JANUARY, 2019





Here is a collection of items that appeared on the Waldorf Watch "news" page in January, 2019. The items appear in reverse chronological order: newest first, oldest last. To find a specific item, scroll down the page.




I am the author of the Waldorf Watch commentaries, editorials, and explanatory notes you will find here. In them, I often generalize about Waldorf schools. There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; describe the schools based on the evidence concerning their structure and operations in the past and — more importantly — in the present. But not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. 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. 
— Roger Rawlings











January 31, 2019


OFSTED MAY SEEK 
SYSTEMIC STEINER FLAWS 


Several Steiner schools in the UK have received blistering official inspection reports in recent months. Now the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is recommending a deeper, more probing examination of Steiner or Waldorf education. [1] The new investigation would consider whether there are flaws in the “underlying principles” of Steiner/Waldorf schooling.

The implications are potentially dire. The reputation of Steiner/Waldorf schooling could be irreparably damaged. The chief inspector for Ofsted is recommending that “inadequate” Steiner schools in the UK be ordered to close. If this were done, and if it involved several schools, the result could be a blow from which the Steiner/Waldorf movement would have difficulty recovering.

The following is from Schools Week magazine [London, UK]:


Ofsted demands investigation 
into Steiner education 
following failures 

[By] Jess Staudenberg

Ofsted has told the government to investigate whether the “underlying principles” of a Steiner education explain the widespread failures of safeguarding [2] and education [3] found in schools based on that philosophy.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has written to education secretary Damian Hinds about Steiner schools…following a series of snap inspections.

Six of the nine [Steiner] schools inspected — across the state and private sector [4] — were judged to be ‘inadequate’ and three were ‘requires improvement’, with none as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Ofsted said senior leaders at one of the Steiner schools “blamed pupils with SEND [5] for all the problems in the school”…

[Spielman] has now called on Hinds to carry out a “thorough examination” of the underlying principles of Steiner education to consider the extent to which they may have contributed to the common failures [6] found in the inspections…

She also called for the DfE [7] to close down all inadequate Steiner schools that “fail to improve rapidly” [8]….





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] In some countries, such as the UK, schools that work in accordance with Rudolf Steiner's educational precepts are generally called “Steiner schools.” In other countries, such as the USA, such schools are often called “Waldorf schools.” Under either designation, the schools are much the same.

[2] A prominent finding in the inspections of Steiner schools is a general failure to sufficiently protect the students. [See “RSSKL”, "S. A. Exeter", and "Inadequate — Bristol, Frome, &...".]

[3] I.e., poor teaching and low student achievement.

[4] I.e., both state-funded Steiner "free" schools and self-funded Steiner private schools.

[5] "SEND" stands for “special education needs and disabilities.” Here, Ofsted is accusing Steiner schools of scapegoating SEND students, blaming the schools’ problems on such students (whom they are often required to admit, due to government regulations).

[6] I.e., problems that are frequently (commonly) found in Steiner schools — problems that thus may be systemic in Steiner education generally. 

[7] I.e., the government’s Department for Education.

[8] This is an extremely threatening prospect, which could severely damage the reputation of the Steiner education movement generally. Note that one Steiner school in the UK has already been ordered to close [see “RSSKL”] and another has been threatened with a possible closure order [see "S. A. Exeter".]

— R.R.








January 29, 2019


WORRIES ABOUT WALDORF SCHOOLS 
VOICED IN MEASLES OUTBREAK


A measles outbreak has erupted in the northwestern US. As has often happened in such situations, critical attention is turning to Waldorf schools, which typically have high numbers of unvaccinated students. 

In the past, some infectious disease outbreaks have originated in Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "Asheville Waldorf School".] In the current situation, no reports have traced the new measles outbreak to a Waldorf school, but concerns are being expressed that these schools could facilitate the spread of the disease.

From the Kirkland Reporter [the State of Washington, USA]:


Measles outbreak puts 
Washington under 
State of Emergency

Thirty-five cases have been confirmed statewide.

By Ashley Hiruko

Washington is under a state of emergency after a statewide measles outbreak — with 35 confirmed cases and nine suspected cases...

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Friday, Jan. 25, in response to the growing number of confirmed measles cases in the state.

“Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children,” Inslee noted in his proclamation...

In Vancouver [Washington], 24 of those confirmed to be carrying the measles are younger than 10 years and nine others fall between the ages 11 to 18...

Health officials said un-immunized groups of students in schools can pose an increased risk of spreading preventable diseases...

Eastside Community School [a Waldorf-inspired school] in Bellevue [Washington]...had 33.6 percent of students exempt from the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations during the 2017–2018 school year...

“Our community is very much into natural health, the whole anthroposophical philosophy,” said Ivan Gorne, the chief school administrator at Eastside....

[1/29/2019    https://www.kirklandreporter.com/news/measles-outbreak-puts-washington-under-state-of-emergency/    This story originally appeared on January 28.]




Waldorf Watch Response:

Eastside Community School was formerly known as Three Cedars Waldorf School. Despite the name change, the school remains committed to the Waldorf approach. The following is from the school's website:

"We are proud to be inspired by Waldorf Education, a worldwide movement that began in 1919. Through generations, the educational philosophy of world-renowned scientist, artist, and founder of Anthroposophy Rudolf Steiner, has guided students toward lives where they excel at being who they really are...." [https://eastsidecommunityschool.org/learn/about-us-philosophy-core-values/#toggle-id-2]

Waldorf schools rarely have official anti-vaccination policies, but they often lean heavily against vaccination. Parents who share this perspective are often drawn to the schools for this reason. [See the entry for "vaccination" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

The "world-renowned scientist, artist, and founder of Anthroposophy Rudolf Steiner" was actually a self-described occultist and clairvoyant. [See "Occultism" and "Clairvoyance".] He warned his followers that vaccination, although useful and even advisable in some circumstances, can have terrible effects. He said that black magicians and other evildoers will work to create vaccines that deaden people to all things spiritual: 

"Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation ... [T]hese inoculations will influence the human body in a way that will make it refuse to give a home to the spiritual inclinations of the soul. People will be inoculated against the inclination to entertain spiritual ideas. Endeavors in this direction will be made; inoculations will be tested that already in childhood will make people lose any urge for a spiritual life." — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91. 

In addition, Steiner said, vaccination can interfere with a patient's karma. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

Steiner's followers have responded by generally avoiding vaccination. The result is that Waldorf schools often have high percentages of unvaccinated students. Thus, for instance, in King County, Oregon — where the overall vaccination rate is over 90% — nearly half of the students in the Seattle Waldorf School are unvaccinated. [See https://www.kuow.org/stories/measles-outbreak-how-seattle-compares-with-clark-county] Oregon borders Washington to the south. 

— R.R.








January 27, 2019

◊ READINGS ◊

THE KEY TO WALDORF



Currently available from Waldorf Publications:




ENTRY POINTS - A Guide to Rudolf Steiner's Study of Man
(Waldorf Publications at the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, 2017)

From the publisher:


This book is designed, as the title suggests, to help the reader find points of comprehension in the original lectures that Rudolf Steiner gave to the teachers in the first Waldorf school.

The extraordinary and revolutionary pictures and ideas in the original lectures can feel overwhelmingly lofty at times; the helpful insights provided in this Study Guide can move a reader forward in understanding the height and depth of the ideals and ideas given by Rudolf Steiner to those wishing to become Waldorf teachers...

Entry Points is timely for faculties to unite in the study and in forming a consistent image of all that is asked of Waldorf teachers.





Waldorf Watch Response:

Defenders of Waldorf education sometimes concede that the belief system underlying the first Waldorf school consisted of many strange, esoteric, and mystical concepts. But, they contend, that’s all long gone. Waldorf education today is wholly up-to-date and sensible.

This defense may seem reassuring — but it is fundamentally untrue. The leaders of the Waldorf movement today, in the 21st century, go to great lengths to ensure that Rudolf Steiner’s strange, esoteric, and mystical concepts still prevail — still rule — in the Waldorf movement. Today. In the 21st century.

Consider, for instance, the book ENTRY POINTS. It is a guide through the lectures Rudolf Steiner delivered to Waldorf teachers as they prepared to open first Waldorf school, in 1919. The extensive commentary provided by the editors of ENTRY POINTS stresses over and over that the statements Steiner made then are still true now: Steiner’s statements provided the rationale for Waldorf education way back when, and they continue to provide the rationale for Waldorf education now. Today. In the 21st century.

A few samples from ENTRY POINTS:

"The founding of the [first Waldorf] school is an event, a ceremony within the Cosmic Order ... The coming together of all involved is a karmic moment ... [T]he task of education in the spiritual sense is to bring the Soul-Spirit into harmony with the Life Body [i.e., the etheric body] ...  Before birth, spiritual beings [i.e., gods] planted seeds of knowledge [in children], and we [Waldorf teachers] continue this future-oriented gesture [i.e., we continue the work of the gods]...." —ENTRY POINTS, pp. 13-27.


For an explication of these and other points presented in ENTRY POINTS, see "Today 7".

For a Waldorf Watch tour though Steiner's foundational Waldorf lectures, see "Oh Humanity".

— R.R.









January 25, 2019


THE BBC
TAKES NOTE 


The British Broadcasting Corporation — the world-renowned BBC — has taken notice of the situation currently roiling a Steiner school in the city of Bristol. The BBC’s account does not add much to our understanding of the situation at the school [1], but the BBC's decision to report on the matter is, in and of itself, potentially important. The story has now become a matter of national and even international concern. [2]

Here are excerpts from the BBC account:


Steiner Academy Bristol 
in Ofsted legal challenge


A Steiner school [3] is to launch a legal challenge against Ofsted [4] after its latest report rated it "inadequate" and placed it in special measures [5].

Steiner Academy Bristol's governing body said it wanted to "challenge the inspection process and report” [6]… 

The report's criticisms included concerns about safeguarding, bullying and high exclusion rates [7]…

Steiner Academy Bristol said it was "concerned" that Ofsted's approach to Steiner schools [8] had "impacted on the fairness and independence of the inspection process”.

It said a request to Ofsted that it "re-inspect with a fresh inspection team" had been refused.

Steiner Academy Bristol governor [9] Roy Douglas said: "While we take the report very seriously and recognise that improvements need to be made [10], we do not consider that the decision to place us in special measures was fair”….

[1/25/2019     https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-46991709    The BBC originally released this article on January 24.]




Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] For prior Waldorf Watch coverage, see "Inadequate — Bristol, Frome, &...".

[2] For a BBC report about another Steiner academy, see "More Inspections, More Failures - Part 3", January 19, 2019.

[3] Technically, Steiner Academy Bristol is a Steiner free school — what in the US would be called a charter school.

[4] Ofsted is the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. 
Steiner Academy Bristol plans to take Ofsted to court, challenging Ofsted's actions directed at the school.

[5] A school placed in “special measures” should expect frequent Ofsted inspections conducted with little advance warning. Moreover, an appointed executive committee may remove teachers and managers at the school. In extreme cases, if a school fails to improve, it may be ordered to close.

(The referents in the BBC's lead are a bit jumbled. Here is what the BBC's writers presumably meant: A Steiner school is to launch a legal challenge against Ofsted after Ofsted's latest report rated the school "inadequate" and placed the school in special measures.)

[6] I.e., the school will argue in court that the inspection was flawed and the subsequent report is inaccurate in at least some important respects.

[7] “High exclusion rates” refers to excessive refusal to admit certain students, such as students having special needs. The school will likely challenge this allegation in court.

[8] Proponents of Steiner or Waldorf schools often argue that, because these schools are significantly different from ordinary schools, the usual standards of evaluation should not be applied to them. Proponents may also allege that outsiders, including education officials, may be biased against the Steiner education movement.

[9] A school "governor" is a member of that school's board of governors — what in the US would usually be called a board of trustees.

[10] Significantly, the school apparently agrees that the inspectors uncovered some real problems. “We…recognise that improvements need to be made.”

— R.R.









January 24, 2019


◊ NEWS BRIEFS ◊


1.

BRISTOL WILL FIGHT


Schools Week magazine has published a story about the planned effort by a Steiner free school to fight back against the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). The Office has declared the school to be seriously flawed in multiple ways. [For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of this matter, see "Defenders Push Back Against 'Damning' Reports", January 22, 2019.]

From Schools Week [London UK]:


Steiner free school vows to fight 
‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in court 

[By] Freddie Whittaker

…Steiner Academy Bristol, one of two Steiner schools [1] placed in special measures [2] following unannounced inspections in November, was warned by inspectors over ineffective safeguarding policies, weak teaching and low expectations [3].

Now its governors are raising money to launch a judicial review against the judgment…

The school, one of four set up across England under the free schools programme to follow the teachings of the philosopher Rudolf Steiner [4], was rated ‘inadequate’ across the board…

Inspectors noted “frequent” bullying incidents, insufficient progress among SEND pupils [5] and a failure by leaders and governance to ensure an “acceptable standard of education” for pupils…

[The school’s decision to go to court] follows an admission by Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, that Ofsted has seen an increase in the number of legal challenges against its judgments.

Spielman told MPs [6] on the parliamentary public accounts committee yesterday that the number of challenges has been “going up quite substantially”.

In a recent high-profile case, Durand Academy Trust succeeded in challenging its ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating, only to have it reinstated after the watchdog [7] won an appeal in the High Court [8]...

Last February, Schools Week also revealed how a Kent school that managed to suppress an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report for eight months by threatening legal action ended up rated ‘good’ across the board after the watchdog opted to reinspect rather than fight in court…

Steiner Academy Bristol is one of three ‘inadequate’-rated Steiner free schools. Steiner Academy Frome was also rated ‘inadequate’ this week, and Steiner Academy Exeter was issued with a “minded to terminate” warning [9] last October after receiving the lowest possible Ofsted grade…







2.


BRISTOL AND EXETER FAIL

Meanwhile, an article in today’s Mirror Online gives the names of the “worst” state-funded secondary schools in the UK, based on government assessments. Two Steiner schools are on the list. [For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of such listings, see "Worst Schools", December 14, 2018.]


From Mirror Online [London, UK]:


England's worst schools REVEALED —
is YOUR child's school on the 2019 list?

Official government figures, released this morning, 
reveal 382 educational institutions failed 
to meet government minimum standards

By Claire Miller and Sophie Evans

England's worst secondary schools have been revealed — as official figures show more than 380 failed to meet the Government's minimum standards last year.

The figures, released by the Department for Education today and analysed by Mirror Online, suggest 382 state-funded mainstream schools [10] are under-performing.

They are based on how teenagers at each of the country's secondary schools performed in their GCSE exams [11] in 2018…

Schools fall below the performance threshold if pupils fail to make enough progress across eight subjects - with particular weight given to English and maths…

[From the list:]

…Steiner Academy Bristol, Bristol [12]...

…Steiner Academy, Exeter, Devon [13]….






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Free school are independent schools that receive state funding. In the USA, they would be called charter schools.

[2] I.e., education authorities will now direct special attention to the school, aiming to improve the institution. Teachers and others may be dismissed. The school itself may ultimately be closed if it does not improve adequately. 

[3] I.e., having low expectations for the students, and thus failing to help the students reach high levels of achievement.

[4] While Steiner is sometimes referred to as a philosopher or as a scientist, these labels are euphemisms at best. Steiner was a mystic, the leader of a religion that he himself devised. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”] He often called himself an occultist, and he professed to be an extremely insightful clairvoyant having "exact" knowledge of the spirit realm. [See "Occultism" and "Exactly".]

[5] I.e., students with special educational needs and disabilities.

[6] I.e., members of parliament.

[7] I.e., Ofsted.

[8] One of several types of court in the UK, the High Court is meant to consider cases of high importance.

[9] I.e., state education officials are on the verge of ordering this school to close.

[10] Steiner free schools are "mainstream" only in that they are part of the public school system (they receive public financing). At root, all genuine Steiner schools are actually religious institutions. [See "Schools as Churches".] Most Steiner schools are private institutions, dependent on their own fundraising efforts.

[11] I.e., General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, generally taken by students aged 15-16.

[12] For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of the situation at this school, see "Inadequate — Bristol, Frome, &...".

[13] For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of the situation at this school, see "S. A. Exeter".

— R.R.









January 22, 2019


DEFENDERS PUSH BACK
AGAINST “DAMNING REPORTS”


In recent days, news articles have described “damning” reports about Steiner schools written by inspectors working for the UK’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

As was to be expected, the schools and their proponents are responding vigorously. Here are excerpts from two articles outlining these responses.


1.

From Somerset Live [county of Somerset, UK]:


Steiner Academy in Frome 
has responded to 
damning report from Ofsted 
which rated it 'inadequate' 

School leaders have said 
they are already taking steps 
to improve the situation 

by Max Baker

Leaders at the Steiner Academy in Frome [1] have responded to the damning Ofsted report which grades it 'inadequate' in every area [2].

The school has said that steps are already being taken to ensure improvements are made after concerns [about] safeguarding and leadership were raised by Ofsted.

A statement from acting principal Nikki Doughty and Suzanne Flack, chairperson of the new academy management sub-committee, said: "Following a two-day inspection at the school in November 2018, the report outlines serious concerns in leadership, teaching and learning and safeguarding.

"A detailed plan addressing these concerns has been completed with many actions, especially around improvements in safeguarding, having already taken place [3]…."

Lead inspector Caroline Dulon said in the report: "There is no consistent approach to managing pupils’ behaviour and this places pupils at risk. In some instances, staff do not address misbehaviour at all. At other times, responses to challenging behaviour have been disproportionate.

"There has been a recent and significant increase in the number of fixed term exclusions [4]. This is particularly the case for pupils with SEND [5].

"Low level disruption in classes is common. Pupils report that this often inhibits their learning. Leaders and staff have not tackled this behaviour.

"Consequently, pupils’ education has suffered.”

Other criticisms included early-year provision for children [6]…

Several people criticised the school for the poor report, but many have got behind Steiner Academy and are confident that it can improve.

[1/22/2018   https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/from-steiner-school-responds-ofsted-2443278    This article originally appeared on January 18.]






2. 


From The Bristol Post [city of Bristol, UK]:


Why Steiner Academy Bristol 
is planning to take Ofsted 
to the High Court [7]
after latest inspection 

The unprecedented move is being taken 
by a community which feels it 
has been unfairly targeted

by Emma Grimshaw

Parents and teachers plan to take Ofsted to court after its latest inspection at Steiner Academy Bristol [8].

During an unannounced inspection in November, the watchdog said pupils at the school 'are not safe'.

The school was graded as inadequate in every area of inspection, meaning Ofsted put it into special measures [9].

But the report has angered many parents who have children at the academy, as they claim Ofsted's findings do not represent their child's experience. [10]

Now bosses [11] have launched a crowdfunder to raise £15,000 to start legal proceedings against Ofsted [12].

They wrote on the fundraising page: "The legal claim will argue that the Ofsted inspection was flawed, that they failed to follow guidance and the code of conduct relating to inspections, and the inspectors lacked a proper evidential basis for their conclusions.

"It will also argue that we believe that there was apparent bias in the way that Ofsted carried out their inspection"…

Parents have also launched a petition calling for another 'fair' inspection to take place at the academy. It has already gathered 1,113 signatures in less than one week…

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We take all complaints about our inspections seriously, and deal with them as quickly as possible.

"Our inspection judgements are never made lightly. They can have a significant impact on a school, its pupils and parents, and the community. However, the safety, well-being and educational achievement of pupils is paramount.

"All schools judged inadequate are subject to additional scrutiny and an extended quality assurance process before being finalised. All such judgments have to be authorised by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, and schools have the opportunity to challenge our inspection findings before the report is published"….






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[
1] Frome is a town 13 miles south of the city of Bath, England. It is the site of Steiner Academy Frome, one of four Steiner “free schools” (charter schools) currently operating in the United Kingdom (UK).

[2] I.e., in every part of the school’s practices examined by the inspectors.

[3] The school implicitly accepts that Ofsted's criticisms have merit, and it claims to be implemented the needed improvements. (By contrast, Steiner Academy Bristol  effectively rejects criticisms made by Ofsted. See footnote 12, below.)

[4] I.e., rejected applications for admission.

[5] I.e., students with special educational needs and disabilities.

[6] I.e., care and instruction of the youngest children at the school.

[7] One of several types of court in the UK, the High Court is meant to consider cases of high importance.

[8] Bristol is a city in southwestern England. It is the site of Steiner Academy Bristol.

[9] I.e., education authorities will now direct special attention to the school, aiming to improve the institution. Teachers and others may be dismissed. The school itself may ultimately be closed if it does not improve adequately.

[10] Some people love Steiner/Waldorf education. The schools are often lovely, filled with pleasing artwork; the teachers usually seem caring and devoted; there is often a sweet spiritual atmosphere; academic pressures on the students are low; attractive values such as environmentalism are stressed; etc. Parents may become disillusioned eventually [see, e.g., “Our Experience”], and problems may develop when the esoteric belief system underlying the schools (Anthroposophy) comes into view [see, e.g., “Coming Undone”]. But especially in a young school such as Steiner Academy Bristol — which opened in the autumn of 2014 — little of this disillusionment may yet have developed.

[11] I.e., leaders of the school.

[12] While Steiner Academy Frome appears to be attempting to work with, and satisfy, Ofsted, Steiner Academy Bristol is taking a more combative stance. This may prove dangerous. Following a series of critical inspection reports, Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) tried to defend itself through legal action, but this effort failed and the school was ultimately ordered to close. [See “RSSKL”.]


— R.R.









January 21, 2019


MORE INSPECTIONS, 
MORE FAILURES - Part 4 

In recent days, news articles in the British media indicated that inspectors have found severe problems in several Steiner schools operating in Britain. These articles referred to reports written by the inspectors, but they were generally unable to quote directly from the reports, which had not yet been officially released.

This is now changing; the reports are being released to the public. The following item is from The Bristol Post, and it focuses chiefly on the Steiner Academy Bristol. But the problems found there seem to be typical of those that have been unearthed at other Steiner schools, both public and private. [1] The defensive responses of Steiner supporters in Bristol also seem typical.

The inspectors were sent to the schools by Ofsted, the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education.


"Pupils are not safe" -
damning Ofsted report reveals
concerns about 'inadequate'
Bristol Steiner Academy

But parents are fighting for a fairer assessment 
after being outraged by Ofsted's findings


By Sarah Turnnidge

Details of an Ofsted report, which have threatened the future of state-funded Steiner education in Bristol [2], have been published — revealing that the school has been graded as inadequate in every area of inspection…

Fellow Steiner Academies in Frome and Exeter also received 'inadequate' ratings, while the fourth school in Hereford was rated as ‘good'.

The report, which was released to parents on Monday before being published on Friday, lists a number of observed failings.

The first of these concerns regards safeguarding [3] …

"The school's work to promote pupil's [sic] personal development and welfare is inadequate," the report [says]. "Pupils are not safe.”

Although the report states that a rise in records of bullying incidents [4] could be due to the implementation of a more effective system of record-keeping, incidents are still acknowledged to be 'too frequent’…

The Ofsted report details five areas of inspection; effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning, and assessment; personal development, behaviour, and welfare; outcomes for pupils; and early years provision — each of which have been rated as inadequate… [5]

Despite the damning report, a large number of parents with children at the academy have rallied around the school, claiming that the report is unfair and does not accurately reflect the experiences of their children…

More than 850 people have signed a petition entitled 'Demand a Fair Ofsted Inspection of Steiner Academy Bristol', started by parents of children at the school, which alleges that the inspection process itself was "unfair and biased”… [6]

[1/21/2019    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/pupils-not-safe-damning-ofsted-2447330]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] See, e.g., “Failure”, “Complaints”, “RSSK”, and “S. A. Exeter”.


[2] Steiner Academy Bristol and its sister schools — Steiner academies in Exeter, Frome, and Hereford — are "free schools." That is, they are independent schools that receive public financing. (In the USA, these would be called charter schools.) The fate of Steiner free schools — and perhaps the fate of all British Steiner schools, public and private — may be significantly affected by the current controversy. In addition, the fate of the overall free school program in the UK may also be impacted.

[3] Steiner schools and Waldorf schools have often been accused of lax oversight of students. The Steiner/Waldorf attitude toward the protection of students is tied to belief in karma and guardian angels. Rudolf Steiner taught that children arrive on Earth with karmas that must be enacted. And, he said, children have guardian angels who accompany them at all times. Steiner/Waldorf teachers may deduce from these doctrines that they should not interfere in the children’s behavior, even violent behavior, since it reflects their karmas; and the kids’ guardian angels can be relied on to prevent any serious harm. [See the entries for “karma” and “guardian angels” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] Bullying has allegedly been a serious problem in Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See “Slaps”.] Tolerance for bullying may arise from belief in karma and guardian angels. But other forms of abuse have also been reported in Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., “Extremity”.]

[5] This, clearly, is the most important finding in the report: The school failed to meet required standards in every part of its operations, including management of the school, quality of teaching, and outcomes for students. 

[6] Some people love Steiner/Waldorf education, and they will often defend it vigorously. Whether this affection and support are based on a clear-eyed understanding of the Steiner/Waldorf system may be questionable, however. [See, e.g., “The Upside”, “Glory”, and “Oh Humanity”.]

It is certainly true that judging Steiner/Waldorf schools by ordinary standards may be miss a lot about these schools. Steiner/Waldorf schools have different aims and different practices from those found in ordinary schools. Here are a few in indications of this. The following statements were made by knowledgeable followers of Rudolf Steiner:

◊ “[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him….” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 388-389.

◊ “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [i.e., the gods]…can find their home....” — Waldorf teacher Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.

◊ "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 4-5.

◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

[For more such statements, see, e.g., Here’s the Answer” and “Who Says?”]


— R.R.









January 20, 2019


SKELETAL SCHOOL 
ASKS FOR FUNDS 

School inspectors have found numerous problems at Steiner schools in the UK. In one case, critical inspections led education authorities to order the closure of a private Steiner school — Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley. Whether other Steiner schools will also be shuttered remains to be seen.

And here’s a wrinkle: Leaders of the defunct Steiner school in Kings Langley are attempting to breathe new life into their school — they plan to establish a new Steiner kindergarten at the site of the old school. If they succeed, then a full-fledged Steiner school — with grades spanning the entire spectrum from pre-school through high school — may ultimately evolve. This is the pattern often enacted in the development of Steiner and Waldorf schools: A group of Anthroposophists and their allies start a Steiner kindergarten, and then they expand their school, grade by grade, as the students grow older.

No one should be surprised that Steiner leaders at Kings Langley are attempting to fight on. [1] Steiner schools are intimately linked to the religion created by Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophy. [2] Steiner/Waldorf teachers are often devout Anthroposophists, deeming their work to be a priestly calling. [3] Allowing secular education officials to terminate a Steiner school is almost unthinkable to deeply devoted adherents of the Anthroposophical faith. To outsiders, the attitude of Steiner’s followers may seem fanatical. But to insiders, fighting on is likely seen as a valiant crusade.

Here are excerpts from a recent newspaper article about the current situation at Kings Langely. 
From The Hemel Gazette [Hertfordshire, UK]:


Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley: 
Staff and parents asking for cash 
so that troubled school can re-open

By Ben Raza

Bosses [4] at a school which has had to close twice since last summer are asking for donations so that they can re-open it for a THIRD time.

A group of parents and teachers at Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) want to set up a new nursery [5] on the site of the school which shut its doors in June. [6]

Although bosses had managed to re-open the RSSKL nursery in September, that too shut its doors in December. The fundraising website says: “We need funds in order to open as an independent kindergarten in the spring term 2019…”

…The fundraising page has a target of £5,000, and almost a third of that has been raised so far.

A private company has also been set up for the new nursery…

RSSKL is currently not teaching students of any age and exists with a skeleton staff.

The main school closed in June following a number of highly critical Ofsted reports [7] and problems gaining insurance. [8]

The nursery also received a critical Ofsted report in November after the main school had closed. Inspectors rated it as Inadequate, although staff told the Gazette that they thought the rating was unfair [9]…





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Efforts to reopen the school have been ongoing. [See, e.g., “Dead Steiner School Will Attempt Reincarnation", July 21, 2018.]

[2] See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?

[3] See “Here’s the Answer” and “Schools as Churches”.

[4] I.e., leaders among the faculty and some students’ parents.

[5] I.e., a nursery school. Actually, the plan is to open a kindergarten. [See https://www.gofundme.com/secret-garden-kindergarten.] Sometimes a distinction is made between nursery schools and kindergartens, sometimes it is not. When a distinction is made, a nursery school may said to serve very young children (ages 3 to 5, approximately), while a kindergarten may serve somewhat older children (ages 5 to 6, generally). 

As of today, Jan. 20, 2019, eight people have — during the last three months — donated a total of £1,639 toward the establishment of the "Secret Garden Kindergarten".  

[6] For a review of events leading to the closure order, see "RSSKL".

[7] Oftsed is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[8] Refusal by insurance companies to extend coverage to the school was one of the final blows endured by RSSKL. [See, e.g., “Ramifications of Failure”, June 20, 2018.]

[9] See “A Closed Steiner School - Still Inadequate”, December 12, 2018.

Steiner leaders almost always claim that inspections of Steiner/Waldorf schools conducted by outsiders are uninformed and unfair, due in large part to the unusual nature of these schools. [See, for instance, the reactions of Steiner representatives to recent negative reviews of Steiner free schools: "More Inspections, More Failures - Part 2", and "More Inspections, More Failures - Part 3", January 18 and 19, 2019.]


— R.R.









January 19, 2019


MORE INSPECTIONS, 
MORE FAILURES - Part 3


As reported here during the last few days, inspectors from the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education have determined that three of four Steiner free schools in the UK — those in Bristol, Exeter, and Frome — are “inadequate.” In other words, the inspectors have found serious problems at these schools.

On January 17, we considered a report in The Guardian that summarized the information available at that time about the inspections at all four Steiner free schools. On January 18, we looked at a report in The Bristol Post about the Steiner free school in Bristol.

Here are excerpts from a BBC report about the Steiner free school in Frome:


Ofsted rates Frome
Steiner school
‘inadequate'

A school where pupils did not learn "British values" and were unprepared for "life in modern Britain" has been rated inadequate by inspectors.

Ofsted [1] said the Steiner Academy Frome, Somerset, failed to provide pupils with a "safe and effective education”.

The free school [2], which opened in 2012, received the worst Ofsted rating in all four categories including "quality of teaching" and "pupils' outcomes"…

In the report, school leaders and governors were accused of failing to provide pupils with a "safe and effective education" because their own knowledge of current statutory requirements was “limited” [3].

It said the school had failed to address "serious issues that put pupils at risk of harm”…

Inspectors found [that]…in the kindergarten, "inappropriate physical restraint" was being used [4]…

The report also said teachers' expectations of pupils were "too low”…

In addition, the inspector noted: "Pupils do not learn about British values and cannot discuss these.

"They are not well prepared for life in modern Britain [5].”

But Emily Edwards, a spokeswoman for the school, said Ofsted was comparing "a banana to an orange”.

"Steiner schools are obviously run in a certain way and I feel you can't really compare them to mainstream schools and that's what Ofsted go by," she said [6]….

[1/19/2019   https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-somerset-46921639   This report originally appeared on January 18.]




Recent news stories have focused primarily on the Steiner free schools in Bristol and Frome. For extensive coverage of the problems identified at the Steiner free school in Exeter, see "
S. A. Exeter".

The problems at these three Steiner free schools are much alike. Indeed, they are similar to problems found at private Steiner or Waldorf schools. They seem to reflect systemic flaws in the Steiner/Waldorf education movement generally. [See, e.g., "RSSKL", "Mistreating Kids Lovingly", and "Complaints"
.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Free schools (known in the US as charter schools) are independent schools that have been accepted into the public school system. They receive public financing, but they establish their own curriculums and implement their own methods. Despite their independence, they are subject to inspection and are expected to meet at least basic educational standards.

[3] Teachers at Steiner or Waldorf schools may often be only minimally qualified, as judged by outsiders. Often, teachers at these schools are primarily interested in the Steiner/Waldorf worldview, virtually to the exclusion of everything else, and much of their training is likely to have been acquired in special Steiner/Waldorf teacher education programs. [See "Teacher Training" ] Thus, their conception of a “safe and effective education" may be quite different from the conception found in other schools, and they may consider “current statutory requirements” largely irrelevant to their own practices and objectives.

[4] Failure to adequately protect or safeguard their students is a criticism that has frequently been leveled at various Steiner/Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "RSSKL" and "S. A. Exeter".] But the schools have also been faulted for a wide array of other shortcomings. Note that Steiner Academy Frome was given low marks for "quality of teaching" and "pupils' outcomes." As has been found concerning other Steiner/Waldorf schools, the Frome school seems to be deficient in almost all the ways a school could possibly be deficient.


[5] Free, universal education in democratic societies should, generally speaking, enable students to become empowered citizens who can exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Public education is thus meant to benefit the students as individuals and it is also meant to benefit the society as a whole. (British public schools should equip students for productive, successful lives in Britain, just as American public schools should prepare American kids for life in the USA. The students will benefit, and the societies will benefit.) This is not to say, of course, that schools should be benightedly provincial or nationalistic. Seen at a deeper level, public education should convey verifiable knowledge to the students — it should accurately inform students about reality, and it should prepare students for productive lives in the real world.

[6] Steiner or Waldorf schools generally employ their own methods as they implement their own curriculum. [See “Methods” and “The Waldorf Curriculum”.] This is entirely permissible under the free school program in the UK and the charter school program in the US. But the ultimate objective of all schools should be essentially the same: It should be to educate children, providing them with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to lead productive and, we should all hope, happy lives in the real world. The crucial difference between Steiner/Waldorf schools and conventional secular schools lies in that final term: “the real world.” The Steiner/Waldorf conception of reality is ultimately at issue. Steiner/Waldorf education is rooted in Anthroposophy, which — despite denials — is a gnostic or cryptic religion. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”] Any parents who embrace Anthroposophy should be free to send their children to Anthroposophical schools — this is, Steiner or Waldorf schools. But all other parents, along with education officials and school inspectors, are likely to find Steiner/Waldorf thinking very strange, and they may develop profound misgivings about schools that are based on this thinking. [See, e.g., "Oh Humanity", “Foundations”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “Serving the Gods”.] The question becomes whether Steiner/Waldorf schools, shaped and guided by Anthroposophy, can ever truly deliver a good education, as this concept is usually understood in democratic societies. [See, e.g., "Soul School", "Incarnation", and "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]



— R.R.









January 18, 2019


MORE INSPECTIONS, 
MORE FAILURES - Part 2


Inspectors have found serious problems in several Steiner schools operating in the UK. The implications for the overall Steiner or Waldorf educational movement are potentially severe.

The most recent inspections have focused on Steiner free schools — schools that, in the USA, would be called charter schools. One of the Steiner free schools recently inspected is located in the city of Bristol. Here are excerpts from a report in The Bristol Post:


Bristol Steiner Academy
one of three free schools
to face uncertainty after
being rated ‘inadequate'

By Sarah Turnnidge

Three state-funded Steiner Academies in the South West — of which one is in Bristol — have been plunged into uncertainty after snap Ofsted inspections found them to be ‘inadequate' [1].

Bristol Steiner Academy was inspected on November 26 and 27 and is now in special measures [2].

It is one of just four state-funded Steiner schools set up under the free school programme [3], with the other academies based in Frome, Exeter, and Hereford.

All four schools were inspected alongside private Steiner schools — of which a number were also found to be inadequate [4]. The education minister Damien Hinds had ordered an intervention into the group after concerns about safeguarding [5]…

The Bristol school, which is an all-through school for children aged four to 16, was opened in 2014 and currently educates 377 pupils — set to rise to 622 by 2021. It has a higher proportion of pupils with special educational needs and eligible for free school meals than the national average [6]…

When the school was last inspected, in May 2017, it was judged to 'require improvement’…

The school said that they were unable to comment on leaked reports, and thus were not able to discuss Ofsted's [most recent] findings in detail…

Steiner Academy Bristol is now working with an Academy Management Committee [7] which will be responsible for the operational management of the school, appointed by the South West regional schools commissioner.…

[1/18/2019   https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-steiner-academy-one-three-2439696   This article originally appeared on January 17.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] Bristol is in the southwest of England. Oftsed is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Because of the problems found at the school, urgent or emergency measures are being implemented.

[3] This program, instituted under the UK’s Conservative government, allows for the formation of independent schools that receive public financing. These “free schools” charge no tuition fees, and they serve as competitors or alternatives to traditional public schools. Like charter schools in the US, free schools in the UK establish their own curriculums.

[4] See, e.g., coverage of Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley ["RSSKL"].

[5] Inspections have found that Steiner schools often fail to adequately protect their students. The same inspections have also sometimes found various other shortcomings at Steiner schools, including poor teaching and ineffective management. [See, e.g., “Remembering RSSKL - The Faults Found”, July 7, 2018.]

[6] The Steiner Academy Bristol may be unusual in this regard. Reports have indicated that at least some Steiner schools do a poor job providing for students having special needs, and occasionally these schools allegedly refuse to admit some students having such needs. [See, e.g., “More Inspections, More Failures”, January 17, 2019.] The Anthroposophical movement often attempts to serve disadvantaged individuals not at Steiner schools but at residential institutions called Camphill communities. [See the entry for “Camphill” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[7] An Academy Management Committee (AMC) is, usually, an administrative group that serves temporarily to oversee a school until a new, potentially permanent sponsor for the school is selected.

— R.R.










January 17, 2019


MORE INSPECTIONS, 
MORE FAILURES 


School inspectors in the United Kingdom continue to find fault with Steiner schools — they have issued a series of highly critical inspection reports. The damage to the Steiner education movement as a whole may become severe.

The following is from The Guardian [London, UK]:


Ofsted inspections find 
three Steiner schools 
to be inadequate

Concerns raised about safeguarding, 
bullying and high exclusion rates

The future of state-funded Steiner education has been thrown into doubt after a series of snap Ofsted inspections [1] found that three of the four such schools set up under the Conservatives’ free schools programme [2] were inadequate.

The four have been inspected in recent weeks — alongside private Steiner schools, a number of which have also been found to be inadequate [3] — following an intervention by the education secretary, Damian Hinds... [4]

Ofsted reports for the Frome and Bristol Steiner academies are due to be published later this week and have been shared with parents. Copies seen by the Guardian reveal inspectors’ concerns about a wide range of issues including safeguarding, bullying and lack of support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Frome report accuses leaders and governors of failing to provide pupils with a safe and effective education...

It says the school failed to address serious issues that “put pupils at risk of harm” ... The inspection team...also raised concerns about a high number of exclusions [5]...

The report for Bristol similarly details concerns about safeguarding ... It adds that bullying incidents [6] are too frequent, and disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs make insufficient progress.

The damning assessments follow similar findings at the Exeter Steiner academy [7] ... The fourth state-funded Steiner school, in Hereford, was judged good...

...At Bristol, parents have been told that the governors [8] have sent a legal letter to Ofsted challenging its report and the inspection process...

Frome is also planning to challenge its report and the inspection process...

Both schools will go into special measures [9] and multi-academy trusts will be sought to take over [10]. Parents fear that the Steiner ethos – the very reason they chose those schools for their children – will be lost in the process [11].

Hinds called in November for additional scrutiny of Steiner schools by Ofsted after the chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, raised concerns about safeguarding in the sector on the back of two earlier inspections [12]....





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Oftsed is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills.

[2] Free schools are independent schools that receive government funding. While held accountable by the government, they implement curriculums of their own choosing. In the USA, such schools are call charter schools.

[3] See, e.g., "RSSKL", recounting the situation at Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley. The government ordered this school to close.

[4] See the Waldorf Watch news items for December 10 and 11, 2018: "U.K. Steiner Schools to Receive Special Scrutiny".

[5] I.e., rejected applications for admission.

[6] Complaints about bullying have frequently arisen at Steiner or Waldorf schools. It has often been alleged that Steiner or Waldorf teachers tolerate bullying among their students. [See "Slaps".] One explanation is that Steiner/Waldorf teachers believe students must be free to enact their karmas, such as a karma to bully others or a karma to be bullied. Karma is a key Steiner/Waldorf belief. [See "Karma".]

[7] See "S. A. Exeter", recounting the situation at Steiner Academy Exeter.

[8] I.e., the governors of the school.

[9] I.e., urgent or emergency measures are being taken.

[10] I.e., the government has indicated that these schools should be adopted and administered by experienced educational trusts (multi-academy trusts that operate at least two schools).

[11] The chief advantage a Steiner school receives by being designated a free school is the financing provided by the government. The chief potential disadvantage is that the government may hold the school to standards that run contrary to Steiner educational principles. [For an overview of these principles, see "Oh Humanity".] Parents who select Steiner or Waldorf schools for their children may or may not have knowledge of these principles. A widespread complaint about Steiner/Waldorf schools is that they do not honestly explain their nature and purposes. [See, e.g., "Secrets" and "Our Experience".]

[12] Failure to adequately protect students has been the most publicized fault identified by Ofsted representatives who have inspected Steiner schools. However, many other serious faults — ranging from bad teaching to dysfunctional management — have also been found. [See, again, "RSSKL" and "S. A. Exeter".]

— R.R.










January 15, 2019


◊ NEWS BRIEFS ◊

1.


From Hawaii News Now [Honolulu, USA]:

Schools offer aid, discounts
to St. Francis students
left scrambling for options

By Mahealani Richardson

Private schools are offering deals to families of more than 300 St. Francis middle and high school students left scrambling after last week’s sudden announcement that middle to upper grades would end… [St. Francis is a Catholic school in Honolulu; parts of the school are closing.]

Honolulu Waldorf School is…offering to match tuition and waive application fees…

“We hope that we can draw some people in and help them find a new place because it’s pretty hard on this island to find yourself a new school once it closes,” said Hillary Godwise, of Honolulu Waldorf School.…

[1/15/2019    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/01/15/more-private-schools-offer-aid-unique-deals-scrambling-st-francis-students/    This story originally appeared on January 14.]




2.


From DailyCamera [Colorado, USA]:



Boulder City Council could renew push
for affordable housing on
Shining Mountain Waldorf land


By Sam Lounsberry

Incorporating affordable housing into...Shining Mountain Waldorf School's proposed redevelopment project has been deemed too financially difficult by school officials.

But some [Boulder, Colorado] city council members...might still push them to find a design, and possibly pursue a rezoning of some land, to make such housing on site doable…

The proposal by the 300-student, private nonprofit school — which teaches pre-kindergarten through high school students — is to sell just less than half of its 12 acres to help fund multi-million dollar replacements of the converted church building that serves as its high school and temporary trailers where the younger children are taught….

[1/15/2019    http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_32384412/boulder-city-council-could-renew-push-affordable-housing    This story originally appeared on January 14. Shining Mountain Waldorf hopes to build 40,000 square feet of new classrooms.]





3.


From the calendar of upcoming events posted at the website for The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America:



FEB 2
2019


Candlemas / Groundhog Day

[1/15/2019    https://www.waldorfeducation.org/news-resources/events-calendar]



From a blog at Waldorf Publications:


In the mighty Celtic calendar, the year is marked by the two solstices and the two equinoxes...

The days that mark the halfway mark [sic] between these four celestial events are traditionally named “cross-quarter days” as they are the between the quarters markers [sic].

[February 2] is one of those cross-quarter days. Some celebrate it as Ground hog day or the day when our hope of an end to winter might be divined by a groundhog…

In the Druid and Christian traditions, the cross-quarter day on February 2nd is called Candlemas Day. Traditionally this day was reserved for preparing candles for the coming year — first for the whole village and then for the church….

[https://www.waldorfpublications.org/blogs/book-news/16794941-happy-groundhog-day-or-is-it-candlemas]



From the Sheiling School [a Steiner school for children with special needs, in Thornbury, UK]:


[Candlemas] is the time when the crystal forms in the earth are most active. Rudolf Steiner told us that it is the time of year to turn our thoughts to the earth.

[http://www.sheilingschool.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Candlemas-2015.pdf]










January 14, 2019


CAPE COD WALDORF SCHOOL 
FACES EVICTION (CONT.) 


At the Waldorf Critics discussion site, former Waldorf parent Margaret Sachs has posted a message in which she quotes from a newspaper article in the Cape Cod Times. She then adds some commentary, and she concludes by quoting two harsh parental reviews of the Waldorf School on Cape Cod:


"The Waldorf School of Cape Cod may have to look for a new location after the Barnstable School Committee this week recommended against the town’s renewing the Cotuit lease for the financially troubled private school."

The committee's chairman cites a fiduciary obligation to taxpayers as the reason. The school was $75,000 in arrears and still owes $20,000.

The school's enrollment has dropped to 60 students. The article does not provide previous enrollment numbers, but that's a pretty low number for a school that has classes from nursery school through eighth grade…

Amid the glowing endorsements [of the Cape Cod Waldorf school] at Zillow are a few reviews that describe what sound to me like typical Waldorf school problems…

Here are a couple of examples:


"...There is little to no accountability for poor quality and inconsistent standards of education and behavior. The admin and faculty dogma is closely held in secrecy which is part and parcel to the Rudolph Steiner s teachings and if questioned you will receive patent answers with little thought to your child s specific needs. If you find a faculty member that is willing to listen without prejudice to your concerns good luck. Even the faculty who are known amongst their colleagues for poor performance have job safety. Many families have left this school after investing many years in it because their concerns have been systematically swept under the rug. Mum's the word here. I for one fell under the spell of this school. I found that my child and the majority of classmates that stayed were left with such deficits in academics that intense interventions were needed for most. Our class started with 14 or more and ended with 4. Be aware of retention rates at this school. They differ among the faculty greatly."


"There is no boss at a Waldorf School which means there is no one accountable. Faculty hold the position of authority and the members change yearly. Issues are continually deferred for lengthy amounts of times and conclusions are rarely met or shared. In the past several years the administration staff has changed every couple of years for a total of approximately six changes to the Administrator position six to the Administration Assistant position and several more to the bookkeeper position. There has also been many staff hired and let go in positions such as Director of Admissions and Director of Outreach. In short there is little consistency in the Administration staff. Some faculty will cover their colleagues backs at great lengths even when evidence of unacceptable behaviors are present or educational needs of the students are not being met.There is enormous amounts of indifference directed towards any parent who may question the Waldorf School or challenge them in any way. Children are not held in reverence here at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod as is the Rudolph Steiner teaching. In fact most issues are viewed as the child's and not the adults in charge. Take a good look.”


[1/14/2019    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31984   Sachs posted her message on January 13.]




Waldorf Watch Response:

It is easy to find glowing reviews of Waldorf schools posted on the Internet. Many of these reviews are probably sincere. However, a large number are fraudulent: The schools involved orchestrate campaigns in which teachers and others write and post “reviews” that are actually nothing but PR fabrications. [See the note “Missing Reviews, Fraudulent Reviews” on the Waldorf Watch page “Cautionary Tales”.]

Former Waldorf parent Pete Karaiskos has compiled a huge number of largely critical reviews of Waldorf schools, which he as posted on his websites Waldorf Awareness and The Waldorf Review. These sites are, unfortunately, inactive at present, so the reviews there are becoming dated. Nonetheless, the reviews uncovered by Karaiskos are worth careful study. They reveal in some detail what Sachs calls, above, "typical Waldorf school problems."

For some excerpts I have extracted from Karaiskos’ valuable sites, see “Complaints”, “Complaints 2”, and “Complaints 3”.

For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of the situation at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod, see the news item for January 11, "Cape Cod Waldorf School Faces Eviction".

— R.R.










January 13, 2019


POKER, POT, AND...
WALDORF?


From The Ukiah Daily Journal [Mendocino County, California]:


Waldorf School of Mendocino County
to hold Seventh Annual Poker Tournament


Waldorf School of Mendocino County is hosting its Seventh Annual Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 2 with a lesson at 4:30 p.m. and the tournament starting at 5 p.m. at Big Dog Saloon at Flow Kana, 1150 Bel Arbres Drive, Redwood Valley. $60 buy in, $40 add on. There will be cash prizes. Must be 21 to play. 485-8719.

[1/13/2018   https://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/2019/01/08/waldorf-school-of-mendocino-county-to-hold-seventh-annual-poker-tournament/   This article originally appeared on January 8. I've been sitting on it.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

Can this story possibly be true? Or is it a hoax?

The story was not written by journalists — it was submitted by some unseen entity, apparently anonymously.

A hoax, then?

So it would seem. Poker. Texas hold 'em poker. Arranged by a Waldorf school. And sponsored by Flow Kana, which is a small batch cannabis brand associated with craft farmers. [See https://www.flowkana.com/farms.] 

Cannabis is marijuana. So: poker, pot — and Waldorf?

A weird cosmic joke, surely.

And yet the website of The Waldorf School of Mendocino County seems to confirm that the event is being planned. [See https://mendocinowaldorf.org/texasholdempoker.]






So what are we to make of this?

What indeed. 

— R.R.










January 12, 2019


DAMNING REPORT 
BE DAMNED 



From DevonLive.com [Devon, UK]:


Parents launch bid to secure
future of Steiner Academy
after damning Ofsted report


By Anita Merritt

Families from the Steiner Academy Exeter have launched a campaign seeking to secure its future following a damning Ofsted [Office for Standards in Education] inspection which stated the school was failing on every level.

[The campaign] asserts the need for an all-through Steiner school in Exeter which provides an outstanding education for primary and secondary age pupils.

The 441-pupil school was shut down for more than a week following a visit from inspectors in October who discovered a catalogue of failings at the school including leadership being 'dysfunctional at every level', Kindergarten pupils being physically restrained by teachers and a lack of support for vulnerable children…

Following all the recent changes and talk of the future of the school, 234 parents and carers from the school have signed an open letter to officials…

The letter states the academy was opened in 2013 and is growing year on year until it is expected to reach its full capacity of 624 pupils in 2021.

Steiner free schools began in the UK in 2008 enabling Steiner education to be inclusive of all children for the first time, regardless of their background or ability…

Parents and carers, who are supporting the Moving Forward, Steiner Academy Exeter campaign, say they are committed to core Steiner principles…

The parent body said: "We are confident that under the leadership of the new principal Paul Hougham, and with the support of external agencies, rapid and significant changes can be made which will provide an outstanding education for the future and critically, an inclusive all-through schooling option for families in Exeter.”

[1/12/2019     https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/parents-launch-bid-secure-future-2419500   This article originally appeared on January 11.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

Perhaps the most striking thing about the new campaign is the disjunction between its hopes and the realities found by the school inspectors. The campaign says Exeter deserves to have a thoroughgoing Steiner schools that “provides an outstanding education.” But is this a realistic goal? 

The inspectors found that Steiner Academy Exeter has problems in virtually all areas of school life, including bad teaching. Indeed, the Academy itself has reportedly accepted the finding that its teaching staff generally does a poor job in the classroom. Thus, a previous news story in DevonLive included the following:


Exeter's Steiner Academy says it has 'deep regret' over the standard of teaching offered to children...

A spokesperson for the school said:

"...There is clear and deep regret that the education provided to children at the school has not been of the high standards or integrity required."

— DevonLive, "Exeter's Steiner Academy speak of 'deep regret' following sudden closure", October 12, 2018 [https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeters-steiner-academy-speak-deep-2101167]


It is quite understandable, of course, that some parents may rally to the support of the school they chose for their children. Admitting that they made a serious error in sending their kids to the Steiner Academy would undoubtedly be a bitter climb-down.

Then, too, we must acknowledge that some students and some parents genuinely love Steiner education. Steiner schools generally are full of lovely art, the teachers seem to take great interest in their students, little academic pressure is put on the kids, some lovely values are affirmed at the schools (imagination, love of art, green values, etc.), there's lots of free time for playing and making art, and so on. Attending a Steiner school can be quite pleasant.

But this is not to say that Steiner schools provide a good education. In general, they do not. Academic standards are often low at Steiner schools, principally because the belief system on which the schools stand puts its focus elsewhere. Specifically, the Steiner belief system — Anthroposophy — is a gnostic religion, and this faith is what true-believing Steiner teachers care about most. Thus, we find Waldorf teachers making statements such as the following:


◊ “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [i.e., the gods]…can find their home....” — Waldorf teacher Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.

◊ "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 4-5.

◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

◊ "Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? Clairvoyance is needed...." — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, THE MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 157.

◊ "The reason many [Steiner or 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." — Former Waldorf teacher "Baandje", 2006. [See "Ex-Teacher 7".]


Steiner schools can be pleasant places. But as educational institutions, they are often seriously deficient. They are usually not, in other words, good schools. Instead, they are disguised Anthroposophical religious institutions, aiming to spread the Anthroposophical faith. 

So improving the poor teaching at Steiner Academy Exeter may prove to be extremely difficult. The fact is, Steiner schools are not fundamentally interested in providing a good education, as this concept is usually understood. They are interested in karma, and clairvoyance, and the incarnation of invisible bodies, and so forth. They are interested in occult fantasies that, sadly, they mistake for reality. 

Giving kids a real education — that is, informing kids about the real world and preparing them for productive lives in the real world — is difficult if not completely impossible for thoroughgoing Steiner schools. Their focus is elsewhere.

[For more on these matters, see, e.g., “Here’s the Answer”, “Schools as Churches”, and “Academic Standards at Waldorf”. For more on the unfolding story of Steiner Academy Exeter, see “S. A. Exeter”.]

— R.R.










January 11, 2019


CAPE COD WALDORF SCHOOL 
FACES EVICTION   


From The Barnstable Patriot [Massachusetts, USA]:


Barnstable School Committee recommends ending Waldorf School lease in Cotuit
By Susan Vaughn
Barnstable School Committee unanimously recommended Wednesday night not to renew the lease of the private Waldorf School of Cape Cod that operates out of a town-owned building in Cotuit, despite hearing pleas from members of the school’s board. The reason given was that the school had been in arrears on rent for almost two years….
The school had been in arrears on its rent since spring 2017, which was up to $75,000 at one point, but [School Counsel Dylan] Pauly said there had been two recent large payments that brought the amount owed down to $20,000.
Todd Sadler, a Waldorf School board member, asked during public comment for time to renew the lease, saying, “We really love the buildings and grounds in Cotuit. We have maintained it despite the challenges”….
All the school committee members expressed regret for their decision but stressed their role as elected officials and their doubts that the situation would change after two years….
After the vote, outside of the meeting, the Waldorf school representatives spoke of their financial challenges as a nursery through grade 8 school … The school relies on tuition and grants, but [Waldorf board president Clayton] Jones said 40 percent of the budget goes to tuition assistance for 80 percent of its families. There are 60 students currently enrolled.…
[1/11/2018    https://www.barnstablepatriot.com/news/20190110/barnstable-school-committee-recommends-ending-waldorf-school-lease-in-cotuit    This story originally appeared on January 10.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

Fundraising is a constant challenge for many private Waldorf schools. Generally, Waldorf schools depend heavily on tuition paid by well-off families, along with any grants the schools may secure. The schools also hold various activities throughout the year — festivals, fairs, markets, and so forth — which, open to the public, are meant to generate some income, at least as a secondary goal. (The primary goal of almost all Waldorf activities is spiritual.)

In the US, Waldorf proponents have tried to ease the financial strain by seeking to have existing or new Waldorf schools accepted as charter schools. Charter schools are nominally part of the public school system and thus they receive government financing, but they operate largely as independent educational institutions, implementing their own curriculums. (In the UK, where Waldorf or Steiner proponents have been making similar efforts, charter schools are known as free schools.)

The international Anthroposophical movement has significant financial resources, including those held in Anthroposophical banks. But propping up all 1,100 or so Waldorf schools in the world is evidently impractical. Every year, some Waldorf schools here or there run into serious financial problems, causing at least a few of these schools to close. [See, e.g., "Failure".]

The financial difficulties faced by Waldorf schools are often exacerbated by serious shortcomings in the management and leadership of the schools.

For recent reports about the financial distress of a Scottish Steiner school, see the Waldorf Watch items for January 7 and January 9, 2019 (below). For recent reports about managerial problems at two prominent Steiner schools in the UK, see RSSKL and S. A. Exeter.

— R.R.










January 9, 2019


SCOTTISH STEINER SCHOOL 
SEEKS SILVER (CONT.)


As reported here recently, actress Tilda Swinton is urging the Scottish government to provide financial support for a Steiner school she co-founded. Her efforts are stirring up controversy. The following letter was printed today in The Herald [Glasgow, Scotland]:


No case for state funding of private school

I find it astonishing to read that Tilda Swinton, as a director of the loss making Drumduan House private school, is seeking funding from the Scottish Government to develop her “experimental” school (“Swinton touts Steiner school to ‘infiltrate’ school system”, The Herald, January 7).

At a pivotal time for Scottish education when we are poised for the first widespread teachers’ strike since the 1980s and find it increasingly difficult to provide adequate resources for state run schools, her request seems not only unrealistic but brazen.

She is seeking to use her celebrity status (and a modicum of flattery) to persuade the Education Secretary John Swinney to “subsidise” the fee-paying Drumduan House under the unfeasible guise that this will provide a model school for others to copy in the state sector.

Ms Swinton is from a privileged background and out of touch with the practical realities of educational provision in the state sector. Her request for any kind of government assistance must be rejected and treated with the disdain it deserves.

— Owen Kelly

[12/8/2019    https://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/17344579.letters-no-case-for-state-funding-of-private-school/]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

Using public funds to support Steiner or Waldorf schools is difficult if not impossible to justify. Despite denials, these schools are actually disguised Anthroposophical religious institutions. [See “Schools as Churches”] Their underlying purpose is to spread the religion devised by Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophy. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”]

Public schools in various countries have multiple problems these days. But providing all children with free, rational, fact-based education is a goal all societies — especially in democracies — should strive to attain. Universal education is a noble ideal, offering the hope of an informed electorate that will protect and extend democratic values and institutions.

One crucial problem faced by public schools in many jurisdictions today is a lack of funds. Under these circumstances, diverting financial resources from public schools to rival, private institutions is all the harder to justify. If public schools in any region have problems, then the proper response must be to work at resolving those problems, not starve these schools of the resources they need in order to serve their communities.


For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of Ms. Swinton's request, see the item for January 7, 2019, quoting from the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

— R.R.










January 8, 2019


ANTHROPOSOPHICAL DOCTORS 
BRING SUIT AGAINST A CRITIC 


For some years now, Grégoire Perra — a former Waldorf student who went on to become a Waldorf teacher and an Anthroposophical insider — has been publishing articles and giving speeches in which he offers informed, in-depth criticism of the Anthroposophical movement, including Waldorf education.

In 2011, the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools in France filed a defamation suit against Perra because of a critical article he had published. The ensuing trial was a bitter experience, but Perra prevailed. Ruling against the Federation, the court cleared Perra completely.

Last October, Perra gave a speech about Anthroposophical medicine: "Mon expérience de la médecine anthroposophique" {My Experiences with Anthroposophical Medicine}. Now, a group of Anthroposophical doctors is suing Perra, again for defamation.

Here are excerpts from Perra’s description of the current situation, posted on his website:


…[R]epresentatives of Anthroposophic medicine in France recently filed a complaint against me for insults and defamation, attacking an article at my blog in which I report on a speech I gave at a conference [in Marseille on October 6, 2018]....

The representatives of Anthroposophic medicine are now asking me for more than 35,000 euros [approximately $40,100] in damages and are suing me before the TGI [the French High Court] in Strasbourg.

To achieve its aims, this complaint attempts to challenge a previous court judgment that concluded I was acting in good faith and without animosity in my reflective work denouncing Anthroposophy (see the reasons for the judgment of 5 April 2013 of the 17th Correctional Chamber of Paris).

In my opinion, there is no doubt that this complaint is a part of a concerted action by Anthroposophists to silence in the media a person who has recently shed too much light on their occult activities.

[1/8/2019    
Les anthroposophes me font un nouveau procès {Anthroposophists Are Suing Me Again}   Translated by Roger Rawlings, relying heavily on www.DeepL.com/Translator.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

For the text of Perra’s speech (in French) about Anthroposophical medicine, see https://veritesteiner.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/mon-experience-de-la-medecine-anthroposophique/

For Waldorf Watch coverage of Perra’s speech (in English), see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfstraighttalk/indications-11 (scroll down to October 10 and October 11).

For an English translation of Perra’s report on his previous trial, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/my-life-3.


Perra is not a wealthy man. Defending himself in court against the assault by an Anthroposophical organization will likely be costly. For this reason, Perra has created a crowdfunding account where contributions can be made to assist him in his legal fight: https://www.okpal.com/soutenir-le-lanceur-d-alerte-gregoire-perra/#/.

Concerning this account, Perra writes the following:


I would be grateful for contributions, which can be made by all those who believe this cause is important and that the writings on my blog should continue to be publicly available … It is important to communicate that people [i.e., Anthroposophists] who constantly claim to be open to criticism and concerned about freedom are once again using judicial processes in an effort to silence their detractors.










January 7, 2019


SCOTTISH STEINER SCHOOL 
SEEKS SILVER 


From The Press and Journal [Aberdeen, Scotland]:


Hollywood actress Tilda Swinton
appeals to Scottish Government
to save school


Hollywood star Tilda Swinton has asked Education Secretary John Swinney to back the loss-making private school she co-founded….

The experimental Moray school – with fees of up to £8,500 a year – has just over 80 pupils and is based on Rudolf Steiner’s liberal philosophy….

The cash-strapped school…holds no formal exams and pupils do not learn to read until the age of seven….

The Scottish Government is set to strip private schools of charity relief – which shaves 80% off rates – costing them millions.

The first Steiner school opened in the UK in 1925. There has been growing government support south of the border – since 2008 four state-funded Steiner Academies have opened in England – the latest in Exeter.

A further seven more are proposed, under the Free Schools programme, and in all there have been 30 applications to open Steiner Free Schools….

[1/7/2019    https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/1645437/holywood-actress-tilda-swinton-appeals-to-scottish-government-to-save-school/]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Response:

Proponents of Steiner or Waldorf education are busy in many countries opening, or proposing, new Steiner schools. 

The flip side is that many Steiner schools run into difficulties of various sorts, sometimes causing the schools to collapse. [See, e.g., “Failure”.] Ms. Swinton’s school apparently is struggling with financial difficulties of the kind that often afflict Steiner initiatives.

More fundamental problems also sometimes afflict Steiner schools here and there. In England, one of the recently opened Steiner academies — the one in Exeter, mentioned in today’s news story — is teetering on the brink of closure. Inspectors have found numerous faults at the school, including poor safeguarding of students, bad teaching, and dysfunctional management. [See “S. A. Exeter”.]

Previously, a long-established Steiner school in England was shut down by the government when inspectors found similar problems there. [See “RSSKL”.]

Whether Steiner education will continue to spread, or will founder, in the UK seems to be up in the air at this stage.




A few other points may need clarification.

“Free schools” in the UK are equivalent to charter schools in the US — they are essentially independent schools that receive funding from the government. 

Steiner’s “philosophy” — Anthroposophy — is actually a religion [see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”], and Steiner schools are, covertly, religious institutions [see “Schools as Churches”].

Steiner schools are sometimes touted as progressive institutions, but the “philosophy” underlying Steiner schools is anything but progressive or “liberal.” Rather, the thinking on which Steiner schools are based is mystical and esoteric. [See "Oh Humanity".] Thus, for instance, Steiner students are not taught to read before age seven because the teachers are waiting for the kids’ invisible “etheric bodies” to incarnate. [See “Incarnation”.]




It is always interesting when show biz celebrities such as Hollywood actresses get involved in social movements, becoming spokesfolks, figureheads, or sponsors. Celebs certainly have every right to express their opinions and to push for things they like. But whether they actually know what they are talking about — whether, that is, the rest of us should follow their lead — may sometimes be questionable.

— R.R.









January 4, 2019


◊ READINGS ◊


BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL
(CONTINUED)


Yesterday, we considered some of the prefatory material in a book intended for the edification of Waldorf teachers. That material urged Waldorf teachers to be true to “the esoteric foundations of Waldorf education.”

The question naturally arises: What sort of “esoteric” beliefs can we find in the “foundations” of Waldorf schooling? Digging a little deeper into the book — TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION — provides some of the answers.

The following is excerpted from the first section of the book, a section titled “Karmic Reflections”. The words were spoken by Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner. He was addressing Waldorf teachers:


…It will be important that the question of karma, or destiny [1], is taken into account, especially with regard to education and teaching methods. The people with whom my karma brought me together in childhood and youth certainly are important. [2] And a tremendous amount depends on it that in our teaching we are aware that we and our pupils have been brought together [by karma]….

We [Waldorf teachers] will know how to behave if we are constantly aware of the idea of karma; but we must have a real inner connection with this. Whether we are particularly good at teaching something, or perhaps less good, is not really so important. Even completely inept teachers may on occasion have a tremendous influence. [3] … [T]he question as to whether we are the right teacher or educator depends on the way in which we were connected with the child's soul before either of us — teacher and child — were born. The difference is merely that we teachers have come into the world a few years earlier than the children. Before that we were together with them in the world of the spirit [4] .…

If you do not merely take what I am saying as an abstract truth but let it enter fully into your soul, you will find it has tremendous significance. Just think of the truly serious mood, the profundity of feeling which would come if, in the field of education, people lived with the idea: "You are now showing the child something which it accepted from you in the world of the spirit before it was born…." [5]

— Rudolf Steiner, TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2012, reprinted 2017), pp. 32-34.


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] The paired concepts of karma and reincarnation are extremely important in Anthroposophical belief and in Waldorf pedagogy. Karma and reincarnation rank high among the esoteric beliefs that shape the Waldorf approach. [See "Karma" and "Reincarnation".]

[2] I.e., students and their teacher are brought together by karma. These particular students and this particular teacher are destined to be together. The bond between children and teacher are therefore deemed virtually sacred and should not be broken. Hence, we find Anthroposophists explaining Waldorf education in statements such as this:

“A school class is a destiny community ... A class is not a group of children who have been thrown together arbitrarily. The class forms a social context around a teacher to which the children were led by their life's destiny.” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 45.

[3] Waldorf schools generally have low academic standards. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.] Waldorf school have other priorities, such as assisting children to incarnate their invisible bodies. [See “Incarnation”.] A Waldorf teacher may be considered a great success even if s/he is not a particularly skilled as an educator. The ability to teach well is “not really so important.”

[4] A Waldorf teacher is the “right teacher” for a group of children if s/he forged links to the students’ souls before incarnation on Earth. The karma binding teachers to their students predates the teacher’s and students’ current lives on Earth — the teacher and students lived together in the spirit realm before descending to Earth.

[5] According to Anthroposophic belief, humans arrive on Earth carrying, in their souls, knowledge they attained in the spirit realm. For this reason, Waldorf schools do not really need to teach kids much. At most, Waldorf teachers try to reawaken knowledge implanted in the students’ souls before birth. Hence, Waldorf education generally downplays the importance of the brain. Steiner taught that true knowledge is accessible through intuition (or imagination, or clairvoyance), not through the use of the brain. [See “Thinking”.] In Waldord education, the rational use of the brain is considered unimportant or even damaging. Thus, Steiner made such assertions as this: 

“[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition … If you particularly emphasize the development of thinking, you actually direct the entire human being back to prenatal life. You will injure children if you educate them rationally because you will then utilize their will in something they have already completed — namely, life before birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (SteinerBooks, 1996), pp. 60-61. 

You may want to consider whether you think a valid educational system can be based on such precepts.

— R.R.










January 3, 2019


◊ READINGS ◊

BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL






Rudolf Steiner said all teachers in Waldorf schools should be true-believing Anthroposophists. [1] And he explained why: It is because a key aim (perhaps the key aim) of Waldorf schools is to spread Anthroposophy. [2] 

In practice, Waldorf schools have had trouble creating, and maintaining, all-Anthroposophical faculties. Often, the schools have been unable to find enough willing and able local Anthroposophists to serve as Waldorf teachers. So the schools have often needed to hire — at least temporarily — non-Anthroposophists to teach this subject or that, at this grade level or that. 

But Steiner’s vision persists, and it continues to inspire leading figures in the Waldorf/Anthroposophical movement. Efforts continue to ensure that as many Waldorf teachers as possible embrace Steiner’s occult preachments. In part, this has meant that when non-Anthroposophists join a Waldorf faculty, efforts will be made to convert these individuals to Anthroposophy. [3]

An example of the efforts made to ensure Anthroposophical purity among Waldorf teachers is the recently republished book, TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2012, reprinted 2017). The book's text originated at the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. [4]

Here are excerpts from the first pages of the book:


1.


It was of very great importance to Rudolf Steiner that the educational impulse which had arisen out of anthroposophy in Central Europe [5] should put down roots in the English-speaking world…. [6]

He was aware that this would require a particular inner effort of heart and soul [7] on the part of teachers in the English-speaking world, and it is, therefore, of very special urgency that the esoteric foundations of Waldorf education [8] as they have been gathered together in this volume should be taken up with the utmost inner activity and earnestness by individual teachers and in faculty communities.... [9]

— Henry Barnes, Foreword to the Second English Edition, TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2012, reprinted 2017), p. 13.



2.


At this point in time, the anthroposophical school movement [10] is faced with the task to found itself anew spiritually…. [11]

In earlier times…it was a matter of course that only those were taken into the ranks of Waldorf teachers who had chosen anthroposophy as the guiding principle of their lives. [12] Things are different now. It used to go without saying that our pedagogy was based in anthroposophy; now we must work to achieve this in a new way [13]….

It is therefore part of the responsibility of a community of teachers [14] to acquaint new colleagues with this esoteric side of the profession [15], to point out the importance of its practice [16], and answer relevant questions. Basically anyone who earnestly wants to work with this content [17] is entitled to receive a copy of this book [18] … Whether the individual teacher or the school pays for the book is up to the individual school….

Steiner demands commitment and responsibility in the face of this task [19] and then calls us to be conscious of the real connection we have with the spiritual world…. [20]

— Heinz Zimmermann, Preface to the Fourth Edition, TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION, pp. 15-17.




Times have changed. But if leaders within the Anthroposophical movement have their way, the essence of Waldorf education will remain unchanged. Waldorf schools will continue to be devoted — fully and unflinchingly — to Anthroposophy.


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] “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.

[2] “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.

[3] See, e.g., the section “The Indoctrination of Teachers” in "He Went to Waldorf".

[4] See the section on the Goethanum in “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

[5] Waldorf education was originally intended specifically for German youngsters, to help the German people to fulfill their “mission.” [See “The Good Wars”.] Because Anthroposophy and the Waldorf movement arose in, and have particular application in, “Central Europe” (i.e., Germany), teachers in other parts of the world must make special efforts to comprehend and enact them.

[6] TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION consists chiefly of key statements made by Steiner about Waldorf education, translated from the German. Waldorf education began in Germany and later spread to England. The Waldorf movement has subsequently opened schools in lands where neither German nor English is the native language. If Steiner was eager for Waldorf schooling to put down roots in English-speaking countries, a similar solicitude exists now among Steiner’s followers who are intent on planting Waldorf education in all nations.

[7] I.e., meditative and prayerful reflection.

[8] Many terms may be used to characterized the belief system that underlies Waldorf education. “Esoteric” is one; others are “spiritual,” “occult,” “gnostic,” “mystic,” etc. 

Steiner laid out the key doctrines underlying Waldorf education in a series of lectures that have been published under such titles as STUDY OF MAN and THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE. [For an overview, see “Oh Humanity”.]

[9] I.e., individual teachers should meditate upon and study Steiner’s teachings, and the entire faculty of a Waldorf school should meditatively discuss those teachings. 

[10] I.e., the Waldorf school movement. Here, and in succeeding sentences, the deep, essential tie between Waldorf schools and Anthroposophy is made explicit. (Here, the Waldorf school movement is called "the anthroposophical school movement.")

[11] I.e., conditions have changed. Waldorf schools must now find new ways to embody their essential Anthroposophical character.

[12] I.e., previously, the faculty at any Waldorf school was likely to consistent entirely of true-believing Anthroposophists.

[13] The goal (full allegiance to Anthroposophy) remains the same, but new ways to reach the goal must be developed.

[14] I.e., a true-believing Waldorf faculty.

[15] I.e., the faculty must inform new members about Anthroposophy, and it must seek to usher new members into the fold of true-believing Steiner followers.

[16] New Waldorf teachers should not merely be informed about Anthroposophy, they should be led to practice Anthroposophy.

[17] “Earnestly” working with the contents of this book means entering, at least provisionally, the ranks of practicing Anthroposophists.

[18] I.e., all earnest teachers at a Waldorf school in the English-speaking world should receive copies of TOWARD THE DEEPENING OF WALDORF EDUCATION. (Teachers in lands where other languages predominate presumably should receive similar books published in those languages.)

[19] I.e., Steiner firmly requires Waldorf teachers to pursue the purposes of Waldorf education. He does not suggest it or encourage it — he “demands” it. As we saw previously, he said Waldorf teachers “must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word.”

[20] “We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33.

“Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 55..

— R.R.










January 1, 2019


THE JESUSES, ETHER, 
AND THE STARS 


To inaugurate the new year — to see the beginning of 2019 as at least some of Steiner's followers do — we should consult Anthroposophical astrology. Here's what the celestial pattern of stars and planets reflects today, according to an Anthroposophical astrology text. (I have added some explanatory footnotes.)


Jan 1 [2019]: Sun 16˚Sagittarius: Birth of the Nathan Jesus (Dec/6/2/ BC). At the turning point in time [1], following the death of Jesus Christ [2], the Nathan Jesus [3] became the Angel Jesus [4]. Through him, the fifth sacrifice of Christ is now occurring [5]. Hence is the moral ether [6], the light of the Grail [7], radiating throughout the world. The human soul touches into the presence of the Etheric Christ [8] through the Angel Jesus … The moral ether dispels all polarities … The moral ether calls us to rise to the transpersonal [9] … Without such openness, the moral ether would be inaccessible and Christ could not find us….

[COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom Volume 1, Robert Powell and Claudia McLaren Lainson, editors (Lindisfarne Books, Steinerbooks/Anthroposophic Press, 2018), commentaries and ephemerides by Claudia McLaren Lainson, p. 126ff.]


◊ • ◊


Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, the “turning point in time” came with the triumphant earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, who gave human evolution its new, upward impetus.

[2] Steiner taught that “Christ” is in fact the Sun God. This deity incarnated on the Earth, for three years, in the body of a man named Jesus. The resultant human/god was Jesus Christ (Christ in Jesus).

[3] Steiner taught that there were actually two Jesus children, one from the Solomon line of descent and the other from the Nathan line. The Solomon Jesus carried the spiritual essence of Zoroaster while the Nathan Jesus carried the spiritual essence of Buddha. The Solomon Jesus died, so that his soul could pass into the Nathan Jesus. Hence, the combined Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus became a fit vessel fo hold the incarnation of the Sun God, Christ.

[4] The Angel Jesus is an archangel (a god two levels above humanity) who condescended to work at the level of an angel (a god one level higher to humanity). The Angel Jesus has functioned in the spirit realm much as the earthly Jesus (the combined Solomon and Nathan Jesuses) functioned in the physical realm, providing a vessel in which the Sun God could incarnate.

[5] According to Anthroposophic belief, Christ has made a series of sacrifices in order to redeem humanity by directing it to its new, upward evolutionary path. Christ's first three sacrifices came in ancient times, in preparation for the fourth and greatest sacrifice: the Crucifixion. Each "sacrifice" has entailed a descent of the Sun God to the Earth. Christ continues to sacrifice himself for us now, Steiner said — the Sun God has descended to the etheric region surrounding the Earth.

[6] Steiner taught that the cosmos is filled with several types of “ether.” The four types usually denoted in Anthroposophical texts are warmth ether, light ether, sound ether, and life ether. “Moral ether” may be considered a fifth type — Steiner said it is the inner side of the etheric body (one of our three invisible bodies), activated during the new moon.*


[7] I.e., the Holy Grail. In Anthroposophy, the Grail is the essence of occult wisdom, particularly occult wisdom originating in the East.

[8] Steiner taught that the second coming of Christ has already occurred. Christ has returned not to the physical Earth but to the etheric region that surrounds the Earth. There, in the etheric region, he is the Etheric Christ.

[9] I.e., we should transcend our merely individual consciousness to work toward the attainment of a general, transpersonal, ultimately universal consciousness. This is one description of our ascent, enabled by Christ, to divinity.


* “[T]he Moon-beings observe all that goes on in the planetary system … The etheric formative forces are drawn from the planets, the ‘moral ether,’ as well as from the four kinds of ether … [W]hen at new Moon there is no moonlight, the whole remaining cosmos works upon the forming of [a human's] etheric body. It is then that what Rudolf Steiner called the ‘moral ether,’ or the ‘inner side of the etheric body,’ is incorporated, while the outer side is formed at full moon (lecture, April 21, 1924) ... The Moon-beings create the true balance according to their cosmic observations. Through the etheric body they combine [a person's] previous life with the future one and weave karma into the soul.” — Elisabeth Vreede, ANTHROPOSOPHY AND ASTROLOGY (Anthroposophic Press, 2011), p. 179.


For more on Anthroposophical astrology, see "Astrology", "Star Power", and "Waldorf Astrology".

For more on the Anthroposophical conception of Christ, see "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?" For more on Christ's sacrifices, see "Christ Events".

For more on various other terms used in COSMOLOGY REBORN (e.g., "turning point [of] time", "Nathan[ic] Jesus", "Solomon[ic] Jesus", "ether", "Holy Grail", etc.], you might consult The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.
— R.R.