming Undone".] Frequently, they have friends in the Waldorf communities they have left, and they do not want to sever all these ties. Also, they often know that Waldorf communities can be extremely angry and punishing toward those they consider turncoats. Indeed, there are Anthroposophists who stalk and hound the perceived enemies of Anthroposophy — they can be frighteningly aggressive, spiteful, and wounding. Finally, of course, confessional statements are often embarrassing; people can hardly bring themselves to make them; but writing anonymously can enable some individuals to share the bitter fruits of their experiences.

So I have posted some unsigned statements. How can you know whether these statements are truthful? You can't. Not absolutely. But then again, how can you know that signed statements are truthful? It is difficult. The best you can do, I think, is to examine all the evidence and notice patterns. For instance, if one former student says s/he was bullied in a Waldorf school, this single statement may have little force. But what if many former Waldorf students say the same? Or, if one former Waldorf parents says s/he was lied to and misled when first contacting a Waldorf schools, this statement standing alone may be unimpressive. But what if many former Waldorf parents say the same?

Waldorf schools are not hellholes. I attended a Waldorf school for eleven years and generally enjoyed it. But I think a fair-minded reading of the statements quoted here indicates that there are widespread and systemic problems in the Waldorf school movement. And, really, how can it be otherwise? Waldorf education is based on Anthroposophy, which is a baseless occult religion containing numerous preposterous doctrines. Nothing good can come out of such a false faith. Waldorf schools must, then, be fundamentally flawed. And we see many of those flaws exposed in the statements quoted here.  

[R.R., 2011.]

Here is an item from the Waldorf Watch "news" page.
Alicia Hamberg was a student at a Waldorf school;
Diana Winters sent her child to a Waldorf school.

From The Ethereal Kiosk, a discussion

about reasons parents have for keeping mum 

about their Waldorf experiences


By Alicia Hamberg:

If people really are disappointed by waldorf education and feel deceived about the role of anthroposophy, why are they not calling attention to this matter in the mass media? Why do we hear so little about it, if it is such a problem?

...I think the number one reason is that after exiting a waldorf school, people are too occupied with something more important than the recent past, namely the present and the imminent future. The children might be academically behind, they need lots of help, sometimes the social and psychological situation has been so detrimental that the children need extra support on that account...

...Often, people have tried to effect changes [before deciding to leave]. They have talked to teachers, talked to other parents. Perhaps some were mildly sympathetic but noncommittal, brushing it all off, and nothing changed. Perhaps they were treated as ignoramuses, who could not possibly understand all the supposedly important things going on. Before they leave, it’s not unlikely they have been made to understand that their problems or complaints are unique, never happened before or to anyone else, perhaps it has been insinuated that it’s their fault or that they have not adapted, are not open enough or that the school doesn’t suit them, but everyone else is happy, thank you very much....

...In short, the atmosphere prevents the occurrence of rightful and healthy misgivings. Parents attempt to remain enthusiastic, against the odds, strive to have hope, to believe in the promise for far [too] long, for so long that more difficulties are added. Among them guilt and shame. People do feel ashamed for having been gullible, for having failed to do their homework [i.e., failing to inform themselves about the real nature of Waldorf education]. They feel guilty that they didn’t understand the needs of their own children. To stand up and reveal your weaknesses, to lay bare your faults and failings, in the media, and open yourself up for counter-accusations based upon shaming and guilt-tripping, maybe this is not such an appealing prospect...

By Diana Winters:

I believe that most people (by far) who leave Waldorf disappointed do not ever realize (it does not even occur to them) that what happened had anything to do systematically with Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner. They [mistakenly] believe they just happened to have a bad experience at a bad school. Fairly often, they assert that the problem was that the school wasn’t actually Waldorfy enough – the problems came from a teacher who wasn’t completely Waldorf-trained or who wasn’t Waldorf-experienced enough or maybe she/he just wasn’t the best Waldorf teacher. They think they picked a dud Waldorf school, or drew straws and got the short [straw] in terms of teachers. They often remain convinced that there are many good Waldorf schools, and that they just had the bad luck to run into a bad one, or just to some bad teachers.

It wouldn’t occur to most people to go to the media after their child has a bad experience in school. Most who come and go never suspect there are larger issues or patterns across schools, or that their story is anything more than a story of personal misfortune.

For more on the disturbing experiences families have had

in Waldorf schools, see, e.g., "Our Experience", 

"Coming Undone", "Moms", "Pops", and "Slaps".

The similarities in these accounts suggest that, indeed, 

there are systemic problems in the Waldorf movement.

— Compilation by Roger Rawlings

Waldorf schools are often quite beautiful.
Their charm can be powerfully attractive.
But what you see initially may be overturned by what you learn later,
when the realities beneath the alluring surface reveal themselves.

To begin investigating beyond the schools' undeniable attractions,
you might visit the following pages at the Waldorf Watch Annex.
(Click on the underlined links, then scroll down the Annex pages
to find the items you want):



Where are the positive reviews of Waldorf education? 

Where are the testimonials in Waldorf’s favor? 

You can find many easily enough on the Internet. 

But be cautious; they may be uninformed or bogus. 

Some positive Waldorf reviews were written by people 

still caught up in the enthusiasm 

so often felt by Waldorf newcomers — 

individuals who have not yet 

penetrated the lovely Waldorf facade. 

And some positive reviews are outright fabrications — 

fake reviews written by Waldorf insiders 

trying to mislead the public. 

Here are a few posted comments 

that point to such problems; 

these are critical reviews written about various 

Waldorf or Steiner schools by parents and teachers. 

[See, e.g.. Complaints 3

I have eliminated the names of the schools, 

designating each school as "Waldorf School X." 

To see critical reviews of Waldorf schools listed by name, 

go to The Waldorf Review.]

Posted May 13, 2013

- a community member

Why are so many of the [good] reviews from Jan 18-20th? I smell a rat. It seems very much as though there is a serious problem in the administration at this school and they're trying to cover it up by soliciting good reviews.



This Waldorf school is a disaster, and you should all know that the [Waldorf School X] leadership has REQUIRED the entire faculty (I, being a former faculty member) to pose as parents and students and post (bogus) positive reviews on the online school review websites. Everything about this school is a charade — the learning (there isn't much); the administration, board and teachers (more infighting than a WWF match); the parents (most judgmental and hostile group of human beings I've ever seen, posing to be “spiritual"); and the kids (totally out of control bullies and children with major unchecked behavioral issues). These children and parents have such a lack of decorum that they cause solid, caring teachers to lose their jobs by trying to get these spoiled kids to behave. Please save your money and go public... Anything would be better for your child than this school! While some Waldorfs are amazing, this one is not! They are a disgrace to the Waldorf national and international community. — Submitted by a longstanding Waldorf teacher

Posted April 26, 2011

Wow, where do I begin? I will start out on the positive. I think the idea of how [Waldorf School X] says they are going to teach children is great (if it worked, and they were doing what they said they would do! i.e.: see the school's test scores: SCARY!) Umm..the school has a great music program. The positive comments on here have to be from the administration or parents that sadly just don't have a clue. There is no accountability or organization at [Waldorf School X], this is what they call the Waldorf way. Kids need structure or there is chaos. [Waldorf School X]'s name should be CHAOS. The administration is constantly putting out fires that never seem to stop. It is sad and scary to me that this school is able to stay open and be responsible for children learning or lack there of in this case. There are also no textbooks at this school, the kids write there own, no computers, and they ask all the parents to donate $100.00 a month. I will be shocked if this school is still open in the next 5 years. If you have very low standards for your child's education, this is the school for you! [Waldorf School X], where education is not a race — it's a joke! — Submitted by a parent

My children have had to repeat a grade this past year [in their new school] due to the lack of teaching core subjects while at [Waldorf School X] for several years. The positive reviews one sees after negative reviews are written by the marketing dept that trolls the internet. As if by wanting my child to learn, I'm wanting them to be 'burnt out.' Pathetic excuse for the poor academics. It was a waste of time but a lot of fun for sure. Developmental approach is a respectable way if only there were consistency in the teaching, discipline policies and administration. After 12 yrs, this school should be rock-solid, and it's not. The school needs an Administration that will be there for 10 years to really build the school. This one will be gone in a year or so... and then, starting over once again... Reality: the school has a poor reputation out in the larger community from all the families who have left because of problems encountered. — Submitted by a parent on May 17, 2012


Most of [the positive] reviews are written by board members and parent council. If you choose this school, make sure you get answers often and check on your child's progress. I strongly suggest observing in the classroom, I was truly shocked when I did that. The children in 8th grade cannot spell or write a complete sentence, they cannot do even the basics. They can however draw a great picture and most of them can knit and play recorder if they watch the teacher’s fingers, can't read words well, music not at all.

For other cautionary tales and words of advice,
see, e.g.,


School inspectors have sometimes issued blistering reports about Waldorf or Steiner schools.
Here are some Waldorf Watch News items about extremely critical reports issued by
British school inspectors who examined four Steiner academies in the United Kingdom.
[For the results of previous inspections of UK Steiner schools, see, e.g., "RSSKL" and "S. A. Exeter".]

January 17, 2019


School inspectors in the United Kingdom continue to find fault with Steiner schools — they have issued a series of highly critical inspection reports. The damage to the Steiner education movement as a whole may become severe.

The following is from The Guardian [London, UK]:

Ofsted inspections find 
three Steiner schools 
to be inadequate

Concerns raised about safeguarding, 
bullying and high exclusion rates

The future of state-funded Steiner education has been thrown into doubt after a series of snap Ofsted inspections [1] found that three of the four such schools set up under the Conservatives’ free schools programme [2] were inadequate.

The four have been inspected in recent weeks — alongside private Steiner schools, a number of which have also been found to be inadequate [3] — following an intervention by the education secretary, Damian Hinds... [4]

Ofsted reports for the Frome and Bristol Steiner academies are due to be published later this week and have been shared with parents. Copies seen by the Guardian 
reveal inspectors’ concerns about a wide range of issues including safeguarding, bullying and lack of support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Frome report accuses leaders and governors of failing to provide pupils with a safe and effective education...

It says the school failed to address serious issues that “put pupils at risk of harm” ... The inspection team...also raised concerns about a high number of exclusions [5]...

The report for Bristol similarly details concerns about safeguarding ... It adds that bullying incidents [6] are too frequent, and disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs make insufficient progress.

The damning assessments follow similar findings at the Exeter Steiner academy [7] ... The fourth state-funded Steiner school, in Hereford, was judged good...

...At Bristol, parents have been told that the governors [8] have sent a legal letter to Ofsted challenging its report and the inspection process...

Frome is also planning to challenge its report and the inspection process...

Both schools will go into special measures [9] and multi-academy trusts will be sought to take over [10]. Parents fear that the Steiner ethos – the very reason they chose those schools for their children – will be lost in the process [11].

Hinds called in November for additional scrutiny of Steiner schools by Ofsted after the chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, raised concerns about safeguarding in the sector on the back of two earlier inspections [12]....


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Oftsed is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Free schools are independent schools that receive government funding. While held accountable by the government, they implement curriculums of their own choosing. In the USA, such schools are call charter schools.

[3] See, e.g., "RSSKL", recounting the situation at Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley. The government ordered this school to close.

[4] See the Waldorf Watch news items for December 10 and 11, 2018: "U.K. Steiner Schools to Receive Special Scrutiny".

[5] I.e., rejected applications for admission.

[6] Complaints about bullying have frequently arisen at Steiner or Waldorf schools. It has often been alleged that Steiner or Waldorf teachers tolerate bullying among their students. [See "Slaps".] One explanation is that Steiner/Waldorf teachers believe students must be free to enact their karmas, such as a karma to bully others or a karma to be bullied. Karma is a key Steiner/Waldorf belief. [See "Karma".]

[7] See "S. A. Exeter", recounting the situation at Steiner Academy Exeter.

[8] I.e., the governors of the school.

[9] I.e., urgent or emergency measures are being taken.

[10] I.e., the government has indicated that these schools should be adopted and administered by experienced educational trusts (multi-academy trusts that operate at least two schools).

[11] The chief advantage a Steiner school receives by being designated a free school is the financing provided by the government. The chief potential disadvantage is that the government may hold the school to standards that run contrary to Steiner educational principles. [For an overview of these principles, see "Oh Humanity".] Parents who select Steiner or Waldorf schools for their children may or may not have knowledge of these principles. A widespread complaint about Steiner/Waldorf schools is that they do not honestly explain their nature and purposes. [See, e.g., "Secrets" and "Our Experience".]

[12] Failure to adequately protect students has been the most publicized fault identified by Ofsted representatives who have inspected Steiner schools. However, many other serious faults — ranging from bad teaching to dysfunctional management — have also been found. [See, again, "RSSKL" and "S. A. Exeter".]

January 18, 2019


Inspectors have found serious problems in several Steiner schools operating in the UK. The implications for the overall Steiner or Waldorf educational movement are potentially severe.

The most recent inspections have focused on Steiner free schools — schools that, in the USA, would be called charter schools. One of the Steiner free schools recently inspected is located in the city of Bristol. Here are excerpts from a report in The Bristol Post:

Bristol Steiner Academy 
one of three free schools 
to face uncertainty after 
being rated ‘inadequate' 

By Sarah Turnnidge

Three state-funded Steiner Academies in the South West — of which one is in Bristol — have been plunged into uncertainty after snap Ofsted inspections found them to be ‘inadequate' [1].

Bristol Steiner Academy was inspected on November 26 and 27 and is now in special measures [2].

It is one of just four state-funded Steiner schools set up under the free school programme [3], with the other academies based in Frome, Exeter, and Hereford.

All four schools were inspected alongside private Steiner schools — of which a number were also found to be inadequate [4]. The education minister Damien Hinds had ordered an intervention into the group after concerns about safeguarding [5]…

The Bristol school, which is an all-through school for children aged four to 16, was opened in 2014 and currently educates 377 pupils — set to rise to 622 by 2021. It has a higher proportion of pupils with special educational needs and eligible for free school meals than the national average [6]…

When the school was last inspected, in May 2017, it was judged to 'require improvement’…

The school said that they were unable to comment on leaked reports, and thus were not able to discuss Ofsted's [most recent] findings in detail…

Steiner Academy Bristol is now working with an Academy Management Committee [7] which will be responsible for the operational management of the school, appointed by the South West regional schools commissioner.…

[1/18/2019    This article originally appeared on January 17.]

Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Bristol is in the southwest of England. Oftsed is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Because of the problems found at the school, urgent or emergency measures are being implemented.

[3] This program, instituted under the UK’s Conservative government, allows for the formation of independent schools that receive public financing. These “free schools” charge no tuition fees, and they serve as competitors or alternatives to traditional public schools. Like charter schools in the US, free schools in the UK establish their own curriculums.

[4] See, e.g., coverage of Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley ["RSSKL"].

[5] Inspections have found that Steiner schools often fail to adequately protect their students. The same inspections have also sometimes found various other shortcomings at Steiner schools, including poor teaching and ineffective management. [See, e.g., “Remembering RSSKL - The Faults Found”, July 7, 2018.]

[6] The Steiner Academy Bristol may be unusual in this regard. Reports have indicated that at least some Steiner schools do a poor job providing for students having special needs, and occasionally these schools allegedly refuse to admit some students having such needs. [See, e.g., “More Inspections, More Failures”, January 17, 2019.] The Anthroposophical movement often attempts to serve disadvantaged individuals not at Steiner schools but at residential institutions called Camphill communities. [See the entry for “Camphill” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[7] An Academy Management Committee (AMC) is, usually, an administrative group that serves temporarily to oversee a school until a new, potentially permanent sponsor for the school is selected.

January 19, 2019


As reported here during the last few days, inspectors from the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education have determined that three of four Steiner free schools in the UK — those in Bristol, Exeter, and Frome — are “inadequate.” In other words, the inspectors have found serious problems at these schools.

On January 17, we considered a report in The Guardian that summarized the information available at that time about the inspections at all four Steiner free schools. On January 18, we looked at a report in The Bristol Post about the Steiner free school in Bristol.

Here are excerpts from a BBC report about the Steiner free school in Frome:

Ofsted rates Frome 
Steiner school 

A school where pupils did not learn "British values" and were unprepared for "life in modern Britain" has been rated inadequate by inspectors.

Ofsted [1] said the Steiner Academy Frome, Somerset, failed to provide pupils with a "safe and effective education”.

The free school [2], which opened in 2012, received the worst Ofsted rating in all four categories including "quality of teaching" and "pupils' outcomes"…

In the report, school leaders and governors were accused of failing to provide pupils with a "safe and effective education" because their own knowledge of current statutory requirements was “limited” [3].

It said the school had failed to address "serious issues that put pupils at risk of harm”…

Inspectors found [that]…in the kindergarten, "inappropriate physical restraint" was being used [4]…

The report also said teachers' expectations of pupils were "too low”…

In addition, the inspector noted: "Pupils do not learn about British values and cannot discuss these.

"They are not well prepared for life in modern Britain [5].”

But Emily Edwards, a spokeswoman for the school, said Ofsted was comparing "a banana to an orange”.

"Steiner schools are obviously run in a certain way and I feel you can't really compare them to mainstream schools and that's what Ofsted go by," she said [6]….

[1/19/2019   This report originally appeared on January 18.]

Recent news stories have focused primarily on the Steiner free schools in Bristol and Frome. For extensive coverage of the problems identified at the Steiner free school in Exeter, see "S. A. Exeter".

The problems at these three Steiner free schools are much alike. Indeed, they are similar to problems found at private Steiner or Waldorf schools. They seem to reflect systemic flaws in the Steiner/Waldorf education movement generally. [See, e.g., "RSSKL", "Mistreating Kids Lovingly", and "Complaints".]

Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Free schools (known in the US as charter schools) are independent schools that have been accepted into the public school system. They receive public financing, but they establish their own curriculums and implement their own methods. Despite their independence, they are subject to inspection and are expected to meet at least basic educational standards.

[3] Teachers at Steiner or Waldorf schools may often be only minimally qualified, as judged by outsiders. Often, teachers at these schools are primarily interested in the Steiner/Waldorf worldview, virtually to the exclusion of everything else, and much of their training is likely to have been acquired in special Steiner/Waldorf teacher education programs. [See "Teacher Training".] Thus, their conception of a “safe and effective education" may be quite different from the conception found in other schools, and they may consider “current statutory requirements” largely irrelevant to their own practices and objectives.

[4] Failure to adequately protect or safeguard their students is a criticism that has frequently been leveled at various Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "RSSKL" and "S. A. Exeter".] But the schools have also been faulted for a wide array of other shortcomings. Note that Steiner Academy Frome was given low marks for 
"quality of teaching" and "pupils' outcomes." As has been found concerning other Steiner/Waldorf schools, the Frome school seems to be deficient in almost all the ways a school could possibly be deficient.

[5] Free, universal education in democratic societies should, generally speaking, enable students to become empowered citizens who can exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Public education is thus meant to benefit the students as individuals and it is also meant to benefit the society as a whole. (British public schools should equip students for productive, successful lives in Britain, just as American public schools should prepare American kids for life in the USA. The students will benefit, and the societies will benefit.) This is not to say, of course, that schools should be benightedly provincial or nationalistic. Seen at a deeper level, public education should convey verifiable knowledge to the students — it should accurately inform students about reality, and it should prepare students for productive lives in the real world.

[6] Steiner or Waldorf schools generally employ their own methods as they implement their own curriculum. [See “Methods” and “The Waldorf Curriculum”.] This is entirely permissible under the free school program in the UK and the charter school program in the US. But the ultimate objective of all schools should be essentially the same: It should be to educate children, providing them with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to lead productive and, we should all hope, happy lives in the real world. The crucial difference between Steiner/Waldorf schools and conventional secular schools lies in that final term: “the real world.” The Steiner/Waldorf conception of reality is ultimately at issue. Steiner/Waldorf education is rooted in Anthroposophy, which — despite denials — is a gnostic or cryptic religion. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”] Any parents who embrace Anthroposophy should be free to send their children to Anthroposophical schools — this is, Steiner or Waldorf schools. But all other parents, along with education officials and school inspectors, are likely to find Steiner/Waldorf thinking very strange, and they may develop profound misgivings about schools that are based on this thinking. [See, e.g., "Oh Humanity", “Foundations”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “Serving the Gods”.] The question becomes whether Steiner/Waldorf schools, shaped and guided by Anthroposophy, can ever truly deliver a good education, as this concept is usually understood in democratic societies. [See, e.g., "Soul School", "Incarnation", and "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

January 21, 2019


In recent days, news articles in the British media indicated that inspectors have found severe problems in several Steiner schools operating in Britain. These articles referred to reports written by the inspectors, but they were generally unable to quote directly from the reports, which had not yet been officially released.

This is now changing; the reports are being released to the public. The following item is from The Bristol Post, and it focuses chiefly on the Steiner Academy Bristol. But the problems found there seem to be typical of those that have been unearthed at other Steiner schools, both public and private. [1] The defensive responses of Steiner supporters in Bristol also seem typical.

The inspectors were sent to the schools by Ofsted, the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education.

"Pupils are not safe" - 
damning Ofsted report reveals 
concerns about 'inadequate' 
Bristol Steiner Academy

But parents are fighting for a fairer assessment after being outraged by Ofsted's findings

By Sarah Turnnidge

Details of an Ofsted report, which have threatened the future of state-funded Steiner education in Bristol [2], have been published — revealing that the school has been graded as inadequate in every area of inspection…

Fellow Steiner Academies in Frome and Exeter also received 'inadequate' ratings, while the fourth school in Hereford was rated as ‘good'.

The report, which was released to parents on Monday before being published on Friday, lists a number of observed failings.

The first of these concerns regards safeguarding [3] …

"The school's work to promote pupil's [sic] personal development and welfare is inadequate," the report [says]. "Pupils are not safe.”

Although the report states that a rise in records of bullying incidents [4] could be due to the implementation of a more effective system of record-keeping, incidents are still acknowledged to be 'too frequent’…

The Ofsted report details five areas of inspection; effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning, and assessment; personal development, behaviour, and welfare; outcomes for pupils; and early years provision — each of which have been rated as inadequate… [5]

Despite the damning report, a large number of parents with children at the academy have rallied around the school, claiming that the report is unfair and does not accurately reflect the experiences of their children…

More than 850 people have signed a petition entitled 'Demand a Fair Ofsted Inspection of Steiner Academy Bristol', started by parents of children at the school, which alleges that the inspection process itself was "unfair and biased”… [6]


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] See, e.g., “Failure”, “Complaints”, “RSSK”, and “S. A. Exeter”.

[2] Steiner Academy Bristol and its sister schools — Steiner academies in Exeter, Frome, and Hereford — are "free schools." That is, they are independent schools that receive public financing. (In the USA, these would be called charter schools.) The fate of Steiner free schools — and perhaps the fate of all British Steiner schools, public and private — may be significantly affected by the current controversy. In addition, the fate of the overall free school program in the UK may also be impacted.

[3] Steiner schools and Waldorf schools have often been accused of lax oversight of students. The Steiner/Waldorf attitude toward the protection of students is tied to belief in karma and guardian angels. Rudolf Steiner taught that children arrive on Earth with karmas that must be enacted. And, he said, children have guardian angels who accompany them at all times. Steiner/Waldorf teachers may deduce from these doctrines that they should not interfere in the children’s behavior, even violent behavior, since it reflects their karmas; and the kids’ guardian angels can be relied on to prevent any serious harm. [See the entries for “karma” and “guardian angels” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] Bullying has allegedly been a serious problem in Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See “Slaps”.] Tolerance for bullying may arise from belief in karma and guardian angels. But other forms of abuse have also been reported in Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., “Extremity”.]

[5] This, clearly, is the most important finding in the report: The school failed to meet required standards in every part of its operations, including management of the school, quality of teaching, and outcomes for students. 

[6] Many people love Steiner/Waldorf education, and they will often defend it vigorously. Whether this affection and support are based on a clear-eyed understanding of the Steiner/Waldorf system may be questionable, however. [See, e.g., “The Upside”, “Glory”, and “Oh Humanity”.]

It is certainly true that judging Steiner/Waldorf schools by ordinary standards may be miss a lot about these schools. Steiner/Waldorf schools have different aims and different practices from those found in ordinary schools. Here are a few in indications of this. The following statements were made by knowledgeable followers of Rudolf Steiner:

◊ “[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him….” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 388-389.

◊ “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [i.e., the gods]…can find their home....” — Waldorf teacher Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.

◊ "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents, and Teachers (SteinerBooks, 2017), p. 4.

◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

[For more such statements, see, e.g., “Here’s the Answer” and “Who Says?”]

January 22, 2018


In recent days, news articles have described “damning” reports about Steiner schools written by inspectors working for the UK’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

As was to be expected, the schools and their proponents are responding vigorously. Here are excerpts from two articles outlining these responses.


From Somerset Live [county of Somerset, UK]:

Steiner Academy in Frome 
has responded to 
damning report from Ofsted 
which rated it 'inadequate' 

School leaders have said 
they are already taking steps 
to improve the situation 

by Max Baker

Leaders at the Steiner Academy in Frome [1] have responded to the damning Ofsted report which grades it 'inadequate' in every area [2].

The school has said that steps are already being taken to ensure improvements are made after concerns [about] safeguarding and leadership were raised by Ofsted.

A statement from acting principal Nikki Doughty and Suzanne Flack, chairperson of the new academy management sub-committee, said: "Following a two-day inspection at the school in November 2018, the report outlines serious concerns in leadership, teaching and learning and safeguarding.

"A detailed plan addressing these concerns has been completed with many actions, especially around improvements in safeguarding, having already taken place [3]…."

Lead inspector Caroline Dulon said in the report: "There is no consistent approach to managing pupils’ behaviour and this places pupils at risk. In some instances, staff do not address misbehaviour at all. At other times, responses to challenging behaviour have been disproportionate.

"There has been a recent and significant increase in the number of fixed term exclusions [4]. This is particularly the case for pupils with SEND [5].

"Low level disruption in classes is common. Pupils report that this often inhibits their learning. Leaders and staff have not tackled this behaviour.

"Consequently, pupils’ education has suffered.”

Other criticisms included early-year provision for children [6]…

Several people criticised the school for the poor report, but many have got behind Steiner Academy and are confident that it can improve.

[1/22/2018    This article originally appeared on January 18.]


From The Bristol Post [city of Bristol, UK]:

Why Steiner Academy Bristol 
is planning to take Ofsted 
to the High Court [7]
after latest inspection 

The unprecedented move is being taken 
by a community which feels it 
has been unfairly targeted

by Emma Grimshaw

Parents and teachers plan to take Ofsted to court after its latest inspection at Steiner Academy Bristol [8].

During an unannounced inspection in November, the watchdog said pupils at the school 'are not safe'.

The school was graded as inadequate in every area of inspection, meaning Ofsted put it into special measures [9].

But the report has angered many parents who have children at the academy, as they claim Ofsted's findings do not represent their child's experience. [10]

Now bosses [11] have launched a crowdfunder to raise £15,000 to start legal proceedings against Ofsted [12].

They wrote on the fundraising page: "The legal claim will argue that the Ofsted inspection was flawed, that they failed to follow guidance and the code of conduct relating to inspections, and the inspectors lacked a proper evidential basis for their conclusions.

"It will also argue that we believe that there was apparent bias in the way that Ofsted carried out their inspection"…

Parents have also launched a petition calling for another 'fair' inspection to take place at the academy. It has already gathered 1,113 signatures in less than one week…

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We take all complaints about our inspections seriously, and deal with them as quickly as possible.

"Our inspection judgements are never made lightly. They can have a significant impact on a school, its pupils and parents, and the community. However, the safety, well-being and educational achievement of pupils is paramount.

"All schools judged inadequate are subject to additional scrutiny and an extended quality assurance process before being finalised. All such judgments have to be authorised by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, and schools have the opportunity to challenge our inspection findings before the report is published"….

Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

1] Frome is a town 13 miles south of the city of Bath, England. It is the site of Steiner Academy Frome, one of four Steiner “free schools” (charter schools) currently operating in the United Kingdom (UK).

[2] I.e., in every part of the school’s practices examined by the inspectors.

[3] The school implicitly accepts that Ofsted's criticisms have merit, and it claims to be implemented the needed improvements. (By contrast, Steiner Academy Bristol  effectively rejects criticisms made by Ofsted. See footnote 12, below.)

[4] I.e., rejected applications for admission.

[5] I.e., students with special educational needs and disabilities.

[6] I.e., care and instruction of the youngest children at the school.

[7] One of several types of court in the UK, the High Court is meant to consider cases of high importance.

[8] Bristol is a city in southwestern England. It is the site of Steiner Academy Bristol.

[9] I.e., education authorities will now direct special attention to the school, aiming to improve the institution. Teachers and others may be dismissed. The school itself may ultimately be closed if it does not improve adequately.

[10] Some people love Steiner/Waldorf education. The schools are often lovely, filled with pleasing artwork; the teachers usually seem caring and devoted; there is often a sweet spiritual atmosphere; academic pressures on the students are low; attractive values such as environmentalism are stressed; etc. Parents may become disillusioned eventually [see, e.g., “Our Experience”], and problems may develop when the esoteric belief system underlying the schools (Anthroposophy) comes into view [see, e.g., “Coming Undone”]. But especially in a young school such as Steiner Academy Bristol — which opened in the autumn of 2014 — little of this disillusionment may yet have developed.

[11] I.e., leaders of the school.

[12] While Steiner Academy Frome appears to be attempting to work with, and satisfy, Ofsted, Steiner Academy Bristol is taking a more combative stance. This may prove dangerous. Following a series of critical inspection reports, Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) tried to defend itself through legal action, but this effort failed and the school was ultimately ordered to close. [See “RSSKL”.]

— R.R.

For additional Waldorf Watch news coverage,
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A short, direct answer to the question, "What are Waldorf schools all about?"

Best foot forward

The bright side


A pictorial overview

Waldorf's goals

Waldorf's reality

Teachers as priests

How they teach it


The key to Waldorf

The use of "clairvoyance" by Waldorf teachers

Developing our invisible bodies

Steiner, trying to make Waldorf education seem sensible

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[R.R., 2017.]