This page consists of sections
excerpted from
"The Anthroposophical Indoctrination
of Students in Steiner-Waldorf Schools",
presented at this site as

The author is Grégoire Perra.
To read more of what Perra has to say
 on the subject of indoctrination,
please read his entire essay.
You can reach it via the link above.






ANTHROPOSOPHICAL INDOCTRINATION 

IN STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS



I.


An Insidious Indoctrination


1. Hiding Anthroposophy in the Subjects Taught



Based on my experience as a former student, a teacher at my old school, and an Anthroposophist, I would like to describe the subtlety of indoctrination that students in Waldorf schools are subjected to. In fact, its chief characteristic is its disguised form. I should state that the various ideas of Rudolf Steiner are taught to Waldorf students, but this is done without reference to their origin or their special nature. The teachers associate these ideas with their subjects as if they were objective facts and not part of a prescribed vision of reality. This is why Waldorf students can have the feeling that they are left completely free to form their own ideas. At the most, they may notice certain specific practices (that may seem very odd to some of them), which they may choose to ignore. Nevertheless, Anthroposophical ideas and practices form their psychic, cultural, and intellectual universe for many years, immersing them unconsciously in a worldview that will accompany them throughout life and that they are likely to return to on many occasions.


The invisibility of the indoctrination process depends primarily on the public's ignorance about Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is indeed very complex. Contrary to what one might expect, only a small part of it is what might be called its esoteric doctrines (teachings about the cosmic nature of Christ, reincarnation, the cosmic evolution of the Earth in several successive incarnations, the spiritual hierarchies, etc.). This esotericism is cultivated by Anthroposophists, often members of the Anthroposophical Society (but not always). However, the largest part of the Anthroposophical worldview does not consist of these ideas; instead, it consists of interpretations concerning all fields of knowledge and the arts.


Thus, there are multiple Anthroposophical interpretations of zoology, botany, pedagogy, physics, history, geography, literature, philosophy, diet, mathematics, etc. In art, there are specific Anthroposophical practices in painting, architecture, music, dance, theater, etc. Rudolf Steiner indeed expressed his views in all of these areas. When a teacher works in a Waldorf school, s/he has no need to make allusions to the subject of the "esoteric teachings" of Rudolf Steiner — and often s/he does not. S/he just teaches traditional subjects, coloring them lightly as interpreted by Rudolf Steiner or his followers. Because inspectors from the ministry of education do not know these interpretations — they are not the specialists in Anthroposophy — they have difficulty identifying them. To make my point clearer, I will give some examples:

In the fourth grade (CM1), Waldorf students study zoology and tackle the physiology of various animals, like the lion, the cow, and the eagle. At first glance, their class work appears to be an objective study of the behavior of these animals. At least that's what an inspector will see in the students' notebooks. But the teacher will also orally tell the students that the eagle must be understood in relation to the human head, the cow in relation to the human metabolic system and limbs, and the lion in relation to the human rhythmic system (the heart and lungs). Thus, the teacher conveys basic elements of Rudolf Steiner's doctrine, namely that man is a tripartite being having within himself, in a latent state, the various animal kingdoms. [6]

Another example: In the early grades, Waldorf teachers tell the children a great number of legends or myths. At first glance, this is part of a traditional study of literature and mythology. But the teachers slip in Anthroposophical interpretations — they make subtle allusions to the contents of Anthroposophical books such as MYTHS AND LEGENDS AND THEIR OCCULT TRUTHS [7] or HIDDEN WISDOM IN GRIMM FAIRY TALES [8]. Most of these works were only recently translated into French (Waldorf teachers having access to them through German connections). National Education inspectors therefore cannot detect the Anthroposophical doctrines slipped in by Waldorf teachers when they tell these legends and myths to the children.

One last example. In the 11th and 12th grades (high school), Waldorf School students study two works of world literature: the romance of PARZIVAL and Goethe's FAUST. An inspector opening the students' notebooks would find at first glance a study, scene by scene or chapter by chapter, of the two works in question, with various interpretations being considered. But if, knowing Anthroposophy, you look carefully at these interpretations, you will find that they encompass many elements of Rudolf Steiner's doctrines. For example, the study of the character of Mephistopheles in FAUST always leads to the conclusion that he is a bipolar character. He thus becomes the representative of the "forces of evil" which, according to Steiner, are divided into the forces of Lucifer and the forces of Ahriman. [9] The study of a seemingly innocent work thus becomes an opportunity for indoctrination that is difficult [for outsiders] to detect. Indeed, no mention of Rudolf Steiner will usually be made by the teacher. It suffices for the teacher to take (artificially) these interpretations of the work being studied, and then present them as universal and timeless truths (since they are found in other works at other times, as the teacher will then show). The same thing happens with the interpretation of the chapters of the romance PARZIVAL. Each time, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner are presented without mentioning their origin. [10] But this subtle process is at work in all subjects from kindergarten on! To realize this, it suffices to read Steiner's TEACHING PLAN [11] or COUNCILS [12], and then connect what is said by Waldorf teachers with the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

The hidden nature of these Anthroposophic ideas — in the form of interpretations presented in all subjects — makes it particularly difficult for students to become aware of what is happening. How indeed can they be aware of ideas that, in their original form, are mixed with traditional teaching, like spice added in a dish, and do not at first sight contradict but extend traditional teaching? I believe that those who undergo indoctrination in creationism are somewhat more fortunate. Probably, at one time or another, the ideas they are taught will clearly clash with the objective data of current science. This is rarely possible with Anthroposophic tenets when they are more or less blended with modern scientific data. Indeed, precepts about science are constantly updated by the Anthroposophical authorities, which then communicate them to teachers in Waldorf schools. [13]


One can imagine the impact of the Waldorf method when it is routinely used on the intellectual formation of children.


Students thus live with Anthroposophic ideas mixed with objective data in the subjects they are studying. And since the Anthroposophic ideas keep coming back in different forms, they eventually are regarded as objective truths, without their source ever being revealed. Only if you decide to become an Anthroposophist do you encounter these ideas openly expressed, with their origin made clear. But by then, this will not be an issue for you, it will be something you have joined and wish to propagate, since you will have become a disciple of the Master.



2. Subtle Indoctrination of Students in All Subjects



Anthroposophical teachers in these schools thus always transmit their ideas to students in ways that are not easily identifiable. The ideas are almost never presented as those of Rudolf Steiner, but as interpretations of works belonging to the cultural heritage. So there is at first no study of botany that is specific to Steiner-Waldorf schools, but underneath are Steiner's writings about Goethe's botanical theories, which can be injected into a traditional teaching SVT. [16] There is not, at first sight, a view of world history specific to Steiner-Waldorf schools, but there are Rudolf Steiner's comments about various civilizations. [17] It is the same for all subjects and disciplines, including artistic education. But only a person who has the vast literature of Anthroposophy at his fingertips will be able to detect this practice. Making this even more difficult is the fact that most works of Steiner were not fully translated into French until recently; previously, they were passed by oral education from Germany. This is why the doctrinaire character of Waldorf schooling had been able to escape notice, thus far, by inspectors of National Education. In some ways, you could say Waldorf schooling has a subliminal character.


When I received Waldorf teacher training, especially that given at the Institute of Chatou, I could ascertain that this practice is highly organized. Indeed, already at that time I was struck by the gap between the rhetoric of our trainers — constantly stating that the teacher should be creative and never apply prescribed formulas — and the training that taught us decades-old methods that had not changed since the founding of the first Waldorf school in 1919. In fact, having taken this training for two years, I can testify that it is essentially doctrinal training, it is not aimed at developing teaching skills. We were taught how to instill, at each stage of child development, certain ideas and Anthroposophical concepts by surreptitiously combining them with traditional teaching (of course it was not described this way), and to see how in each of the disciplines taught, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner can be indicated. [18]


For example, the trainer specializing in the teaching of history taught us to identify, in the course of historical events, the polarity between Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces, and to teach history to students from this angle. Thus, the French Revolution was to be taught in terms of the polarity between Danton and Robespierre, one being the representative of Luciferic forces (Danton), the other representing Ahrimanic forces (Robespierre). Or the trainer specializing in chemistry taught us how to describe each of the elements of Mendeleyev's periodic table as singular expressions of cosmic principles. Thus nitrogen and oxygen became, in our eyes, cosmological entities endowed with a kind of "temperament." We were taught what chemistry experiments could be arranged in the laboratory to demonstrate to students the evidence of such temperaments in the periodic elements. I could give many more examples of how we were taught to teach students specific elements of Rudolf Steiner's belief system — or rather to present reality in the light of this belief system — without telling the students that we were presenting a biased view. In fact, the training of Waldorf teachers consists of learning how to lead the students, without their knowledge, to see the world through the eyes of Rudolf Steiner!


At the time I was very surprised that nobody had written textbooks for Waldorf trainees, since Waldorf methods looked so old and firmly established. On reflection, I now understand that it is not possible for Waldorf practices to be written down, because this would run the risk of exposing the systematic nature of such indoctrination. The claim that Waldorf methods should be kept alive, not freezing them in writing, is in reality only an alibi used to assist concealment. However, in reality there are many Waldorf texts that are neither published nor distributed publicly. I remember that sometimes the trainers made ​​mention of one or another of these works to the most reliable trainees, making copies for their personal use. But the key information was given orally. One of these secret books was given to me when I was a teacher. On the first few pages one finds: "This document is the property of the Educational Section of the Free University of Science of the Spirit, entrusted to this college...[and] given until the end of teaching activity..." [19] The secret nature of the transmission of such material makes clear the shameful link between the esotericism of Rudolf Steiner and the education provided in Steiner-Waldorf schools. Such documents should obviously never be made public and should be returned to the Goetheanum [20] by their owners if they stop teaching.


The methods of instilling Anthroposophic references in the traditional teaching of students were introduced by Rudolf Steiner himself at the founding of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, in the 1920s, and have recently been published. Little known among Waldorf teachers, this large volume — dense, difficult to read — is a kind of dogmatic set of references touching on almost all areas of practical life in a Steiner school: repetition, internal rules, decisions to be made concerning left- and right-handedness, methods of teaching geography at different grade levels, ties displayed between Anthroposophy and Steiner pedagogy, etc. [In English, such books as FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS, and DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS present such material. They have been published by the Anthroposophic Press. — RR]

One finds there significant questions and answers, for example:

• A teacher asks, "How can we, in the teaching of geology, link geology and the Akasha Chronicle?" [This is a celestial storehouse of wisdom accessible through clairvoyance. — RR] Concerning what Anthroposophy says about glacial periods, Rudolf Steiner answers: "...We must not be afraid to talk to the children about Atlantis. We should not omit that. We can even present it in a historical context. But then you have to disavow standard geology ... The ice age is the Atlantean catastrophe. The ancient glacial period, and recent average conditions in Europe, are nothing other than what has happened since Atlantis sank. " (p. 99-100)

• To a teacher who asks the question, "How can we draw parallels between what science says and the point of view of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] concerning the glacial period?" Rudolf Steiner replies: "You may well draw a parallel. You can of course identify the Quaternary period with Atlantis and the Tertiary with what I describe as Lemuria [a lost continent that preceded Atlantis], if you do not fix things too precisely." (p. 101)

• A teacher asks, "How should we treat the natural history of man? How should I begin this study in fourth grade?" Rudolf Steiner replies: "For man, you will find almost everything scattered throughout my lecture cycles in one way or another ... Just fit [my teachings] to the school ... So rely on what you know through Anthroposophy." (p. 125)

(ADVICE; MEETINGS WITH TEACHERS AT THE WALDORF SCHOOL IN STUTTGART (The Federation of Steiner Schools-Waldorf, October 2005. [The English-language edition is titled FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER. — RR])


This form of teaching has been meant, from the beginning, to convey Anthroposophy to students, mingling it with traditional teaching and presenting Steiner's assertions as facts, by no means as hypotheses. The fact that this book is published today by the Federation without any critical distance, either in the notes or in the foreword, shows that the teachers in Waldorf schools are not meant to ponder these things! For them, Anthroposophy represents the truth, and being necessary to the human soul, it must be communicated to children from an early age. Speaking to students about Atlantis or Lemuria is a "moral necessity" for a Steiner teacher. It is just a matter of not getting caught in the act of openly teaching Anthroposophy.



3. Making Cultural Works Sacred



I would now like to describe another aspect of the insidious indoctrination of students. It is to produce in the mind a sacralization of certain cultural works, as if they were printed in vibrant red. It is always the same, regardless of the ages of these works or the countries where they originated: FAUST, the TREATMENT OF COLORS, and the METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS, by Goethe [21], PARZIVAL, by Wolfram von Eschenbach [22], THE ENIGMA OF KASPER HAUSER [23], LETTERS FOR THE ESTHETIC EDUCATION OF HUMANITY, by Schiller, and the Isenheim Altarpiece. Also included are a few minor markers such as the story of Gilgamesh, Manichaeism (the doctrine of Manes), the myth of Atlantis, etc. It is thus that during their university years, so many Waldorf graduates choose to address one or the other of these works as subjects for dissertations. Such works represent for them a kind of unsurpassable cultural horizon of leitmotifs to which they keep coming back unendingly.


But what is the purpose for making such works sacred? By making Anthroposophical references "sacred" to the students, it is easy to attract them to the Anthroposophical Society. Simply offer them a chance, after graduation, to attend a conference on Goethe, or Kaspar Hauser, for example. When you know the Anthroposophical Society from the inside, you see that it is organized around a few charismatic figures who appear as specialists on various cultural works. Within the Society, there is always a specialist on FAUST, another on PARZIVAL, one on the Isenheim Altarpiece, etc. And these positions are held dear. These specialists are in a way intermediaries between the normal cultural world and that of Anthroposophy. This clever strategy was instituted by Rudolf Steiner himself. Indeed, Anthroposophic ideas are often presented under the guise of a study of certain works. The name "Goetheanum" for the seat of the General Anthroposophical Society is an illustration. Those interested in Goethe will be conducted through Steiner's commentaries on scientific or poetic works of this great German writer, and thereby they will be introduced to Anthroposophy. The process is even more effective with alumni of Steiner-Waldorf schools, for whom these references were presented during Waldorf schooling as if they were absolute standards of excellence. Waldorf students are indeed introduced to these works at specific ages, as if their study were a sort of initiation ritual. Not having studied the "period of Faust" can thus feel tragic to certain other students of Anthroposophy, so they spend a holiday in a German Waldorf school to fill this abominable gap. These works are a kind of common cultural heritage that is holy to Waldorf students everywhere. Obviously, this contributes to actually closing the intellect, since the same works are returned to over and over, with the same comments (those of Steiner) being repeated from a bygone century. During my studies, I chose as the subject of my thesis the design of nature in Goethe's FAUST, and I remember it was not easy for my thesis director to persuade me to study another author. I saw the same thing happen with other classmates from our Waldorf school. One did his thesis on the philosophy of Goethe's METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS, another did his literature DEA on Wolfram von Eschenbach's PARZIVAL, and so forth. Getting beyond this circle of restricted and sanctified references is not easy for a Waldorf student! It is not that he will have no interest in anything other than FAUST or PARZIVAL, but in his eyes no other works will convey the same literary or scientific benefits; these special works are not simply references, for him, but objects of devotion. Throughout the world, Steiner-Waldorf schools shape the mind of their students around a small number of cultural works that will pave the way for them to Anthroposophy.



4. Disguised Anthroposophic Rituals



Another element of the pedagogical practice of Steiner-Waldorf schools contributing to this insidious indoctrination is pervasive worship and religious practice. At first glance, this resembles traditional Christian ritual observance. Almost all Christian holidays are celebrated at these schools: The festival of Saint Michel, the festival of Saint Antoine, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the festival of St. John, etc. The schools' leaders know and, if necessary, make use of Christian terminology — but behind ceremonies that superficially seem akin to traditional forms, in fact we find disguised Anthroposophic rituals "adapted" for children. [24] Indeed, Anthroposophy contains, in addition to many Oriental references, what might be called "Christian esotericism." The Archangel Michael is deemed to be a cosmic entity, the god Christ is said to have been connected to the Sun and later he became the Spirit of the Earth, etc. Anthroposophists celebrate Christian holidays, but within these rituals are hidden Anthroposophic beliefs. In Waldorf schools, Anthroposophic rituals and esoteric teachings in the form of traditional rituals are carefully modified to reflect in the end the Anthroposophic interpretation of their content.


For example, students celebrate — every year, in late September — the victory of Michael over the Dragon. They enact the legend of St. George rescuing a princess. Little by little, through connections only students immersed in Waldorf education are likely to make, they come to understand that the Dragon is an allegory of the materialism of the modern era, and Michael is the spiritual force that can confront it, delivering the human soul (the princess) who was about to be devoured by the monster. This is in fact an implicit reference to a key element of the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner, which is that a spiritual battle took place in 1879 between the forces of darkness and the forces of light embodied by the Archangel Michael. Thus, this small pageant condenses doctrinal elements that Steiner describes at length in his books. [25] It is the same for all so-called Christian festivals celebrated in these schools: in fact, esoteric Anthroposophic teachings are presented in allegorical and symbolic form during ritual ceremonies integrated into school life.


In these schools, the number of rituals corresponds to the many Christian festivals and the observance of the seasons of the year. But we must also count prayers and meditations used in Waldorf schools, as well as "rites of passage." In form and in content, these are even more specifically related to Anthroposophy. Indeed, at different times of the day, students recite words (according to their different ages) that are actually meditation texts written by Rudolf Steiner himself or by his disciples. [26] There are prayers for morning classes, for the afternoon before meals (a kind of grace), for the beginning of the week, for the beginning of the year, for the first grade upon entering the school, for leaving school upon graduation, etc. On each of these occasions, these readings or chorused recitations give rise to small ceremonies that are an integral part of Waldorf education. It even happens that teachers often advise parents of the words they should read to their children at different times of the day. Again, the teachers never say explicitly that these words are from Rudolf Steiner — these are just words to be recited because of tradition. We should note in passing how cunningly teachers avoid using the words "prayers" or "mantras" around the students. Indeed, by designating these activities as merely cultural practices, awareness of their real nature is avoided. This trick comes from Rudolf Steiner himself, who in an interview with the first teachers of the school in Stuttgart said:


"In choosing your words, never say 'prayers,' say 'words for opening the school day.' We should not hear the word 'prayer' in the mouth of a teacher. Thus you will neutralize to a large extent the prejudice against Anthroposophic matters." [27]


Students are thus led to repeat texts containing Anthroposophic ideas in simplified form, but without being able to identify their origin and without open acknowledgment of the Master who wrote them. These texts soak deeply into the mind by force of being recited continually. Take for example the morning verse that students from all Steiner schools recite in unison with their teacher from the 9th to the 12th grade (high school years):


I look into the world

In which the Sun shines,

In which the stars sparkle,

In which the stones lie,

Where living plants are growing, 

Where animals are feeling,

And where the soul of man 

Gives dwelling for the spirit.


I look into the soul 

Which lives within myself. 

God’s spirit weaves in light 

Of Sun and human soul,

In world of space, without, 

In depths of soul, within.

 

God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee

I turn myself in prayer,

That strength and blessing may grow

In me, to learn and to work.

 

 

I recited these words almost every morning for four years. It was only by reading the work of Rudolf Steiner called THEOSOPHY [28] that I came to understand that this is a digest of Anthroposophical precepts about the relationship between humans and the universe. Indeed, the first stanza shows the relationship between the four kingdoms of nature (mineral, vegetable, animal, and human) that Steiner connects with the four cosmic substances (the physical, the etheric, astral, and spiritual). The second stanza establishes an implicit parallel between God and the Sun, which Rudolf Steiner describes in OCCULT SCIENCE [29] asserting that Christ is the Sun God who descended to the earth at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. The last stanza is an allusion to the strength of the Holy Spirit, the immeasurable cosmic entity that Steiner evokes by example in THE MEANING OF LIFE [30] and other books. I could also give the example of words we had to recite at the beginning of meals:

On the night of the earth,
Plants germinate;
By the power of the air,
Their leaves unfold;
And the strength of the Sun
Ripens their fruit.
So the the soul quickens
In the shrine of the heart,
And the power of the spirit
Unfolds in the light of the world;
Thus ripens the strength of man,
In the glory of God.


Again, far from being a simple poetic text on nature, this prayer condenses key elements of Anthroposophical doctrine concerning the relationship of the human soul with the different elements. For example, there is the belief about human temperaments [phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, melancholic], each associated with an element [earth, air, fire, water]. [31] Or, likewise, the relationship between the components of the human soul and the elements. [32]


A final example: At the beginning of each afternoon, our class teacher made ​​us recite the following words:

 

Pure source from which everything flows,

Pure source, where everything returns,

Pure source, who lives in me,

To you I will advance.

 

Years later, I discovered that this poem was actually an adaptation of a mantra that Rudolf Steiner gave to his disciples in one of his esoteric lessons:


Original self, from which we come,

The origin that lives in all things,

To thee, thou Higher Self, we return. [33]


This shows how skillfully, under innocent appearances, Rudolf Steiner condensed and concealed his esoteric teachings in the words that students should recite in Steiner-Waldorf schools.



5. Some Effects Caused by the Artistic-Mythical-Religious 
Atmosphere in Waldorf Schools


The pervasive ritual practices in Waldorf schools are meant, I believe, to immerse students in a kind of permanent religious atmosphere that will fit in their psyches as an addiction. I remember having felt, as a teenager, that I was living in a kind of monastery, punctuated by daily rituals and recitations. But this religious atmosphere was consistently associated with pervasive artistic practices as well as the frequent recounting of legends, folk tales, and myths — it was an artistic environment generating a mythical-religious feeling, which in my opinion is not without consequences and perverse effects:


• At an age when they should be awakening, learning to reason and think critically, the children are mothballed instead — they develop a pronounced tendency to rely on emotion and imagination, which later may encourage credulity and impulsive behavior;

• Some alumni develop psychological blockages against facing psychological reality. I have often observed among them a propensity to hide and forget what could be disturbing, as if it had never existed. In particular, when they became aware of certain realities relating to the sectarianism of the Anthroposophical community, everything was as if their brains suddenly refused to integrate such disturbing information. I found this ability to play "ostrich" to be even greater among Anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers. I remember well the dysfunctional administrative operation of these schools, which were run collectively [34]: Often essential information did not circulate, urgent decisions did not get made, and essential tasks simply passed into oblivion — for example, steps that needed to be taken to assist students to enroll for baccalaureate programs! But teachers and leaders simply let things slip as the drama had not yet ended;

• Waldorf graduates feel a need to reproduce the ceremonies in which they were immersed throughout their schooling. They want to celebrate holidays as Rudolf Steiner led Anthroposophists to do, and to practice many Anthroposophical meditative exercises [35] as well as to meditate using numerous mantras [36]. Upon becoming a parent, one of my former classmates said about ten prayers to his children every evening, one after the other;

• There is a kind of inhibition and misuse of sexuality in adolescents. As a teacher of these schools, I often heard my colleagues say it was important to provide adolescents with a "strong spiritual content" and make them work hard to divert the powerful forces of sexuality into which they might "fall." I believe this inhibition and this diversion promoted adhesion to the religiosity of the school, and later to that of Anthroposophists;

• 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 take 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. Because don't people often replicate what they themselves have experienced? 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 rise in life by 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.


◊◊◊◊



IV.

Waldorf Schools and Anthroposophy: 
A System that Perpetuates

3. The Indoctrination of Parents



To complete the overview of indoctrination of which Steiner-Waldorf schools are one of the pivots, it is now necessary to say a word about the parents. The indoctrination of parents is so ingenious. Many parents who send their children to these schools do so without knowing about Anthroposophy and without themselves being Anthroposophists. This was the case with my own parents. Firstly, the schools do not openly reveal the various elements of their underlying Anthroposophical doctrine. Only on rare occasions will the teachers speak, a little cautiously, of such matters as the "reappearance of Christ in the etheric world" or reincarnation. But initially, we talked to parents only about our teaching methods. Later the parents are invited to attend, at least once per quarter, educational meetings. At these, while speaking to them about different materials and about activities performed by their children at school, the teachers may gradually refer more and more openly to the "foundations" of Waldorf pedagogy. Still later, parents will be offered conferences where the themes are less about the pedagogy and more about the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

The indoctrination of parents is especially directed at those who invite it by entering more and more deeply into the life of the school. We start by asking them to participate in an annual fair, just manning a booth or making cakes, then to do the same at other fairs, then to collaborate at the trimester fairs by assisting a teacher. Then they are invited to become members of various school committees and to take roles in pageants such as the "Play of the Shepherds", the "Play of the Three Kings", and "The Paradise Play", which are staged around Christmas, etc. They are also asked to become involved with the school gardens, and to serve as guides during various trips their children's classes take or those taken by classes in which they do not have children, etc. Some parents end up spending their lives at school!


4. The Indoctrination of Teachers



The indoctrination of teachers is itself even more perverse. Contrary to what one might think, the teachers in these schools do not all start as Anthroposophists, but many are just teachers seeking an alternative structure, or student-teachers looking for a job. Currently, these schools are indeed unable to recruit enough Anthroposophists to meet their staffing requirements, as the Anthroposophical Society is reduced to a 

small group of the retired or the perfectly enlightened who are unqualified to teach. Therefore the schools must recruit applicants from outside. Most of the time this is done the same way students or parents are recruited, that is to say, without revealing the school's true coloration. I was able to see how we recruited people who were only told, to begin with, that they would become part of a "an innovative, alternative pedagogy." Only gradually are the recruits eventually invited to accept Anthroposophical ideas.

The indoctrination begins with the obligation to participate in many educational meetings per week (unpaid) where the talk is supposed to serve the students' welfare, but in which many portions are designed to evoke the Anthroposophical foundations of Waldorf pedagogy. Of course, these meetings begin with the reading or recitation of prayers or words of Rudolf Steiner intended for the teaching profession.

Teachers must also attend conferences that open educational meetings, where esoteric themes are discussed. At first, the uninitiated do not understand much of what is happening nor the esoteric verbiage. I remember a disorienting first meeting during which a colleague of the executive committee of the school gave a speech, three quarters of an hour long, about iron "meteorites" (from meteors crashing into the Earth) which he said bring the forces of the archangel Michael down to humanity — this was meant to give courage to the teachers. In Anthroposophy, discussions are commonly meant to provide what they call "spiritual communion." [51] Such a conference is not just a simple means for communicating ideas — it is an act of sacramental communion.

Each teacher is also encouraged to take an interest in some aspect of the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner: The Botany teacher will be invited to read relevant writings of Steiner or THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS by Goethe, the SVT teacher will be prompted to read Steiner on the zoological works of Goethe, etc. The teacher of economics and sociology will be directed to examine Rudolf Steiner's teachings concerning the threefold division of society [52], the teacher of mathematics is invited to read THE FOURTH DIMENSION - Mathematics and Reality [53]. The teacher of physics and chemistry is directed to read LIGHT AND MATTER [54], etc. The class teacher will, in turn, be urged to attend the Teacher Training Institute [55] (often at his own expense). However, during this "training," the talk gradually shifts to the esoteric ideas of Rudolf Steiner; the group begins to practice mediation or prayer; they read books such as THEOSOPHY, which contains the Master's teachings on reincarnation and karma, etc.

Teachers are also encouraged to participate in study groups from the Anthroposophical Society to cultivate the foundations of their discipline or their teaching skills.


5. Progressive Involvement Outside Teaching


Meanwhile, teachers are asked to participate in various tasks of school life: monitoring the canteen, preparing various gatherings, helping with educational exhibitions, helping with open houses, gardening the school's green spaces, cleaning classrooms, doing small maintenance, undertaking administrative tasks, etc.

Steiner indeed specified that Waldorf schools should always be run collegially, that is to say all decisions should be taken jointly by the inner faculty and the school should be managed by the teachers. He even specified that individuals who no longer teach (former teachers) should not run the administrative affairs of a school. A Steiner school should have neither a secretary nor an accountant but a teacher who takes a little time from his educational work to manage the accounting and administrative activities of the institution.

"The management of teaching and education, which truly bear all spiritual life, must be entrusted only to those who educate and teach. No agency of the State or in the economy should interfere in the management or direction of education. Each teacher should devote sufficient teaching time to be able to become a director in his field. He will take care of the administrative side, as he takes care of education and teaching themselves. (...) No parliament, no personality — those who have perhaps taught but no longer teach — can be recognized." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SOCIAL PROBLEM (Ed., E.A.R.), p. 12.

Household and kitchen work are no exception. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the first Steiner school functioned in this way, but most of these schools have subsequently agreed to develop a few posts for secretaries, accountants, or custodians, whose numbers are however still held to a minimum, leaving a substantial load of work in the arms of the teaching community. An important point is that most of these schools do not recognize the principle of leadership: they have no principal or director of studies. At most, they have sometimes conceded authority to a management board ("College of Teachers") consisting of a limited number of members. But school management is therefore undertaken by unqualified personnel who are not paid for this work, which comes in addition to their teaching. This creates a slow, awkward decision-making process. We can describe this as a sort of autistic approach: Rather than deal with a problem, the steering committee of the school rather pretends it does not exist, hoping it resolves itself. In some schools, the entire teaching community debates for months to determine the color that a classroom will be painted! Steiner imposed the rule of unanimity rather than majority rule, saying the operation of a school should be republican and not democratic [i.e., not based on majority voting], so discussions are sometimes endless. This dogmatic precept wreaks havoc in the small world of a Waldorf faculty where belonging to the College of Teachers inflates the ego. On decisions as simple as a change in schedule or relocation of a workshop, I sometimes witnessed endless turf wars and trench warfare. I saw a physical education teacher burst into tears at the absurdity of a decision: After battling for weeks to obtain slots in a municipal gym, she was denied by the teaching community the necessary change of schedule, on the pretext that Steiner had written somewhere that in no case may a gym class take precedence over an academic course.

This constant inefficiency could make one smile if it were not caused by the over-investment by teachers in the management of their schools. After some particularly busy weeks, I ended up not going home, but sleeping for several days in the infirmary. But moral and physical exhaustion is part of the logic of imprisonment I alluded to previously: resigned, discouraged, washed-out, Waldorf teachers only become more submissive to an institution to which they eventually sacrifice their lives and energy. [57]
  
Ultimately, the teacher is so much involved in the famous "school life" that he soon surrenders his personal life. [58] If his/her spouse does not adhere to the concepts and practices of the school, colleagues make the teacher understand that s/he probably is not living with the right person. [59] The teacher finds compensation, a kind of new family, in the school itself.


Of course, this life of isolation within the school is not without major problems developing in social behavior. In these schools, I have observed concerted harassment of teachers by one or another of their colleagues. During my four years of teaching, no less than seven teachers were victims of severe depression following the Waldorf practice of persecution. Designating scapegoats is, in my opinion, part of the sectarian logic at Waldorf — the purpose is to break the individuals, who do not understand what is happening to them, to transform them gradually into docile creatures. In all these schools, there are sordid stories of teachers who have suddenly been harassed for longer or shorter periods, for very different reasons, and often with no good effect. These deplorable practices are made possible by the fact that there is no trade union structure in Steiner-Waldorf schools, Rudolf Steiner having been opposed to unions for ideological reasons. Also contributing is the distrust of the laws of the "outside world" — an attitude that, quite often, the victims themselves do not think to challenge. Teachers of Steiner-Waldorf schools — who are both the indoctrinators and the indoctrinated, the persecutors and the persecuted — do not find fault in the system to which they are committed. They only follow a transcendent logic by which the same individual can be, in turn, a victim and then a perpetrator of the victimization of others. [60]


It is to such teachers — who have no personal or social life, and no interest in anything other than the Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy and its foundations — to whom the education of students is entrusted. How then pretend to be surprised by the frequent, improper romances that develop between teachers and students, in a context where additional heat is built into all emotional relationships? Only hypocrisy and a strategy of concealment explain the official blindness on this issue.











To read Perra's entire essay,

see "He Went to Waldorf".











ENDNOTES



[1] See Part III of this report.


[2] If these links were revealed, would the French government subsidize these schools?


[3] In second grade, our teachers attended — during school — a conference led by Gerard Klockenbring, an Anthroposophist and Christian Community Pastor. The theme was "the supersensible nature of the human being." During my year at school Terminal Steiner- Waldorf Chatou, we were informed that Gerard Klockenbring would give a lecture to near the school. I went there and thus seduced by his teaching. I later followed this speaker when he gave lectures at the Anthroposophical Society.


[4] Christophe Dekindt and Grégoire Perra, THE SPIRITUAL CINEMA, Occult Backgrounds of the American Action Film (Ed., Mirandola).



Christophe Dekindt and Grégoire Perra


[5] See Rudolf Steiner, LEÇONS ÉSOTÉRIQUES DE LA PREMIÈRE CLASSE (Ed., E.A.R. [Éditions Anthroposophiques Romandes]).

[6] See Rudolf Steiner, L'HOMME DANS SES RAPPORTS AVEC LES ANIMAUX ET LES ESPRITS DES ÉLÉMENTS (Ed., Triades).

[7] Rudolf Steiner, MYTHES ET LÉGENDES ET LEURS VÉRITÉS OCCULTES (Ed., E.A.R.).  


[8] Rudolf Steiner, MYTHES ET LÉGENDES ET LEURS VÉRITÉS OCCULTES (Ed., E.A.R.) [sic; LA SAGESSE CACHÉE DE CONTES DE GRIMM is probably intended here].

[9] See Rudolf Steiner, LUCIFER ET AHRIMAN, or UNE THÉORIE DE LA CONNAISSANCE CHEZ GOETHE (Ed., E.A.R.) According to Steiner, the forces of evil are divided between the Luciferic and Ahrimanic . Lucifer represents the principle of expansion, dissolution, and pride, and Ahriman represents the principle of contraction, hardening, and earthiness. [In Anthroposophical belief, Lucifer and Ahriman are mighty demons. - R.R.]

[10] A reference book for the teachers in these schools is by Werner Greub, LA QUÊTE DU GRAAL, WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH ET LA RÉALITÉ HISTORIQUE (Ed., E.A.R.) 

[11] Rudolf Steiner, PLAN PÉDAGOGIQUE, Éditions Anthroposophiques Romandes. 

[12] Rudolf Steiner, CONSEILS, réunions avec les professeurs de l'école Steiner de Stuttgart, édité par la Fédération des Écoles Steiner-Waldorf, octobre 2005.

[13] In France, the magazine L'ESPRIT DU TEMPS — for which I was a writer over a period of two years — is the publication that primarily updates scientific and literary concepts for Steiner-Waldorf teachers.

[14] Jean-Marie Pelt, PLANTES, AMOURS ET CIVILISATIONS VÉGÉTALES (Editions Fayard).

[15] That is to say, he refers to  an earlier incarnation of the Earth (the Old Moon), when everything was liquid; solid substances did not exist yet.

[16] See Ernst-Michael Kranich, LE RÈGNE VÉGÉTAL ET LA PLANTE PRIMORDIALE DE GOETHE (Ed., Triads). 

[17] See various chapters of Steiner’s SCIENCE DE L'OCCULTE, (Ed., E.A.R.) or Steiner’s SYMPTÔMES DANS L'HISTOIRE (Ed., Triads).

[18] I can provide all of the notes I took during this training.


[19] POUR APPROFONDIR LA PÉDAGOGIE DE RUDOLF STEINER. Document published by the Educational Section of the Free University of Science of the Spirit. [The Free University of Spiritual Science is an Anthroposophical institution centered at the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters, which is called the Goetheanum. — RR.]


[20] The headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society, located in Dornach, Switzerland. It is the nerve center of international Anthroposophy.


[21] Goethe, the TRAITÉ DES COULEURS and MÉTAMORPHOSE DES PLANTES (Ed., Triads. prefaces by Rudolf Steiner). 

[22] Wolfram von Eschenbach, PARZIVAL (Ed., E.A.R). 

[23] Peter Tradowsky (Anthroposophy), KASPAR HAUSER OU LE COMBAT POUR L'ESPRIT (Ed., Triads). 

[24] See Rudolf Steiner, LES FÊTES DE L'ANNÉE ET LEUR INTÉRIORISATION (Ed., E.A.R.), as well as Stephen Blanchon, LES FÊTES DU COURS DE L'ANNÉE (Ed., E.A.R.).

[25] See Rudolf Steiner, LA CHUTE DES ESPRITS DES TÉNÈBRES, or LA MISSION DE MICHAËL (Ed., Triads), or LETTRES AUX MEMBRES (Ed., E.A.R.).

[26] See LA VIE RELIGIEUSE DE L'ENFANT, Ed. Iona. This collection contains many words written by Rudolf Steiner for children. It may also refer to the book DE L'ÉDUCATION RELIGIEUSE, PAROLES DE RUDOLF STEINER, UN MATÉRIAU DE TRAVAIL POUR LES PÉDAGOGUES WALDORF published for internal use only, courtesy of Pädagogische Forschungsstelle beim Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen Stuttgart, 1991. 

[27] DE L'ÉDUCATION RELIGIEUSE, PAROLES DE RUDOLF STEINER, UN MATÉRIAU DE TRAVAIL POUR LES PÉDAGOGUES WALDORF, published for internal use only, courtesy of Pädagogische Forschungsstelle beim Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen Stuttgart, 1991, page 67.

[28] Rudolf Steiner, THÉOSOPHIE (Ed., Novalis). 

[29] Rudolf Steiner, LA SCIENCE DE L'OCCULTE (Ed., E.A.R.). 

[30] Rudolf Steiner, LE SENS DE LA VIE (Ed., Triades). 

[31] Steiner, Laloux, Berthold, L'ÉNIGME DES TEMPÉRAMENTS (Ed., Triads). 

[32] Rudolf Steiner, LEÇONS ÉSOTÉRIQUES DE LA PREMIÈRE CLASSE (Ed., E.A.R.). See the ninth lesson, p.190ff.


[33] Rudolf Steiner, LEÇONS ÉSOTÉRIQUES, Volume 1 (Ed., E.A.R.). See the ninth lesson, p.116ff.


[34] See Part IV / 4 for this testimony.


[35] Notably those of his book L'INITIATION (Ed., Triads).


[36] Rudolf Steiner, MÉDITATIONS POUR LA VIE QUOTIDIENNE (Ed., Triads).


◊◊◊

[51] In a series of lectures, Steiner describes how the sacramental communion of the future will no longer involve substances such as bread and wine, but spiritual representations instead.

[52] This provides the ideological foundations for the NEF Bank, a subsidiary of the Credit Cooperative.
 
[53] Rudolf Steiner, LA QUATRIÈME DIMENSION, MATHÉMATIQUES ET RÉALITÉ (Ed., Triads).

[54] Rudolf Steiner,  LUMIÈRE ET MATIÈRE (Ed., E.A.R.)

[55] Chatou, Yvelines, or Didascalia in the South of France.
 
[56] There is even a secret esoteric meditation book for teachers, which is not meant for the public, but only is only passed hand to hand: In religious education, it consists of Rudolf Steiner's words, material published for internal Waldorf use, courtesy of Pädagogische Forschungsstelle beim Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen stuttgart, 1991.

[57] Illness sometimes opens brief windows of awareness. For me, important health problems forced me to take a step back, helping me to move away from the Anthroposophic path that had defined my life.


[58] This phenomenon is well known in Steiner schools in Germany, where women teachers are called "widows" because they never see their husbands.


[59] One teacher was constantly told that her husband— who openly described the school as a sect — did not really understand and it would be better if he went away.


[60] This does not, however, remove the individual moral responsibility of those who have participated in such actions, as I know from personal experience.











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


◊◊◊ 14. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER ◊◊◊



A look back, plus


Mystical thinking, realistic thinking















INDOCTRINATION








Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools


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

Talking it over

Had enough?

Describing the near-collapse of the Waldorf school I attended


Deprogramming myself after Waldorf

Who the heck am I?


Doom and deliverance


Short and sweet

Can you trust me?