WALDORF / STEINER 

NEWS ARCHIVE


February, 2013









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.





















Anthroposophy, which undergirds Waldorf education, is the religion patched together by Rudolf Steiner.

 

The Anthroposophical headquarters — the cathedral called the Goetheanum — contains a large wooden statue of Christ, identified by Steiner as the Sun God. Also represented are the arch-demons Ahriman and Lucifer. According to Anthroposophical doctrine, Christ mediates between the two demons, converting the temptations they offer us into valuable gifts. Ahriman wants to drag us down into materialism while Lucifer tries to lure us into false spirituality. Christ finds the proper balance between these impulses and thus shows us the way toward our proper evolutionary path.





The central section of the statue. Christ stands erect.
Lucifer hovers in the upper left, 
Ahriman crouches in the lower left.


Anthroposophical religious beliefs generally lurk behind even the most innocent-seeming
announcements and proposals emanating from Waldorf schools.
 




 

The March, 2013 issues of INFORM 

— the newsletter of the Association of 

Waldorf Schools of North America — 

contains the following announcement:


 


SCREEN-FREE 

WEEK 

APRIL 29-MAY 5, 

2013 


On April 29- May 5, children around the world 

will celebrate Screen-Free Week (formerly TV- 

Turnoff) by turning off entertainment screen 

media (TVs, computers, video games) and 

turning on the world around them.  The 

Association for Waldorf Schools of North 

America continues to be an endorser of Screen- 

Free Week, as do all our Waldorf schools and 

communities in North America.  


 



 

Response:

Multiple items previously presented here, on the Waldorf Watch news page, have discussed the Waldorf/Steiner aversion to high technology and its products, especially televisions and computers. Although there are rational reasons for limiting the amount of time children spend staring at flickering electronic screens, Rudolf Steiner’s followers fear technology for a wholly irrational reason: They associate it with the arch-demon Ahriman.


Below is one rather mild example of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings about Ahriman and technology. Steiner said that most intellectual and technological activities have no place in the spirit realm. When we die, we leave these things behind — we do not even retain clear images or understanding of these things. Likewise, our spiritual mentors, gods one and two levels above us (Angels and Archangels) also have no truck with intellectual and technological matters. The only spiritual beings who really grasp intellect and technology are Ahriman and his minions.


“In [the] world of the dead there is, for example, neither writing nor reading; there are no aeroplanes, no motor cars  ... We can carry over from one earthly life to another [life] our experiences associated with the motor car, but not the [plans for the] construction of the car itself ... The spiritual beings with whom man is in direct contact [i.e., angels] cannot do it and therefore we as human beings cannot do it either ... [But there are] beings who are able by virtue of their Ahrimanic cosmic forces to understand modern techniques such as the construction of a motor car.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 8, GA 243.


Ahriman and Lucifer are the two chief demons in Steiner’s theology. They are interesting characters. Steiner sometimes described them as thoroughly evil and intent on the destruction of humanity. He taught, for instance, that Ahriman and Lucifer have their own provinces of evil in the spirit realm (which consists of multiple levels and worlds). Ahriman reigns in “the evil Lower Devachan", while Lucifer rules over “the evil astral world.” [See “Evil Ones”.]


During our lives on Earth, Steiner taught, we must be ever-vigilant against the wiles and temptations of Ahriman and Lucifer. Steiner taught that Ahriman is particularly terrible, trying to lure us entirely away from spirituality into the gross emptiness of physical existence, where such delusions as intellect and technology loom so large. If we fall to Ahriman, we will lose our souls.


"[T]oday...the spirit-soul is asleep. The human being is thus in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls to materialistic impulses. This is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115. [See Ahriman”.]


So, Ahriman is evil. However, Steiner also sometimes taught that the demons are not truly bad, just different. They evolved differently from the good gods, and indeed they can be used for good purposes by the good gods. Thus, for instance, if Angels or Archangels ever want to know how to build a motor car, they can get this information from the Ahrimanic beings who understand such lowly matters. 


The good gods “must enlist into their service others who had long been alien to them, who had experienced a totally different evolution ... These beings with their different evolution I have called in my books, Ahrimanic beings. “ — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION, lecture 8.


Demons can serve the good gods, and the demons' knowledge — such as knowledge of automobiles or computers — is not always, wholly tainted by wickedness. The use of technological products is thus not always wrong or soul-destroying. Still, according to Steiner, the things of Ahriman and his tribe are extremely dangerous and we should always be on guard against their vile effects. This is why, for instance, the Archangel Michael fights on our behalf against Ahriman. Michael is a good god and Ahriman is one of his foes. [See “Michael”.] Indeed, the good gods stand confronted with evil and they must wage war against it. Although Ahriman and Lucifer sometimes convey valuable gifts, we must not delude ourselves about the harm demons may inflict. There are good spiritual beings and evil spiritual beings. 


“[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. 


For more on Lucifer, Ahriman, and evil spirits, see “Lucifer”, “Ahriman”, and “Evil Ones”. For more on the Anthroposophical conception of Christ, see "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".

As for the demonic quality of technology, I will repeat a few quotations we saw here recently. ALL technology is potentially destructive, even primitive steam engines.

• “In constructing steam engines an opportunity is...provided for the incarnation of demons ... In steam engines, Ahrimanic demons are brought right down to the point of physical incorporation.” — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).


• "[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time ... [T]elevision, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings and demons are constantly on the increase."  — Georg Unger, ibid.


• “The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web. And fallen spirits of darkness...are active in this web.” — Anthroposophist Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24.


So switch off your devilish gizmos. Waldorf schools often have "media policies" that direct students' families to severely limit if not wholly reject use of televisions, computers, and such. Likewise, such appliances are almost never found in Waldorf schools. The ban on computer use is lifted slightly, at some Waldorf schools, in the highest grades — but even this small nod to reality in the 21st century is generally grudging.



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This 2011 photo provided by the Fellowship Community 
shows the Child's Garden at the Fellowship Community, 
a nonprofit group in a commune-like setting north of 
New York City in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. 
It takes an unusual approach to care of the elderly, 
and seeks to integrate aging residents with other members of the group, 
including co-workers and their children. 
(AP Photo/Fellowship Community, Miklos Gratzer)




Half-gallon jugs await fresh milk at the Fellowship Community's 
dairy barn in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. 
Residents of the community's adult home are encouraged 
to contribute to the community by working at the dairy, 
the pottery studio, the 33-acre farm and other activities. 
(AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)



For the Aging, a Commune-Like Alternative in NY


By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press
CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. February 26, 2013 (AP)


At the Fellowship Community's adult home, workers are paid not according to what they do, but what they need [1]; aging residents are encouraged to lend a hand at the farm, the candle shop or the pottery studio; and boisterous children are welcome around the old folks.


It's a home for the elderly in a commune-like setting — 30 miles from Manhattan — that takes an unusual approach, integrating seniors into the broader community and encouraging them to contribute to its welfare.


...The 33-bed adult home is at the center of Fellowship Community, a collection of about 130 men, women and children founded in 1966 that offers seniors — including the aging baby boom generation — an alternative to living out their final years in traditional assisted-living homes or with their grown sons and daughters.


...The [Fellowship Community's] 33-acre farm [runs] on "biodynamic," or self-sustaining, principles, as much as a small farm can, said Jairo Gonzalez, the head gardener. Solar panels sparkle on the barn roof, and cow manure becomes compost.


...Organizers decline to call it a commune but concede the spirit is similar. The philosophy behind it is called anthroposophy, "a source of spiritual knowledge and a practice of inner development," according to The Anthroposophical Society in America.


 



 

Response:

Waldorf schools comprise the largest outreach effort undertaken by Rudolf Steiner's followers, but the schools are not the only such effort. Steiner prescribed radical transformations for almost all spheres of human life. His brainchild, Anthroposophy, is a revolutionary movement that aspires to restructure society in virtually all its parts. Today there are Anthroposophical schools, farms, residential communities, publishing houses, medical practices, banks, "research" institutions, colleges, etc. It is increasingly possible for people to spend their entire lives within the Anthroposophical milieu, having little or no contact with the outside world. Indeed, Steiner hoped for such total immersion of his followers. This is why Waldorf schools seek to enroll children as early as possible, offering not only kindergartens but pre-kindergarten play groups and other early-childhood programs. [2] As Steiner said, 

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

To read a detailed report by someone who spent virtually his entire life in Anthroposophical organizations, see "He Went to Waldorf".




[1] Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, abhorred Bolshevik Communism. Yet various Anthroposophical enterprises operate along recognizably communistic lines. A basic precept of Communism is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." [See Karl Marx, CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAM.]

[2] Unlike conventional early-childhood programs, the Waldorf variety has virtually no academic content. The goal is not educational (Steiner taught that young children are damaged by early learning) but spiritual and emotional. The effect is to begin molding children as early as possible in accordance with Anthroposophical beliefs.


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Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, California (USA) 

has broadcast a report about Waldorf education. 

A link, allowing us to listen to the report, 

is available at the station's website.


Like many media reports dealing with Waldorf education, 

this one is disappointingly superficial: 

Essentially, the interviewer hands the microphone to Nancy Poer, 

a co-founder of Rudolf Steiner College, a Waldorf teacher-training institution. 

Poer is articulate and well-prepared, but she presents only the pro-Waldorf view 

that is her life’s work, and the interviewer asks only the gentlest 

and least-probing sorts of questions.




Progressive Education: Waldorf     You probably know the names Montessori or Waldorf and you may have some impressions about what they teach at each school, but how much do you really know? If one of these schools moved into your backyard would you send your child to it? With the popularity of alternative education styles growing as traditional school districts struggle with finances, we'd like to take a moment to explore what's behind Waldorf education and why parents choose these schools over traditional public education? This is part of a two-part series looking to demystify progressive education. Tuesday we explore the basic tenants of Montessori education. Dr. Nancy Poer is our guest. 
 
 



 

Response:

The fundamental flaw in the report is its premise: the idea that Waldorf education is progressive. Waldorf certainly differs from conventional schooling, but the Waldorf approach is not progressive. Indeed, Waldorf is largely retro.


Here are some comments posted by historian Peter Staudenmaier on the question of Waldorf “progressivity" [see "Waldorf Now"]: 


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. 
 




Following Rudolf Steiner's death, in 1925, Waldorf schools began adapting and changing — but only slowly and only slightly. Some Waldorf schools today are less backward than others, and some have attempted to address at least a few of the shortcomings Staudenmaier has listed. But at the core, Waldorf schools today are much the same as the original Waldorf schools established by Steiner and his devoted colleagues. [To delve into these matters, see, e.g., "Waldorf Now", "Today", "He Went to Waldorf", and "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs". For a look at the Waldorf curriculum and Waldorf methods, see "Curriculum" and "Methods".]


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Studying to become a Waldorf teacher is, in many ways, indistinguishable from studying to become an Anthroposophist. Waldorf teacher-training programs usually include extensive exposure to Rudolf Steiner's books and lectures. [See "Teacher Training".] Moreover, after a teacher joins a Waldorf faculty, s/he is usually encouraged or even required to undertake further spiritual/Anthroposophical studies. Essentially, these are religious studies, and the religion is Anthroposophy. True Waldorf schools — that is, schools where Rudolf Steiner's stated intentions are honored — are places of Anthroposophical worship. [See "Schools as Churches".]

Here are a few books that are currently available through such sources as Waldorf Books and the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore. They are intended for Waldorf teachers to use in their efforts at "inner" or spiritual self-development. All these books were published by the Waldorf Early Child Association of North America, as part of "The Little Series".




SPIRITUAL INSIGHTS
[Waldorf Early Child Association of North America, 2004]

"Helmut von Kugelgen has gathered together meditations, exercises, thoughts by Rudolf Steiner that are so powerfully alive that the book itself practically vibrates with the excitement of imminent discovery. It would be possible to work with this book for years without exhausting your interest or plumbing its full depths." — Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College



SEEKING THE SPIRIT
[Waldorf Early Child Association of North America, 2010]

"The Little Series is filled with potent 'seed-books,' books whose contents are such that the reading of them places drops of wisdom and love into the human heart. These drops are then shared through our lives with others who may know nothing of them, yet be fed by them nonetheless.

"Such a book is Seeking the Spirit, a compilation of meditations and exercises from Rudolf Steiner that is accompanied by readings and thoughts from the great spiritual works of the world. It is beautiful and glowing with love, a source of strength between two covers." — Waldorf Books



WORKING WITH THE DEAD
[Waldorf Early Child Association of North America, 2003]

"Helmut von Kugelgen gathered these excerpts specifically with the work of the Waldorf teacher in mind. He included a personal letter to teachers, mothers, fathers and colleagues in the kindergarten by way of introducing the pedagogical intent of Working with the Dead." — Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College.



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Waldorf schools are also called, quite correctly, Steiner schools. 
Rudolf Steiner founded the Waldorf school movement, and virtually everything done 
in Waldorf schools today derives from Steiner's teachings. 
For this reason, it is wise to go back to Steiner's books and lectures, from time to time, 
to remind ourselves just what the great man taught. 
Thus, for instance, on this date — February 24 — in the year 1924 
(the last full year of his life), Steiner gave a lecture about karma. 
Here is how it began: 



Today I wish to bring before you certain broader aspects concerning the development of karma, for we shall presently enter more and more into those matters which can only be illustrated — shall we say — by particular assumptions.

To gain a true insight into the progress of karma we must be able to imagine how man gathers his whole organisation [i.e., physical/mental/spiritual anatomy] together when he descends out of the spiritual world into the physical. You will understand that in the language of today there are no suitable forms of expression for these events which are practically unknown to our present civilisation. Therefore the terms we employ cannot but be inexact. When we descend out of the spiritual into the physical world, for a new life on earth, we have our physical body prepared for us, to begin with, by the stream of inheritance. This physical body is none the less connected in a certain sense, as we shall see, with the experiences we undergo between death and a new birth. Today, however, it will suffice us to bear in mind that the physical body is given to us from the earthly side, whereas those members which we may describe as the higher members of the human being — the ether-body, astral body and Ego — come down out of the spiritual world.

Take first the ether-body [the lowest of our three invisible bodies]. Man draws it together from the whole universal ether, before he unites himself with the physical body which is given to him by heredity. The union of the soul-spiritual man as Ego, astral body, and ether-body, with the physical human embryo, can only take place inasmuch as the ether-body of the mother-organism gradually withdraws itself from the physical embryo.

Man therefore unites himself with the physical germ after having drawn together his ether-body from the universal ether.
 




To read the entire lecture, go to http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19240224p01.html
You can also find the lecture in KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 1 
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972). 




For more on Steiner's teachings about karma, see "Karma". 
For his teachings about the related doctrine of reincarnation, see "Reincarnation". 
To delve into the subject of ether bodies and the other invisible bodies Steiner said we have — 
and to consider the importance of these bodies for Waldorf education — see "Incarnation". 

As for the "universal ether": There is, of course, no such thing (just as there is no such thing 
as an ether body, nor an astral body, nor an ego body, nor karma, nor...). 
The universal ether was hypothesized by 19th century scientists, trying to understand 
the propagation of light waves. They thought the waves occurred in an invisible, 
undetectable gas that existed everywhere. 
Scientists long ago realized that no such ether exists, but Steiner retained the concept 
in modified, spiritualized form. 
 
“The cosmic ether, which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth. There, in the cosmic ether, are contained all the living thoughts there are.” — Rudolf Steiner.

[See the entry for "ether" in "The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia".]


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Here is part of a recent exchange at the Waldorf Critics list.

[See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25754]

The subject is the Anthroposophical pursuit of clairvoyant, esoteric knowledge about spiritual realities. 

Anthroposophists mistakenly think that clairvoyance exists, 

and they think that the results of “clairvoyant research” (which are really nothing but fantasies) 

are superior to ordinary knowledge attained by use of the rational mind.




Critic #1: “[The] allure toward superior knowledge cements many [Anthroposophists] to the path for life and keeps them persisting to attain something special. Sadly, by the end of life, when they realize they haven't attained higher knowledge after years of practices, I imagine they'd humbly say that it's because they need to develop themselves further in future lifetimes. There's no way for them to verify their progress along the way other than what they think they determine to be true within their private experiences — which could be whatever wrong information they convince themselves to believe is right.”


Critic #2:  “A lot of anthroposophists think the process itself is what matters, and are often oblivious to the effect this has on their movement. It isn't some sort of accident that Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists are drawn to anthroposophy; it gives them free rein for their musings, imbues their views with an aura of spiritual wisdom, and excludes critical examination of these views. Even comparatively lucid anthroposophists readily convince themselves that ‘The evidence of what Steiner says is all there and it is very clear,’ as one [Anthroposophist] put it.


“For countless anthroposophists, there is ‘clear evidence’ for the existence of the ‘Aryan root race’ and Atlantis, there is ‘clear evidence’ that some races are ‘degenerate’ while others are ‘progressing,’ there is ‘clear evidence’ that children must view their teachers as ‘unquestioned authorities,’ there is ‘clear evidence’ that ‘Jewry as such has long since outlived its time and has no more justification within the modern life of peoples,’ and the various other things Steiner taught. These same anthroposophists then express surprise that anybody might discern racist, antisemitic, and authoritarian strands in the worldview Steiner preached and the worldview his followers embrace.”


Critic #1:  “There are no...safeguards in Anthroposophy...to help one discriminate between a hallucination and a genuine spiritual experience (if such a thing exists). Instead, people trust their experiences, hunches, and beliefs, often without questioning them, stating something like ‘I just know deep inside this is true’ when they in fact believe only by faith that it's true.”


Critic #2:  “The trust in personal experience is a central component of esoteric approaches in general. Not only does anthroposophy lack safeguards against this, it actively discourages critical examination. This is why anthroposophists feel attacked when their views are subjected to external inquiry; they think that critique and analysis are ‘invasive’ of their dearly held beliefs. To anthroposophists, ‘your own cherished and innate sensibilities’ are not to be questioned, examined, assessed, or challenged; they are simply to be cherished, and protected from external scrutiny. Little wonder so many anthroposophists cling to their beliefs about the ‘Aryan race’ and so forth.”



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Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant. All of his occult teachings, summarized as the doctrines of Anthroposophy, derive from his claimed use of clairvoyance. If there is no such thing as real clairvoyance, then Anthroposophy has no validity.


Waldorf education is rooted in Anthroposophy. The purpose of Waldorf education, as explained by Steiner, is to apply to children the fruits of Anthroposophical knowledge of human nature. [See, e.g., "Schools as Churches".] If there is no such thing as real clairvoyance, then there is no valid basis for Waldorf education.


There is no such thing as real clairvoyance. At least, no real  evidence for the existence of clairvoyance has ever been produced. [See "Clairvoyance".] From time to time, one researcher or another has come forward with supposed evidence for the existence of clairvoyance, but the evidence has always proven to be spurious. The real result has always been reconfirmation of the conclusion that there is no basis for belief in clairvoyance. 


This pattern is now repeating itself. In 2011, a respected researcher at Cornell University (New York, USA), Daryl Bem, reported experimental results indicating the existence of clairvoyance or extrasensory perception (ESP). If true, these results would bring joy to the hearts of Anthroposophists and advocates of Waldorf education. "See? Clairvoyance is real! Steiner's clairvoyance is plausible; it is proven! Anthroposophy is true! Waldorf education is valid!"

But Bem's results were almost immediately shown to be extremely doubtful. His experiments seemed flawed and his results seemed false. [See "ESP".] As time has passed, the doubts about Bem's research have deepened and solidified. A consensus has grown that his work is essentially worthless. Now, the journal that published his research has published what amounts to a retraction. Bem did not produce any real evidence for the existence of psychic abilties.


The following is from SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, Vol. 37 No. 2, March/April 2013:






Failure to Replicate Results of Bem Parapsychology

Experiments Published by Same Journal


Kendrick Frazier


Two years ago the prepublication release of a research paper by psychologist Daryl Bem claiming experimental evidence for precognition created a worldwide media stir and intense controversy within the scientific and skeptical communities.


Bem, of Cornell University, claimed that through nine experiments he had demonstrated the existence of precognition ... Essentially, he had claimed to have produced evidence that psychic abilities not only exist but can transcend time....


Informed critics of parapsychology were almost uniformly incredulous. Although Bem is a respected psychologist, they found so many flaws in the research protocols and methods that in their view the conclusions had no validity....


Experiments attempting to replicate Bem's research were quickly conducted at various universities, but none were accepted for publication by JPSP [the JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, which had published Bem's results]. In fact, [JPSP] said it would not consider publishing replication failures....


Now the journal has had an apparent change of heart. It has finally published a set of experiments that attempted (and failed) to replicate Bem's results....


[T]he central conclusion is succinctly stated ... 'We conducted seven experiments testing for precognition and found no evidence supporting its existence.'"





In sum, once again, we have discovered that clairvoyance, or ESP, or precognition, or — more generally — psychic powers are a fantasy, nothing more. The implications for Anthroposophy and Waldorf education are devastating. Rudolf Steiner was not clairvoyant. No one is clairvoyant. Hence, there is no basis for Anthroposophy or for Waldorf education.



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From the San Francisco [USA] Classical Voice:




Where's Waldorf: Music at the Heart of Education Philosophy


By way of background, the first Waldorf School opened in 1919 in Stuttgart Germany, the creation of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher strongly influenced by, among others, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The education is “alternative,” holistic, and despite a common misconception, not religious. The San Francisco Waldorf School started in 1979; the high school opened in 1997. Its overall philosophy, which increasingly has been picked up by other schools, is “Head, Heart, Hands.” The music curriculum, which is in the very nature of holistic education, is practice-based but includes a good deal of music theory. Each high school student is required to take four years of music. Students who don’t have a music background sing in the choir or play the guitar in beginner classes. There are also an orchestra, a jazz band, a choir, and various ensembles, including a drum ensemble.


“Our primary goal,” says [Waldorf teacher] David Weber, “is not to turn out musicians but to influence a student’s approach to life and their ability to make sound judgments through the artistic effects of music. We think that the study of music makes students much more well-rounded.”


 



 

Response:

All forms of art are important in Waldorf education. Rudolf Steiner, the "philosopher" who created Waldorf schooling, taught that spiritual beings are transported to the physical realm through musical tones and beautiful colors. And, Steiner, said, humans can be transported to the spirit realm in much the same way.

As for music: It is steeped in mystical power, according to Steiner. A Waldorf music class, like a painting class, is actually a cultic ritual — or so Steiner intended.


Steiner explained that composers get their musical ideas while asleep, during which time the higher parts of their beings leave their physical bodies and travel into the spirit world. “When a man falls asleep, his astral body [1] goes out from his physical body, his soul then lives in the devachanic world. [2] Its harmonies make an impression on his soul ... The composer...takes his model from the spiritual world. He has in himself harmonies which he translates into physical terms. That is the secret connection between the music which resounds in the physical world and the hearing of spiritual music during the night....” — Rudolf Steiner, quoted in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER, John Fletcher (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 136. [3] In essence, Steiner says that composers go to the spirit realm, hear melodies there, and then translate these melodies to forms we can hear with our physical ears. Music is thus inherently spiritual.


In Waldorf belief, people who play or listen to music are being lured toward occult spiritual experiences. “[O]n listening to music, [a person] has an inkling...of the spiritual world.” — ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER, p. 136. Children in a Waldorf music class are actually being ushered toward esoteric mysteries. Steiner taught that musical tones operate much like colors, providing access to the spirit realm. Bear in mind that Steiner wasn’t speaking metaphorically — he meant this quite literally. A child listening to or making music is moved to the occult world of spirits. “The world of sound will deepen and enliven the life of the soul in a very similar way ... We shall experience the tone [i.e., a musical note] as an opening made by the gods from the spiritual world, and we shall climb through the tone into the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 162.


All of this, by the way, has a bearing on whether or not Waldorf schools are religious. Steiner acknowledged that, in fact, in their own special way, they are. "You can feel from the whole mood and being of the Waldorf school that a Christian quality [4] pervades all the teaching and how religion is alive there." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XV (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 115.







Music may be, in some sense, the most potent of all the arts, having unique powers to sway and elevate human beings. When mystics speak of the music of the spheres, for instance, they suggest that music has special spiritual effects; music is woven into the very essence of the universe. As Steiner said, “[E]verything lives in music ... [T]he sun and the spheres speak in music." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 15.


But Is music actually at the "heart" of Waldorf education? Actually, no. Waldorf schools do not generally treat music as more important than the other arts. Many forms of art are emphasized in Waldorf schools, certainly including painting and drawing. And, indeed, if any one art is deemed more important than others in the Waldorf universe, it is eurythmy, the spiritual form of dance instituted by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Eurythmy".]


To keep things in their proper context, however, we should acknowledge that Waldorf education is not fundamentally devoted to the arts generally nor to any one art in particular. Fundamentally, Waldorf education is devoted to a spiritual worldview: Anthroposophy. Everything in the Waldorf curriculum, including the arts, receives its ultimate rationale from Rudolf Steiner's occult teachings. From the Waldorf perspective, nothing else, in the end, really matters. Although the San Francisco Classical Voice accepts the standard Waldorf denial concerning religion ("the education is...not religious"), in fact everything at Waldorf is based on the Anthroposophical religion, and everything serves that religion. [See "Here's the Answer" and "Schools as Churches". For concise summaries of Waldorf views on art and beauty, see Waldorf Straight Talk: Art - Am I Missing Something? and Beauty - Why Is Waldorf Alluring?.]





[1] In Waldorf belief, we have three invisible bodies in addition to our physical bodies. The astral body is the second of the three invisible bodies.


[2] That is, the spirit realm.


[3] Note Steiner’s use of the word “secret.” Occultism centers on secrets: knowledge that initiates have but the rest of us don’t. This is the basis of Steiner’s claim to being a spiritual guide: He possessed occult spiritual secrets. To a lesser extent, Waldorf teachers who are devoted to Steiner’s doctrines believe that they share such secrets. And secrets don’t remain secret if they are revealed to others, for instance you and me.


[4]  Religion is certainly alive in Waldorf education; but whether that religion is truly Christian is, at best, debatable. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".]


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Here is a description of a course to be offered this summer at 

the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, a Waldorf teacher-training institution.

 “All full-time summer students should register for this course: EDU 643.”








EDU 643 Artistic Work in the Waldorf School III – 2 cr.


Classes will consist of demonstrations and hands-on artistic work, including lessons in plant dying, pencil drawing and clay modeling, in relationship to the Waldorf Human and Animal, Botany, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Embryology, and Human Fertility main lesson blocks.


[http://greatlakeswaldorf.org/edu-643-artistic-work-in-the-waldorf-school-iii-2-cr/]

 



 

Response:

Waldorf schools are often quite attractive, filled with pleasing art. Some families pick Waldorf schools largely for this reason alone — the places just look so beautiful. (Waldorf teachers are almost always trained to create their own works of art, such as colorful chalk drawings on classroom blackboards. Note that all of the regular students in the Great Lakes program are advised to take the hands-on arts class, the third in a series.)

You should realize, however, that the purpose of all this art is religious, and the religion involved is Anthroposophy. As Rudolf Steiner told Waldorf teachers, "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. Such feelings, when they are cultivated throughout the elementary school years, will make all the difference during [later] years." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS - Foundations of Waldorf Education X (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 77-78. 

Steiner taught that art has occult spiritual effects. Spiritual beings descend to Earth through such vehicles as bright colors and musical tones, and our souls can ascend into the spirit realm through the same vehicles. “This is what gives art its essential lustre: it transplants us here and now into the spiritual world.”  — Rudolf Steiner, quoted in THE GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961), p. 25.

Steiner meant this quite literally; he was not speaking figuratively. He said that art creates direct links between the gods of the higher worlds and the human souls residing here below. He claimed that a unique Waldorf form of dance, eurythmy, has particularly strong spiritual effects. "Eurythmy shapes and moves the human organism in a way that furnishes direct external proof of our participation in the supersensible [i.e., invisible, spiritual] world. In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247.

Waldorf schools usually "have" all students "do eurythmy" — it is usually required. "Eurythmy is obligatory. The children must participate.  Those who do not participate in eurythmy will be removed from the school." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.
 
Perhaps you love art, and perhaps you want your child to receive a religious education. That's fine. But before sending your child to a Waldorf school, make sure that your religious views are compatible with Anthroposophy. Consider, for instance, the following instruction that Steiner gave to Waldorf teachers: "When you know something of initiation [1], and are able to consciously observe what lays hold of the child’s body, it really is terrible to see how the child must find a way into all the complications of bones and ligaments that have to be formed. [2] It really is a tragic sight. The child knows nothing of this, for the Guardian of the Threshold [3] protects the child from any such knowledge. But teachers should be aware of it and look on with the deepest reverence ... [Y]ou should fill your hearts with this knowledge, and from this starting point undertake your work as educators." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD - Foundations of Waldorf Education XXI (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 11-12.

If you don't believe in the things Anthroposophists believe in — such as the Guardian of the Threshold — you will not approve of the "starting point" of Waldorf education. Indeed, you may ultimately realize that you don't approve of very much at all that is basic to Waldorf education.




[1] Occult initiation. [See "Inside Scoop".] Senior Waldorf teachers generally consider themselves to be occult initiates — that is, they believe that they possess secret spiritual wisdom that is hidden from the uninitiated, such as you and me. Are you comfortable with this?


[2] This is the process of earthly incarnation. [See "Incarnation".] In Anthroposophical belief, children are reincarnating beings who need help to properly develop their four bodies — the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies — here on Earth during their newest incarnations. Waldorf teachers think that providing such help is one of their highest tasks — much higher than teaching the children ordinary academic subjects. Are you comfortable with this? Do you share these beliefs? [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf" and "Here's the Answer".]


[3] In Anthroposophical belief, entry to the spirit realm is blocked by a pair of spectral guardians. [See "Guardians".] We must satisfy their demands before being permitted access to the lands of the gods. Do you share this belief?



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A posting at the Waldorf Critics list outlines an approach often used by Waldorf apologists to lure outsiders into the Anthroposophical fold.

The gist of the technique is to raise so many doubts about the reliability of ordinary knowledge that you begin to doubt everything you know. This may lead you to imagine that bizarre teachings such as those of Rudolf Steiner are as plausible as anything else. (The logical flaw in all this, of course, is that if you begin to doubt X, all that you really should conclude is that you now have doubts about X, and thus you should look into the matter more deeply. You obviously should not leap to the opposite extreme and unreflectingly embrace an alternative viewpoint, Y, which may be even less true than X. You need to study both X and Y carefully, and reach sensible conclusions about each.) To believe in Anthroposophy, you need to cut your ties to reality; you need to surrender your sense of truth and falsehood, so that the false starts to look true to you.*



“[Y]ou'll run into a lot of loosely defined words when you encounter Anthroposophists. They'll start by getting you to question how you know something is true... What do we mean when we say 'facts'...stuff like that. They'll tell you that what constitutes 'knowledge' is something you have to decide for yourself.

“They basically empower you to fool yourself into thinking there's something relevant to Steiner's work. There isn't, of course, but if you can abandon critical thinking long enough to let your imagination run wild, they may have you. If you don't buy into the nonsense, they'll claim it was your own shortcomings (too 'materialistic' or some such nonsense).

“Don't get me wrong, Steiner is absolutely fascinating reading...but not a word of his work is supported by reality.” 

 



 

Response:


Questioning everything can lead to wisdom. Reconsidering everything can be wise. Certainly there can be benefits in asking yourself "how you know something is true." But in the process, you need to remain rational; you need to think clearly. Forms of mysticism, such as Anthroposophy, require you to move in the opposite direction. They ask you to embrace fantastical beliefs for which there is no rational or empirical basis. They lead to confusion and self-deception, not clarity or truth.

For more on the techniques Waldorf schools use to win converts to Anthroposophy, see Grégoire Perra’s “The Anthroposophical Indoctrination of Students in Steiner-Waldorf Schools” [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/he-went-to-waldorf], including the section “The Indoctrination of Parents.” Perra knows whereof he speaks — he is a former Waldorf student who went on to become an Anthroposophist and a Waldorf teacher.




* If you doubt that mainstream science has the last word about absolutely everything, you are correct. Science is a evolving process; we know more today than we knew yesterday, and we will know more tomorrow than we know today. But the gaps in our current scientific knowledge should not cause you to repudiate science altogether and leap to an alternative approach. Put it this way: If you have doubts about mainstream science, you should have many more doubts about mystical systems such as Anthroposophy. Mainstream science is based on fact and reason — in other word, it is based on reality. Mysticism is based on fantasy and dream, not reality.


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The Quackometer has a new posting about biodynamic farming, the mystical agricultural practices (based on astrology, magic, and old wives’ tales) propounded by Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamic gardens are often maintained at Waldorf schools, and students are often required to work in these gardens. 


“I suppose it is conceivable that planting according to the phase of the Moon might have an affect on crops. There are broad patterns in the weather that are seasonal and the phases of the Moon are a proxy for some of these, but once we start citing Venus, Saturn and zodiacal signs the connections are getting more tenuous and the woo is getting stronger.”

 



 

Response:


For more on biodynamic agriculture, see “Biodynamics”. For more on the Waldorf fascination with astrology, see, e.g., “Astrology” and “Waldorf Astrology”.







Above is an astrological chart from an Anthroposophical publication. It is the kind of chart a biodynamic gardener might consult. The book I have taken it from, however, has nothing to do with biodynamics — instead, it comes from a book about eurythmy, the form of temple dancing usually required of all students in a Waldorf school. [The book is Rudolf Steiner, EURYTHMY AS VISIBLE SPEECH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1984).] The point is that astrology suffuses almost every area of Anthroposophical activity.

Getting back to biodynamics: If you visit a Waldorf school, look around for gnome dolls or other images of gnomes. They are cute, and they tend to show up in large numbers in Waldorf kindergartens and nursery schools. You see, Rudolf Steiner taught that gnomes really exist. They are "nature spirits" who reside in the earth. Thus, real gnomes are — according to Waldorf belief — busily at work promoting the growth of plants in Waldorf biodynamic gardens. [For more on gnomes, see "Gnomes" and "Beings".]





For further tips on things you may want to look for, if you visit a Waldorf school, see "Clues." Waldorf beliefs are often hidden from outsiders — see "Secrets" — but with a little study, you can equip yourself to see below the carefully cultivated Waldorf surface.


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Issue 1-2/13 of the General Anthroposophical Society’s 

newsletter ANTHROPOSOPHY WORLDWIDE 

has been released 

[http://www.anthroposophy.org/fileadmin/goetheanum/AWW/AWE2013_01.pdf]. 


A few excerpts: 



• “In the age of the consciousness soul [1] human beings are at work on developing their I [2], and doing so under special conditions ... With their spirit knowledge developed to the point of envisioning [3], human beings can now recognize karmic tendencies [4] so that individual steps light up, steps that might lead to effective work in the earthly realm ... Depending on each soul’s propensity, activity in the world brings the human being into dramatic confrontation with the work of Ahriman and Lucifer. [5]” [pp. 1-2]



[1] This is one of several types or components of soul that, Steiner taught, humans possess. [See, e.g., “Our Parts”.] Humanity as a whole has been developing the consciousness soul since the year 1413 CE. 

[2] The “I” or “ego body” is the third of our three invisible bodies, according to Steiner. It incarnates at about age 21. [See, e.g., “Incarnation”.]

[3] I.e., the formation of true images via clairvoyance.

[4] Karma and reincarnation are key Anthroposophical doctrines. [See "Karma" and "Reincarnation".]

[5] Ahriman and Lucifer are arch-demons who tempt and threaten humanity while also bestowing valuable gifts. [See “Ahriman” and “Lucifer”.]





• "Dear members, 

We warmly invite you to attend the 2013 Annual Conference of the General Anthroposophical Society to be held at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, on March 22–24, 2013. We will be reporting on some painful developments and also discussing a entire range of new ones ... We would like to remind you that the Annual Conference and the Annual General Meeting are open only to members of the General Anthroposophical Society; the pink membership card will be required for admission." [p. 3]


• "We — a group of members from around the world — are deeply concerned that central impulses of the General Anthroposophical society are not being pursued actively enough. We want to try working positively to encourage a dialogue among members so that we are at least on the way to the Society’ original intention.… The General Anthroposophical Society needs active members so the Society can be a 'body' for the being of anthroposophy.…” [p. 8]  


• “The annual meeting of the Christian Community [1] leadership (The Circle of Seven) and the Goetheanum Executive Council took place at the Goetheanum [2] on January 20–22. The main theme of the gathering was the nature and mission of the two movements.


“We took the nature of the Anthroposophical Society and the Christian Community as our theme, and we discussed the connection of the two movements to the time spirit, Michael. [3] Beginning in 1913 Rudolf Steiner spoke more and more about Michael — particularly in London at the beginning of May — and then was able to help found the Christian Community because of his own relationship to Michael. We worked together on aspects of the Class [4] lessons, especially in regard to the distortions and lies that modern people encounter.” [p. 12]



[1] The Christian Community is the overtly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy. [See "Christian Community".] Whether it is truly Christian is, at best, moot. [See "Was He Christian?"]

[2] The Goetheanum is the headquarters of the worldwide Anthroposophical movement. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] Michael is the Archangel who, according to Steiner, presides over the current phase of human evolution. [See "Michael".]

[4] The First Class is an exclusive study group within the Anthroposophical Society. Steiner meant to found other classes as well, but he died before doing so. [For more on the First Class, see, e.g., "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education".]





 "The third group [of Anthroposophical meditations] is composed of an array of review exercises like the daily review, and of those exercises in which recall [sic] a specific situation or a year, or several years, or an entire lifetime. [1] Here I am trying to develop an overview and conscious relationship in regard to my life and what I have done. The May, 1924, karma exercises [2] represent a special form of these exercises. I expand my consciousness of how the spirit (i.e., my higher I [3] that passes through incarnations) shows itself." [p. 16] 



[1] The practice of Anthroposophy largely involves doing various spiritual exercises and meditations prescribed by Steiner, aimed at developing one’s powers of clairvoyance so that one may attain direct, personal knowledge of the spirit realm. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

[2] I.e., exercises prescribed by Steiner at that time.

[3] The "higher I" is the portion of the I that, instead of incarnating in the physical realm, remains in the spirit realm. 




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Mother Nature's Child Film Screening at Da Vinci Waldorf School

February 12, 2013

Free film screening that explores nature's powerful role in children's health.


"Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors in a Media Age" will be shown at Da Vinci Waldorf School, Saturday, Feb. 16, 10 a.m. to noon. Da Vinci Waldorf School is located at 150 W. Bonner Rd., Wauconda [Illinois, USA]. 


This film explores nature's powerful role in children's health and development through the experience of toddlers, children in middle childhood and adolescents. It asks the questions: Why do children need unstructured time outside? What is the place of risk-taking in healthy child development? How is play a form of learning? What does it mean to educate the 'whole' child?

 



 

Response:


One of the attractive features of Waldorf education is the schools' embrace of green values. Nature and all things natural are revered, at least provisionally. This is the flip side of the schools' antipathy to modern technology, and it has its charms. It may even, at some levels, contain wisdom.

You should bear a few things in mind, however. The Waldorf view of nature is essentially mystical and superstitious. According to the Waldorf view, nature should be respected because it is the creation of the gods. (Gods, plural. The Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, is polytheistic. See "Polytheism".) This does not mean, however, that nature is wholly beneficent or trustworthy. Rather, according to Rudolf Steiner, the physical universe is a false realm of illusion or maya. 

“I must emphasize this again and again, that the saying ‘the world is Maya’ is so vitally important." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 64. 

Moreover, according to Steiner, nature is the abode of "nature spirits" — invisible, subhuman beings such as gnomes or goblins whose behavior is often amoral. "

There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man....”  — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Gnomes".]

The announcement of the screening of "Mother Nature's Child" raises some other issues that are worth pondering. Note the references to "unstructured time outside" and "risk-taking." The supervision of children at Waldorf schools is often dangerously lax. There are many reasons for this, such as the belief that children should be free to enact their karmas, and the belief that playtime is a reenactment of life before incarnation on Earth. But equally important is the Waldorf notion that teachers don't need to watch children carefully because the kids' guardian angels will do this work. In Waldorf doctrine, there are many ranks of gods standing above humanity. The lowest rank considers of the gods who are commonly called angels. According to Rudolf Steiner, each human being has a guardian angel. This is a pleasing belief, and perhaps you share it. But do you agree that, because of this belief, teachers should send kids outdoors, in all weathers, for unstructured and largely unsupervised play periods? Is this a form of "risk-taking" you want for your young child?

You might also mull over the Waldorf conception of the "whole child." Holistic education seems like a fine ideal, and Waldorf schools often make the attractive claim that they educate a child's "head, heart, and hands." Sounds good. But look a bit deeper, and you may find reason for concern. In Waldorf belief, a child is a reincarnating being who has a karma, an astrological sign, both a soul and a spirit, three invisible bodies (the etheric, astral, and ego bodies), a temperament (phlegmatic, melancholic, sanguine, or choleric), a racial identity reflecting her/his level of spiritual evolution, a brain that doesn't really think, a heart that doesn't pump blood, a hidden double or doppelgänger, and so on. The Waldorf view of human beings, in other words, is fully as mystical and superstitious as the Waldorf view of nature. Unless you share the Waldorf perspective, you will likely come to the conclusion that much of what happens in Waldorf schools is irrational and, potentially, harmful. [For more on such matters, see, e.g., "Oh Humanity", "Holistic Education", "What We're Made Of", and "Our Parts".]

“You will injure children if you educate them rationally. — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 61.


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The following is a response to the recent discussion,

reported here previously, of bullying in Waldorf schools.




If Steiner did not explicitly say that children must be allowed to work out their karmas through occasional violence and bullying, Waldorf teachers might nonetheless reasonably conclude, from Steiner's teachings, that any violent tendencies in a child’s karma should be honored. Without referring to bullying as such, Steiner said that Waldorf teachers must expect and indeed accept a certain amount of violence among their students. This is most clearly seen in his discussions of temperament, especially the choleric temperament. And bear in mind, Steiner said that temperament arises, at least in part, from karma, so when children express their temperaments, they also express their karmas.


Choleric kids should be placed together in the classroom, Steiner said, in the full expectation that they will fight one another, at least for a while.


“[I]t has a salutary effect if one seats choleric children together in one corner of the classroom, giving a certain relief in this way to the rest of the class, because the teacher is freed from having to constantly discipline them. Choleric children can’t help pushing and hitting each other. If they now find themselves suddenly at the receiving end, this in itself produces a thoroughly pedagogical effect, because the ones who do the pushing and shoving, goading others into retaliating, are being ‘shaped up’ in a very direct way.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD’S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 177.


Note that the teacher, in this scenario, does not try to prevent violence. Rather, s/he must accept that “choleric children can’t help pushing and hitting each other.” The teacher puts the choleric kids together knowing they will fight; s/he is thus “freed from having to constantly discipline them.” So s/he lets the violence play itself out. And we should understand clearly, this is violence inside the classroom, during actual class sessions!


Steiner frequently made the same recommendation: Clump the choleric kids together and let them smack each other. The violence will naturally subside, he said.


• “The cholerics hit and smack each other and finally they get tired of the blows they get from the other cholerics ... [T]he children of each temperament rub each other’s corners off extraordinarily well when they sit together.”  — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD  (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 63


• “[W]e try to determine which children are choleric and place them together. Thus, the teachers know that one corner contains all the children who tend to be choleric ... This method of grouping has great advantages ... [T]he phlegmatics become so bored with sitting together that, to get rid of their boredom, they begin to interact. Cholerics, on the other hand, beat up on one another, and this, too, quickly improves.” — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 140.


• “Waldorf teachers study the temperaments of those children entrusted to them ... They place the melancholics together...[and] the cholerics together [etc.] ... As for the cholerics, they heal each other thoroughly, since it is best to let cholerics work off their choler on one another. If bruises are exchanged, it has a very sobering effect.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 83.


• “As for the cholerics who constantly push and punch each other when sitting together, they learn in a wonderfully corrective way how to curb their temperament, at least to some extent!” — Rudolf Steiner,  WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 202.


Preventing choleric children from expressing their nature would actually damage the kids’ health, Steiner said: 


“When choleric children are seated together, there will be such a constant exchange of blows that the resulting bruises they give each other will have an extraordinary healing effect on their temperament ... [But if] we forced a choleric to sit still and to be quiet, the result would be an accumulation of suppressed choler that would act like a poison in the child’s system. It simply would not work.”  — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY  (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), pp. 212-213.


The temperament and, we might add, karma of a child can cause a Waldorf teacher to accept behavior that would, under other circumstances, be banned. Steiner gave the green light for one group of students to "push and hit" one another, to "hit and smack," to "beat up" one another, to "bruise" one another, and to "push and punch." Might any of this mayhem amount of bullying? Obviously, yes. Not all choleric kids are equally large and strong; some — smaller and weaker — would be at a severe disadvantage when the violence begins. And, in truth, since there is no such thing as a choleric temperament — the four-temperament paradigm is fallacious [1] — Steiner was really describing a process of segregating an arbitrarily defined subset of kids and allowing them to go at each other. This is sanctioned violence that almost inevitably would spill out of classrooms into hallways and playgrounds, where it would likely escalate into harsh and even brutal (punching, hitting, smacking, bruising) forms of bullying.


To wrap this up, we should note that — according to Steiner — karma expresses itself not just in temperament but in body type. [2] Thus, some kids have bodies that are naturally peaceable while others have bodies that are naturally prone to violence. Waldorf teachers need to recognize this without undue emotion. 


“When we see someone with small hands and arms, we will immediately say to ourselves: well, there’s no great urge in that person to hit someone. But when arms and hands are too long and heavy, the impulse to hit out must be charged to that person’s karma, their destiny, and not judged from an emotional point of view.” — Rudolf Steiner, BALANCE IN TEACHING (Anthroposophic Press, 2007), p. 54.


If a kid with long, heavy arms and hands wallops a smaller kid on the playground, a Waldorf teacher might quite naturally — and unemotionally — stand aside, letting karma work its wonders. In at least some instances, the teacher's passivity would effectively sanction bullying.







Postscript. Is it really possible that any Waldorf school today operates as Steiner said it should? Is it really possible, for instance, that "choleric" children are allowed to fight during classes in Waldorf schools? It seems incredible. But most of the thinking behind Waldorf education is similarly incredible. Waldorf schooling is based on the preachments of Rudolf Steiner; Waldorf schools are called Steiner schools, and with reason. We should hope that Waldorf teachers today do not segregate children on the basis of "temperament," and that they do not look away when children of one "temperament" punch and push and whack and bruise each other. And yet, we have heard Rudolf Steiner on these points. And, in fact, each quotation I have cited above comes from a book in the "Foundations of Waldorf Education" series, published in recent years. So, do Waldorf schools operate as Steiner said they should? In many ways — indeed, in most ways — yes, they do.





[1] See "Humoresque" and "Temperaments".


[2] Steiner said that choleric kids are typically short, stocky, and bull-necked. Sanguine children are slender, elegant, well-balanced. Phlegmatics are big, fleshy, and round. Melancholics are large, bony, with heavy limbs and bowed heads. Considerable variation is possible within each category. Thus, for instance, some choleric are larger and stronger than others. 



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Bullying and karma are intertwined issues often discussed by critics and defenders of Waldorf education. Critics contend that Waldorf teachers allow bullying among their students — in Waldorf belief, the children must be allowed to work out their karmas. Defenders of Waldorf education generally deny that Waldorf teachers look away when bullying occurs or fights break out, although they acknowledge that karma is a key concept in the ideology underlying Waldorf schooling: Anthroposophy.


Here are excerpts from a recent exchange on these matters. The participants were Eugene Schwartz, a leading proponent of Waldorf education, and Dan Dugan, a prominent Waldorf critic. I have edited and trimmed for length and clarity. [To see the entire exchange. go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25717.]




Eugene Schwartz: “I, too, have often heard people say that Rudolf Steiner said that children need to ‘work out their karma’ in the classroom and on the playground. However, I must tell you that I have never seen that quote in print or heard of its provenance from any experienced Waldorf teacher. To the best of my knowledge, this is one of those apocryphal ‘Steiner said’ statements that have circulated through the Waldorf movement without any substantiation.” 

Dan Dugan: “I agree, I think it's mainly a post-Steiner Waldorf school tradition, based on study of Steiner. An otherwise sensible presentation on bullying to the faculty of Alan Howard Waldorf School by Cynthia Kennedy and Betty Robertson, May 13, 1999, includes the following waffling language: 

'Can a child’s karma or destiny be that of a victim or bully? Is it a child’s destiny to seek certain experiences to build his or her self-esteem and inner self? Should a potentially abusive situation be stopped, and if so, at what point? We do not know the answers...'

"This way of thinking can only be traced to studies of Steiner's books and lectures about karma. I can't imagine where else it would come from. For non-Anthroposophists, there is no question about the responsibility of adults when they see children bullying."

Schwartz: "To my understanding, Steiner was certainly trying to find an alternative to the strict and harsh Prussian model of education that was endemic in his day ... [He was] a man of his time, sharing a fresh and vital educational impulse in common with many others."

Dugan: "Sure, Waldorf was progressive in its day ... [But] it got stuck in the 1920s forever. And Steiner wasn't altogether opposed to the Prussian model: 

'If a child is ten minutes late, keep him standing for thirty minutes. Make them stand uncomfortably! ... [M]ake them stand in an especially uncomfortable place ... You could buy a number of small stocks ... The stocks could also be made in Woodwork lessons.' [Rudolf Steiner, CONFERENCES WITH THE TEACHERS OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL IN STUTTGART 1919 to 1920, Vol. 1 (Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications, 1986), p. 91.]"

Schwartz: "...
Steiner...was never in favor of a free-for-all, and he never spoke about children working out their karma through unsupervised Summerhill-like chaos [1] masquerading as 'play.' Waldorf teachers are held to a very high degree of responsibility by Steiner in terms of looking after the children's behavior with one another in and out of the classroom."

Dugan: "If someone today was holding them 'to a very high degree of responsibility' things would be a lot better."

Schwartz: "A teacher who has been negligent in the playground, and allowed bullying or roughhousing to go on to the point where someone was emotionally or physically hurt, may want to justify his negligence and talk about 'karma' in the same way that teachers in a non-Waldorf school might misuse any number of psychological or sociological terms ... However, this is not the way that Rudolf Steiner spoke about karma, nor is it a foundational principle of Waldorf education to let things just happen."


Dugan: "Not a 'foundational principle,' but certainly a tradition, it keeps popping up year after year...."

Schwartz: "Steiner, indeed, rarely spoke about karma without also speaking about the moral wakefulness that his teaching should evoke ... On the playing field, as in the classroom, the Waldorf teacher is meant to carry a deep sense of responsibility, and not justify his nonchalance by misquoting Steiner. 

"I have no question that you will continue to hear from parents who feel that 
their child's school is not paying enough attention to the bullying issue."

Dugan: "Sounds like denial to me. It's not a matter of 'not paying enough attention.' It's deliberately refusing to intervene when children are fighting, based on principles thatsomeone taught them.


'If you see your child hit another child in the sandbox, what do you do? This was the question posed by the keynote speaker, [Waldorf teacher and author] Jack Petrash, at last month’s Gateways Conference. In his answer he suggested that there are times when you may need to say the word "no", regardless of the age of the listener.' [Kennedy & Robertson]


"There are times when you may need to say no? That's a clue as to who's maintaining this pernicious tradition — the Waldorf teacher trainers.


'[T]he college chair [2] told me that since I was withdrawing my child from the first grade for being bullied, that my child would be "karmically" distressed for the rest of their life because I didn't let them work it out in this classroom, with this group of children.' [Stephanie Brooks, ESTABLISHING SUCCESSFUL AND HEALTHY TEACHER AND PARENT RELATIONSHIPS IN WALDORF SCHOOLS (Antioch New England Graduate School, Spring 2002, Revised Spring 2004, p. 22).]


"There was at least one college chair teaching the tradition. 

"Margaret Meyerkort wrote: 'I want to remind us of another suggestion of Steiner's. In fact for me it is an admonition, and that is: "Do not interfere with the will of the child." Why? Because in his will, in his unconscious, lies his karma and because in karma freedom must reign.' 
[A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE WALDORF KINDERGARTEN, Vol. 2, edited by Joan Almon (Waldorf Kindergarten Association of North America, Inc., 1993), p. 78.] 

"That's getting close to a smoking gun."

Schwartz: "I don't imagine that the growing number of parents who are gratified by the way in which Waldorf schools are now dealing with bullying are likely to call you ... Waldorf schools have accomplished a lot in terms of raising the consciousness of children, teachers, and parents concerning bullying and its antidotes."

Dugan: "Neither of us has done a real study ... [Y]ou can make fun of parents who are upset [3] by the policy of many Waldorf schools, and...we can report that bullying happens in many Waldorf schools in a  special way endemic to Waldorf: tolerated as a matter of policy.

"And you can say to me that there is a great deal more to be done and I don't  disagree."






A comment from RR:

What did Steiner say about karma? He said that karma is not ironclad, but generally it should be allowed to play out.  

• "Karma must be fulfilled." — Rudolf Steiner, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), lecture 11, GA 100. 

• "Karma must be worked out on the earth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE DEED OF CHRIST AND THE OPPOSING SPIRITUAL POWERS (Steiner Book Centre, 1954), GA 107.

 • "Karma must be carried out, and these things are necessary....” — Rudolf Steiner, STAYING CONNECTED (SteinerBooks, 1999), p. 36. 

For more, see "Karma".







Endnotes added by RR.

* Summerhill School is an experimental academy founded on the educational theories of A.S. Neill; it is not a Waldorf or Steiner school.

** The central governing committee at many Waldorf schools is called the college of teachers. The chairperson of this committee is, then, the "college chair."

*** This is a reference to a video created by Schwartz. [See http://player.vimeo.com/video/56109384.]


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The following is from a message 
at the ProTeacher website

[http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?p=3184625].


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

[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25715].



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.


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It is hard to believe that Waldorf teachers 

believe what they believe. 

Likewise, it is hard to believe that Waldorf schools 

have the goals that, in fact, they have.


Take “form drawing.” 

In one recommended sequence of subjects 

children should study in a Waldorf first grade, 

form drawing is given remarkable priority: 






First Grade Main Lesson Block Rotation [1]
Eugene Schwartz, class teacher

September 6 – September 29    Form Drawing
October 2 – October 20    Arithmetic
October 23 – November 22    Writing and Reading
November 27 – December 22    Form Drawing
January 8 – January 26    Arithmetic
January 29 – February 16    Writing and Reading
February 26 – March 23    Arithmetic
March 26 – April 12    Form Drawing
April 23 – May 11     Writing and Reading
May 14 – June 1    Class Play
June 4 – June 8    Year-End Review


 




 

Response:


Note that, under this scheme, form drawing is the first subject studied (Sept. 6-29), and it is taken up again two more times later in the year (Nov. 27-Dec. 22, and March 26-Aprll 12). As Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz explains to the parents of his students, “In some respects, Form Drawing is the most important subject that your child will study this year.” 

Form drawing is the simple (not to say mind-numbing) repetitive tracing of abstract shapes, such as wavy line, curling lines, and the like.



Elementary form drawing.
[FORMENZEICHNEN: Die Entwicklung des Formensinns in der Erziehung 
(Freies Geistesleben, 1992).


Visualize young Waldorf students tracing such forms (starting with simpler ones, working up to more complex ones) every morning, day after day, week after week. And visualize them, having been released from such tedium, being brought back for two more weeks-long-sessions of such work.


Although extremely boring, form drawing may have some benefits for children when they move on to work with letters in reading and writing, and numerals in arithmetic. This is the sort of benefit Eugene Schwartz mentions: “[I]t provides a good foundation for the letter recognition that is so central to reading, as well as numerical/spatial relationships that are so essential in arithmetic.”


But is there also a deeper, more spiritual reason for the emphasis on form drawing in Waldorf schools? Almost everything at Waldorf schools has a deep or spiritual purpose, so what is the spiritual rationale for form drawing? [2]


Rudolf Steiner taught that true cognition is not the use of the brain. (“[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.) Rather, true cognition is clairvoyance, which is seated in spiritual “organs of clairvoyance" that are developed through spiritual exercises. (“[O]rgans of clairvoyance build themselves.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.)


The Waldorf curriculum is designed to lead children toward "true cognition," i.e., clairvoyance. This is why imagination is emphasized in Waldorf schools — Steiner taught that imagination is a form of clairvoyance. (“Essentially, people today have no inkling of how people looked out into the universe in ancient times when human beings still possessed an instinctive clairvoyance.... If we want to be fully human, however, we must struggle to regain a view of the cosmos that moves toward Imagination again.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 256.)


Form drawing has the same purpose as the use of imagination, according to Waldorf doctrine. The shapes children draw, over and over, are essentially geometric forms. [3] And here is the benefit of geometry, according to Waldorf doctrine: "Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92. To put this another way: “One of the many unique features of the Waldorf-Steiner Schools is the subject known as Form Drawing ... 'It rouses the soul from sleep and impels it towards the spirit. It makes us a true human being, allows us to behold the spirit and guides us towards the gods.’” — V. James, LANGUAGE OF THE LINE: a Reinvented Art-form of the Waldorf Schools (http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/NZJournalvanjames.pdf). Beholding the spirit, according to Waldorf belief, is achieved through the use of clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance".] A process that "allows us to behold the spirit and guides us towards the gods" is, in sum, the process of developing clairvoyance.


Unless you can endorse the goal of helping children to become clairvoyant, you probably should find a different form of schooling for your children.




[1] See, e.g., "Say What?" and "Weird Waldorf".


In Waldorf education, a "block" is a period of weeks during which a particular subject (math, history, geology...) is given priority. During a block, the first, longest lesson of each school day (the "main lesson") is devoted to the designated subject. Usually a block lasts three weeks or so — the children arrive in the morning, say a prayer together, and then settle down to study the subject of that block. When the block ends, the subject is dropped until later in the year or the following year, when it is taken up again in a new block.


[2] Waldorf faculties generally deny or disguise their deeper purposes — they generally withhold their occult doctrines from the uninitiated, as Steiner instructed. [See, e.g., "Secrets".]


[3] "Form drawing, the freehand drawing of geometric shapes, is a subject taught in Waldorf schools that is not offered in most other schools." — A statement posted by several Waldorf schools, e.g. the Holywood Steiner School, County Down, UK [http://holywoodsteiner-classfour.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html].



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From WALDORF TODAY, Vol. IV, Issue 12, 2013

[http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=a0ce04e5a70babb8ef1330163&id=c8c9540d4f]:



The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In


Your Brain on Computers


By JULIE SCELFO



...Much of the concern about cellphones and instant messaging and Twitter has been focused on how children who incessantly use the technology are affected by it. But parents’ [sic] use of such technology — and its effect on their offspring — is now becoming an equal source of concern to some child-development researchers.


...In her studies, Dr. Turkle [director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self] said, “Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events.”

 




 

Response:


There are, of course, good reasons to supervise and even limit children’s use of computers and similar devices. And parents obviously should not value their technological gizmos more than they value their children. Hence, it is possible to find apparent justifications for the “media policies” enforced at typical Waldorf schools, policies that direct Waldorf families to disconnect from televisions, computers, smart phones, and other high-tech devices.


You should realize, however, that the real reasons Waldorf schools are averse to high technology have little to do with common-sense prescriptions for living sanely. In the Waldorf belief system, technology is the province of the terrible demon Ahriman. Using high-tech gizmos can suck you into Ahriman’s sphere.


Here are a few pertinent statements on these matters by followers of Rudolf Steiner. Note that all forms of technology, reaching down at least to the level of steam engines, is demonic. Also, the use of electricity is, in and of itself, hellish.


(It is hard to believe that Rudolf Steiner's followers believe the things they believe. And it is hard to believe that such beliefs control much of what happens in and around Waldorf schools. But they do. Rudolf Steiner's followers are adherents of the occult, pagan belief system called Anthroposophy.)



• "The computer is special because of its relation to the spiritual being...called Ahriman." — David Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, ISBN: 0-916786-96-X), p. 2.


• “[T]he whole computer- and Internet industry is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman.” — Leading Anthroposophist Sergei Prokofieff. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]


• "One of the latest ideas in the educational field is programmed learning ... The idea is new, and lends itself to mechanical contraptions [i.e., mechanized teaching aids] ... A machine can instil a string of dates quickly into a child's mind. It can, no doubt, do the same with facts and figures ... As a means of instilling facts, the programme may be efficient. As an educator, it is a monster. Similar arguments apply to the use of radio and television." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, COMMONSENSE SCHOOLING (Henry Goulden, 1975), pp. 5-6.


• “In constructing steam engines an opportunity is...provided for the incarnation of demons ... In steam engines, Ahrimanic demons are brought right down to the point of physical incorporation.” — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).


• "[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time ... [T]elevision, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings and demons are constantly on the increase."  — Georg Unger, ibid.


• “The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web. And fallen spirits of darkness...are active in this web.” — Anthroposophist Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24.










The demon Ahriman, as depicted by Rudolf Steiner.



Not all Anthroposophists share the fear of technology we've seen expressed above; at least, some may have differing evaluations of technology's dangers. But virtually all Anthroposophists fear Ahriman and his wiles. Here is Steiner talking to Waldorf teachers about Ahriman:


"[T]oday...the spirit-soul is asleep. The human being is thus in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls ... This is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.

[For more on Ahriman and other demons Waldorf faculties worry about, see "Ahriman" and "Evil Ones".]


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From the February, 2013 issue of INFORM,

a publication of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA)

[http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/03_NewsEvents/documents/InformFebruary2013.pdf]:




AWSNA Summer Conference  

Co-Sponsored by the  

Anthroposophical Society 


 

Practical Life, Meditation, and the Waldorf 

School: The Anthroposophical Challenge 

Keynote Speaker: Claus-Peter Roeh Co-Leader 

Pedagogical Section of Anthroposophical 

Society in Dornach, Switzerland. 

June 24-27, 2013 

Hosted by the Austin Waldorf School, Austin, TX 

Pedagogical Section Meeting Sunday, June 23 

and Monday, June 24 

Delegates Meeting June 28 and June 29 

For more information contact Connie Stokes at 

(518) 392-0613 or cstokes@highlandhall.org

 




 

Response:


Waldorf schools are inextricably linked to Anthroposophy, the religion created by Rudolf Steiner. Note the title of the keynote address, quoted above. Waldorf schools are tightly bound up in "The Anthroposophical Challenge."

Practicing Anthroposophists should certainly have the right to send their children to Anthroposophical schools — i.e., Waldorf schools. All other parents should have the same right, of course. But a word of advice: If you are not an Anthroposophist, inform themselves about Anthroposophy before enrolling your children in Waldorf schools. Anthroposophy is an occult, pagan faith akin to Theosophy and having roots in gnostic (heretical) Christianity.* Despite the obvious attractions of Waldorf schools — their physical beauty, their emphasis on the arts, their green values — you are unlikely to find Waldorf education ultimately satisfactory unless you can embrace Anthroposophy.

Rudolf Steiner said that Waldorf teachers must be deeply committed to Anthroposophy. Speaking to teachers at the first Waldorf school, he said: 

"As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. 

But he also said that the teachers should hide their faith from outsiders — i.e., you and me. 

“[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." — Ibid., p. 705.

To learn about Anthroposophy before committing to Waldorf, you probably should consult non-Anthroposophical sources that are eager to explain, not conceal, the bonds between Anthroposophy and Waldorf. One such source is (ahem) Waldorf Watch. Others include People for Legal and Nonsectarian SchoolsUK AnthroposophyThe Ethereal KioskWaldorf AwarenessOpen WaldorfWaldorf Critics in France, and The Quackometer. [For additional links, see "Links".]


* See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Was He Christian?", and "Gnosis". For more on the Waldorf penchant for secrecy, see "Secrets" and "Clues".


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To extend, slightly, our recent discussion of eurythmy, 
here are two messages from The Ethereal Kiosk 
[http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/eurythmy-in-school-to-aid-the-incarnating-processes-of-the-growing-child/#comment-22988]: 


• Message from Hope · February 4, 2013 - 7:43 am 


I found your site [The Ethereal Kiosk] today after my family attended a music recital of a dear friend. Much to our surprise, Eurythmy was on the program! First the performer explained feverishly that this was NOT DANCE and that we would be SEEING THE MUSIC. She invited us to JOIN IN but requested that we not videotape the performance so we could SEE IT WITH OUR EYES. Her silent eunuch-like sidekick nodded benignly while she prepared us mentally for what we were about to see. Then they went up on tippy-toe and did NOTHING SPECIAL for about 13 minutes while my friend played a beautiful piece of music that she had written on the piano. The rest of the recital was accomplished musicians playing original music. The Eurymatic Finale made a big impression, let me tell you. Everybody figured the spinning lady and her eunuch were higher than kites and I am not sure it wasn’t a bad bet. Came home and went to the internet to try to figure out what just happened. Thank goodness for this blog, to help me make sense of it all.


.

• Message from alicia hamberg · February 4, 2013 - 6:32 pm

 

Let me assure you — many people leave their first eurythmy performance completely befuddled! What is this, they ask, is this for real?

Yes, it is, I say. And they [i.e., Waldorf schools] make children do it!!! Several times a week, for 12 years! 

I’m sure you can imagine that this leaves indelible scars even on the most hardened of souls…


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A new website has appeared: Waldorf Critics in France. The site is intended to be a repository for essays, written in French, about Waldorf education and Anthroposophy. Links to English translations of at least some of the essays are provided. The site may eventually house the work of many authors, but it has begun by reposting some works by Grégoire Perra, a former Waldorf student and teacher: https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfcriticsinfrance/.

Waldorf Critics in France is not officially affiliated with the English-language "Waldorf Critics" site sponsored by People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS): http://waldorfcritics.org/index.html. In fact, Waldorf Critics in France is more nearly related to Waldorf Watch — I had a hand in setting it up. — RR.



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Currently featured at the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore






[HeartSong Press, 2012.]


"Drawing from decades of experience as a performer, teacher and therapist, Cynthia Hoven offers new and inspiring insights into how the practice of Eurythmy can awaken our creative spiritual powers and lead to a deeper understanding of the meaning of life and our place in the universe."
 




 

Response:


Eurythmy is meant to express, through movement and gestures, the inner or spiritual meaning of language. At traditional Waldorf schools, all students are required to perform eurythmy.


Steiner said that doing eurythmy puts us in direct contact with the spirit realm. 


"In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world." — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 246-247. 


Done properly, with reverence and soulful seriousness, eurythmy is the physical enactment of Anthroposophical doctrine; it is prayer in motion. The dancers are meant to be communing directly with the gods. As a former Waldorf teacher has written, 


"Anthroposophists believe the movements [of eurythmy] are a sign language with spiritual significance that help the child communicate with the spirit world." [See "Whats Your Views".] 


Thus, the Waldorf emphasis on eurythmy is one clear indicator of the religious nature of Waldorf education. How important is eurythmy in Waldorf schools? 


"Eurythmy is obligatory. The children must participate.  Those who do not participate in eurythmy will be removed from the school." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.


For some of Steiner's teachings about eurythmy, you might consult EURYTHMY - An Introductory Reader (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006). Especially interesting is the chapter on "eurythmy therapy," in which Steiner makes claims for the curative, medicinal effects of eurythmy. Waldorf students who become ill are often prescribed particular eurythmic exercises for their supposed health-restoring powers.





[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006.]



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The following is currently presented at the Rudolf Steiner Archive 

under the heading “Anthroposophy News”

 even though the article contains no reference to Anthroposophy, 

Rudolf Steiner, or Waldorf education

[http://www.rsarchive.org/]:



'Quantum smell' idea gains ground

By Jason Palmer

Science and technology reporter, BBC News



A controversial theory that the way we smell involves a quantum physics effect has received a boost, following experiments with human subjects.


It challenges the notion that our sense of smell depends only on the shapes of molecules we sniff in the air.


Instead, it suggests that the molecules' vibrations are responsible.

 




 

Response:


There is virtually no factual evidence supporting any of the claims of Anthroposophy, which its followers (borrowing from Theosophy) call “spiritual science.” There is no such thing as spiritual science.

Anthroposophical “researchers” spend a great deal of time combing through press reports, scientific journals, and other sources seeking any tiny statement that could conceivably be interpreted (or misinterpreted) as supporting Anthroposophy. This generally produces irrational (not to say laughable) results. Thus, if new research indicates that science’s previous understanding of smell was incomplete, Rudolf Steiner’s followers grab this as proof that natural science is wholly wrong and, therefore, “spiritual science” is correct.* The reality, however, is quite different. When science takes a step forward, such as improving its understanding of smell, it almost invariably moves farther away from Steiner’s bizarre teachings. Science advances, and “spiritual science” recedes farther and farther into antiquated, medieval fallacy. If some of Rudolf Steiner's "scientific" teachings seemed plausible during his lifetime, they have become increasingly incredible as real science has advanced.


To consider the nature of Steiner’s “spiritual science” you might, for instance, consult Sven Ove Hansson’s essay, “Is Anthroposophy Science?” [http://waldorfcritics.org/articles/Hansson.html].





* What did Steiner say about smell? He traced all sensory impressions, including smell, back to vibrations in the etheric realm. [See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 57.] There is no scientific basis for this view. Science finds no evidence for the existence of the etheric realm (or the etheric body, or the ether...). Indeed, science find no evidence for most of the conditions, states, or objects Steiner discoursed upon.


Still, some of Steiner's statements about the senses, such as smell, are diverting. Thus, for instance: 

"[P]lants smell the universe and adapt themselves accordingly ... The violet is really all nose, a very, very delicate nose ... [The] violet is really all nose — but a delicate nose, inhaling the cosmic scent of Mercury. It holds the scent, as I have indicated, between its solid parts and exhales it; then the scent is dense enough for us to be able to smell it. So when Mercury comes toward us through the violet, we smell Mercury. If with our coarse noses we were to sniff toward Saturn, we would smell nothing. But when the asafetida, which has a keen nose for Saturn, sniffs toward that planet, it smells what comes from it, adapts its gas content accordingly, and has a most foul odor. Suppose you are walking through an avenue of horse chestnuts — you know the scent of horse chestnut, or of linden blossoms? They both have such perfume because their flowers are sensitive noses for everything that streams into the universe from Venus." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 146-147.

You may scour scientific literature endlessly seeking valid substantiation for such a statement. You will find none.



Steiner's Specific






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[R.R., 2013]