WALDORF / STEINER
This site supplements Waldorf Watch.
To go to Waldorf Watch itself, please click here:
The news items below are presented in reverse chronological order — newest first, oldest last.
Please excuse a certain amount of repetition in the contents of this archive.
Items that now appear close together on the screen may have originally been separated by intervals of several days.
Many of the items in this archive generalize about Waldorf schools,
describing them as Rudolf Steiner and leading Waldorf representatives have said they should be
and as evidence shows they often are today.
Not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools conform to this model precisely.
To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes,
its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), and the composition of its faculty.
"This video shows what happened to Mark Thornton, the Manager of the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School after he expelled a family, whose three children were...." [2-25-2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgmSOgJfunY]
The family engaged in a long-running struggle with the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School, in New Zealand, has posted another video.
"abnormal, abnormality - also see Africans; Asians; disease; evil; Jupiter; Mars; Mercury; Native Americans; Odin; Saturn; Venus; cf. advanced races; divine cosmic plan; normal
"In general, according to Steiner, a person or being is abnormal if s/he lags behind in evolution or otherwise varies from the central stream of the divine cosmic plan" [2-25-2011 https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/encyclopedia]
A wonderful new resource — the Brief Waldorf/Steiner Encyclopedia — has appeared on the Web. While obviously still a work in progress (the enormous editorial board behind the project is still hard at work), it clearly holds tremendous promise.
Bust of Ahriman
attributed to Rudolf Steiner.
“Some parents seek greater challenges for the academically gifted, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, available at schools such as Rundle College and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir, among others [in Calgary, Canada].
Waldorf schools generally shun ordinary textbooks because, among other defects, such texts present modern scholarship, which from an Anthroposophical perspective is false, materialistic non-knowledge. [See, e.g., "Lesson Books" and “Materialism U.”]
“Several schools emphasize the importance of learning a second or even third language; Webber Academy’s students study Spanish and Mandarin, while Lycée Louis Pasteur promotes full French immersion.
“Some, such as Calgary Waldorf School, emphasize particular teaching methods and strategies that may include enhancing artistic as well as cognitive talents, and discouraging the use of textbooks and electronic media.” [2-23-2011 http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Something+everyone/4333883/story.html]
The schools also tend to discourage use of computers, televisions, and other electronic gizmos, which Anthroposophists often associate with the terrible demon Ahriman. [See “Ahriman”.]
For information on the Waldorf view of art and "cognitive talents" see, e.g., "Magical Arts" and "Thinking Cap". True cognition, in the Waldorf universe, is clairvoyance. Imagination is used as a steppingstone to full clairvoyance (which students are not usually expected to attain until adulthood). The brain is of almost no use in these pursuits. "[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (SteinerBooks, 1996), p. 60.
“One of the current success stories is indie rock band Alice Blu, who formed five years ago at Shearwater Steiner School in Mullumbimby [Australia]. All three members enrolled in the Certificate IV course [at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium] last year and are coming back to do the Diploma this year. In the past 12 months they have supported The Beautiful Girls and Daryl Braithwaite (?!), have also played at the Mullum Music Festival and are negotiating to get on the bill of Splendour in the Grass this year.” [2-24-2011 http://www.echonews.com.au/story/2011/02/24/change-of-tune-at-con-music-to-their-ears/]
Speaking of Ahriman... Waldorf schools generally discourage forms of music and other arts deemed to be primitive, sensual, or indeed demonic. [See, e.g., Robert Smith-Hald's "Musical Biography".]
Waldorf/Steiner schools aim to steer children toward the Anthroposophical worldview. Quite often, they fail. There are several reasons. Some students don’t stay in the schools long enough. (For the Waldorf treatment to work fully, children should attend from preschool through high school. The curriculum is designed to lead students step-by-step through the incarnation of their various bodies, molding their hearts and minds along the way.)
Also, of course, some children and/or parents are naturally skeptical or rebellious. And the schools are often unable to fully shield the students from outside influences. And some Waldorf teachers are not particularly well trained in Waldorf methods and/or some are not sufficiently devoted to Waldorf aims.
The schools often fail in their occult purposes, which of course is a very good thing. [See. e.g., “Spiritual Agenda”, “Curriculum”, “Failure”, and “Who Gets Hurt”.]
“A crowd of almost 400 supporters packed the Chico Unified School District [California, USA] board meeting chambers last week, overflowing into the hallways to be present for the hearing of the new charter for Blue Oak School [a Waldorf school] ... Additionally, nearly a thousand letters of support for Blue Oak have poured in to the CUSD board members from families attending the school as well as the community at large ... Waldorf education inspires intellectual curiosity and creates critical thinkers. These attributes will be crucial to our future stewards of society. Blue Oak serves more than 360 students and has 43 employees. Parents contribute thousands of volunteer hours each year ... I trust CUSD will find approval of Blue Oak's charter an easy decision to make. “ [2-23-2011 http://www.chicoer.com/opinion/ci_17458817]
In truth, such a decision should be impossible to make.
“Major Milestone for Steiner Movement
“He brought many initiatives to the world; probably the most well know [sic] is his education system of Waldorf/Steiner Schools. Locally there are two Steiner Schools: Casuarina in Coffs Harbour and Chrysalis in the Thora Valley [Australia].” [2-22-2011 http://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/story/2011/02/22/major-milestone-for-steiner-movement/]
It has indeed been 150 years Steiner was born (almost). Whether this constitutes a cause for celebration is, perhaps, open to debate. But, yes, indeed, Steiner was born on Feb. 27, 1861. And indeed the Waldorf school movement is the most prominent part of his legacy.
For more on Steiner and his life, see “What a Guy”.
“Pupils are waging war against carbon emissions — by growing their own school dinners.
“The youngsters at the Edinburgh Steiner School [Scotland] are taking part in an innovative project to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 378 tonnes over the next ten years.
“As well as growing their own fruit and vegetables, which will be used in school meals, the pupils have committed to a number of environmentally-friendly approaches, including cycling to school and recycling.
“...Steiner's project manager Ben Murray believes the school's plan has the potential to become a blueprint for all Scottish schools.” [2-21-2011 http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Pupils-grow-school-dinner.6721809.jp]
Climate change is a real, and immense, problem (IMO). Growing one’s own food — especially if you use organic techniques — is excellent (IMO).
To understand the Waldorf/Steiner approach, however, you need to dig below the surface. Astonishing though it may seem, everything at Waldorf/Steiner schools ultimately derives from occult doctrine. Thus, the Waldorf/Steiner view of nature is infused with occult beliefs [see “Neutered Nature”] while Waldorf/Steiner organic gardening depends heavily on magic and astrology [see “Biodynamics”.] Students may not be exposed to the underlying doctrines, but then again they may.
Whether the Waldorf/Steiner approach can fruitfully provide a blueprint for the rest of Scotland is questionable (IMO).
“When the darkness had lifted and it was possible to develop clairvoyant vision again, the coming of the thirteenth [savant] was announced in a mysterious way to the twelve wise men. They knew that the time had come when a child with significant and remarkable incarnations behind him was to be born.” [2-19-2011 http://alchemical-weddings.com/tag/clairvoyant/]
This is one of Rudolf Steiner’s rather surprising statements about Jesus. The quotation can be found on p. 253 of ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), a collection of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures.
According to Steiner, Christ is the Sun God who incarnated in one of two Jesus children. The two Jesuses had many incarnations behind them, and they joined their spiritual essences in order to host the Sun God. “[T]wo Jesus children were born. One was descended from the so-called Nathan line of the House of David, the other from the Solomon line. These two children grew up side by side. In the body of the Solomon child lived the soul of Zarathustra. In the twelfth year of the child's life this soul passed over into the other Jesus child and lived in that body until its thirtieth year ... And then, only from the thirtieth year onward, there lived in this body the Being Whom we call the Christ, Who remained on earth altogether for three years.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), p. 59. The combined Jesus-Christ being was "the Solomonic Nathanic Christ Jesus." See “Was He Christian?” and “Sun God”.
This is just a taste of the rather unique religious doctrines that form the foundation Waldorf education: Anthroposophy.
“Calder Valley Steiner School [UK] is expanding after announcing that it will be offering primary education from September.
“Having recently purchased the St John’s Sunday School building in Cragg Vale and opened its second kindergarten to cope with growing demand, the group is set to run its first class one at the start of the next school calendar.” [2-19-2011 http://www.hebdenbridgetimes.co.uk/news/new_class_will_be_a_steiner_school_first_1_3097329]
Waldorf or Steiner schools often enter a community quietly, as small, private ventures. In some cases, a Waldorf play group is established as a first step. This evolves to become a kindergarten, and eventually the school may add higher and higher grades to accommodate its maturing students.
Many Waldorf schools are quite small, and some disappear after a while. Others, however, can swell to significant size, and some develop deep roots. The first Waldorf Steiner school in Great Britain, Michael Hall (named for the archangel or god Michael), opened in 1925, not long after Rudolf Steiner’s death.
“Mum Wins £130k School Fees Fight
"Council bosses have been told they have to find up to £130,000 a year in extra school fees for an autistic boy after a dramatic court ruling.
"Edinburgh City Council [Scotland] wanted ten-year-old Oscar Narine, from Polwarth, to remain at a school in the Capital. But yesterday his mother, Mary Narine, won a 15-month battle to send him to Rudolf Steiner's Camphill school in Aberdeen.
"The costs at Camphill could be as high as £156,360 a year, compared with an estimated £19,759 a year for Redhall School in Edinburgh.
"Mrs Narine insisted that Camphill would give Oscar a better chance in life.” [2-19-2011 http://news.scotsman.com/education/Mum-wins-130k-school-fees.6720980.jp]
Quite understandably, most parents will do almost anything to promote the welfare of their children. Sometimes, unfortunately, they make grievous errors in this effort. “Camphill” is a name applied to many Anthroposophical communities and institutions that offer assistance to individuals having special needs. [See “Waldorf Now”.] But the basis of the treatments offered in Camphills is Anthroposophical medicine, which essentially consists of quack nostrums. [See “Steiner’s Quackery”.] Astrology and other forms of occultism are also employed. Shockingly, for example, Rudolf Steiner himself used horoscopes to decide how to deal with special-needs children:
“By looking at what the horoscope shows we can see what is really the matter [with a child].
“Take first this horoscope (of the elder sister). It will probably have struck you that you find here in this region, Uranus together with Venus and Mars. You will not really need to carry your considerations any further than this triangle. Here then are Mars, Venus and Uranus. Consider first Mars. For this child, who was born in 1909, Mars stands in complete opposition to the Moon. Mars, which has Venus and Uranus in its vicinity, stands — itself — in strong opposition to the Moon. Here is the Moon and here is Mars. And Mars pulls along with it Uranus and Venus.
“And now I would ask you to pay careful attention also to the fact that the Moon is at the same time standing before Libra. This means, the Moon has comparatively little support from the Zodiac, it wavers and hesitates, it is even something of a weakling in this hour; and its influence is still further reduced through the fact that Mars (which pulls along with it the Luciferic influence [i.e., the influence of Lucifer]) stands in opposition to it.
“Now let us turn to the horoscope of the young child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together, the three of them covering between them no more than this section of the heavens ... On this second horoscope, Mars, Venus and Uranus are in close proximity, exactly as before; but when we examine more nearly the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the Moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation to opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, July 6, 1924.
Think carefully, parents, when deciding where to send your children.
Such vandalism is deplorable, and it is completely incompatible with principled opposition to the Waldorf movement. Everyone — including critics of Waldorf schooling — should actively oppose such conduct.
Washington Waldorf School fifth graders
performing a shadow puppet show about Isis and Osiris
(ancient Egyptian gods).
"A private school in Bethesda [Maryland, USA] is the target of a series of hate crimes after four months of vandalism including swastikas, fires and broken windows, Montgomery County police said today.
"The Washington Waldorf School, at the 4800 block of Sangamore Road, reports someone has broken windows, set fires, and used spray paint to draw swastikas on eight occasions, police said.
"The Washington Waldorf School is one of 200 affiliated schools across the nation whose teaching style is based on the writings of Rudolf Steiner, an early 20th century Austrian philosopher and teacher, according to its website." [2-17-2011 http://www.gazette.net/stories/02172011/montnew181706_32552.php]
Who are the vandals? Disgruntled students? Disgruntled former students? Neighborhood hooligans with no connection to the school? (Vandalism is often random and senseless.)
Anthroposophists think they are surrounded by enemies. [See “Enemies”.] They tend to associate their opponents with the arch-demon Ahriman and his hordes. [See “Ahriman” and "Evil Ones”.] A chasm of misunderstanding and disagreement separates Anthroposophists from their critics. If we all — as fellow seekers of the truth — are ever to come together, we will need to emphasize any matters on which we agree. One area of agreement, I hope, encompasses basic moral precepts. Violence, wanton destruction, demonization — these, I submit, should be repudiated by all people of good will. [See "Can't We All Get Along?"]
My own position (for what little it matters) is that Anthroposophists have every right to believe whatever they want, and Waldorf schools have every right to exist. Waldorf schools must, however, openly profess their true purposes and agenda. [See "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda".] Until they do, they recruit new students and seek government funding under false pretenses. Once they do acknowledge their purposes, free and open decisions can be made. Anyone who wants what Waldorf offers will be free to select it, while anyone who dislikes the Waldorf agenda will be free to look elsewhere.
There is some variation among Waldorf schools, of course. Some of the schools are more deeply committed to Rudolf Steiner's occultism than others are. The Washington Waldorf School says this about itself: "Waldorf education takes a spiritual view of what it means to be a human being, and is grounded in a path of personal development called anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner. We do not see ourselves as a religious school, however...." This is a fairly standard Waldorf disclaimer. The key question may be whether you discover a particular Waldorf school to be a religious institution, not whether the school "sees" itself this way. For help in grasping the nature of particular Waldorf schools, see "Advice for Parents", "Clues", and "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs - Looking for a Good One."
Much of the "news" coming out of Waldorf schools is — not to put too fine a point on it — propaganda. Waldorf supporters often provide slanted, starry-eyed statements, and reporters pressed for time often accept these uncritically.
"In 1919, after the devastation of the First World War, a visionary scientist named Dr. Rudolf Steiner was asked by a colleague, 'What can we possibly do in our society to prevent a repeat of this most horrific event?' Dr. Steiner replied, 'We need a new way of thinking.' This conversation led to the development of the Waldorf curriculum. One of the ways Waldorf education develops this new way of thinking is through a curriculum that nurtures and develops not only the mind, but the whole human being." [2-16-2011 http://www.nsnews.com/travel/Private+Schools/4293559/story.html]
Let's look through the passage quoted here.
• Rudolf Steiner was indeed a "visionary" — he claimed to be a clairvoyant. See "Exactly".
• Steiner was not, however, a "scientist" — despite his own claims and the claims of his followers. Steiner's "science" consisted of his professed use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. See "Everything" and "Steiner's 'Science'".
• The "new way of thinking" proposed by Steiner is the irrational, imaginative, proto-clairvoyance promoted in Waldorf schools. See "Thinking Cap".
• The Waldorf curriculum (geared especially to the spiritual needs of Germans, as comprehended by Steiner) is meant to foster irrational, imaginative, proto-clairvoyance and lead children toward the occult, pagan religion created by Steiner, Anthroposophy. See "Curriculum", "The Good Wars", "Here's the Answer", and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"
Why, aside from spreading propaganda, are so many "news" accounts about Waldorf schools so far off the mark? Imagine a cub reporter who rushes up to an overworked editor and shouts, "Chief! I've got a hot one! I've learned that Waldorf schools are based on occultism! Let's crack this wide open!" After giving the kid a calming shot of bourbon and the rest of the day off — or perhaps a pink slip — the editor would start the process of hiring a new cub reporter.
The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth. Waldorf schools, otherwise known as Steiner schools, follow the directions laid out by Rudolf Steiner. He was a good man, Rudolf Steiner. Or at least he meant well. He hoped to remake the world, suffusing it with loving kindness. And what was the tactic he meant to employ? Spreading occultism. “There is no other means of bringing about a universal human brotherhood than the spreading of occult knowledge through the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1953), p. 143.
OK? Take a deep breath and remind yourself that Waldorf schools, otherwise known as Steiner schools, follow the directions laid out by Rudolf Steiner, who was an avowed occultist. His most important book is titled AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. Some of his other books are OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS, AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY, OCCULT HISTORY, and so on. See "Occultism".
But surely Steiner's occultism doesn't find its way into Waldorf schools themselves, right? Actually, sadly, it does. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers need to develop a special clairvoyant form of consciousness, the "Waldorf teacher's consciousness": “[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, if I may so express it. This is only possible, however, when in the field of education we come to an actual experience of the spiritual ... [We need] what humanity has lost in this respect, has lost just in the last three or four centuries. It is this that we must find again.” — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p. 21. What have people lost? According to Steiner, clairvoyance. But Steiner promised his followers a new, higher form of clairvoyance — and he explicitly told Waldorf teachers that they should strive to develop such clairvoyance.
At a minimum, Steiner said, Waldorf teachers should accept the teachings of people like himself who are clairvoyant. "Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of [clairvoyant] spiritual-scientiﬁc investigation concerning the human being. And each Waldorf teacher applies this knowledge with heart and soul ... In educating the child, in the daily lessons, and in the daily social life at school, the teachers ﬁnd the conﬁrmation for what spiritual science [i.e., Steiner's occult teachings, Anthroposophy] can tell them about practical teaching." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, pp. 224-225.
For more on the way occultism pervades Waldorf consciousness, see "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".
The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth.
(Oh. I almost forgot. • About nurturing "the whole human being" — the Waldorf concept of the whole human being is occult. In Waldorf belief, whole humans have twelve senses, three invisible bodies, both souls and spirits, karmas, doppelgängers or doubles, spiritual connections to the zodiac, and other good occult stuff. The Waldorf curriculum focuses on these and on the all-important process of reincarnation. See, e.g., "What We Are", "Holistic Education", "Astrology", and "Incarnation". The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth.)
"Each Winter the whole school celebrates the Festival of Whitsun, or Pentecost,
in a hall beautifully bedecked with flying white doves made for the festival by the Lower School classes.
This is the festival of the Holy Spirit, the divine force that became an inner flame, giving inspiration to the Apostles,
so that they could carry Christianity into the world each with their own understanding, beyond distinctions of race or culture.
Twelve candles representing the twelve disciples are lit from one central candle by a child from each of our twelve classes."
— Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, downloaded 2-16-2011
“More Hawke's Bay primary schools have shown a lack of faith in the Government's National Standards [New Zealand] and are refusing to comply with the Ministry of Education's controversial directive.To understand what Steiner schools really intend, see, e.g.,"Incarnation", "Waldorf's Purpose", and "Spiritual Agenda". To consider why religious festivals are celebrated in Steiner schools, see, e.g., "Magical Arts". To consider the type of religion found in Steiner schools, see, e.g., "Sun God", "Occultism", and "Pagan". To examine the racial teachings of Rudolf Steiner, see, e.g., "Races".
“Ten Hawke's Bay schools have joined a nationwide coalition of nearly 300 school boards and principals, of which 95 per cent have rejected National Standards and continue to use traditional methods of setting targets and measuring student achievement.
“Taikura Rudolf Steiner, Omahu School and Poukawa School are the latest local schools to join the Boards Taking Action Coalition.” [2-16-2011 http://www.hawkesbaytoday.co.nz/local/news/more-schools-join-rebel-coalition/3940730/]
There are good reasons and bad reasons for opposing national education standards. Waldorf or Steiner schools stand in opposition for bizarre reasons. Steiner schools sometimes seem to be nonsectarian secular institutions, but they are not. Sometimes they seem to be nonsectarian Christian institutions, but they are not. Their policies are based on the occult, pagan teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Those teachings lead them to reject much of what is worst and also much of what is best in the modern world, including contemporary educational practices and modern knowledge. The result can sometimes be considerable embarrassment. As Steiner said to the faculty of the first Waldorf school after the students had been tested by outside authorities: “We should have no illusions: The results gave a very unfavorable impression of our school to people outside.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 725. Indeed, education as it is generally understood is not the primary objective for Waldorf faculties. According to Debra Snell, who sat on a Waldorf school board of directors, “I was stunned to arrive at the conclusion that the education of children — at least as I use the term ‘education’ — did not seem to be the school's most important focus and objective.”
"Pacific Justice Institute joins suit against Waldorf charter school
"What’s the definition of a religion?
"It sounds like a term paper assignment. But it’s also central question in [a] lawsuit that seeks to remove public funding from a pair of 'Waldorf-inspired' public charter schools that are part of the Sacramento City Unified School District [California, USA].
“The original lawsuit was first filed by a group called People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools (PLANS) back in 1998. The San Francisco-based group, which says they are largely made up of former Waldorf parents and students, claims that Waldorf schools teach a religious philosophy and therefore should not be eligible for taxpayer funding.
“...On Feb. 9, the Pacific Justice Institute filed papers with the court to join PLANS on an appeal. The conservative legal group files lawsuits to defend the rights of Christians, often suing school districts.
“'Here we have a set of beliefs, anthroposophy, which addresses the issue of life after death, espousing human-to-human reincarnation,' said the group’s president, Brad Dacus. 'It’s a mix of Hinduism, Gnostic Christianity, and medieval occultism.'
“...The Pacific Justice Institute has enlisted John Calvert, an attorney known for his work on church-state issues, in a further attempt to show that anthroposophy is a religion. Calvert said the operative feature is not having worshippers who show up every Sunday and donate money.
“'Religion is a broad concept,' as defined by the courts, Calvert said.
“In fact, as defined by case law, even atheism is a religion. The definition, he said, is any 'organized set of beliefs' around 'ultimate questions' such as the meaning and origin of life, and whether or not it continues after death. He said he hopes to show the anthroposophy qualifies.
“This, Calvert said, would clear the way for plaintiff attorneys to final introduce evidence around the curriculum taught in Waldorf school: 'The question of whether the school is promoting that religion, which is a completely different question.'” [2-14-2011 http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?_c=zhrdf7j4wex7a0&xid=zhrb07wx8ndx31&done=.zhrdf7j4wfj7a0]
To consider whether Anthroposophy is a religion, see the nicely titled page "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?" To consider why a pro-Christian group might oppose the teaching of Anthroposophy, see "Was He Christian?" To consider whether Anthroposophy is taught — overtly or covertly — in Waldorf schools, see "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda".
“With record growth of 37 percent, the German social and ecological GLS Bank recorded the biggest growth in its history last year. The business volume of the GLS Group, comprising the bank, foundation and investment company, has now risen to 2.4bn [2.4 billion] euros.” [2-15-2011 http://www.nna-news.org/news/en/]
Waldorf schools are the most prominent social extensions of Anthroposophy, but they are by no means the only such extensions. Anthroposophists are revolutionaries who work to remake the world in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s occult visions.
THE GLS bank is an Anthroposophical financial institution. “The GLS Bank was the first social and ecological bank in Germany. GLS stands for ‘Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken’, which translates as ‘community bank for loans and gifts’.” [http://www.gls.de/die-gls-bank/ueber-uns/gls-bank/english-portrait.html] “The bank was founded in 1974 and originally focused on ecologic, social and cultural projects, such as anthroposophic schools, Demeter farms and communal living projects. Over time, the focus has widened, thus including other independent schools (e.g. Montessori schools) and organic farms into its portfolio.” [http://www.gabv.org/Banks/GLS.htm]
“Anthroposophic schools” are, of course, Waldorf or Steiner schools. Demeter farms follow the agricultural practices laid down by Steiner. [See “Biodynamics”.] Anthroposophical “communal living projects” are often called Camphill communities. [See “Waldorf Now”.] Montessori schools are often mistaken for Waldorf schools but are in fact quite distinct. [See, e.g., “Ex-Teacher 5.”] To some degree, Montessori schools unintentionally provide "cover" for Waldorf schools, making both forms of education seem rational.
Anthroposophists undertake many good works for a variety of reasons, some of them wholly commendable. For better or worse, one goal is to inspire admiration among outsiders in order to win converts or at least to attain social acceptance. See, e.g., Franz Winkler’s OUR OBLIGATION TO RUDOLF STEINER IN THE SPIRIT OF EASTER (Whittier Books, 1955).
"Join our campaign here to make Steiner Education in Exeter free to everyone. Click here to support our application to become a Free School." [2-10-2011 http://www.exetersteinerschool.com/wordpress/2011/02/state-funding-proposal/]
Exeter Steiner School is one of the many Steiner schools in the UK that would gladly accept government funding. Among the advantages that would ensue: The school could dispense with tuition charges and thus extend its services even to poor households.
Whether the UK government would be wise to bankroll occultist academies is, of course, a different question. To comprehend the real nature of Steiner schools, see, e.g., "Here's the Answer" and "Coming Undone". To consider the propriety of providing state funding to such schools, see, e.g., "Why Waldorf Programs Are Unsuitable for Public Funding".
“In public schools, equal opportunity has become a thing of the past, survey says; Most of these programs exist [in] the public school system, which means that taxpayer money has been used to promote inequality in the education system — In more than half of Israel's cities and towns, public schools run private programs that violate the principle of equal educational opportunities for all ... According to Avi Kaminsky, the head of the forum of education department directors, this trend is hindering integration in Israeli schools. ‘Under the guise of educational distinction, these schools conduct admissions exams that are not always legal and charge high fees that prevent the weaker segments of the population from attending them,’ he said. He was referring to so-called magnet schools that specialize in specific areas study (such as nature, the arts, or science ) and to educational programs based on a unique pedagogic approach (for example, the democratic and anthroposophic schools).” [2-9-2011 http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/in-public-schools-equal-opportunity-has-become-a-thing-of-the-past-survey-says-1.342115]
Educational problems are much the same all around the globe, and Steiner schools tend more and more to figure in these problems. For democratic societies, free, universal, public education has been a great ideal, meant to create an informed electorate and to foster human equality. The United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and other democratic countries face an increasingly difficult set of decisions concerning the types of education that should be supported by the state. When funding for public schools is reduced, and/or when the nature of public education is corrupted by the inclusion of occultist or other bizarre educational programs, the very foundations of modern democratic states are endangered.
"On the first day of term, last Wednesday, just before 3pm, the school’s settlement agent rang through to let the school know that settlement had just taken place on Lot 60, Roland Road. Along with a few others who whooped with joy, Jo Blundell was in the office at the time. It was fitting that someone who had started the first 'Silver Tree' playgroup at her home should be on hand to receive the news that the school was now a landowner. It is a significant step for the school. Congratulations to all who have been a part of the journey." [2-8-2011 http://silvertree.wa.edu.au/2011/02/08/384/]
Many Waldorf and Steiner schools publish online and offline newsletters. They provide interesting — if, naturally, one-sided — accounts of life in the Waldorf community. This one is from the Silver Tree Steiner School in Australia.
[R. R., 2010.]
According to Waldorf belief, ordinary perception detects only the stick figures of reality,
whereas clairvoyance sees the big picture, including auras.
Clairvoyance may not be mentioned in typical Waldorf syllabi,
but nudging kids toward it — through imagination, inspiration, and intuition —
is a basic objective of Waldorf or Steiner education.
“A group of parents lobbying to have a Steiner school in the southwest by 2013 have flagged the former Dover Gardens Primary School site as a future location [SA, Australia] ... Steiner education focuses on development through a balance of academic, artistic and practical activities. Children are taught subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic in an environment that promotes imagination and free-thinking and discourages competitiveness. “ [2-9-2011 http://guardian-messenger.whereilive.com.au/news/story/new-dover-push/]
Do Steiner schools have a right to exist? Of course. But if one is proposed for your community, don’t settle for misleading plain-vanilla explanations of the Steiner approach. If promotional materials for the school do not include the words “occult” and “clairvoyance” (and almost certainly they will not be), much is being concealed — or at least some of the proponents of the new school are woefully uninformed. See, e.g. “Here’s the Answer”. (To consider “freedom” as comprehended by Rudolf Steiner’s followers, see “Freedom”.)
“A Day in the Life of a Waldorf School - Shining Rivers Waldorf School [St. Louis, USA] has provided holistic, experiential education since 1994 ... A gentle, homelike environment is created where beautiful storytelling and songs ignite the imagination for ample play with natural toys.” [2-7-2011 http://www.stlouiskidsmagazine.com/content/day-life-waldorf-school]
School days at Waldorf schools are often quite pleasant. With little academic pressure put on them, Waldorf students play and relax in an atmosphere of myth and beauty. It can be delightful.
Whether real education occurs there may, however, be a different matter. And, even more to the point, you should ask yourself whether something hidden or occult is happening within the pleasant Waldorf atmosphere. “Imagination,” in Waldorf language, is often a code word for clairvoyance, the form of “higher” thinking that is meant to allow direct perception of the higher worlds. This is the acknowledged goal of Anthroposophy. It is also a generally unacknowledged goal of Waldorf education: “The artistic element, then, begins to be the guide to the first stage of exact clairvoyance — that of imagination.” — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 64. (Here we see Steiner acknowledging. But how many Waldorf schools acknowledge? Steiner taught his followers to guard their secrets, and often they — including Waldorf teachers — give high priority to concealment. See, e.g., “Secrets” and "Clues".)
Waldorf schools often use terminology that obscures more than it reveals. To consider what “holistic education” is, in a Waldorf context, see “Holistic Education.”
“Some professional educators talk about rote learning as if it were a bad thing. Like the person who wrote this advertisement for a school in Philadelphia: ‘In Waldorf schools children learn by doing and by interacting rather than by wrote memorization. [sic]’ Memorization and rote learning are not trade-offs for ‘doing and interacting.’ All have their place in the educational process. For example: learning the difference between the words rote and wrote requires a little rote memorization.” [2-9-2011 http://americanenglishdoctor.com/wordpress/?p=2001]
Indeed, some sorts of knowledge can be learned only by rote. Waldorf schools generally downplay such learning because they disparage much real-world knowledge. Indeed, they generally agree with their founder that the brain and its workings are of very little account. “Within the brain nothing at all exists of the nature of thought." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Kessinger, facsimile of 1929 edition), p. 88. Indeed, they value "higher" forms of knowledge and thought, which shift the focus from the brain to higher, invisible organs: "Thoughts and feelings of a new kind and unknown before will be noticed uprising in the soul ... And just as the eyes and ears of the physical body are built by natural forces out of living matter, so will the organs of clairvoyance build themselves out of the feelings and thoughts thus evoked.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1944), p. 28.
That's what Steiner wrote. (You can learn it by rote, if you please. But that would be a mistake. “The intellect destroys or hinders.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophical Press, 1995), p. 233. “A man who would receive Anthroposophy with his intellect kills it in the very act.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE, NATURE, AND CULTIVATION OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, 1963), p. 15. So knuckle down to develop your organs of clairvoyance.)
“In a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning, kindergartners sprinkled both water and wishes on the vacant lot that will soon house the Waldorf School of Orange County's new $2-million building [California, USA] ... The seven students in the senior class, three of whom have been at the school since they were in pre-K, were honored with digging the first hole ... The building will be made out of shipping containers....” [2-8-2011 http://www.dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-0209-groundbreaking-20110208,0,1176235.story]
The school is celebrating its use of shipping containers as a "green" approach, and perhaps it is. But financial considerations may also play a role. These days, $2 million doesn't go far. Some Waldorf schools have great financial resources — some of the earliest Waldorf schools in the USA were underwritten by H. A. W. Myrin, for instance. [See ONE MAN’S VISION: In Memoriam, H.A.W. Myrin (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1970).] Others have had to scrape by on more modest budgets.
“You might want to explore your feelings for Rudolph [sic] Steiner. Steiner was once called ‘the most dangerous man on the planet’ by Adolph [sic] Hitler. Steiner had a group of people that were having conscious out-of-body experiences (OBE's, astral projection) to keep tabs on Hitler and his activities. The Nazi's actually burned Rudolph Steiner's center at Dornach when it was made of wood, so Steiner re-built it out of concrete. He was an amazing guy.
“The Akashic Records have helped me see who I am, where I come from, what I'm doing here ... [W]e tend to incarnate with the same souls over and over again ... I've exchanged resources/energy/understanding between lifetimes....” [http://www.stevepavlina.com/forums/psychic-paranormal/45267-akashic-records-questions-support-12.html]
Steiner’s admirers and followers truly believe in clairvoyance, the Akashic Record (an invisible celestial storehouse of knowledge), reincarnation, and so on. They also exchange enormous amounts of misinformation about more mundane matters, such as the “arson” at the Goetheanum. (The building burned, but no arson was ever proven, much less Nazi involvement.) As for Hitler’s attitude toward Steiner, and vice versa, you might look at “Sympathizers?”
“We are working on increasing the visibility of all anthroposophical websites by encouraging cross-linking. To add your information click on Add Your Site at the top of the page. This will open the online submission form.” [http://www.rsarchive.org/Links/index.php?PHPSESSID=eu2iq0ugbgeu46vnm9tq74m6q7]
The Rudolf Steiner Archive has what it calls “a very powerful link farm or search engine” for all things Anthroposophical (except criticism thereof).
There are attractive components in Waldorf education and the thinking behind it. There are also unattractive — even vile — components. Racism is one. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".]
"My son was taught a very disturbing lesson in physiology class [at a Waldorf school]. He reported to me that he was taught that 'the blood of Europeans is more evolved than the blood of Africans and Asians' ... In an attempt to stop me from posting more about this, [a Waldorf teacher] agreed to meet with me to discuss the lesson that was taught to my son and the possibility of racism surfacing [in] Waldorf education." [2-7-2011 http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2011/02/racism-conference-emails.html]
I might add that when I was a Waldorf student, I too was taught that the blood of white people is superior to the blood of other races. [See "I Went to Waldorf".]
"The Mountain School is a non-profit Waldorf inspired, permaculture/biodynamic farm, wilderness and Steiner methods school nestled in the northern Rocky Mountains of southern central Idaho [USA] ... The school currently enrolls thirty-six students ... The Mountain School currently operates as a unique hybrid of a traditional Waldorf school model combined with a one room school house model ... Requirements [for teaching applicants]: Demonstrated experience as a Waldorf certified grades teacher ... Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.” [2-7-2011 http://jobs.waldorfteachers.com/job/3839/one-room-school-house-grades-teacher-at-the-mountain-school/]
Some Waldorf schools attempt to seem more or less conventional, so as to deflect opposition. Others are dramatically different from ordinary schools. A "permaculture/biodynamic farm, wilderness and Steiner methods school" surely falls into the latter category.
Many Waldorf schools are extremely small. This can mean that students receive a lot of individual attention. It can also mean that the students are isolated from the wide world and thus are primed for Anthroposophical indoctrination.
Teachers at Waldorf schools are not necessarily qualified educators. “Waldorf certification” is very different from the official certification needed to teach in public schools — it often means attending unaccredited Waldorf teacher training programs while skipping college. [See, e.g., “Teacher Training”.] Note that The Mountain School is not looking for applicants with Master's degrees (MA's or MEd's). The school will consider applicants who have undergraduate college degrees “or equivalent.” This sets the bar very low. Teachers accepted on the basis of such standards may know almost nothing about the real world aside from whatever they picked up in high school. And if they attended Waldorf high schools...
“Race to Nowhere | Varsity Theater, Sponsored by Emerson Waldorf School [North Carolina, USA] ... February 10, 2011.” [2-7-2011 http://www.racetonowhere.com/screenings/varsity-theater-sponsored-emerson-waldorf-school]
Waldorf schools eagerly promote the film RACE TO NOWHERE. They endorse the film’s thesis that students in conventional schools are placed under great pressure to “succeed” academically when that “success” is hollow and the pursuit of it creates many damaging effects. “RACE TO NOWHERE points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.” [http://www.racetonowhere.com/about-film]
There is much to be said for this thesis. American public schools do indeed have important problems that need to be addressed. But this does not mean that all alternatives are better. It specifically does not mean that Waldorf schools are better.
Many people choose Waldorf schools because of what they are not — that is, because Waldorfs are not public schools of the kind depicted in the movie. But don’t fail to consider what Waldorf schools are — that is, institutions steeped in occultism. Waldorf or Steiner schools operate in accordance with the teachings of their founder, Rudolf Steiner, who was an occultist. [See "Occultism".]
Choose Waldorf education only if you understand what it is all about and if you agree with the occult Waldorf worldview. See “Here’s the Answer”, “Spiritual Agenda”, “Soul School”, and “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness.”
Oak Meadow is a Waldorf school offering online instruction as well as homeschooling materials.
“Oak Meadow is touted by many as a secular Waldorf inspired curriculum and for many it is Waldorf enough. However, for people who want a true Waldorf education this program has disappointed many. The benefits of the program are that they don't push the child to learn too much too fast ... The program is laid back and not rigorous ... The concept of the curriculum is fantastic, but the reality is that it is not exactly how the curriculum turns out to be. For example, in 2nd grade reading you are barely getting past reading 3 letter words. Some people love it and others really dislike it. If you don't mind things moving at a slow pace then you will probably be in the first group.” [2-6-2011 http://hubpages.com/hub/Oak-Meadow]
The crucial question — one that bears on the efforts to create Waldorf charter schools and free schools — is whether it is possible to create a “secular” curriculum based on the Waldorf model. Waldorf teacher training usually includes extensive instruction in Anthroposophical occultism. [See, e.g., “Teacher Training".] Steiner himself stated that Waldorf teachers should be “true Anthroposophists” who are deeply devoted to the Anthroposophical worldview. [See, e.g., “Here’s the Answer”.] Efforts to make Waldorf schooling seem unconnected to occultism have usually been little more than ploys. Advocates of Waldorf education are quite aware of the need for good public relations. [See, e.g., "PR".]
If you try to strip the occultism out of the Waldorf approach, what are you left with? Very little. Every part of the Waldorf curriculum and Waldorf methodology is rooted in occultism. [See, e.g., “Curriculum” and “Methods”.] The reason kids aren’t taught to read until they are seven, for instance, is that Waldorf teachers are waiting for the kids' “etheric bodies” to incarnate. If you don’t believe in such occult nonsense as etheric bodies, then there is no reason to postpone reading lessons. Indeed, postponing such lessons may be permanently harmful, depriving children of the benefits of early-childhood education.
Waldorf schools emphasize art (for occult reasons — see “Magical Arts”), they put little academic pressure on the students (for occult reasons — see “Academic Standards at Waldorf” and "Thinking Cap"), they emphasize fairy tales and myths (for occult reasons — see “Fairy Tales” and “The Gods”), they aim to educate the whole child (for occult reasons — see “Holistic Education”), and so on. You can imitate these procedures, and perhaps your children will derive benefits. Certainly art is a good thing, and kids can be pushed too hard, and myths are often quite nice, and educating the heart and hands as well as the head sounds right. But you don’t need to turn to Waldorf schools to make such decisions. A better strategy is to get to know your children, understand what they need, and try to provide it.
"Secular" Waldorf programs are generally geared to the occult agenda of Waldorf education — manifestation of the etheric body, manifestation of the astral body, development of initial stages of clairvoyance, etc. — without say so. In other words, they are not secular at all; they have generally misrepresented themselves. But this is standard for all types of Waldorf schools — they almost always conceal their purposes. [See "Spiritual Agenda".] It is not hard to dig below the Oak Meadow surface to find Steiner's occultism. Thus, the most significant of Steiner's educational principles is that children develop through three seven-year stages. [See "Most Significant".] In the first stage, children develop their physical bodies and their wills; in the second stage, children develop their etheric bodies while living mainly through their emotions; in the the third stage, when they develop their astral bodies and they finally gain the ability to start thinking for themselves. While avoiding the weirdest parts of this terminology, Oak Meadow embraces the schedule: "
Oak Meadow's attitude toward computers is intricate. "[T]he workplace of the future will require good computer skills. Therefore, we want Oak Meadow students to learn to use computers effectively." ["Oak Meadow and Computers" [http://www.oakmeadow.com/resources/articles/oms-computers.php].] But typical Anthroposophical concerns nonetheless crop up. • Oak Meadow suggest that children not use computers until they are at least 11 or 12 years old. • The school worries that computers may inhibit "[l]earning that transforms the individual, which is the kind of learning Oak Meadow encourages." • And the school is concerned that using computers "tends to inhibit the development of the will and the integration of mind and body." ["Homeschooling and Computers", http://www.oakmeadow.com/resources/articles/homeschooling-computers.php].] In Anthroposophy, the will is considered a separate faculty [see "Will"], and the integration of mind and body is part of the overall process of incarnation that lies at the heart of Waldorf schooling. Computers, and indeed all forms of modern technology, are viewed askance; they are generally associated with the demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]
Disclosure statement: Lawrence Williams, of Oak Meadow, taught at the Waldorf school I attended, but not during my years there. He greatly admired our headmaster, John Fentress Gardner: "“There was nothing in Rudolf Steiner that [famed American authors] Thoreau and Emerson and Whitman would not have approved wholeheartedly.” — John Fentress Gardner, “The Founding of Adelphi’s Waldorf School,” ONE MAN’S VISION: In Memoriam, H.A.W. Myrin (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1970), p. 46. Many years after the school was founded, Mr. Gardner' stated his purpose this way: "I minimized the difference between a Waldorf school and other schools ... As soon as fundamental questions began to be answered plainly, wild rumors and frightened guesses quieted down.” [Ibid., p. 48.] Sadly, many of Mr. Gardner's "plain" answers were untrue.
Don't believe everything you read. The obvious question, at least concerning Waldorf schools, is whether the schools produce geniuses, or whether you need to be a genius to emerge from a Waldorf school with your head still screwed on right.
"You’ve heard of Montessori and Waldorf schools right? These are typically schools that embrace an advanced learning style. People have joked about these schools for years, calling them 'schools for geniuses'." [2-4-2011 http://www.usedyacht.us/tag/waldorf-schools/]
Former Waldorf students are often quite interesting (sez I, a former Waldorf student).
"[My] Qualifications • Three years’ primary schooling at the Waldorf School (Rudolf Steiner), Washington, D.C. (USA). Subjects studied: eurythmic dancing, theater, playing the recorder, Norse mythology, locating and capturing fairies." [2-6-2011 http://heddigoodrich.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-new-resume.html]
Like other Steiner schools, St. Paul's uses — presumably in all sincerity — some noble language.
Children are to be received with reverence because they have lately arrived from the spirit realm.
See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda". For background on other relevant Anthroposophical concepts
— such as the peculiar Anthroposophical take on "freedom" —
"We are committed and actively working towards state-funded status for our school [St. Paul's Steiner School, London, UK]. Our school has been visited by a number of prominent politicians from all the major political parties who have expressed their support for our work. We need to be able to show the level of interest in a state-funded Steiner school in our area. Please follow the link below to register your interest and encourage as many of your friends and relatives to do likewise. By participating in this petition now you will be making a very important contribution to our campaign." [2-5-2011 http://www.stpaulssteinerschool.org/?p=299]
Efforts continue to have Waldorf or Steiner schools accepted into public education systems, thus receiving public financing. For some background on the "free schools" movement in the United Kingdom, see "Coming Undone".
“I used to be a firm believer in charter schools. I was a firm believer that Waldorf methods were the best. So I enrolled my children in a Waldorf Methods Charter School ... After the two years of kindergarten that are required there, my kids were six and didn't know any numbers and couldn't read a single word ... When my daughter was in ‘first’ grade, she was painting and singing songs, which is awesome, but no education was getting done ... [M]y kids would come home with cuts and bruises all the time and there would be no explanation from the staff ... I discontinued enrollment there and enrolled my kids in a great public school ... [T]he support staff [there] are actually engaged in the children's interests ... The clincher was when my mom visited (she has a master's in education) and spent a few days with them at their Waldorf school and said it was garbage.” [2-5-2011 http://hubpages.com/hub/Why-Public-School-is-Better]
Different families have different experiences, of course. It is wise to consider reports from all quarters. The report I have quoted may prompt an informative discussion.
Defenders of Waldorf education argue that Waldorf students catch up with — or possibly surpass — students at conventional school by the end of high school if not sooner. This may be true in some cases, especially if the comparison is to students in poor public schools. But it is certainly untrue in many other cases, especially if the comparison is to students in excellent public schools. Note, too, that to work as intended, the Waldorf method essentially requires you consign your child to many, many years in a Waldorf school (K-12 or pre-K-12). By the end of that time, even if the child has managed to get a more or less acceptable academic education, the spiritual effects of Waldorf — for good or ill — may be deeply ingrained. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf” and "Indoctrination".]
Waldorf schools can harm the minds and spirits of children, shepherding them toward mysticism. The schools can also damage physical health, as in their general opposition to vaccination. [For the basis of this opposition, see “Steiner’s Quackery”.] In partial extenuation of the schools’ behavior, we should note than many parents today mistakenly oppose vaccination, and such parents often find Waldorf schools attractive, seeing in them a reflection of their own countercultural, “alternative” lifestyles. Thus, the high rates of non-vaccination among Waldorf students often reflects a choice made by the parents as much as — or more than — by the schools themselves.
“Sonoma County [California, USA] school and public health officials are gearing up for a large-scale immunization campaign aimed at getting an estimated 15,000 preteen and teen students vaccinated for whooping cough ... Last June, California declared a statewide pertussis epidemic after 910 cases and five infant deaths were documented within six months. For the entire year of 2010, 8,627 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were documented, the largest number of cases in 63 years, state officials said ... In 2008, the 300-student East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante, which has a low percentage of immunized students, was closed after at least 16 children came down with whooping cough.” [2-4-2011 http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110204/ARTICLES/110209674/1350?p=1&tc=pg]
“’Rhythm of the Day’ in a Waldorf Kindergarten ... As part of SimpleHomeschool’s ‘A Day in the Life’ series, I have contributed another guest post which appears today: ‘A Day in the Life of a Waldorf Kindergarten.’ I describe the ‘Rhythm of the Day’ in a Waldorf kindergarten classroom ... Seasonally, the children would experience the ‘Rhythm of the Year’ by preparing for and celebrating the festivals of the year — Michaelmas in September, All Hallow’s Eve, Martinmas, Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and May Day ... As human beings, we are creatures of rhythm — from the moment we are born, our hearts beat, our blood pulses, and our lungs beat to a steady rhythm. We give children a gift and nourish their healthy development by being mindful of a young child’s need for rhythm, and offering them consistency, and the comfort of knowing what comes next, as we move through our days, weeks, and years together with them.” [2-4-2011 http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2011/waldorf-kindergarten.html]
Much Waldorf thinking is attractive, as are many Waldorf practices. To decide whether such thinking and practices are right for your child, be sure to look beneath the attractive surfaces.
Waldorf schools emphasize rhythm for the same reasons they emphasize arts, imagination, and emotion while de-emphasizing intellect. Rudolf Steiner taught that truth comes through clairvoyance, not thinking. Rhythmic, artistic activities and states lead toward clairvoyance, he taught. (He taught that evolution occurs in rhythmic cycles, and individual human lives recapitulate these cycles. Our current period is leading us toward heightened clairvoyant powers — which he claimed to possess already.)
The festivals celebrated in Waldorf schools are essentially religious observances. Many seem to be Christian, although the Waldorf concept of Christ is not at all what one finds in Christian churches. [See “Was He Christian?”] Most of the festivals are, in fact, rooted in pagan beliefs, as are some of the colorful events associated with festivals, such as maypole dances (which were originally pagan fertility rites).
Do all Waldorf teachers understand the occult and pagan roots of Waldorf practices? Surely not. But any who have received extensive Waldorf teacher training do understand, and they have often made a deep commitment to Anthroposophical dogma. [See “Teacher Training”.] Try to be sure that you understand and accept Waldorf beliefs before joining a Waldorf community. [For more on festivals, see “Magical Arts”.]
• “We are thinking of moving to Sweden from the UK and was wondering if anyone has had any experience (positive and negative) of the Waldorf Schools in Sweden? Thanks “
• “There are lots of Waldorf free schools in Sweden - but unlike the UK they are required to follow the Swedish National Curriculum if they take kommun funding and therefore must offer schooling free of charge”
• “I went for a job interview once at one and it was so bad. They only employ teachers who think it's fair to be paid 14 000 kr a month the head master explained. As a result, most of the teachers are not qualified and the language lesson I witnessed was a joke.” [2-4-2011 http://www.thelocal.se/discuss/index.php?showtopic=38654]
Discussions of this sort can be instructive, even if you are not particularly interested in the particular school or region under discussion. Waldorf or Steiner schools differ from one another in some ways, but they also share many important underlying values — especially the occult doctrines of Rudolf Steiner. Following such discussions can provide a rounded comprehension of the overall Waldorf school movement.
• “Waldorf school - opinions? DH works in Film, I think that could be a big problem because of the media rules? Looking for super creative education for DH. also At what age do I start dealing with this stuff for real.”
• “I'd recommend visiting and if you are thinking of the elementary school, talk to parents of older kids as well. We decided that early ed was a perfect fit for our DS but don't think grades program would have worked for him.”
• “I love waldorf the most for the early years--birth through age 6 or 7 — so you can start dealing with this stuff for real right now — read Simplicity Parenting for an idea on how to do this. Waldorf has really nurturing rhythms and rituals that are wonderful for small children. My big issue with Waldorf is the way they 'teach' reading. I've written about it in previous posts and if you search around the internet you'll find tons of stories of parents whose learning disabled children never got any intervention and didn't learn to read AT ALL in Waldorf schools.”
• “My son is currently attending a Waldorf school (for nursery school) and he has really benefited from it ... I think that very often parents have problems in the older grades because of the fact that the [sic: they?] teach reading later ... I do know kids who have attended through 8th grade and then went on to a traditional prep school and not only did they feel prepared, but they were incredibly grounded, self aware, and had healthy self-esteem."
• “If you want the Manhattan's Waldorf school, I would say go public and save the money” [2-4-2011 http://www.urbanbaby.com/talk/posts/52627680]
This is a discussion at UrbanBaby. The “media rules” referred to reflect the Waldorf aversion to modern technology — TV, computers, and so on. [See “Ahriman”.]
Discussions of this sort may become overloaded with comments posted by Anthroposophists who roam the Web, searching for opportunities to offset criticisms of Waldorf schools. Nonetheless, reading and even participating in such the discussions can be useful.
Bear in mind, individual experiences vary, sometimes vastly. Some students and parents love Waldorf schools, some feel precisely the opposite. You should be clear about what you want from a school, and you should compare Waldorf values and beliefs to your own.
"Cathy was a waldorf/steiner school mother. Sune Nordwall thinks it’s fair game to hound her for voicing criticism. He thinks it’s all right to speculate about who she is and where she lives (with her family and young children), despite our explaining, over and over again, why this is very harmful and also entirely unnecessary (he has nothing to gain from it — except the pleasure of intimidation). He has created websites about her, and is writing all sorts of nasty stuff about her." [2-1-2011 http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/why-would-the-swedish-waldorf-school-federation-want-to-support-this/]
Anthroposophists think they are on a divine mission. Thus, Steiner told Waldorf teachers that they serve the gods and are the conduit for the gods' divine plan. [See "Here's the Answer".] Anthroposophists often vigorously defend their efforts on behalf of the gods. Sune Nordwall is one of the most active of these defenders.
Steiner taught his followers to believe that they are surrounded by enemies. "[O]ur enemies are springing up on every side...” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRETS OF THE THRESHOLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), “Words of Welcome”. [See, e.g., "Enemies".]
Steiner also warned his followers about dark conspiracies threatening the forces of virtue. “[T]here are the closed secret brotherhoods of a nasty kind whose very aim is not to let wisdom enter into humanity, so that people will remain stupid and foolish as far as the spiritual world is concerned...." — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS and the Mystery of the Human Double (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 108. [See, e.g., "Double Trouble".]
And Steiner warned against subhuman monsters (but he told his followers to stay mum about this, for fear of offending people). "Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings ... [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. Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is large enough already.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 650.
Faced with such dreadful opponents, Anthroposophists sometimes employ questionable tactics. This is something you may want to bear in mind when evaluating statements Anthroposophists occasionally make about people they perceive as their enemies.
“The Creative Word ... We must continually search for and speak only that which is circumspectly true. This will help to heal what ills our time has wrought. We must endeavor to cultivate alive, warm, holy and true pictures and thoughts about human beings and the universe. ” [2-3-2011 LeeAnn Ernandes, quoted by the Eugene Waldorf School athttp://www.eugenewaldorf.org/blog/entry/the_creative_word/]
Quotations like this give us an opportunity to peek behind the scenes at Waldorf schools.
In the Waldorf belief system, language has extraordinary power. The words we speak — indeed, the ideas we formulate — have religious ("holy") effects, rising into the spirit realm where they become actual living beings. This is why, for instance, many Waldorf teachers believe that Shakespeare’s characters are alive and walking around in the spirit realm. “When you make Shakespearean characters living in that sense [i.e., by staging them correctly], you can raise them into the supersensible [i.e., supernatural[ world where they remain living. Of course, they do not do in the higher worlds what they do on the physical plane, but they remain alive, nevertheless, and they act there.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 336-337.
Bad thoughts and bad speech create bad spiritual beings, such as phantoms. Frighteningly, phantoms do not remain in the spirit realm but descend to assail us here. We create phantoms “through the effect of lying and slander ... Such beings...now flit and whirr about in our world and belong to a class that we call ‘phantoms.’" — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 83-84.
Because speech is so potent, in the future we will use our larynxes instead of wombs to give birth. “The larynx is the future organ of procreation and birth. At present we give birth to words through it, but in future this seed will develop the capacity to give birth to the whole human being once we have become spiritualized.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 50.
Anyhoo... These are a few of the beliefs cherished by Anthroposophists, including members of Waldorf faculties. I just thought you’d like to know. (It may also be useful to consider these things in the context of the item above. Anthroposophists who speak untruths — which they often do in order to promote their messianic movement — may unwittingly create horrific results, at least according to their own belief system.)
[Bennett & Hastings Publishing, 2009.]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009.]
• “I used to think that Waldorf Education was the most undamaging education, but then the more I have looked into it, I found it the most beneficial system we have.” [2-1-2011 http://phillywaldorf.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/a-humanist-talks-about-waldorf-education/]
• “ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY is a simple and concise guide to astrology viewed through the spiritual principles set forth by Rudolf Steiner.” [2-2-2011 http://www.iyares.com/links/?q=Astrology+Anthroposophy]
These two items may lead to interesting ruminations about Waldorf education. Is it beneficial or bonkers?
Here is one simple way to think about the issue. Waldorf schooling is based in Anthroposophy, which affirms astrology. Not any old astrology, of course — but the “real, genuine” astrology as presented by Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner.
Consider the following statements made by Steiner:
“[T]he old, real, and genuine Astrology expresses itself in the destinies of men.” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIANISM AND MODERN INITIATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), lecture 3, GA 233a.
"The truth underlying the casting of a horoscope is that those who know these things can read the forces which determine a person's physical existence.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE OF MAN AND HUMANITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1970), lecture 3.
Also consider the following statement made by one of Steiner’s more prolific defenders:
“[C]an these intentions [of the gods] be read in a horoscope? ... On occasions [Steiner] himself made use of horoscopes as we can see in the case of the ‘special needs’ children.” — Margaret Jonas, introduction to ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009) a collection of Steiner lectures and extracts, pp. 2-3.
So you decide. Can such a worldview like this produce a beneficial educational system?
(If you'd care to dig deeper, both ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY and ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY are available through the Rudolf Steiner College bookshop [http://www.steinercollege.edu/store/pages.php?pageid=2].)
“The former Gold Ridge Elementary School campus in Rohnert Park next next fall will become home to the first public Waldorf-inspired high school in the North Bay [California, USA] ... The Waldorf name is trademarked and affiliated with private schools that adhere to a philosophy of an arts-heavy curriculum that is based on a student’s natural developmental progress.” [2-1-2011 http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110201/ARTICLES/110209945/1350?Title=Rohnert-Park-sponsors-Waldorf-style-charter-high-school]
Many well-intentioned people are drawn to Waldorf schooling. Some of them know what Waldorf schools are really about; many do not, at least not initially.
Why do Waldorf schools emphasize art? Because, according to Waldorf belief, art helps prepare students to develop clairvoyance. “The artistic element, then, begins to be the guide to the first stage of exact clairvoyance — that of imagination.” — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 64. [See, e.g., "Magical Arts".]
What are the developmental stages children pass through, according Waldorf belief? They are seven-year-long phases during which children recapitulate the spiritual evolution of mankind during Old Saturn and other “planetary stages.” “If you recall the teachings of Spiritual Science on the subject of the education of the child you will know that in the first seven-year period of life...man develops principally the physical body ... [T]his is really a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Saturn ... The second of the seven-year periods...is a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Sun ... The third seven-year period...recapitulates the development of the astral body that normally belongs to the Old Moon epoch.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 68. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".]
Gravitate to Waldorf schools if you like. But do it with your eyes open. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer".]
"’Waldorf Education for All’ - A new film from Eugene Schwartz and Hagens Recording Studios - ‘Waldorf Education for All,’ which highlights students and teachers from four Waldorf-inspired charter schools in Northern California premiered at the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education annual conference in Fair Oaks, CA on January 15. Coordinated by Eugene Schwartz, the film is the third in a series that he has made with Hagens Recording Studios.” [2-1-2011 Waldorf Teachers.com; see http://millennialchild.com/]
Eugene Schwartz is a vigorous proselytizer for Waldorf education. He often stresses the pleasures and warmth to be found in Waldorf classrooms. This is not quite the same as demonstrating that Waldorf schools provide a good education, but of course he argues that they do that, too.
This film is evidently the first to focus on Waldorf charter schools. The acceptance of Waldorf schools (which are based upon Anthroposophical occultism) into public school systems is clearly questionable. In the United States, it may actually violate the Constitution. Any Waldorf or Waldorf-inspired school that adheres closely to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner is a religious institution. [See, e.g., “Prayers”, “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", and “Soul School”.]
Schwartz will sell you his film, in DVD format, for $20. [http://millennialchild.com/dvds/wefa.html]
The victims of natural disasters certainly deserve aid. Whether the people of Brazil or anywhere else deserve Waldorf schools may be a different matter. Charitable organizations such as the Red Cross doubtlessly provide better channels for giving aid. [http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/feature/brasil-feature-cooperation-100908.htm]
“Please donate: Brazilian Waldorf schools struggle to recover after mudslide devastation — A series of floods and mudslides took place on January 11-12 in several towns of the Mountainous Region (Região Serrana), in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro ... Over the past few days we have been in contact with the director and teachers from two Waldorf Schools in Nova Friburgo, which is in the hardest hit area ... “Several families of our school community have disappeared in the disaster. Other families have lost literally everything and have to build everything “from zero”. The school itself has not been destroyed, but serves as an emergency shelter to many directly affected people.‘” [2-1-2011 http://www.dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-0202-trees-20110131,0,2520007.story]