May, 2011

This site supplements Waldorf Watch.
To go to Waldorf Watch itself, please click here:

The news items below are presented in reverse chronological order 
— newest first, oldest last.

Please excuse a certain amount of repetition 
in the contents of this archive.
Items that now appear close together on the screen 
may have originally been separated by intervals of several days.

Many of the items in this archive generalize about Waldorf schools, 
 describing them as Rudolf Steiner and leading Waldorf representatives 
have said they should be and as evidence shows they often are today. 
Not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, 
and Waldorf-inspired schools conform to this model precisely. 
To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine 
its stated purposes, its practices (which may or may not be consistent 
with its stated purposes), and the composition of its faculty.

"THE CONTROVERSIAL proposal for classrooms to be built on open space at the Abbotsford Convent [Victoria, Australia] has fallen at the first hurdle, following a groundswell of community opposition.

"Heritage Victoria refused on heritage grounds to approve plans by the Sophia Mundi Steiner School to build a five-classroom, single-storey building on part of the 'goat paddock' to the south of the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

"Heritage Victoria received 2400 objections to the plans, including objections from Yarra Council and the National Trust, while 96 submissions backed the proposal.

"The decision leaves the school in a race against time to secure classroom space for the start of next year. It will be evicted from its second campus in Nicholson St in Abbotsford at the end of this year." 

“My daughters are at a Waldorf school, which they both love. I, however, have some questions as to whether the ends justify the means. Rudolf Steiner said that Waldorf education is an education towards freedom. The underlying assumption is that in order to be free, children must learn how to do things the ‘correct’ way, so that they can later express themselves with that medium.”  

[5-30-2011 http://mothering.com/waldorf-education-and-how-guide-without-coersion]


One of the attractive features of Waldorf education is its professed commitment to “freedom.” We should realize, however, that the concept of freedom offered by Waldorf's founder, Rudolf Steiner, is cramped and limiting. To a significant degree, Waldorf “freedom” is negative — it is the renunciation of “wrong” desires and attitudes, not the development of an individual capacity of selection, the ability to make choices for yourself. In other words, it is freedom from, not freedom for. [See “Freedom”.]

Indeed, the real objective at Waldorf schools is leading children to do things in the “correct” way. And what is the correct way? It is the Anthroposophical way, the way of submission to an occult ideology. Steiner stressed that Waldorf teachers should be authority figures whom children obey unquestioningly. Addressing Waldorf faculty, Steiner said,

“[I]t will be very good if you can keep the children from losing their feeling for authority. That is what they need most.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 14. 

Steiner gave this guidance as he was establishing the first Waldorf school. It is a fundamental Waldorf precept.

What children “need most,” in the Waldorf view, is a “feeling for authority.” This is particularly true for young children, Steiner taught. As children age, the limits on their volition can be loosened, Steiner said. But, having been trained to obey their teachers, Waldorf students should continue to emulate those teachers, out of affection and, eventually, as a result of "free" choice. How much freedom is possible as the result of such training is open to question, clearly. The Waldorf approach follows a classical pattern of indoctrination. [See "Indoctrination".]

Of course, all children need to be obedient, within rational limits, but the degree of obedience expected in a Waldorf school is extraordinary. An ideal Waldorf student would be free of any desire to disobey the teachers. Ask yourself whether this seems like true preparation for freedom. [See “Faculty Meetings”.]

[Credit: Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress]

"Virginia Department of Health workers hold 

a measles vaccination clinic at the 

Charlottesville Waldorf School."

More area measles cases likely

“Health officials were pleased to announce Friday that no new cases of measles have developed after the area experienced its first outbreak in over 20 years [Charlottesville, Virginia, USA] ... 

“Health officials have contacted 214 people who may have been exposed, [health official Dr. Lillian] Peake said Friday evening, and determined that 39 did not have immunity, either through vaccination or from having the disease previously. All of the individuals determined to be susceptible would have been exposed at the Waldorf School, Peake said.

“Though no new cases appeared Friday, Peake said that it is likely that there will be more.

“Peake said Thursday that 90 percent of non-vaccinated people who are exposed to the virus come down with the measles.”   

[5-27-2011  http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2011/may/27/more-area-measles-cases-likely-ar-1070013/]

Area's first measles case in over 20 years

“The Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department [Virginia, USA] announced Thursday that there have been three cases of measles in the area...

“Exposures may have occurred on May 20 at the Charlottesville Waldorf School [and elsewhere] ...

“...Waldorf, a private school serving students from preschool to eighth grade, confirmed that a student was one of the three cases. The school cancelled classes today to hold a vaccination clinic for the school community...

“[Health official Dr. Lillian] Peake said she doesn’t yet have a full idea of the seriousness of the situation, which is technically considered an outbreak.

“There were three cases of measles throughout Virginia in 2010, Peake said, and only one case in both 2009 and 2008. Prior to that, the last case in Virginia occurred in 2001.”  

[5-26-2011 http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2011/may/26/7/measles-case-ar-1066570/]


Generally, Waldorf schools do not officially oppose vaccination. But often a high percentage of students at Waldorf schools are unvaccinated. Sometimes this is largely the parents’ choice, but it is consistent with underlying Waldorf misgivings about vaccination. Rudolf Steiner taught that vaccination may sometimes be appropriate, but he said it only treats the physical side of karma, so in and of itself it is inadequate to meet an individual's needs. He also taught that vaccination may hold severe dangers since the forces of evil will use vaccinations to attack the good people of the Earth, cutting them off from the spirit realm.

The result of withholding vaccination is that diseases that have long been under control are now recurring, needlessly endangering the lives of children.

Vaccination, by itself, does not get to the root causes of disease, Steiner said. 

“If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox [through vaccination], we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 165-166.

Because illness is a matter of karma, Steiner taught, preventing someone from having a disease can be a serious error — an individual may need to contract a disease to fulfill her/his karma. We should not interfere with karma unless we are very, very sure that we know what we are doing.

Steiner also told his followers to fear vaccinations for another reason. Black magicians and other evildoers will create vaccines that deaden people to the spirit: 

“Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation [i.e., vaccination]...only these 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.” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91.

Maybe the vaccine you receive will help you avoid smallpox. This may be good or bad. It will be very bad if your karma requires you to have smallpox. And in any case, as the doctor or nurse approaches you with a syringe containing a vaccine of some sort, can you be sure it is a vaccine that will protect you from smallpox, or is it a vaccine that will destroy your soul?

Wackiness of this sort poses a very real threat to the health of children whose parents or teachers withhold needed medical treatment in accordance with Steiner’s teachings. [See “Steiner’s Quackery”.] Note that the Charlottesville Waldorf School admirably (if belatedly) arranged a vaccination clinic for the school community. Clearly, numerous students at the school had not be vaccinated previously.

Waldorf School Supporter In US Uses Copyright Bullying to Silence Swedish Waldorf Critic

“I am not a fan of Waldorf education, and particularly not a fan of Waldorf charter schools...

“One of my online friends is a Swedish woman, Alicia H., who goes by the handle zzzoey on Twitter...

“Zooey was educated in a Swedish Waldorf school, which was (to put it mildly) not a happy experience for her. She is an active participant in the Yahoo group Waldorf Critics, which is an open list (anyone may see the messages), and also blogs in Swedish and English at http://zooey.wordpress.com/

“...There was an odd, short saga on the Waldorf-Critics list recently  A US woman, JennSW, joined the group on May 16, and proceeded to post identifying details about herself and details about her children's mental-health issues.  She proceeded to lecture and patronize group members, all the while defending the Waldorf school where one of her children had been enrolled for less than a full academic year. There was, as usual, vigorous discussion.


“...JennSW joined the forum on May 16....

“On May 18, Alicia H. posted a response to some of JennSW's points to her blog...

“By the afternoon of May 20, JennSW had hired an attorney in the US and had forwarded a ‘Cease & Desist’ letter to Alicia (who lives in Sweden) and to her blog's host, Wordpress.

"On May 22 and 23, JennSW appeared at Alicia's blog to defend her actions.  Not once, but one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen times.  She has apologized for sending the email, while continuing to defend her actions.

"...The C&D order is in the process of being resolved...

"... [from Alicia H.]: 'Thank you so very much for posting about this, Liz. I'm a bit exhausted after the last couple of days' events, I have the good news that Jenn indeed did write to wordpress some time this evening (CET) and they did give me back my rights to post.'"  

[5-22-2011  http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2011/05/waldorf-school-supporter-in-us-uses-copyright-bullying-to-silence-swedish-waldof-critic.html]

“Football [i.e., soccer] is banned because it uses the head as a limb, which subverts the development of a child. Reading is not encouraged until a child has turned seven. Schoolrooms have old-fashioned blackboards, instead of the modern white boards, and text books are not supplied as the children make their own. This is Steiner, a word which conjures up an education synonymous with the hippy, flower-power age of the late sixties and seventies but in spite of its reputation, it is flourishing in the early 21st-century world of gadgets and IT [i.e., information technology].

“In 2007, there were 833 [Steiner] schools globally but now there are over 1,200 signed-up members. The number of Steiner independent schools in the UK which, it has to be said, has not overly embraced Steiner, has grown from 31 to 33. Significantly, in 2008, Tony Blair granted the first Steiner school in Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire 'academy' status with a grant of over £10 million in recognition of its ‘diversity’.

“Dr Rudolf Steiner was an innovative academic and philosopher born in Austria, in 1861, who founded Anthroposophy a philosophy, which postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensive spiritual world, which could be accessed through inner development. Central to the core of Steiner education philosophy is the holistic development of the child.”  

[5-26-2011 http://www.firstelevenmagazine.co.uk/steiner-schools-an-alternative-educational-system/]


Some of the comments I made about the article, below, from the STAR-ADVERTISER in Hawaii, apply also to this article from FIRST ELEVEN in the UK. Once again we read the words of a writer who is either misinformed or who is interested in misinforming us.

Rather than rehashing a discussion we had so recently, let’s turn to some other considerations. 

◊ Is it “significant” that former Prime Minister Tony Blair (or the government he led) granted academy status to a Waldorf school? It is a good bet that Blair and his government did not know about the racism and occultism hidden in the Waldorf movement. [See "Races", “Secrets”, and “Occultism”.]

It is easy, but not particularly instructive, to find celebrities who have smiled upon Steiner schools. I will see your Tony Blair and up the ante: Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow studied some of Rudolf Steiner’s works and said that, if he had children of the right ages, he would send them to a Steiner school.* This is impressive. But of course, even geniuses like Bellow can make mistakes. It is a good bet that Bellow, who was Jewish, did not come upon Steiner’s many anti-Semitic statements. [See “RS on Jews”.]

I can also see your Tony Blair and lower the ante. The actress Jennifer Anniston attended a Steiner school, as did credit card mogul Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express. But what does this tell us? Nothing, really. Various famous and successful people have emerged from all sorts of schools, private and public, good and bad. Success in various fields may be attributed to many factors, obvious and hidden, and may not have much to do with the sort of school an individual attended.

(We might also ask how many people have emerged from Steiner schools deeply confused and wholly unprepared for real life. This statistic — likely to be an impressively high number — might tell us more about Steiner schooling than the occasional endorsement of Steiner by a celebrity or the occasional striking success of a Waldorf alum.)

◊ On the question of how many Steiner schools exist today: Different numbers get tossed around, and confirming them is difficult. It probably is fair to say that, worldwide, there are about 1,000 Steiner schools. Bear in mind, however, that some of them are extremely small.

◊ No Steiner schools have been accepted yet as free schools in the UK. But the efforts to gain such status for Steiner schools — and to gain access to public financing — will undoubtedly continue. (In the USA, "free" schools are called charter schools, and various Steiner or Waldorf schools have been accepted as charter schools. According to Waldorf critics [see http://waldorfcritics.org/], this violates the US Constitution, since Waldorf schools are religious institutions. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School".])

* On the other hand, the Nobel Laureate Max von Laue, a scientist, sharply criticized and indeed derided Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, particuarly his “scientific” works. [See “Steiner’s ‘Science’".] It is probable that von Laue knew far more about science than Bellow — a novelist — knew about occultism or, perhaps, education. We might also note that, in the end, Bellow turned away from Steiner. [See "'Spiritual Science'".]

[Dennis Oda / doda@staradvertiser.com] 

"Kona Pacific Public Charter School 

is the first public school in the state 

to offer a Waldorf education, 

known for 'embracing the whole child, 

 heart, hands and mind.' 

Students practice circus routines 

as part of the curriculum." 

[Photo and caption from the 


“Nine-year-old Joshua Barreras-Float reaches up to show off his latest creation, a colorful crocheted cap that fits snugly on his head ...

“For students at Kona Pacific Public Charter School [Hawaii, USA], such handiwork is a key part of the curriculum. It is the first public school in the state to offer a Waldorf education, known for 'embracing the whole child, heart, hands and mind.'

“The trappings of modern, high-tech society are largely absent from this elementary school ... [I]t has a fairy-tale feel to it, with brightly painted wooden cottages scattered over the grassy knoll.

“Once a private Waldorf school, it shut down in 2006 because not enough students could afford to attend. It was resuscitated in 2008 with tax dollars as a public charter school...

“Based on the ideas of an Austrian philosopher, Waldorf education is designed to match children's developmental stages ...

“There are no textbooks in the classrooms ...

“[T]he shift to pubic school standards has not been totally smooth. Waldorf schools don't start formal academics until first grade, and their students might lag on state tests in the early years....” 

[5-23-2011 http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20110523_Former_private_school_finds_some_success__in_transition_to_public_Waldorf_education.html]


When Waldorf schools (also known as Steiner schools) are accepted into the public school system as charter schools — in the UK, “free” schools — taxpayers start footing the bill. And what do the taxpayers get in return? A system of "education" in which students study few if any textbooks and learn less than students elsewhere, most notably in the lower grades. Do Waldorf students catch up academically sooner or later? Some do, some don’t. By the end of high school, Waldorf students may more or less catch up with kids in regular schools. But given that, according to Waldorf proponents, regular schools are so bad that we need to accept Waldorf schools as alternatives, what have we gained? Just about nothing. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]

Of course, Waldorf students do learn to knit and crochet, and some learn circus routines. And the value of such things is what? Just about nothing.

It would be good if reporters did more than accept Waldorf PR at face value. 

a) Calling Rudolf Steiner a philosopher falls a bit short of the mark.* Steiner was a professed, self-described occultist. [See “Occultism”.] 

b) Saying that Waldorf schools focus on “children's developmental stages” is, at best, uninformed. The “developmental stages” as described by Rudolf Steiner involve the incarnation of invisible spiritual “bodies”: the “etheric body” at age 7, the “astral body” at age 14, and the "ego body" at the end of childhood, age 21. [See “Incarnation”.] 

c) "Heart, hands and mind" is a variation of the standard Waldorf motto, "Head, hearts and hands," which suggests that Waldorf education focuses on the "whole child." [See “Holistic Education”.] But this is a highly misleading summation of the Waldorf approach.  The actual purpose of Waldorf approach is to enact, and eventually spread, the religion devised by Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophy. [See "Here's the Answer".]

Waldorf schools shun textbooks and modern technology because these schools are backward. They reject most of modern knowledge. Indeed, the occult religion underlying Waldorf schools dismisses the value of the brain, emphasizing clairvoyance instead. According to the “philosopher” Rudolf Steiner, 

“[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, The Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996) p. 60. [See “Thinking”, "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness",  and “Clairvoyance”.]

In Waldorf belief, the partr of the body containing the brain — the head — is really not very important. 

“It is bias that causes people to imagine that their heads are the most perfect part of themselves. It is certainly structured in a most complicated way, but it is really just a metamorphosed cuttlefish.” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO WALDORF TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 2000), p. 98. 

Note that this statement about the human head is included in the “practical advice” that Steiner gave to Waldorf teachers. If you find it less than practical, if indeed you find it to be loony, then you may not want to send your kids to a Waldorf school. And, as a taxpayer, you may not want to foot the bill for sending any kids at all to Waldorf schools.


As for the Waldorf fondness for fairy tales: Waldorf teachers prefer fairy tales, myths, and legends instead of scientific truths about the real world. They think that fairy tales are, at a deep lever, truer than modern science. 

"Genuine fairy tales portray reality ... [T]heir content portrays soul experiences, cosmic truths, the process of the individual’s development, the elemental world, folk wisdom and apocalyptic imaginations [i.e., in Anthroposophical jargon, true pictures].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE INTERPRETATION OF FAIRY TALES  (Henry Goulden, 1984), p. 7. [See "Fairy Tales".] 

A Waldorf campus may have "a fairy-tale feel" especially if any structures there reflect the bizarre, otherworldly architecture inspired by Rudolf Steiner. When you see such structures, the best course of action is to walk away and look for some other kind of school.

A Waldorfish garage.

The building is not falling down — it is meant to look this way.

[Henry Barnes, INTO THE HEART'S LAND: 

A Century of Rudolf Steiner's Work in North America 

(SteinerBooks, 2005), p. 598;

color added.]

A large Waldorf school in Germany (Überlingen Waldorf School).

The roof is not caving in — it is meant to look this way.

[Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, 

WALDORF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 126;

color added.]

* Some of Steiner’s early work can legitimately be characterized as philosophy, particularly the initial version of his book THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM. But after Steiner became an occultist, the nature of his work changed fundamentally — he proceeded to write books such as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, and thereafter he revised THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM to make it consistent with his new, occult beliefs. [See “What a Guy”.]

"I haven't had a chance to follow the exchange with Jennifer, but it sounds like one of the things she finds appealing about Waldorf is small class sizes. As it happens, small class sizes are by no means the historical norm for Waldorf schools. In fact the unusually *large* class sizes at Waldorf schools are a significant point of criticism from supporters of progressive and alternative education who are skeptical of Waldorf. For a bit of historical perspective: The normal class size at the original Waldorf school in Stuttgart during Steiner's lifetime was approximately 40 pupils, with some classes as high as 120 pupils, and in 1951 the average class size was over 50 pupils."  

[5-21-2011  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/19255]


Classes at Waldorf schools are often small because, in many communities, few families choose Waldorf education for their kids. So the schools are small and the classes are small. But when a particular Waldorf school receives a large number of applications for enrollment, class sizes often swell beyond reasonable limits. Here is a statement by a former Waldorf teacher:

"I had been assigned to the 'main lesson' teacher of a 2nd grade class, but I also had the opportunity to obtain some inside views into the lessons given in other grades. In this class, forty-two (!) children sat in pairs at double desks, all facing the teacher. The organic form of the room and the pastel-colored walls didn't compensate for such an arrangement. I quickly learned that large classes were the rule at this school, and not the exception. In this light, a cap of thirty-three students in public school classes seems like paradise — even though we rightly complain that one cannot properly work with the individual student in groups that large." [See "Ex-Teacher 3"]

A strange truth — strange but true — is that often the people who present themselves as champions of Waldorf schools, and Anthroposophy, and Rudolf Steiner, are ill-equipped to undertake their self-appointed task. Often, they do not know what they are talking about (as when they assert that small class size characteristic of all Waldorf schools). They are not always badly informed about these matters, of course, but very often they are. (Go to the Waldorf Critics website, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/, and examine the statements made by Steiner's defenders there. The defenders are often shockingly uninformed, even about Steiner's core teachings.)

From a discussion at the Waldorf Critics list:

“[A]s usual when a school is depicted as the shining exception from waldorf schools that fail (in one way or another), well, it may not an exception at all. Over the last days, we've heard a lot about how good this school (The Housatonic Waldorf School) is, at least to the (not too critically minded) newcomer. There is indeed a difference between this school compared to the older and larger waldorf schools, such as the ones Pete and I are familiar with. (Mine, like Pete's had a direct connection to waldorf teacher training in Sweden.) With 10 to 15 pupils in each grade, I do not doubt that bullying will be less likely to thrive....

“This said, not long after I posted this, I had an email ... [It came] from someone who wished to express grave concerns about this particular school. I know this is a genuine person, with genuine concerns (so don't think troll); this is not the first contact we've had with each other. As in so many other cases, there's also in this case a need for anonymity. The concerns have to do with, among other things, staff assessing children (it happened more than once) and diagnosing them with learning disabilities....

“[W]hen you think that your spiritual philosophy provides a proper foundation for your educational methods and a proper psychological and developmental theory which enables you to make complex assessments on individual children, it's easy to disregard [the] fact that some of these things really do require competence and professionalism. It's not right to have people who have no proper qualifications in a position where they decide over matters which may have a huge significance for the child's education — not to say his or her life. No doubt a diagnosis of learning disability is one such matter which should not be left to amateurs, even if they are well versed in the 'study of man'. Anthroposophy alone is simply not enough. At all.”  

[5-21-2011  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/19249]


To examine Waldorf failures and near-failures , see “Failure” and “Scandal”.

Concerning learning disabilities: One of the most shocking statements Rudolf Steiner ever made is this: 

That little girl L.K. in the first grade must have something really very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [i.e., the divine human ego]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the [eighteen-]nineties without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but are only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 649.

To see a longer version of this quotation, see "Faculty Meetings".

On another occasion, Steiner used horoscopes to study children having special needs: 

“By looking at what the horoscope shows we can see what is really the matter [with a child]. Take first this horoscope (of the elder sister). It will probably have struck you that you find here in this region, Uranus together with Venus and Mars. You will not really need to carry your considerations any further than this triangle. Here then are Mars, Venus and Uranus. Consider first Mars. For this child, who was born in 1909, Mars stands in complete opposition to the Moon. Mars, which has Venus and Uranus in its vicinity, stands — itself — in strong opposition to the Moon. Here is the Moon and here is Mars. And Mars pulls along with it Uranus and Venus ... Now let us turn to the horoscope of the young child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together, the three of them covering between them no more than this section of the heavens ... On this second horoscope, Mars, Venus and Uranus are in close proximity, exactly as before; but when we examine more nearly the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the Moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation to opposition ... [O]ur first concern must be to see that we treat the nerves-and-senses organisation of these two children with the utmost care and delicacy. Their nerves-and-senses organisation is, as a whole, slippery and unstable.” — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, July 6, 1924. 

See "Horoscopes".

On yet another occasion, Steiner handled a challenged child in the following fashion. Bringing the child on stage during a lecture, Steiner said: 

"And now, if you will begin to observe the child for yourselves — (to the boy) Come here a minute! — you will find many things to notice. Let me draw your attention, first of all, to the strongly developed lower half of the face. Look at the shape of the nose and the mouth. The mouth is always a little open ... The back of the head is, as regards substance, of cosmic origin. Here (in the front) as we remarked, the head is pressed together ... [W]e can see nothing else than a working of karma ... (To the boy) Stand still a minute! And now come here to me and do this! (Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm as if to take hold of something; the boy does not make the movement.) Never mind! We mustn't force him. Do you see? It is difficult for him to do anything; he has not the power to exercise the right control over his metabolism-and-limbs system ... What would have been the right educational treatment for this child in very early years? Obviously a special effort should have been made to begin with curative eurythmy...." — Rudolf  Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf  Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 106-110. 

See "Abnormal". For more about eurythmy, see "Eurythmy".

For more about bullying in Waldorf schools, see “Slaps”.

Rudolf Steiner
[public domain photograph]. 

“My husband is Swiss, and in Switzerland the gov. subsidizes Waldorf, there's one in every town,* it very prevalent, just one notch below mainstream. (As an aside, this is a country where religion is laughed at and almost extinct, and people don't think of Steiner as religious.) So, my knowledge about Waldorf en masse comes from there. But here in the U.S., even our good, relatively small public school system was a social and emotional disaster for my kids. My son's self-esteem, happiness, empathy, confidence, consideration for others, sense of responsibility, open mindedness has dramatically improved since we moved him. And that's what we hear from other parents at this school, and from our friends in Switzerland. I can't know what you or others have experienced. If it's way different than that, it sounds like the schools or teachers you've had experience with are not really ‘doing Waldorf right’ imo. I'd hate to see our Waldorf take the rap for that.”  

[5-16-2011  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/19051]


Is it possible to “do Waldorf right”? This is an intriguing question. To “do Waldorf right” as its founder, Rudolf Steiner, prescribed, all Waldorf teachers would be Anthroposophists, and they would aim to use Waldorf schools as vehicles for spreading Anthroposophy. They would work in the service of the “gods” — they would serve the religion created by Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophy.

Here are a few indications, from Steiner, on doing Waldorf right: 

• “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.

• “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

• "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true."  — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.

• “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.

• "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction [for Waldorf students] just as other religious groups do." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706.

The “right way” to “do Waldorf," according to the founder of Waldorf schooling, is to faithfully adhere to Anthroposophy. But do you want your child to be educated by teachers who believe the bizarre doctrines of Anthroposophy? One quick example: Do you want your child to be educated by people who believe the following? 

"Whereas in the ancient Atlantean times [i.e., while we lived on Atlantis] these human beings descended to earth from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the other planets...now a time is beginning when beings who are not human are coming down to earth from cosmic regions beyond ... Just as the Vulcan men were the last to come down to earth [during Atlantean times], so Vulcan beings are now actually entering this earth existence ... And it is thanks to the fact that these beings from beyond the earth are bringing messages down into this earthly existence that it is possible at all to have a comprehensive spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] today.” — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 261. [For more, see "Steiner's Blunders", "Say What?", "Wise Words", and "Steiner Static". As you read, keep reminding yourself: Anthroposophists — including Waldorf faculty members — believe this wacko nonsense.]

OK. So the primary way to "do Waldorf right" is to faithfully adhere to, and diligently promote, Anthroposophical doctrines. There is, however, a secondary possibility. What if a Waldorf school were run by people who love many of the Waldorf methods (emphasis on arts and crafts, plenty of free time for play, the staging of colorful festivals, and so on) but who do not know much if anything about Anthroposophy? Wouldn’t such a school be fine and dandy? Wouldn't this be a way to "do Waldorf right"?

Possibly. Such a school would not be a real Waldorf school, as defined by Steiner himself, but if it were operated by loving, well-meaning individuals, a certain amount of good might be done there. But. (You knew another “but” was coming, didn’t you?) But pause a moment. Notice that the quotation with which we started (“My husband is Swiss...”) comes from a discussion about the classical “temperaments” ("How important are the Temperaments in Waldorf education?"). Alarm bells should start ringing. Loving, well-meaning teachers who know nothing about Rudolf Steiner but who believe that children can be separated into the four classical “temperaments” (phlegmatic, melancholic, sanguine, and choleric) are out of touch with reality. The four classical temperaments are an ancient concept discarded by science long ago. The concept lives on in very few places, primarily in Waldorf schools. [See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".]

Waldorf schools, you see, are backward-looking. All their stress on art, crafts, and play is tied to a fundamental, anti-intellectual attitude. Waldorf schools oppose modern technology, modern science, modern knowledge. Good, loving, well-meaning non-Anthroposophists who use a backward-looking system that rejects reality cannot, in the end, truly help children. Whether Waldorf teachers are committed Anthroposophists or wholly innocent non-Anthroposophists, they cannot “do Waldorf right.” There is no way to "do Waldorf right." Why? Because Waldorf is wrong.

Some kids love Waldorf schools. (What’s not to like? Art, crafts, play, well-meaning teachers, minimal academic pressure...) Some families love Waldorf schools. But this is not the same as saying that Waldorf schools provide a good education or that they prepare children for fulfilling lives in the real world. In fact, Waldorf schools turn their backs on the real world. This retreat from reality can be pleasant and comforting, but it is not compatible with real education. [See, e.g., "Academic Standards at Waldorf", "Reality and Fantasy", "Spiritual Agenda", "Methods", "Steiner's Specific", "Serving the Gods", "Here's the Answer", and "Our Experience".]

If a "Waldorf school" were not really a Waldorf school — that is, if all of the backwardness were stripped out — then it might be a pretty good school. [See "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs".] But, to reiterate, such a school would not be a real Waldorf school. It would be a place where, by Waldorf standards, the teachers "do Waldorf wrong." And bear in mind, vigorous efforts are made in Waldorf teacher-training programs to make sure that all so-called "Waldorf schools" are real Waldorf schools — that is, schools that honor Rudolf Steiner's intentions, schools that "do Waldorf" as he wanted Waldorf to be done. [See "Teacher Training".]

* Actually, a recent tabulation shows that there are 35 Waldorf or Steiner schools in Switzerland. [See, e.g., "August, 2011".] The total number of Swiss towns is considerably larger than 35. Standard reference works indicate that, in April, 2011, there were well over 200 towns and cities in Switzerland, 119 of which had populations of 10,000 or more. Clearly, then, the great majority of Swiss towns do not have Waldorf schools.

"The educational diversity choice can create, leading to the emergence of arts schools and science schools, and opening up Montessori and Waldorf schools to lower income families, etc. are all positive pro-education moves as far as I’m concerned. Of course, there are problems with charters, with the potential for increased inequality, etc. but these are not insurmountable obstacles. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked or glossed over by advocates of school choice. And too often those same advocates take a pro-corporate view on education, deriding teachers and teachers unions instead of working with teachers and unions to create real, sustainable reform."  

[5-19-2011  http://blogs.forbes.com/erikkain/2011/05/18/school-choice-and-the-value-of-public-goods/]


There are a few problems with charter schools (called “free” schools in the UK). One is that, on balance, they are no better than ordinary public schools. In fact, many of them are worse than ordinary public schools. As reported on NBC Nightly News (5-18-2011), 17% of charter schools are better than average public schools, but 37% are worse. Overall, charter schools are just about as good — or as bad — as ordinary public schools. And because, according to charter school advocates, ordinary public schools are horribly bad, this means that the average charter school is horribly bad.

There is another problem with a small subset of charter schools — specifically Waldorf or Steiner charter schools: They are based on a form of occultism called Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer".] Rudolf Steiner, the originator of Waldorf education, was an avowed occultist, and he tagged his followers — Anthroposophist or "spiritual scientists" — as occultists. [See "Occultism".] Schools based on occultism are likely to be bad in ways that are all but unimaginable in ordinary schools.

Judgment Day! May 21, 2011 - And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. Revelation 9:5

The End of the World    October 21, 2011  ... We know that the year 2011 is the 7000th year from the flood. We also know that God will destroy this world in that year. But when in 2011 will this occur?  ... May 21st, 2011 will be the day when God takes up into heaven His elect people. May 21st, 2011 will be Judgment Day! This is the day God shuts the door of salvation on the world.

“...The date October 21st, 2011 will be the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the last day of earth’s existence.”


At least a few Christians believe that the End Time is upon us. Rudolf Steiner did not make this prophecy. However, he did make a large number of dire predictions, as well as various gleeful prognostications. A number of his forecasts have already proven wrong. [See “Millennium”.] Steiner’s errors and fallacies do not, however, discompose his followers, including many Waldorf teachers. They march on, still full of faith.

Win one of 15 Weleda prize packs! - Weleda's heritage dates back to the 1920s when Rudolf Steiner and Dr Ita Wegman developed anthroposophic medicine, the simple yet powerful way to utilise nature’s medicines to stimulate the body to ‘heal itself’.

“The Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Oil Capsules come in a pack of 30 x 0.3mL capsules. Each application will revitalise and deeply nourish the skin with hand-picked, organic, wild crafted rosehip seeds and organic rose flowers.”  

[5-18-2011  http://www.gmagazine.com.au/competition/2557/win-one-25-weleda-prize-packs]


Weleda is a company that produces “natural” medicines and beauty products, all created in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s principles. “Anthroposophical medicine” — which is often used in Waldorf schools and communities — generally prefers such preparations to the sorts of real medicines used in conventional (i.e., valid, scientifically based) medical practices. In some instances, Anthroposophical doctors wander even farther afield than Weleda and its products.

The results of subjecting Waldorf students to Anthroposophical medical care can be extremely distressing. The following is excerpted from “Spotlight on Anthroposophy” by Sharon Lombard [http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/lombard_sharon_csr0202j.htm]. When Lombard's daughter, a Waldorf student, became ill, faculty members at the school recommended an Anthroposophical doctor.

Sitting at the school, waiting for the Anthroposophic doctor to arrive, did not strike me as odd. I did not wonder what type of doctor we were about to meet with; nor did it seem unusual that the school was providing a doctor in the first place....

“A seemingly gentle and caring man entered the small room and listened attentively as I tearfully disclosed my family’s predicament. Our nine-year-old was gravely ill, depressed, and had lost a lot of weight, because she refused to eat. The Anthroposophic doctor made a diagnosis — my child had lost the will to live. He announced one of the potential cures — we were to give our daughter red, yellow, and orange crayons to color with!  I looked at my husband in disbelief. When the doctor instructed us to make the sign of a flame out of Aurum cream [i.e., gold cream] over my child’s heart at bedtime, I was dumbfounded! I asked the doctor to repeat himself. Indeed, I had heard correctly.  I was to make a flame of Aurum cream over her heart at bedtime. Mystified, I asked the doctor what the flame should look like and he showed us with his hand. He told us to apply the gold cream from below the heart upwards, towards the sky at bedtime ... During this encounter with the Anthroposophic doctor I had an epiphany of sorts. After paying him his fee of $50, we left the school and I turned to my husband and said with certainty, ‘We are in a real live cult!’

“... We had lost precious time. With fear and trepidation about the medical establishment instilled in us by Waldorfers, we made our way to a hospital [where real medicine was practiced] ... This hospital had an experienced, professional staff that helped us. I shall always regret not going there first — before my child reached a critical point. The new doctor told us that a child should never lose weight and that a couple pound drop would have caused her concern. I told our therapist about the flame and the Anthroposophic doctor, I also told her that Waldorf made me feel sick. She said that usually she would not advise a school change during such circumstances, but that in our case she would recommend one.  We made an appointment with the local public school’s faculty despite our fear of public school instilled in us by Waldorf ... [We] enrolled our daughter in public school. My family ended up having a positive experience with that school. Recovery was long and difficult, with frequent visits to the hospital over the following year, but my daughter made progress and has fully recovered. She is a healthy, happy teenager now.”

[For more on Anthroposophical medicine, see “Steiner’s Quackery” and “What We Are Made Of”. Gold cream, specified for fungal infections such as athlete's foot, can be found, for instance, at natcol.com: http://www.natcol.co.uk/product-details/category/Daktarin_gold_cream_15g.]

[Waldorf School of Lexington.]

Waldorf School Hosts 2011 Olympics”  

[5-17-2011  http://lexington.patch.com/articles/waldorf-school-hosts-2011-olympics]


This headline is perhaps a bit misleading. No, the world’s greatest athletes did not descend on a Waldorf school. Rather, of course, the event described was a small regional affair, kids competing in contests derived from the ancient Greek Olympics: discus, javelin, and so forth.

Waldorf schools often stage such Olympic games. At some Waldorf schools, the games are held annually: Kids from two or more Waldorf schools come to compete with each other. Typically, the participants are fifth graders, and sometimes things are arranged so that children only compete against other kids who share the same “temperament.”

Why fifth grade? Because, according to Waldorf belief, growing children recapitulate the cultural/racial/historical evolution of humanity, and children in the fifth grade are about at the level of the ancient Greeks.

What are “temperaments”? They are discriminatory and false psychological/physical categories — four classifications of human types. The temperaments are 1) sanguine, 2) phlegmatic, 3) choleric, and 4) melancholic. They are produced by “humours” — fluids in the body: 1) blood, 2) phlegm, 3) yellow bile, and 4) black bile. People who are predominantly influenced by blood are said to have the sanguine temperament (they are upbeat and well-proportioned, but a bit vague and superficial). People swayed mainly by phlegm are phlegmatic (tense, withdrawn, kind of artsy, and often overweight). Yellow bile causes people to be choleric (short-tempered, attentive, bony, stout). Black bile produces the melancholic temperament (slow, low-spirited, questioning, often tall and slender).

The “temperaments” are nonsense. This system of categorizing people arose in ancient Greece, but it became obsolete long, long ago — except that it hangs on in Waldorf schools. [See “Humouresque” and “Temperaments”.] 

The fifth-grade Olympics at Waldorf schools may have some beneficial qualities, but there is no basis for the occult theory of recapitulation, any more than there is a basis for believing in the four classical temperaments. Moreover, some critics of Waldorf education are troubled by the use of a false system to pigeonhole people, based in part on physical appearance. They fear that children are being taught to judge one another wrongly, and that some children may be psychologically damaged as a result.

Rudolf Steiner
[public domain photo]

Q. Is Waldorf Education a cult?  I was wondering if the Waldorf Education Movement is a cult? I am interested in taking their teacher training because it seems to make sense in regards to how it educates children. Thanks.

A. Waldorf education is based on the ideas of a single man — Rudolf Steiner. His collected ideas are called Anthroposophy (like L. Ron Hubbards are called Scientology) — and like Scientology, Steiner's ideas extend way beyond educating children. Everything that happens in Waldorf happens to advance Steiner's Anthroposophy and to produce more Anthroposophists — (whether it's the children or their parents). If you take Waldorf teacher training, you will be learning a new life philosophy (some call it a religion). Many find some of Steiner's ideas offensive and racist. 

“Waldorf is the missionary arm of Anthroposophy. You will be expected to filter everything you encounter with children and their parents through Steiner's philosophy. Your life will change — how much depends on where you are starting from. Waldorf will expect you to dress a certain way, address parents and children in a dishonest way and participate in rituals and festivals related to the occult. They will isolate you from your non-Waldorf family and friends. Like any good cult, this will happen without you realizing it's happening... but you will eventually give up everything important in your life for Rudolf Steiner. If that isn't a cult — nothing is.”  

[5-16-2011  http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110513172830AAWqq6Z]

“Contributing to our beliefs about protecting the slow innocence of childhood are the Waldorf principles of Ginger's school. They ask that parents don't show any media at home to the young ones and if they must, not on a school night ... I think we are on the rare side even at a Waldorf school, in that most kids watch at least something here and there, many on a weekly basis. And I do want my children to be of this world and learn how to balance all its goods and ills. Sometimes I worry about how and when we will start to introduce more media.”  


Parents are undoubtedly wise for monitoring and limiting their kids’ exposure to TV, video games, the Internet, and other high-tech modern wonders. But before following Waldorf media policies, you might consider the reasons Waldorfers dislike these things. One objection, from a Waldorf perspective, is that kids who watch TV, prowl the Internet, see movies, and so forth, may absorb disturbing information about the world — that is, they may gain information that runs contrary to the esoteric beliefs built into the Waldorf worldview. 

According to Waldorf belief, not only students but even teachers need to be shielded from modern media. Listen to the steps one young woman took when preparing to join a Waldorf faculty: 

“When I embarked on the journey of becoming a Waldorf teacher and working with children, I knew I had to change some of my behavior. I stopped swearing. I weaned myself off of television and the daily news....” [See “Ex-Teacher 2”.] 

Notice that she didn’t just quit watching TV, she stopped following the daily news. Shutting out the outside world is standard practice in the enclosed, insular Waldorf world.

There is also a deeper reason for the Waldorf aversion to high-tech gadgets. According to the occult doctrines of the Waldorf belief system, the terrible demon Ahriman threatens to destroy humanity, robbing us of our souls. Ahriman wants to drag us down to his realm of materialism, intellect, and technology. All of modern technology exists under the sway of this demon, and this is why we should avoid it. 

“Everything that has arisen in recent times in the way of materialistic science and industrial technology is of an out-and-out ahrimanic nature, and if it were to spread without there being any Christ understanding, it would chain human beings to the earth. Human beings would not progress to the Jupiter evolution.” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 55.

Steiner taught that after our present stage of evolution, which (as you may have noticed) is occurring here on the planet Earth, we will proceed to our next stage, which will be a Jovian period called Future Jupiter. But we won’t get to Future Jupiter if Ahriman captures us and chains us to our present level of existence. So, for goodness sake, turn off your TV!

As for "Christ understanding" — this is what Steiner claimed to offer. If you really want to understand Christ, you need to accept Steiner — or so Steiner said. Steiner will inform you that there were two Jesus children, one of whom had been Zarathustra in a previous life, while the other carried the spirit of Buddha within his being. One of the Jesuses was from the Solomon line of descent, the other was from the Nathan line. During the process of growing up, the two Jesuses fused together spiritually in order to create a single, appropriate vessel — the Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus — to receive the Sun God, who came down from the Sun and dwelt here on Earth inside the body of the Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus. 

Christ, you must understand (this is central to a true "Christ understanding") is the god of the Sun, whom ancient peoples worshipped as Ra, Apollo, Baldr, etc. [See "Sun God".] Steiner informs us that "Christ" (the Sun God) was for a short time the Solomonic-Nathanic Christ Jesus living as a man here on Earth. After Christ was crucified, His blood carried His essence into the Earth. He now empowers us for our further evolution — his is our Prototype. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Prototype".] 

This, if you please, is the proper "Christ understanding." If you do not have it, you are liable to get confused by watching TV, going to a conventional church, or making any of the other errors people outside the Waldorf community are prone to make.

Certificate in Foundations of Rudolf Steiner Education - This Part Time Distance Education Course is primarily designed to provide teachers with the philosophical basis necessary to support teaching in a Rudolf Steiner school ... Qualification and Pathway: Participants who have completed the course successfully will receive a Certificate in Foundations of Rudolf Steiner Education from Sydney Rudolf Steiner College [Australia]. This Certificate will be important for those who are seeking employment in Steiner Schools.”  



Not all teachers at Waldorf or Steiner schools are devout followers of Rudolf Steiner. And even among those teachers who are deeply committed to Steiner, knowledge of Anthroposophical doctrines may be surprisingly incomplete. Waldorf teachers promote a crackpot system that at least some of them do not understand and have not thought through.* However, strong efforts are made in the Waldorf universe to ensure that most Waldorf teachers toe the Anthroposophical line. Training courses for would-be Waldorf teachers often spell out Steiner’s occult doctrines in some detail if not always in depth. Increasingly, new Waldorf teachers understand perfectly well that they are part of an occult network, even if they have not explored that network extensively. For this reason, it is wise to be skeptical when Waldorf teachers claim that Anthroposophical tenets have minimal influence at their schools. Such denials are often false. Steiner himself told Waldorf teachers to withhold many revelations from outsiders, including the parents of Waldorf students. Remember, the defining characteristic of “occult” knowledge — the kind that Steiner claimed to dispense and that Waldorf trainees are usually exposed to — is that it should be kept hidden from the uninitiated. [See “Teacher Training” and “Secrets”.]

There is a tension in Anthroposophy today. The need to preserve occult secrets clashes with the desire to spread the practice of Anthroposophy and to ensure that Waldorf teachers are correctly versed in Steiner’s doctrines. The Sydney Rudolf Steiner College seems to be reasonably forthright. Thus, in the biographical sketch of Steiner posted by the college, the crucial turning point in Steiner’s adult life — when he turned to occultism — is described in these words: 

“The respectable and often radical scholar, historian, scientist, writer and philosopher is emerging as [i.e., he became] an 'occultist'.” 

Only the quotation marks around the word “occultist” shows any shying away from the truth. (Steiner applied the word to himself without such marks. [See "Occultism".]) The college's descriptions of various courses it offers are revealing. Courses include “Life As a Spiritual Journey”, “Destiny Learning” [in Anthroposophy, destiny is karma]. “Dance of the Planets” [astrology is big in Anthroposophy], “Taming the Astral”, “Currents of the Logos”, “Rhythms in Meditation”, “Imaginative Cognition”, “Developing Inner Certainty - A Course in Inner Development”, and so on. If you know even a little about Anthroposophy, you will spot many core Anthroposophical concepts in these course titles.

* This also tends to be true among Steiner followers who are not Waldorf teachers. A fair proportion are surprisingly uninformed about the belief system they embrace. Check some of the discussions recorded at waldorfcritics.org. Time and again, you will find arguments made by people who fervently defend Steiner but who soon reveal, inadvertently, that they do not know what Steiner said on the points under discussion. Anthroposophy is a backward-looking faith that discounts modern knowledge, modern science, modern scholarship. People are drawn to Anthroposophy for reasons of spiritual longing, or pious hope, or fascination with the supernatural. But at least some of these individuals evidently have so little interest in knowledge that they don't bother to learn much about Anthroposophy itself. Of course, this is not true of all devotees of Rudolf Steiner's fantasies. Some Anthroposophists are deeply serious and knowledgeable students of Anthroposophical teachings. But quite a few are not.

From The Nation:

Our system of public higher education is one of the great achievements of American civilization. In its breadth and excellence, it has no peer. It embodies some of our nation’s highest ideals: democracy, equality, opportunity, self-improvement, useful knowledge and collective public purpose ... Public higher education is a bulwark against hereditary privilege and an engine of social mobility ... Now the system is in danger of falling into ruin. Public higher education was essential to creating the mass middle class of the postwar decades — and with it, a new birth of political empowerment and human flourishing. The defunding of public higher education has [led toward] its slow destruction. 

[5-23-2011 http://www.thenation.com/article/160410/faulty-towers-crisis-higher-education?page=full]


What is true of public higher education is also true of public elementary and secondary education. The great ideal of universal education is essential in democratic societies. Providing sound, affordable education for all members of a democratic community creates an educated work force, an informed electorate, and — most important — free individuals who are able to seek their own fulfillment. When we weaken our public educational systems, we do so at our great peril.

Of course families should be free to select private schools, including Waldorf schools. Of course such schools should be allowed to exist. But they should stand on their own feet, finding their own funding. Public resources should not be diverted to them at the expense of public schools, nor should they be allowed to insinuate themselves into public education systems.

Waldorf schools represent a particular danger to the flourishing of democratic societies and the empowerment of free individuals. While Waldorf spokesmen often use words like "freedom" and "democracy," the truth is that the Waldorf system is highly authoritarian. In Waldorf belief, the gods have created a plan for the universe, and the Anthroposophists on Waldorf faculties believe that they work in service to this divinely ordained plan. 

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

According to Waldorf belief, there is a single correct course for a soul to follow: It is the "white path." Straying from this path means taking the downward, evil, "black" path. 

"Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path.” — Rudolf Steiner. [See "Guardians" and "White-Black".] 

Because they embrace Steiner's occult teachings, true-believing Waldorf teachers strive to maneuver children toward the one true form of life, the Anthroposophical form. [See "Spiritual Agenda".]

Anthroposophists believe that the correct path has been pointed out for us by Rudolf Steiner, who was a transcendent master and authority, inferior only to the gods themselves. Waldorf schools often operate in nearly worshipful obedience to Steiner's directives. There is a reason, after all, that Waldorf schools are also called Steiner schools. [For a sampling of the sorts of statements Steiner's followers make about him, see "Guru". To explore Waldorf school operations from the inside, see "Faculty Meetings", "Discussions", "Advice for Teachers", and the series of "Ex-Teacher" reports.]

When Waldorf schools profess a belief in freedom, they are speaking of an essentially negative, anti-democratic "freedom": freedom from, not freedom for. At the most fundamental level, Waldorf schools seek to "free" students from those impulses, influences, modes of thought, etc., that would take them to the black path. Waldorf schools do not often help students understand that life holds many wonderful options, many desirable alternatives from which one may freely choose. In Waldorf belief, there is really only one good choice, and that is to follow Rudolf Steiner. The schools usually refrain from explicitly propounding Steiner's doctrines in class, and they naturally recognize that students have individual needs and desires, but they nonetheless work to steer students in the one "true" direction.

Likewise, the Waldorf conception of democracy is tightly restrictive. The only sphere in which democracy is legitimate, according to Steiner, is secular government; and the government should not meddle in the more important spheres of life — the spiritual/cultural sphere and the economic sphere. [See "Threefolding".] Certainly, government should not attempt to restrict the spiritual work being done by Waldorf schools. This work is incompatible with democratic decision-making. The gods have made a plan, Steiner has shown us this plan, and now we must implement it or suffer the horrible consequences. This is not a matter that can be put to a vote. Indeed, nothing truly important can be put to a vote. We obey or we suffer the consequences of our disobedience. (In the bizarre logic of Steiner's teachings, we have to "freely" choose to obey — but in practice this simply means that we must fall in line with the great plan.) [See "Democracy" and "Hell".] 

When democratic societies weaken their public education systems and lend support to strange alternative systems such as the Waldorf system, they do so at their great peril.

Toddler program offered at Ashwood - Rockport [Maine, USA] — A new program for toddlers ages 18 months through 3 years old will be offered at Ashwood Waldorf School beginning in September.

“The year-long program follows the Ashwood school calendar and will meet twice weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. It will be similar in content to the early childhood programs already offered by the school, which emphasize language development, imaginative play, purposeful work, motor skills development, social opportunities, and artistic endeavors.”  

[5-12-2011 http://knox.villagesoup.com/place/story/toddler-program-offered-at-ashwood/398215]


Extensive research has shown the great value of early-childhood educational programs such as Head Start [http://www.nhsa.org/]. Many Waldorf schools offer programs for very young children, but these should not be confused with early-childhood programs at other schools. Waldorf schools postpone the development of fundamental academic skills such as reading and arithmetic until at least first grade, and sometimes later. These academic skills form the very basis of many non-Waldorf early-childhood programs.

The reasons for the Waldorf approach are occult: Children aren’t considered ready for various studies and activities until their “etheric bodies” and, later, their “astral bodies" incarnate. This is nonsense, and it reflects the fallacious nature of Waldorf education in general. [See “Incarnation” and “Waldorf Curriculum”.]

Ashwood Waldorf school describes its programs in impressive language ("
language development, imaginative play, purposeful work..."), but we should not be misled. Regular academic education is very low on the Waldorf list of priorities. This is the case in Waldorf early-childhood programs, and it remains the case throughout the curriculum in later years. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".] Debra Snell, who is now president of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS), has written the following: 

"My personal experience with Waldorf was very confusing. Instead of the progressive and liberal alternative school I was led to expect by the school's promotional materials and staff, I discovered a rigid, authoritarian environment that seemed to be rooted in a medieval dogma that I did not understand. When, in an effort to make sense of things, I asked questions about this, I found Waldorf teachers to be strangely defensive.

"I was stunned to arrive at the conclusion that the education of children — at least as I use the term 'education' — did not seem to be the school's most important focus and objective. But what was?"  [http://waldorfcritics.org/]

Many other parents have had similar experiences. Of course, Waldorf Schools do attempt to convey at least a certain amount of knowledge to their students, but indeed these schools have "higher" priorities than ordinary education. They seek to help children incarnate and evolve spiritually; they seek to fulfill Rudolf Steiner’s occult vision for the future. They are, in brief, engaged in an occult, messianic mission to save the universe. This is a noble goal, but one not likely to be achieved by following the phantasmagoric fantasies of Rudolf Steiner. [See “Here’s the Answer”, “Soul School”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness".]

"Milkwood Steiner School Bush Dance - The annual Milkwood Steiner School Bush Dance will be held on Saturday the 28th of May at Milkwood Steiner School-107 Boulter Rd, Berrimah [Australia].


“Please join us for a family friendly evening of live traditional bush music and dancing.”  

[5-12-2011  http://www.mix1049.com.au/whats-happening/community-calendar/1882-milkwood-steiner-school-bush-dance.html]


Bush dancing is sometimes thought to be an Australian aboriginal dance form, and indeed there has been aboriginal influence. But bush dancing derives primarily from the traditional dances brought from Europe by white settlers. Many Waldorf or Steiner schools today make an admirable effort to affirm the peoples in the lands where the schools operate. Affirming whites and their descendants is easy, in Waldorf practice and belief; affirming nonwhites is more difficult, in Waldorf practice and belief. Rudolf Steiner's teachings are deeply rooted in the culture of northern Europe, particularly Germany and Scandinavia. Steiner taught that white Europeans stand at a higher level of spiritual development than other, darker humans. He said humanity consists of advanced races and savage races, high races and low. 

“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type ... The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” [1] 

Steiner left little doubt about the sorts of people who "express the pure, ideal human type": 

"If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence." [2]

According to Steiner, if you are a good, moral, spiritual person you will evolve upward into higher and higher races during the course of your many reincarnations on Earth. If you are an evil person, however, you will evolve downward into lower and lower races. If you are truly evil, eventually you will fall out of the bottom of the hierarchy of races and cease to be human. 

"Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits [i.e., incarnate beings locked within the physical level of existence]." [3]

According to the belief system that underlies Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, races represent levels of spiritual evolution. Lowly races tend to die out as humanity advances to more elevated spiritual conditions. However, it is also possible for an entire race or nationality to descend to a lower condition. 

"The French as a race are reverting.” [4] 

The French are falling, according to Steiner, at least in part because they have brought blacks to Europe, raising the specter of unhealthy interactions between whites and blacks. 

"The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe." [5] 

Lowly races exist, Steiner said, because some humans are unwilling or unable to evolve upward. 

"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind, since they have not developed their eternal life-kernal [or spiritual essence]. Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form." [6]

Steiner taught that different races have significantly different kinds of blood, and the inferior blood of low races creates the destiny of those races. In particular, aboriginal peoples — such as Australian aborigines — have blood that prevents them from being integrated into higher, more civilized human societies. Such peoples are doomed to “go under”: 

Take, for example, a people that is the product of its environment, into whose blood this environment has built itself, and try to graft upon such a people a new form of civilization. The thing is impossible. This is why certain aboriginal peoples had to go under, as soon as colonists came to their particular parts of the world.” [7] 

Sexual unions between people of different races — “exogamy” — are not as deadly as efforts to mix the bloods of different types of animals, Steiner said, but they are destructive. 

“Just as this mingling of the blood of different species of animals brings about actual death when the types are too remote, so, too, the ancient clairvoyance of undeveloped man was killed when his blood was mixed with the blood of others who did not belong to the same stock.” [8]

But do not fear: All will be well. After the worst humans drop away, becoming subordinate nature spirits, the rest of humanity will evolve upward to purer and purer stages, and eventually there will be no more races, and we will all be one big happy family. [See “Love and the Universal Human”.] According to Steiner's teachings, we cannot proclaim the equality of all humans today; some humans are darker and lower than others. Our evolution toward equality depends on the ability of each individual to become, spiritually and racially, white. The key, in this sense, is whiteness. 

If we contemplate white in an artistic way, we have the soul image of the spirit ... And if, as artists, we take hold of black, we have the spiritual image of death." [9] 

The implications of this "artistic" precept for skin color are appalling, and Steiner was very concerned about skin color

“One can only understand history ... if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual ... if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” [10] 

Truly, deeply spiritual people have white skin: White skin is what humans have when they embody high spiritual forces. 

“[T]he impregnation of the flesh by the spirit is the characteristic mission, the overall mission of white mankind. People have white skin because the spirit works in the skin when it wants to come down to the physical plain ... [W]here the spirit has not yet worked as spirit...where it assumes a demonic character, not fully penetrating the flesh, white skin coloring does not occur.” [11] 

Thus, people with white skin — standing at a higher level of spirituality — lead human evolution into the bright future. 

"The white race is the future, the race that is spiritually creative.” [12]


Do Anthroposophists today believe Steiner's racist doctrines? Do any Waldorf teachers today believe those doctrines? I certainly hope not. But very few of Steiner’s admirers have faced up to the blatant racism imbedded in his teachings, and fewer still have explicitly renounced it.  [See "Rudolf Steiner's Racism", "Races", and "White Guys".] Racism is woven into the very fabric of Anthroposophy. [See "Embedded Racism".]

[1] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1. (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 559.

[5] Rudolf Steiner,  ibid., p. 558.

[6] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS, p. 69.

[7] Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1922), GA 55.

[8] Rudolf Steiner, ibid.

[9] Rudolf Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), VIII.

[10] Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), p. 52.

[11] Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 37.

, p. 62.


Locally handmade Waldorf Inspired home decor - $10 (Nanaimo) - We are a pair of local mama friends who have come together to offer lovingly handcrafted items for you and your loved ones...for children, adults, house and home! We love the beauty (both visual and tactile) of natural materials and hope our items will bring a little joy and magic to your space.”  


Waldorf schools often serve as portals into an alternative world: the world of Anthroposophy. There is much beauty in these portals and in that world. Steiner stressed the need for schools to surround children with beauty, and Waldorf schools often accomplish this. The purpose is occult — ultimately, the purpose is initiation into the occult system Steiner devised, Anthroposophy. But there is no denying that, on the surface at least, Waldorf schools are often very attractive. [See “Magical Arts”.]

In addition to stressing beauty, the Anthroposophical lifestyle contains other appealing elements: emphasis on natural materials,* simple wooden and woolen toys, organic foods, an unhurried daily pace, green values, and the like. The obverse side to these attractions, however, is that most of the advantages of contemporary life are rejected. Anthroposophical life generally turns its back on the modern world and moves in a retrograde direction, back into the darkness of superstition and mysticism. Steiner, of course, claimed that his thinking was progressive and forward-looking, but in fact it was largely medieval. [See “Superstition”, “Magic”, "The Ancients", and “Occultism”.]

If you become enamored of a Waldorf school and its Anthroposophically centered community, you may find yourself drawn further and further into an all-encompassing way of life. You can find books on how to raise your children in a proper Waldorf way, how to be a proper Waldorf mother, how to be a proper Waldorf housewife, how to make bread the Waldorf way, how to make Waldorf soups, and so on and so forth. You can confine yourself to Waldorf-style songs, Waldorf-style poems, Waldorf-style prayers. You can outfit your home with Waldorf-inspired furniture and decorate your walls and windows with Waldorf-inspired art. You can ingest Waldorfish vitamins, and use Waldorfish herbal medicines, and anoint yourself with Waldorfish skin-care products. You can let Waldorf take over all parts of your life. [See, e.g., the array of books shown in “Nov. 1-15, 2010” at the Waldorf Watch Annex.]

The potentially all-inclusive nature of Anthroposophical life is one reason some people call Anthroposophy a cult. The other major reasons are that Anthroposophy consists of peculiar spiritual teachings, and it depends almost wholly on the pronouncements of a single individual, Rudolf Steiner.

Think carefully before entering a Waldorf portal.

* Is it possible that the Nanaimo window hanging is made of plastic? Heaven forfend.

Date set for hearing case against Sekem managing director - [Cairo, Egypt] A date for the first hearing has been set in the legal proceedings against the managing director of the Egyptian Sekem Group, Helmy Abouleish, for alleged irregularities in connection with his work at the Industrial Modernisation Centre (IMC) ... According to a Sekem press release, the case is to be heard on 4 June. The Sekem managing director will continue to be held in custody until that time. The Egyptian authorities have so far refused to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation as the reason.” 


Waldorf schools are the most widespread Anthroposophical enterprises, but there are other such enterprises, including Camphill communities and Demeter farms. The Egyptian Sekem Group is an Anthroposophical outreach effort that includes a Waldorf school, an Anthroposophical medical center, and biodynamic farms.

Anthroposophical organizations are generally staffed by well-meaning individuals who have high spiritual aspirations.* Sometimes, however, such organizations have been tainted by scandal, either directly or indirectly. [See, e.g., “The Waldorf Scandal”.]

The Industrial Modernisation Centre is the largest development fund in Egypt. Helmy Abouleish was an executive at the Centre in 2005 and 2006, and he remained associated with it afterwards. Abouleish has stepped aside as managing director of Sekem until his case is adjudicated. The charges against Abouleish apparently entail financial irregularities, which may or may not involve his work at Sekem. According to the Anthroposophical news service, NNA, 

“Sekem has operated on the principle that ‘fair trade places the human being at the centre and focuses on transparency and justice in the value creation chain. The profits which we make benefit people because they give them access to education and health care.’”

* Some people tell me they get confused when I say nice things about Anthroposophists. Which side am I on, after all? Sidestepping the question of how many “sides” there may be, I will offer the following concise position statement: I reject Anthroposophy, a body of teachings that seem to me to me obvious nonsense. Hence, I oppose Waldorf education, which is based on Anthroposophy. I do not, however, have anything against Anthroposophists; I do not question their motives. Rather, I sympathize with them. Anthroposophists have high aspirations, but in pursuit of these aspirations they have been hoodwinked by their leader, Rudolf Steiner. They rank among Steiner's victims, in other words, and while there may always be exceptions, the overwhelming majority of them are not, I believe, intentional wrongdoers. I wish them well.

“ESP may be useful in defense, health, science, unconventional areas

“Of the many kinds of so-called anomalous or unusual phenomena, the mysteries of the human mind certainly seem to be among the most interesting.

“For example, the extrasensory perception (ESP) techniques and processes generally called ‘remote viewing’ have provided valuable information and insight for U.S. defense and intelligence activities.

“Although many of these remote viewers reportedly had better-than-average natural ESP abilities to begin with, it is also conjectured that all people have these sixth-sense perceptions too. However, many people probably don't recognize their internal hunches and feelings. Further, most of us don't practice using these awareness skills on important defense and intelligence efforts.”  

[5-9-2011 http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/233847]


Human knowledge is limited. The universe still holds many mysteries. Science is a process of discovery, not a set of final, unquestionable conclusions. As ignorant as the ancients seem to us today, we will appear fully as ignorant to our great-great-great-great grandchildren.

Does ESP exist? No. At least, we have no firm evidence for its existence. Lots of people believe in it. The US government has spent wads of money trying to develop and use it in espionage. Cops call on psychics for help in murder investigations. People check their horoscopes in the newspaper. We kiss rabbits’ feet, look for four-leaf clovers, wear our lucky underpants... But what has come of such efforts? Nothing. Or, if not nothing, then next-to-nothing. (The US government stopped wasting its money on this stuff some time ago. At least, so I’ve read — and I have a hunch that it is true.)

Hunches. We all have hunches. Are these reliable? How many people do you know who have hit the jackpot in a lottery playing hunches?*

Some hunches work, or seem to work. If we accept the stories of hunches that worked, and disregard that zillions of hunches that proved false, we might be impressed.

Is there such a thing as ESP? Is there such a thing as clairvoyance? No one has yet proven it, and in fact the overwhelming weight of evidence is that, no, these things do not exist.

Still, the universe is mysterious. Perhaps, someday...

Why am I wasting our time here at Waldorf Watch on such ponderings? Because the entire Waldorf system is built on the assumption that clairvoyance exists and can be made reliable. Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and so do many Waldorf teachers working today. Are they correct? Do at least some Waldorf teachers have astonishing psychic powers? If you send your children to a Waldorf school, you are gambling that the answer is yes.

For Rudolf Steiner’s teachings — which form the foundation of Waldorf education — to be borne out, three tests would have to be met. We would have to learn the following, with a high degree of certainty. 1) Clairvoyance is possible. 2) “Exact” clairvoyance (i.e., clairvoyance that is almost 100% reliable — the kind Steiner claimed) is possible. 3) Steiner’s “clairvoyant” visions are true. Bear in mind, even if clairvoyance were possible, and even if such a thing as “exact” clairvoyance were possible, we would still need proof that the things Steiner claimed to see really exist. Other “clairvoyants” have reported seeing very different things.

As of today (May 9, 2011), we have little or no reason to think that clairvoyance exists, that “exact” clairvoyance is possible, or that Steiner’s visions are true. Maybe this will change. But here are two suggestions: 1) Don’t hold your breath. 2) Don’t send you child to a Waldorf school unless you are firmly convinced that Steiner’s visions are true. [See “Clairvoyance”, “Exactly”, "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", and “ESP”.]

* What do we mean by “hunch”? Is a hunch a mysterious perception gained through psychic powers beyond the reach of science? Or is it a guess, a conclusion we leap to because our brains are wired to make such leaps? We often need to make important decisions without waiting to gather evidence and carefully analyze our findings. And it helps if we are subjectively sure that we have the right answer — i.e., we firmly "feel" or "intuit" it — without being paralyzed by indecision. In the wild, when being eyed by a hungry lion, several courses of action are possible, but you better decide quickly. For instance, you might have this intuition: "I bet I'll improve my life expectancy if I leave the immediate vicinity pretty soon." Being a hunch, this would pass through the brain in a millisecond — and your legs would already be pumping. Waiting to reason things out ("Hm. I see the lion is twitching her tail. What does that mean? Is she a friendly lion? Would she let me pet her?") is not the best policy under such circumstances. Reasoning things out is an important activity, but sometimes unconsidered certainty serves us better. Our brains are capable of reasoning and they are capable of hunches, and often we feel more sure of our hunches than of our logic. None of this proves anything supernatural. It merely proves that the tendency to have hunches has been built into us by our evolutionary history.

Sufjan Stevens is one of America's most restlessly creative musicians ... He went to a Steiner school until the age of nine, when he was pulled out because he still could not properly read or write. ‘I wasn't dumb,’ he was told by a new teacher, ‘I was just old world, 19th-century, understimulated.’"  

[5-8-2011  http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/may/08/sufjan-stevens-interview-age-adz]


Steiner or Waldorf schools understimulate many of their students. Academic standards are often low in Steiner schools, and such essential skills as reading and arithmetic are usually postponed until the students' baby teeth fall out (signifying the incarnation of the “etheric body”). 

The anti-intellectual attitude of Waldorf schools is supplemented by the emphasis placed on such activities as knitting. Can you guess why knitting is stressed? Hint: The teeth are involved here, too. You see, knitting flexes the fingers, and the fingers... 

“Go into our needlework classes and handicraft classes at the Waldorf School, and you will find the boys knit and crochet as well as the girls ... This is not the result of any fad or whim ... [T]o drive the soul into the fingers means to promote all the forces that go to build up sound teeth.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND MEDICINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1948), lecture 17, GA 312.

Several of the items we have considered here touch on these matters. Perhaps all you need to consider at this moment is whether any of what you have just read strikes you as bizarre. Welcome to the Waldorf universe. (But if you find these things bizarre, you may want to send your children to some other kind of school.)

[For more, see “Academic Standards at Waldorf”, “Incarnation”, and “Oh My Word”.]

“No, Thor didn't make New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott simply want to die. But it did cross his mind. He begins his review by saying, ‘As I stumbled out of the Imax multiplex all-media advance screening of Thor, depositing my 3-D glasses in the appropriate bin, I thought of seeking shelter: in a nearby bar; under a passing bus; in the velvet shadows of an art house playing the longest, slowest, most obscure movie imaginable.’"  

[5-6-2011  http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2011/05/thor-businessl/37431/]


A cartoon-like version of Norse mythology has come to the silver screen. Waldorf schools are heavily invested in Norse myths, violent though these myths are. Rudolf Steiner, a champion of the white races of northern Europe, said that the mythology shared by these peoples — Norse mythology — presents a true account of human evolution. Thor is the Norse god of lightning and thunder, who roams around smashing skulls with his huge hammer. Steiner said that Thor really exists: Thor is a low-ranking god, an Angel, who helped bring mankind the “I” or “ego,” the mystical soul-component that bestows divine individuality. 

“German-Nordic man has an interest in an Angel-being who is endowed with special power ... And that Being is Thor ... Thor plays an active part in the implanting of the individual ego [in human beings] ... [T]he pulsation of the blood [in the human body] corresponds to the thunder and lightning ... Germanic-Nordic man sees this clairvoyantly.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), pp. 134-135.

Waldorf schools are disguised religious institutions. Their religion is Anthroposophy, and the tales that best reflect the doctrines of Anthroposophy can be found in Norse mythology. This is why Norse myths are taught so extensively in Waldorf schools, even those operating in distant lands where the mystical fantasies of northern Europe are wholly alien. Teaching kids Norse myths is an indirect way of teaching the kids Anthroposophy. [See "The Gods".]

[Anthroposophic Press.]

From the publisher’s description of SOUL ECONOMY: 

“Today’s schools fill children’s heads with information instead of helping them develop their natural human faculties and capacities. They place too much stress on memory ... [Rudolf Steiner] describes an education based on the human as a continually developing being of body, soul, and spirit. From this perspective, Waldorf education depends on the teacher’s ability to observe and respond to each stage of a child’s development.”  

[5-6-2011  http://www.lindisfarne.org/detail.html?session=8102e95243c298b371403f54c9abaae4&cat=&id=9780880105170]


Waldorf schools very rarely tax the memories of their students. The schools have minimal interest in conveying information — knowledge — to the kids. Instead, they try to ease the students' way through the various stages of childhood development. This may seem attractive — but the Waldorf conception of childhood development is severely detached from reality. 

Waldorf schools assume that all children pass through rigidly defined stages and that they do so in virtual lockstep. The three major stages run from 1) birth to age seven/eight, 2) age seven/eight to age fourteen/fifteen, and 3) age 14/15 to age twenty/twenty-two. When a child’s baby teeth fall out (around age seven), the “etheric body” incarnates, and the child passes from the first to the second stage. When a child goes through puberty (around age fourteen), the “astral body” incarnates, and the child enters the third stage. Eventually, when childhood ends (around age twenty-one), the "ego body" or “I” incarnates. 

The three stages of childhood are, Steiner taught, recapitulations of prior periods of human evolution, periods that occurred "on" various "planets" (actually, these were sequential incarnations of the entire solar system):

“If you recall the teachings of Spiritual Science on the subject of the education of the child you will know that in the first seven-year period of life...man develops principally the physical body ... [T]his is really a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Saturn ... The second of the seven-year periods...is a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Sun ... The third seven-year period...recapitulates the development of the astral body that normally belongs to the Old Moon epoch.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 68. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".]

This is all codswallop, but it is the basis of the Waldorf curriculum. (If you don't think that a child acquires a set of invisible bodies, Waldorf may not be right for you.)

Waldorf schools claim to honor the individuality of each student, but in fact they generally treat all the students of the same age (six, seven, eight...) as largely indistinguishable. Thus, for instance, in TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock has chapters titled “The Six-Year-Olds”, “The Seven-Year-Olds”, “The Eight-Year-Olds”, and so on, up through age thirteen. All children of a given age are treated as essentially the same. For example, all eight-year-olds are going through the same life change: 

“The child of eight is leaving one phase of growth behind him and preparing to enter another.” — Spock, p. 50. 

With few exceptions, all nine-year-olds exhibit the hallmarks of the next stage: 

“By nine most of the changelings of the previous year have accomplished their change and reappear in school after the summer holidays with a strangely different look and new reserve.” — Spock, p. 61. 

And so forth.

Of course, Waldorf teachers do not think that all the members of a class are identical. Some kids in any class are older than the class average, some are younger, some are female, some are male, some come from affluent homes, some may not. There are differences that meet the eye and differences that don't. True-blue Waldorf teachers, believing in reincarnation and karma, will assume that each child has a unique karma (although all the kids in a class share various karmic strains, such as the karma that led them to be in this particular class). The main difference Waldorf doctrine finds among children lies in the students' “temperaments." Using an ancient and entirely baseless system of classification, Waldorf teachers slot some kids as "melancholics," others as "phlegmatics," still others as "cholerics," and the remainder as "sanguines." (To determine which kids go into which category, the teachers may rely on their “clairvoyance” or their dreams or, in some cases, horoscopes.) Class assignments and seating will often depend on these arbitrary and false discriminations. (See chapter 10 of Spock’s book: “The Temperaments”.)

The Waldorf system is arbitrary, discriminatory, and irrational. And it often fails to provide anything like a real education — that is, the kids often come away without having acquired much real information. Too often, children emerging from Waldorf schools have memorized little, internalized little, learned little. As a public school principal said to a mother who transferred her children from a Waldorf school, 

"They are nice kids, but they don’t know anything."

[See “Incarnation”, “Our Experience”, “Temperaments", "Karma", “The Phlegmatic Sits by the Window”, and “Soul School”. Also relevant: "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", "Horoscopes", and "Dreams".]

“Plans for a Steiner School in Leeds [UK] are to be submitted to the Government as part of a flagship programme of encouraging parents and teachers groups to set up their own state-funded schools.

“The Beechtree Steiner Initiative which currently runs two kindergartens and five parent and child groups in the city is aiming to set up a free school serving Leeds children from the age of three to 16.

“The group are linked to the Steiner Waldorf international schools movement which has 31 schools across the country including one in York.

“...The Government’s free school programme has been set up to allow parents and teachers to set up their own schools whenever they are unhappy with the choice on offer in their local authority.”  

[5-4-2011  http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/education/free_school_project_for_city_children_1_3343026]


No Steiner schools were accepted as free schools (what in the USA are called charter schools) during the first year of the UK government’s program. This victory for sanity may be short-lived, however. Steiner proponents are continuing their efforts. Gaining a stamp of government approval would be almost as valuable to them as gaining access to government funding. So the Steinerites are motivated. 

And there's this: Steiner's followers — Anthroposophists — are dedicated members of a cult who consider themselves to be on a messianic mission. They will not quit. 

Their rational opponents will need to be equally persistent.

Montessori or Waldorf schools? (beyond preschool) - My husband may have a job opportunity in Tampa [Florida, USA] within the next year so I am just starting to do a little research. I have two girls, one which is on K and the other is starting preschool in the fall. She is in a montessori school and I would really love to continue their education in montessori ... SO, does anyone have any info on montessori or waldorf schools that go through elementary? Thanks for your help!!”  

It is a common mistake to think that Waldorf and Montessori schools are almost interchangeable. Despite some superficial similarities, these types of schools are actually very different. Waldorf schools base their approach on Anthroposophy, an occult religion. There is no occultism in Montessori. Moreover, Waldorf schools downplay academics, postponing reading and arithmetic until age seven, and thereafter de-emphasizing use of the intellect at least until high school. Waldorf schools also assume that all children of a particular age are at approximately the same stage of development (or incarnation). Montessori schools seek to promote all forms of mental growth and capacities, beginning as soon as each individual child shows s/he is ready. [For a Montessorian view of Waldorf, see “Ex-Teacher 5”. For other background, see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”, “Soul School”, “Incarnation”, “Curriculum”, and ”Methods”.]

Maypole dance at a Waldorf school.

(Boys and girls circle in opposite directions,

weaving in and out around each other.)

“The Ithaca Waldorf School [New York, USA] will host a Mayfaire Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Foundation of Light, 391 Turkey Hill Road. Those attending will enjoy crown making, a scavenger hunt, Maypole singing and dancing and games for the family. Families are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and musical instruments to play at noon. The event is free and open to all.”  


It is time for the annual spring festivals at Waldorf schools. These colorful celebrations are often used to recruit new families to the Waldorf movement, but their real nature is often obscured.

At root, Waldorf spring festivals are Anthroposophical versions of Easter observances. The purpose of celebrating the spring, in Anthroposophy, is to affirm Steiner's conception of Christianity as the religion of the Sun God, Christ, and to awaken the "impulse" Christ provided for human evolution. 

"[W]hen we think of the numbers of people in the grip of materialism to-day who have no real right to celebrate an Easter festival, it is obvious that the subject is also very relevant to the conditions of the times. A true Easter impulse needs to be inculcated into present-day Europe and indeed into the whole of the civilised world in order to counter the rapid strides now being taken in the direction of decline. It is very necessary to realise how far men are from any real understanding of the Christ Impulse and how closely this lack of understanding is connected with the symptoms of decline in evidence at the present time. These symptoms show themselves clearly to-day in statements often made by well-intentioned people." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2: Easter (Anthroposophical Publishing Co.), lecture 2, GA 198. 

[For more on the Anthroposophical conception of Christ, see “Sun God”.]

Maypole dances — originally pagan fertility rites — are among the various pagan activities that oddly but fittingly show up in Waldorf schools. The religion underlying Waldorf schools is essentially pagan in that it strays so far from the teachings of major established religions. 

[See “Pagan”.]

Several other festivals punctuate the Waldorf year. They, too, are fundamentally religious observances. The religion involved is Anthroposophy.

[See "Magical Arts" and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

"Studies support Waldorf educational methods - Waldorf early childhood programs are centered on the premise that young children learn best through play, and in the latest issue of Scientific American, free, unstructured, imaginative play is shown to be vital in the early lives of children ... Another, different research study has also proven what Waldorf education has staunchly upheld for ninety years: school children require less work, more play ... A new study has also found that personal home computers affect student grades negatively and that excessive [exposure to] screen media has a negative impact on growing children.”



From time to time, proponents of Waldorf education allude to studies that, the proponents say, show the value of Waldorf educational methods. Usually, however, if we look closely, we find far less than initially meets the eye. What do the studies referred to here actually affirm? 

1) Children need to play. OK. Very few people would deny this. Students in Waldorf schools are given opportunities for “free, unstructured, imaginative play” — but so are students in many other kinds of schools, if only during recesses, and virtually all children have opportunities for such play outside school hours. 

2) A study indicates that children should play more and work less. But other studies show precisely the opposite. Indeed, many studies show the great value of early childhood education, beginning academic work as early as possible. This is precisely the antithesis of the Waldorf approach. 

3) A study finds that excessive use of computers and other “screen media” is harmful. Sure. Excessive use of anything is harmful to kids — that is what the word “excessive” means in the context of children’s well-being. But there are also plenty of studies that show the benefits of computer use by children.

Waldorf schools wave a highly selective batch of studies or reports or opinion pieces that seem, at least tangentially, to support the methods that Waldorf schools are determined to use no matter what. But when we consider this “evidence,” the substantiation of Waldorf methods is small. Indeed, what we actually see here is the anti-intellectual, antiscientific, anti-modern bias of Waldorf schooling. Brainwork is minimized, academic standards are often low, and anything that smacks of modern technology is viewed with alarm. Why? Because in the occult doctrines that underlie Waldorf schools, intellect and science and technology plunge us too deeply into the physical level of existence, under the sway of the arch-demon Ahriman. 

There is very little solid research propping up Waldorf schools; rather, the schools stand upon a foundation of occultism. 

[See “Ahriman”, “Academic Standards at Waldorf”, “Steiner’s Specific”, “Science”, and “Occultism”.]

[R.R., 2017.]