WALDORF / STEINER
November 1-15, 2010
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.
“Unique to Waldorf is the consistency of having a 'main lesson' teacher who stays with the same class for their whole elementary school experience (Grades 1-8). This creates a strong bond between teachers and students and helps to individualize and deepen the learning experience for children, as the teacher is well aware of each students strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and temperament. On the teacher’s end, the different subject matter being taught from one year to another brings in freshness and vitality.” [11-14-2010 http://www.mauifamilymagazine.com/2010/11/14/607/]`
This is indeed a unique feature of Waldorf education, and it may confer some benefits. But it also has serious defects. Is a teacher who is qualified to teach first grade also qualified to teach eighth grade? Is a teacher who is qualified to teach arithmetic also qualified to teach English literature, at all grade levels? Under the Waldorf system, students will be "taught" by teachers who are unqualified in a potentially wide range of subjects and at numerous grade levels.*
Consider, too, the enormous influence a Waldorf teacher will have over a student, potentially supplanting the child's parent as the most important adult in the child's life. This, indeed, is a central purpose of the Waldorf system. Now, add this factor: Any genuine Waldorf teacher is an occultist, specifically an adherent of Anthroposophy. Consider the effect such a teacher can have, month after month, year after year, in leading a child away from a rational comprehension of reality. In this sense, Waldorf schools do not provide education — they provide anti-education.
You should also think about the "knowledge" the teacher develops about each student. Steiner told Waldorf teachers to use horoscopes, dreams, and clairvoyance to learn to know their students. He also told Waldorf teachers to categorize students by race and temperament (using the ancient, fallacious system of bodily "humours"). It is almost certain that a Waldorf teacher will know less about a child after eight years than a good child psychologist would know after one hour. This is the sort of occult "benefit" Waldorf schools offer. [See, e.g., "Horoscopes", "Dreams", "Steiner's Racism", and "Humouresque".]
For those unacquainted with the term: A Waldorf "main lesson" is the first and longest lesson of the day, often lasting one-and-a-half or two hours. Subjects change in rapid rotation. Thus, for three weeks the main lesson be may geography, giving over to literature for three weeks, then math for three weeks, and so on. The child thus starts each day with the same teacher, getting her/his most important lesson from that teacher, throughout lower school and middle school, right up to the beginning of high school. But never will any subject be covered at length or in depth, at least not in the rotating main lesson system.
You should also know that the main lesson teacher will usually have the children stand and recite an Anthroposophical prayer in unison at the beginning of each day's main lesson. [See "Prayers".] This, among other things, is why Steiner said "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23. Steiner's followers embrace this idea: "The educator becomes the child's priest and spiritual leader.” — Heiner Ullrich, RUDOLF STEINER (Continuum Library of Educational Thought, 2008), p. 81. This is what Waldorf schools aim to do: The teacher supplants the parent, becomes the child's "spiritual leader," and leads the child toward occultism — specifically, Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Occultism".]
Of course, a Waldorf teacher has time to try to become qualified. No Waldorf teacher has simultaneous duties as the main instructor of a first grade and an eighth grade, for instance. S/he moves up through the grades along with the students. Still, the task of becoming truly qualified to teach so many subjects at so many levels is almost impossible. A Waldorf teacher has to do all the ordinary instructional work in multiple subjects at one grade level and then proceed to do all the needed work in multiple subjects at the next level, and then the next, and then the next... This is an unrealistic, overwhelming requirement. Waldorf schools place unrealistic expectations on teachers.
"Uncle Charlie Moran remembers when his people were forbidden to speak their own language. Today the Bundjalung elder couldn’t be happier to see both indigenous and non-indigenous children [in Australia] learning his language at schools like Rainbow Ridge Steiner School. 'It really gladdens my heart,' he said." [11-15-2010 http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2010/11/15/bundjalung-elder-knows-the-value-of-sharing-free-s/]
Anthroposophists generally, and Waldorf teachers in particular, mean well. And when they do well, we should thank them.
Most Waldorf or Steiner schools are small, but the number of such schools has increased sharply. There are now approximately 1,000 of the schools worldwide. Anthroposophists look on the schools as an important part of their missionary effort, aiming to spread Anthroposophy everywhere. Indeed, this has been the rationale for the schools from the beginning. “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. Actually, Anthroposophy remains a small movement, but it's not for lack of trying.
“A small but merry band of students from Tarremah Steiner School celebrated the end of year 10 on Saturday night. Nine students and 15 staff from the school at Huntingfield, near Kingston, marked the occasion at Brookfield Vineyard at Margate. They enjoyed dinner, dancing and speeches, and each received a flower. Most of the group have studied at Tarremah since the early years. Students finish school on December 16. Tarremah, founded in 1987, is Tasmania's only Steiner school.” [11-15-2010 http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/11/15/186151_tasmania-news.html]
"Weleda Calendula Lotion – Weleda medicines were developed by doctors practising anthroposophic medicine to provide an extension to the conventional medicines available to them. The anthroposophic approach to medical care is an holistic one, which aims to treat the whole person and not just the illness or symptoms. The main aim of anthroposophic medicine is to stimulate the natural healing forces within the human being. It has developed from the initial work of Dr Rudolf Steiner and Dr Ita Wegman...." [11-13-2010 http://fatdietpills.co.uk/weleda-calendula-lotion/]
Perhaps the most dangerous of the "gifts" Rudolf Steiner left us is Anthroposophic medicine — a quack form of alternative medicine. The effects of relying on Anthroposophic quackery can be devastating. [See, e.g., "Growing Up Being Made Sick by Anthroposophy" and "Spotlight on Anthroposophy".] Anthroposophic medicine is often practiced in and around Waldorf schools. "The final straw came at the height of my daughter's illness when the school recommended that a visiting Anthroposophical doctor see her ... [The doctor said she] was to draw with healing warm-colored crayons and I was to make the sign of a flame on her heart with aurum cream at bedtime! We removed her from the school shortly thereafter ... I cannot put into words my sense of loss, regret, and humiliation, for subjecting my daughter to such arrant nonsense ... And my daughter? She is happy, thriving socially and academically, at the local public school." — Sharon Lombard, "Our Brush With Rudolf Steiner." [Also see "Steiner's Quackery".]
Weleda Calendula Lotion is a "fat diet pill" that helps you "lose weight fast." It is, in other words, it is snake oil. The page I have quoted — from a website in the UK — offers only the most cursory summary of how the pill "works," but it has two links enabling you to place an order immediately.
A British commentator has made the following observation: "Do you know what they call alternative medicines that have been proven to work? Medicine." If something is considered "alternative" medicine or "natural medicine" or "Anthroposophic medicine" instead of "medicine," it is not medicine. Weleda — a Swiss/German manufacturer of "natural medicines," relying heavily on indications given by Rudolf Steiner — does not make real medicines.
“Fundamentals of Waldorf Education - Cutting-edge Waldorf education integrates diverse arts with age-appropriate academics, creating healthy development for children from preschool through high school. This workshop [at Rudolf Steiner College, California, USA] will give an introduction to the foundations, methodology, and view of child development at the heart of Waldorf education, as well as an experience of the curriculum first-hand through artistic activities.” [11-7-2010 http://www.rudolfsteinercollege.edu/?q=node/865 I don't know why I received notice of this so late. Apologies.]
The “scholars” at Rudolf Steiner College face a fundamental dilemma: How can they be objective about the work of the man for whom their college is named? In fact, they don’t attempt it. Their main function is to “educate” new Waldorf or Steiner school teachers, and they do this by encouraging an uncritical, wholehearted acceptance of Steiner’s occult teachings. This indeed is how the teacher-training teachers at virtually all Anthroposophical institutes operate. [See “Teacher Training”.]
“Santa Cruz Waldorf School [California, USA] is hosting a ‘walk through the school’ on Tuesday, featuring a tour of the school, observation of classes and question-and-answer session with a teacher. Hours are 8:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. ... Central to the Santa Cruz Waldorf education is a recognition and respect for the child's unfolding individuality. This approach offers an alternative to education focused on normative, quantifiable outcomes ... Reservations are recommended. This event is for adults only.” [11-14-2010 http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_16609064]
Attending such events is advisable if you are considering a Waldorf school. Bear a few things in mind, however. • What you see on a special tour probably will not reveal what happens at the school on a normal day — you will be seeing only what the school wants you to see. • The event will probably be tightly controlled. Santa Cruz Waldorf will allow the visit only during a two-and-a-quarter-hour period; reservations are “recommended”; only adults will be allowed in. • Waldorf schools often market themselves as alternatives to mainstream, public schools (“an alternative to education focused on normative, quantifiable outcomes”). This may tell you what Waldorfs are NOT; but it tells you almost nothing about what Waldorfs ARE. What they are is Anthroposophical religious schools. [See, e.g., "Prayers".] • Come prepared. Study Waldorf pedagogy before the event; read Rudolf Steiner; prepare a list of questions you would like answered. Be prepared for guarded or evasive answers. • Understand that Waldorf teachers often think they need to withhold their occult beliefs from you, an outsider. Why? “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 705. [See “Here’s the Answer” and “Secrets”. As to respect for a child's individuality, see, e.g., "Humouresque".]
Steiner's followers have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort trying to justify his teachings. For the most part, it has been time and effort wasted. Steiner may have had some good ideas or he may have made some lucky guesses, but there is very little solid evidence to support his teachings. Anthroposophists and Waldorf faculties offer arguments and "studies," and "evidence" that they find compelling — but to their shock they discover that almost no one outside their occult circle is convinced by these arguments, etc. They tend to react by telling each other that they are victims of a vast, evil conspiracy of demonic powers who connive to suppress Steiner's wonderful wisdom. This paranoid fantasy may actually tell us most of what we need to know of their unfortunate mindset.
"Why Waldorf works has more to do with how the brain develops and functions optimally than Rudolf Steiner ever could have known. Sure the educator and founder of Waldorf Education theorized convincingly about how children learn best, but until MRIs and other sophisticated measures of the brain were developed, we had no way to prove or disprove any of Steiner’s theories, not with the kind of precision and accuracy we can now. An overwhelming body of evidence from the last 20 years of neuroscientific inquiry supports Steiner’s theories, including some of the most fundamental foci of Waldorf Education." [11-12-2010 http://www.ourkids.net/blog/index.php/why-waldorf-works-6664/]
"Why Waldorf Works" is a catchy phrase used for public relations purposes by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, AWSNA [http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/]. Some Waldorf practices are attractive and even sensible, such as emphasizing creative play for young children. But most Waldorf thinking is freighted with superstition, such as belief in astrology.
Concerning the claims sometimes now made by Anthroposophists about what MRIs tell us about brain function: MRI studies are largely, and automatically, irrelevant to Steiner's "educational" theories, since Steiner largely discounted the brain. We don't really think with our brains, he said, and our brains are completely irrelevant to real knowledge. “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. Actual cognition, according to Steiner, is clairvoyance, and he said clairvoyance is not a function of the brain but of immaterial, invisible "organs of clairvoyance." No scientific or rational study can possibly support this, since it is nonsense. But Waldorf schools try to lead students in the direction of developing clairvoyance while minimizing the "stress" put on student's brains and intellects. [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance", "Thinking", "Thinking Cap", and "Steiner's Specific".]
A final point: While I agree that Steiner only theorized about things and had very little real knowledge about anything, it makes no sense — from an Anthroposophical point of view — to say such things. Steiner claimed that he not only possessed clairvoyance, he claimed that he possessed EXACT clairvoyance. He claimed to be virtually omniscient. He never hesitated to tell us how all things — including brains — really work; and he insisted that he was telling us the EXACT truth, ascertained with virtually no possibility of error. He was talking through his hat, of course. But Anthroposophists do not realize this. They think Steiner KNEW. [See, e.g., "Exactly".]
Hauk is a fervent disciple of Rudolf Steiner. You may want to bear this in mind when evaluating his work. “Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) did not discard the intellectual accomplishments of our scientific age but, by utilizing them, researched another dimension, which is needed to complement the admirable achievements of the natural, physical and psychological sciences of our time. His method, called ‘spiritual science.’ or ‘anthroposophy’ (anthropos = humankind, sophia = wisdom), can be learned by anyone who applies great stamina of will, concentration, and intent.” — Gunther Hauk, in the introduction to Rudolf Steiner’s BEES, p. viii. In this passage, Hauk frames for us the central claim made by Steiner’s followers. The claim suffers from one central defect: It is entirely untrue. • Steiner frequently and repeatedly disparaged intellect and modern science, associating them with the terrible demon Ahriman. • There is nothing scientific about “spiritual science,” which hinges on the use of imagination, intuition, inspiration, and — at its “highest” level — clairvoyance. Three of these are subjective states of mind, while the fourth is an illusion. They do not produce verifiable, objective, scientific results. • No one can learn Steiner’s method, because it is delusory. If you think you are clairvoyant, you are deluding yourself. If you have “clairvoyant visions,” you are fantasizing or hallucinating. [See, e.g., “Is Anthroposophy Science?”, “Steiner’s 'Science'”, “Clairvoyance”, and “Steiner’s Specific”.] The most troubling part of all this is that many Waldorf school teachers think they are clairvoyant “spiritual scientists.” This should automatically disqualify them from holding positions as educators.
“Weekend workshop stresses importance of bees - Gunther Hauk presents the Honeybee Weekend today and Sunday at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork [Colorado, USA].” [11-13-2010 http://www.postindependent.com/article/20101113/VALLEYNEWS/101119952/1083&ParentProfile=1074]
The importance of bees goes far beyond what you may think. • "[Y]ou will not be able to find out what happens on the Sun or on Venus if you cannot apply this method of placing your consciousness into the life and activity of a bee community." — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 170. • “The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being ... It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach....” Rudolf Steiner, BEES, p. 176.
“The psychic industry today is a multi million pound business; with a plethora of websites, chat lines and text services amongst other ways of consuming the paranormal. Within this, more than 170,000 consumers fall victim to clairvoyant scams every year, losing around £40 million in the process ... [The] 'paranormal revolution' or 'psychic revolution' has, arguably, featured the acceptance of 'paranormal journals' such as World Futures - venue for problematical articles on dowsing, reincarnation, remote healing, precognition and other hubble bubble - that are echoes of publications by followers of Mrs Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Edgar Cayce, Keyserling, Grof, Krishnamurti and other fin de siecle gurus whose assertions have been embraced by the great & good without a guffaw, grimace or reference to Sokal's famous 'Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity' hoax [here] or the derision rightly accorded to claptrap such as Steiner's The submerged continents of Atlantis and Lemuria, their history and civilization: being chapters from the Akashic records. Lemuria! Atlantis! Psychic communication with vegetables!” [11-13-2010 http://barnoldlaw.blogspot.com/2010/11/hubble-bubble-frauds-and-trouble.html]
"He who has won for himself the power to observe in the spiritual world, there recognizes bygone events in their eternal character." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SUBMERGED CONTINENTS OF ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA, p. 5. This "power" is what Steiner claimed to possess: It is clairvoyance. Developing such power is central to Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. Steiner tells how to become clairvoyant in his book HOW TO ATTAIN KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, which he often plugged. "[T]he paths that lead to a perception of the Eternal are available to man ... In the articles on 'How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds'...the method of this training are indicated." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SUBMERGED CONTINENTS OF ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA, p. 3. Humans used to live in a sort of Edenic state in which no nasty clumps of nerves — i.e., brains — were needed. "[T]he comprehension of knowledge and wisdom available to them was clairvoyance which needed no senses and no organs of thought." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SUBMERGED CONTINENTS OF ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA, p. 130. We have fallen to a condition in which brains do serve some purposes, Steiner taught. But we will evolve out of this lowly state.
"I must think especially of a visit to my class by Rudolf Steiner; it is written deeply in my heart. It was an English class, and I had — as I then later always repeated — taken the children through the Lord's Prayer and had begun to have them learn it. Dr. Steiner entered just as we had spoken the closing words, 'For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.' As we finished Dr. Steiner stood up, went to the blackboard, picked up the chalk, and said to the children: 'You have just spoken the beautiful closing words of the Lord's Prayer in English, and you, of course, also know it in German. Now, every royal kingdom encompasses a certain area, has a certain size.' Along with these words, he drew a circle on the board. 'And where is the power of this kingdom?' The children answered that it is in the middle. 'Yes, it is in the middle of the circle; and the glory, the radiance, which rays out from this kingdom, shines outward far and wide!' Thereby he drew something like rays of radiance and light all around the circle. And then he continued: 'Yes, now what does this all look like?' After a brief hesitation the children called out: 'Like the Sun!' Rudolf Steiner, visibly pleased, said, 'Yes, it is the Sun.' He then left. We kept his drawing on the blackboard for a long time as a kind of living greeting from him to the class." [11-10-2010 http://martyrion.blogspot.com/2010/11/kingdom-power-and-glory.html]
"BAC [the British Accreditation Council] currently accredits more than 500 institutions in the UK. These include more than 30 independent sixth form colleges, sizeable numbers of colleges offering aspects of business studies and computer studies, and a growing HE sector. There is considerable diversity in the programmes offered by other accredited institutions, including, for instance, drama training, audio engineering, complementary therapies, Montessori and Steiner teacher training, biblical and Islamic studies and animal osteopathy. Many of their students come from overseas." [11-10-2010 http://www.the-bac.org/about/vacancies/BAC_Inspections_Manager_Pack.pdf]
“Secondary English teacher Donald Dye, who was recently voted America's Top Teacher in a contest sponsored by ‘Live with Regis and Kelly,’ will present a free educational forum at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Salveson Ballroom at Waldorf College ... Waldorf invites community to celebrate at homecoming — Not a Waldorf graduate? No problem. Didn't attend the college at all? Still, not a problem ... Waldorf College has selected Chad Gassman as interim head of the school's athletic department ... Waldorf College will host of an Iowa High School Speech Association judges’ certification clinic at 10 a.m. ... The proposal to change a liquor license to let the holder have adults as young as 18 come inside isn't bad, but that doesn't automatically make it good.” [11-10-2010 http://www.globegazette.com/search/topic/?k=%22waldorf%20college%22&d1=&d2=&s=start_time&sd=desc&l=50&f=html&sForm=false&sHeading=Waldorf%20College]
Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Waldorf College is not an Anthroposophical institution. "Waldorf College is a private, for-profit college located in Forest City, Iowa. Whether you are a prospective student, current student, alum or friend, we hope you'll enjoy finding out all about Waldorf by browsing our website. We're a small college with big opportunities." [http://www.waldorf.edu/]
Yes, thinking does help. But about those gnomes...
An informative discussion about Steiner education is occurring now at waldorf-critics [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/]. And here's the best news: One of the participants there is Yours Truly [see, e.g., http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15575].
"[T]his is where the dream ends. For 12 years I believed that Steiner schools provided an emotionally healthy environment for children, but when one of my children came out of our local Steiner school emotionally brutalized, I opened my eyes, spent months on the Internet researching Steiner and Anthroposophy, and finally understood that my husband and I had been conned. It was embarrassing to realize that, like so many other Waldorf parents, we had been lulled by the soothing aesthetics and brainwashed by a school that constantly drummed the
message that anything but Steiner education is bad." [11-8-2010 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15560]
"Basically there are lots of education program that we can deal now a day but for the sake of considering your students you might give them the best and how this program help him in improving themselves. So what I can give you here is some aspect that Waldorf Education, an alternative education that can give your child a freedom of learning and developing oneself with this own enthusiasts, might help you on your situation. We all know that children will go to school to learn but for Waldorf School like in Maine, Merriconeag has its own way of developing their students though the system of Waldorf. This will give your students of essence of learning with the environment and let them discover their selves with their own discovery and what they want to be." [11-8-2010 http://khaiylle.i.ph/blogs/khaiylle/?p=294]
Think carefully, parents.
"All parents always prefer what’s best for their child, specially in choosing a school. And some parents would also prefer to enroll their child in home schooling . And if you’re a parent we are sure that you also prefer a good mode of home schooling for your child. So we think it would be better if you would prefer a method in home schooling called Waldorf Education." [11-8-2010 http://jejemon.i.ph/blogs/jejemon/?p=16]
Multiple Waldorf-friendly sites are celebrating the "victory" over People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (see the next item). One example: http://guilfoil.blogspot.com/2010/11/plans-suit-of-13-years-sought-to-show.html. But it ain't over till it's over. (Then again, as the old saying goes: The law is an ass.)
"A federal judge [Frank C. Damrell Jr.] has thrown out a lawsuit that has kept the Sacramento City Unified School District [California, USA] in court for nearly 13 years fending off a challenge to the Waldorf teaching method used in two district schools. People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools, or PLANS Inc., sued the district in 1998, claiming the method is inextricably linked to anthroposophy – the philosophy of Waldorf method founder Rudolf Steiner. The suit contended anthroposophy is a religion and that its use in public schools violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which precludes mixing religion with government institutions. A lawyer for PLANS said Saturday that an appeal is likely ... It won't be the case's first trip to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The school district appealed Damrell's 1999 ruling that PLANS, a nonprofit group dedicated to keeping Waldorf methods out of public education, has taxpayer standing to sue, but an appellate panel denied the petition without comment. Damrell tossed the case out in 2001 after a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion prompted him to revisit the issue of standing. The 2nd Circuit held that a broad challenge to expenditures for the ordinary costs of operating schools is insufficient to confer taxpayer standing on a plaintiff. Two years later, the 9th Circuit reversed Damrell and reinstated the lawsuit, ruling that the 2nd Circuit case was dissimilar because it was based on "the comprehensive curricula" of the schools in question, not just specific activities." [11-7-2010 http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/06/3165452/judge-tosses-out-suit-over-waldorf.html]
Bad news, obviously. Judge Damrell has shown himself to be wooden-headed before. Let's hope that wiser heads prevail at the appeals level, as they have previously.
On 10-26-2010, I published a few statements by Rudolf Steiner on the subject of left-handedness. Here they are again: • "In this materialistic age, it is a fact that children will become idiotic through lefthandedness, or when both hands are used alternately." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Gerda Hueck in THE PROBLEM OF LEFTHANDEDNESS (St. George Publications, 1978), p. 15. • “We should always correct lefthandedness.” — Rudolf Steiner. Ibid., p. 16. • "If one would want to bring about symmetry between right and left, if one would practice with both hands equally, it could lead to feeble-mindedness in later years. The phenomenon of lefthandedness is distinctly a phenomenon of karma, a phenomenon of karmic weakness.” — Rudolf Steiner. Ibid., p. 17.
"'Encouraging' children to change handedness is still happening in Steiner schools in UK. It happened to one of mine, and at least one other child, and a few months ago I met someone who said it had happened to their child comparatively recently. When the teacher was questioned about it, they were wrought with confusion and unable to give an answer apart from 'It is better'. Aside from the obvious distress it could cause a child, the covert way the teachers do this is just one of many examples of the schools exercising Steiner's anthroposophic fantasies and implying their actions are within the realms of 'normal' pedagogy rather than "special" clairvoyantly divined anthroposophical ones." [11-8-2010 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15522]
A discussion of the subject is nor occurring at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/. For an extensive exposition of Steiner's views on the subject, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15514. "A child will actually believe he was 'Born wrong' ... That's is the epitome of ugliness from Steiner people. When will Anthroposophist[s] STOP HARMING CHILDREN?" [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15523]
The Goetheanum is the worldwide headquarters for Anthroposophy, the religion patched together by Rudolf Steiner and covertly spread by Waldorf schools. The Goetheanum is a cathedral, having a towering statue of Christ the Sun God, an enormous pipe organ, occult ceiling artwork rivaling that in St. Peter’s (although greatly inferior), colored glass windows displaying spiritual themes, etc.
“[Nancy] Macalaster is director of family programs at Sophia’s Hearth Family Center in Keene [New Hampshire, USA]. The nonprofit organization provides staff-facilitated parent/child play groups, child care ... It incorporates the education systems of Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler — a methodology of nurturing and respecting young children — with that of Waldorf education founder Rudolf Steiner ... In June, [Macalaster] presented at the International Early Childhood Care Conference in Dornach, Switzerland. The prestigious symposium was held at the Goetheanum, a world-famous performance and education center designed by Waldorf education founder Rudolf Steiner, and attracted more than 700 participants.” [11-6-2010 http://sentinelsource.com/articles/2010/11/06/community/monadnock_profile/free/id_417433.txt]
The monumental statue in the Goetheanum is dominated by the figure of Christ.
He is the "Representative of Humanity"
(i.e., our Prototype, the sort of man we should all become).
The statue, which also includes figures of Ahriman and Lucifer,
is approximately 27 feet (nine meters) tall.
Christ mediates between Ahriman and Lucifer,
establishing the correct path for future human evolution.
Ahriman squats below Christ's feet and also to Christ's right.
Lucifer is shown above Christ's right shoulder and also behind
Christ's left shoulder (essentially invisible from this angle).
A "rock bring" presides at the upper left.
(The rock being has no real significance, but at the end of sculpting,
Steiner decided the statue seemed unbalanced, so he tossed in
another figure.) Although credited to Steiner, the statue
is actually, mainly, the work of someone else, a professional sculptor.
The main hall of the Goetheanum,
showing pipe organ and colored glass windows. [R.R., 2009, based, on photograph on p. 18,
GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]
A movable rostrum/pulpit can be positioned center stage, front.
The stage is often used for eurythmic performances
and productions of Steiner's mystery plays — in effect, religious ceremonies.
This is how the hall looked for many decades, until 1997 when mystic columns
were added on each side, based on Steiner's conceptions:
The columns represent various planets and their astrological powers.
[R. R. sketch, 2010, based on p. 129, Rudolf Steiner,
ARCHITECTURE: An Introductory Reader (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003.)]
For an idea of how the hall looks today, including columns, architrave, and occult ceiling mural,
see the color photos in the center section of Rudolf Steiner,
ARCHITECTURE AS A SYNTHESIS OF THE ARTS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999.)
"When my kids were little, our neighbour was really into the philosophy of Waldorf education. She was a homeschooler, and a believer in protecting the imagination and creativity of children. Hard core Waldorf followers don't offer their kids anything plastic — their toys are almost always of natural products. A Waldorf kid gets blocks and beeswax crayons and nothing with batteries and never anything that lights up. They get real musical instruments, ones that are appropriate, of course, and high quality art supplies. They don't use computers until they are older. Their dolls are cloth, and simple as they don't talk or eat fake food. It really is a lovely philosophy, and while we never followed it religiously, it was nice to be encouraged in thinking that it was better for your kid to mess around in the garden making mud pies than purchasing the new battery operated fake mud pie kit." [11-6-2010 http://myfarawayfriends.blogspot.com/2010/11/sleepy-saturday-afternoon.html]
Sports are often downplayed at Waldorf schools, but not always. By fielding successful teams in various sports, schools can attract newcomers to a school and cement relations with alumni. But there is also a deeper consideration. The German-American Anthroposophist Franz Winkler once delivered a lecture titled "Our Obligation to Rudolf Steiner in the Spirit of Easter" (Whittier Books, 1955). His thesis was that Anthroposophists should strive to excel in all fields, so that they will be admired and emulated. The basic point to grasp is that virtually everything that Anthroposophists do in public is intended to spread the faith: Anthroposophy. Of course, students at a Waldorf school may have no such intention, but their teachers and coaches do.*
"The Steiner Stars Middle School co-ed soccer team finished a stellar 7-1-1 season by winning their conference tournament on Saturday with two solid victories. In their opening game, Steiner defeated St. Paul Lutheran 8-1, and then the Stars combined in a true team effort to beat host Emerson 4-0 in the finals." [11-1-2010 http://www.annarbor.com/community/sports/high-school/rudolf_steiner_school_teams_dominate_weekend_conference_tournaments/index.php]
(By the way, why would a Waldorf school call its teams "The Stars"? Perhaps because true-blue Waldorf teachers believe in the power of the stars — both the astrological power and the geographical power. Here's one of my favorite Steiner quotes. I repeat it too often; but then again, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. “With the students, we should at least try to...make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.” [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 607.])
* Not all Waldorf teachers are devout Anthroposophists (although Steiner said they all should be). Many teachers work in Waldorf schools without fully understanding the Anthroposophical basis of Waldorf education. But Waldorf teacher training tries to pull teachers into Anthroposophy, as does much subsequent "professional development" in the Waldorf system. Generally, the leading faculty members at a Waldorf school are Anthroposophists, and generally they try to steer their colleagues into the fold.
Sounds nice (if incoherent and ungrammatical). But bear in mind that “imagination” at Waldorf schools in considered a precursor to, or even a code word for, clairvoyance. And bear in mind that Waldorf teachers consider themselves “worthy” models because they think they serve the gods and either possess or soon will possess clairvoyance. It is all nonsense — potentially very damaging nonsense. [See, e.g., "Nuts".]
“The Waldorf School teaches the every [sic] child to let their imagination works [sic] and would be apply [sic] in the daily works [sic] that they have. Open to all that surrounds them, young children live in a world of wonder and imagination. To begin academic study at this time is to rush them through of period of life when their proper work and most effective way of learning are through exploration and play. Thus, the aim of our work with young children is to provide a nurturing physical environment conducive to learning through doing, with caring adults who are worthy models for children to imitate. Days in our early childhood classes are filled with both structured and unstructured activities that feed the life of the imagination.” [11-6-2010 http://d1dz.i.ph/blogs/d1dz/?p=24]
The Waldorf universe is full of people who are willing to take your children off your hands. Naturally, some families need nannies or daycare providers, and all families need teachers for their children (unless the parents are prepared to undertake homeschooling). The question is how to evaluate applicants to fill these positions. Think carefully, parents.
"I am a Jovial, Caring person with Waldorf Teacher training and lots of nanny experience. I have had two live-in positions and oodles of baby sitting jobs around the bay. I am trustline certified, CPR certified and I am currently working my way through Graduate school in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine." [11-5-2010 http://www.care.com/childcare/wendyb188#utm_content=&utm_medium=selfpromotion&utm_campaign=seeker_childcare&utm_source=selfpromotion&utm_term=2621572&]
[Hawthorn Press, 1996]
"This comprehensive account of painting and drawing in the Steiner curriculum combines detailed practical advice with clearly defined philosophy on aesthetic education. It takes readers carefully through each stage of Steiner art teaching, suggesting appropriate exercises, and explains the reasons for the different developments in the curriculum at appropriate stages of pupils' development. This book is not only a reference source for all who are involved in teaching in Steiner schools, but should inspire all who are concerned with children's creative development and fulfilment." [11-5-2010 http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Drawing-and-Painting-in-Rudolf-Steiner-Schools/Margaret-Juneman/book_9781869890414.htm]
Like virtually all other subjects and activities in Waldorf or Steiner schools, arts are emphasized for occult purposes. Beauty is thought to extend from the spirit worlds to our world, and we can ascend into the spirit worlds through beauty. Aesthetics per se are largely irrelevant, except as they express divine beauty. Kids in Waldorf schools are led to draw and paint so that they can be transported to higher worlds. [See, e.g., "Magical Arts". You may also want to consult such collections of Steiner lectures as ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), and THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964).]
“My parents moved from Australia to near Belfast in Northern Ireland before I was born, and at the time all the schools there were specifically Catholic or Protestant. The only non-denominational school was the Holywood Steiner School, which follows an alternative form of education from the norm in the UK, called Waldorf education, which focuses a lot more on development of creativity and arts. I still ended up going from there to study all science at college and University, but have unwittingly ended up doing music now, maybe Steiner is to blame.” [11-5-2010 http://skrufff.com/2010/11/max-cooper-i-don’t-believe-in-miracles-interview/]
The emphasis on beauty and art is one of the more appealing components of Steiner education. But don't be dazzled. Look below the surface to determine whether you can accept the form of occultism that underlies the schools. This should lead you to recognize that, far from being "non-denominational," Steiner schools are actually religious institutions, and the religion in question is Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]
"Roger may be a Scotsman, for all I know, but his claim is not an example of the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy (though there is much to disagree with in Roger's post, in my view). The fallacy is a fallacy precisely because it disregards what people actually do or don't do, the crux of Roger's claim." [11-4-2010 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15471]
I am the Roger referred to. The writer of the statement, above, is referring to an intentionally provocative statement I made in the course of a set of discussions at the Waldorf Critics website. One thread of the discussions involved the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. Historian Peter Staudenmaier has argued that some Anthroposophists were Fascists or Nazis. An Anthroposophist, Frank Thomas Smith, replied that this is inconceivable. No true Anthroposophist, he said, could possibly be a Fascist or a Nazi. Staudenmaier and others pointed out that using the "no true Scotsman" form of argument is invalid. The only way to decide whether any Anthroposophists were Fascists or Nazis is to look at the historical record, which Smith declined to do.
I piped in at one point, using an old teacher's ploy (I am a retired teacher): I made a provocative statement to spur discussion. Provocation, of course, provokes. Where should we draw the line between sweet reason and unacceptable effrontery? Different folks put the line in different places. For Anthroposophists, nearly everything I have written is beyond the line, outrageous, wicked. From my perspective, everything I have written here at Waldorf Watch is true. I know, at least, that I always try to write the truth. Usually I do this by attempting to write clearly and logically. But sometimes I add a dollop of humor, which may or may not be an aid to comprehension. And sometimes I intentionally try to provoke [see, e.g., "Summing Up"], which may or may not be an aid to comprehension. What do I try to provoke? Thoughts. Shocked recognition of the truth.
In this, as in other things, I am influenced by Henry David Thoreau. His masterpiece, WALDEN, is a medley (some would say jumble) of affronts, jokes, exaggerations, allegories, and plain truth-telling. Thoreau hits his reader with a left, then a right, then an uppercut, then a wild hook... He tries any and every approach to try to shake the reader out of complacency, trying to force the reader to confront the truth. I'm no Thoreau. I'm one little guy who will soon be forgotten. But if Waldorf Watch succeeds in helping you, gentle reader, to find the truth about Waldorf education, I'll be content.
P.S. The "no true Scotsman" fallacy goes like this: No true Scotsman (or Anthroposophist or Republican...) would ever tell a lie. Mr. X told a lie. Therefore, Mr. X is no true Scotsman (or Anthroposophist or Republican...). Do you see the illogic? Rather than examining evidence, you simply wave away a possibility you dislike. You love Anthroposophy (or Scotland, or the Republican Party), so you simply assert that no real Anthroposophist (or Scot, or Republican) can do wrong. But this is simply closing one's eyes. The only way to decide whether Mr. X, a good Scot, has told a lie is to examine the evidence. Refusing to examine the evidence because Mr. X is a good Scot will not do. Similarly, the only way to decide whether any Anthroposophists were Fascists or Nazis is to look at the historical record. Refusing to examine the historical record will not do.
"[S]ome parents do not like the idea of their kids spending all day in front of the computer ... If you haven’t heard about Montessori or Waldorf schools before you are among the minority. Waldorf schools are often held to a more advanced standard than others. Some people joke about them being schools for geniuses. The great news is that Montessori and Waldorf school curriculums can be found in Homeschool platforms too." [11-4-2010 http://www.todayarticles.net/home-family/the-best-homeschooling-curriculum-how-to-choose-it]
There is a faint trace of truth in this statement, but I would phrase it differently: If you hope to get a good education at a Waldorf school, you will have to do it yourself rather than relying on the weak Waldorf curriculum. [See "Curriculum".] Waldorf and Steiner schools are notorious for low academic standards. Some of the schools, of course, are better than others, but the danger is present in all Waldorf schools due to their fundamental anti-intellectual bias. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf" and "Thinking".] Science courses tend to be particularly weak in Waldorf schools. [See "Weird Science at Steiner School".] So being a genius is almost a prerequisite for salvaging anything true or sophisticated during the years you undergo a Waldorf "education."
Did I say "anti-intellectual?" Yes. And here are some hints as to the reason:
“Any attempt to improve the methods of education should consist in modifying [i.e., downplaying] the intellectual element which has become over-dominant since the fourteenth century ....” [Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1926), p. 31.]
Especially for young children, intellect should be downplayed. Children should be left to themselves as much as possible. Don’t teach them; let them dream on. “The child is not ready for school until the change of teeth ... He is best left in a gentle dream-like existence for as long as possible.” [Rudolf Steiner , A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), p. 11.]
Kids aren’t ready for any form of intellectual thinking until rather late: “Mineralogy, physics, and chemistry should not be introduced before...the twelfth year. The only intellectual occupation not harmful during the earlier ages is arithmetic.” [Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 186.]
You see, “If you particularly emphasize the development of thinking, you actually direct the entire human being back to prenatal life. You will injure children if you educate them rationally....” [Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (SteinerBooks, 1996), p. 61.]
Some of these problems may be alleviated, to some degree, when the Waldorf curriculum is followed in homeschooling. The burden then is on the parents to bring rationality and truth to the subjects studied. The Waldorf materials themselves will be nearly devoid of rationality and truth.
"The dangers of too much extrinsic pressure are also the topic of 'Race to Nowhere,' a documentary that will be shown Nov. 12 at the City of Lakes Waldorf School...in Minneapolis [Minnesota, USA] ... The work of two documentarian mothers, 'Nowhere' takes a look at the intense pressures to achieve we place on kids today. High-stakes tests and hours of nightly homework may not have made America smarter or more competitive, but they have fueled an epidemic of cheating, depression, stress-related illnesses and other horrors, according to the film. Reviews have been mixed." [11-4-2010 http://www.minnpost.com/learningcurve/2010/11/04/23047/coming_up_daniel_pink_on_motivation_race_to_nowhere_and_bullied]
Waldorf schools are embracing this film, offering it as justification for their low-pressure curriculum and methods. There is a profound fallacy at play, however. If something is bad, this does not automatically mean that something else is better. If you buy a Ford car and it turns out to be a lemon, this does not prove that Chevy cars are better. Chevy may crank out more lemons than Ford.Likewise, the failures of the public school system in the USA do not prove that Waldorf schooling is better. Indeed, I would argue that Waldorf schooling is almost invariably inferior and dangerous, not simply because of its anti-intellectual bias, but because of its devotion to occultism. Waldorf schools are disguised religious institutions, working to spread an occult faith.
The goals of Waldorf schooling are inseparable from the goals of Anthroposophy, although Waldorf teachers generally deny this: “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 705.]
And what is Anthroposophy? It is a religion: "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [Ibid., p. 706.]
And so: "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.]
If you are an Anthroposophist — and especially if you are a German Anthroposophist — you certainly should consider a Waldorf school for your child. Otherwise, however, you (and by "you" I mean everyone in the world who is not an Anthroposophist) should not.
“Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School is a coeducational, state integrated composite school in Belmont, Lower Hutt [New Zealand] ... The school follows Rudolf Steiner's 3-stage pedagogical model of child development ... Raphael House offers evening courses on various subjects including health, anthroposophy, and self-development ... Raphael House celebrates a number of Christian festivals, namely Easter, Advent, St Nicholas, and Christmas, as well as Midwinter and St Michael's day ... Preparation for the feast days is considered an important part of the students' experience.” [11-4-2010 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raphael-House-Rudolf-Steiner-School/112105972140140?sk=wall]
Despite the danger of falling into the clutches of Ahriman (the devil who is present in modern technology, especially American modern technology), many Waldorf schools are now putting up Facebook pages. “Ahriman-America should not have the only voice." — Rudolf Steiner, LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Rudolf Steiner’s association [sic] with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke: Letters, Documents and After-Death Communications (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), T. H. Meyer, editor, p. 230.]
Waldorf or Steiner schools are often attractive. But that's the surface. You really should look beneath the surface.
As ever, SteinerBooks to the rescue:
“This challenging set of lectures attempts to lift the veil from modern social and spiritual problems as experienced in the contrasts between East and West.
“By ascribing to human thinking only a shadowy, subjective validity, modern science tries to invalidate the very faculty that gives us our human dignity. At the same time, however, this ‘unreality’ of thought images makes possible an inner freedom that scientific doctrine tends to deny in principle. The need arises from these contradictions to extend the limits of ordinary scientific thinking to new investigative faculties.” [11-4-2010 http://steinerbooks.org/detail.html?session=a635ddf877388cd1ff59d86a88586cbe&id=9780880100717]
Steiner claimed to be a scientist, but he almost invariably criticized science — often in scathing terms. His own professed "science" boiled down to using "new investigative faculties" — by which he meant clairvoyance — to study the spirit realm. The impossibility of this task — impossible due to the nonexistence of clairvoyance — didn't faze him.
Here's a fairly typical statement Steiner made about science and scientists. “[T]he heart is indeed a sense organ for perceiving the blood’s movement, not a pump as physicists claim.” [Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE: Exploring Our Suprasensory Nature (Steiner Books, 2000), p. 84.]
OK? Clear? The heart is not a pump, and Steiner knew this because his marvelous clairvoyant abilities extended even to the physical realm.
“Cape Ann Waldorf School broke ground on their new location at Moraine Farm last week [Massachusetts, USA]. Cape Ann, which rented property since it was founded in 1986, bought the eight acres of [rural] property from Project Adventure for ‘just north of $2 million’ last month, said Jonathan Cosco, a spokesman for the school ... ‘We discourage children to sit in front of [computer and TV] screens,’ said Susan White, a school administrator who described an important goal of the school as instilling ‘a reverence for nature’ in students who range from nursery school to eighth grade." [11-2-2010 http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/beverly/2010/11/beverly_school_breaks_ground_a.html]
The Waldorf or Steiner attitude toward nature is complex. On the one hand, a feeling of reverence is encouraged — the natural world was created by the gods and it manifests divine will. On the other hand, the natural world is distinctly inferior to the spiritual worlds. Nature is occupied by “nature spirits” such as goblins who, if not completely immoral, are at least amoral. "Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes, and so forth ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them.” [Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63.]
Other nature spirits are distinctly evil. These include phantoms, ghosts, demons, and human beings who are so wicked that they have fallen out of evolution and no longer truly human. Indeed, Steiner taught, bad people bring demonic elemental beings to our world. The wrongdoers’ “astral bodies” (the second of their three invisible bodies) pick up hitchhiking demons within astral “enclosures.” “In all that works [evilly] from soul to soul in our world, from the giving of bad advice to all those methods which people employ in order to overwhelm others...[this] is expressed in the night in the astral body. The astral body gets these ‘enclosures’ and thereby beings are detached from other worlds and whirr through our world again as elemental beings. They belong to the class of demons.” [NATURE SPIRITS, pp. 85-86.]
For more on all this, see “Neutered Nature”.
“We are a group of teachers working associatively out of dedication to the Waldorf Curriculum. Anthroposophy is the heart and foundation of our work. If you are an experienced Waldorf Teacher with a deep Anthroposophical understanding of the world and wish to carry out your work with Class One in 2011 in a striving collegial environment and are able to support beginning and developing teachers, we invite you to send your resume and letter expressing your interest to our address below. Contact: The College of Teachers ... Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School, P.O. Box 60-266, Titirangi, Auckland [New Zealand].” [11-3-2010 http://www.waldorfteachers.com/job/3237/class-one-teacher-2011-at-titirangi-rudolf-steiner-school/]
This is a more-candid-than-usual statement put out by a Waldorf school. Anthroposophy is indeed the heart of any true-blue Waldorf school, and the power at such a school is usually held by the inner ring of initiated occultists, often called the "college of teachers."
"Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training Presents A New Impulse – Second Conference: Finding Balance With Christof Wiechert, February 2011 — Christof Wiechert was a pupil at the Waldorf school in the Hague, Netherlands, and after studying education and geography, he was a teacher for 30 years at his old school. Christof co-founded the Dutch State Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar. In September 1999, he began his work for the Peda¬gogical [sic] Section ... A 3-day conference for Waldorf professionals (and those with Waldorf teacher training) ... ‘If the teacher is egoistic and only tries to make the child an imitation of himself, then the teaching is purely luciferic ... On the other hand an ahrimanic education comes about if the pupil is as naughty as possible....’ Rudolf Steiner: ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM, Lecture 6, Dornach, January 2, 1915." [11-2-2010 http://www.bacwtt.org/a-new-impulse-–-second-conference-finding-balance]
Conferences like this are held all the time. They need not concern us. But if you are interested in Waldorf schooling, understand that "Waldorf professionals (and those with Waldorf teacher training)" spend a lot of time thinking about demons, especially Lucifer and Ahriman. Education can be "luciferic" (i.e., heavily influenced by Lucifer) or "ahrimanic" (i.e., heavily influenced by Ahriman) unless it is 100% influenced by Steiner.
By the way, not all Anthroposophists understand Steiner particularly well. Many Anthroposophists think that Lucifer — the "light bringer" — is a good guy. But this is not at all what Steiner taught. In the quotation we have just seen, Lucifer represents one of the paths that lead to error. Steiner made this point many times. Thus, for instance, "The evil astral world is the province of Lucifer...." [Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130, Oct. 1, 1911.] Likewise, "[W]hen we contemplate the horrors of war, the guilt and ugliness of war in their connection with death-dealing elemental catastrophes, we are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods — in two directions evil.” [Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), lecture 16, GA 236.] The two directions of evil are presided over by Lucifer and Ahriman.
"I don’t know if this is a trend in anthroposophy, but a number of anthroposophists seem to be into clowns ... [The] Steiner Institute offers courses in clowning, to name one example. (Find the clown within. There are three levels, from beginner to advanced.) Today I found, via the Youth Section of the Goetheanum, another clown education alternative: 'The Simple Fool’s Silly School of “Top Secret” esoteric clowning’ (yes, that is actually the name of this educational enterprise): 'Playing in the actual realm of imagination, the simple fool lives in the threshold between matter and spirit. It is this space that the art of the simple fool approaches. By awakening to the thoughts and feelings of the authentic Self, we can discover an infinitely wise, funny and creative being – the clown within.' The Silly School is, I assume, a division of the School of Spiritual Science. Oh, wouldn’t that be fun." [11-2-2010 http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/esoteric-clowning/]
I may have to think about this one for a while. Or, on second thought...
As far as I can see, this item is only indirectly related to Waldorf education, the link being Anthroposophy. Still, it gives me the opportunity to quote Steiner on auras. Seriously, folks, if you can think of something that exists only in the imaginations of occultists — auras, goblins, fairies, witches, magicians — Steiner probably taught that it really exists.
“Use Auras To Your Advantage With The Auras Guide — World renowned hypnotherapist and psychology expert Steve G. Jones has created a brand new guide to auras. The Auras Guide by Steve G. Jones is designed to teach the average individual to effectively read auras ... The program also covers much of the teachings of Anthroposophy, Theosophy and Archeosophy, so you learn the aura colors and meanings.” [11-1-2010 http://www.tramadol4pain.com/?p=1437]
“The color effects perceptible to the spirit eye that ray out around the physical man observed in his activity, and that envelop him like a somewhat egg-shaped cloud, are the human aura. The size of this aura varies in different people, but we may say that the entire man appears on the average twice as long and four times as wide as the physical man.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), Chapter 3, Section 6 “Thought Forms and the Human Aura”, GA 9.
“When a human being with his aura is revealed to the clairvoyant during the Moon-period of existence, a seed or kernel, enclosed in a kind of auric cloud, is perceived within the vast ether-body. This aura is dark and remains so, even during the Mercury-period. During the Venus-period, one side of the auric cloud lights up....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950), GA 130.
"Hiya, Just wondering if any of you folks have sent your kids to any of the Bs.As. Steiner schools? If so what are your thoughts?" [11-2-2010 http://baexpats.org/expat-life/12102-rudolph-steiner-schools.html]
“The Fairies' Nest is on Facebook - Sign up for Facebook to connect with The Fairies' Nest.” [11-2-2010 http://www.facebook.com/TheFairiesNest?v=wall&filter=2]
Steiner taught that goblins and fairies, among other strange beings, really exist. They are “nature spirits” or “elemental beings" that stand outside of ordinary spiritual evolution. Whether you refer to a particular nature spirit as a fairy or gnome depends on your own level of spiritual perception. But these beings exist. What’s more, the stories about them are true. Not literally true, but spiritually true.
“Fairy tales are...the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power....” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.
“[T]hinking based on philosophy will be of little use in the spiritual world where such knowledge has no meaning. It is easy to say fairy tales are not based on truth. Spiritual researchers are not so naive....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE PRESENCE OF THE DEAD ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH (SteinerBooks, 1990), pp. 92-93.
That second quotation may be of interest to people who describe Steiner as a philosopher. He set out to be a philosopher, failed at that, and turned to occultism instead. [See "What a Guy".]
"In Waldorf education the first grade year is filled with stories about fairies, gnomes, and elves and the magical world in which they all live." [11-1-2010 http://olabelhe.blogspot.com/2010/11/10-little-fairies.html]
Is the Waldorf emphasis fairy tales innocent? In some cases, probably. But in other cases, the Waldorf faculty believes they are telling the truth when they use these stories. They are, in other words, enticing the kids into their own mystical universe.*
“Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power. What was seen in a dream was told as a story — for instance, 'Puss in Boots' ... All the fairy tales in existence are thus the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.
This is a longer version of the quotation I used above. I wanted to withhold Puss in Boots for a moment. But think about it. Puss in Boots is a clairvoyantly true story!
* To repeat a point made higher on this page: Not all Waldorf teachers are devout Anthroposophists (although Steiner said they all should be). Many teachers work in Waldorf schools without fully understanding the Anthroposophical basis of Waldorf education. But Waldorf teacher training tries to pull teachers into Anthroposophy, as does much subsequent "professional development" in the Waldorf system. Generally, the leading faculty members at a Waldorf school are Anthroposophists, and generally they try to steer their colleagues into the fold.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of pressing news in the Waldorf blogosphere today, so perhaps I should pause to raise and answer a question some of you have asked me.
How, oh how do I do it? How do I find all these loony, loopy statements made by R. Steiner and his followers? Surely I spend countless hours combing through Anthroposophical texts, passing over dozens, scores, or even hundreds of wonderful and inspiring remarks only to grab onto a single ambiguous quote that might possibly be misconstrued as loony or loopy? Surely? Well, actually, not exactly. Here’s my system. I open a book published by an Anthroposophical press, and I read a paragraph or two.* And bingo! There it is, amid a welter of bizarre stuff, a gem: an outstandingly loony or loopy statement. That’s it, folks. That’s how I do it. Give it a try. (Kids, don’t try this at home. But parents, DO try this at home. Read a few Anthroposophical publications before sending your child to a Steiner school. If you agree with what Steiner and his followers say, fine, go for it, sign up your child for a Waldorf “education.” But if you realize that Anthroposophy largely consists of loony and loopy nonsense, cross Waldorf off your list. Look at other types of schools. Save your child. (Remember what Steiner said: "Anthroposophy will be in the [Waldorf] school."))
Of course, it addition to reading a paragraph or two, you really should read the entire book. On subjects such as Waldorf schooling and Anthroposophy, there is nothing more instructive than seeing with your own eyes what Steiner said and what Waldorf teachers today believe. The great difficulty in reading Anthroposophical books is that they employ a vocabulary and a set of concepts that may well be unfamiliar to you. Because of this, comprehending what is being said can be difficult at first, and you may find that you have to suspend your disbelief until you become accustomed to the sorts of statements and arguments offered by Anthroposophists. In other words, you may not immediately recognize the looniness and loopiness of what is being said. But keep reading. Recognition, astonishment, and indignation should dawn sooner or later.
Now, buying a lot of Anthroposophical books can have the unfortunate effect of enriching Anthroposophical publishers. There are ways around this, however. • The Rudolf Steiner Archive [http://www.rsarchive.org/] has an extensive — but by no means complete — collection of Anthroposophical texts. You can visit, read online, or copy and print, more or less freely. • Google Book Search [http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search] works pretty well, allowing you to read at least a few snippets of many Anthroposophical books. (Some pages of some books are not made available; and some entire books are blocked. But you can poke around widely and at least get the lay of the land.) • Amazon [http://www.amazon.com] similarly lets you "look inside" some of the books its sells. (But like Google, Amazon prevents you from printing out the pages you read.) Probably other online bookstores have comparable services. • SteinerBooks makes some books available for downloading as pdf files, free of charge: Go to the "Archive" [http://steinerbooks.org/research/archive.php]. (One drawback to this otherwise excellent arrangement is that the Archive generally offers relatively modern, toned-down translations. If you want to feel to the full force of Steiner's words, you need to read him in the original German. The second best option is to get ahold of old translations, published when Anthroposophists still bravely acknowledged that they are occultists. Nowadays they prefer words like "esotericists" and they downplay troubling doctrines such as Steiner's racism — without, however, fully renouncing these doctrines.) • It is usually possible to find secondhand copies of Anthroposophical books, cheap. Amazon, ABE [http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchEntry], etc., offer such recycled books, which often come with the added benefit of marginal notations written by Steiner's fans. Thus, you get to see not only that Steiner made loony, loopy statements, but that some people read these approvingly, accepting them as truth. (And bear in mind, some of the people who read Steiner approvingly want to "educate" your child.)
* I don't mean to minimize the work involved in plowing through Anthroposophical texts. My description of my technique is accurate. But I have omitted an important detail. When I buy an Anthroposophical book, I read it cover to cover. I urge you to do the same. Read, pause, think, check back over what you read earlier, pause, get up, walk around the room, pull your hair, sit again, jot notes in the margin, compare these with previous jotted notes, try to reconcile the contradictions you find, get up again, get out other Anthro books you have read and make comparisons... The pain can be intense, but this is the only way to make sure you get the real import of the author's message. (As for my loony-loopy-statement-detection technique: It would work with an Anthroposophical book you haven't read previously, but it works better if you read the whole book first, then later open it at random. That's what I do. And bingo!)