January, 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.

Here are two postings from the Waldorf Critics discussion page. 
(The first is reprinted from a discussion at Mothering.) 

 Message #1


i am beside myself and need advice, desperately.

my child started grade 1 this year and the makeup of the class after 5 months is proving to be incredibly dysfunctional, chaotic and toxic. we have been immersed in waldorf since before our daughter was an infant and are committed to the philosophy 100%. we have an intense group of kids in our class — very aggressive boys, cliquey girls and an undercurrent of "unkindess" for lack of a better word. our kindergarten was an oasis of calm, but when they combined all the kids together, it has been over-the-top intense. to further complicate things, two new students were admitted this year who attended kindergarten in "traditional" schools which has presented challenges, but the bigger problems stem from the fact that both of these children have serious behavioral disorders which are turning the classroom upside down.

  Message #2

You chose to drink the Kool-Aid. Since you drank it all (100% commitment), you must understand that you and your children have drawn "serious behavioral disorders" into your lives. Karma. Good luck. 

Or . . . STOP being "100% committed to the philosophy." Take your kids from the dysfunctional, occult-driven environment ASAP and do what you know is right. No Karma. No luck necessary. Protect your child and enjoy your family life.



Perhaps surprisingly, bullying and other behavioral problems are often major issues at Waldorf schools. Waldorf faculties often believe that children must be allowed to fulfill their karmas. So if some kids are bullies, and others are victims of bullies, this is a result of karma and must be allowed to play out. (There is also a self-protective tendency to blame problems on influences coming from outside the school, when often the causes can be found internally.) 

[For more on this, see, e.g., “Slaps”. To see the discussion at Mothering, go to 


From The Ethereal Kiosk, a discussion

about reasons parents have for keeping mum 

about their Waldorf experiences


By Alicia Hamberg:

If people really are disappointed by waldorf education and feel deceived about the role of anthroposophy, why are they not calling attention to this matter in the mass media? Why do we hear so little about it, if it is such a problem?

...I think the number one reason is that after exiting a waldorf school, people are too occupied with something more important than the recent past, namely the present and the imminent future. The children might be academically behind, they need lots of help, sometimes the social and psychological situation has been so detrimental that the children need extra support on that account...

...Often, people have tried to effect changes [before deciding to leave]. They have talked to teachers, talked to other parents. Perhaps some were mildly sympathetic but noncommittal, brushing it all off, and nothing changed. Perhaps they were treated as ignoramuses, who could not possibly understand all the supposedly important things going on. Before they leave, it’s not unlikely they have been made to understand that their problems or complaints are unique, never happened before or to anyone else, perhaps it has been insinuated that it’s their fault or that they have not adapted, are not open enough or that the school doesn’t suit them, but everyone else is happy, thank you very much....

...In short, the atmosphere prevents the occurrence of rightful and healthy misgivings. Parents attempt to remain enthusiastic, against the odds, strive to have hope, to believe in the promise for far [too] long, for so long that more difficulties are added. Among them guilt and shame. People do feel ashamed for having been gullible, for having failed to do their homework [i.e., failing to inform themselves about the real nature of Waldorf education]. They feel guilty that they didn’t understand the needs of their own children. To stand up and reveal your weaknesses, to lay bare your faults and failings, in the media, and open yourself up for counter-accusations based upon shaming and guilt-tripping, maybe this is not such an appealing prospect...

By Diana Winters:

I believe that most people (by far) who leave Waldorf disappointed do not ever realize (it does not even occur to them) that what happened had anything to do systematicallywith Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner. They [mistakenly] believe they just happened to have a bad experience at a bad school. Fairly often, they assert that the problem was that the school wasn’t actually Waldorfy enough – the problems came from a teacher who wasn’t completely Waldorf-trained or who wasn’t Waldorf-experienced enough or maybe she/he just wasn’t the best Waldorf teacher. They think they picked a dud Waldorf school, or drew straws and got the short [straw] in terms of teachers. They often remain convinced that there are many good Waldorf schools, and that they just had the bad luck to run into a bad one, or just to some bad teachers.

It wouldn’t occur to most people to go to the media after their child has a bad experience in school. Most who come and go never suspect there are larger issues or patterns across schools, or that their story is anything more than a story of personal misfortune.

For more on the disturbing experiences families have had

in Waldorf schools, see, e.g., "Our Experience", 

"Coming Undone", "Moms", "Pops", and "Slaps".

The similarities in these accounts suggest that, indeed, 

there are systemic problems in the Waldorf movement.


A discussion of Waldorf education is beginning at Yahoo. 


It is likely to have the same virtues and limitations as similar discussions elsewhere. 

So far, only one long answer has been posted — but it holds undeniable points of interest.

Whats your views on Steiner Waldorf Schools ?

Hi, I'd like to know your views on Steiner Schools. My friend wants to send her son there and as I'd never heard of these schools before.

Have you or anyone you know been to this school? What are they like? I'd love some feedback on them good or bad....


Answers (1)


I have one word of advise for your friend- Tell her to "RUN" !!!! 

I know that your friend feels that she has found this beautiful, progressive, child-centered, arts based school that will focus on "the whole child", but honestly, nothing can be further from the truth. There are many things that she is not being told in her parent ed nights and any of the pamphlets and movies that they are showing her. Below is a quick overview of Waldorf Education. 

Waldorf schools were founded by Rudolf Steiner, a man from the turn of the last century who believed he had access to a higher consciousness through a clairvoyant knowledge of the spiritual world and set up his own spiritual esoteric movement called Anthroposophy – the knowledge of man.

Anthroposophy blends ideas from astrology, spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, Christian mysticism and other esoteric sources. Its foundational belief is that of karma and reincarnation....

Because of its belief in karma and reincarnation, there is a hierarchy of souls. At the bottom are animals such as fish and reptiles. Those animals with good karma will progress to become apes, then black people, then brown people and eventually Aryans – blond haired/blue eyed Germanic-Nordic humans. People with disabilities of any kind are disabled though actions in previous lives.

Additionally, Steiner stated that, humans are composite beings made up of a number of spiritual entities. Our spirits enter into our bodies each lifetime in several stages as we grow. At about seven the “etheric body” incarnates ... At about fourteen the “astral body” incarnates ... At 21 years, the I, or ego, “the divine selfhood” incarnates....

What they mean by ‘whole child’ is that their focus is on the incarnation of the spiritual entities. Waldorf schools were designed to assist the spirits as they enter children’s bodies and help them they grow and to prepare their souls for better lives. Although it is true that they do not explicitly teach Anthroposophy, their entire curriculum and everything from the color of the walls of each classroom, to the art materials the child is allowed to use, to the knowledge the child is exposed to, to where the child is seated in the classroom is completely guided by Anthroposophy.


Parents are told to limit access to technology. This is because anthroposophists believe that such things are the embodiment of the evil spirit of Ahriman.... 


Steiner believed that early reading interferes with the incarnation of the etheric body ... Only after adult teeth have appeared, did he believe the child spiritually ready to learn to read.


Is a dance invented by Steiner. Anthroposophists believe the movements are a sign language with spiritual significance that help the child communicate with the spirit world.


Paper must have rounded corners and with restricted media and colors, such as washes and waxes. Only certain types of art are allowed at certain ages. For example, wet on wet paintings and block crayon drawings are taught to young children because the work they produce is very much like the spirit world that Steiner believed the children just came from....

Individual Needs:

Children are treated and taught according to one of four temperaments: Melancholic, Sanguine, Phlegmatic or Choleric – Steiner used physical appearance and color to classify and determine how and what a child should be taught and where they should sit in the classroom.

Anthroposophical Medicine

Each Steiner School has an Anthroposophical Doctor who not only embraces forms of naturopathy, but who also claims to consider each child's past and future lives. They believe things like measles aids a child in their “spiritual development and that the eradication of smallpox by vaccination delayed the spirit’s karmic destiny in other lives....


I student taught, taught, and lived in a Waldorf training center










http://smrtlernins.com/2010/11/16/ask-a-… [etc.]


From the Mail Tribune, Oregon, USA


Parents accuse Madrone Trail board of veering from mission

They want its Waldorf roots to be maintained

January 24, 2013

By Chris Conrad

Mail Tribune

Parents of Madrone Trail Charter School students made it known Wednesday that they feel the school is straying from its Waldorf-inspired roots and that some changes need to be made in the way its board members are appointed.

The meeting held in the school's gym was busy with parents reading statements that were critical of recent changes to the board and the school's bylaws determining how new members can be appointed.

The Madrone Trail bylaws require that at least two of the seven to nine members "must be people with experience or training in teaching the Waldorf educational curriculum," but don't elaborate on the type of experience or how extensive the training must be.

Chairman Doug Breidenthal said board members should have experience in accounting an public policy making.

He said the school is the steward of $1 million in public funds, which requires a mind for budgets and the legalities of running a public institution.




Waldorf schools that accept public funding face a problem. If they remain true to the Waldorf creed, they violate the public trust. If they operate in ways that education officials are likely to approve, they violate their Waldorf heritage. 

Parents who want Waldorf schools to remain true to their “Waldorf-inspired roots” probably mean that they want the schools to be warmhearted places where students play a lot without being subjected to much academic pressure; places where green values are emphasized while modern technology is largely shunned; places where arts, crafts, and a vague sort of spirituality are in evidence, while science and the hurly-burly contemporary world are largely banished. These are, indeed, characteristics of typical Waldorf schools. But the essential nature of Waldorf education — and the reasons Waldorf is incompatible with public funding — are rarely laid bare in such debates. Here are a few statements revealing the real nature of Waldorf schooling:

• “[T]he Waldorf school is essentially religious.” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash. 

• “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods.” — Rudolf Steiner.

• “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson.

• "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy.” — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis.

• “[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." — Rudolf Steiner.

[For more on these matters, see “Here’s the Answer” and “Waldorf Education - Goals” in the Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]


Another discussion of Waldorf / Steiner schools has begun at Mumsnet.
Whether it will follow the usual pattern remains to be seen.
A deeper question is whether tossing out questions in such arenas
and accepting answers from the people who happen to chime in
(whether or not they know much about the subjects raised)
is the best way to gain information about Waldorf education.

nlondondad Sat 26-Jan-13 10:42:06

What usually happens on a Steiner discussion thread on Mumsnet is:-

1. A posting saying, without details, that Steiner Schools are great and not to believe the sorts of accusations critics make. Had one of those.

2. A posting from someone critical of Steiner, usually with links to info on the Internet. These links will include the accusation that steinerism is essentially an occult religion which as it is organised on esoteric lines, is less than open about its real nature. Had one of those.

3. Then postings start which are hugely supportive of Steiner schools. Due to their distinctive style that can be traced quickly to individuals acting on behalf of the Steiner organisation, but without declaring their interest or identity, not realising that their inevitable unmasking just makes people feel that poster 2 was on to something.

Because of the predictability steiner threads are less fun than they used to be.


Newly featured at the Online Waldorf Library

Henry Barnes, THE THIRD SPACE - 
The First Goetheanum & the First Waldorf School
(Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2012.)

"This book considers the form created from the intersecting of the two unequal spheres of the first Goetheanum and how it relates to the social form Rudolf Steiner imagined in the first Waldorf school."




The Goetheanum is the spiritual center of the Anthroposophical movement, and thus it is the spiritual center of the Waldorf movement. Located in Switzerland, the Goetheanum is named for the German poet Goethe, whom Rudolf Steiner admired. In essence, the Goetheanum is a cathedral, having a cruciform floor plan, a large nave, huge colored glass windows bearing spiritual images, a massive pipe organ, columns inscribed with mystical symbols, spiritualistic paintings and works of sculpture, and so forth. 

There have been two Goetheanums, one replacing the other. Both have been cathedrals. The original structure — described in this book — was a wooden mega-church dominated by two intersecting domes. Steiner considered the relationship of these domes extremely important. 

"If you look at the Goetheanum you will see that it has two domes ... [T]his double dome is an expression of the living element. If there had been one dome then in essence our building would have been dead." — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 154.

This is the interior of the original Goetheanum 
— small dome on the left, large dome on the right.
(The image is distorted; it was pieced together from 
several photographs shot at varying angles.)
A towering statue of Christ, Ahriman, and Lucifer 
stands at the head of the small dome;
the cathedral's pipe organ stands 
at the rear of the large dome.

[RR sketch]

Here is the statue. 
The large figure is Christ, the Sun God.
Below him crouches Ahriman. 
Behind Christ's upraised arm,
scarcely visible from this angle, is Lucifer, 
upside-down, falling out of heaven.
(Smaller images of Ahriman and Lucifer, 
added later, can be seen to Christ's right.
A nature spirit hovers above 
these secondary images.) 

The original Goetheanum was destroyed by fire (Anthroposophists say their enemies committed an act of arson, but no proof was ever produced). A second cathedral — domeless, and made of concrete — was erected in its stead.

Here is the interior of the second Goetheanum, 
looking toward its pipe organ.
The second Goetheanum does not incorporate domes;
its configuration resembles colossal crystals.

Although Waldorf apologists often claim that Waldorf schools have little or no connection to the religion of Anthroposophy, in fact — as Henry Barnes indicates in THE THIRD SPACE — the schools are meant to embody the same spiritual forces and structure as Anthroposophy. 

  [For more on these matters, 


From The Ethereal Kiosk, a commentary 
touching on two crucial Waldorf issues, the role Anthroposophy plays in Waldorf, 
and the tendency of Waldorf faculties to dissemble about this role 

[W]hether anthroposophy happens to be an individual teacher’s personal spiritual worldview or not, it must be possible to discuss how and when and why anthroposophy has a role to play in waldorf education — because the role it is playing is undeniable and huge. Without anthroposophy, there would be no waldorf in the first place. So while you can’t require from the individual teacher that he or she makes a confession of belief — although I do think questions about it are absolutely valid as far as these beliefs influence the teacher’s pedagogical practice and attitudes — there should certainly be a requirement made on these schools and other organisations to be honest about and to discuss the belief system which underlies the pedagogy, the method, and which influences — sometimes dictates — how the school is run.

[For more on some of these matters, 


Historian Peter Staudenmaier has posted a chapter from his upcoming book about Anthroposophy and racism

[see http://marquette.academia.edu/PeterStaudenmaier].

The chapter deals with Waldorf education in Nazi Germany.

It begins thus:

 Chapter 5 

Education for the National Community? Waldorf Schools in the Third Reich 

On the 31st of January 1933, the day after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, a Mrs. Oberstein removed her daughter from the Breslau Waldorf school. Oberstein, a Nazi party member, was upset by the presence of a temporary assistant teacher from a Jewish background, and expressed her strong disagreement with the Waldorf faculty regarding “the race question.” Her daughter’s regular teacher, Heinrich Wollborn, wrote a letter the same day defending his Jewish colleague and explaining the Waldorf attitude toward such matters: 

We teachers place our complete trust in the capacity of every person for spiritual transformation, and we are firmly convinced that anthroposophy provides the possibility for an individual to outgrow his racial origin.

Wollborn’s explanation succinctly captured the differences between the anthroposophical understanding of race and ethnicity and the attitudes represented by the new National Socialist government. For anthroposophists, Jews could overcome their “racial origin” by fully embracing the German national community and its highest spiritual expression, namely anthroposophy itself. This stance flatly contradicted Nazi racial doctrine, and in subsequent months the Breslau Waldorf school faced fierce criticism from zealous opponents in the local Nazi party organization. One anonymous denunciation declared that “Jews are behind this school.”

Beneath the rhetoric lay a remarkably complicated reality. The visiting teacher whose presence had sparked the incident, an anthroposophist named Ernst Lehrs, came from a family whose Jewish roots were notably tenuous. Not only was Lehrs himself fervently committed to Steiner’s esoteric version of Christianity, both his parents and his grandparents belonged to the Protestant church. The family had not been Jewish for generations, except in the ‘racial’ sense, and Lehrs exemplified the anthroposophical ideal of spiritual transformation and transcending one’s racial origins – the abandonment of Jewishness as the sine qua non for individuals from Jewish backgrounds hoping to become full members of the German Volk. In anthroposophist eyes, Lehrs had successfully joined the national community, whereas in Nazi eyes he was ineligible to do so. 

This incident from January 1933 did not simply end with contrary positions on the “race question.” Both Wollborn and the administration of the Breslau Waldorf school soon distanced themselves from their initial stance. Writing to local school authorities in October 1933, Wollborn reversed his earlier standpoint, insisting that in his January 31 letter “nothing was further from my mind than taking a principled position on the race question. I therefore greatly regret formulating the letter in such an unclear manner.” Noting that he wrote the earlier letter when the Nazi government was still forming, Wollborn now declared: “I have placed my  pedagogical work entirely on the basis of the government, and have fully expressed this by joining the National Socialist Teachers League in June of this year.”

The Breslau Waldorf school, meanwhile, explained that Jews no longer worked there and that Lehrs had been only a temporary employee who left the school before the new laws regarding Jewish employees were promulgated. The school further noted that many Waldorf teachers had joined the Nazi teachers’ association and that all Waldorf schools in Germany had completed the process of Gleichschaltung, the Nazi term for bringing social institutions into line with the regime. A local school inspector assigned to investigate the incident completely absolved both Wollborn and the school. His final report confirmed the Waldorf representatives’ claims and declared that the Breslau Waldorf school was indeed free of “Jewish influence,” observing moreover that a number of its core faculty were Nazi party members.

Carrie Mae Rose...is in the process of designing clothing that mimics what Rudolf Steiner termed the “etheric body”: basically, the restorative life force that maintains growth and restoration, like the subtle electrical currents which run under the human skin. She hopes the clothing will act therapeutically in cases where one longs for nature or human contact— space travel, extreme urban environments, cases of abuse or neglect, baby incubators. Blog offices.

Carrie Mae Rose explains

The etheric body is called prana in Ayurveda & chi in Chinese medicine. The etheric body can be described as a network of subtle (non-visible) energetic threads called nadis, variously translated as "conduits”,"nerves", "veins", "vessels" or "arteries" that constitute the composition of the subtle body. Max Heindel's Rosicrucian writings, the etheric body promotes such vital activities as assimilation, growth, and propagation and it is an exact counterpart of our physical body, molecule for molecule, and organ for organ, but it is of the opposite polarity. It is slightly larger, extending about one and one-half inches beyond the periphery of the physical body. ------> Please go here to read more about Rudolf Steiner's Four Fold model that describes the etheric and full subtle body system.


From The Morning Call, a newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA


Northwestern Lehigh approves charter school

Charter school may open for 2013-14 school year, if lease can be finalized on Fogelsville site.

January 17, 2013|By Daniel Patrick Sheehan, Of The Morning Call

The Northwestern Lehigh School Board has approved the application for the Circle of Seasons Charter School, clearing the way for the facility to open for the 2013-14 school year if it can finalize a lease on a proposed site in Fogelsville...

The school will use the Waldorf teaching method, which integrates the arts across the disciplines and emphasizes imagination while eschewing textbooks, computers and other traditional classroom tools.

In rejecting the proposal the first time, the board said the school didn't offer an appropriate curriculum that met state requirements; didn't budget enough funds for expenses, such as special education, maintenance and classroom materials; and lacked support from the Northwestern Lehigh community.

Earlier in the year, the Parkland School Board voiced similar misgivings in rejecting project director Phil Arnold's proposal to open the school in that district.

Arnold — who helped launch the Seven Generations Charter School in Emmaus and is chief operating officer of the controversial Medical Academy Charter School in Catasauqua — revised the bid and resubmitted it.




Proponents of Waldorf education can learn to jump through the regulatory hoops — they can fashion proposals that, on paper, meet minimum official requirements. Whether the schools thus created will, in practice, provide a good education for their students may be a different matter.

As one former Waldorf teacher has written, "The reason many [Waldorf] schools exist is because of the Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world ... Educating children is secondary in these schools.” [See “Ex-Teacher 7”.]

This does not mean that Waldorf schools always fail to educate their students adequately. But often, in practice, Waldorf schools are academically weak. As Rudolf Steiner himself said when the students at the first Waldorf school were tested, “We should have no illusions: The results gave a very unfavorable impression of our school to people outside.” [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]

In theory, a Waldorf school could provide reasonably good instruction while also attending to its real purpose, the propagation of Anthroposophy. But this would be difficult. [See “Spiritual Agenda”.] The best Waldorf schools are likely to be those that wander farthest from the goals and purposes of the Waldorf movement — that is, Waldorf schools are likely to be good schools only if they cease to be genuine Waldorf schools. Determining the true nature of any particular “Waldorf” school can require difficult detective work. [See “Clues” and “Non-Waldorf Waldorfs”.]

To explore the nature of true Waldorf schools — schools that adhere to the original design for Waldorf education — see, e.g., “Here’s the Answer”, “Curriculum”, “Methods”, and “Sneaking It In”.

One more issue needs to be aired. Waldorf schools are fundamentally religious institutions, promoting the religion of Anthroposophy. [See "Here's the Answer", "Schools as Churches", and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Should such schools receive taxpayer support? Should the state underwrite such schools? At least in the United States, such support is unconstitutional, violating the separation of church and state. This is the fundamental concern of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, a group focused on the Waldorf movement.


From the Chicago Waldorf School


Columbia College Features Waldorf Education 

as part of its Fall Faculty Development Workshops

Friday, January 2013

This past Fall, Chicago Waldorf School was invited to speak at a faculty education workshop sponsored by the Department of Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management at Columbia College.

...Carol Triggiano, current CWS eighth grade teacher and former Chair of the College of Teachers, led a workshop that described the Waldorf approach. Discussions included models of imaginative storytelling and the group examined the value of students illustrating and authoring their own workbooks as pedagogical tools that effectively aid creative and active learning.

...The educational value of these Waldorf principles are gaining more adherents and widespread acceptance as we see increased exposure in mass media and the ongoing publication of supportive studies in academic and professional journals of psychology and child development.




This is quite impressive. Waldorf at Columbia!

But a few clarifications may be in order. Columbia College is not Columbia University, the world-renowned Ivy League institution in New York City. Columbia College in Chicago [http://www.ccis.edu/] is an arts and “media” institution founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory.

Nonetheless, Waldorf education is indeed receiving increased “exposure in mass media” nowadays. This is largely the result of concerted PR efforts made by the Waldorf movement. Unfortunately, hurried reporters often do not have the time or initiative to look below the surface of Waldorf PR. They may not know, for instance, that “imagination” is emphasized in Waldorf schools because, in Waldorf belief, imagination is considered a stage of clairvoyance. Likewise, reporters may not know that Waldorf students usually create their workbooks by obediently copying what their teachers have written and drawn on the chalkboard.* Textbooks are largely absent from Waldorf schools because they contain real information about the real world, information that runs counter to Waldorf beliefs. Instead of studying textbooks, Waldorf students piece together workbooks that often contain unreal-world pronouncements made by their teachers, who generally relay the unreal-world teachings of the mystic, Rudolf Steiner. [See, e.g., “Lesson Books”.] As for "supportive studies in academic and professional journals," there is actually very little except in self-serving Anthroposophical publications, and the quality of such "research" is often extremely low. [For an inside view, see "He Went to Waldorf". For a peek at pro-Waldorf "research," see "Steiner's Specific".]

“Copying is the curse of the Waldorf Schools. There is altogether too much of it ... The way in which many [Waldorf] teachers organize their work implies that they consider that the whole object of the course is the creation of a gorgeous notebook. And the way in which some teachers judge the work of other teachers implies the same thing.” — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER  (iUniverse, 2004), p. 132. [See "His Education".]

It is hard to grasp just how mystical and absurd the thinking behind Waldorf schools really is. Imagination is stressed in Waldorf schools because Rudolf Steiner taught that it is the first of three stages of "higher knowledge" or clairvoyance. The other stages are inspiration and intuition. Steiner taught that we will perfect our powers of imagination when the solar system reincarnates as "Future Jupiter," we will perfect our powers of inspiration when we arrive at "Future Venus," and we will perfect our powers of intuition during "Future Vulcan." (Yes, Vulcan).

[SteinerBooks, 2009.]

To dig into these matters, you may want to consult The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia

and such expositions as "Future Stages".

To sample the thinking that underlies Waldorf education, see "Say What?" and "Who Says?"


Newly published by SteinerBooks

[SteinerBooks, January 2013]

This second volume of the Esoteric Lessons covers the three years from January 1910 and December 1912. It includes all the lessons Rudolf Steiner gave to members of the Esoteric School as he traveled, lecturing, from city to city.

The focus of the lessons is inner work, praxis. They present us with a holy seriousness and the possibility of intimacy with the spiritual worlds: we learn to enter ourselves and to unite with the universal spirit. To do so, we are taught that two things are needed: first, we must trust patiently and with inner truthfulness in the process; second, we must learn to transform the attitudes that threaten our worthiness — doubt, superstition, and egoism. As for the ways of overcoming egoism, Rudolf Steiner turns repeatedly to the deeper meanings of Christ's teachings and the practice of the Rosicrucian meditation.




The Esoteric School was an academy of arcane spiritual knowledge established by Rudolf Steiner in 1904, while he was still a Theosophist. The school formally disbanded after World War I, but remnants of it were incorporated in the School of Spiritual Science, which Steiner founded in 1923 after breaking with Theosophy and establishing Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement.

Steiner's Anthroposophical doctrines are largely consistent with the teachings of his Theosophical period. He claimed to have been right all along; his later occult "research" (that is, his claimed use of clairvoyance to probe the spirit realm) deepened and extended his earlier "research," he said, but it did not overturn the core of his earlier teachings. 

In delivering lectures to the Esoteric School, Steiner claimed to reveal deeper occult secrets than he could reveal to outsiders. A key precept for occult initiates such as himself, he said, is never to reveal occult secrets to those who are unprepared to receive them. Some of those secrets have subsequently trickled out, but some presumably remain hidden. Anthroposophists — including many Waldorf faculty members — are torn between the impulses to conceal and to reveal the glad tidings of their esoteric faith. Books like ESOTERIC LESSONS 1910-1912 arise from the latter impulse.


From the Honolulu Waldorf School in Hawaii, USA


The Honolulu Waldorf High School is starting off the new year with a new and improved Learning Resource Center (LRC) thanks to a generous donation from a current student. School administrators have used the $35,000 donation to upgrade the technology available to students and teachers by purchasing and installing 20 new Apple iMac computers and a 60 inch flat screen TV in the LRC. The Center is used by faculty for teaching, as as the 11th grade technology course, and by students for research and homework.




Waldorf schools are usually averse to the use of high-tech devices such as computers and televisions. [See previous stories here: e.g., January 2012November 2011...] Indeed, this is often a point of pride for them, something they stress in their promotional materials. But sometimes reality and its demands intrude into the insular Waldorf universe. Children today can hardly be considered educated unless they learn at least a little about computers, so Waldorf schools increasingly relent, at least a little. Students in the lower grades are still shielded, as much as possible, from the dire effects of modern technology, but students in the upper grades are sometimes allowed limited access to high-tech gadgets. 

It's a touchy business. Steiner taught that technology is essentially demonic, falling under the sway of the arch-demon Ahriman. So, from a Waldorf perspective, dabbling in technology means risking the dreadful influence of demonic forces. Yet, to be prepared for life in the dreadful modern world, running such risks may be necessary. It's the same dilemma Waldorf advocates face when they decide to create pro-Waldorf websites. Promoting Waldorf schools is extremely necessary, they believe. And yet, to do so digitally, through use of computers...

Ahriman, as depicted by Rudolf Steiner.

Ahriman and his rival/partner Lucifer offer mankind gifts, Steiner taught. And to some degree, we need those gifts. But to a large degree, we must resist the demons. [See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer".] Demons, being demons, are bad dudes. (Just look at Ahriman's mug.) Except for the intervention of the Sun God, the demons would have done us in: 

"Lucifer and Ahriman would have been able to bring about disaster to the whole of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, "Pre-Earthly Deeds of Christ", GA 152. 

In Steiner's teachings, Christ is the Sun God. He fends off the demons for us. See "Sun God". 

The demons, being demons, preside over evil kingdoms. 

"The evil astral world is the province of Lucifer, the evil Lower Devachan the province of Ahriman." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. [For more on demons, see "Evil Ones". For more on the astral world, Devachan, etc., see "Higher Worlds".] 

From his demonic seat in the spirit realm, Ahriman meddles in physical reality, extending his corruptions through such mechanisms as computers.

• "[T]he stored program computer [provides an] incarnation vehicle capable of sustaining the being of Ahriman.” — David B. Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981), p. 33.

• “Ahriman finds...favourable conditions [for himself] especially in the world of the computer and digital industry.” — Anthroposophist Sergei Prokofieff, “The Being of the Internet,” PACIFICA JOURNAL (Anthroposophical Society in Hawaii), no. 29, 2006.

Computers did not exist in Steiner's day, but Steiner arguably foresaw the advent of "thinking machines" — and the prospect appalled him. Machines will begin to think, he indicated, and people will lose the power to think. 

"[W]e have machines today which add and subtract; everything is convenient. Now, in the Future you will not get a law passed which says you must not think. No. What will happen is that things will be done the effect of which will be to exclude all individual thinking." — Rudolf Steiner, THINGS PAST AND PRESENT IN THE SPIRIT OF MAN (transcript, translated by E. H. Goddard), lecture 4, GA 167. 

This would be an enormous victory for Ahriman, whose aim is to attack human spirituality and mentality. If he can lure us into slavish use of computers, Ahriman will cut us off from the angels. 

"My experience is that the computer is definitely off limits for angels.” — From a discussion at the Rudolf Steiner Archive.

You have been warned.


Today, January 15, 2013, the Rudolf Steiner Archive posted a link to the following BBC news item. 

The Archive categorized the item under the heading "Anthroposophy News":

Tetrapod anatomy: Backbone back-to-front in early animals

By Rebecca Morelle

Science reporter, BBC World Service

A visual interpretation of the body of Ichthyostega

Textbooks might have to be re-written when it comes to some of the earliest creatures, a study suggests.

Researchers have found that our understanding of the anatomy of the first four-legged animals is wrong.

New 3D models of fossil remains show that previous renderings of the position of the beasts' backbones were actually back-to-front.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, may even change our thinking on how the spine evolved.





This is an interesting news item. But it makes no mention of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, or Waldorf education. In what sense, then, does it qualify as "Anthroposophy News"? It doesn't qualify as such, of course. But the link at the Steiner Archive points up an interesting issue. Rudolf Steiner claimed, quite incorrectly, that his teachings are scientific. In reality, his teachings are profoundly antiscientific and irrational; there is virtually no factual basis for anything he said or taught. [See "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Steiner's Blunders".]

But because Steiner claimed to be telling the factual, verifiable, "scientific" truth about all the matters he discussed, his followers have ever after sought any scintilla of scientific evidence that might conceivably be construed as a point in Steiner's favor. Thus, if a prevailing scientific theory is overturned, they rejoice. Aha!, they cry. Conventional science was wrong about X, Y, or Z. Therefore, conventional science is wrong altogether. And, therefore, Rudolf Steiner's "spiritual science" is correct instead! This, of course, is nonsense. As science progresses, old scientific theories are continually replaced by newer, better theories. Clearly, the process of scientific advancement does not mean that antiscientific fantasies such as Steiner's are true. Just the reverse, in fact. The more science advances — the more truths we learn — the more we can see that Rudolf Steiner's teachings are baseless.

(Technically, the arguments Steiner's followers make in cases like this are examples of the logical fallacy called "appeal to ignorance." 

• We do not know that X is correct. Therefore, Y is correct instead.

• We do not know that conventional science is wholly correct, therefore 'spiritual science' is correct instead. [1]

Appeal to ignorance is a form of false argumentation that Steiner himself sometimes used. [See "Ignorance".] It can seem persuasive, if you don't think about it too hard. But it is a fallacy, nothing more.)

Steiner himself sometimes acknowledged that his teachings, which he called "spiritual science" or "occult science," are at odds with conventional or "natural" science. 

"Occult Science is the antithesis of Natural Science.” —Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), preface to editions 16-20, p. xiv, GA 13. [2]

[1] If we do not know that X is correct, then that is all we know. X is not proven. We cannot leap from this to the unproven claim that Y is correct. Y may be true or it may be false. To learn which it is, we need to study Y. Being unsure about X does not justify claims to certainty about Y.

[2] What did Steiner say about prehistoric animals? Many interesting things. (This will give you a taste of Steiner's "science.") For instance, Steiner said that some dinosaurs were fire-breathing dragons. 

“Yes, those beasts did breathe fire ... What I am referring to are dinosaurs from the beginning of the Tertiary Period.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 26. 

Then again, Steiner told of huge lizards that, in the time before humanity moved to Atlantis (yes, Atlantis), flew around with lanterns on their heads. 

“If we were to journey back through time to the age that links Lemuria with Atlantis [the two lost continents on which we used to live], we would meet with a remarkable sight: gigantic flying lizards with a lantern on their heads...” — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), pp. 130-131.


Although the claim is often made that Waldorf schools no longer base their approach in the occult doctrines of Rudolf Steiner, 

in fact studying to become a Waldorf teacher usually entails extensive study of Rudolf Steiner’s occult doctrines. 

Here is part of the description of the first year of Waldorf teacher training at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training, 

downloaded on January 13, 2013



In the First Year, students meet basic concepts of anthroposophy, such as the evolution of consciousness; the human being as an evolving being of body, soul and spirit; thinking as a spiritual activity; the relationship of good and evil; the meaning of materialism in our time; and the ways and means for achieving self-discipline and self-knowledge....

The first course described for the first year is this:

The Human Being and the Cosmos

Includes an introductory overview of anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner texts studied: Becoming the Archangel Michael’s Companions (formerly The Younger Generation); Self-Consciousness, the Spiritual Human Being; and Spiritual Guidance of Humanity. By means of these three texts, as well as lectures and presentations, the student is introduced to a broad range of anthroposophical concerns.


From The New Yorker Online


In certain realms, the distinction between left and right can be murky: "At a place like Demeter"— an international organic label, whose certification standards are based on Rudolf Steiner's teachings —"with its anthroposophic philosophy, an esoteric strain of Nazi thought can find a place, without calling attention to itself"....

At waldorf-critics, historian Peter Staudenmaier comments


This esoteric strain of Nazi thought has been a part of anthroposophy's past for over eight decades, and it is precisely because anthroposophists have failed to notice it, much less confront it squarely, that this strain continues to be part of anthroposophy's present as well.

[For more on the intersections between Anthroposophy and Nazism, see “Sympathizers?”] 

The Washington Waldorf School differs from your average public school in one rather obvious way. While it’s common nowadays to be greeted by the sound of electronics as soon as one enters a school hallway, the corridors of Washington Waldorf are eerily quiet.

That is because rather than embracing technology, the school is innovating by moving further away from it. Instead of introducing classes on web design, programming and computer modeling, students here learn with their hands. When anyone mentions “digital” in this – and most other Waldorf schools across the country and the world – they mean strictly fingers.



We have looked at this issue recently. There are good reasons to minimize reliance on electronic gadgets. It is better to learn how to do math with your brain and a pencil than to be totally reliant on an electronic calculator, for instance. To the extent that Waldorf schools take this line, they are onto something.

But the hidden reasons for Waldorf's aversion to technology should give us pause. In the Waldorf belief system, technology is considered demonic. Specifically, it is under the sway of the terrible demon Ahriman. 

“Everything that has arisen in recent times in the way of materialistic science and industrial technology is of an out-and-out ahrimanic nature.” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 55. [See "Ahriman".]

Computers, especially, are considered tools of Ahriman. 

"Ahriman finds...favourable conditions especially in the world of the computer and digital industry.” — Anthroposophical leader Sergei Prokoffief. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

Not just computers but even typewriters — even manual, non-electric typewriters — are potentially harmful, from a Waldorf perspective. 

"[E]very stroke of a typewriter key becomes a flash of lightning ... [T]he human heart is constantly struck and pierced by those lightning flashes ... [W]hen the fingers hit various keys, the flashes of lightning become completely chaotic. In other words, when seen with spiritual vision, a terrible thunderstorm rages when one is typing.” — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY - Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophical Press, 2003), pp. 145-146.

Indeed, even simple, ancient devices such as abacuses are fearful, from a Waldorf perspective. 

"[W]hen I see calculators [i.e., abacuses] in classrooms, from a spiritual point of view it strikes me as if I were in a medieval torture chamber." — Rudolf Steiner,  SOUL ECONOMY, p. 173.

Not all Anthroposophists spurn all of modern technology; not all see demonic influences in the same places. Steiner did not rule out use of typewriters and "calculators," and today many Waldorf schools permit moderate use of electronic devices in the higher grades. But to a great extent, the practices in Waldorf schools embody a superstitious, baseless fear of a nonexistent monster, the demon Ahriman. Waldorf faculties tend to fear most things that are modern or intellectual. 

They fear “the supreme intellectual power: Ahriman.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167. 

They fear intellect itself, which they deem is destructive. 

“The intellect destroys or hinders.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophical Press, 1995), p. 233.

Waldorf schools are startlingly backward.


From a discussion at waldorf-critics on the question whether Waldorf schools 

teach children how to think critically — i.e., rationally and incisively


The [Waldorf] idea is that the ability of "critical thinking" is ultimately produced in the children as a result of...earlier stages of education. The early years are supposed to be for imaginative learning only, but critical thinking is supposed to come out of that or build on that. In other words, they think you really can produce critical thinkers without teaching critical thinking in the early years — they think it emerges in an organic manner the same way the four "members" of the child are "born" in seven-year stages ... [But this] paradigm is wrong ... [Y]ou can't actually discourage kids from critical thinking for most of their formative years and expect them to somehow magically be able or interested in doing it when they're 15 or 16.




Steiner repeatedly warned against the dangers of critical thinking. Indeed, he disparaged use of the brain, saying the brain has no connection to real understanding. [See “Thinking” and “Steiner’s Specific - Thinking Without Our Brains.”] Waldorf faculties today generally agree with him on these matters (as on most matters). They don’t want students to criticize and analyze things too closely — they especially don’t want the kids to criticize the Waldorf approach or the Waldorf belief system. They do, however, want children to learn to think unconventionally. They want Waldorf students and alumni to reject the mainstream views found in the outside world — what we might call the real world. They want to steer their charges toward the unconventional, offbeat views that Steiner promulgated and that Waldorf faculties generally embrace. [See, e.g., “Spiritual Agenda” and “Thinking Cap”.]

[Concerning the four "members," see "Incarnation". Concerning seven-year stages of child development, see "Most Significant".]


The following has been online for some time, 
but I downloaded it today
(Jan. 11, 2013), and it remains relevant.
It is from the "Waldorf Parent's Master Checklist"
at OpenWaldorf.com


The list is meant to help parents as they try to evaluate

the Waldorf schools to which they have sent their children.

Rudolf Steiner's Clairvoyance

1. Did Rudolf Steiner have any important or unique abilities?

2. Are there any teachers or parents in this school who believe Rudolf Steiner's claim to be clairvoyant? Do they believe his clairvoyant visions are true? Do you believe Steiner was clairvoyant?

3. Is the fact that Rudolf Steiner was clairvoyant an important thing about him?

4. Where is this discussed in the school literature? How is it introduced to parents? Where can I find out more about it?

5. How do Steiner's clairvoyant revelelations [sic] inform Waldorf education? Could Waldorf exist as it does today without Steiner's clairvoyant knowledge?

6. When do Steiner's clairvoyant visions contradict generally accepted knowledge? How is this resolved at Waldorf?

7. Does the philosophy of Waldorf accept all of Steiner's clairvoyant visions as true? Is there any of Steiner's clairvoyant knowledge that Waldorf disagrees with?

8. Is it OK if our family does not believe that Rudolf Steiner had clairvoyant powers?




Actually, of course, you should ask such question before you send a child to a Waldorf school. [See "Advice for Parents" and "Clues".] 

Waldorf education depends absolutely on clairvoyance. Rudolf Steiner claimed to possess it, and he said that Waldorf teachers should either have it or accept the guidance of their colleagues who have it. [See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] Essentially everything about Waldorf education is the product of clairvoyant investigations of the invisible spirit realm. 

The results of such "investigations" are bizarre and unreal. [See, e.g., "Oh Humanity" and "Oh Man".] The problem is that clairvoyance is a fantasy — it does not exist. [See "Clairvoyance".] The sad corollary of this truth is that there is no basis for Waldorf education. Waldorf education is built on a fantasy, an illusion, hot air. It is divorced from reality. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders" and "Steiner Static".]


[Sunbridge Institute,
"Low Residency Programs in Waldorf Teacher Education"]

Here is the “Inner Development” offering

at Sunbridge Institute, a Waldorf teacher-training facility in New York State, USA 

(downloaded Jan. 10, 2013)



A study of the anthroposophical path of inner development as related to the life of the teacher. Topics include:

Collegial relationships and working in a group

Methods for cultivating daily contemplative practice for self-development

The effects of spiritual practice on a teacher and his relationship with students, parents, colleagues, and self

Rudolf Steiner’s exercises for meditation

Work toward developing a conscious, supportive contemplative practice




Defenders of Waldorf education often claim that Rudolf Steiner’s influence has waned. Waldorf education received its first impetus from Steiner, they say, but since then it has moved on. There is a thin sliver of truth in this claim, and there is also a huge chunk of falsehood in it. Waldorf teachers still rely extremely heavily on Steiner’s directives and indications. Waldorf teacher-training includes extensive study of Steiner’s directives, including the occult spiritual exercises he prescribed. Teachers practicing in Waldorf schools often get together to study and discuss Steiner’s works. Moreover, the curriculum and methods in most Waldorf schools today are scarcely different from those Steiner instituted at the first Waldorf school. There is, in brief, a reason that Waldorf schools are also known as Steiner schools. The guidance provided by Rudolf Steiner (who relied on his “clairvoyance” to learn the will of the “gods”) remains central to Waldorf education today.

Note that the program of "inner development" outlined above is virtually the same as the path toward occult initiation outlined by Rudolf Steiner in his seminal book HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS, A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophic Press, 1994). Becoming a well-versed Waldorf teacher is tantamount to becoming an Anthroposophist. Indeed, Steiner said the following to teachers at the first Waldorf: 

 “As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. 

Waldorf spokespeople today repeat this stipulation. 

"Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second." — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 176.

The posting by Sunbridge Institute confirms that what was true for the first Waldorf teachers remains true for Waldorf teachers today.

[For more on all this, see “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”, "Waldorf Teacher Training", Waldorf Curriculum”, “Methods”, and “Oh Humanity”. For a look at the Anthroposophical path of initiation, see "Knowing the Worlds". For a survey of the Anthroposophical worldview, see "Everything - Steiner's Big Picture".]


From a discussion at waldorf-critics

Waldorf teachers believe that if they tell a story, or put on a puppet play, and the children later act out the story in their play, that's "creative." But if the children do exactly the same thing with a TV plot or character, somehow, that's the opposite of creative, it's a sign of a terrible problem. This makes no sense. There is absolutely no difference in the play, and no reason children can't play creatively on the basis of TV characters or scripts. Of course, some TV shows are pretty dumb. But children usually give things their own twist, anyway; and there's nothing guaranteeing the children will play "creatively" in response to a story or play, either. Often, they simply reenact it literally the same way they might a TV plot.



Waldorf schools often have “media policies” under which parents promise to curtail kids’ exposure to television, computers, recorded music, and so forth. This can seem charming — the Waldorf world is quiet, centered, natural. Certainly there is something to be said for the Waldorf approach. Sitting zonked-out in front of a TV screen for hours on end is obviously bad for children. Spending hours in front of a computer screen is probably not much better (depending, perhaps, on the sort of software the child is using). Constant chatting and text-messaging on smart phones is probably a bad idea, as is playing violent video games. Some forms of rock ‘n’ roll and rap are twisted, and much of popular culture is lowbrow and sexually perverse... So there is something to be said for the Waldorf approach. 

But all things in moderation. Trying to completely disconnect kids from the wider world, beyond Waldorf’s pastel walls, may do more harm than good.

You may want to investigate the underlying reasons for Waldorf’s hostility to technological gadgets and everything that goes with them. Steiner taught that the modern world is infected with the dire influences of the terrible demon Ahriman. Science, technology, and intellect are heavily influenced by this spiritual monster, and the products of technology are especially demonic. The very use of electricity portends terrible things: 

“[T]he exploitation of electric forces...will enable man to spread evil over the earth, and evil will invade the earth by coming in an immediate way out of the forces of electricity.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Overcoming of Evil”, ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET No. 7/8 (General Anthroposophic Society, 1948). 

Electrical devices are thus potentially evil, and the more technologically sophisticated the devices become, the more dangerous they become. Following this line of “logic,” Steiner’s followers deplore television and, even more, computers. They see the actual incarnation of Ahriman in these devices. Thus, for instance, Rudolf Steiner College has published a booklet by David B. Black, titled “The Computer and the Incarnation of Ahriman”. 

ALL of technology worries Anthroposophists. not just the most advanced versions. They believe that evil has spread across the world due to the use of such inventions as steam engines, and the evil has intensified as technology has progressed. 

“[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time...television, 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, "On 'Mechanical Occultism'" (MITTEILUNGEN AUS DER ANTHROPOSOPHISCHEN ARBEIT IN DEUTSCHLAND {i.e., Announcements Concerning Anthroposophical Work in Germany}, nos. 68–69, 1964). 

The Waldorf outlook is backward and benighted. It fears the modern world and tries to hide from it. Sending children to Waldorf schools means sending them into pockets of fantasy where reality is — to the maximum extent possible — blocked out. The damage done to children as a result can be considerable. 

[For more on such matters, see, e.g., Ahriman” and “Spiders, Dragons and Foxes”.]


At The Quackometer, Andy Lewis has commented on the
apparently high demand for places at a proposed Steiner school


If you go to [the school's] web site, perhaps you can see why [there is high demand]. Their video depicts a school full of music, crafts and caring teachers. What is not to like?

Such things are of course good. But the criticism of Steiner Schools is that they are not open and honest about the mystical and spiritual aims of Steiner education. Indeed, there appears to be a refusal to actually discuss the religious ideas, developed by Rudolf Steiner, upon which he based his schools and the pedagogy within them.


A new offering from Lindisfarne Books, made available through SteinerBooks


[Lindisfarne Books, 2013.]

Who can penetrate space or encounter the stream of time? Only those who are not fooled into believing that freedom from sensory conditions is attainable by moving beyond a space and a time considered real because of their measurability. The reality of time and space is immeasurable. It cannot be attained by overcoming the given forms of measurement, but rather by overcoming measurement itself. For this to occur, we must know how and why measurement arises; we must know what the spirit wants by containing within measurement the substance of its eternal telling of tales, whose truth alone justifies measurement — the transitory vision of what space and time are in their divine forms.

This masterly book by Scaligero teaches us how to enter, and cognize, the spiritual reality behind and within what we objectify as space and time.

Waldorf education is built on the basis of occult science, Anthroposophy. This body of teachings consists of "secrets" such as the ones presented by Scaligero in THE SECRETS OF SPACE AND TIME. And, indeed, Anthroposophy depends on the "overcoming of measurement": Facts and scientific observations must be set aside if we are to embrace the doctrines promulgated by Rudolf Steiner, the doctrines that constitute the essence of Anthroposophy. 

Did Massimo Scaligero (1906-2006) possess secret spiritual wisdom? Could he unlock the secrets of space and time? Perhaps. Like other Anthroposophists, he claimed to be an occult initiate, able to peer beyond the veil of physical illusion. Unfortunately, some of what he claimed to perceive beyond the veil was tinged with racial bigotry. Rudolf Steiner taught that the various races of humanity stand at various levels of spiritual development, and thus intermarriage between the races is spiritually damaging to the higher races. [See, e.g., "White Guys".] Scaligero seconded Steiner on such matters. As historian Peter Staudenmaier has written, 

"[S]everal of Steiner's most prominent followers, including leading Anthroposophist race theorists of the first half of the twentieth century, firmly rejected racial intermarriage and 'blood mixing,' above all Richard Karutz in Germany and Massimo Scaligero in Italy." 

[See "Steiner's Racism".]

Scaligero's racial views may have no bearing on his knowledge of space and time. Scaligero may have been profoundly wrong on one subject and quite right others. Still, in considering Scaligero's work, readers may want to contemplate the identity of the author.* And we might mull over the decision by Anthroposophical presses to continue reissuing Scaligero's work today. Anthroposophists have been loath to acknowledge and repudiate Rudolf Steiner's racism, and they have continued to stand with the racists in their ranks.

(The Quackometer has quoted a Waldorf representative disavowing Steiner's racial teachings. Only time will tell whether such a disavowal will prove to be deep and lasting. In the wake of a recent BBC report about Steiner schools and Steiner racism [see November, 2012], Waldorf representatives in the UK currently have little option but to speak out against racism. Yet some students and parents have reported racism arising in Waldorf classes — including at Steiner schools in the UK — quite recently. [See, e.g., "N-Word".])

* We are often advised to "consider the source." It is dubious advice — it may be illuminating, but it also may lead us to be blinded by prejudice. If, for instance, you dislike Russia for some reason, should you automatically dismiss anything said by a Russian? Obviously not. All statements, made by anyone or everyone, should be judged on their merits. Considering the source of a statement may provide some initial illumination, but turning on all the lights means looking far past the source of a statement — it means rationally evaluating the statement on the basis of the best available evidence. Thus, to repeat, Scaligero may have been profoundly wrong on one subject and quite right on another. To only way to reach valid conclusions about Scaligero's views is to study his specific statements one by one, each on its own merits.


From The Quackometer:

Tory Free Schools Plot to Spin Away the Racism of Steiner Schools.

January 7, 2013

By Andy Lewis

Government denials of problems look misleading.

Last year, I wrote to my local MP, Lib Dem Tessa Munt, to raise concerns that the nearby opening of a state funded Steiner School raised a number of issues. Most importantly, that Steiner Schools are not open about the religious and occult nature of their philosophy and that this philosophy is based on an abhorrent racist view of human spirituality. Furthermore, children are likely to be exposed to pseudoscience, hidden spiritual agendas and nonsensical teaching philosophies.

Tessa Munt consulted with Education Minister, Lord Hill of Oareford, who today was promoted to Leader of the House of Lords, and wrote to me to say that “he would not have approved any school that raised concerns of the nature” I raised.  In short, what I was saying was untrue.

It has now come to my attention that Tory party strategists close to the Department of Education were well aware of the problematic nature of Steiner philosophies and discussed with the Steiner Waldorf Schools Federation ways of using PR to head off anticipated criticisms of new publicly funded Steiner Schools. It would appear that either Lord Hill, a former employee of Bell Pontinger, had been kept in the dark about these concerns and PR tactics or had misled my MP.

...I find it astonishing that the response to a problem with the racist aspects of Steiner philosophy was to set up better PR rather than look at ways Steiner’s insidious racism could be better understood and how it should be eliminated from schools.

Rudolf Steiner’s depiction of the different 

intellectual characteristics of the races.

To read more, go to



As part of a continuing discussion of bullying at Waldorf schools, 

a letter from 1997 has been reposted at the waldorf-critics list. 

While it hardly qualifies as the latest news, the letter repays rereading.

It conveys truths about Waldorf schools at many levels.


I have added a few footnotes.

I spoke with an old friend the other day who had found herself upset all over again over events that happened in the [Waldorf] school our children had once been in. News items about cults had opened up old wounds for her.

We discussed a number of incidents, and it made me see that it's time to mention some of them here. She is considering how much she can tell about other friends' experiences without hurting anyone — and how much she feels o.k. telling about her own family's. She will be thinking about it and talking it over with her husband this next week.

At the time our children were at the school, there were many unsettling incidents that happened on the playground in the unsupervised environment. Little boys were being beaten up, and bullying was seriously out of control. [1] Children would come home worried and upset. Some parents were closer to what was going on than others, and tried unsuccessfully to convince the teachers to supervise the playground. There was rarely a teacher out there. It was especially disturbing in light of the fact that the boys being beaten up were not the kind of children who would ordinarily be involved in fighting or bringing on that kind of negative attention.

An anxious parent spoke to a teacher who told her that those children were dealing with "past life karma" they needed to work out together. [2] The same parent finally called a member of the College [3] (there is a specific protocol you are supposed to follow in filing complaints) and told him she had observed children climbing the (high) play structure on stilts, children dragging other children around by ropes, children bullying and using foul language — but no teachers supervising. The teacher answered, "You are not an initiate [4], and therefore you cannot understand the kind of energies we're dealing with here." When the stunned parent reported this back to another teacher, she was met with wide eyes, "He told you THAT?" The implication was that he had seriously erred in letting a cat out of a bag. [5]

One of the concerns some parents had was that their little girls were continually having their dresses pulled up by boys. This was very disturbing to the girls. When they screamed, it was only the girls who were reprimanded for causing a disturbance. Finally a "Friday Is Skirts Up" policy was started by a teacher so as to placate everyone — that way the girls could have Monday thru Thursday as days their skirts were not to be pulled up. The girls, as you might imagine, were not amused. I don't remember the outcome, but I would hope it was finally handled after one little girl angrily proposed a "Boys Pants Down Day."

There was a lot of parent time and energy that went into trying to make the playground a safe place, but the teachers never seemed to share the concern. One parent who dropped out ran into a parent (an Anthroposophist) the following fall who had stayed. The other parent, who had formerly been warm and friendly, was aloof, and commented "Oh....it's just so lovely and peaceful there this year. Everyone who had problems with the school is gone, and those left are people who really *want* to be there." She was someone who had not cared to look at any of the problems that were being brought up. It was back to Business As Usual until the next batch of trouble making parents would arrive in a year or two.

The majority of people I've known who send their children to Waldorf schools have decided that the idea of public school is unthinkable. This makes them feel that they have to hang in and make it work or try to "trust" and let it be. I got so tired of hearing the word "trust" mouthed as if it were some kind virtue that separated the open and enlightened from the rabble.

A further complication is that many parents find such "community" around the campus, the wonderful festivals [6], and all that goes with being "Waldorf parents." This makes them very reluctant to see problems, to make waves — or to listen to troublemakers.

I used to regularly hear one parent or another discuss how miserable their child was for one reason or another, but they would do little or nothing to get the child out of the damaging situation. After appealing unsuccessfully to the teacher and then to the College, the child would stay in the situation.

Those particular parents were so full of their own neediness and longing for those beautiful pastel rooms [7], beeswax crayon drawings [8], and all the rest, that their children were made to stay there as a vehicle for their parents' access — the mothers especially. I mentioned this to several of them *after* they finally took their children out.

In every case, I was met with the sheepish acknowledgment that it was exactly what they were doing. They hadn't realized it at the time, and were surprised to hear that I had been observing it all along. In turn, I was surprised to hear that they had not been aware of what seemed so obvious all the times I saw them peering so longingly into the beautiful cloistered classrooms. [9] The few parents who did get into those classrooms, by the way, were those few who were needed to teach a handicraft like knitting. This does not mean to imply that all children are unhappy in [Waldorf schools]! Many are perfectly happy there. I'm just making the point that some parents feel so personally fulfilled in the cultlike community that they are able to ignore or deny what they see, even when it affects their own children. [10] The friend I spoke with yesterday recalled how she had been "shunned" after finally leaving the school. It had been painful enough to let go of her dream, but then being cut off from the community that had meant so much to her made it that much worse.

The [Waldorf] system is essentially set up in such a way that the teachers are responsible and accountable only to themselves to interpret Anthroposophy and apply it to the schools, without interference, in whatever way they choose.

[1] For more on bullying at Waldorf schools, see The Waldorf Review [http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/search?q=bullying] and “Slaps”.

[2] Karma and reincarnation are key beliefs in the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy.

[3] At many Waldorf schools, the central committee — the controlling body, primarily consisting of senior faculty members — is called the College of Teachers.

[4] Anthroposophists consider themselves to be occult initiates, privy to secret spiritual knowledge. [See, e.g., "Inside Scoop".]

[5] Waldorf schools generally keep many secrets from outsiders, among whom they often number the students' parents. [See "Secrets".]

[6] These are often disguised religious observances. [See "Magical Arts".]

[7] Waldorf classrooms are often carefully painted in lambent, pastel colors meant to have occult spiritual effects on the students. Steiner taught that the color of a room’s walls affects the types of spiritual beings that can be clairvoyantly perceived in that room. [See "Magical Arts".]

[8] Beeswax crayons and candles are often found in Waldorf schools. Steiner taught that bees as a group are extremely evolved beings, in some senses more highly evolved than humans. Beeswax, then, is not simply natural and pleasant; it is divine. [See “Bees”.]

[9] Waldorf schools often strive to keep parents and others out, barring unsupervised visits. The faculty seeks freedom to proceed as they their beliefs dictate, with no outside interference. [See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings" and "Visits".]

[10] To consider whether Anthroposophy and the Waldorf movement are effectively a cult, see, e.g., "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education" and "Unenlightened".


From a discussion at The Ethereal Kiosk,
on the subject of Waldorf disciplinary methods

I wonder if there are two different categories of bad here. 1) Waldorf offers employment opportunities to people who shouldn’t work with children at all, 2) Waldorf beliefs make people who are good with children make the wrong decisions based upon [Anthroposophical] convictions or lack of ability or strength to question [Waldorf] tradition.

[As a Waldorf student] I saw failures due to both ‘elements’.


Currently available from Waldorf Books


Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer

Prevention, Treatment and Healing

Dr. Johannes Wilkens, Gert Böhm

Translated by Peter Clemm

[Floris Books, 2010]



...Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer presents, for the first time, an important reference for practitioners on the characteristics of each type of mistletoe and the kinds of cancers they are best suited to treat. Thirteen host trees are described, covering aspects from mythology and botany to homeopathy and flower essences. The authors pull the various characteristics together, providing a unique guide to the different types of mistletoe and which patients might benefit most from the individual varieties. The results will be useful not only in treating cancer, but also in prevention.

Iscador: Mistletoe and Cancer Therapy

Christine Murphy, Editor

[Lantern Books, 2001]



Iscador has been known for its therapeutic benefits for over eighty years. As early as 1917, Rudolf Steiner suggested using injections of mistletoe extract for the treatment of cancer ... In Iscador - Mistletoe and [sic] Cancer Therapy, Christine Murphy gathers together some of the work of doctors and clinicians who have been using Iscador today ... This is the first and only book to date that really explores this topic. It does so in a thorough yet easy-to-understand way that is truly empowering. Highly recommended!




Woe betide.

Rudolf Steiner made enormous claims for mistletoe, including the claim that it is a cure for cancer. Most of the responsibility for the use (or misuse) of mistletoe in cancer treatment rests with him. [See QuackWatch.] 

Steiner’s interest in mistletoe derived, in part, from his conviction that the plant is not of this Earth. 

“[M]istletoe does not belong to our earth, it is alien.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 99. 

In Norse myths, mistletoe is used to kill Baldur, the God of Light. [See “The Gods”.] From this, Steiner extrapolated the notion that mistletoe can kill cancer. Anthroposophical doctors today often prescribe a concoction called Iscador for cancer patients — it consists largely of mistletoe.

Scientists try to keep open minds, and thus there are ongoing efforts to verify the claims made for mistletoe in cancer treatment. For the most part, however, the results have been nil. The American Cancer Society, for instance, concludes this:

“Available evidence from well-designed clinical trials does not support claims that mistletoe can improve length or quality of life.” [American Cancer Society.]

Turning to "Anthroposophical medicine," as is often done in and around Waldorf schools, can be a life-threatening error.


Padraic Colum,
The Book of Northern Myths
(Aladdin, 2004).

A “resource” for Waldorf teachers, currently offered through the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore


The description displayed at the store:

Before time as we know it began, gods and goddesses lived in the city of Asgard. Odin All Father crossed the Rainbow Bridge to walk among men in Midgard. Thor defended Asgard with his mighty hammer. Mischievous Loki was constantly getting into trouble with the other gods, and dragons and giants walked free. This collection of Norse sagas retold by author Padraic Colum gives us a sense of that magical time when the world was filled with powers and wonders we can hardly imagine.




Norse myths are often taught at Waldorf schools as if they are true accounts of ancient events. Here is how Waldorf educator Charles Kovacs recommends introducing Norse myths to children:

“The stories I am going to tell are very special. They are wonderful stories of strange beings called ‘gods’ and of giants and dwarfs ... These stories were not just made up; they came about in a different way ... As long as Adam and Eve were still in paradise they could see God ... Then came the children of Adam and Eve, and their children’s children; they could still see God, but not very often ... The more people became used to living on earth...the less they could see God ... [B]ut very many of them, not just a few, could see the angels ... There were many peoples in the world who worshipped the angel-gods, and they had wonderful stories about them. The most wonderful stories were told among people who are called Norsemen ... When these brave, fierce Norsemen had fought a battle, they came home to celebrate their victory with a great feast ... The most important part of the feast was when a man called a ‘bard’ took a harp and sang or recited a poem ... These bards could see the angel-gods better than the others. This is how the stories I am going to tell you came about. They are stories that these wise bards among the Norsemen heard from the angels, from the angel-gods.” — Charles Kovacs, NORSE MYTHOLOGY, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2009), pp. 7-9.

Steiner taught that all myths are essentially true: They are the record of clairvoyant visions had by ancient peoples.

“Myths...are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night they were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were...experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.

Of all the myths, Steiner taught, Norse myths are the truest: They give the most accurate account of human evolution, past and future.

• “Nordic man perceived the figures of the Gods [sic], the divine Beings working directly on his soul ... This was direct experience to him.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 132. 

• “Pictures or symbols of Teutonic mythology contain occult truths.” [Ibid., p. 19.] 

• “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of evolution than Northern mythology. Germanic mythology in its pictures is close to anthroposophical conception of future evolution.” [Ibid., p. 17.]

[For more on the extraordinary importance attached to Norse myth in the Waldorf curriculum, see "The Gods" and "Sneaking It In".] 

Essentially, when Waldorf schools teach their view of Norse myths to the kids, they teach the kids Anthroposophy.


From intertwined discussions of Anthroposophical honesty and logic:

By all accounts, Steiner was a charismatic and clever orator and used his skills well in appealing to his fan club — even encouraging them to test his anthroposophy while knowing damn well it was impossible. To this day students in Waldorf/Steiner schools are discouraged from thinking critically — especially in the younger years. This is one of the serious flaws in the Waldorf Way of education. Children's questions are deflected and teachers who challenge the status quo are shown the door or otherwise ostracized in their "community." — http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25552.




Summing up the Waldorf Way, as it were, Steiner told Waldorf teachers this: 

“The children should not raise their hands so much." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.


Good news: The informative website UK Anthroposophy 

[http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/] is back in action:

January 3rd 2013: After a hiatus I’m back. The blog is rendered useless if readers cannot verify sources and so I’ve edited published posts from start to finish. All links have been refreshed or deleted if dead and post content tweaked to accommodate the changes where necessary. Writing of a piece on Steiner’s racist balderdash re child development has resumed. There’s a ton of other stuff to report on as well and I’ll get an ‘Odds & Sods’ piece out asap. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year, Mike.


A message posted at the waldorf-critics list:

I am newly out of a Waldorf community, having been deeply involved in it for almost a decade.

My family was horrifically kicked out, with the brunt of the focus on our child. We are heartsick, in shock and vacillate between grief and rage.

We are still being harassed and I need some support getting through this turbulent time.

I tried calling a cult hotline, but have been having trouble finding one that is still in operation.

Do you any of you know someone who is well-versed in Waldorf and has training as a counselor? Who is smart and sane?

I am having a hard time fully functioning in my life right now. We have lost the bulk of our community and our child's school. I am reeling from the reality of actually SEEING the truth of this community and it is hard for me to integrate.  [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25531]




Messages like this are sometimes hoaxes,* but often they are perfectly genuine.  A worrisome number of people reel away from Waldorf schools hurt, confused, wounded, angry... The emotional, psychic, and spiritual toll can be severe.

It is hard to evaluate a particular situation without knowing the specifics — who did what to whom, and why. Overall, however, a pattern has developed in and around Waldorf communities. People often begin their involvement with Waldorf schools full of enthusiasm; they are deeply moved by the beauty and soulfulness they find in the schools. But then, eventually, something goes wrong, perspectives shift, and deep clashes of values and purposes develop. Often, the problems center on the esoteric beliefs cherished by Waldorf faculties, beliefs that are generally incompatible with other, more mainstream points of view. Waldorf schools exist, ultimately, for one reason: to promote Anthroposophy, the occult worldview developed and promulgated by Rudolf Steiner. When a family learns of this underlying purpose and comes into conflict with it, a painful, rancorous separation often results.

[To read of such painful Waldorf experiences, see, e.g., “Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner”, “Our Experience”, “Coming Undone”, “Moms”, and “Pops”. To learn more of the underlying Waldorf agenda, see, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School".]

* Some proponents of Waldorf education seem to think that if they post unreal complaints about Waldorf schools, the real complaints will get lost in the resulting static. Ironically, however, the best of the phony complaints posted by "trolls" tend to mimic real complaints so well that they actually offer a sort of left-handed confirmation of the real complaints. Is the complaint quoted here genuine? At a minimum, it reflects real complaints made by many families formerly involved with Waldorf schools.


A video posted by a Waldorf proponent 
— mocking the concerns of parents whose children have suffered systematic bullying
has sparked a discussion at the waldorf-critics list. Here is a recent comment:

Humor is often used by those in denial. In light of recent tragic bullying stories (esp. those involving youth suicide), mocking parent concerns is reprehensible. Unfortunately, bullying is a serious problem in lots of social scenes today; the good news is that many schools are holding community forums and inviting psychologists to address the problems. How does Waldorf handle the issue? This movement ostensibly concerned with "social renewal" simply forms study groups where they discuss whether or not Waldorf teachers should interfere with the karma of bullies and victims. Remember the paper Dan [Dugan] posted a few years ago — the one the authors demanded be removed from public view?

Bullying in Waldorf is probably the #1 complaint I've heard about Waldorf over the years — countless accounts of teachers standing idly by as children are teased and bullied verbally and/or physically on Waldorf playgrounds. A few years ago an acquaintance asked me to speak to her friend (whose son had been bullied at a Waldorf school). I'd never met this woman before and sat with her for hours as she sobbed while trying to explain the gut-wrenching saga of her traumatized young son and what he went through in his Waldorf school. Both her son and [she] were devastated at what had transpired and at the total lack of accountability by staff at the school. They ended up selling their house and moved far away from the school. Waldorf had been a wonderful dream of a healthy community for this single mom; it turned into a horrible nightmare and she almost lost her son.

And now their leaders create silly videos mocking the concerns of parents. Very sad.

If Waldorfers refuse to change their occult beliefs (karma/bullying and children working stuff out from previous lives), they at least owe it to parents and kids to explain these beliefs — and potential repercussions — BEFORE any children join the "community."

[For more on the problem of bullying at Waldorf schools, and the reasons it is permitted, see "Slaps"]


From a lecture delivered by Rudolf Steiner on
January 1, 1909:

Mephistopheles and Earthquakes

THE THEME OF THE lecture to-day is of a profoundly occult character, the title — strange as it may seem to begin with — being: “Mephistopheles and Earthquakes”. We shall see that not only does the problem of the figure of Mephistopheles lead us into a deep realm of occultism but that the same applies to the problem of earthquakes if explained from the spiritual point of view...

The mighty influence of the forces of black magic which finally led to the destruction of Atlantis had its origin in the temptations of that Being whom Zarathustra taught his people to know as Ahriman [i.e., Mephistopheles]...

[W]hereas his spiritual influences make their way to the souls of men and lead them to error, we see how Ahriman...has certain foci for his activity in the interior of the earth. Were we to understand the mysterious connections of what has come to pass on the earth under Ahriman's influence and what Ahriman's own karma has become in consequence of this, we should recognize in the quakes and tremors of the earth the connection between such grievous, tragic happenings in nature and the power that holds sway on the earth...

[T]he karma of Ahriman has been linked with that of humanity since the time of Atlantis...

These catastrophes [destroying first Lemuria and then Atlantis] were evoked by the collective karma of humanity but a relic has remained and this relic awakens the echoes of those earlier catastrophes. Our volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are nothing else than the echoes of these catastrophes...




To read more, go to 

For more on Ahriman, see "Ahriman".
You may also be interested in "Lemuria",
"Atlantis", "Karma", and "Magic".

These are all central matters in the 
Waldorf/Steiner belief system, Anthroposophy.
And, of course, there's "Occultism".

Happy New Year!

[R.R., 2013]