Here are the seven "core principles" of Waldorf schooling 

as formulated by an Anthroposophical organization, 

the Pedagogical Section Council of North America. 

(I have appended clarifying footnotes. — R.R.) 


"Image of the Human Being: The human being in its essence is a being of Spirit, soul, and body [1]. Childhood and adolescence, from birth to age 21, are the periods during which the Spirit/soul gradually takes hold of the physical instrument that is our body [2]. The Self is the irreducible spiritual individuality [3] within each one of us which continues its human journey through successive incarnations [4]." — "Core Principles of Waldorf Education", Pedagogical Section Council of North America (January 2013), CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, edited by Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli (Waldorf Publications, 2014), p. 156.

[1] The Anthroposophical conception of the human being is involuted and occult; it is almost entirely unsupported by modern science. 

Anthroposophy distinguishes between spirit and soul. Your spirit is your underlying identity carried through all of your incarnations; your soul is your particular surface identity during a single incarnation. [See the entries for "spirit" and "soul" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE)].

The "body" referred to here is the physical body. However, Anthroposophy also teaches that three additional bodies incarnate during the first 21 years of life: the etheric body, the astral body, and the "I". [See "Incarnation".]

[2] I.e., childhood and adolescence (the first 21 years of life) are the period when the combined spirit and soul incarnate in the physical body. This period is, generally, the period overseen by Waldorf teachers; the purpose of Waldorf education may indeed be described as overseeing and assisting in the process of incarnation. 

“[F]rom a spiritual-scientific [i.e., Anthroposophical] point of view child education consists mainly in integrating the soul-spiritual members with the corporeal members." — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1998), p. 68.

Anthroposophy rejects most of modern science while describing itself as "spiritual science." In truth, however, Anthroposophy is a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] The "Self" as conceived in Anthroposophy is the "I" or the spiritual ego. [See "Ego".] To simplify, we might say that the Waldorf conception of incarnation during childhood is this: The physical body is born at the moment of physical parturition. This body is refined and perfected by the etheric body, which completes its incarnation at around age seven. The astral body, which completes its incarnation at around age 14, consists of forces that constitute and empower the soul. The "I", which completes its incarnation around age 21, consists of forces that constitute and empower the spirit. When the "I" is finally and fully present, childhood ends — the individual becomes an adult.

[4] Anthroposophy affirms the concept of reincarnation [see "Reincarnation"]: A child comes to Earth having had several previous lives, alternating between the spiritual and physical levels of existence. And the child's current life will be followed by many additional lives in the spiritual and physical realms.

These beliefs, like most other Anthroposophical doctrines, are irreducibly religious. They must be accepted on faith; they are unsupported by factual or scientific knowledge. At the core, real Waldorf schools — those that operate on the basis of Rudolf Steiner's teachings — are religious institutions. [See "Faith" and "Schools as Churches".]


"Phases of Child Development: This process of embodiment has an archetypal sequence of approximately seven-year phases [1], and each child's development is an individual expression of the archetype [2]. Each phase has unique and characteristic physical, emotional, and cognitive dimensions [3]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, p. 156.

[1] In Waldorf belief, childhood consists of three seven-year-long phases, each of which culminates in the incarnation (or "embodiment") of an invisible body. Thus, the first phase is approximately ages 0-7, culminating in the incarnation of the etheric body. The second phase is approximately ages 7-14, culminating in the incarnation of the astral body. The third phase is approximately ages 14-21, culminating in the incarnation of the "I". [See "Incarnation".]

The age at which a child moves from one phase to another is approximate because of minor variations — especially variation in temperament — among children. [See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".] Such variation is important, but — according to Anthroposophical belief — generally it is secondary. Primarily, according to Anthroposophy, children of the same age move more or less in tandem from phase to phase.

Waldorf teachers sometimes state that Steiner's conception of three seven-year-long childhood phases is his most important educational contribution. [See "Most Significant".]

[2] According to Steiner, archetypes are spiritual beings — that is to say, gods — who manifest as thoughts outside the brain or mind. As such, they are perfect spiritual models for incarnated beings. In other words, they are spiritual powers (gods) that are inherent in physical phenomena and toward which physical phenomena should develop. 

In Waldorf belief, every child follows the same "archetypal sequence" of development, with small individual variations occurring within the bounds established by the archetypes.

Note that Anthroposophiy is polytheistic, recognizing many gods of many ranks. [See "Polytheism".]

[3] In Waldorf belief, all children undergo significant changes when they reach the age at which one phase of childhood ends and another begins. For this reason, the Waldorf curriculum is structured on the assumption that instruction should change significantly as a group of children moves from one phase to the next. (The third core principle addresses this issue; we will get to it.)

Although Waldorf schools often proclaim their respect for the individuality of their students, in fact these schools generally operate as if all children move along a single line of development, passing through three well-defined phases each of which has "unique and characteristic physical, emotional, and cognitive dimensions." All the children in each phase are assumed to share that phase's dimensions — all the children are assumed to be essentially alike. In this sense, rather than respecting the individuality of students, Waldorf schools tend to stereotype them. 


"Developmental Curriculum: The curriculum is created to meet and support the phase of development of the individual and the class [1]. From birth to age 7, the guiding principle is that of imitation [2]; from 7 to 14 the guiding principle is that of following the teacher's guidance [3]; during the high school years, the guiding principles are idealism and the development of independent judgment [4]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, pp. 156-157.

[1] I.e., the Waldorf curriculum is based on the conception of human development expressed in the first two "core principles." So, for instance, the curriculum up to the age of seven or so is based on the belief that, during those years, the child's etheric body is slowing being incarnated.

Note that all the children in the class are assumed to stand at approximately the same level of development (the curriculum supports "the phase of development of the individual and the class"). So we see again that Waldorf schools tend to stereotype children — lumping them together, treating them as essentially the same — rather than respecting their individuality.   

[2] During these years (ages 0-7), the Waldorf teacher is meant to present herself/himself as the ideal role model for the children — the students should learn to pattern themselves after their teacher (not their parents, or their clerics, or any other adults). 

Steiner told Waldorf teachers that they may have to undo the harm done by students' parents (and, implicitly, by all other adults who are not Anthroposophists):

"You will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents." — Rudolf Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16.

When dealing with the youngest students, the Waldorf teacher — presenting herself/himself to the children as exemplary — should exercise unquestioned authority:

"[Young children's] souls are open to consciously receiving what works on them from teachers on the basis of a natural, unquestioned authority." — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 4. 

Of course, Waldorf teachers rarely begin guiding a child "from birth." But Steiner indicated that, ideally, they ought to do so:

“Given the difficult, disorderly, and chaotic conditions of our time, it might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into one’s care soon after birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69.

[3] During this period (while the children's astral bodies are incarnating), the teacher's authority is somewhat lessened. Instead of imitating the teacher, students should be "guided" by the teacher (instead of obeying without question, they should accept the teacher's directives and advice). Thus, the teacher's hold on the students is loosened slightly, and the students start to attain a bit of autonomy. But, since the "guiding principle" of this period is "following the teacher's guidance," the influence of the teacher should remain great. And note that the extent of the guidance is not limited to classwork. Waldorf schools seek to mold the children's feelings and wills as much as their thoughts — the schools are "holistic," aiming to instruct "heads, hearts and hands." [See "Holistic Education".] The students should thus by guided by their teacher in virtually all areas of life.

[4] Only during this period (ages 14-21) is the child considered able to start formulating her/his own thoughts in a reasonable manner ("independent judgment"). The effect of this Waldorf conception is to infantilize students until the final high school years at the earliest. In reality, most kids much younger than high-school age are quite able to begin formulating their own, sensible opinions, but this possibility is denied in Waldorf theory. 

During the high school years, Steiner indicated, the Waldorf teacher should be more nearly a friend than a boss or leader; the teacher should help the student to aspire toward the appreciation and pursuit of an ideal vision ("the guiding principles [include] idealism"). Of course, when Waldorf education works as planned, the child — having imitated Waldorf teachers during the earliest years (ages 0-7), and then following the guidance of these teachers during the next seven years (ages 7-14) — is almost certain to accept and pursue the Anthroposophical vision. The student's "idealism" in the third period will be the vision implanted by Waldorf teachers during this period and, more deeply, during the earlier periods.

The overall effect of Waldorf education, when it works as Steiner laid out, is to set the students on a course that should lead them to embrace Anthroposophy, fully and consciously, in their adult years (following age 21). Such schooling may be characterized as subtle but deep indoctrination. [See "Sneaking It In" and "Indoctrination".]

(Note that a somewhat later formulation of the third core principle changes "the guiding principles are idealism and the development of independent judgment" to "the guiding principle is idealism and the development of independent judgment." The revision underscores the direct link between the Anthroposophical vision and the thoughts students are expected to have. [See])


"Freedom in Teaching [1]: Rudolf Steiner gave curriculum indications [2] that 'the teacher must invent the curriculum at every moment [3].' Out of the understanding of child development and Waldorf pedagogy, the Waldorf teacher is expected to meet the needs of the children in the class out of his/her insights and the circumstances of the school. Interferences with the freedom of the teacher by the school, parents, standardized testing regimen, or the government, while they may be necessary in a specific circumstance (for safety or legal reasons, for example), are nonetheless compromises [4]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, p. 157.

[1] A somewhat later revision of this core principle uses these words:

"Freedom in Teaching: Rudolf Steiner gave indications for the development of a new pedagogical art, with the expectation that "the teacher must invent this art at every moment." Out of the understanding of child development and Waldorf pedagogy, the Waldorf teacher is expected to meet the needs of the children in the class out of his/her insights and the circumstances of the school. Interferences with the freedom of the teacher by the school, parents, standardized testing regimen, or the government, while they may be necessary in a specific circumstance (for safety or legal reasons, for example), are nonetheless compromises." —
The main point is that the Waldorf teacher is to have "freedom in teaching" — s/he should not be subject to control by any outside forces. Waldorf schools often claim to promote freedom. The fourth "core principle" clarifies this significantly. The freedom found in Waldorf pedagogy is reserved primarily to the teacher. No one else should have much say or exercise much control. And, as we saw in the third core principle, Waldorf students should imitate, be directed by, and ultimately take their inspiration from their Waldorf teachers. Rather than developing their own individual, possibly unique, identities, Waldorf students are meant to be shaped by the tight molds created for them by their teachers. The scope of the students' freedom, during their school years or even afterwards, is conceptually limited. When Waldorf education works as designed, students will make the "free" decision to traverse the path laid down for them by their teachers — the path leading to Anthroposophy. [To consider the Anthroposophical conception of freedom, see "Freedom".] 

[2] I.e., he made statements indicating his intentions and goals for the Waldorf curriculum. (Steiner often rambled, making vague and even contradictory remarks. As a result, his followers tend to comb through his statements searching for "indications" of his intended meanings.)

[3] Waldorf teachers may exercise considerable freedom (that is, they should be largely unsupervised), but the expectations under which they operate are great. Here, we find they are expected to create, from out of themselves, a living, inspiring, spiritual uplifting curriculum or pedagogical art "at every moment." Whew. A heavy load. Steiner realized that the burden he assigned to Waldorf teachers might seem excessive, but he "did not necessarily agree" that the load is too heavy:

"The school inspector said that with normal teaching methods, average people can be teachers, but with our methods, we need geniuses. I do not think that is necessarily true, but there is something to it.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 443-444.

A Waldorf teacher who is not a genius (and, of course, most people are not geniuses) would likely fail. The Waldorf system, in other words, may assure that in most cases the curriculum or pedagogical art produced by the "free" teacher will be a failure, to one degree or another. The education of the students will suffer in direct proportion to this failure.

(The notion that each Waldorf teacher should "invent the curriculum" was surely a misstatement. Hence the revised formulation, changing "invent the curriculum" to "invent [a pedagogical] art." The Waldorf curriculum was actually established by Steiner and remains in force, to one degree or another, in Waldorf schools today. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".])

[4] In a few cases, the teacher's freedom may be circumscribed — but, for the most part, "interferences" with "the freedom of the teacher" are to be rejected. In this sense, the Waldorf approach would seem to be designed for the teacher's benefit at least as much as for the students' benefit. In any case, Steiner indicated that Waldorf teachers must certainly reject "compromises." They must, he said, uncompromisingly commit themselves to his teachings (the Anthroposophical precepts that he said convey spiritual truth):

“As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit [i.e., Anthroposophy] and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. 

We should ask whether students are likely to be well served by teachers who are uncompromising in their commitment to the occult religion — Anthroposophy — promulgated by Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Steiner intended Waldorf education to be essentially religious; teachers would be priests who would lead students toward the Truth: Anthroposophy. [See "Schools as Churches" and "Indoctrination".]

◊ “We [Waldorf teachers] can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today [opening the first Waldorf school], we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers [i.e., gods] in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33. 

◊ “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 55.

◊ "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23. 

◊  "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.


"Methodology of Teaching: There are a few key methodological guidelines for the grade school and high school teachers [1]. Early Childhood teachers work with these principles appropriate to the way in which the child before the age of 7 learns, out of imitation rather than direct instruction [2].

" Artistic metamorphosis: The teacher should understand, internalize, and then present the topic in an artistic form [3].

" From experience to concept: The direction of the learning process should proceed from the students' soul activities of willing, through feeling to thinking [4]. In the high school the context of the experience is provided at the outset [5].

" Holistic process: proceeding from the whole to the parts and back again, and addressing the whole human being [6].

" Use of rhythm and repetition [7]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, p. 157.

[1] For an overview of Waldorf methodology, see "Methods".

[2] See the discussion of imitation in the presentation of the third core principle, above. Waldorf doctrine holds that students in the first period of childhood (ages 0-7) learn through imitating their teachers. 

Waldorf students in the second period (ages 7-14) are thought to learn by following the guidance of their teachers. Waldorf students in the third period (ages 14-21) are thought to learn by pursuing their own insights within the idealism fostered by their teachers. Note the centrality and influence of Waldorf teachers throughout. The students are led toward the path of Anthroposophy, and the more receptive students are led at least a few steps down this path. The entire Waldorf program may be understood as a subtle but extensive indoctrination in the rudiments of the Waldorf religion, Anthroposophy. [See "Schools as Churches" and "Indoctrination".]

[3] Waldorf schools are full of art and the artistic impulse. This is one of their great allures. But Waldorf art has an esoteric purpose. It is meant to make the spirit realm manifest — it is fundamentally religious, and the religion is Anthroposophy. All Waldorf classes are meant to be "artistic" in this sense: They present Anthroposophy is a subtle, metaphoric form. [See "Sneaking It In".] While Waldorf proponents almost always deny that students in Waldorf schools are taught Anthroposophy, in fact the basic attitudes and conceptions of Anthroposophy infuse almost all Waldorf activities and events, including classwork.

When speaking to Waldorf teachers, Rudolf Steiner affirmed that Anthroposophy is present in Waldorf schools.

“You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way [in a Waldorf school] because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495. 

Since Anthroposophists believe that their doctrines are the great, universal Truth underlying all other knowledge, they think that the presence of Anthroposophy in Waldorf classes is “justified” at virtually every point in every subject studied. Devout Anthroposophical teachers may be circumspect about it, bringing their beliefs into Waldorf classrooms subtly, covertly — but they bring them.

On another occasion, Steiner chastised a Waldorf teacher who, he said, had failed to present Anthroposophy in a form students could grasp:

“The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child’s level.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 402-403.

Finding a way to present Anthroposophy at a child's level is, of course, entirely different from keeping mum about Anthroposophy. The "directive" to "transform anthroposophy into a child’s level" amounts to an order to indoctrinate students in Anthroposophy.

[4] According to Anthroposophical precepts, willing, feeling, and thinking are fundamental activities of the human soul. [See the entries for "will, will power", "feeling", and "thinking" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE)]

The Waldorf curriculum is designed so that the first stage of childhood development centers on the students' will, the second stage centers on the students' feelings, and the third stage centers on the students' thinking. This sequence implants the Anthroposophical vision early and deep (far below the level of conscious thought), gradually raises it into the students' emotions, and ultimately embeds it in the students' thoughts. Of course, not all Waldorf schools follow this program fervently, and not all Waldorf students are deeply affected — but true Waldorf schools (those that are most committed to Steiner's vision) do follow the program, and many Waldorf students are won over to the Waldorf worldview to at least some degree. [To consider variation among Waldorf schools, see "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs". To consider which students are most likely to be won over, see "Who Gets Hurt".]

[5] In the lower grades at Waldorf schools, students are assumed to be incapable of much thought — hence, they are given little context or explanation for the subjects presented to them. This assumption may make sense during the first years of schooling (up to age 7), but it is dubious in the second period (ages 7-14). Yet Waldorf schools cling to it. Indeed, the Waldorf approach consciously endeavors to retard the development of students, seeking to keep them young. Steiner taught that children are born with memories, and connections to, the spirit realm where they lived before earthly incarnation. Waldorf teachers want to preserve these memories and connections in the students as long as possible.

“Childhood is commonly regarded as a time of steadily expanding consciousness ... Yet in Steiner’s view, the very opposite is the case: childhood is a time of contracting consciousness ... In mastering the world of physical perception the child encounters difficulties in that he first has to overcome a dream-like yet intensely real [innate] awareness of spiritual worlds. This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — Waldorf teacher A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16.

Only in Waldorf high school classes (for students above age 14) are context, explanation, and thinking given emphasis. Critics would say that the Waldorf approach stultifies the mental capabilities of younger students, and thus it prevents true flowering of intellect when the students reach the higher grades. [For the Anthroposophical/Waldorf view of rational thinking, see "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific". For the sort of thinking affirmed in Waldorf education, see "Thinking Cap". Steiner taught that true cognition is clairvoyance. See "Clairvoyance".]

[6] Waldorf education is meant to be holistic. But the concept of the "whole child" in Anthroposophy and in Waldorf education is irreducibly mystical and unrealistic. [See "Holistic Education".]

The whole child, in Anthroposophy, is a reincarnated being who has (or develops) three invisible bodies, twelve senses, both a soul and a spirit, an aura, a "temperament," a karma, an astrological sign, a spiritually significant racial identity, etc. The goals of Waldorf education entail assisting children to incarnate and develop their various spiritual/physical members and capacities, many of which are not recognized by modern science or medicine. [See the entries for "Waldorf education: goals" and "whole child" in the BWSE.] 

[7] Anthroposophy lays great stress on rhythm. According to Anthroposophical teachings, all of the cosmos is characterized by rhythmical recurrences, ranging from the very large (such as the slow rotation of the zodiac) to the smallest (such as a child's breathing). Waldorf teachers generally accept the proposition that rhythms in the lives of students must be recognized and encouraged, and indeed classwork and class scheduling should be rhythmical. Subjects arise, are studied briefly, then dropped — only to be taken up again later for another, slightly more advanced but, again, brief encounter. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".] One drawback is that Waldorf schooling may often be repetitive and, for at least some students, dull or intellectually barren.

Central to the Anthroposophical conception of rhythm is the concept of recapitulation. Steiner taught that the purpose of life is to evolve toward higher and higher levels of spiritual consciousness. Mankind as a whole has evolved from the dimmest consciousness "on" Saturn [see "Old Saturn"] to the ordinary waking consciousness people experience today on Earth [see "Present Earth"]. Individual humans recapitulate this evolution in their individual lives — the forward movement of the individual, like the forward movement of humanity as a whole, entails cycling back through previous levels of development. Evolution is not a straight line pointing upward — it is a corkscrew trajectory taking millennia to complete. [See "recapitulation", "evolution", and "evolution of consciousness" in the BWSE.] It is rhythmical in the largest sense.


"Relationships [1]: The task of the teacher is to work with the developing individuality of each student [2] and with the class as a whole. Truly pedagogical human relationships cannot be replaced by instructions utilizing computers or other electronic means [3]. Healthy working relationships with parents and colleagues are also essential to the wellbeing of the class community and the school [4]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, p. 158.

[1] A somewhat later revision of this core principle uses these words:

"Relationships: Enduring human relationships between students and their teachers are essential and irreplaceable. The task of all teachers is to work with the developing individuality of each student and with each class as a whole. Truly human pedagogical relationships gain in depth and stability when they are cultivated over many years. They cannot be replaced by instructions utilizing computers or other electronic means. Healthy working relationships with parents and colleagues are also essential to the wellbeing of the class community and the school." —

The effect of these modifications is to emphasize human or personal relationships which are meant to be essentially permanent ("Enduring human relationships between students and their teachers...are cultivated over many years"). Problems may arise when such relationships become too warm and personal. Lines between teachers and students may become blurred, and emotional entanglements — and their intimate physical expression — may result. [See "Mistreating Kids Lovingly" and "Extremity".]

[2] Critics would allege that Waldorf schools rarely if ever actually respect the individuality of their students. See our discussion of this matter in the presentation of the second core principle, above.

[3] Waldorf schools have a deep aversion to computers and modern technology generally. Steiner taught that modern technology promotes the incarnation of demons. [See "technology" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] Becoming involved in a Waldorf school may mean entering a tight-knit, exclusionary mini-society that makes great demands on one's time, resources, and emotional well-being. [See some of the personal testimonials in "Our Experience" and "Coming Undone".]


"Spiritual Orientation [1]: In order to cultivate the imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions [2] needed for their work, Rudolf Steiner gave the teachers an abundance of guidance for developing an inner, meditative life [3]. This guidance includes individual professional meditations and an imagination of the circle of teachers forming an organ of spiritual perception [4]. Faculty and individual study, artistic activity, and research form additional facets of ongoing professional development [5]." — CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, p. 158.

[1] Despite claims to the contrary, Waldorf schools are essentially religious institutions. [See "Schools as Churches".] The religion at the base of the Waldorf movement is Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] According to Waldorf belief, these are three levels of clairvoyance. [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[3] True-believing Waldorf teachers are expected to lead an almost sacerdotal life centered on the practice of Anthroposophy. [For Anthroposophical prayers, meditations, etc., see "Prayers", "Power Words", "Breathing Spirit", and "Teacher Training".]

[4] An "imagination," in the sense used here, is a true mental image produced through clairvoyance. An "organ of spiritual perception" is an incorporeal bodily part or structure that enables the develop and use of clairvoyance. Steiner sometimes called such structures "organs of clairvoyance." [See "organs of clairvoyance" in the BWSE.]

The seventh core principle contemplates the teachers at a Waldorf school (or the inner group of such teachers, the "circle of teachers") forming a joint, shared organ of clairvoyance. 

The inner circle of teachers at a Waldorf school is usually called the "college of teachers". [See "college of teachers" in the BWSE.]

[5] For an overview of "professional development" for Waldorf teachers, see "Teacher Training".

These are the "core principle"s of Waldorf schooling. 

You should send your child to a Waldorf school only if you can embrace these principles.

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.



A look at the standard Waldorf curriculum


How they try to do it


How they get that way

The irrational modes of “thought” fostered at Waldorf schools


English classes and history classes in a typical Waldorf school


The central mythology in many Waldorf schools: Norse myths


At Waldorf schools, ignorance is often taken as wisdom


The Waldorf curriculum: the arts, and festivals


How they paint and draw


The Waldorf curriculum: math


The antiscientific nature of Waldorf education

Class journals as created by students at many Waldorf schools


The Anthroposophical take on technology


No [external link]


The Waldorf curriculum: astronomy


Steiner on our solar system or "our universe"


A behind-the-scenes look at Waldorf education


Exploring the fundamentals of Waldorf schooling


Further explorations


Still further explorations

Talks between Steiner and Waldorf teachers


"Practical" tips Steiner gave to Waldorf faculty