November, 2012

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.


Is This Grade School a 'Cult'? (And Do Parents Care?)


NOV 30 2012, 1:39 PM ET 44

Waldorf schools are popular with progressives. But how do you feel about a dose of spiritualism with your child's reading and math?

A detail from one of Rudolph [sic] Steiner's sketches

Would you send your kid to a school where faceless dolls and pine-cones are the toys of choice? A school where kids don't read proficiently until age 9 or 10 — and where time spared goes to knitting and playing the recorder? A school where students sing hymns to "spirit" every day? 

Some of the country's hardest-charging professionals do. In locations like Manhattan, they sometimes fight over spots for their kids. The New York Times recently profiled a Waldorf school populated with the offspring of executives at Google and Apple. The school attracted notice for minimizing the use of technology in classrooms, a strategy common at Waldorf institutions. But the paper saw a paradox in tech workers favoring a school for their children that prohibits most technologies.

...A Steiner biographer notes that "it's not unusual for many parents sending their children to Steiner schools to be unaware of his occult philosophy." Some of the school's more unusual practices turn potential families away — for instance, the fact that children aren't taught to read until second or third grade. Day to day, though, the esoteric influence at Waldorf schools is practically invisible. The curriculum stresses practical knowledge and creativity. In 1999, The Atlantic ran an enthusiastic article on Waldorf methods...

...So who's right? Maybe it doesn't matter. When it comes to society-wide metrics, the 1999 Atlantic article notes that Waldorf graduates score "well above the national average" on their SATs. And the schools seem to work for children who don't come from privileged backgrounds: One Waldorf school profiled in the same article works specifically — and impressively — with juvenile offenders. For most parents, the roots of the method are a lot less interesting than its results. 

The 1999 ATLANTIC article 

 inspired this reply:

Todd Oppenheimer in "Schooling the Imagination (Atlantic 9/99) gives us a lovely, but vastly inaccurate picture of Waldorf Education, particularly as it exists in the public school sector where it has attained an illegal foothold over the past few years. Oppenheimer is effusive in his praise of the allegedly positive influence Waldorf pedagogy has had on juvenile offenders at the Thomas E. Mathews Community School in Yuba County, California. Unfortunately, Oppenheimer failed to do his homework before writing this article. His information is entirely anecdotal, much of it supplied by diehard Waldorf enthusiasts currently working at the Mathews school site.

I worked at this school for seven years over the course of 1989 - 1997. Despite being chosen Employee of the Month and receiving several national awards and grants, including Teacher of the Year (Continental Cablevision - 1991), I was subjected to ongoing harassment and character assassination after I began to question the legality of Anthroposophical religious indoctrination in staff training sessions led by uneducated, unaccredited Anthroposophists brought over from Europe. Both staff and students were subjected to nonacademic, occultist activities through the Waldorf training and pedagogy adopted from the Rudolf Steiner College, a non-accredited Anthroposophical religious institution located in Fair Oaks, California. I quit in frustration over the academic dearth of Waldorf education and grief at watching our nation's most needy students being subjected to occultist religious indoctrination in the place of a sound academic program.

Mr. Oppenheimer neglected to include in his article any concrete measurement of Waldorf's effect on the juvenile offenders that attend Mathews School. He failed to mention that last spring's STAR test scores show these students tested among the lowest in the state of California. After more than 6 years of Waldorf inclusion most of the students are still functionally illiterate. Few can read for meaning, if, indeed, they can read at all. Few can perform more than the most elementary mathematical computations. Criminal recidivism is extraordinarily high. Physical altercations on campus are a common occurrence. Students continue to come to school under the influence of drugs and truancy is common. Many of the older students look upon their education at Mathews School as a joke.

I wonder why Mr. Oppenheimer didn't ask how many of Mathews' students were able to obtain their high school diploma since the Waldorf pedagogy was adopted. The answer is zero or very close to it. Mathews' students leave the campus with little or no increase in academic skills. They do not have the ability to pass the GED. Instead of learning minimal competencies to pass the GED or read on the most elementary level, these students are copying their lesson books off the blackboard; playing plastic recorders; and chanting anthroposophical verses.

Mr. Oppenheimer states, "The books are filled with students' careful records of field trips and classroom experiments; impressions of the teachers' regular oral presentations; and, in more advanced classes, syntheses of what the students have read in primary sources."

Did Mr. Oppenheimer compare student books? If he had done so, he would have found that most contain almost identical information, word for word. The books are seductive in their beauty, but they are not original creations. Even the artwork is largely copied and adheres to occultist color exercises designed to encourage the incarnation of the soul per Anthroposophical religious belief.

And, finally, why didn't Mr. Oppenheimer ask about staff turnover or attempt to talk to teachers that quit in frustration over the unsound academic principles being practiced on these, our most needy students? Did he inquire as to whether any staff had protested the religious indoctrination subtly infused in Waldorf teacher training? Did he check to see if current teachers had attended state approved certification and teacher training programs prior to their hiring? Did he speak to any parents?

Mr. Oppenheimer could have conducted an in-depth journalistic investigation and given both sides of the picture. Sure, Waldorf is pretty and a feel good method, but is it doing these students any measurable good? The key elements as I see it are academic growth and decreased criminal recidivism. Pretty pictures, music played on plastic recorders, and copied text serve only to set these students farther apart from mainstream society.

Unfortunately, Mr. Oppenheimer provided yet another inaccurate picture of Waldorf education. His naive and inaccurate platitudes do an injustice to the field of journalism, public education, and the plight of Mathews at-risk students that are denied what may be their last opportunity to receive a public school education. Instead of an accurate look at Waldorf education, Oppenheimer merely composed an persuasive advertisement.

Kathleen Sutphen 


As for the sorts of results Waldorf education produces,

you might look at "Academic Standards at Waldorf", "Report Card",

and "Waldorf Graduates" — a section of "The Upside".

Here are excerpts from a new posting at The Quackometer


How Steiner Schools Justify their Occult Pedagogy

November 27, 2012

By Andy Lewis

Aric Sigman and the Anthroposophists

Rudolf Steiner was very clear to his teachers. Young children were incapable of abstract reasoning until they were 14 and their “astral body” had incarnated. Learning to read was bad for a child’s development until adult teeth had appeared and the “etheric body” had incarnated. Early years teaching was more about helping children to remember their existence in previous lives than teaching them anything. What they actually do, such as art using restricted colours and media, and dance, had occult meanings to help children on their spiritual pathway. Technology is to be shunned as evil spirits, such as Ahriman, and bad karmic influences are contained within.

Steiner recognised that if parents knew about these aims, the school’s neck would be ‘broken’. He then was very clear to his teachers to hide the spiritual and religious agenda,

We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, that is, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.

But most people have some idea that Steiner schools delay reading and encourage ‘eurythmy’ dance. How do the schools justify these actions without revealing their occult intentions?

One way is to claim that all these things are to do with latest child psychology research.

The Hereford Steiner Academy, the first state funded school set up under the last Labour government has a contract that parents must sign. It warns parents to keep children away from technology,

Protecting my/our child from unsuitable and unwarranted access to some of the concerns and worries of the adult world and from unmonitored exposure and un-mediated access to media such as television and DVD, computer games, internet chat-rooms and so on. Medical research shows that screen-based activity such as TV, videos, films and computer games can have a negative effect on children (brain activity, concentration, heart-beat, emotional balance and well-being). The younger the child, the greater the effect. For the well-being of your child and their ability to access the education and programme of teaching and learning, please allow no regular screen-based activity/watching for under 8s, no more than 3 hours a week for 9 to 14s and moderate and selective use for young people aged 15 and over. Please try to make sure TVs and computers are not kept in your child’s room so that his/her bedroom is free to be a place of rest and comfort. (Further reading ‘Remote Controlled’ by Dr Aric Sigman & ‘Toxic Childhood’ by Sue Palmer, amongst others)

Today on the BBC technology website, we see a news item inspired by Dr Aric Sigman’s research into early exposure to technology. The article (Warning to cut TV for young children) states that Sigman believes that screens “may produce an increased level of dopamine in children’s brains”.

...Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, suggested that [Sigman’s] research was not impartial and was speculative,

Sigman’s paper is not “an impartial expert review of evidence for effects on health and child development”. “Aric Sigman does not appear to have any academic or clinical position, or to have done any original research on this topic,” she said. “His comments about impact of screen time on brain development and empathy seem speculative in my opinion, and the arguments that he makes could equally well be used to conclude that children should not read books.”

Why would Sigman want to write about such things?

A look around the web shows that Sigman has been commissioned by the Ruskin Mill Trust to write a paper called Does not Compute: Screen Technology in Early Years Education....

Ruskin Mill is an anthroposophical organisation set up to further anthroposophical occult aims. It is funded by the anthroposophical bank Triodos, and produces research that anthroposophical schools, such as Hereford Academy, use to justify their occult pedagogy.

Peter Etchels on the nature.com blogs reviewed Sigman’s work. He calls his work on screen time ‘cherry picking’ and says,

At the very least, fuelling scaremongering headlines in the media off the back of a single review article doesn’t seem like a particularly objective or impartial way to progress science or promote public health, and we should be more sceptical of those who engage in such behaviour.

Etchels is not the first. Ben Goldacre wrote, “How Aric Sigman distorts the scientific evidence to mislead you.”

What is interesting is no-one is really asking who would benefit from such views being given uncritical headlines in the main newspapers.

It is clear that the Anthroposophical movement will – the people who have commissioned similar work. New Steiner Schools are being planned around the country under [the British government's] Free School plan. It helps if the occult nature of the schools is hidden and that their methods are given a veneer of scientific respectability....

On November 27, 2012, historian Peter Staudenmaier 
posted a critique of the recent BBC report about Steiner schools.
Here are extended excerpts.

A couple people asked me for comments on the BBC report on Steiner schools. I think it did a good job of covering some of the more controversial issues in a concise way....

Several of the more noteworthy claims [made by the people interviewed], unsurprisingly, have to do with the ambiguous legacy of Steiner's racial teachings. Steiner School spokesman Trevor Mepham averred that some of the things Steiner said about race in the 1920s "do not sound quite right today" and could be interpreted as racist "in today’s climate." This is an example of a fundamental confusion which seems to be chronic among anthroposophists. It is historically misguided to worry about whether statements made a century ago might 'sound right' today. If Steiner's followers want to understand what their founder taught, they will need to pay attention to the context of his own time. Thus the BBC interviewer quite aptly replied: "They might not have sounded right in the 1920s, either." She is exactly right, and it is striking that this very basic aspect of historical reasoning appears to be foreign to Mepham and so many other public representatives of Steiner's movement.

The views that Steiner taught in the first several decades of the twentieth century were highly contested at the time. Steiner lived during an era of intensive debate about race, and he frequently sided with the openly racist strands in these debates. Thus he endorsed the racial doctrines of Gobineau, for example, the "father of racist ideology," and promoted an esoteric version of the Aryan myth. Steiner's claims about racial evolution, racial hierarchy, the contrast between "higher races" and "lower races" and so forth were decidedly controversial in his own historical context. A variety of his contemporaries flatly rejected such theories....

 It seems to me that Trevor Mepham and his fellow spokespeople for Steiner schools would do well to inform themselves about this historical background. It is not especially difficult to find out further information on the topic.

Some of the more insightful comments in the BBC report, in my view, came from Daisy Powell ... One of her prominent remarks, however, is significantly mistaken. Referring to Steiner's racial doctrines, Daisy said: "there is a fraction of his work that could be construed as promoting the idea of a kind of hierarchical evolution through the races." This is not merely a fraction of Steiner's work. It is a central strand in his teachings, and it runs throughout dozens of his published texts and lectures. It is one of the core ideas around which Steiner's conception of spiritual advancement is built. It is crucial to his theory of reincarnation in successively higher forms, to his overarching framework of cosmic evolution, and to his essential contrast between spiritually progressing and spiritually stagnating souls.

Rather than denying or minimizing these facets of Steiner's teachings, his admirers might consider an alternative approach: drawing on the tendentially anti-racist strands in Steiner's thought in order to undercut and critically confront the racist beliefs that continue to pervade anthroposophy, past and present. Ignoring the racist components in Steiner's worldview, or pretending they don't exist, or downplaying their significance, or underestimating their role within anthroposophy overall, does nothing to curtail their ongoing impact on the anthroposophist movement today, in Steiner schools or elsewhere. Such inadequate responses not only fail to come to terms with the legacy of anthroposophy's past; they do not and cannot offer a viable counterweight to the remarkable persistence of anthroposophists who vigorously defend and promote these racist ideas here and now.

Perhaps media attention like the BBC report could be an opportunity for broader public discussion of these questions.

— Peter Staudenmaier

Here is a transcript of the recent BBC investigative report about Steiner schools. 

Any errors in the transcription are entirely my responsibility. — RR

[BBC correspondent Samantha Smith]:

“First tonight: For years, private Steiner schools have been popular with parents prepared to pay the fees. But now, amid much debate, a state-funded Steiner school has opened in the south west [of England]. It’s the first time public money has been used to set one up, and that’s angered some critics who say parents aren’t being told enough about the controversial philosophy that underpins them. I’ve been investigating."

[Shot of a candle being lit. Mother and child chanting]:

“Fire gnomes,

Fire gnomes,

Bring us warmth...”

[Samantha Smith (as chant continues in background)]:

“Rowan and his mum Alice are giving thanks for an afternoon snack. Their song to the fire gnomes is based on the writings of Rudolf Steiner, a man who said natural forces like fire and wind were animated by spirits like fire gnomes, which can’t be seen.

“Steiner’s spiritual influence has inspired some but been ridiculed by others. For Alice, the fire gnomes are no more harmful than the tooth fairy.”

[Alice X, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“It’s all about bringing a sense of wonder about things. It’s a lovely little story. And we talk about fire gnomes when we go out and have a fire outside. And it just brings another level of magic to it, really.”

[We see parents and children, including Alice and Rowan, walking toward the new Steiner school. Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“It’s September, and Rowan’s first day at school. He’s one of 130 pupils at the brand-new, state-funded Steiner Academy in the Somerset town of Frome.”

[Alice X, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“We started becoming aware of Steiner as you do when you’re sort of looking for alternatives, and when he was quite small. And I think that children need to learn how they fit into the world, first. And that’s the most important thing. And formal learning really follows on from that, I think, and I hope Rowan can take that level of learning and take that out into the world.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“A passionate group of parents has managed to get the school to this point in spite of vociferous objections. The head teacher, Trevor Mepham, has been in Steiner education all his working life.”

[We see Trevor Mepham standing at the door of the new Steiner school. He addresses the gathered parents and students]:

“Good morning, everybody. This is going to be very brief. There’s a lot to do, but firstly... [He holds his hand high, then clenches it as if catching something.] That's a special moment. That’s the moment when we have opened and woken up a new school, our school here.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“It’s the first time public money has been used to set up a Steiner school, and that’s angered skeptics who are questioning the philosophy behind it.”

[Richy Thompson, of the British Humanist Association, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“The government shouldn’t waste state funds on schools that teach nonsense, I mean that is a waste of the public’s money, the taxpayer’s money, and these schools are also legitimized by the fact that they are now gaining state funding.”

[We see Trevor Mepham again, still at the school door]:

“Not only should we study the cosmos and the stars, we should also look for the stars and the cosmos within us.” [The crowd applauds.] 

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian philosopher who died in 1925. He said he had a clairvoyant ability which gave him a direct insight into a spiritual world. And it is this ‘spiritual science,’ or Anthroposophy, which forms the basis of Steiner education.

“Children [at Steiner schools] aren’t taught to write until they are seven. Research has suggested that a delayed start to reading does improve exam results, but Steiner was concerned that reading too early might damage a child’s path towards reincarnation.”

[Trevor Mepham, speaking to an interviewer, presumably Samantha Smith]:

“He did have some ideas on reincarnation, yes. I wouldn’t say he believed in it, but he put those ideas out there as indications, as questions, and as areas of research for people to explore themselves. I mean, he’s not the first person to have done this, and he’s not the only person to have done it. I think it’s a fairly broadly held notion all over the world, actually, the concept of reincarnation.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to Mepham]:

“Do you believe in reincarnation?”

[Trevor Mepham, replying]:

“I am open to it as a possibility, yeah.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“One of the most controversial aspects of Steiner’s philosophy is that he said reincarnation was related to race. He said skin color was an indication of a person’s stage of spiritual development, with black — ‘Schwarz’ — people being the least developed, and white — ‘Weiss’ — people the most. [The screen shows a racist diagram from a collection of Steiner’s lectures.] 

"For some local people, a school inspired by the ideas of a man who held such views is unacceptable.”

[John Boxall, of the “No Frome Steiner” campaign, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“Steiner basically believes that the highest level of human evolution is the white Aryan, and in particular within that white Aryan group, it’s those of Nordic and German descent, which is exactly the sort of idea that the Nazis were pushing in the 1930s and 40s.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“It’s only a tiny part of Steiner’s work, but it is one which has concerned newly qualified Steiner teacher Daisy Powell.”

[Daisy Powell, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“Steiner didn’t actually write very much about race, but there is a fraction of his work that could be construed as promoting the idea of kind of hierarchical evolution through the races, which is obviously a very controversial and deplorable idea.”

[Trevor Mepham, speaking to Samantha Smith]:

“I do acknowledge that some of the things that were said in the 1920s do not sound quite right today...”

[Samantha Smith interjecting, as Trevor Mepham continues speaking]:

“They might not have sounded right in the 1920s, either.”

[Trevor Mepham, still speaking]:

“...today, in the 21st century, and what I am saying is that fundamentally Rudolf Steiner was not a racist and these schools do not promote anything like that.”

[Samantha Smith]:

“But you accept that some of his views could be interpreted as racist?"

[Trevor Mepham]:

“Um, I think I would accept that some of his views, in today’s climate, using today’s language, could be viewed as that.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“Daisy Powell is positive about the benefits of Steiner education, but she is worried about the potential for Anthroposophy to become a belief system.”

[Daisy Powell, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“I think what can happen with Steiner practitioners is that they might put some of his ideas into practice, find that they work, very well, and prove to be true, and then you come to accept  everything that Steiner says as being infallible, which is a dangerous way to approach things.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“Steiner schools insist they don’t represent a particular philosophy, but critics aren’t convinced. They say parents often don’t realize that some teachers may believe wholeheartedly in Steiner's reincarnation theories.”

[Richy Thompson, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“Be skeptical of what they tell you, because Steiner groups are very good at saying ‘we don’t teach Anthroposophy,’ but that is a complete misunderstanding of what the issues around Anthroposophy are. The issue is that the teachers are nurtured in these Anthroposophical beliefs, in things like karma and reincarnation.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“On its website, the Steiner Academy Frome says it will neither promote nor teach Anthroposophy. And, yet as a member of the Steiner Schools Fellowship, it is required to have what’s called an Anthroposophical impulse at its heart.”

[Samantha Smith, addressing Trevor Mepham]: 

“You are required, are you not, to have Anthroposophy at the heart of everything you do?”

[Trevor Mepham]:

“In the name of these schools, we follow a certain approach, we follow certain ideas...”

[Samantha Smith interjecting, as Trevor Mepham continues speaking]:

“An Anthroposophical approach.”

[Trevor Mepham, still speaking]:

“...certain ideas, and we carry certain questions...”

[Samantha Smith interjecting]:

“Founded in Anthroposophy.”

[Trevor Mepham]:

“Well, ‘Anthroposophy’ is a generic term for Steiner’s work. OK? It’s, uh...”

[Samantha Smith]:

“But you are required to put it at the heart of what you do.”

[Trevor Mepham]:

“We are required to teach, education, that the government has funded us to teach, and that is Steiner education.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“The free schools policy* has offered a lifeline to the Steiner movement, and a second Steiner free school is due to open in Exeter next year. 

“Rowan is settled in his new school, and his mum Alice remains optimistic about the Steiner approach.”

[Alice X, speaking to an unseen interviewer]:

“I really don’t know very much about the ins and outs of Anthroposophy, so at this stage I can’t say whether it would be a problem or not. I think that what I already see in Steiner education is a strong sort of spiritual background, and a sort of connecting with something wider, a sense of, you know, connection with nature and there being something bigger than us. And that is something, that is a paradigm that underlies a lot of different philosophies and different religions, and for me I think that is a quite helpful way of approaching learning, it’s quite a helpful way of approaching life.”

[Samantha Smith, speaking to the viewers]:

“The school is already oversubscribed and has ambitions to become the largest Steiner in the country. To do that, it’ll have to move to a bigger site, and its critics are already trying to block those plans. How will it all turn out? Well, only the clairvoyant could know that.”

* This is the policy of the British government to fund “free schools” — what, in the USA, are called charter schools. — RR

An informative, evenhanded — if somewhat superficial — investigative report
about Steiner schools has been broadcast on the BBC.
At least for a time, a copy has been posted on YouTube.
(We'll see how long it remains there.)

Pay particular attention to the interview with the head of the new Steiner school;
note how carefully he attempts to sidestep the questions put to him.
Some of his answers are clearly disingenuous,
others are clearly dishonest.
This is fairly typical for Waldorf spokespeople.

(An abbreviated version of the report, far less informative, is available at

Here is an appreciative response to the report

The BBC Report on Frome Steiner Academy

November 23, 2012

By Andy Lewis

A classic in Anthroposophistry

My criticisms of Steiner Schools have focused mainly on how they avoid telling parents an authorities about the occult nature of their philosophy. Indeed, Rudolf Steiner was very clear to his teachers about how they should mislead and obfuscate when enquiries were made into their beliefs and intentions.

It is therefore illuminating to see BBC South West ask some difficult questions of the new Head Teacher at the state funded Frome Steiner School.

Here is the segment [a link to the report is provided at this point]. Within the limitations of a 15 minute slot, I think they have done very well in tackling important issues of the occult underpinnings of their pedagogy (Anthroposophy) and the racism that is embedded within Steiner’s views on reincarnation and karma. This film sets a number of precedents. Media coverage of Steiner Schools has almost always ducked the most important issues of their inherent absurd philosophy, racist views on human development and occultism.

Most importantly, I have been arguing that Steiner Schools deliberately obscure their anthroposophical roots. It is astonishing to see Head Teacher Trevor Mepham attempt to dodge and weave these questions.

In a remarkable statement, Mepham tells us that he would not say Steiner believed in reincarnation. Let us remember what anthroposophy is:  “spiritual advancement through karma and reincarnation, supplemented by the access to esoteric knowledge available to a privileged few.” If Steiner did not believe in reincarnation he wasted decades writing books and lecturing on a subject he did not really support.

Steiner Schools are keen to obfuscate their anthroposophical aims. The Frome Steiner School says on its web site, “The school, however, will neither promote nor teach the wider philosophy which is known as “anthroposophy.”

But without anthroposophy, Steiner schools are nothing. They are required to follow anthroposophy and are defined by it. But Steiner knew their occult aims might frighten parents  and so warned teachers to be coy. In this video, we see their Head Teacher unable to give a straight answer to a direct question as to whether his school was founded in anthroposophy.

There is still much scope for mainstream media to cover much more detail: their absurd and dangerous health beliefs and the role of anthroposophical doctors within schools; the teaching of barmpot pseudoscience, being two areas.

As I have said, Steiner Schools are a ticking time bomb under the government. Well done to the BBC for starting to expose their secrets.

“We must worm our way through…[I]n order to do what we want to do, at least, it is necessary to talk with the people, not because we want to, but because we have to, and inwardly make fools of them.”

“[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf [Steiner] 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.”

"In choosing your words, never say ‘prayers,’ say ‘words for opening the school day.’ We should not hear the word ‘prayer’ in the mouth of a teacher. Thus you will neutralize to a large extent the prejudice against Anthroposophic matters.” — Rudolf Steiner. 

From The Ethereal Kiosk


November 20, 2012 · by alicia hamberg · in annat

If you want to read something ghastly, I can recommend this document, published by the Anthroposophical Society of America. The title alone should tell you that I’m right. It is ghastly. I’ll present you with some examples, but, really, the document as a whole is an experience, and I could pick any sentences or passages almost at random:

As we head toward the Holy Nights of 2012, we experience an intensifying birthing process and the increasing labor pains of earthly life. (p 2)

A second crucifixion is occurring in the etheric life around the earth and every living creature. (p 2)

The Calendar of the Soul verses speak directly to the co‐creative essence of our soul as a Madonna or Midwife. We are able to birth ourselves anew each year through the intimate relationship that consummates itself between our soul and the “Creative Creator Word” through the seasonal cycle of the year. (p 3)

The soul is our birthing ground, the vessel through which we can find our way to the wisdom of Sophia within and about us. She can be met and made whole by the Universal “I” of Christ in us. (p 5)

The Universal Creative Powers were able to view their own evolutionary activity within the perceptions of Rudolf Steiner from a spiritual scientific perspective – most likely for the first time in human history. (p 7)

And, behold the numerological magic on page 8 (as well as on p 23). I won’t quote, but will say that it is a relief to know that the presented hypothesis about the importance of the year 2012 (and the 12 holy nights this year) are numerologically, scientifically, spiritually sound. The reasoning must be read as a whole. To continue:

We believe the next octave to the birth of our individual Spirit Child is to begin to collectively form an “I to I” threefold social vessel so that the threefold Spirit Child of Anthroposophia can fully incarnate and be birthed into the world through and with us. Dec. 28th of Holy Nights 2012 we will enter a 3 x 33.3 year anniversary of the original founding of the Anthroposophical Society which was founded to support spiritual research and to serve the needs of the soul to understand the spiritual foundations out of which it continues to evolve. This was the beginning of the creation of a social vessel to serve the incarnation of the being Anthroposophia. (p 8)

The author then manages to mention the mayan calendar, which ends on december 21st, and to connect this to anthroposophical calendar wisdom.

On page 10 we learn a little more about Steiner’s and Ita Wegman’s previous incarnations (as if more lunacy is needed to be added to this article):

Those who listened with a sensitive soul realized that Rudolf Steiner spoke in imaginations that revealed his and Ita Wegman’s karmic background to the Egyptian cultural epic as Eabani and Gilgamesh in 2909 BC just after the beginning of Kali Yuga. This coincides with the first historical Michael Age. [...] Steiner continued to lead the participants through 5000 years of recorded history as he intimately revealed the historical destiny impulse carried by both he and Ita Wegman. The most awe‐inspiring of all, when one reads it for the first time, is the implication of a previous incarnation of Rudolf Steiner as Aristotle and Ita Wegman as Alexander the Great.

I gather that the author believes strongly in this ‘implication’. (Was Steiner ever explicit about his previous incarnations? I mean, are there any records of him being explicit?) Wegman and Steiner have lived through nine incarnations together, ‘since 2909 BC’ (p 13):

What we start to see in light of the various incarnations of Rudolf Steiner that it is his world mission to be an emissary of Michael, along with his closest comrade Ita Wegman.

As for speculations on karma, not even Steiner is spared:

As karma would have it, Steiner died before this social deed could be fully implemented and brought to fruition.

All right, the author doesn’t speculate about the karmic cause. Nonetheless, she assumes karma had it its way. That karma was a factor, deciding the time of his death. The document then discusses — in a somewhat bizarre fashion — what to do with Steiner’s unfinished first class lessons. Christopher Houghton-Budd’s questions, quoted on page 18-19, shows the dependancy on the person, on Steiner. As for Steiner’s failed prophecy that millions of people would gravitate towards anthroposophy, ‘this has not happened due to karmic breakdowns, wrongful expulsion of members, (including Rudolf Steiner’s soul mate, Ita Wegman), the unthreefolding of the Society, and lack of initiative, insight and compassionate co‐creative leadership among the members.’

To round up this post, the article contains some… questions (p 22):

Are we willing to go through the labor pains to birth the three‐fold spirit child of Anthroposophia, first from out of ourselves, then in our families, communities and in right relationship in three‐fold initiatives with one another? Can we begin to co‐create threefold initiative circles that can support one another and help humanity build the bridge to the future?

There’s apparently some kind of telephone conference is to be held to discuss these pressing concerns.

I recommend the article. It’s special, and it’s ghastly, as I warned you. I must admit I feel slightly queasy from the baby analogies, the ‘heavenly begotten spirit child’, vessels, thoughts about wombs and fruitions, soul-midwives, apocalyptical references, sleeping through crucifixions, unpleasant expressions and anthroposophese in general, and so forth. Also from stuff about offering ones spirit and destiny to be a vessel for the incarnation of anthroposophy, the metaphorical (?) child. It’s bonkers, you know, bonkers. Frightening bonkers. This is an anthroposophy detached from normal human life. Perhaps that might just be one reason there are no prophesied millions of anthroposophists around. Who wants tolive something that appears more similar to Alien than to a more sober spiritual philosophy?

Former Waldorf student and teacher Grégoire Perra has become a whistle-blower,
revealing many secrets of the inner workings of Waldorf education,
including the efforts to indoctrinate students, parents, and even teachers.
Below are a few excerpts from a recent posting of Perra's: 



Perra writes primarily of Waldorf schools in his native France;

however his statements apply to Waldorf schools in most other parts the world as well.

[I have added captions to the illustrations. Any errors in captions

or in the translation are entirely my responsibility. — Roger Rawlings]

Often, parents of students enrolled in a Waldorf school do not give sufficient critical attention to the notebooks brought home by their children. Instead, they are delighted to see colorful drawings and transcribed texts that can seem so poetic. Parents may easily overlook the way the books are filled with religious references and with strange esoteric language that will only become clear if you study Anthroposophical doctrines.

However, if you have several children, and can compare a notebook created by one child during one period with a notebook prepared by another child, under another teacher, several years apart. Then you will see that the texts often are very close, and the drawings are either very similar or even identical. Upon reflection, we would then realize that Waldorf class work is systematically organized to convey certain ideas to the unconsciousness of the students. Having completed a study of Waldorf student notebooks from 1st to 8th grade, I propose to describe the various processes that I discovered. This work reinforces a report I made previously about the indoctrination of Waldorf students.

Before starting, we should recognize the particular difficultly in analyzing notebooks created by Waldorf students before the third grade. These notebooks will contain very little writing; they will consist almost wholly of drawings. It is therefore necessary to decipher the students' drawings, if you want to try to reconstruct what the class teacher has told the students. Each drawing, which in fact takes about two hours to create, summarizes symbolically what the teacher has taught. The student, looking at these drawings later, may well remember the teacher’s words. But outsiders, such as parents or inspectors, who are not familiar with Waldorf pedagogy or the esoteric content of Anthroposophy, will probably only see drawings created by apparently exceptional students. In reality, nothing is left to chance in these drawings, which correspond to specific content [and are often slavishly copied from drawings done by the teachers].... 


[The drawings often depict myths and legends chosen for their spiritual meaning.] The students are not taught real history but a pseudo-legendary history through stories that reinforce childish beliefs and superstitions, along with promoting devotion to personalities that are revered for their supposed magical powers.

For instance, we find belief in "elemental beings" conveyed to the students even in math and botany classes. [“Elemental beings” are discarnate entities that, according to Steiner, pervade the natural world: gnomes, elves, sylphs, and the like.] A parent who opens a child’s math workbook will be intrigued by the drawings of elves everywhere, on pages having to do with mathematical operations and explanations. Sometimes these elves (recognizable by their hats), dominate an entire page, as indicated in the example below:

Drawing by a Waldorf student.

S/he was evidently taught the number 2 by being shown,

and copying, an image of two sets of two elves.

(The same image can be used to teach the number 4 — there are four elves —

or addition — two elves plus two elves equal four elves.) - RR

The other part of the same lesson: the number 2 (aka, the number II).
A child taught arithmetic the Waldorf way will learn numbers. 
S/he may also, at least subconsciously, remember all the elves 
that trooped through class. - RR

The parent will likely be reminded of whimsical doodles s/he created in textbook margins as a student in a public schools. The parent may be pleased that Waldorf schools allow students to exercise imagination during math class. But in reality these drawings are illustrations of stories told by the classroom teacher about elves [who are considered real]. This is a systematic, intentional process. An Anthroposophical belief is subtly relayed. Rudolf Steiner associated the thinking process with the activities of elemental beings. He did this explicitly, especially in a conference of 16 December 1922:

"In fact, we are everywhere surrounded by all kinds of spiritual beings, only with ordinary consciousness cannot see them. They are there, however, to help us in our human activities, including helping us to have thoughts ... For us to have earthly thoughts, there must be beings in the world that create our thoughts ... When we observe the actions of a person who is particularly intelligent and wise, we perceive around her an incorporeal escort. Wherever that person goes, she is never alone, but is accompanied by an escort of fugitive elementary beings...." [Rudolf Steiner, THE REAL AND THE UNREAL IN HUMAN LIFE, AND CREATION FOR THE ORIGIN, Ed Triads-Poche, p. 46-47.]

Same lesson, higher stage: 

We see six gnomes walking among six-petaled flowers,

under a flower-shaped sun and six clouds. - RR

6, aka VI. According to Waldorf belief, numbers have their real

existence in the spiritual or Platonic realm

Waldorf math is mystic math. [See "Mystic Math".] - RR

In Anthroposophy, mental activity such as calculation is dependent on the activity of invisible elemental beings. The Waldorf class teacher therefore considers it a moral necessity to represent this “truth” to students who are learning mathematics, so that they my know what they owe to the invisible entities. But what is the effect of a systematic representation of elves in the imagination of young students? In stressing such ideas, we implant images deeply in their subconsciousness. These actually become a component of their psyche and even their emotional world. Later, this will make it easier for a belief in elemental beings to arise in them, a belief cherished by Anthroposophists.


Children are prepared to believe in elemental beings by the rituals performed at the "nature table." The children are put in a worshipful relationship to various natural objects (leaves, branches, moss, pine nuts, stones, and so forth) at a table having a candle at its center. Each morning, one child will ceremoniously light the candle. [An alternate name for elemental beings is nature spirits — they are the invisible beings that animate nature, according to Anthroposophical doctrine.]

This nature table has no candle, at least for the moment.
But the veils create an otherworldly, spiritualistic impression.
[For images of other Waldorf nature tables, see Oct. 20-31, 2010.
For a brief description of a Waldorf nature table ceremony, see "Ex-Teacher 2":
"After singing roll, I choose a child, perhaps this would be the child of the day (or my little helper) to come up and light the candle on the nature table. 
The candle is lit out of reverence, to set a mood, much like you would at church or at the dinner table. 
Then the child returns to his place and we say our morning verse [i.e., prayer] which was written by Rudolf Steiner."] - RR

In Waldorf schools, the teachers may even give students esoteric meditation exercises written by Rudolf Steiner! For example, in a grammar notebook...we may find what appears to be a simple exercise related to grammatical tenses, such as the future tense. The text tells the student to put a seed in the ground so that it can germinate later. At first glance, nothing suspicious strikes the untrained eye. But close examination can reveal that the text is almost identical to an occult initiation meditation prescribed by Rudolf Steiner.


Comparison of another text dictated to students for their notebooks shows that it reflects the mantra of the Anthroposophical Foundation Stone [i.e., a mantra written by Steiner for use when construction of the Anthroposophical headquarters began]. The class teacher has not only introduced the Anthroposophical conception of man as a tripartite being, but he has used the very words found in the Foundation Stone Meditation! ...

Human Soul!

You live within the limbs,

Which bear you through the world of space

Into the Spirit-Ocean-Being...

Human Soul!

You live in the heart-lung throbbing,

Which guides you through the time-rhythm

Into the feeling of your own soul's being...

Human Soul!

You live in the reposing head

Which out of eternal springs

Unfolds for you Cosmic thoughts:

Live with Spirit-Vision

In thought's tranquillity...


(St. George Publications, 1980), Dornach, Jan. 13, 1924.]

Parents who do not know this piece by Rudolf Steiner can nonetheless see that their children have been taught part of a doctrine coming from the founder of Anthroposophy. The children may quickly forget these words. Nonetheless, at this point in their education, certain concepts have been introduced into their activities, possibly embedding themselves in the students' subconsciousness. Then, one day, these Anthroposophical doctrines planted in the children's souls may be reactivated!

In the same text, the teacher establishes another link, this time with Anthroposophical doctrines concerning human nature, by comparing the head and trunk to the Sun and Moon. This is another element of Anthroposophical belief

Drawings created by Waldorf teachers and copied by Waldorf students
sometimes reflect Rudolf Steiner's own drawings, as represented
in Anthroposophical texts such as the following:

[French edition:
Rudolf Steiner, NATURE HUMANE (Ed., Triads), p. 179.]

The globe of the human head has the form of the Sun, Steiner said.
The concave human trunk (so he said) has the form of the Moon.
[English edition:
Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 160.]


We can observe the same process of indoctrination at work in science classes. For example, during geology class in 5th grade, the teacher begins by introducing students to the various minerals and metals found within the Earth. Then he draws connections with the different planets, connecting the Sun with gold, Mars with iron, the Moon with silver, Saturn with lead, Jupiter with zinc [and so on]. Until now, you might think this is a traditional teaching, except that it reflects alchemy instead of chemistry. But the class teacher goes further, as revealed by the specifications page that we reproduce here. The teacher has the students draw a kind of multi-branched star whose points are associated with the planets and the center is supposed to be the Earth....

A mystic seven-pointed Waldorf star, with the Earth at the center.
Earth is thus connected to seven other planets and their seven magic metals.
The pertinent seven astrological signs are clearly marked.
The lesson is that we cannot live without the seven holy planets and their magic metals. - RR

The children learn that all of these metals have entered the Earth very subtly [from the other planets] and they participate in our life processes. Plants, animals, and humans cannot live without the assistance of these special influences. 

Typically, a Waldorf class teacher is cautious and avoids making explicit notations for his students, so as to leave no obvious traces of Anthroposophical indoctrination. He almost never would hand out such materials in typed form, as one unwise teacher did. Or he would pick up the papers after the students used them, as should always be done. What we see here, however, is the systematic presentation of very specific ideas coming from Rudolf Steiner. Indeed, Steiner associated the Earth's metals with various cosmic forces. They were first introduced into terrestrial evolution in etheric form, he said, and then they became dense and made their definite appearance as the seven special metals. Steiner described how — In cosmic entities, in the heavenly bodies, and in the kingdoms of nature — gold, for instance, is born from the condensing of a divine substance that should have remained immaterial. Gold has followed man in the Fall from Grace [i.e., Adam and Eve's sin in Eden], undergoing the same corruption as man himself. [In Steiner's theology, everything that exists on the physical Earth has fallen from higher, better realms.]

When Waldorf teachers are so indiscreet as to hand out pages like this to their students,
they really should gather the sheets up again at the end of class.

A rough translation follows
(these are instructions for Waldorf students, telling then what to put in their notebooks). - RR



In the granite, we see a multitude of different colors, the sandstone are also brown, pink, yellow, red or purple. Everywhere we can say that it is the iron that creates the colors. Besides iron, there are many metals and just as in music there are seven sounds, so there are seven major metals related to the planets:


All of these metals have entered the Earth so very subtly and they participate in the processes of life. The plant, animal, and man cannot live without these metals.

[Steiner taught that seven is the number of perfection. He built an elaborate cosmology based on such ancient teachings: There are seven sacred planets, seven pure colors, seven true musical notes, seven magic metals, and so forth. Here, Perra gives us a glimpse of Steiner's theology being presented — sometimes obliquely, sometimes explicitly — in Waldorf classrooms. This, Perra argues, is Anthroposophical indoctrination in action. The children may not understand or consciously remember all of the strange concepts they are exposed to, but many of these concepts will sink deeply into them. The children will thus be conditioned so that, later in their lives, they will be likely to incline toward Anthroposophy; their preferences and inclinations will have been guided by their manipulative Waldorf education. - RR]

Now available via Steinerbooks


Journal for Star Wisdom 2013
Editor Robert Powell
ISBN: 9781584201359
Book (Paperback)
Lindisfarne Books
8¼ x 11 inches
250 pages
November 2012 

Journal for Star Wisdom 2013 includes articles of interest concerning star wisdom (Astrosophy), as well as a guide to the correspondences between stellar configurations during the life of Christ and those of today. This guide comprises a complete sidereal ephemeris and aspectarian, geocentric and heliocentric, for each day throughout the year. Published yearly, new editions are available beginning in November for the coming new year.

According to Rudolf Steiner, every step taken by Christ during his ministry between the baptism in the Jordan and the resurrection was in harmony with — and an expression of — the cosmos. The Journal for Star Wisdom is concerned with these heavenly correspondences during the life of Christ. It is intended to help provide a foundation for cosmic Christianity, the cosmic dimension of Christianity. It is this dimension that has been missing from Christianity in its two-thousand-year history.

Readers can begin on this path by contemplating the movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets against the background of the zodiacal constellations (sidereal signs) today in relation to corresponding stellar events during the life of Christ. In this way, the possibility is opened for attuning, in a living way, to the life of Christ in the etheric cosmos.

In this year’s journal there is an article by David Bowden and Robert Powell on the new science of Astrogeographia concerning the location of the seven planetary chakras of the Earth. David Tresemer’s article examines the significance of Neptune in world events, and William Bento’s article offers important perspectives on the dark shadows of Neptune. There is also an article by Wain Farrants and Robert Powell, continuing the discussion of the house systems in astrology begun by Brian Gray in the 2012 issue. Kevin Dann’s article focuses on the 33 1/3-year rhythm, and Lacquanna Paul’s has written about Divine Sophia in relation to the zodiac. Brian Gray has contributed an article concerning his discovery of the zodiac in the Raphael Madonna series arranged by Rudolf Steiner.

— SteinerBooks promotional material


Astrology is central to much Anthroposophical thought,
and it underlies Waldorf schooling in various ways.

Here is a message posted at the Waldorf Critics

discussion list on November 8, 2012,

by Peter Staudenmaier


I can't recall this dissertation being discussed here before; I've been recommending it to prospective Waldorf parents who contact me, but I don't find references to it in the list archives. I think it will be of interest to Waldorf critics and admirers alike. 

Sarah Whedon, "Hands, Hearts, and Heads: Childhood and Esotericism in American Waldorf Education" (PhD dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2007) 

The text is available online: 


Among other things, she points out that "Waldorf parents frequently feel that they are being misled, tricked, left out, or left in the dark with what they perceive to be the secrets of Waldorf education's true basis." (169) 

Here is the dissertation abstract: 

Waldorf education is a rapidly growing alternative pedagogical system based on anthroposophy, the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). This dissertation combines historical and ethnographic methods in a close study of two American Waldorf schools, The Waldorf School of the Finger Lakes (WSOFL) and the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara (WSOSB). The work seeks to fill a gap in scholarly work on Waldorf education and anthroposophy. It demonstrates that esotericism is not limited to the realm of texts but that Western esoteric traditions have had an impact on the physical, the practiced, and the practical. More important, it argues that children matter deeply for the making of religious and cultural worlds. In Waldorf schools, children, adults, and texts cooperate and compete to construct each other and to make worlds of meaning, both those in which they are immersed and those that transcend them. 

In interviews with Waldorf participants, in archival materials, and in published Waldorf texts, key concepts cluster around notions of innocence, motherhood, nature, and secrecy. However, none of these concepts is static. Their precise meaning and value are always contested. Parents and teachers struggle to understand each other, to reach agreement, and to live up to the ideals of Waldorf education. Children differ from adults, sometimes consciously resisting their ideals, sometimes resisting out of ignorance, and often agreeing for different reasons than do the adults. Whereas Waldorf teachers seek to protect children's innocence, children often seek ways to grow faster; whereas teachers see moral and spiritual value in nature education, children find pleasure; and whereas teachers look to Steiner's teachings as the basis for all significant choices, children often do not know who he is. The project demonstrates the importance of children's roles in constructing religious meaning in Waldorf education as well as the need for greater scholarly attention to children.
What Every Parent Should Know

About Steiner-Waldorf Schools

November 2, 2012

By Andy Lewis

The Steiner School Time Bomb Ticking Under Government

You may know my feelings about Steiner/Waldorf Schools*. Most importantly, that prospective parents are not being told about the occult foundations of the Steiner philosophy. You may think that the mystical, spiritual and esoteric movement behind Steiner schools might be a very important factor in deciding whether your children should attend such a school. But the schools obviously do not. Informed choice is not possible when you do not understand the school’s underlying philosophy.

...So, let me recount my concerns. You may then come to your own conclusions.

The Core Beliefs of Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science

...Anthroposophy blended ideas from astrology, spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, Christian mysticism and other gnostic and  esoteric sources, to create a cosmology based on Steiner’s readings of the ‘Akashic Records’ – the cosmic history of the past and the future that exists on a spiritual plane and available to the few through meditation and clairvoyance. Thus was born Steiner’s Spiritual Science – his belief that ordinary science was really just a capability to be able to “spell”, but to be able to “read” one had to have knowledge of higher spiritual existences. Without such knowledge, we cannot fulfill our potential as fully spiritual beings.

...In order to understand Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science, we need to understand the core and basic concepts of Steiner’s world view. Steiner saw the purpose of Anthroposophy was “spiritual advancement through karma and reincarnation, supplemented by the access to esoteric knowledge available to a privileged few.” It is worth remembering that sentence as it is absolutely vital in understanding Steiner-Waldorf Schools.

...At the heart of Anthroposophy is the belief that humans are composite beings made up of our bodies and a number of spiritual entities that can be reincarnated. Our spirits enter into bodies each lifetime in several stages as we grow. At about seven years the etheric body incarnates. This  coincides with the appearance of adult teeth and gives “strength to learn”. At about fourteen years the astral body incarnates as puberty comes about. Finally, at 21 years, the I, or ego, the divine selfhood incarnates.

The physical body that you are incarnated into will depend on karma. That is, the beneficial or harmful effects you have on the world will revisit you as you reincarnate and determine the sort of physical existence you have. Steiner believed there was a hierarchy of existence that souls could inhabit, driven by karma.

Nearer the bottom of the spiritual hierarchy we can find animals such as fish and reptiles. Those animals with good karma will progress to become apes, Indians and finally Aryans - white and fair Germanic-Nordic humans.

Steiner’s cosmology is inherently racist and abhorrent.  Black people are spiritually childish. Jews should simply ‘disappear’. Disabled people somehow must have wanted to be disabled though actions in previous lives.

Steiner viewed the purpose of Anthroposophy was to prevent the human race from degenerating towards a black-brown “denseness”....

Steiner-Waldorf Educational Philosophy

...It is worth looking at how the newly approved state funded Steiner School in Frome presents itself.

The education is based on an understanding that the young child learns primarily through imitation and doing; the pre-pubescent child largely through their emotions and feelings; older students primarily through abstract thinking and the application of cognitive skills.

The curriculum is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements and is designed to be in harmony with the developmental needs of children. Learning materials are introduced at the moment of maximum pupil readiness rather than at the earliest opportunity. This allows pupils at all stages to be at ease both with their education and with the pace at which they are taught. This notion of child development is central to Steiner education and draws on Dr Steiner’s work on child development. The school, however, will neither promote nor teach the wider philosophy which is known as “anthroposophy.”

There is no mention on the site about the nature of ‘Dr Steiner’s work on child development’. Indeed, Steiner education is presented as a progressive, child-centred education based on an understanding of child development (What school would say they do not adopt such an ethos?). But this would only be true if you accept that childhood is a process of stages of spiritual incarnation. Whilst it is true that schools do not explicitly teach anthroposophy, their entire curriculum is guided by Spiritual Science...

Steiner was very clear about why delayed reading was a good idea – not because older children can learn to read better, but because memorising and reading interfered with the incarnation of the etheric body. It could damage a spiritual protective sheath around the child leading to illness and spiritual degeneration   ’Developmental needs’ in the Steiner world are to do with the incarnation of spiritual entities. Only after adult teeth have appeared is a child spiritually ready to learn to read.

...Similar spiritual reasons lie behind Steiner Schools rejection of technology, computers and television watching. Such devices are embodiments of the evil spirit of Ahriman and can interfere with a child’s development. Steiner schools must be unique in their goals of actively trying to prevent children from learning. Parents are told not to read with them at home and to limit access to technology.

Schools portray themselves as “focussing on the well being of the whole child” and ”nurturing his or her creativity”. Again we must see what they mean by ‘whole child’ as being a reference to their incarnating souls. Pupils undergo daily dance sessions called ‘eurythmy’, a type of stylised dance invented by Steiner where movements have spiritual significance and purpose. Dances help the child’s spirits develop. Art is practiced too, but in a highly restrictive manner where paper must have rounded corners and with restricted media and colours, such as washes and waxes. Again such media have spiritual significance. A parent wrote about surviving a Steiner School and show how restrictive such a regime can be,

My daughter cried at bedtime and in the mornings as she vehemently resisted going to school.  When her accumulated wet-on-wet “artwork” came home, I was aware that, unlike her prolific creative drawing done at home, at school the self expression we had anticipated was actually being frustratingly suppressed.

As for ‘individual needs’, children are treated and taught according to a temperament, such as Melancholic, Sanguine, Phlegmatic or Choleric – a classification assigned to children based on their physical and behavioural characteristics. Steiner saw physical appearance and colour as determinants.

...Until a few years ago, you could get a BA in Steiner Waldorf Education from Plymouth University. It was never clear why the University chose to axe the course, but Canterbury Christ Church University is picking up and filling the market gap. We can see from their required reading list what a prospective Steiner teacher was required to learn.

Far from Steiner’s views being seen as a historical anachronism, the text books are full of unreformed anthroposophical views on the world. The text books I have got hold of teach that the heart is not a pump but is forced to beat by the pulsing blood that is forced around the body by the spirit. We learn that humans are bipedal because it frees the arms to pray. Anatomy is treated as a spiritual subject and not a science. The British Humanist Association notes that the source of the curriculum at Hereford state funded Steiner schools is acknowledged to be based on a book by Martyn Rawson and Tobias Richter which teaches that Darwinism “is rooted in reductionist thinking and Victorian ethics and young people need to emerge from school with a clear sense of its limits”. Homeopathy, a most egregious form of quackery, is  ‘a good example of an effect that cannot be explained by the dominant [atomic] model’.  It is worth noting that Steiner stated that the British Isles floated on the sea held in place by cosmic forces. And he believed in the historical truth of the vanished continent of Atlantis....

[R.R., 2012]