"If...we are asked what the basis of
a new method of education should be,
our answer is: Anthroposophy."
— Rudolf Steiner
Sifting the Clues
by Roger Rawlings
"Are Waldorf Schools Progressive?"
by Peter Staudenmaier,
Appendix by Diana Winters,
Afterword by Margaret Sachs
I wrote "Waldorf Now" in October, 2005, and updated it — slightly — in May, 2012.
Rudolf Steiner presided at the first Waldorf school, which opened in 1919. Long ago. I attended a Waldorf in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Long ago. [See "I Went to Waldorf".] What is the Waldorf story today? Are the schools still like the one that I remember or, more to the point, like the one that Steiner oversaw?
There are so many Waldorf and Steiner schools, today, scattered so far and wide, it is impossible to say for sure what goes on inside all of them. A large team of investigative reporters might be able to ferret out the truth, particularly if the schools agreed to give them access. But this seems unlikely. Here’s how Steiner himself reacted when someone asked to visit just one class at the first Waldorf School:
“[T]he most that would be possible would be that we might decide to show visitors the empty school when the children and teachers are not there. There can be no question of visiting while the school is in session. That is, such a visit could only take place after weighing up carefully in consultation with those who hope to learn something by visiting the school — for instance, with people who want to see something of this school because they are trying to found a similar school elsewhere, because they themselves are doing something relevant to spread the idea of the Waldorf School...the most that we can allow is for you to see the classrooms, and even that would be burdensome at the moment ... It does not work to have what I described in the first part, the spirit of the Waldorf School, on display for visitors.” 
Steiner sounds like he has something to hide, doesn’t he?
Short of storming the walls of all the Waldorfs, how can we learn the truth? Actually, several methods of discovery are open to us. We may not learn precisely what is happening inside every last Waldorf, but we can form a clear, general picture. Let’s start here: As of today, October 15, 2007, the Waldorf school that I attended still pledges allegiance to Rudolf Steiner. This is the school’s mission statement, displayed on the school's website (note the reference to Steiner and the implications of a spiritualistic agenda):
“To nurture toward compassion, to balance toward wholeness, to challenge toward excellence and achievement - these are the goals to which the Waldorf School of Garden City aspires. Based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, and enriched by the diversity of our community, our methods of teaching reflect an understanding of the growing child and acknowledge the spiritual origins of humanity.” 
Other Waldorfs are equally — or even more — explicit about their devotion to Steiner (although they generally do not provide a true account of Steiner’s teachings). Moreover, today there is an institution of higher education called Rudolf Steiner College operating in the USA. The name of the college, of course, tells us that Steiner’s teachings are of paramount importance for the faculty and students. The college describes itself this way:
“Rudolf Steiner College is one of America's leading Waldorf teacher education colleges. It is also a center for anthroposophical studies [i.e., studies in Rudolf Steiner's mystic doctrines]. Programs at the College arise out of the work of Austrian philosopher, scientist and educator Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) whose innovative ideas and discoveries have inspired a wide spectrum of practical activities worldwide — in the arts, banking, architecture, medicine, agriculture, and care of the handicapped, as well as education.
“Rudolf Steiner founded the worldview known as Anthroposophy (literally, wisdom of the human being), in which the heightened capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing are seen as key to unlocking enormous human potential.” 
In other essays on this Web site, I explain what Steiner’s teachings are. [See, e.g.,"Nutshell" and "Everything".] Using this knowledge, we can decipher the college’s self-description. In Anthroposophical circles, statements intended for public consumption are customarily couched in obfuscating code. But peel back the new-age jargon (e.g., “human potential”), and we find at least a suggestion that the college subscribes to Steiner’s views on clairvoyance — “heightened capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing”. [See "Clairvoyance".] How could it be otherwise, at an institution that has named itself after the founder of Anthroposophy? Steiner taught that there are several ways for humans to expand their capacities, including some methods that function while one is dreaming or asleep.  True knowledge of the spirit world — which, for Steiner, is far more important than knowledge of the physical universe — is attained through clairvoyance, he said. This psychic power is seated in nonphysical “organs” of clairvoyance: “[J]ust as natural forces build out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will organs of clairvoyance build themselves....” 
Bear in mind that the chief purpose of Rudolf Steiner College is to produce a new crop of Waldorf teachers every year. Thus, in understanding the nature of the college, we understand the nature of its graduates — and the nature of newly minted Waldorf teachers today. Anthroposophy is an mystical system that places humanity at the center of a polytheistic universe full of good and evil spiritual forces warring over the future of cosmic evolution. [See, e.g., "The Center" and "Polytheism".] Quite possibly, most of the graduates of Rudolf Steiner College are not yet initiated Anthroposophists, but they have begun the long, irrational, psychologically damaging journey toward occult, Anthroposophical initiation. And they will bring the consequences of their occult training into the classroom. [See "Teacher Training" and "Occultism".]
Am I pushing this analysis too hard? For the sake of argument, let’s say that I am. This is only the beginning of our examination of Waldorf education today. Stronger proof lies ahead. But for now, let’s go back to an intriguing part of the college’s self-description: “Rudolf Steiner founded the worldview known as Anthroposophy.” The college makes no claims, here, for Anthroposophy, nor does it overtly endorse Steiner’s “worldview.” But I submit that, for the college, its namesake’s teachings are timelessly true, and they are enacted primarily by Waldorf teachers, such as the College’s own graduates: “Steiner's detailed psychology of child development, described early in the 20th century, has been supported by modern research in education and neuropsychology. Through Waldorf education, Steiner hoped that young people would develop the capacities of soul and intellect and the strength of will that would prepare them to meet the challenges of their own time and the future.”  The assertion that Steiner’s teachings have been supported by science is dubious, at best (I have to stretch to phrase this so mildly). All I ask at this stage is that you pause to consider the reverberations of the word “soul” when used by this eponymous college.
Fundamentally, Waldorf schools are religious institutions that "acknowledge the spiritual origins of humanity" in accordance with Rudolf Steiner's religious teachings. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]
Rudolf Steiner's mystical doctrines constitute the essence of Anthroposophy, the religion he concocted and on which Waldorf education stands. His doctrines touch on almost all spheres of human endeavor and aspiration. Some of these doctrines are uplifting; some are dark and damaging. The worst of his doctrines are distinctly racist. [See “Steiner’s Racism”, "Races", "Differences", and "Forbidden".] Let’s hope that at least some Waldorf schools have repudiated racism or pushed it so far into the background that their students are unaffected by it. However, it is extremely hard to excise racism from Anthroposophy: racism lies so near the very core of that bizarre religion. Also, some parents have reported finding racism in Waldorf schools quite recently. Here is a statement made by a mother in January, 2000:
“Have you seen it written somewhere that Steiner believed white people were most evolved??? This was blatantly apparent in the curriculum of the Waldorf school we visited.
“My daughter is African American, and this is one of the two reasons (along with the sexist dynamics) that we decided against the school. The teacher, telling me about the history part of the curriculum, said that since 5th graders are becoming rational, and rationality ‘came in with the Greeks,’ that's what they study in 5th grade.
“The whole ‘history as a developmental process paralleling children's development, with Western civilization at the pinnacle’ is inherently racist.
“I saw the unit study books one class had done about Africa. At the beginning, under their identical paintings of a traditional African man hunting in silhouette, they all had the same saying copied: ‘Perhaps this life of ours which begins as the quest of the child for the adult, ends as a journey by the adult to rediscover the child ... It is in the Bushman wherein the two are finally and lovingly joined.’ (Laurens van der Post) I shudder to think of my daughter learning about her heritage in this way.” 
And here is a troubling message posted at the waldorfcritics discussion forum on October 24, 2001. It deals with charges that a Waldorf school in Holland was teaching racism:
“The concern was originally raised by a Waldorf parent who found racist passages in her child's school notes. After the press got their hands on some of this, the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands eventually decided to appoint a commission to investigate the matter, in order to quell the growing public uproar ... The commission designated 16 Steiner quotes that, in their opinion, could be punishable for racial discrimination under Dutch law today. They found a further 67 quotes that they considered potentially discriminatory but not legally questionable. Aside from these two groups, they examined nearly 100 more Steiner quotes about race and declared them "unobjectionable". Examples of this last category include Steiner's claim that ‘Negroes’ are ‘decadent’ and ‘completely cut themselves off from the spiritual world’, among many other similarly ‘unobjectionable’ pronouncements....” 
For additional recent examples of racism in Waldorf schools, see the Addendum, written by Margaret Sachs.
On November 13, 1999, a surprising curtain opened, allowing us to peek inside the Waldorf scene. On that day, Eugene Schwartz — who was director of Waldorf teacher-training at Sunbridge College (one of Rudolf Steiner College's allies/competitors) — openly professed the religious mission of Waldorf schools, and he urged Waldorf teachers to stop denying the real purpose of Waldorf education. This was a stunner. Perhaps Schwartz was goaded into candor by the presence of Dan Dugan, whom Schwartz had invited to address a gathering of Waldorf teachers and Anthroposophists at Sunbridge. Dugan is secretary of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS), an organization opposed to the inclusion of Waldorf schools in public school systems.
At the gathering, Schwartz made the following candid remarks (among others):
"I'm glad my daughter gets to speak about God every morning: that's why I send her to a Waldorf school ... That's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She can have a religious experience. A religious experience. I'll say it again: I send my daughter to a Waldorf school so that she can have a religious experience." 
“[W]e are trying to open up the religious font that is the child's right as a human being.” 
“If we are really to be a movement for cultural renewal, it is our responsibility to share with the parents those elements of Anthroposophy which will help them understand their children and fathom the mysterious ways in which we work. Yes, we are giving the children a version of Anthroposophy in the classroom; whether we mean to or not, it's there. So let's at least do it the right way.” 
“Let's face it: we're deceiving — and worst of all, we're deceiving ourselves ... Let's be open and honest about that. Let's cut our losses.” 
“Do you realize how much Christianity there is in our school? Do you realize that we are thinking about these children in the light of reincarnation and karma? That's how a teacher's working with them.” 
Wow. Schwartz bravely ‘fessed up to a lot that day: Waldorf schools have a religious mission; the schools teach children a form of Anthroposophy; Waldorf schools have been practicing deception when they deny the real nature of their curriculum; Waldorf schools are devoted to Christianity, but in an odd form, since they are also devoted to such concepts as karma and reincarnation.
I don’t want to put words in Schwartz’s mouth. His honesty was refreshing, even heroic. He acknowledged that Waldorf schools are religious institutions, and that the religion taught at Waldorfs is Anthroposophy. Thus, he overturned the typical denial — made by Anthroposophists and Waldorf faculties — that Steiner gave them a religion. Steiner did give them a religion. That's what he did, and Waldorf schools promote that religion in their classes. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”. For the effects of the religion in Waldorf schools, see "Spiritual Agenda" and "Soul School".]
The results of Schwartz’s honesty were, unfortunately, hard on him. He was soon fired as director of teacher training. Here’s how Dan Dugan, Schwartz’s friendly adversary, describes what happened:
“I asked Eugene Schwartz about the rumors [that he had been fired], and he kindly told me his story.
“In March, 2000, Schwartz was dismissed as Director of Teacher Training at Sunbridge College. This was a consequence of his November, 1999, ‘Schools in Transformation’ conference, at which I was invited to speak, and Schwartz challenged the Waldorf movement to ‘come out’ about its religious nature.
“After that meeting I said I hoped he would survive his next board meeting. Unfortunately, I wasn't far wrong.
“His firing in turn had the consequence of ‘a near revolt of the students,’ and ‘a serious dip in next year's enrollment.’ Schwartz feels that the resulting addition of some younger faculty and staff will have a beneficial effect on Sunbridge, though it was too late for him.” 
We can draw a few more inferences from this. Most proponents of Waldorf education are not willing to end their deceptive practices. They still cling to their secrets. [See "Secrets".] We cannot know for sure what all those secrets are, but it is fair to infer that the great bulk of them are the doctrines of the man to whom they remain loyal: Rudolf Steiner. The secrets, in other words, generally consist of the doctrines of Anthroposophy, some of which are quite awful.
Eugene Schwartz has not been quite so candid in his books. Of particular interest, here, is his book WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century.  Some of the occult terms Schwartz used in his remarks at the Waldorf gathering are absent from the book. If Schwartz meant to be open and honest in the book, he seems to have fallen short.
On the other hand, the book does include references to some of Steiner's occult concepts, such as "higher bodies," the "etheric body," the "astral body," and "clairvoyance." Here are a few of the statements that appear in the book:
“Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? We may, indeed, need only the ‘clairvoyant’ faculties that we are already using without being aware that we possess them ... The teacher's faculty [of clairvoyance] must be cultivated and brought to a stage of conscious awareness on the part of the teacher.” 
Asking this question would be unthinkable to rationalists and to almost all teachers in public schools. Clairvoyance! Is he kidding? No, Schwartz affirms the reality of clairvoyance, although he muddies the picture somewhat by using the word both with and without quotation marks. His point is that we all have “clairvoyant” powers, but there are also higher forms of such powers (implicitly, as exercised by Rudolf Steiner). Consider this statement: “Earlier in this book I spoke of the ‘everyday clairvoyance’ which allows us to perceive the activities of the ‘higher bodies’ of the human being without our necessarily being endowed with the degree of spiritual insight necessary to see the bodies themselves.”  According to Schwartz (and Steiner), there are varying degrees of spiritual insight. To Anthroposophists, it is obvious that Rudolf Steiner was blessed with extremely high psychic or clairvoyant powers — perhaps the highest ever attained. Steiner declared himself to be clairvoyant, and he said he had access to the Akashic Record, among other sources of supernatural knowledge.  He often spoke and wrote as if he were virtually omniscient. Schwartz writes in a more reasonable-seeming manner, but it is clear that Schwartz accepts some — and perhaps all — of Steiner’s doctrines.
Here is another quotation from Schwartz's book: “Our etheric body is active in a way that our physical body is not. We go through life in an inert, ‘cause and effect’ manner. The etheric body works to reverse those effects suffered by the physical body in the course of daily life; it is the body of renewal and regeneration.”  The etheric body, in Anthroposophical lore, is one of three nonphysical bodies that real human beings come to incarnate. [See "Incarnation".] The etheric is the lowliest of these extra bodies; it is a set of life forces. The “astral body” consists of higher, spirit forces. The “I” is a spark of divine selfhood or ego that separates true humans from animals and subhumans.
In asserting the reality of these weird, invisible bodies, Schwartz clearly associates himself with Steiner’s doctrines — which sadly include some dreadful ones, such as the belief that some people are not human.  I do not charge that Schwartz subscribes to Steiner's worst doctrines, but buying into Anthroposophy at all is a strange and worrisome business. We also should note that reversing the “inert, cause and effect” phenomena of real life implies the antiscientific bias of Anthroposophy. To scientists and all rationalists, cause-and-effect phenomena are the focus of observation, our best source of true information about the universe and everything in it. And although Anthroposophists claim that anything not wholly spiritual is, to one degree or another, dead, the phenomena of the real world are not necessarily "inert." Cause-and-effect animals are alive. So are cause-and-effect humans. And the spirits that truly exist within humans — the spirit of decency, for instance, and the spirit of love — exist in the real, cause-and-effect world. Turning our backs on reality is the last thing we should want for ourselves and our children.
Another quotation from WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (let that title sink in): “Using this everyday clairvoyance, it is possible to become aware of the third member of the young person, the astral body.”  I’ve said enough on this subject; but it is useful to note that Schwartz believes in the existence of this invisible body, too.
Schwartz goes on to write, “The image of the child developed by Rudolf Steiner and applied in Waldorf methodology stands like a pillar of consistency....”  And what is the "image of the child developed by Steiner"? Schwartz doesn't fully explain, but Steiner taught that true human beings have twelve senses.  He taught that as we grow, we incarnate nonphysical bodies.  He taught that each child is a representative of one of the four (and only four) “temperaments.”  He taught that a truly human child has both a “spirit” and a “soul.”  He taught that children are born with an innate knowledge of spiritual worlds.  He taught that children have karmas that must be fulfilled.  Steiner's doctrines about the nature of children are various and strange, but this brief summary should suffice to alert us. Is this sensible? Can you accept these teachings? Do you want people who do accept them to gain authority over your child? [See, e.g., "What We're Made Of", "Our Parts", and "Holistic Education".]
As to whether Steiner was admirably consistent — he was not. In fact, he very often contradicted himself, as if he could not remember all his implausible claims from lecture to lecture and from book to book. To cover himself, he proclaimed the need for contradictions, as in his lecture (published as a book by Kessinger) "Why Contradictions Exist Everywhere and Must Exist." Steiner claimed that his teachings are "living thoughts" that naturally shift around and change, being alive, you see. The reality is a bit more prosaic. Steiner's work is deeply illogical — so much so that the willingness of apparently intelligent people like Eugene Schwartz to accept Steiner's work can come as a surprise. [See "Steiner's Illogic".] But Schwartz can and does accept it — and so do Waldorf school faculties.
While Schwartz may be less honest in his books than he was at the Sunbridge gathering, WALDORF EDUCATION nevertheless confirms much that we know about the nature of Waldorf pedagogy. It is based on mysticism; it embodies antipathy to science and logic; and it affirms a completely bizarre conception of human nature.
Any parent thinking of sending a child to a Waldorf or Steiner school should understand what the child will be subjected to there. Think carefully, parents. Caveat emptor.
— Roger Rawlings
To consider what counts as good, common-sense educational policy
in Waldorf schools, see "Common Sense".
For relatively candid remarks by Rudolf Steiner
on the spiritualistic agenda of Waldorf schools,
see "Spiritual Agenda".
Waldorf schools often describe themselves as offering “holistic” education.
They say they educate the “whole child” — head, heart, and hands.
To understand what these fine words mean in a Waldorf context,
see “Holistic Education”.
To examine efforts by Waldorf schools to change their image
as part of "a weird cult that brainwashes children," see "PR".
To consider what happens when things go wrong in Waldorf schools,
Here is a representation of typical Anthroposophical art
such as may be found in or around a Waldorf school.
This is my study of the central portion of "And He Was Made Man",
a work by Walther Roggenkamp.
"From a distance it looks like a rose in full bloom ...
The rose in blooming reflects, as a plant, that which is present in the cosmos
as innocent childhood ... In the tapestry the face of the child appears in the rose:
Jesus Christ born on earth ... [To the] right, in the encircling atmosphere
between blue and red, are many faces of disembodied souls,
moving to the earthly sphere with a desire for incarnation ...
They are led by a majestic cosmic being in dark blue and violet ...
showing the path to earth."
[Berthold Wulf, quoted by John Fletcher in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER
(Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 219. R.R. sketch, 2010.]
Parents should know that the main purpose of Waldorf schooling is not educational, as this term is normally understood, but occult. Waldorf faculties are supposed to help the gods fulfill what Steiner called the divine cosmic plan. Waldorf schools are on a messianic mission to save humanity. This is all well and good, perhaps — if Waldorf schools are really in a position to provide such a lofty service. But are they? Or are they engaged in a delusion? And what effect may this have on your kids' education?
Rational education may easily fall by the wayside as Waldorf teachers work to "bring the spirit" to their students. Here is one statement Steiner made bearing on these matters. “What a child develops in his head, in his heart and soul, by having to learn a... b... c, is — spiritually speaking — a parasite in human nature ... [W]hen the letters of the alphabet, which are the product of advanced civilization, are imposed on the human being, this does engender a parasitic element ... [T]he spiritual can be brought to man without becoming poison. First you have the diagnosis, which finds that our age is infested with carcinomas, and then you have the therapy — yes, it is Waldorf School education ... [O]ne must regard education as medicine transposed into the realm of mind and spirit. This strikes us with particular clarity when we wish to find a therapy for civilization, for we can only conceive this therapy as being Waldorf School education.” — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), pp. 216-217. R.R. sketch, 2009, based on sketch on p. 216.
The main purpose of Waldorf education is to spread Steiner's religion, Anthroposophy. Only in this way, Anthroposophists believe, can humanity be saved. "[W]e can only conceive this therapy as being Waldorf School education.” Civilization is infested with spiritual cancers. Waldorf schools aim to provide a cure. Steiner made his statement in November, 1914, with the world at war. But from an Anthroposophical perspective, spiritual cancers are just as widespread — perhaps, indeed, more widespread — today.
The Steiner belief system, Anthroposophy (meaning “human wisdom”), is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge and truth. Rudolf Steiner’s followers think they can "gain certainty" by developing powers of clairvoyance. They work to develop heightened powers of imagination, inspiration, and intuition — which Steiner identified as three stages of clairvoyance. When they think they have attained these, they believe that the views they form through these types of consciousness are true. They imagine something, or get an inspiration, or have an intuition, and take the results as revealed Truth. Such “human wisdom” becomes, in their view, essentially unarguable.* They are then freed from any need to dispute their views with outsiders; they feel no need to consider the opinions of outside scholars and scientists.** All external knowledge (i.e., knowledge developed through use of the senses, the brain, and the rules of logic) becomes suspect, in their view; to know the Truth, they look inward, not outward. They are “free” of external rules, limitations, and doubts; they are “free” to think what they want.
The following course descriptions are taken from
These are the sorts of classes taken by Waldorf teacher trainees.
"Cosmic and Human Evolution (1.5 credits). This course explores the stages of cosmic and human evolution from Ancient Saturn through Ancient Sun, Ancient Moon and Earth evolutionary cycles, and lays seeds to understand further stages of evolution in Future Jupiter, Future Venus and Future Vulcan stages. Texts include Esoteric Science: An Outline and Spiritual Hierarchies and Their Reflection
in the Physical World."
"Karma and Reincarnation (1.5 credits). This course is an in-depth exploration of Rudolf Steiner’s original insights into the nature of reincarnation and karma. Texts include Manifestations of Karma, Theosophy, Reincarnation and Karma, World History in the Light of Anthroposophy, and selected lectures from the 8 volumes titled Karmic Relationships."
"The Philosophical Foundations of Waldorf Education (7.5 credits). Waldorf education is based on Anthroposophy, a transpersonal and phenomenological world-view [sic]. It is necessary for the Waldorf educator to grasp this view of the human being because Waldorf pedagogy arises directly from this understanding. The curriculum and methods arise from an understanding of this ontology."
'Astronomy — Macrocosm, Microcosm (2.0 credits). This course combines viewing the night sky, studying the constellations and rhythmic movements of the planets, and their correlations with the human form, rhythms of life, stages of consciousness and how the human individuality is related to the starry worlds and the Earth. We will discover the relationship between astronomy and the human body, astrology and the human soul, and astrosophy with the human spirit."
Astrology underlies many Waldorf beliefs and practices. Astrosophy (meaning "star wisdom"), a variant of astrology, is also important in the Waldorf belief system. [See "Astrology", "Waldorf Astrology", "Star Power", and "Astrosophy".]
Thus far in our short review of courses offered by the Rudolf Steiner College, we have seen that aspiring Waldorf teachers — who will offer to "educate" your children — are taught about planetary stages of evolution (Old Saturn to Future Vulcan), karma, reincarnation, macrocosm/microcosm (the belief that the universe is an enlarged version of the human being), astrology, and astrosophy. And the new Waldorf teachers are instructed that these beliefs, as wrapped up in Anthroposophy, are fundamental to Waldorf education. "The curriculum and methods arise from an understanding of this ontology." — The Philosophical Foundations of Waldorf Education (7.5 credits).
When they offer to "educate" your children, will you say yes?
"Human Development and Pedagogical Implications, Level I (3.0 credits). This course offers a background theoretical foundation to the practical classes in the first year. The causes of learning and behavior difficulties, human development from an anthroposophical perspective, the incarnation process in the first seven years, the twelve senses and movement development are important themes....
Thus far in our short review of courses offered by Rudolf Steiner College, we have seen that aspiring Waldorf teachers are taught about planetary stages of evolution (Old Saturn to Future Vulcan), karma, reincarnation, macrocosm/microcosm (the belief that the universe is an enlarged version of the human being), astrology, astrosophy, seven-year-long phases of incarnation, and the twelve (yes, 12) human senses. They are, in other words, steeped in mystic Anthroposophical doctrines — "human development from an anthroposophical perspective." This training, in and of itself, raises serious doubts about the qualifications of such teachers.
"• The Four Temperaments (0.5 credits). A study of how to recognize in the child the four temperaments...." "• Cosmic and Human Evolution (1.0 credits) [sic]. Through this course, students will understand the evolution of the cosmos, the kingdoms of nature, and of the human being from the standpoint of Anthroposophy. • Seven Planetary Soul Types (0.5 credits) ... [H]ow they relate to the seven visible planets and the constitution of the human being." • "The Evolution of Consciousness through Art History. A spiritual overview of the visual arts ... [T]he changing evolution of consciousness of the human being from the ancient mystery centers to the modern age ... [W]orld art within the Post-Atlantean cultural epochs...." • "Human Development and Pedagogical Implications, Level II (3.0 credits) ... [S]tudents explore the spiritual archetypes of the human being, as given by Rudolf Steiner, as well as an introduction to Astrosophy ... [S]oul and constitutional types in children ... [M]editative work of the teacher...."
Consider. There are people who, when they read this catalogue, do not roll their eyes. Instead, they sign up, take the classes, and then go out into the world as Waldorf teachers. There is no bright line separating Rudolf Steiner’s occultism from the views found among Waldorf faculty.
An “initiate” is an aspirant who has been accepted into an inner circle. A spiritual initiate possesses hidden or occult spiritual knowledge. Aspiring Waldorf teacher are taught about spiritual initiation, and they are led toward such initiation. Waldorf teachers who believe themselves to be initiates bring the fruits of initiation into their work in Waldorf schools.
"• Spiritual Streams and Sun Initiates* (1.0 credits) [sic]. This course is an exploration of the spiritual streams identified by Rudolf Steiner in The Search for the New Isis, selected lectures from Karmic Relationship, and World History in the Light of Anthroposophy." • "The Master Thesis Project Course will be introduced as a modern path of initiation,** wherein proficiency to conduct research in a number of different venues allows the individual to gain access to a greater breadth and depth of knowledge...."
* In Anthroposophical belief • a “Sun Initiate” was a spiritualist on Atlantis who had special knowledge of the spiritual forces emanating from the Sun; • spiritual streams are lines of spiritual wisdom developed by various schools of initiates; • Isis — the Egyptian goddess of fertility — is the divine female principle; • everything (even divinity) is evolving into new, generally higher forms.
** One of Steiner's key texts, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS, bears the subtitle "A Modern Path of Initiation".
"The Philosophy of Freedom (1.5 credits). The student will develop understanding for the epistemology underlying Anthroposophy. Answering the question, 'Can I gain certainty in knowing the world?' affirmatively leads to 'Can I become truly free?'"
This freedom is not absolute, however. Steiner often spoke of the need for gurus or spiritual guides, such as himself. He also spoke of the crucial difference between the white path of truth (his own) and the black path of falsehood. He said that he apprehended the truths of the white path through his use of “exact clairvoyance” — his occult “discoveries” are virtually unquestionable because they are exactly true. Thus, his followers have the choice between the path of truth and the path of fallacy. Their “freedom” is little more than the power to make a single decision. They can freely decide to believe in Steiner and his system, or they can freely choose to suffer the dreadful consequences of failing to believe in Steiner and his system.***
Let's end our review of Rudolf Steiner College teacher training with one more tabulation of the Anthroposophical doctrines in the courses we have considered. In these courses alone, aspiring Waldorf teachers are taught about planetary stages of evolution/cosmic evolution, the evolution of consciousness, karma, reincarnation, macrocosm/microcosm, astrology, astrosophy, seven-year-long phases of incarnation, the twelve human senses, the four temperaments, the Anthroposophical take on the kingdoms of nature, the Anthroposophical take on human nature, planetary soul types/soul types in children, spirituality in art, mystery or occult centers, occult wisdom, Atlantis, cultural epochs (i.e., historical periods of spiritual evolution), meditative work to be done by teachers, spiritual streams, initiation, Sun initiates, and Isis. Among other things. All of this is taught, of course, "from the standpoint of Anthroposophy."
There is no separation between the mysticism of Anthroposophy and the Waldorf worldview. Waldorf trainees study the subjects we have listed in order to become Waldorf teachers. Gentle reader, please bear this in mind. The people being taught to separate themselves from reality in this manner, the people receiving this instruction in the practice of self-deception, are aspiring Waldorf teachers. Soon after completing their training, they will offer themselves as educators for your children. If they have taken to heart the lessons given at Rudolf Steiner College and other Waldorf teacher-training schools, they may well rank among the very last people you should consider for such important work.
*** Anthroposophists do have a bit of wiggle room. They can disagree with one another about the meaning of Steiner’s various teachings — doctrinal disagreements are as common in Anthroposophy as in any other faith system. Thus, each Anthroposophist can be “certain” that his or her “clairvoyant knowledge” is true, even if others have different “clairvoyant knowledge” and even if Steiner, by some accounts, taught something different from what the individual has “certainly” learned through inward vision.
* Some Anthroposophists are more sophisticated than others in sorting through their "clairvoyant" findings; some are more scrupulous in "controlling" their clairvoyant powers. But all of them harbor the same fundamental delusion, accepting the most unreliable states of consciousness as the most reliable.
** Anthroposophical books sometimes include this prefatory note: “No person is held qualified to form a judgment on the contents of this work, who has not acquired — through the School of Spiritual Science itself or in an equivalent manner recognized by the School of Spiritual Science — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded....” The School of Spiritual Science is a central Anthroposophical institution preserving and extending the results Steiner's claimed clairvoyance. In essence, the prefatory note rejects all views except those stemming from Steiner and his clairvoyant system.
For more on how Waldorf teachers are trained,
see "Teacher Training".
There are many things to consider when evaluating a Waldorf school.
One is the seriousness with which some Waldorf faculty members approach astrology.
Steiner set great store by the "power" of the stars.
Here is the sign of Leo, as designed by Rudolf Steiner and drawn by Imma von Eckhardstein.
Spotting any such symbols or talismans in a Waldorf school
would certainly be a cause for concern.
[Rudolf Steiner, CALENDAR 1912-1913, Facsimile Edition (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 60ff.
R. R. copy, 2009.]
"We have never heard of a community, other than perhaps extreme fundamentalists, who would abruptly excommunicate an entire family based on unsubstantiated hearsay." — A letter from parents to a Waldorf school after the family was ejected from the school.
Waldorf schools place great emphasis on art.
Visitors and parents are generally delighted.
The schools are indeed often very attractive,
displaying much lovely art created by the students.
The schools usually do not explain that,
in accordance with Anthroposophical beliefs,
all this art is intended to have esoteric, spiritual effects
on the kids. [See "Magical Arts".]
Paintings by Waldorf school students,
like these, often embody a typical Waldorf style —
wet-on-wet watercoloring that suggests
at least a hazy spirituality behind nature.
[Courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools]
Are Waldorf Schools Progressive?
Advocates of Waldorf education often present Waldorf schools as heir to the alternative educational traditions of Pestalozzi, Froebel, and similar figures. They are evidently unaware that Steiner took a dim view of Pestalozzi and Froebel, among other pioneers of alternative education.
Steiner defined Waldorf education against the projects of Pestalozzi and Froebel and rejected their work as a possible model or source for Waldorf. According to Steiner, Pestalozzi’s work is simply “not suited for other educators” (Steiner, Idee und Praxis der Waldorfschule, p. 232; see also the critical references to Pestalozzi in Steiner, Erziehungs- und Unterrichtsmethoden auf anthroposophischer Grundlage, p. 135, and Steiner, Die Erneuerung der pädagogisch-didaktischen Kunst durch Geisteswissenschaft, p. 45, among others).
Steiner taught that while Froebel's ideas are well intentioned, they are inappropriate to “the true development of children” (Steiner, Der pädagogische Wert der Menschenerkenntnis und der Kulturwert der Pädagogik, p. 112). Although Froebel had some agreeable thoughts on education, they don't work, Steiner declared, and need to be replaced by anthroposophical ideas, the only possible basis for reshaping education properly (Steiner, Rudolf Steiner in der Waldorfschule, pp. 181-183).
In his conferences with the original Waldorf teachers, Steiner insisted that though Pestalozzi and Froebel may have had a number of nice abstract ideas, there is no "inner spirit" to their pedagogical systems (Rudolf Steiner, Konferenzen mit den Lehrern der Freien Waldorfschule in Stuttgart 1919 bis 1924, vol. I, p. 163).
Many Waldorf enthusiasts thoroughly misunderstand this historical background. In several significant ways, Waldorf developed in conscious contrast to alternative pedagogy and educational reform movements, even while borrowing extensively from those sources. Central aspects of Waldorf pedagogy stand in direct opposition to standard principles of progressive education. Several of Waldorf's more conspicuous weaknesses stem directly from Steiner's rejection of progressive educational ideals and from the early Waldorf movement's hostility toward alternative educational models.
In part through unfamiliarity with the history of Waldorf, admirers of Waldorf sometimes mistakenly view Steiner's educational system as an example of the very same alternative educational institutions that Steiner and his followers emphatically dismissed. Much of the original Waldorf movement in Germany flatly rejected, and in some cases openly ridiculed, a variety of central alternative pedagogical principles.
Among other things, the original Waldorf movement repudiated small class sizes and concomitant ample individual attention. The Waldorf movement rejected an emphasis on the unique and changing character of each pupil as an individual. The Waldorf movement abjured the development of critical skills and independent thinking. The Waldorf movement rejected an international orientation, a focus on the self-actualizing and self-directed unfolding of each child’s individual potential, teaching that is child-centered rather than teacher-centered, democratic organization of curriculum, classroom practice, school structure, and so forth.
The original Waldorf movement often defined itself quite explicitly against such progressive educational ideals, dismissing them as un-German, spiritually unsound, decadent, and damaging instances of “international reform pedagogy.” Admirers of Waldorf schooling would do well to inform themselves about the contexts within which Waldorf education arose.
For more on this, see the section "Waldorf and Progressive Education"
on the page PS at WC.
Here is a related item from the Waldorf Watch "news" page
The following is from a message at the ProTeacher website
Written late in 2012, the message came in response to the question, “Anyone teach in a Waldorf school?” The writer has not taught at a Waldorf school but is a professional educator with a strong interest in alternative education. (“People who visit my school often ask if it is Waldorf, or inspired by Waldorf. This is because we are: set in a natural environment with woods, gardens and fields, have an emphasis on creativity and art, we allow for a lot of free play, and have naturally decorated classrooms ... That's where the commonalities end. I am grateful for that, and as you read, you will see why.”)
A link to the discussion was posted at the Waldorf Critics list on Feb. 8, 2013
The hidden secret of Waldorf schools is that everything they do — from the dance and art they create, to the lessons they teach, to the science they believe in, and their pedagogy as a whole — is based on Rudolf Steiner's invented religion, called Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner was a mystic, [a] visionary who created the Waldorf (Steiner Schools in Europe) based on his beliefs in the occult and clairvoyance, reincarnation, etc. When he created his first school in 1919 it's sole purpose was to spread Anthroposophy. They don't blatantly teach it — and in fact deny the connection — but this is because his teachers were [told] to do so by Steiner in 1919 and continue to do so today.
So they don't teach reading until 7 because from birth to age 7, children are in the "physical body" stage. Then, they enter the "etheric body" and finally, the "astral body" at age 14...
They don't interfere with playground bullying, as "children are working out their karma" or allow black crayons because "black is an evil color"...
My issue with what seems to be happening with Waldorf is the facade. They have beautiful classrooms, organic toys, plenty of play, sunlight, and healthy foods. Lots of music, and baking, and making art. They get people to fall in love with the idea of Waldorf, hook, line and sinker. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing because there's an alternate agenda. That agenda is to follow Steiner's beliefs and let those beliefs dictate everything done in the classroom...
I don't care if people want to send their child to a Waldorf school — but they must know ahead of time what the lies and stories are behind Rudolf Steiner's schools and their intentions. Catholic, Jewish and other religious schools state that they have a higher purpose in their mission. Waldorf schools hide this fact. I find that bothersome.
Oh, one last thing. I find that the instructional methods are right out of 1919. Kids in rows behind desks with a teacher at the blackboard and [the kids] copying into a book. Many children end up being unable to read or write on their own because all they ever did was copy. I watched some videos online (promotional videos) and there the kids were, reciting after a teacher, memorizing times tables by rote at age 6, and all kinds of things. There's nothing "progressive" about that style of teaching.
Most Waldorf parents are unfamiliar not only with Waldorf's history but with what goes on in Waldorf classrooms. They are seduced by the fluffy knitted kindergartens and don't see that in the classroom, the methods are rigid and authoritarian, and have nothing in common with their fantasies about "democracy" or "creative thinking." They don't get that the kid was required to copy exactly what the teacher told him/her to copy off the blackboard, or that the kids are not supposed to respond to what they are learning or learn to analyze it, only absorb it and repeat it and be "reverent" toward it.
If they do catch on that literacy is not being encouraged, they apparently don't understand that this is completely out of line with the "progressive" tradition in education. The teachers convince them that Waldorf is using all the same trendy methods in reading instruction ("whole language" etc.), it's just a small difference in the timing ... it's just good to wait a year or so, we don't want to rush childhood ... The teachers will not clarify for parents what they know to be true — that literacy has an entirely different place on the priority list in Waldorf, compared to "progressive education."
Many Waldorf parents go on believing the sorts of thing "Waldorfmommy" [an advocate of Waldorf education] posted because the schools discourage parents from learning much about anthroposophy, and many heavily discourage parents from observing in the classroom. This allows all the "Waldorfmommy's" out there to believe (and post on the Internet) all kinds of wildly incorrect information about Waldorf education.
— Diana Winters
Waldorf educator Robert Schiappacasse identifies two overarching goals of Waldorf education: “Incarnating the Child” and “Incarnating the School.”* Teachers have primary responsibility for the former (the “spiritual/cultural pillar” of the school), parents have primary responsibility for the latter (the “economic pillar” — i.e., providing the money the school needs).
There is a “fundamental polarity between teacher and parents. ... [T]he role of the teachers [is] to take primary responsibility for the incarnation of the child ... [T]he teacher is the king or queen of their classroom.” The role of the parents is quite difference. Parents should always ask themselves “What can I do for you [i.e., the school].” This means identifying “the concrete tasks which serve to embody the school in the community.”
When teachers take their role to extremes, “it becomes ‘Luciferic,’ tending toward dogmatism, pride, and exclusivity.” When parents overstep their bounds, their activity “becomes ‘Ahrimanic,’ and can be characterized by attempts to control, power-plays, and manipulation.”
— Robert Schiappacasse, essay #1 in ADMINISTRATIVE EXPLORATIONS:
Essays on Business Practices within Waldorf Schools
(Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2000), pp. 6-8.
* According to Waldorf belief, children incarnate three invisible bodies; a crucial task for a Waldorf teacher is to supervise this process. [See “Incarnation”.] A Waldorf school is “incarnated” when it is given physical form thanks, in large measure, to the financial support provided by students’ parents.
Here are classes for Waldorf teachers and others offered during the summer of 2012 at the Center for Anthroposophy [New Hampshire, USA]. The Center describes its program of "Renewal Course" thus:
“Renewal Courses are designed for a wide range of interests related to Waldorf education and anthroposophy. We offer courses for Waldorf teachers — both new and experienced — along with parents, administrators, trustees, and friends of Waldorf education, as well as for artists and thinkers seeking to deepen their lives through anthroposophy." [3-17-2012 http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/renewal-courses/overview/]
Among the courses listed:
◊ “The Mystical Heart of Abraham
“This course will explore through discussion, image, story, and meditation what happens if one takes the three Abraham revelations — Jewish, Christian, and Muslim — not as negating one another but as complementary aspects of a single mystery....
“Following this path...a new vision of the evolution of consciousness and our present human task begins to emerge: one that allows us to see Anthroposophy in a new light....
“...Eurythmy with Cezary Ciaglo [sic].” [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/renewal-courses/week-one/the-mystical-heart-of-abraham/]
◊ “Cancer: Living Forces and the Soul – Experiences near the Threshold
“In our course we will look at the phenomena connected with different stages of cancer and how the increasing ‘blindness’ of the organism against the illness undermines the body’s inherent ability to develop self-healing powers....
“Through an anthroposophical approach the patient can be seen as a spiritual being who existed before birth. From this perspective the disposition for cancer was acquired before conception in the spiritual realm.
“...Eurythmy with Cezary Ciaglo." [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/renewal-courses/week-one/cancer-living-forces-and-the-soul/]
◊ “A Bridge across the Threshold: Creating a Living Connection
“Building a bridge between the world of the living and the world of the dead is a central task of anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner spoke frequently of the importance of the relationship between the living and those who have passed through the gateway of death. Our thoughts are the ‘fields of grain’ from which the dead gather the harvest that is their sustenance. Our memories of those who have died are like works of art that enrich their world, just as paintings or sculpture enhance our experience of the natural world and our surroundings. By connecting consciously with the dead, they can be present to and for us and contribute to our human striving.
“...Eurythmy with Cezary Ciaglo.” [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/renewal-courses/week-one/a-bridge-across-the-threshold/]
Here is an item from the Waldorf Watch "news" page:
"A sneak peek into the most beautiful kindergarten in the world! Part One ... These are photos of the outdoor space, and a few inside shots of a Waldorf school located about 90 minutes north of where I live ... 'It is just magical.'” [1-29-2011 http://www.mamamoontime.com/2011/01/sneak-peek-into-most-beautiful.html]
The blogger, MamaMoontime, is correct. Waldorf schools are often quite beautiful. What lies behind this facade, however, may be less attractive. The suggestions of a fantasy land in Waldorf facilities and grounds are quite intentional. Waldorf schools aim to shepherd children toward mythic fantasy worlds that Waldorf teachers believe are real. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the "enchanting" atmosphere of a Waldorf school is just an effusion of sweet dreaminess. Waldorf teachers work in service to a polytheistic, pagan creed. I realize how incredible this may seem, but it is so. [See "Here's the Answer", "The Gods", "Polytheism", and "Pagan".]
The faceless or nearly faceless dolls found in Waldorf schools sometimes represent human beings, but often they represent "nature spirits" such as gnomes or fairies. Fine; children enjoy make-believe. But there is no make-believe about such matters at Waldorf schools. Waldorf initiates believe that such beings really exist. [See "Beings", "Neutered Nature", and "Evil Ones".]
* “[D]uring the Lemurian epoch of earth-evolution [i.e., long ago]...the majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets, continuing their life on Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and so forth.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36.
The odd lines and curves in Waldorf-style kindergartens are meant to transport children, in spirit, out of the normal world and into alternative worlds. Rudolf Steiner taught that such worlds exist and indeed one of the highest goals of Waldorf education is to preserve the intuitive connection that Steiner said children have to such worlds. The dim interior lighting (vastly overstated in this photo) and misty wall colors in Waldorf kindergartens are meant to reinforce an atmosphere of otherworldliness. This may seem sweet, and perhaps it is. But Waldorf schools take all this with great seriousness. One of Steiner's most important books is HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS - A Modern Path of Initiation, by which he meant learning to contact spirit realms above us.
Steiner also described other sorts of alternative worlds, including the "planetary stages" of human evolution: We began on Old Saturn and we will proceed to Future Vulcan. (Yes, Vulcan.) Along the way, humans have lived on Jupiter, Mars, and other planets.* The Moon today is a fortress housing souls who left Earth more than 15,000 years ago.** This is all literally true, according to Waldorf beliefs. [See "Everything", "Planetary Humans", "Vulcan", "The White Lodge", and "Lunacy".]
Yes, the schools are often pretty. Before falling for their pretty faces, however, be sure that you like what resides within.
(P.S. About the word "magical": For Waldorf teachers, this is not just an intriguing word meaning "exciting," "inspiring," "delightful," or anything of the sort. Initiated Waldorf teachers believe in magic, literally. [See "Magic" and "Magicians".] And as for the word "initiate" that I've used a couple of times here: This is a serious Waldorf concept. Rudolf Steiner taught of the need to be initiated into occult mysteries — that is, you should be accepted into inner circles of occultism where you will be privy to "truths" hidden from ordinary people. Many Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be such initiates. [See "Inside Scoop" and "Occultism".])
** “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.
This is serious stuff. Rudolf Steiner taught these things in all seriousness. Unless you believe such things, you probably should not send your children to Waldorf schools.
Steiner's teachings are mind-blowing. One small example: We have four bodies, three of them invisible. Here is some more surprising information about our bodies. “[T]he astral body makes itself very much at home everywhere in the [physical] body. It gets too strong. It attacks all the organs and wears them down. And that is the consequence of rapid arsenic poisoning. If someone takes a lot of arsenic, quickly, his astral body begins to become terribly active, whirling, whirling, whirling ... The ether body gives life, the astral body gives sentience. But there can be no sentience unless life is suppressed. To draw it in diagrammatic form, therefore, it is like this. There you have the astral body [darker areas], there the ether body [lighter areas]. They are always fighting one another. If the ether body wins we get a bit sleepy; if the astral body wins we come wide awake ... [T]he astral body gets what it needs...from the arsenic human beings produce themselves." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 19-20. [R. R. sketch, 2009, based on the sketch on p. 20.]
The Waldorf attitude toward nature is complex.
Some natural forms show up often in and around Waldorfs.
The spiral, as in this nautilus, is especially meaningful
to many Anthroposophists — they see in it
a manifestation of the evolutionary pattern Steiner described,
a pattern not just for lower beings but for humans
and the spiritual beings above humans — the gods.
Please see "Clairvoyance"
for information about psychic phenomena
For a quick review of mythical beings that Steiner said really exist,
For an overview of the Waldorf spirit,
"All over the earth there grows the denseness of earth, the magnetism of earth, the gravity of earth,
striving upwards together with the downward-striving force of love and sacrifice."
— Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 120.
[Sketch of a sketch by R. R., 2010.]
You may find that the longer you mull over some of Steiner's statements
— even those that may initially seem appealing —
the less sense they make.
* Israel is listed as being in Asia. With 7 Waldorf schools, Israel has more Waldorfs than any other "Asian" country. Japan follows with 6 and India has 5. If we place Israel where it belongs, in the Middle East, then there are 29 Waldorf schools in Asia and 8 in the Middle East (7 in Israel and 1 in Egypt). The Waldorf school in Egypt is the only such school in an Arab or predominantly Muslim country.
Anthroposophists often say that the Waldorf school movement is spreading fast. "Today, with more than 900 Waldorf schools in 83 countries, Waldorf Education is the fastest growing independent educational movement in the world." [4-24-2010 http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/02_W_Education/history.asp] Confirming these claims is difficult, as is determining the total enrollment in Waldorf schools. A centralized worldwide tally shows 998 Waldorf schools altogether in March, 2011, with 222 Waldorf schools in Germany, 130 in the USA, 92 in the Netherlands, 41 in Sweden, 35 in Switzerland, 33 in Australia, 32 in Great Britain, and so forth. All told, according to this source, there are 686 Waldorf or Steiner schools in Europe, 211 in the Americas, 43 in Oceana (Australia and New Zealand), 36 in Asia*, and 22 in Africa.** For the most part, these numbers are unchanged since a similar survey in January, 2010. The number of Waldorf schools in Germany rose a bit, while there was a slight decrease in Finland, Italy, and Norway. The numbers elsewhere have not changed. [March, 2011 http://waldorfschule.info/upload/pdf/schulliste.pdf]
Some Waldorf schools are fairly large (more than 300 students). The Waldorf school I attended had a total enrollment (K-12) of approximately 320. At the other end of the spectrum, some Waldorf schools are so tiny as to be virtually nonexistent. "Glacier Waldorf opened in 2006 and Woodland Montessori...opened in 2006. Enrollments are down this year at both, with just three students at the Waldorf school and 13 kindergarteners at Woodland Montessori." [12-30-2009 http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_9defc96e-f50a-11de-a998-001cc4c03286.html]
** South Africa has 17 Waldorf schools. The rest of Africa has a total of 5 (or 4, if we count Egypt as being in the Middle East).
Most readers will struggle with the following, but it is a good example of Steinerspeak. Give it a shot. This is Steiner discoursing on the "I": "We become conscious of the 'I' in the physical world through the senses. This appears to contradict the fact that a certain point in the etheric head came together with one like it in the physical head during the time of the Atlanteans, and in this way the 'I' entered into the human being. Yet this 'I' was, so to speak, only like a small little skin, a little pocket that sank down into the human being. And the true 'I,' which was spread out through the planets from Saturn to Vulcan, radiated into it. The best symbol is: this little pocket like a mirror into which the true 'I' streams from this string of planets." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), p. 339. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on b&w image on that page.]
The son of one Waldorf parent recently came home and said that his Waldorf high school biology teacher had taught them that European blood is more evolved than African blood! Any mainstream scientist can explain why this is nonsense. When one is familiar with Steiner's racist theories, however, such stories suggest that Steiner's racism possibly lives on in today's Anthroposophy and makes its way into the classroom in the form of pseudoscience. What parent researching schools would ever imagine that a school's teachers might subscribe to racist, spiritual evolution theories, that the "science" teachers might be so incredibly ignorant of real science, or that science classes might be a conduit for racist teachings? [Note by R. Rawlings: In the Waldorf I attended, I was taught the same thing about blood types. See “Unenlightened” and/or “I Went to Waldorf” on this Web site.]
Another example is the Jewish high school student at our former Waldorf school who came home and told his mother that his Waldorf history teacher had been dismissive of the Holocaust and that the teacher had said something to the effect that, in any case, the Jewish people had done it to themselves because Hitler was Jewish or half-Jewish. The possibility that this story might be the result of the student misunderstanding the teacher is somewhat undermined by the open and blatant Holocaust denial by some modern-day Anthroposophists.
— Margaret Sachs
To Tell Or Not
Steiner coached his followers to preserve their secrets.
But at least occasionally he showed himself to be
more inclined to openness than Waldorf faculty often are:
“It is obvious that knowledge of the human being must be the basis for a teacher's work; that being so, teachers must acquire this knowledge for themselves, and the natural thing will be that they acquire it through Anthroposophy. If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is behind it."
— Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 4. [For more on Waldorf secrecy, see "Secrets".]
Here is a concise overview of the
Anthroposophical world within which
Waldorf schools function.
These are excerpts from
by Geoffrey Ahern.
Much of what Ahern says is applicable in the USA
and anywhere else that Anthroposophy is practiced.
(all of these statements are Ahern's not mine.)
Whereas Theosophy still has a large following in India, it is otherwise being outstripped numerically by its organizational offspring, Anthroposophy. The group’s secretiveness makes it difficult to assess membership figures, but the number of those in the General Anthroposophical Society is between 20,000 and 25,000. Over 8,000 members live in West Germany. Great Britain and the United States each have approximately 2,400 members, and both Holland and Switzerland have well over 2,000 members.
The School of Spiritual Science and other main institutions are understood to have special karmas since karma, in Steiner’s view, is not confined to individuals. Hence, the “five karmas,” or most important aspects of Anthroposophy, will be considered here.
...The School of Spiritual Science
The School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, near Basel, Switzerland, is...the center of organized Anthroposophical identity and has spiritual authority over the various national Schools...Admission to the School is possible only after two years’ membership in the General Anthroposophical Society...[T]he “Readers,” the leaders who conduct the “classes,” by no means open the door to all who knock, and it is membership in the School, rather than in the Society, which signifies a full commitment to Anthroposophy.
...Meeting times and places, as well as which of the 19 “lessons” will be given, are made public, for the practical reason of informing School members. The content of those sessions is not revealed to outsiders, however.
...The Christian Community
Orthodox ritual tends to be associated by Western esotericists with the “dead” sacraments of the Christian churches. New sacraments revealed by Steiner are part of Christian Community (the Anthroposophical church) worship. It sees itself as combining Protestant freedom of thought with Catholic sacraments and ritual in spiritual rebirth.
Its extensive rituals have an esoteric rather than orthodox feel.
...Steiner founded the Christian Community as a church in 1922 in conjunction with Dr. Rittelmeyer, a Lutheran pastor from Berlin. Its biggest membership, as with the General Anthroposophical Society, is in West Germany. Its 300 priests are primarily in Europe and the United States. Organizationally it is separate from both the General Society and the School of Spiritual Science. Many Anthroposophists ignore the church because they consider it a mere external, “exoteric” expression of the spiritual.
...Roughly two-thirds of the priests in Great Britain are also members of the School of Spiritual Science.
The Camphill Communities
The Camphill movement provides village communities and some urban houses for mentally handicapped people who need special care. It was founded at Camphill on the east coast of Scotland by Dr. Konig, a charismatic follower of Rudolf Steiner. By 1980, just 14 years after Dr. Konig’s death, 56 communities had been established in Great Britain, Ireland, West Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Finland, France, and South Africa.
...The non-handicapped adults, who are known as “co-workers,” often know little about Anthroposophy. About half of them are transient, unaware of Steiner’s revelation. Many 19 and 20 year olds apply simply for the practical experience of community work. Most of the remaining co-workers are a committed core whose overriding interest is likely to be esoteric: many belong to the General Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science.
...Anthroposophy’s teachings stress that individuals who become closely involved with each other have karmic ties that reach back into past incarnations and will be part of a future pattern of interaction ... The social reality structured by Anthroposophical architecture, education, art, agriculture, and medical arrangements renders the outside world superfluous.
...Camphill life is based on family units. Sometimes as many as six co-workers and eight villagers live together. The woman of the house is the central figure of the extended family, though she has others, including her husband, to help her. Family life is said to prevent the villagers from diverting their energies into sexual channels.
The Camphill communities’ stable rhythm of life is marked by an almost medieval sense of the seasons. Christian saints’ days, as well as pagan festivals such as May Day, are celebrated. The Christian Community also plays an important part through its sacraments, especially for villagers and co-workers’ children.
The Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain
The most inclusive Anthroposophical institution is the General Anthroposophical Society which is based at the Goetheanum. Affiliated with the General Society are national societies, such as the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain.
...Over half of the members live either in loose community — especially in Gloucestershire, western England or Forest Row, Sussex, southern England — or in closer groups such as the Camphill communities. Their employment is very likely to be connected with Anthroposophical institutions; for example, education or caring for the elderly. The other half seem to live non-communally; indeed, many members may have very little contact with other Anthroposophists. There also seem to be quite a large number of people who are committed to Steiner yet have not registered as members.
The Old and New Goetheanums
...The first Goetheanum was destroyed by an unknown arsonist on New Year’s Eve, 1922. A new Goetheanum was completed on the same site in the 1950s. Both were designed by Steiner and are sacred to Anthroposophists: in their metaphysical view, the buildings are matter uniquely made spiritual. Despite its location in Switzerland, the Goetheanum features constantly in the imaginations of British followers, who occasionally attend special events there. The Old Goetheanum, known through models, photographs, paintings, oral descriptions, and meditative Imaginations, had a primeval, mushroom-like wooden dome. Some people, it is said, “experience” that building before their rebirth on earth. The New Goetheanum is made of concrete and is strangely many faceted. As one British member described it, “We regard the Goetheanum as the center of the twentieth-century mysteries.”
Here is one of the colored-glass triptychs
designed by Rudolf Steiner for the Goetheanum,
the Anthroposophical headquarters.
The imagery reflects the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy.
[R.R. sketch, 2010.]
FROM THE NET
Here is a relevant Internet exchange;
I have edited the messages slightly for inclusion here.
I cannot wholly vouch for any messages except those I wrote myself.
Still, the messages from others, below, are interesting
and they may throw light on the subjects we have been considering.
— Roger Rawlings
In June, 2009, an Internet acquaintance of mine left a message on the waldorf-critics discussion list.  The message:
"I have a question. Imagining clairvoyance to be true... isn't it fairly rare for people to be clairvoyant? Are the [Waldorf] teachers that go to sleep and ask questions about their children's souls using clairvoyance to get the answer?
"How do they say the answer comes to them?
"Would parents trust their teachers if they knew that they make decisions about their child based on an answer from the spirit world?
"'What should I do about so and so?'.............expel him!
"What if the spirit world gets the answer wrong ? It seemed to be wrong when it told Steiner about the reincarnation through the races. The spirit world can't be racist can it ?" 
I posted the following answer. It revisits some of the issues I discussed in the essay, above, but perhaps it states some things more directly, and it adds some additional considerations:
"Yes, it is extremely rare for anyone to be clairvoyant. In fact, there is no reliable evidence than anyone is clairvoyant or could possibly be clairvoyant. The following is from one of the most widely used and reliable psychology textbooks. On the subjects of clairvoyance, ESP, and psychic powers in general, the author reports: 'According to the U.S. National Research Council, "the best evidence does not support the contention that these phenomena exist."' — David G. Myers, PSYCHOLOGY (Worth Publishers, 2004), p. 260. Myers also writes, 'After thousands of experiments, a reproducible ESP phenomenon has never been discovered, nor has any individual convincingly demonstrated a psychic ability.' — Ibid., p. 260. [The last bit was italicized for emphasis by Myers, not by me.]
"And yet Waldorf teachers think they have — or should develop — clairvoyant powers. The following is from leading Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz. He asks a question that would strike most people as totally nuts, yet he is serious: 'Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way?' — Eugene Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000), p. 17. Schwartz's answer: 'We may, indeed, need only the ‘clairvoyant’ faculties that we are already using without being aware that we possess them.' — Ibid., p. 17. According to Schwartz, Waldorf teachers don't need to be extremely clairvoyant, but they should use whatever clairvoyant abilities they do possess, even if they don't fully realize that they possess them.
"Schwartz says that almost everyone has 'everyday' clairvoyance (note that this is the exact opposite of what science says: that no one has clairvoyance, as far as we can tell). Schwartz writes: 'Earlier in this book I spoke of the ‘everyday clairvoyance’ which allows us to perceive the activities of the ‘higher bodies’ of the human being without our necessarily being endowed with the degree of spiritual insight necessary to see the bodies themselves.' — Ibid., p. 34. Here Schwartz is saying that people can use clairvoyance to see the results produced by other peoples' invisible, spiritual 'bodies', such as the 'etheric" body' and the 'astral body.' (Steiner taught that real human beings have such bodies, but subhumans lack the highest of them, the 'I.') Waldorf teachers should be able to clairvoyantly perceive the activities of their students' invisible 'bodies/' Schwartz is quite clear about all this: 'Using this everyday clairvoyance, it is possible to become aware of the third member of the young person, the astral body.' — Ibid., p. 34.
"Schwartz's point is that Waldorf teachers can use clairvoyance in getting to know their students (including the students' invisible, spiritual 'bodies'). And if the teachers develop higher clairvoyant powers, they will be able to actually see the invisible bodies, not just the results of the bodies' actions. The more clairvoyant the teachers become, the deeper they can peer into their students' souls...
"This is astonishing nonsense, and it is frightening. Imagine having your child 'educated' by someone who thinks s/he is clairvoyant. It would mean that your child is in the care of someone who is deeply deluded — someone who is out of touch with reality.
"But things could be worse. Some Waldorf teachers also think that they can converse with the dead. There's a Steiner book that tells them how: Rudolf Steiner, STAYING CONNECTED: How to Continue Your Relations with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999). So, some poor kids are being 'educated' by people who delude themselves into believing that they have magical powers of perception — clairvoyance — and magical powers of mediumism — they can contact the dead.
"This is extremely sad and, more importantly, extremely scary. Imagine the harm such a teacher could do to a child." — Roger 
My friend then wrote the following answer:
"Thanks Roger, That's what I thought I was being told at the Rudolf Steiner House open day last week, it was just a bit hard to believe." 
Later, in an email message, she explained that she had attended an open house at which Waldorf representatives acknowledged that such matters as clairvoyance and karma are important within Waldorf schools — but the students' parents are usually not informed. I will quote her, here, by her kind permission. I will withhold the name of the individual she mentions:
"[T]hey were very open about karma but [X] admitted that teachers had to be careful what they said in front of parents and it is just not talked about in the school brochure."
I discuss the problem of secrecy at Waldorf schools in "Secrets" here at Waldorf Watch. Steiner urged Waldorf teachers to keep mum about the inner workings of the school. For the most part, Waldorf teachers have followed this directive — but sometimes they make revealing comments, as apparently happened at the open house my friend attended.
Here is another interesting message posted at waldorf-critics; it is from a former Waldorf student. (The message quotes from a message I posted, then it inserts comments about my words. My statements are italicized; hers are inside quotation marks.)
> 2009/6/20 Roger Rawlings wrote
> This is astonishing nonsense, and it is frightening. Imagine having your child "educated" by someone who thinks s/he is clairvoyant. It would mean that your child is in the care of someone who is deeply deluded — someone who is out of touch with reality. >
"Well, that is a common problem in Waldorf ... Reality isn't what they're most in touch with."
> But things could be worse. Some Waldorf teachers also think that they can converse with the dead. There's a Steiner book that tells them how: Rudolf Steiner, STAYING CONNECTED: How to Continue Your Relations with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999). So, some poor kids are being "educated" by people who delude themselves into believing that they have magical powers of perception — clairvoyance — and magical powers of mediumism — they can contact the dead. >
"Yes, I had one such teacher. Although many teachers saw the spiritual world, elves, gnomes, etc., this lady actually told the class about her 'encounters' with the dead. They communicated through butterflies somehow."
> This is extremely sad and, more importantly, extremely scary. Imagine the harm such a teacher could do to a child.
"It can be, absolutely. However, I was never the least scared of any of these things. I did think it to be a waste of time, but that was it, for me. I grew up with a grandmother who was on medications because she had a disease. These medications had very bad side effects that had to be countered by other medications... But it was a constant battle to adjust doses, etc. Anyhow, these meds caused her to have hallucinations; for example, she saw gnomes. Once she saw a brown bear in a window on the 4th floor of the building opposite. (Very unusual in the city.) I believe she 'heard' stuff, too. But, honestly, the things she experienced were sometimes not very different from what some teachers claimed they saw. She acted very irrationally, the teachers didn't. But she always regained reason and sanity in a little while, whereas they... If they were deluded, it seemed to be permanent. Grandmother didn't actually think that there were gnomes anymore when her medicines started to work.
"I'm not sure, but perhaps this made me more 'immune' to these kinds of things. Or perhaps I would've been rational anyway." 
The same former Waldorf student later added the following:
"Perhaps my teachers didn't actually 'claim' clairvoyance, but they talked about fairies, gnomes, elves as though these beings were real. One teacher used to see elves dancing when he walked to school in the mornings. But such things were just everyday stuff in Waldorf. They deal with everything in nature as if it is alive, has intentions, etc. Mist isn't mist, it's elves. Gnomes live everywhere. Butterflies 'communicate' messages from the dead.
When Waldorf teachers speak of fairies and the like, they may be, in part, speaking metaphorically. "Look at all the dancing elves, children!" They want to inspire reverence, awe, and spiritual sensitivity in the kids. But when a young child hears an important authority figure speaking of invisible beings as if they are real, s/he is likely to take it literally. At a minimum, Waldorf teachers should not create confusion in children, requiring them to sort out metaphorical statements from statements of fact. But it is also important to realize that Waldorf teachers often mean such statements quite literally. If they accept Steiner's doctrines, then they literally believe in the existence of gnomes, giants, dwarfs, Norse gods, and so forth. And if they accept Steiner's doctrines, they know that they, as Waldorf teachers, are extremely important authority figures whose words should be accepted unquestioningly by their students.
by a Waldorf alum.
In July, 2009, the Rationalist Society of Australia (http://www.rationalist.com.au/index.php)
released "Six Facts You Should Know About Steiner Education: A Guide for Prospective Students and Their Parents."
Authored by Ian Robinson, it is worth reading.
In brief, the six "facts" are:
1. Steiner's esoteric belief system, which determines the nature of Steiner education, is a religion.
2. The Steiner movement has some of the characteristics of a cult.
3. Steiner's religion dictates his educational doctrines.
4. Steiner education is not evidence-based.
5. Steiner education is not friendly to parents.
6. There are racist undertones in Steiner's writings.
By Ian Robinson's kind permission, I have reprinted "Six Facts" here at Waldorf Watch:
Two items from the Waldorf Watch "news" page:
Remarks delivered at a conference of Waldorf teachers:
“It has been twenty-one years since I took the Waldorf school teacher training, and in those past twenty-one years, I have not heard much about the double* among teachers in conversation or at conferences ... [A] presentation on this topic is long overdue ... Rudolf Steiner himself in a series of lectures...strongly urged teachers to take into account in their process of educating children the workings of the double ... There must be a new awareness of this second being within us.
“Dr. Steiner makes one aspect of the double very clear. Today in our times the double stands totally in the service of Ahriman** ... [T]he number 666 announces the attempts of the beast to gain a stronger foothold in the affairs of men. In the year 666 an ahrimanic, intellectual culture was introduced into the world through Arabism [i.e., Arab culture] ... [I]n 666 Ahriman won a great victory.***
“...In spite of the negative aspects of the double, he is a necessary part of our incarnation process. Left to himself, man would never give up his heavenly home and exchange it for earthly existence. It is the legitimate role of the double to help us into incarnation by placing in our lower nature an affinity for the earth.
“...I would like to try, very briefly, to state the specific aims of the double and Ahriman with regard to man, especially Western man. The double wants man to forsake his spiritual nature — his ego [i.e., his “I” or divine spiritual self]. The double want to cut man off from the Christ and the Cosmos. The double wants to help develop a soulless society of intellectual automatons, in other words, an Ahrimanic race that will unite itself with the earth on a permanent basis and forsake the cosmos and the cosmic goals of the original creative Gods.
“...We must keep ourselves constantly informed about the workings of the double in us and in our students.” — Richard Schmitt, “The Double — A summary of a lecture given at the Teachers’ Conference of the Sacramento Waldorf School in February 1981” (Rudolf Steiner College Press, undated booklet, pp. 1-19 — still sold by the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore as of March, 2012).
* The doppelgänger, the evil twin that we carry within us. According to Waldorf belief, the double is not a part of our own psyche, but literally a second being who rides within our body to the Earth when we incarnate. See “Double Trouble.”
** Satan. See “Ahriman”.
*** The speaker adds that Ahriman won again in 1222 A.D. and could win a third time in 1998.
“What is Steiner education? - The Steiner ethos, according to the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, is to provide an 'unhurried and creative' learning environment where children can find the joy in learning and experience the richness of childhood.
“The curriculum itself is a flexible set of pedagogical guidelines, founded on Steiner’s principles that take account of the whole child.
“It gives equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil and is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of a child’s development.” [6-8-2011 http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/06/08/what-is-steiner-education-91466-28839733/]
Pity the poor reporter who tries to make sense of Steiner education based on the misleading abstractions usually offered by Steiner spokesfolks.
Let’s take a somewhat closer look, relying mainly on the words of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Steiner movement and the man for whom the schools are named. (The schools are often called Steiner schools, but sometimes they are called Waldorf schools, since the first Steiner school was established with the aid of the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette company.)
Steiner’s worldview, "Anthroposophy" (meaning human wisdom), is an occult religion. Waldorf faculties usually acknowledge that their educational approach arises from Anthroposophy, but they usually deny that they teach Anthroposophical doctrines to their students. In a restricted sense, this may be true. But in a larger sense, it is false, and we have Steiner’s word for it. Addressing Waldorf teachers, Steiner said: “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.”  Since Anthroposophists believe that their doctrines are the Truth underlying all other knowledge, they think that the presence of Anthroposophy will be “justified” at virtually every point in every subject studied. They may be circumspect about it, bringing their beliefs into the classroom subtly, covertly, but they bring them.
Not all Waldorf teachers are deeply committed, uncompromising Anthroposophists, but Steiner said that they should be: “As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.”  Indeed, one of the most important facts about Waldorf schools is that they are meant to spread Anthroposophy: “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” 
Waldorf education is meant to usher students toward true spiritual life, which is deemed inherently Anthroposophical: “As far as our school is concerned, the actual spiritual life can be present only because its staff consists of anthroposophists.”  Waldorf teachers serve as priests in a religion that recognizes many spiritual powers or gods (plural: Anthroposophy is polytheistic). The goal of Waldorf schooling is not so much to educate children as to save humanity by leading it to Anthroposophy. Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be on a holy mission: • "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life."  • “We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.”  • “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” 
In sum, the goals of Waldorf schooling are inseparable from the goals of Anthroposophy, although Waldorf teachers generally deny this, for fear of a public backlash: “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." 
What is Anthroposophy? It is a religion: • "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do."  And so: • "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true."  Thus: • "Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious."  (Steiner wasn't concerned that the history class was religious; he worried that outsiders might think it was excessively religious. That there will be some religious content in a Waldorf class goes without saying.) Waldorf schools, you see, are religious institutions, with "a religious element" introduced into "every subject." And the religion the schools adhere to is Anthroposophy. Hence Steiner was able to say to Waldorf students: • “[D]o you know where your teachers get all the strength and ability they need so that they can teach you to grow up to be good and capable people? They get it from the Christ.”  (Take care when Steiner and his followers refer to "Christ." They do not mean the Son of God worshipped in regular Christian churches; they mean the Sun God. This need not detain us at this moment, however.) The key point for us now is to recognize Steiner's admission that Waldorf teachers are true believers; they believe they draw their authority from a god. Their work as Waldorf teachers is religious. Even when encouraging their students to love beauty, their purpose is fundamentally religious. “We must, in our lessons, see to it that the children experience the beautiful, artistic, and aesthetic conception of the world; and their ideas and mental pictures should be permeated by a religious/moral feeling." 
As for whether Waldorf schools educate "the whole child," you should know that Steiner's followers think that children have (or will develop) three invisible bodies, they have both souls and spirits, they have twelve senses, they are reincarnated, they have karmas, they come to earth with memories of the spirit realm, and so on. [See "Holistic Education".] Waldorf schools are religious institutions infused by occult doctrines, the doctrines of Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Most reporters don't have time to dig into these matters, so they often simply transcribe what Waldorf representatives say. But if you are interested in Waldorf schools, you should understand what these schools really are. If you like what they really are, fine; but if you don't, then you may want to spread the word a bit. Waldorf schools bravely want to drag us back into the ignorance and delusion that was common in medieval times but that are wholly out of place in the 21st century.
[Much of the above is excerpted from "Here's the Answer". For more — e.g., a brief summary of Anthroposophical religious beliefs — you may want to visit that page: "Here's the Answer".]
 Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.
 Ibid., p. 118.
 Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.
 Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 55.
 Ibid., p. 705.
 Ibid., p. 706. Elaborating on this point, Steiner said “[T]his is how our free, nondenominational, religion lessons came about. These were given by our own teachers, just as the other religious lessons were given by ministers. The teachers were recognized by us as religious teachers in the Waldorf curriculum. Thus, anthroposophic religious lessons were introduced in our school. “ [Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY AND WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 125]
 Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 655.
 Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 29.
 Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 77.
A teachers' manual used widely in the Waldorf movement provides startling insights into the nature of Waldorf education now. The manual is A HANDBOOK FOR WALDORF CLASS TEACHERS, by Kevin Avison. Published in revised form by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in 2011, it is an official Waldorf/Steiner document. Here are some of the handbook’s contents:
Although defenders of Waldorf education typically argue that Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric spiritual teachings have little or no influence within the Waldorf movement today, in fact Steiner is mentioned over and over in the handbook, his esoteric teachings are taken as predicates, and Waldorf teachers are directed to study various Steiner books and lectures for the guidance they will find there. Understanding and acceptance of Anthroposophical doctrines are assumed (the teachers are addressed as, in effect, Anthroposophists).
A quotation from Steiner serves as the handbook's epigraph [p. 2], and teachers using the handbook are repeatedly guided to various Steiner texts for the wisdom they will find there. (Each reference to a Steiner text also underscores the handbook's claim to authority; the handbook is firmly rooted in Steiner's own works.) For example,
Waldorf teachers are directed to perform spiritual exercises as prescribed by Steiner (exercises that Steiner said would lead to the development of clairvoyance and provide other remarkable benefits). Thus, for instance,
The handbook makes clear that Waldorf schools are Anthroposophical religious institutions. The schools' immediate aim is to minister to students as spiritual beings; their larger goals include revolutionizing human society and promoting human evolution in accordance with the will of the gods. Hence, the handbook is consistent with statements made by various Waldorf teachers and representatives elsewhere, such as the following:
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 3. WALDORF SCHOOLS TODAY ◊◊◊
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.
 Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 97-99.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 118.
 Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28. See also “This [spiritual] science [i.e., Steiner's doctrines] presupposes an entirely new inner sense organ or instrument, by means of which there is revealed a new world which does not exist for the ordinary man.” — Johann Fichte (quoted on the back covers of Anthroposophical publications such as AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, by Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophical Literature Concern, 1922).
The portrayal of Bushmen as childlike — no matter how “loving” it may be — is patronizing and racist.
 Dan Dugan, May 30, 2000, posted at free-speech forum associated with waldorfcritics.org.
Dugan was once an enthusiastic Waldorf parent. But he gradually became disillusioned when he realized, first, that science was badly taught at the school his son attended, and later that the school sold Rudolf Steiner books containing racist passages. When the school refused to repudiate these passages, Dugan became an active opponent of Waldorf schooling. While not denying the right of Waldorfs to exist as private institutions, Dugan opposes adoption of Waldorf schools into public school systems, which would grant the schools public financial support.
 Eugene Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000.)
A slightly earlier book by Schwartz, MILLENNIAL CHILD: Transforming Education for the Twenty-First Century (Anthroposophic Press, 1999) is equally mum on various topics. The index contains no references to "religion," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "reincarnation," "karma'" or "higher worlds." There is one reference to “Christianity, child rearing and” and another to “Christian missionaries.” “Anthroposophy” is referred to three times and “Anthroposophists” once.
 WALDORF EDUCATION, p.17.
 Ibid., p. 34.
 See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, lecture given on October 15, 1911, quoted in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER, John Fletcher (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 95, and Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL: FROM THE AKASHIC RECORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001).
 The Akashic record (some occult traditions speak of multiple records) contains information about every action, thought, emotion, etc., that has ever transpired. Or so occultists believe. The record is inscribed on Akasha: astral light or ether. Akasha mediates clairvoyance. Or so occultists believe. [See "Akasha".]
 WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 17.
 Steiner’s delineation of man’s four bodies can be found in lecture after lecture. An early and striking example, from a lecture he gave in 1907, can be found in THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 22-25.
For an informative summary of the various bodies and their significance within the context of Anthroposophy as a whole — including education at Waldorf schools — see Sharon Lombard, “Spotlight on Anthroposophy,” CULTIC STUDIES, Vol. 2, No. 2 .
For Steiner’s belief that some people are not human, see, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650: “I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form."
 WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 34.
 Ibid., p. 112.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 142-145.
 See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 68.
 See, e.g., Mark Grant, “Steiner and the Humours: The Survival of Ancient Greek Science,” THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Mar. 1999), pp. 56-70.
 Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 96.
 A.C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16.
 E.g., "In the autumn we experienced the death of a member's child, a child seven years of age. The death of this child occurred in a strange way. He was a good boy, mentally very much alive already within the limits set for a seven-year-old; a good, well-behaved and mentally active child. He came to die because he happened to be on the very spot where a furniture van overturned, crushing the boy so that he died of suffocation. This was a spot where probably no van went past before nor will go past again, but one did pass just that moment. It is also possible to show in an outer way that all kinds of circumstances caused the child to be in that place at the time the van overturned, circumstances considered chance if the materialistic view is taken ... Studying the case in the light of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] and of karma it will be seen to demonstrate very clearly that external logic, quite properly used in external life, proves flimsy in this case and does not apply ... [T]he karma of this child was such that the ego, to put it bluntly, had ordered the van and the van overturned to fulfil the child's karma." — Rudolf Steiner, THE DESTINIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 125-126. [See "Karma".]
Steiner's views did indeed include racist opinions. See "Steiner's Racism". A central element in Steiner's description of evolution is that people can rise into higher races in the future incarnations, or they may fall into lower races.
Many of the watercolor paintings my Waldorf classmates and I "created"
were simply copies of designs our teachers drew on a chalkboard.
This is a reconstruction, from memory, of one such image,
suggesting the realm of the Sun God.
[R. R., 2010.]
A note on sources: I have accessed Anthroposophical texts in various ways. 1) Chiefly, I have acquired books in the old-fashioned way, as physical objects. When I refer to a book I possess, I give the title, publisher, date of publication, and page number for each reference. 2) I have dipped into some books through Google Books [http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search]. I provide the same information for these volumes. 3) I have read various texts at the Rudolf Steiner Archive [http://www.rsarchive.org/Search.php]. Because the Archive does not provide page numbers, for these references I provide titles, names of publishers, dates of publication, and (where applicable) GA numbers. Be advised that Google Books sometimes gives inaccurate page numbers, and the Steiner Archive is full of typos. I have corrected these problems as well as I could, but I may have missed some instances.
You may have difficulty finding a few of the sources I cite. Anthroposophists tend to conceal various sources, and sometimes — following criticism — they remove or alter sources that they had previously displayed online.