Help!






Online discussions can be difficult to follow.

The participants may jump from subject to subject unexpectedly, various discussions may overlap, 

replies are often posted long after questions are asked, there are frequent typos and other confusions...


Still, the effort can sometimes be worthwhile. 

The even greater effort required to participate actively can also be rewarding, sometimes.


Here is an exchange of messages posted in November, 2010. 


Passages preceded by ">" are quoted from previous messages. ">>" denotes quotation from a still earlier message.










The first message is from "DL," seeking help:

Hello


My partner and I are already in the process of applying for a place for my 9 year old daughter to get into the local Steiner school and only 2 days ago stumbled on to waldorfeducation.me, waldorfcritics and PLANS. WOW!!


I am in a state of shock and also very upset. Is this where the dream ends??


Will we be ok if we go in carefully fully informed or should we avoid SW education and the school at all costs...?


I am in complete turmoil. I feel so devastated. I had such high hopes for my bright yet sensitive little girl to be nurtured and to become part of a supportive, caring environment.


What should I do next?


With kind regards and a heavy heart


DL


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15537





A message from Diana Winters, a leading participant at waldorf-critics:


Re: Help please!!


> Hello

>

> My partner and I are already in the process of applying for a place for my 9 year old daughter to get into the local Steiner school and only 2 days ago stumbled on to waldorfeducation.me, waldorfcritics and PLANS. WOW!!



Hi DL,


Sorry your post was delayed. We screen new members' first posts merely to weed out spam. I will take you off "moderation" and I'm sure you'll get some thought-provoking replies.


- Diana





A message from me, Roger Rawlings, a former Waldorf student:


Dear DL:


Please do not send a child to a Steiner school.


Steiner schools mean well, but they are utterly deluded. A child sent to such a school may be damaged for life.


To understand why I say this, please see "Coming Undone" [http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/coming-undone ] or "Our Experience" [http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/our-experience ] or "I Went to Waldorf" [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/i-went-to-waldorf ] or "Slaps" [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/slaps ] or "Nuts" [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/nuts ]


I will gladly answer any questions you have, and I will devote any amount of time needed to answer your questions.


Please, please do not send a child to a Steiner school unless you are a firmly committed occultist. I know this sounds weird, but the truth is that Steiner schools are dens of occultism. Here is one statement made by the founder of Steiner schools, Rudolf Steiner: "[I]n occultism we call the Moon the `Cosmos of Wisdom' and the Earth the `Cosmos of Love.'" [Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 6, GA 102.] Note his words. "In occultism we..."


Steiner was an occultist. Steiner schools are occultist. Unless you are an occultist, steer clear of Steiner schools.


- Roger





A message from Pete Karaiskos, who hosts the site Waldorf Awareness:


Re: Help please!!


> What should I do next?


Protect your child. Keep reading. All is not what it seems in Waldorf. If you have no connection to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, you are possibly in the wrong place.


Below my signature is my blog. Please have a look at how at least one Waldorf school, Highland Hall, behaves.


- PK


Sharks feed in muddy waters!!!

http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/






A message from Margaret Sachs, whose children attended a Waldorf school:


Re: [wc] Help please!!


Welcome to Waldorf Critics DL,


Yes, this is where the dream ends. For 12 years I believed that Steiner schools provided an emotionally healthy environment for children, but when one of my children came out of our local Steiner school emotionally brutalized, I opened my eyes, spent months on the Internet researching Steiner and Anthroposophy, and finally understood that my husband and I had been conned. It was embarrassing to realize that, like so many other Waldorf parents, we had been lulled by the soothing aesthetics and brainwashed by a school that constantly drummed the message that anything but Steiner education is bad.


There are some likable teachers in Steiner schools, but there are also some who should not be working with children. Even the likable teachers, however, are committed to filling students' heads with nonsense, including pseudoscience, countless myths under the heading of history, and seemingly charming rituals, which parents do not realize are the crazy components of a religion called Anthroposophy. Both my children suffered deficits in their education because they attended a Steiner school for so long.


You are lucky that the Internet exists so you can learn the truth about Steiner education. We weren't so lucky when we got sucked in during the early 1980s.


Best,

Margaret





A message from DL replying to Roger Rawlings:



Re: Help please!!



Hi Roger 


Thank you very much for your detailed and informative replies. I would very much like to converse with you on this issue, but don't know where to start.


What of all those Steiner parents and ex pupils who all have very positive things to say about their Steiner experience..? Are they in the minority then?  Steiner seems to have the Marmite affect - you either love it or you hate it!


I am not averse to New Age philosophies per se but I would strongly object to the people with whom I was to be entrusting my daughter's education to, to hide their real objectives and to fail to engage in open and honest discussion and debate.


I have a tour and discussion with a teacher scheduled for next week. I shall have plenty of ammunition now with which to bombard them/her but should i go in feigning ignorance or have it out with them...?


I guess, just like doubting Thomas, I want to see their deceit with my own eyes.



Regards,

DL





A message from DL replying to Margaret Sachs:


Re: [wc] Help please!!


Hi Margaret

 

What a disappointment!


Are there no other alternatives to state education I can try - apart from home schooling...?


I think if I could know that my daughter would come out of the Steiner system a more well rounded person, full of confidence and self esteem, happy with where she is and where she is going, with a well balance view of the world, then I would go for it. But from reading various articles and discussions it does all rather seem to be a hit and miss affair to say the least!


I just wish there wasn't such a limited choice re education. Bah!


I do feel rather heartbroken. Steiner seemed so idyllic *sigh* 


Regards,

DL





A message from DL replying to Pete Karaiskos:


Re: Help please!!

  

Hi PK

 

Well, what else is there to say..? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear :  Has anyone in the media done an 'expose' or tried to reveal to the public what is going on in Steiner schools?


I am quite bewildered at the amount of negative articles I have found, now that I have started digging.


I have been invited to join the 'anthroposophy' group on Yahoo. Who would have sent me that invitation..?


Back to the drawing board re finding a school for my daughter then! I am still going to the tour and meeting with the class teacher next week. I think it's highly unlikely I will complete the application process. I am gutted.


Regards,

DL





Another message from Roger Rawlings:


Re: Help please!!


Hi.


I'm up and almost awake, so I'll do my best to discuss any of these matters with you.


> What of all those Steiner parents and ex pupils who all have very positive things to say about their Steiner experience..?


Many families have good experiences with Steiner schools. The people who run these schools have good intentions. Their belief system consists of delusions, but if a family shares those delusions, there can be a good fit. Also, more generally, Steiner teachers often disguise their beliefs sufficiently so that students and parents have only a hazy idea of what is going on. They may realize that a Steiner school is "spiritual" in some sense without knowing specifically what the teachers believe. Since most people think that being "spiritual" is a good thing, most may think that Steiner education is just dandy. 


> I would strongly object to the people with whom I was to be entrusting my daughter's education to, to hide their real objectives


This, indeed, is a central problem with Steiner schools. See "Here's the Answer" [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/heres-the-answer ] The teachers at a Steiner school are usually good people with good intentions. But they are often more than willing to deceive outsiders, thinking that they have a holy mission that must be protected. They think they are lying to you for your own good. [See "Secrets" https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/secrets ] A former Waldorf teacher who used to participate here said that this deceitfulness is the crucial "issue" concerning these schools.


>  I have a tour and discussion with a teacher scheduled for next week. I shall have plenty of ammunition now with which to bombard them/her but should i go in feigning ignorance or have it out with them...?


I think the best approach is to be entirely open and honest. Take along a sheaf of Steiner quotations and ask for responses. See, e.g., "Say What?" [http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/say-what ] and "Steiner's Bile" [http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/bile ] Teachers at Waldorf schools sometimes deny that they are devoted to Rudolf Steiner. Teachers at Steiner schools are less able to dodge the truth this way. If a school is named for Steiner, the influence of Steiner can hardly be denied.


- Roger






And another message from Roger Rawlings:


Re: [wc] Help please!!



> Are there no other alternatives to state education I can try - apart from home schooling...?

>


Public schools have lots of problems. But they are often quite good. (A recent Gallup poll shows that more than three-quarters of public-school parents in the USA rate their local public schools as good or excellent.) If I were in your shoes, I would investigate the local public schools to assess their value. If I became convinced that the public schools are poor, I would look into Montessori and other secular private schools. I would never consider a Steiner school, because Steiner schools are freighted with occultism. In other words, don't reject a public school only to choose something much worse.


- Roger





And yet another message from Roger Rawlings:


Re: Help please!!   

>

> I have been invited to join the 'anthroposopy' group on Yahoo. Who would have sent me that invitiation..?

 

I don't want to scare you, but the truth is that Anthroposophy is a highly organized cult full of fanatics. Sune Nordwall, for instance, is paid by Anthroposophists to stalk and confuse critics of Anthroposophy. Many, many other Anthroposophists also troll the Internet, working to scare or deceive or hijack. (For instance, an organized group of Anthroposophists hijacked the Wikipedia pages on Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Waldorf schools.)


Don't be afraid. Anthroposophists mean well, and they only rarely resort to any form of violence. So, just know what they are doing and walk away.


- Roger





A message from the former Waldorf teacher I mentioned above:


Re: Help please!!


--- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "petekaraiskos" <pkcompany@...> wrote:

>

Keep reading. All is not what it seems in Waldorf. If you have no connection to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, you are possibly in the wrong place.


-------


^^ Should be included as a write-up in every Waldorf pamphlet! Love that you leave it up to the individual, Pete. What's black and white and red all over? Extremists from both camps, rumbling. 


- Bruce





Another message from Pete Karaiskos


Re: [wc] Help please!!


And, it never ends!


The Waldorf teacher who has done the most direct harm to my family friend-requested my son on Facebook yesterday. Can you believe this?


Christine, you fucking monster - stay the fuck away from my family. I'm taking you to court and suing you and all of Highland Hall for what you did to Alicia.  Now you want to be "friends" with my son? What could contact with YOU possibly offer him? He called me the minute he saw your request and we both had a good laugh at how sick you still are. My sons know YOU are responsible for what happened to their sister. Stay the fuck away from them!


You are a sick and twisted individual. I will prove it in court - but not before I make you and Highland Hall famous for your crimes.


- PK


Sharks feed in muddy waters!!!





Another message from Roger Rawlings:


Re: Help please!!


Hi Bruce.


Good to hear from you again. I hope things are well with you.


 -----


Hi DL, et al: Here are some links that may help you in your explorations:


An excellent site critical of Waldorf and Steiner is PLANS, People for Legal And Nonsectarian Schools http://www.waldorfcritics.org/


You may also want to visit EASE, Examining Anthroposophy and Steiner Education http://www.easeonline.org/Further_Info.htm


And there is Waldorf Awareness http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/


A blog written by someone who, like me, actually attended a Waldorf school is http://zooey.wordpress.com/ (Some of the postings there are in Swedish or something, but the others are in English.)


For advocacy and defense of Waldorfs and Steiner, you can explore Defending Steiner http://www.defendingsteiner.com/


Rudolf Steiner Web http://www.rudolfsteinerweb.com/index.php


Why Waldorf Works http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/


Waldorf Answers http://www.waldorfanswers.com/index.htm


-----


For a bunch more links, see http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/links


- Roger





Another message from Pete Karaiskos:


Re: Help please!!


DL,


I haven't read ahead to see what others have answered, but my suspicion is, if you come in with hard questions, your daughter won't even be offered a place at the school.


Just a hunch...


- PK


Waldorf releases Waldorphans!!





Another message from Pete Karaiskos:


Hi DL,


I had a brief conversation with Tracy Mandel (wife of Howie) whose child was attending Highland Hall, when confronted with my exposure of the racism at Highland Hall, the Mandel's decided they were already in and just wanted to finish out the year (their daughter was a senior). Tracy asked me if I could hold off exposing racism at Highland Hall until their daughter was out... LOL... When I said I couldn't, she asked if I could keep their names out of it... which I did. Their daughter and my son both graduated last year.


Tracy pointed me to their friend, Jack Petrash, who recommended Highland Hall.  Jack Petrash is the guy who, when he (science) discovered asbestos was harmful, decided teaching ANY "fact" is worthless. Indeed, if facts are unimportant to you and your family, then indeed Waldorf may be a good place. As an example, my kids went to Highland Hall their whole lives. If you asked each of them when they graduated, to name ten US presidents - they couldn't.


Education is about learning about stuff - not about preparing children for Steiner's vision.


Oh, and one more thing... dishonesty... when kids are surrounded by it their whole lives... how to you teach them honesty?


-PK


Waldorf releases Waldorphans!!





And another message from Pete Karaiskos:


Re: Help please!!


Hi DL, 


I've only superficially looked into Enki education - by a former Waldorf teacher who claims to have kept the good from Waldorf and taken out the Anthroposophy.  It didn't look so bad but, again, do your homework... there may be a site just like this one for Enki. It's the closest thing to Waldorf that's out there (good or bad).


-PK


Waldorf releases Waldorphans!!!





A message from Alicia H., a former Waldorf student:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


On 9 November 2010 15:29, baandje <bangus@...> wrote:

>

>

>

> --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "petekaraiskos" <pkcompany@...> wrote:

> >

> Keep reading. All is not what it seems in Waldorf. If you have no connection to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, you are possibly in the wrong place.

>

> -------

>

> ^^ Should be included as a write-up in every Waldorf pamphlet! Love that you leave it up to the individual, Pete. What's black and white and red all over? Extremists from both camps, rumbling.

>

> Bruce


Leave it up to the individual means the child ends up paying the price. I think we should not forget that perspective, even if we really have no choice but to leave it up to the individual, however deluded or duped that individual happens to be.


- Alicia





Another message from Alicia H.:


Re: [wc] Help please!!


On 9 November 2010 16:01, petekaraiskos <pkcompany@...> wrote:

> Indeed, if facts are unimportant to you and your family, then indeed Waldorf may be a good place.


I love it. It's a brilliant slogan.


- Alicia





A message from JoAnn, who likes Waldorf schools:


Hi DL,


I am one of those happy-clappy Waldorf parents and my children are happy-clappy waldorf alumnae. Both of my children went from pre-K to 8th grade at the Detroit Waldorf School. (The Detroit school does not have a high school, so they attended public high schools.) My children are spaced rather far apart, so we were parents at the school for 18 years or so.


I don't think we are in the minority of parents from Waldorf/Steiner schools.  We are a distinct minority on this list, however, and the various comments on how parents who are happy with waldorf are delusional and do not appreciate facts might give a clue as to why.


If you'd like to talk with other parents about their positive experiences, you might try the Waldorf Education List: http://www.waldorfworld.com/waldorflist/  This list has been on-going since the early 1990's, and has a number of knowledgeable parents and teachers as members. Please read the FAQ, as they do not see their role as "defending Waldorf".


> I am not averse to New Age philosophies per se but I would strongly object to the people with whom I was to be entrusting my daughter's education to, to hide their real objectives and to fail to engage in open and honest discussion and debate.


Actually, Waldorf education as our family experienced it is a fairly rigorous, albeit old-fashioned, method of education. Not at all the airy-fairy sort of thing the "New Age" label implies. My girls came out of their waldorf school at or above grade level in math and science, able to read and write above grade level, able to get by in two foreign languages (Spanish and German), able to draw and paint with some facility (although they themselves would say their work is inadequate, their high school art teachers would disagree), able to make music with several instruments, and able to make functional objects via knitting, crochet, sewing, and wood working. I do not believe they are alone in this.


One anecdote that illustrates what my children got out of their waldorf education (if you will humor a proud mama). In high school, my eldest daughter worked the local Renaissance fair and became interested in making chain mail.  She watched the folks demonstrating at the fair and worked with her dad to figure out how to do it herself. (Starting with galvanized steel fence wire, winding her own rings, making the rings into cuffs of various designs, and later crafting a shirt and helm.) At her high school -- a school dedicated to the fine and performing arts -- many of her classmates asked her if she would make them similar cuffs or bracelets. Then she took a high school friend to a concert at the waldorf school. As the friend remarked later that evening, "At our school, everyone asked if you would make something for them. At Waldorf, everyone asked you to *show*them* how to make it themselves."


Whilst it is true that waldorf teachers tend not push students in the early grades (1-3), in the middle school years (grades 6-8) they are pushed quite hard. I would be happy to discuss the specifics of how/what my daughters were taught and their experiences post-Waldorf if you have questions. (Just be patient, as I subscribe to the digest version of the list and so it may take me an extra day to see your post.)


I would also take what the critics say about the sinister objectives of waldorf education with a rather large pinch of salt. Most of the critics have had very bad experiences with a particular school or a particular teacher. I'm not saying bad schools or bad teachers don't exist -- but they exist in every sort of school. So you have to be aware of what's going on -- just as you would be if you sent your child to public (state-run) school or parochial (church-run) school or any other type of school.


> I have a tour and discussion with a teacher scheduled for next week. I shall have plenty of ammunition now with which to bombard them/her but should i go in feigning ignorance or have it out with them...?

>

> I guess, just like doubting Thomas, I want to see their deceit with my own eyes.


Why not ask the teacher genuine questions about the areas that concern you and listen to the answers with an open mind? I'm not sure how useful either feigning ignorance in order to somehow entrap the teacher or going in spoiling for a fight will be in determining whether a specific Steiner school will be a good fit for your daughter.


Then again, being from Detroit, I admit YMMV (Your Maya May Vary).


Kind regards,

JoAnn

   



 


A message from Maura Kwaten, whose child attended a Waldorf school in Britain:


Re: [wc] Help please!!


DL,  Hi , I'm from London, our daughter left a Steiner School in Kings Langley. She now attends a private school and our son is at state school. If your daughter isn't that academic she may find private a bit pressured although there are some around that aren't. Lots of state schools are fantastic, much better than I imagined.  Can you say what area you are from as there are a few of us from the UK on the list? 


Good luck and I wish I'd found out about Steiner schools before we put our daughter in one. If you are thinking about risking it because your child is not academic and it will be arty and less pressured don't, Steiner schools are not creative, quite the opposite in fact. It [has] taken me a while to get my daughter to be free with her art projects, she was so used to having to draw and paint in a specific way (no black lines,lots of layering of water colours, to help her soul not her artistic ability). Is your daughter really unhappy where she is or did you just fancy something different ? Pete is probably right, if you go there firing questions they will almost certainly not have a place for you. You may be escorted away if they think you have a camera.


Best wishes,


- Maura





Another message from Diana Winters, who was once highly enthusiastic about Waldorf education:


Re: Help please!!


Joanne:


>the various comments on how parents who are happy with waldorf are >delusional and do not appreciate facts might give a clue as to why.


It's easy to take a stance as "not delusional" and not immune to facts if, when delusions or misinformation promoted by anthroposophists are discussed, you simply remain silent at those times, and restrict your posting on the list to cheerleading for the cause when someone uninformed about Waldorf comes along. Then you can appear aggrieved and very reasonable at the same time, scot-free.


I know: Now you'll tell us you rarely read this list. (Have been subscribed to it for about a decade; just don't usually read it.)


>Most of the critics have had very bad experiences with a particular >school or a particular teacher.


You know that's nonsense, Joanne. You have heard probably hundreds of stories now from people who have had very similar and very disturbing experiences in Waldorf. It's shocking that you are willing to tell a newcomer this list exists because of a couple of teachers, or that the experiences reported here are unusual. You know that is not true.


If it's just one or two teachers causing this problem, these teachers sure gets around; they must be cloning themselves, or reincarnating very rapidly.






Another message from Maura Kwaten: 



 Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!

I was not aware that artwork at Steiner schools is to help the children's souls reincarnate properly, that Eurythmy is not about dance, it is to help the children's souls reincarnate properly.

I did not realize that many teachers at the school believe humans reincarnate from Black to white. My daughter is mixed race. I would not have set foot in that school if I had known that in advance.

Ask questions and they will answer?...we asked if the education co-ordinator believed in the reincarnation through races theory, he refused to answer.

What is advertised on the tin is not what's inside it, its not about a few bad schools. We were coerced into that school under false pretenses. Of course some people will come out saying they had a good time, a few parents in our class never knew about the karma aspect until I told them ( and some are aware and embrace it) they had placed their kids there late as they weren't fitting in at other schools. A huge amount of our class left, to be replaced by a new bunch.

That the kids do well academically is always pushed, the majority don't. My daughter has a tutor twice a week and I've been told she has some very odd gaps in her knowledge that is not down to her dyslexia, I know many families having the same issues. I think not working from textbooks, not doing computer studies till age 14, not having recorded music, copying ideas of the board that are 100 years old and doing bloody eurythmy instead of street dance is madness.

I thought the school had a charming old fashioned feel about it, I thought maybe the kids wouldn't all be on Facebook, drinking, doing drugs etc but they are the same as other kids except they get a very odd education and a very un creative one, one where they are judged by the shape of their head, their walk, their skin colour.

- Maura





Another message from Pete Karaiskos:


Re: Help please!!


JoAnn,


Is the list you are sending DL to moderated to ensure critical comments are deleted? I know many Anthroposophical lists don't permit free discussion... much like Waldorf schools.


In my case - the problems at my particular school are extensive and obvious - and Highland Hall is a 50 year old Waldorf school... with 400 students and training facilities for Waldorf teachers. It isn't just a bad Waldorf school... it is a Waldorf training center. Bad teachers training more bad teachers.


I'm glad your kids had a wonderful experience... also... you're an Anthroposophist... so that probably had a LOT to do with it.


- PK


Sharks feed in muddy waters!!!





A general reply from DL:



[wc] Re: Help please!!  


Dear All 


Thank you very, very much for all your replies. I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into making me aware of the path that lies ahead. I feel confused, disappointed, overwhelmed and rather shell shocked. All I have done for the last 3 days is eat, sleep and think Steiner Waldorf. I feel like I'm becoming slightly unhinged, as though this must be some strange waking dream/nightmare that I have suddenly found myself in.


All I ever wanted was to find a good school for my daughter! She is bright, yet highly sensitive, very imaginative and loves arts and crafts. The state (Catholic) school she is at is fantastic for academic work but does seem to fall very short in helping her with her emotional needs. I am moving out of the area as I am getting married and moving to where my husband-to-be is currently living. I was over the moon when I discovered there was a Steiner school only 20 mins drive away.


Perhaps I should speak to an educational psychologist and see what they suggest...?


I cannot afford to put her in private education but do not like the pressure they put on kids to perform academically anyway. This Steiner school (in this part of England) seemed to offer surprisingly good value plus the possibility of concessions.


Are there any UNBIASED books to be had looking at Steiner education and schools in the UK ? There certainly seems to be enough material out there!! How about a very BASIC OBJECTIVE introduction to Anthroposophy? That would be a good start for me I think. I find that researching on the internet and reading from a computer monitor just isn't the same. The information comes thick and fast, there's so much of it and I end up trying to read web pages and their links all at the same time, retaining very little of the original information.


Does anyone know anyone that has had any positive or negative experiences with any S Waldorf schools in the south of England in the last 5 years..?


I am going to keep reading and researching but I hope this doesn't develop into some sort of obsession for me. Seems like it can take over your life whether you're for it OR against it!


I will try to keep calm and carry on ;)


Kindest regards to everyone,

DL





A message from Cathy Balme, whose children attended a Waldorf school:


Re: Help please!!  


Hi DL


I feel for you, but in the same breath, I wish we had known before we put our children through those years. No one can make the decision for you or your child but at least you can feel empowered with foreknowledge.


You seem to be expecting quite a lot from a school; all children are so different, but in my view what makes a child well rounded, fulfilled and generally happy with themselves and a productive person is a combination of consistent parenting, friends, activities they enjoy etc etc. If they have parents who engage with them, and access to books, the internet, swimming, cinema etc they are steps ahead of many children. State schools are generally good too (Steiner sometimes sell themselves by building a denigrating picture of the state system in contrast to the "beauty" they offer) You could look into democratic education as an alternative too.


I agree with Maura- they aren't that creative, my children were very bored much of the time, too much copying and virtually no books or visual stimulation apart from what the teacher draws. Teachers are poorly trained, or have been shifted from another Steiner school... I guess it's hard to recruit them. (In my experience they are the opposite of professional, although there are some who have come from the state system for instance, who are good.) There are also an undisputed stream of reports of unheeded bullying at Steiner schools, this consistently crops up.


Our children were at a UK Steiner school. We went in blind to the fact that anthroposophic beliefs guided so much, because frankly, it is unbelievable. The schools avoid mentioning anthroposophy, and if they do, they dismiss it and move on. It simply wouldn't occur to any right minded person to question them as to whether they make decisions about your child from a stand point of them having had a past life, that their karma from that life apparently dictates actions and physical appearances in this one; that they will label your child with a medieval temperament, and have staff meetings which apparently involve meditating with angels, discussing etheric bodies etc etc; that so much in the curriculum is there in order to build a bridge to spiritual worlds. I certainly wouldn't ask a Church primary school whether they referred to the bible to deal with a bullying issue, or meditated on the virgin Mary when discussing art lessons, let alone accepting that they classified my child according to their temperament, using their body shape and colouring! I suspect Steiner schools rely heavily on the fact that it is beyond belief, and no one really expects their child's teacher to act in this way and follow these beliefs. Even if you ask poignant questions, I would be very surprise indeed if you got a straight answer. "You don't expect a school to lie" one UK mother said somewhere.


Jo Ann is right, some children thrive, although I tend to believe this is in spite of Steiner schools, more down to the fact that they are the sort of child who would do well anywhere, or have middle class, engaged parents, (many of whom use tutors when exams loom); but she's also disingenuous in implying there are a few bad apples as there are in any school; this is a common chant of Steiner supporters. I'm afraid I don't believe much of what they say; when someone like Jo Ann appears on a thread like this I just think "plant', a steinerista doing their duty for the cause, their karma, the future of human kind, their next incarnation, whatever.


There are various documents for teachers and schools, and teacher training outlines, particularly in the US and Australia, which are candid about their anthroposophic goals for the children and themselves. These make extraordinary reading. The teachers are on a path of self development, some are fairly low down the anthroposophical learning curve, although they will all have had an anthroposophical training and are supposed to have read Steiner's work . The Class Teacher's handbook by Kevin Avison is available from the Steiner waldorf Schools Fellowship; it talks about including the spirit world in the lessons, communicating with the angels, and advises the teachers to "lose" anything indicating what the class might have covered during lessons before leaving the school! They are not in the business of being open with anyone.


 Our children thrived at a small primary school. It took them time to catch up, and the teachers were wonderful (you might be interested in the amount of teachers who write about having to help the fall outs from Steiner school, using, in their words, valuable time and resources helping them catch up.)


Even if you subscribe to anthroposophic world view yourself, personally I think it's unfair to impose it on your child who has no choice (in the same way I think all religion should be separate from education) . I know bright children who have come through, nice kids, but with barely a GCSE and now facing their adulthood on a wing and a prayer. We all want to do what we think is best for our children, to protect them, provide the "magical" childhood, we can do that at home, Steiner schools don't own nature and beauty. Ultimately the best thing we can give them aside from love and confidence is an education which equips them with tools to navigate the real world, not a fantasy one invented in someone's "clairvoyant" imagination. That's my take. Good luck.





A message from "alfa-omega," who taught at a Waldorf school:


Re: Help please!!


Hello all!


I am alfa-omega from Zooey's.


I am a regular teacher who got cheated to Waldorf in a similar way parents do: by not been given correct information, so I could make an informed decision. I have worked at that school for a few months as a subject teacher. My experiences are described in several comments at Zooey's blog. 


First, some explanation:


-----explanation start-----


In Sweden, every pupil brings with him/her voucher money (taxpayers' money), approx. 50000/pupil/year (or approx. 200000/pupil/year for a pupil with a special need statement). So, a new pupil = income for the school. Any school - community comprehensive, non-confessional free school, Waldorf free school (or a few other religious free schools).


A Swedish community comprehensive corresponds roughly to a public school in the USA and to a state school in the UK), Sw. free school corr. roughly to a charter school in the USA and to a NEW (Tory) Academy (OLD, Labour, Academy is rather what in the USA is called Magnet school) -----explanation stop-----



My comment to Pete's comment bellow ("if you come in with hard questions"):


Whether the child of a parent who asks some (for Waldorf) inconvenient questions will be admitted or not may depend on whether there is an admission queue or not. At the school I was part of for a while, and (as far as I know) in most Waldorf schools in Sweden nova days, there are vacant places.

 

Depending on the school's economy, a family may be accepted, even if the parents are perceived as "un-cooperative".


But: soon on later (often soon), the initial dissatisfaction will come through, there will be "unpleasant air".


What I would especially warn for: the child's situation is equally unpleasant and WEAK. They want to keep the pupil, and will try to enforce their will. IS THIS A SITUATION YOU WANT YOUR CHILD INTO - the one "on hands" for receiving the school's dissatisfaction with your family?


(They wanted to keep the regular teacher, and tried to enforce their will, too).


Yours,

alfa-omega





A message from Frank Thomas Smith, an Anthroposophist:


[wc] Re: Help please!!  


--- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "So Like" <solikedaria@...> wrote:

> > >

> Are there any UNBIASED books to be had looking at Steiner education and schools in the UK ? There certainly seems to be enough material out there!!  How about a very BASIC OBJECTIVE introduction to Anthroposophy? That would be a good start for me I think. I find that researching on the internet and reading from a computer monitor just isn't the same. The information comes thick and fast, there's so much of it and I end up trying to read web pages and their links all at the same time, retaining very little of the original information.

____

*Not* objective (the author was a Waldorf teacher): "Education Towards Freedom" by Frans Calgren - an excellent and clear and visual introduction to Steiner Education


Objective: "Rudolf Steiner - The Man and His Vision" by Colin Wilson Objective: "Rudolf Steiner - An Introduction to his life and Work" by Gary Lachman


- Frank


P.S. In my rather extensive personal experience, the *vast majority* of parents and students share JoAnn's views. The people here calling themselves Waldorf Critics (G_d bless 'em) represent a *very small minority* of dissatisfied whiners - bloated by the internet.

 




A message from Margaret Roberston, a Montessori teacher:


RE: [wc] Re: Help please!! 


What a strange response from Frank - even ONE child hurt from Anthroposophy is too many! As the parent of a young child in Public school - I have nothing but praise for Montessori (teachers) in the public school!When it comes to education - Parents do your homework - you owe it to your child. 





A message from Dan Dugan, a former Waldorf parent, now moderator at waldorf-critics:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


> Are there any UNBIASED books to be had looking at Steiner education and schools in the UK ? There certainly seems to be enough material out there!!


I wish! The dialogue is very polarized. That may be how it must be, given the extreme nature of Anthroposophy. There's no "middle ground" between an earth-centered solar system and a sun-centered system. It has to be one or the other.


> How about a very BASIC OBJECTIVE introduction to Anthroposophy? That would be a good start for me I think.


It's from an insider, but Anthroposophy 101 is a good summary:


http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/anthroposophy101.html


- Dan


 


A message from Steve Walden, who has studied Anthroposophy extensively:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


I think Frank inadvertently (Freudian Slip?) got something right here, when he wrote: "The people here calling themselves Waldorf Critics (G_d bless 'em) represent a *very small minority* of dissatisfied whiners."


I agree that critics on this list form a very small minority of the total numbers of Waldorf Critics and dissatisfied ex-Waldorf parents and students. Most people simply move on after their bad Waldorf Daze. Many of my real-life friends, for example, (locally and planet-wide) are dissatisfied ex-Waldorf parents and students. Many people were sold a false promise and feel hurt and ripped off. We were duped and our children were the innocent victims.


Once again, however, we see the response to dissatisfied customers (which include HURT CHILDREN) voicing their/our concerns. This, from an experienced Anthroposophist and Waldorf teacher: Frank and his pals call us whiners and this email list is the" toilet," Etc. Where is the compassion or concern for people - especially children? This response should tell prospective Waldorf parents a great deal about the Anthro-Waldorf movement.


- Walden

 




Another message from Pete Karaiskos:


[wc] Re: Help please!!


Hi DL,


This is, as I recall, a gentle critique of Waldorf teachers and how they interact with parents. It was a master's thesis. Hope it helps.


www.waldorflibrary.org/articles/MASTERbrooks.pdf


- PK





Another message from Pete Karaiskos:


[wc] Re: Help please!!


Frank...


At Highland Hall, the statistic given out at an open board meeting by board member Rachael Pflugg, was that Highland Hall has a turnover of 25% of their students PER YEAR! Highland Hall has just about 400 students. So - given a very large graduating class of, say, 30... that means 70 students, PER YEAR, leave Highland Hall. That's a LOT of students leaving. Maybe some are transferring to other Waldorf schools... but... geez... (have a look at my blog sometime Frank) - a LOT of them leave because they are dissatisfied with the education they are getting at Highland Hall - a 50-year-old established (Think Michael Hall in the UK DL) Waldorf school. That's a LOT of disrupted educations Frank... a LOT of kids who are, now, behind and have to catch up. Some leave because they have been harmed, abused, humiliated and bullied... that's a fact!  But then, Highland Hall has a waiting list... so... who cares if they disrupt or destroy 50 kids lives every year? Right?


- PK





Another message from Dan Dugan:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


> P.S. In my rather extensive personal experience, the *vast majority* of parents and students share JoAnn's views. The people here calling themselves Waldorf Critics (G_d bless 'em) represent a *very small minority* of dissatisfied whiners - bloated by the internet.


The "vast majority" and "very small minority" characterizations are certainly true. But I don't think either truth or morality are matters of majority vote.


There are, however, some awful Waldorf schools that have huge annual turnovers, but because of the hype also have waiting lists, and grind through family after family on their "mission from God."


- Dan





A message from historian Peter Staudenmaier:

 

Much of the most informative literature on anthroposophy and Waldorf education is unsurprisingly in German, but there are some worthwhile sources available in English. Two books in particular can be helpful as introductions:

  

1. Heiner Ullrich, Rudolf Steiner (London: Continuum, 2008). Ullrich is a major figure in German educational studies and an expert on the history of pedagogical reform movements. He has published many works on Steiner, anthroposophy, and Waldorf schools, including some of the best critical studies of Waldorf pedagogy available. Most of his work is in German, but the 2008 book provides a good overview of his research, and it is mostly focused on Waldorf education. Though I have various disagreements with Ullrich's arguments, I recommend the book highly to everybody looking for perceptive scholarship on Waldorf schooling and anthroposophy. 


2. Geoffrey Ahern, Sun at Midnight: The Rudolf Steiner Movement and Gnosis in the West (Cambridge: Clarke, 2009). I am more critical of Ahern's book than I am of Ullrich's book, but it is a useful overview of the anthroposophist movement, and much of it focuses on anthroposophy in the UK.


 For those looking for a Waldorf perspective, one of the better books is Ida Oberman, The Waldorf Movement in Education from European Cradle to American Crucible, 1919-2008 (Lewiston: Mellen, 2008). 


There are also a number of UK-specific sources online. Two recent critical contributions can be found here:

 

http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3528


http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3595

 

Others include the UK Anthroposophy site and EASE online: 


http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/


http://www.easeonline.org/ 


Many of Steiner's works can be read in English at the Rudolf Steiner Archive: 


http://www.rsarchive.org/eLib/

  

Peter Staudenmaier





Another message from Diana Winters:


Dan:


>The "vast majority" and "very small minority" characterizations are certainly true.


It also depends on when you poll 'em. If you poll the parents of the incoming kindergarten class before around, say, Thanksgiving, you'll have about 99% happiness - actually something closer to ecstasy.


If you checked with this same set of families 3-5 years later, you'd be hearing quite a different story.


- Diana





Another message from Alicia H.:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


On 9 November 2010 23:03, cathy223146 <cathybalme@...> wrote: > >

>

> I agree with Maura- they aren't that creative, my children were very bored much of the time, too much copying and virtually no books or visual stimulation apart from what the teacher draws.Teachers are poorly trained, or have been shifted from another Steiner school... I guess it's hard to recruit them. (In my experience they are the opposite of professional, although there are some who have come from the state system for instance, who are good.) There are also an undisputed stream of reports of unheeded bullying at Steiner schools, this consistently crops up.

>


I have to agree with Maura and Cathy here. Choosing waldorf steiner for the arts and creativity is choosing it for what it claims to offer but does not. What waldorf students do is spend days on end copying what's on the blackboard. Using a limited amounts of colours and techniques. Wet-on-wet painting is boring as hell, especially when done in the same manner, copying an almost identical splishy-splashy motive, for the 274th time.


Also, as has been pointed out, there's the often rampant and unchecked bullying in waldorf schools. A sensitive child could quickly lose her self-confidence.


> Jo Ann is right, some children thrive, although I tend to believe this is in spite of Steiner schools, more down to the fact that they are the sort of child who would do well anywhere, or have middle class, engaged parents, (many of whom use tutors when exams loom); but she's also disingenuous in implying there are a few bad apples as there are in any school; this is a common chant of Steiner supporters.

>


It is indeed.


> There are various documents for teachers and schools, and teacher training

outlines, particularly in the US and Australia, which are candid about their anthroposophic goals for the children and themselves. These make extraordinary reading. The teachers are on a path of self development, some are fairly low down the anthroposophical learning curve, although they will all have had an anthroposophical training and are supposed to have read Steiner's work . The Class Teacher's handbook by Kevin Avison is available from the Steiner waldorf Schools Fellowship; it talks about including the spirit world in the lessons, communicating with the angels, and advises the teachers to "lose" anything indicating what the class might have covered during lessons before leaving the school! They are not in the business of being open with anyone.

>


If you wish to see excerpts from this masterpiece by Avison, I have a few on my blog:


http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/guidelines-for-child-study-working-with-angels-beings-and-children/



> Even if you subscribe to anthroposophic world view yourself, personally I think it's unfair to impose it on your child who has no choice (in the same way I think all religion should be separate from education) . I know bright children who have come through, nice kids, but with barely a GCSE and now facing their adulthood on a wing and a prayer. We all want to do what we think is best for our children, to protect them, provide the "magical" childhood, we can do that at home, Steiner schools don't own nature and beauty. Ultimately the best thing we can give them aside from love and confidence is an education which equips them with tools to navigate the real world, not a fantasy one invented in someone's "clairvoyant" imagination. That's my take. Good luck.

>


I agree with Cathy. And it is important to remember that, despite all the talk Steiner supporters will feed you about preserving the magic of childhood, for some, there's no magic at all in waldorf education... in fact, it isn't much of a childhood either.


- a





Another message from Alicia H.:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


On 10 November 2010 01:47, Frank Thomas Smith <fts.trasla@...> wrote: > > >

> --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "So Like" <solikedaria@...> wrote:

> >

> > > > > > Are there any UNBIASED books to be had looking at Steiner education and schools in the UK ? There certainly seems to be enough material out there!! How about a very BASIC OBJECTIVE introduction to Anthroposophy? That would be a good start for me I think. I find that researching on the internet and reading from a computer monitor just isn't the same. The information comes thick and fast, there's so much of it and I end up trying to read web pages and their links all at the same time, retaining very little of the original information.

> ____

> *Not* objective (the author was a Waldorf teacher): "Education Towards

Freedom" by Frans Calgren - an excellent and clear and visual introduction to

Steiner Education


The author was also a very important Swedish ANTHROPOSOPHIST. (And his name was Carlgren!) He happens to have been deeply involved in the setting up of the first Swedish waldorf school; as it happens, the one I went to. (The pictures contained in his books are from this school.) The book is basically promotion material. It was written and published in the process of gaining public funding for waldorf schools (they succeeded some years later).


I'm not saying that Carlgren himself didn't really believe he was promoting an 'education for freedom' -- he may well have thought he was. But in practical reality, this school provided an education in and for UNfreedom.


Important to note is that, Carlgren, being an anthroposophist, uses 'freedom' in the anthroposophical sense. It's deeply misleading, since most people would assume freedom means what people usually think it means.



> P.S. In my rather extensive personal experience, the *vast majority* of parents and students share JoAnn's views. The people here calling themselves Waldorf Critics (G_d bless 'em) represent a *very small minority* of dissatisfied whiners - bloated by the internet. >


Maybe that's because waldorf promoters usually ignore the rest. They ignore all the dissatisfied families who leave those schools. I remember distinctly that in my waldorf school, the school Carlgren writes about, the talk went something like this: 'nobody ever leaves this fantastic school because they're unhappy with it' -- it simply cannot happen, so it doesn't! Though, clearly, what was *said* and what was *imagined* didn't correspond to what *happened* (in reality). 


- a





Another message from Alicia H.:


Re: [wc] Re: Help please!!


On 10 November 2010 02:45, <awaldenpond@...> wrote: > >

>

> Once again, however, we see the response to dissatisfied customers (which include HURT CHILDREN) voicing their/our concerns. This, from an experienced Anthroposophist and Waldorf teacher: Frank and his pals call us whiners and this email list is the" toilet," Etc. Where is the compassion or concern for people - especially children? This response should tell prospective Waldorf parents a great deal about the Anthro-Waldorf movement.

>

> -Walden

>


It should tell them a whole lot, actually. Put this together with the fact that the national organisation for waldorf schools in Sweden is now paying one of the nastier waldorf steiner defenders a salary to track down any negative comments on waldorf education. This person, whom you all know, specializes in threats and intimidation. No movement with a clear conscience would do such a thing. And it's not that a person like Frank is otherwise verbally inept, but to people who've been hurt by the movement he's defending, he's has nothing but put-downs to spare.


- a





A message from Mark H., who had been considering a Waldorf school:


Re: Help please!! 

   

--- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "So Like" <solikedaria@...> wrote:


> I am in a state of shock and also very upset. Is this where the > dream ends??


Sadly, yes. I just woke up too.


I'm in a similar position to yourself, although our son is still a year or so away from starting kindergarten. We had been attending a parent&child group at the local Steiner school. There were some oddities I had noticed (the faceless dolls etc.) and some of the parents held some unconventional views on treating illness and alternative medicine that I didn't agree with.


Then I read these two guest posts over at David Colquhoun's blog:


http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3528


http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3595


and have since read as much as I can from many of the sites linked to elsewhere in this thread.


I'm willing to believe that a Steiner education works out well for some children, but the lack of measurable academic success, the dodgy-sounding science lessons and most of all, the lack of openness on the spiritual motivation behind the school (i.e. anthroposophy) has put me right off. Then there are the horror stories. One sentence I read finally made my mind up: "You don't get survivor support groups for ex-Montessori students, do you?". 


I'm annoyed with myself for not doing my research on Steiner and anthroposophy sooner, but feel we've had a lucky escape.


I wish you the best of luck finding a school where your daughter will thrive and be happy.


- MarkH

















 [R. R., 2010.]















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


◊◊◊ 4. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PARENTS ◊◊◊



For parents considering sending kids to a Waldorf school


Detailed pointers on evaluating a Waldorf school


Reverence, wonder, and the aftereffects of straining for them


One family's story [external link]

 

Classroom discipline and...


Some positive elements, but also...

HELP!

Another

Court case

A father asks for guidance

Looking at a Parent Handbook


Unjustly assailed


An inquiry into the “success” of Waldorf schooling


The “temperaments” as conceived and acted upon in Waldorf schools


Can a Waldorf school cleanse itself?


Examining a problem that began with the first Waldorf School


An overview and a parent's personal report [external link]



——————————


You may also want to consult a few essays 
posted elsewhere at Waldorf Watch:


SIX FACTS ABOUT STEINER EDUCATION
A guide for students and parents

OUR EXPERIENCE
Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools

COMING UNDONE
A report by a mother who was drawn to a Waldorf school but left disillusioned

MOMS
Talking it over

POPS
Had enough?











If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here, 

you might begin by consulting the following resources:





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