October, 2017

The news items below are presented in reverse chronological order — newest first, oldest last. Please excuse a certain amount of repetitionItems 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. 

If any of the terminology used here ("Anthroposophy," etc.) is unfamiliar to you, consulting The Semi-Steiner Dictionary and The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia should help.

— Roger Rawlings

October 29

From the Portland Press Herald [Portland, Maine, USA]:

Waldorf school dedicates new building in Freeport

The new construction brings together the school's 260 students on one campus.

By Dennis Hoey, Staff Writer

The Maine Coast Waldorf School announced Thursday that it has completed construction of a state-of-the-art high school building and campus expansion project on Desert Road in Freeport [Maine].

The new building will support the high school’s increasing enrollment and fulfills the school’s vision of bringing the entire student body – 260 students – together on one campus...

“We exceeded our ambitious fundraising goals...” Frederick Veitch, who serves as vice president of Waldorf’s board of directors, said in a statement.

...In addition to the new high school, the Waldorf expansion project, which cost $6.3 million, includes new faculty offices, a commercial-grade kitchen and cafe, and additional performing arts space.

The public is invited to attend an open house at the school’s Desert Road campus on Nov. 4....

Waldorf Watch Response:

Fundraising is often a major concern for Waldorf schools. Many of the public events sponsored by the schools have fundraising as at least one of their goals. The effort to achieve status as taxpayer-supported charter or "free" schools is likewise connected to the unending quest for finances.

Fortunately for the schools, well-heeled supporters often emerge. Some particularly favored schools attract the patronage of wealthy individuals or families who may or may not understand and endorse the esoteric beliefs upon which Waldorf education is founded.

By and large, individual Waldorf schools must meet their own financial needs as best they can. But the Waldorf movement in general is part of the larger, worldwide Anthroposophical community, which has some deep pockets. Usually, when Anthroposophists focus on particular situations of concern (such as the threat to the Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School in Britain), resources are marshalled to address that concern. [For more on Kings Langley, see, e.g., the news item for Oct. 24, below.]

Rudolf Steiner outlined plans for the reformation of most human institutions, seeking to align them with the revelations of his occult belief system. The larger, revolutionary agenda of Anthroposophy is often referred to as Threefolding. Anyone who elects to become involved with a Waldorf school should understand that, ultimately, such involvement may lead to deep immersion in a worldview that penetrates into all spheres of life.

[For more on these matters, see "Threefolding" and, e.g., "Discussions".] — RR

October 28

From the Waldorf Critics list, a message from historian Peter Staudenmaier:

Last year we discussed the unfortunately emblematic case of Martin Barkhoff, a prominent anthroposophist whose startling drift to the far right exemplifies the extraordinary political confusion of the contemporary anthroposophical movement...

A few days ago Michael Eggert posted a highly perceptive analysis of Barkhoff's recent statements about race. Eggert is one of the clearest and most forthright voices in anthroposophy today warning against the lamentable trend toward the far right...

One of the more striking elements is a new quote from Barkhoff condemning critical discussion of Steiner's racial teachings. Barkhoff warns that this sort of critical discussion will lead to the utter destruction of Waldorf schools as such ... The underlying belief, which Eggert aptly characterizes as infantile, is that critics of Steiner's racial teachings are trying to destroy the Waldorf movement...

...For those among Steiner's admirers who view themselves as progressive and tolerant, and who don't want to see the movement he founded devolve into an esoteric appendage of the resurgent far right, now is the time to start taking [critical examination of Anthroposophy] seriously. 

October 27

From The Berkshire Eagle [Pittsfields, Massachusetts, USA]:

Great Barrington: School offering test-prep workshop

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School welcomes students 11 years and older with their families to a weekend test-preparation workshop with Chris Ajemian and his colleagues at Chris Ajemian Tutoring & Educational Services.

The two-day workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, 35 West Plain Road.

The cost is $75 per family for the two-day workshop, including an optional mock SSAT test for students, with math and verbal review by an expert tutor.

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf or Steiner schools have long had a reputation for low academic standards. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".] The schools place their focus elsewhere: not on academics, but on karma, and incarnation of invisible bodies, and "life force," and so on. Occult objectives. [See "Here's the Answer".] If public schools in the USA today place far too much emphasis on preparing kids to take standardized tests, Waldorf schools have typically left their students woefully unprepared — for the tests and for much else besides. Offering special extracurricular test-prep workshops may help slightly, but probably only slightly.

The neglect of academics stems from practices established at the very first Waldorf school, overseen by Rudolf Steiner himself. Setting the pattern for subsequent Waldorfs, the first Waldorf was secretive about its real purposes and aims. On the question of test preparation, for example, Rudolf Steiner said this to the school's teachers:

"It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 712.

The upshot, as might be expected, is that Waldorf students did very poorly on the exam. Steiner had to report the following to the Waldorf faculty:

“We should have no illusions: The results gave a very unfavorable impression of our school to people outside.” — Ibid., p. 725.

Some Waldorf schools nowadays provide a better basic education than the first Waldorf provided; but others continue to place almost all their emphasis on the occult intentions originally laid out by Steiner. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda". On the matter of Waldorf secrecy, see "Secrets".] — RR

October 25

From The Daily Telegraph [Sydney, Australia]:

Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School to receive NBN

Fiona Killman, Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
October 25, 2017 8:26pm

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has personally intervened to implement access­ to the National Broadband Network for students of the Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School.

During Question Time [in Parliament] last week, Dobell Federal Labor MP Emma McBride asked Mr Turnbull if he was aware that students at the Fountaindale school’s campus could not access NBN.

She pointed out that Ronkana Cemetery behind the school has connection, however the 300 students next door continued to struggle.

Mr Turnbull asked Ms McBride to send him the specific­ details.

Less than 24 hours later there was a team of NBN technicians at the school....

Waldorf Watch Response:

At least some Waldorf or Steiner schools are increasingly bending to one reality of life in the 21st Century: Computers and the Internet are everywhere, and denying kids access to them is becoming increasingly difficult. So, when a school has poor broadband connectivity, a row results.

But bringing modern technology into Waldorf schools runs contrary to some deep-seated Waldorf beliefs. The schools have generally had "media policies" aimed at limiting kids' exposure to all manner of modern gizmos, including not just computers but also televisions. These policies are based on Rudolf Steiner's aversion to modern technology in general; he associated modern technology with the terrible demon Ahriman.

(Longtime Waldorf Watch readers mat be excused for skimming and skipping through the following quotations — you've seen most of them before.)

Even such simple devices as steam engines create an opening for Ahriman and his demonic hordes, Steiner said:

“When we build steam-engines, we provide the opportunity for the incarnation of demons ... In the steam-engine, Ahrimanic demons are actually brought to the point of physical embodiment.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Relation of Man to the Hierarchies” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. V, Nos. 14-15, 1928).

The danger becomes all the worse when electricity is used to power modern technological devices:

"[S]team engines...are by no means the most demoniacal. Whenever electricity is used...there is far more of demon magic." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF VOCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), lecture 9, GA 172. 

Steiner's devout followers have taken such warnings to heart:

“The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web. And fallen spirits of darkness [i.e., demons]...are active in this web.” — Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24.

Anthroposophical beliefs about computers are reflected, for instance, in the booklet THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN, published by the Rudolf Steiner College Press (RSCP). Here is one quotation from it:

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

Not all Anthroposophists shun computers. Some host pro-Waldorf wesbites; some bring computers into the classroom. But the fear of Ahriman and his demonic underlings is widespread in the Waldorf world:

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

If the authorities at the Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School allow the use of computers in the school, and if they want their students to have first-rate boadband service, they are to be commended. Not all of their colleagues at other Waldorf or Steiner schools share their views.

[To delve into these matters, see, e.g., "Ahriman" and "Spiders, Foxes and Dragons".]
 — RR

October 24

From the Anthroposophical "news" service, NNA (Nexus News Agency CIC):

Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School 

on reforming path to avoid closure

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 | By Christian von Arnim

KINGS LANGLEY (NNA) – A long-established Rudolf Steiner School in the United Kingdom is fighting to stay open following a decision by the Department for Education (DfE) in England to deregister the school from the Register of Independent Schools. If the school cannot reverse the decision, it will have to close.

Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School (RSSKL) received the deregistration notice in July following a series of school inspections which found serious failings in its compliance with the independent school standards, particularly relating to the welfare and safeguarding of pupils, as well as mangement and leadership issues.

In its last report for Kings Langely from May, schools regulator Ofsted noted that “leaders had failed to take decisive action to address reasonable and serious concerns raised by parents” regarding the welfare, health and safety of pupils and that decisions had not been based at all times “on what is in the best interests of the child”. 

“Leaders have failed to identify that the culture of close relationships at the school puts pupils at risk. Professional boundaries between staff, parents and pupils are not maintained,” the inspectors found. 

The school has acknowledged that there were “real and serious failings going back several years” which it described as “unacceptable” in a public statement and it has apologised for failing “to provide the safe and supportive learning environment it should and would wish to provide”.

...The school has embarked on a thorough process of reform. A completely new board of trustees has been appointed as well as a principal whom the school describes as having “extensive experience in school improvement and transformation”. 

Arguing that – while recognising the work still to be done – deregistration would be disproportionate and detrimenal to the community in the context of improvements made and the steps being put into place, Kings Langley intends to appeal the DfE’s decision and a tribunal hearing has been set for February of next year....

For previous coverage of this situation, 

You can also enter "langley" in the 
"Search this site" box at the 
upper-right corner of this screen. 

October 24

A message posted at the Waldorf Critics discussion site:

Alicia [Hamberg] wrote [in a previous message]: “Natural science will never have anything to say about Steiner's vision of life in Atlantis.”

Yes. Quotable sentence. Should be on bumper stickers . . . on cars floating over Atlantis:

“The Atlanteans had appliances which they would — so to speak — heat with plant seed, and inside of them the life force would turn into technical force. That’s how their floating vehicles were propelled. These vehicles travelled at a height lower than that of the mountain ranges of the Atlantean period, and they had steering mechanisms by the aid of which they could rise above these mountain ranges.” (Rudolf Steiner)

- [posted by] Walden

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf education stands on the foundation provided by the "spiritual science" called Anthroposophy. And Anthroposophy consists of a wide array of fantasies, fables, and falsehoods — such as belief in Atlantis.

Here, in thumbnail form, is what Rudolf Steiner taught about Atlantis:

According to Steiner, Atlantis was a real place, the home of mankind before the present phase of evolution: We lived on Atlantis during the "Atlantean Age." During that period, we met various gods who walked the Earth. 

“[I]n Atlantis...man learned to know Thor, Zeus, Wotan, Baldur [1] as actual companions ... When man still lived in the water-fog atmosphere [of Atlantis]...incarnations were possible for [these gods] ... [They] assumed a human form and moved about in the physical world.” — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), p. 140.

The leaders of human life on Atlantis were occult initiates. [2] They acquired great powers, but in this lay the seeds of their destruction. 

“Powerful rulers [of Atlantis] themselves were initiated ... [T]he initiated kings and leaders of the Atlanteans came into being. Enormous power was in their hands, and they were greatly venerated. But in this fact also lay the reason for decline and decay ... [T]he misuse of these powers arose. When one considers the capabilities of the Atlanteans resulting from their mastery of the life force [3], one will understand that this misuse inevitably had enormous consequences.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), pp. 51-52.

Atlantis sank because of human misdeeds.  

“Mighty and ominous powers of Nature were thus let loose by the deeds of men, leading eventually to the gradual destruction of the whole territory of Atlantis by catastrophes of air and water. [4] Atlantean humanity — the portion of it, that is, which did not perish in the storms — was compelled to migrate. As a result too of the great storms, the whole face of the Earth changed. Europe, Asia and Africa on the one hand, and America on the other, began gradually to assume their present shape....” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 198-200. 

[For more, see, e.g., "Atlantis and the Aryans".]

Do any teachers in any Waldorf schools today believe any of this nonsense? Here's a hint. The following books are listed as of today — Oct. 24, 2017 — at Waldorf Books [http://www.waldorfbooks.com/?s=atlantis]. The first of the books comes to us from the founder of Waldorf education; the second comes from a more recent Waldorf teacher and teacher-trainer:

Rudolf Steiner, 
The Fate of a Lost Land 
and its Secret Knowledge
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001)

Alan Whitehead,
A Teenagers' Travel Guide to the Evolution 
of the World and Man in the Light of 
Rudolf Steiner's Spiritual Science - 
a Creative Approach
(Golden Beetle Books, 1991) [5]

[To delve into these books, see "Atlantis" and "Out in the Open".]

Do Waldorf teachers today ever encourage their students to believe in Atlantis and other Anthroposophical fantasies? If they follow Alan Whitehead's example, they do. And if they follow Rudolf Steiner's example...

About those flying cars: Here is a somewhat longer account:

“While the power to think logically was absent among the Atlanteans (especially the earlier ones), in their highly developed memory they possessed something which gave a special character to everything they did ... Memory is closer to the deeper natural basis of man than reason, and in connection with it other powers were developed which were still closer to those of subordinate natural beings [low-level embodiments of natural forces] than are contemporary human powers. Thus the Atlanteans could control what one calls the life force. As today one extracts the energy of heat from coal and transforms it into motive power for our means of locomotion, the Atlanteans knew how to put the germinal energy of organisms into the service of their technology ... The vehicles of the Atlanteans, which floated a short distance above the ground, traveled at a height lower than that of the mountain ranges of the Atlantean period, and they had steering mechanisms by the aid of which they could rise above these mountain ranges ... Today, the above-mentioned vehicles of the Atlanteans would be totally useless. Their usefulness depended on the fact that then the cover of air which envelops the earth was much denser than at present ... The above-mentioned density of air is as certain for occult experience as any fact of today given by the senses can be.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 42-44.
 — RR

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] Thor, Wotan, and Baldur are Norse gods. [See "The Gods".] Steiner taught that such gods are real.

[2] For some Anthroposophical beliefs about initiates and initiation, see "Inside Scoop".

[3] See the entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia for "Atlantean" and "life force".

[4] Steiner equated the destruction of Atlantis with the Flood described in the Old Testament. Noah was the initiate who led some survivors to safety, Steiner said. [See "Old Testament".]

[5] According to Steiner, Ancient Saturn (also called Old Saturn) was the first of our habitations, long predating Atlantis. [See "Old Saturn".]

October 23

Due out from Rudolf Steiner Press today,
October 23, 2017 — 
a new edition of a standard Steiner text:


The Children of Lucifer and the Brothers of Christ

[by] Rudolf Steiner

From the publisher:

‘A wonderfully beautiful legend tells us that when Lucifer fell from heaven to earth a precious stone fell from his crown… This precious stone is in a certain respect nothing else than the full power of the “I”.’ [1]

Seven years after staging Edward Schuré’s drama The Children of Lucifer [2], Rudolf Steiner felt able to talk openly about the complex relationship between the beings of Lucifer [3] and Christ [4]. In an extraordinary series of lectures, Steiner addresses the difficult and often misunderstood subject of Lucifer’s role in human development. Speaking within the broader context of ancient and modern – Eastern and Western – spiritual teachings, Steiner clarifies that Lucifer is not the simple caricature of evil that many imagine, but rather plays a pivotal role in human development.

Whilst Rudolf Steiner held a deep respect for Eastern philosophy, he worked consistently from his personal knowledge of the Western – Christian – esoteric tradition. [5] At a time when many of his colleagues [6] revered ancient Eastern texts, Steiner viewed these same documents as representations of an earlier stage of human consciousness; as evidence of the heights that Eastern wisdom had reached, thousands of years before the development of Western science and culture. [7] But Steiner maintains that the ancient truths need to be understood in the context of contemporary knowledge: that the old wisdom of the East has to be seen in the light of the West.

Chapters include: Eternity and Time – Comparison of the Wisdom of East and West – The Nature of the Physical and the Astral Worlds – Evolutionary Stages – The Children of Lucifer and the Brothers of Christ – Lucifer and Christ – The Nature of the Luciferic Influence in History – The Bodhisattvas and the Christ.

23 October 2017; Trans. various; Foreword by H. Collison (9 lectures, Munich, Aug. 1909, CW 113); RSP; 164pp; 21.5 x 13.5 cm; pb; £12.99 ISBN 9781855845398

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, the "I" or "ego" is the spark of individual, divine human identity — it is the third of the three invisible "bodies" that incarnate during the first 21 years of human life. [See "Incarnation" and "Ego".]

[2] Edward Schuré, a French philosopher and author, admired Rudolf Steiner and his work — although Schuré's relationship with Steiner was sometimes strained. Schuré deemed Steiner to be an occult initiate, comparable to figures he had discussed in his book THE GREAT INITIATES. Schuré's play, THE CHILDREN OF LUCIFER, is said to have inspired Steiner to write his own cycle of plays or "mystery dramas." [See "Plays".] The title of Schuré's play is incorporated in the subtitle of THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST.

[3] According to Steiner, Lucifer is one of a pair of arch-demons who threaten humanity — but whose temptations can be turned to humanity's benefit when moderated by Christ. [See "Lucifer".] The other arch-demon, according to Steiner, is Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]

[4] In Anthroposophical belief, Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[5] Anthroposophy (like Theosophy) incorporates teachings from many religions and spiritual traditions. Although Steiner often referred to Anthroposophy as "Christian," it diverges far from mainstream Christian teachings (emphasizing, for instance, karma and reincarnation). [See "Was He Christian?"] 

[6] Primarily, this is a reference to Theosophists. Steiner was a Theosophist before breaking away to establish Anthroposophy as an independent spiritual movement. [See, e.g., "Basics".]

[7] Steiner taught that humanity has evolved through a succession of cultural and racial stages. The stages are hierarchical — earlier stages were lower than those that succeeded them. Old Eastern religions are thus lower than subsequent Western religions; their "truth" must be reinterpreted in light of higher Western knowledge. [See "Epochs".]

October 21

An upcoming series of lectures, currently featured at the website of The Anthroposophical Society in America:

The Sign of Five

Tue, Oct 24 2017 6:00 PM to Fri, Oct 27 2017 9:00 PM

Location: Seattle, WA
[Seattle Waldorf School]...

A Lecture Series with Thomas Meyer...

Cost: $20/lecture or $50 for all three lectures

Attendance for the full event would be most productive for participants.

Together we will confront the central task of our time – the struggle with evil [1] – and Thomas will present the five most important spiritual events which began with the 1879 [2] advent of the Age of Michael [3] through to the coming incarnation of Ahriman. [4]

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] Rudolf Steiner's followers sometimes say that, in their "spiritual science" called Anthroposophy, there is really no such thing as "evil" — the beneficent gods ensure that everything works out for the best. But, in fact, Rudolf Steiner often taught about evil; he spoke of the terrible consequences that will befall humanity if the forces of evil prevail. [See, e.g., the entries for "evil", "evil beings", "evil gods", "evil races", and "evil souls" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (scroll down). Also see "Evil" and "Evil Ones".]

[2] According to Anthroposophical belief, during 1879 a titanic battle was fought in the spirit realm between the forces of good and evil. 1879 was also the year when Rudolf Steiner received two occult initiations, one from the herb gatherer Felix Koguzki, and the second from the mysterious sage known only as "M" (sometimes said to have been the reincarnated Christian Rosenkreutz). [See the entry for "1879" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (scroll down). For more on Christian Rosenkreutz — the putative founder of Rosicrucianism — see "Rosy Cross".]

[3] I.e., the Archangel Michael. In Anthroposophical belief, Michael is a warrior god, the champion of Christ the Sun God. Michael prevailed in the battle waged in 1879, and he now supervises human evolution — we now live in "the Age of Michael." [See "Michael". For more about Christ the Sun God, see "Sun God".]

[4] I.e., the arch-demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".] He and his minions, often called "Ahrimanic beings," were Michael's foes in the battle of 1879. Steiner taught that Ahriman will soon incarnate on Earth. This will be "the coming incarnation of Ahriman," on which the future of humanity — and, indeed, the entire solar system — may hinge.

October 20

From the lead article posted now at Waldorf Today:

What Would Steiner Say… About Painting with Children?

By Steve Sagarin, PhD

If Rudolf Steiner walked into a Waldorf school painting class today, what might he notice, and what might he say? (I don’t wish to offend anyone who believes I’m being impertinent by putting words in Steiner’s mouth, but my intention, through reference to what Steiner is recorded to have said, and also to what there’s no record of him ever saying, is to make more immediate what would otherwise be dry.)

Q. What about all that wet-on-wet watercolor painting? [1]

A. Believe it or not, I never said anything about that! [2] I only said that the paint should be liquid. Yes, it’s a way to keep the paper flat and to have the colors bump up against one another in a beautiful way, but it’s not necessary, and it’s certainly not something to carry on year after year through elementary school.

Q. What about paintings of one color only? [3]

A. Again, I never said anything about that! ... [Etc.]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Trying to decide what Steiner did or did not say about various topics occupies a great deal of time among Waldorf teachers. Steiner was the undisputed font of "wisdom" for teachers at the first Waldorf school [4], and he remains the font of wisdom at Waldorf schools today. There is a reason, after all, that another name for Waldorf schools is "Steiner schools."

Generally speaking, disputes among Waldorf teachers can be settled by a simple expedient: If one or another teacher can cite a statement made by Steiner, the dispute is effectively settled. Steiner said X, so X must be true.

Of course, complications may arise. Steiner was often vague, and he contradicted himself a lot. [5] Thus, it may happen that a Waldorf teacher quotes Steiner saying X, but the meaning of X may be unclear. Or, sometimes, after one teacher quotes Steiner saying X, another teacher quotes him saying not-X. So the intramural disputes may rumble on.

And there is a deeper problem. Should we actually care what Steiner said? Should a dispute actually be settled on the basis of what Steiner did or didn't say? Or shouldn't we, instead, examine the subject of the dispute, using our own brains and knowledge, and try to figure out what is right? Should kids be taught to do wet-on-wet painting or not? Why? Shouldn't we try to figure this out for ourselves, regardless of what some "authority" once said on the subject?

Now, you may not care very much about wet-on-wet painting, so let's consider another example. At many Waldorf schools, teachers allow bullying to go unpunished because they believe that some children have the karma to be bullies, other students have the karma to be bullied, and karma must be allowed to work itself out. [6]

Is this how Steiner said Waldorf teachers should think about bullying, or isn't it? Or should anyone care what Steiner said about bullying? Isn't it obvious that permitting bullies to hurt other kids is wrong, whether or not concepts like karma are tossed into the discussion, and whether or not Steiner expressed an opinion on the matter?

Waldorf teachers often spend a lot of time inquiring into Rudolf Steiner's opinions. It is wasted time. The way to figure out what to do about X, Y, or Z is to study X, Y, or Z carefully and logically, and then to proceed sensibly on the basis of modern knowledge.

Waldorf teachers often care very much about Steiner's opinions. [7] They should not. And certainly we should not. — RR

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] This is a type of watercolor painting that is almost universal in Waldorf schools. It consists of painting with watery colors on wet paper, often with a wide, wet brush. [See, e.g., "Magical Arts".]

[2] A point of logic arises here. It is impossible to know that Steiner never said X, Y, or Z. We can come close to knowing this if we have read and absorbed every single statement written by Steiner or authoritatively attributed to him — a vast body of work. (Visit the Rudolf Steiner Archive to get a feel for Steiner's immense oeuvre.) But even if we accomplish that extremely arduous feat — and even if we agree not to quibble over hypothetical statements Steiner may have made but no one wrote down — there is always a chance that a lost scrap of paper will be unearthed tomorrow, revealing a statement by Steiner that contradicts what we thought we knew. Sagarin presumably means that he has read Steiner's a lot of Steiner's works, and he has not found that Steiner ever said X, Y, or Z.

[3] This sort of painting is also common in Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "Mystic Lesson Books".]

[4] It is instructive, for instance, to read the records of faculty meetings conducted by Steiner at the first Waldorf. [See "Faculty Meetings".]

[5] See, e.g., "Steiner's Illogic" and "Steiner's Blunders".

[6] See, e.g., "Slaps".

[7] Steiner is not just lionized among his followers; he is virtually deified. [See "Guru" and "What a Guy".] It is telling that Sagarin begins his essay by assuring his readers that he does not mean to be "impertinent by putting words in Steiner’s mouth." He know that any impertinence toward Steiner would surely "offend" typical visitors to the Waldorf Today website.

October 18

From a lecture Rudolf Steinner delivered on this date in 1905, and featured today at the Rudolf Steiner Archive [http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19051018p01.html]:

Man consists, as we know, of four members: physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. When he sleeps, the astral body with the ego is outside the human sheath. Such a person wanders about in astral space. As a rule he does not move far away from the physical and etheric bodies which remain lying in the bed. The two other members, the astral body and the ego, are then in astral space...

When man is in a sleeping condition, any being having the power to send out thoughts, can gain an influence over him. He can therefore be influenced by higher individualities, such as those we call Masters. They can send thoughts into the etheric body of the sleeper. Someone can therefore receive into his etheric body pure and lofty thoughts when the Masters consciously wish to make this their concern...

Something else that we can meet with in astral space is the black magician with his pupils...

For our earth is a battlefield; it is the scene of two opposing powers: right and left. The one, the white power on the right, after the earth has reached a certain degree of material, physical density, strives to spiritualise it once again. The other power, the left or black power, strives to make the earth ever denser and denser, like the moon. Thus, after a period of time, the earth could become the physical expression for the good powers, or the physical expression for the evil.

— Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), Lecture 20.

If you would like help with Steiner's terminology or concepts, you might consult The Semi-Steiner Dictionary and/or The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. — RR

October 17

Here is an announcement of an upcoming event at Rudolf Steiner College, along with the description of a workshop that will be part of the event. Rudolf Steiner College — which for many years has trained Waldorf teachers — is located in Fair Oaks, California, USA.

8th Annual Early Childhood Symposium 

The Five Golden Keys of Early Childhood: 

Protecting the Child and the Teacher’s Etheric 

November 10-12, 2017

Join us for a weekend of singing, puppetry, workshops, and inspiration.

Here is the description of a workshop that will be offered at the symposium. (The description verges on incoherence, but I will quote it verbatim. With a little work, you should be able to ferret out its meaning, more or less.)

Strengthening our Etheric with Lee Sturgeon Day

“All anxiety arises from being out of touch with reality.” - Rudolf Steiner

The etheric is the life giving and healing realm, within each of us, between others, and ourselves and which unites us with the world around, both visible and unseen. This workshop will offer some practical and creative ways of strengthening our relationships, our deep, but often broken, connection, and ourselves with the healing forces in the world around us.* Come and enjoy working with images, picturing your child, and supporting each other in this great and challenging adventure of life!

[announcement and description downloaded 10-17-2017   http://steinercollege.edu/childhood-symposium/]

Waldorf Watch Response:

The intertwined terms “the teacher’s etheric” and "our etheric" are particularly evocative, and they open a window onto the occult beliefs that are almost always present just below the surface of all genuine Waldorf schools.

If you want to delve a little into these matters, the following may help:

◊ "Ether - in general, shapeless and invisible life force, also called the fifth element or 'quintessence' in addition to the four elements of earth, water, air and fire ... [There are four ethers:] warmth ether, light ether, sound ether, life ether ... [T]he life ether...is considered to be the most highly evolved ether of a given entity ... Life ether encompasses and sustains [an incarnated being] as a well-defined living entity." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 37-38.

◊ "Ether body [often called the etheric body] - one of the four members or bodies of the human being, also called 'life body' because it keeps plant, animal and human being alive. At death, the ether body is separated from the physical body. Due to this separation, the physical body falls into decay, since it cannot maintain its form by itself. Then the human ether body slowly dissolves into the general ether of the earth." — Ibid., p. 38.

◊ "Etheric aura - every living being, a plant, an animal or human being, has an ether body which can be seen as a luminous configuration [an aura] round the physical body by people who develop the necessary perception [clairvoyance]. The earth as a living being also has an ether body of its own." — Ibid., p. 39.

It is important to understand that Waldorf education is built upon such beliefs. Thus, the etheric body is believed to incarnate at around age seven. A higher body — the astral body — is believed to incarnate around age 14, and a still higher body — the ego body, or the "I" — is believed to incarnate at the end of childhood, around age 21. The Waldorf curriculum is keyed to these incarnations. [See "Incarnation" and "Here's the Answer".] If these beliefs are wrong, then Waldorf education is wrong. And if you cannot subscribe to these beliefs, then Waldorf education is wrong for you and your children. — RR

* I'll take a stab at a paraphrase:

The etheric is the realm of life-giving and healing forces that exists within each of us and between all of us. It unites us with the world around us, both the visible world and the unseen world. This workshop will offer some practical and creative ways of strengthening a) our relationships with one another, b) our deep — but often broken — connection to the healing forces in the world around us, and c) ourselves as individuals.

October 16

One of the books currently offered by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America for the guidance of Waldorf teachers:


Partial contents: • The Death of Young Children and Older People • Early Death • The High Priest's Prayer • The Ascension of Christ after Death • The Human Being between Two Worlds • On Three Meetings with the Divine, and on Suicide • Verses for Those Who Have Taken Their Own Lives

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf teachers are trained to believe that they work in the presence of many invisible entities, including gods, nature spirits, and — yes — dead human beings. 

The following are excerpts from commentary by Helmut von Kügelgen, the compiler of WORKING WITH THE DEAD. Note that he directs his statements to the parents of Waldorf students as well as to his fellow Waldorf teachers:

"Dear Mothers and Fathers and Colleague in the Kindergarten!

"Should we foster ways to serve the dead with small children? [1]  ... Yes, celebrate the death day [2] like an earthly birthday ... Children who become accustomed to celebrating from a very early age the birthdays and death days of people who are part of their social life [3], learn to accept the spiritual world of beings as real. Thus they gain a basis for religious experience. [4]" — Helmut von Kügelgen, WORKING WITH THE DEAD (
Waldorf Early Childhood Association, 2003). p. 2.

"For Daily Practice

"When we who are living practice a feeling for community together [5], then the dead find us. If we take hold of trust in life as it is and so do not stop hoping [6], then the dead can work with us in trust and hope. [7]"

People die in many ways. Hence, Anthroposophists believe, dead spirits have many differing needs. To serve the dead well, we need to consider their differing needs. Here are passages from two of the "verses" given in the book. These are addressed to the spirits of individuals who committed suicide [8]:

"Verses For Those Who Have Taken Their Own Lives

"Your will was weak, 
Strengthen your will. 
I send you warmth 
for your cold. 
I send you light 
for your darkness...." 

"May the truth in you 
Dear friend 
Be resurrected 
Beyond the threshold 
of your self-destroyed house [9]...." 

— Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Helmut von Kügelgen, WORKING WITH THE DEAD, pp. 33-24.

As we noted yesterday, Waldorf teachers use different sorts of "resources" than do teachers at most other sorts of schools. It is important to note that WORKING WITH THE DEAD is published by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. 

It is also important to note that Waldorf parents are expected — or, at the least, invited — to adopt the religious practices employed by true-believing Anthroposophical Waldorf faculty members. Not all Waldorf teachers are Anthroposophists, and not all Waldorf parents become Anthroposophists. But Steiner's goal was for all Waldorf teachers, parents, and students to come, eventually, into the Anthroposophical fold. This, ultimately, is what Waldorf schools are all about. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer".] — RR

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] I.e., should we teach young children to serve the dead?

[2] I.e., young children should be taught to celebrate the day someone died.

[3] The dead are "with" us because they still exist, as disembodied spirits, in our vicinity. Thus, they are still "part of [our] social life."

[4] This is the basic — but generally concealed— purpose of Waldorf education: to provide a "basis for religious experience." The purpose, in other words, is to bring children (and others) toward the religion that underlies Waldorf education: Anthroposophy.

[5] As we saw previously, the community includes the dead.

[6] I.e., if we have faith (trust and hope) in "life as it is" — that is, life as Anthroposophy says it is.

[7] We "serve " the dead by conveying our trust and hope to them; and the process is reciprocal.

[8] In Anthroposophy, "verses" are often prayers. [See "Prayers".] These verses are essentially prayers addressed to the dead,

[9] I.e., one's self-destroyed (killed) body.

October 15

Although Waldorf spokespeople often deny the tight bonds between Waldorf schools and Rudolf Steiner's mysticism, the bonds are actually easy to discern, if we only know where to look. Here is the beginning of the lead article currently posted at Waldorf Resources. Note that the article is presented as a "resource" for Waldorf teachers. Teachers at other types of schools use quite different sorts of resources to aid them in their work.

Puberty, etheric body, astral body, brain research, brain physiology, developmental processes [*]
By: Dr. Richard Landl, September 2017, First published in Lehrerrundbrief 2005

Puberty as the Gateway to Freedom

A Transformation of the Etheric-Astral in Puberty

All teachers are familiar with the physical presentation of a young person at puberty: the increasing weightiness of the body as it “descends” into a young person, typically visible in gait and posture, and also the soul chaos that often manifests in seemingly incomprehensible and contradictory behaviors.

Let me add an image of Rudolf Steiner’s that clarifies what occurs at this time in the soul-body of a young person. In his lecture of May 25, 1922, on “Human soul life and spiritual striving in relation to world and earth evolution,” Steiner describes how, before birth, a human being assembles its own etheric body out of the entire etheric cosmos. This etheric body contains a copy of the entire cosmos, in particular of the animal world, the sun, and the moon. During the first years of a child’s life, this prenatal etheric body is born. This soul development parallels physical development with regard to the inherited etheric body. In this process, the configuration of the etheric body is transformed in such away that, among other things, a certain concentration of etheric formative forces takes place in the region of the heart. Steiner describes this process as the formation of a new etheric heart to replace the old etheric heart. Spatially, this etheric heart should be conceived as occupying the same location as the physical heart. This process reaches its height, its conclusion, at the time of puberty. From this time onward a young person carries a copy of the entire cosmos in his or her heart region.

Steiner also presents an image of the transformation of astrality. The astral body, too, is brought into a new incarnation following pre-natal stages. At first, the astral body is a copy of a person’s experiences between death and rebirth. All the secrets of a particular individuality are visible in the highly differentiated structure of the astral body. Here, again, developing astrality gradually replaces inherited astrality. According to Steiner, beginning with ego or self-consciousness in the second or third year, highly differentiated astral structures plunge into the physical organs. This affects particularly organs above the diaphragm — principally the brain. This especially dynamic process also concludes in puberty. Prior to puberty, astral structures become increasingly undifferentiated and the astral body is reduced to a kind of foggy cloud. Dissolved astral forms begin to form anew in puberty.

Footnote provided by Roger Rawlings:

* Revealing terms used in these paragraphs include "etheric body", "astral body", and "incarnation". For definitions of such terms, see The Semi-Steiner Dictionary. To dig a little deeper, see the relevant entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

Re brain research: Anthroposophists grab onto an tiny bit of scientific research that might conceivably be twisted to make it seem to support Steiner. They do this while ignoring the vast bulk of scientific consensus that cannot possibly be twisted to seem to support Steiner. Anthroposophy is fundamentally antiscientific. [See "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Science".]

October 13

From The Up Coming [UK], a film review that, in passing, mentions Steiner education and reinforces a faulty stereotype:

School Life, directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane, is a perfectly sweet film ... The documentary follows two elderly married teachers, John and Amanda, at a private boarding school ... John and Amanda are both naturally affable, with a genuine and enviable passion for their jobs. The school itself also comes off well, small enough to encourage the children’s freedom almost in the manner of a Steiner school.

[downloaded 10-13-2017   http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/09/school-life-movie-review/   The review appeared on Oct. 9; the film is to be released today, Oct. 13.]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf or Steiner schools have cultivated an image of themselves as champions of freedom. They claim to prepare students for life as free adults. Moreover, they provide a certain amount of freedom to the students during school hours: There is plenty of free time for unsupervised play, for instance, and students can sometimes determine their own courses of study (within limits).

The Waldorf movement has successfully implanted this image in many segmennts of the wider culture, as the casual reference in the film review reflects.

To truly understand the meaning of "freedom" in the Waldorf universe, we need to delve into the thinking that underlies Waldorf education, the religion called Anthroposophy. And here we crash into a barrier. Anthroposophy actually countermands freedom in its ordinary sense. Anthroposophy teaches that individuals must choose between Truth and Falsehood. Truth is Anthroposophy. Falsehood is just about everything else. (I’m oversimplifying, but you get the point.) One can freely choose the False, but this would be foolish, perhaps even suicidal. The gods have created a divine cosmic plan. Humans must live in accordance with this plan if they want to move forward in spiritual evolution (that is, if they want to save their souls). The decision to abide by the plan is a “free” choice — yet it is compulsory. Anyone who fails to live properly will suffer, being sent downward to lower evolutionary levels, and perhaps even losing the ability to reincarnate, thus cutting off further evolution altogether. You may choose this option, if you like. But it means, ultimately, losing your soul. Is this freedom? The only “freedom” in Steiner’s occult scheme is the ability to choose between being right and being wrong, being good and being evil — being rewarded or being punished, living or dying. You must "choose" to abide by the gods' plan or you will suffer the dreadful consequences.

The Anthroposophical conception of freedom is essentially reductive: It means ridding oneself of evil and impure impulses. This is quite different from a proactive or  expansive conception of freedom — the sort of freedom people normally mean when they use the word "freedom" — the ability to choose from among an array of potentially beneficial options. In Anthroposophy, expansive freedom is virtually impossible, since there is really only one correct choice open to us: following the path of Anthroposophy. Anthroposophical "freedom" is, in effect, submission to necessity. 

"Freedom arises when man can recognize his karma and consciously directs his will to pursue this inevitable and necessary stream." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Books, 2011), p. 48. 

From this perspective, the scope of human "freedom" is narrow — it is constrained by inevitability and necessity. Steiner sometimes expressed this by indicating that we must choose between the "white path" of truth and the "black path" of error. Thus, after dying and passing into the spirit realm, a wrongdoer may be confronted by a powerful spirit who will say:

"‘The purified world will develop above and beyond thee, and thou shalt be excluded from it. Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path.’" — Rudolf Steiner, quoting the Guardian of the Threshold in KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1994), p. 152. 

To the extent that they truly emphasize "freedom," this is the condition Waldorf schools are meant to promote: reductive, purified submission to necessity. Or, in other words, it means choosing the white path; it means choosing Anthroposophy.

When the Waldorf system functions as Steiner intended, it amounts to a form or subtle but deep conditioning — in a word, indoctrination. The conditioning is most intense in the earliest grades, when children are least able to deflect it, but it continues to the end, in high school. Students are not deemed capable of rational thought until well into their teenage years, and even then Waldorf's anti-intellectual ethos leads to the belief that thinking (rational use of the brain) should always be moderated and guided by feeling (reliance on the heart or on intuitive forms of consciousness). The Waldorf program should ensure that any thinking done by Waldorf students will conform to Anthroposophical attitudes internalized over the years — years of continuous Anthroposophical conditioning. Hence, well-indoctrinated Waldorf students and alumni will naturally incline toward Anthroposophy in all the decisions they "freely" make. They have not be prepared for rational decision-making as free citizens; they have been conditioned to reflexively opt for the Anthroposophical path. Freedom and indoctrination are fundamentally antithetical; the former is often precluded by the latter. 

Fortunately, Waldorf schools often fail to achieve their aim. Anthroposophical indoctrination is often incomplete or even refused; some kids escape more or less unharmed. But this does not excuse Waldorf, it only means that the Waldorf program has many flaws. Students in Waldorf schools, and alumni of Waldorf schools, are sometimes free. But this freedom generally results from resistance or obduracy, not from compliance with Waldorf's mystical line.

[For more on these matters, see "Indoctrination", "Who Gets Hurt?", "Freedom", and the entry for "freedom" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] — RR

October 12


Oct. 12, 2017
Chegdu [China]

China’s yuppies want schools to be more laid-back

Try a Waldorf

WITH a postgraduate degree in literature, Ruby Li has ridden China’s education system almost to the top. Now a mother-of-two living in Chengdu, a city in the south-west, she hopes to spare her children the high pressure and long hours of homework that she endured at their age...

Ms Li is among the well-heeled parents who send their children to Chengdu Waldorf School, a fee-paying institution inspired by the quirky philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, an early-20th-century Austrian educationalist...

The stellar performance of children in China’s richest cities in international tests of ability in maths, science and reading has lent the country’s education system a glossy sheen abroad. But feelings are mixed in China, where parents fret that state schools are too competitive, that the exam culture is too stressful and that curriculums favour cramming over creativity...

Waldorf schools [offer one alternative]. The one in Chengdu opened in 2004, the first in China to use that name. It teaches about 500 pupils from kindergarten through to senior high (between the ages of three and 18). Another 70 or so Waldorfs are sprinkled across China’s other big cities. Their free-spirited style of teaching is similar to that of Montessori schools (of which China now has at least 900 at the kindergarten level, and perhaps many more). It is unlikely that many Waldorf parents fully understand Steiner’s theories about “spiritual science”, let alone his mystical approach to agriculture. But Ms Sun says they hear echoes in them of traditional Chinese philosophy, to which some people in China are far better attuned.

Waldorf Watch Response:

Parents in China face much the same issues as parents elsewhere who look for alternative forms of education. Some alternatives certainly may be better than standard mainstream schools. But other alternatives certainly may be worse.

Waldorf schools are worse. At least, they are worse if they are genuine Waldorf schools, enacting the occult teachings of Rudolf Steiner and his devout adherents.

One problem with Waldorf schools is that they are deeply bound up with Rudolf Steiner's occult mysticism. Rudolf Steiner was not an "educationalist," except tangentially, and it is a serious error to think his teachings were merely "quirky." Steiner was an occultist, a self-described clairvoyant, the founder of a mystical religion. [See "Occultism", "Clairvoyance", and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] His "spiritual science" is, in fact, the new religion he created and dubbed Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Steiner had a "mystical approach to agriculture" because he had a mystical approach to all things; Waldorf education is his mystical approach to the rearing of children. There may be faint echoes of Chinese philosophy in Waldorf education, but the central thrust of Waldorf is to spread Anthroposophy, which is closely aligned with certain threads of Christian mysticism. [See "Schools as Churches", "Gnosis", and "Clues".]

“Rudolf Steiner...a pivotal figure of twentieth-century esotericism...blended modern Theosophy with a Gnostic form of Christianity, Rosicrucianism, and German Naturphilosophie.” — Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, in RUDOLF STEINER, Western Esoteric Masters Series (North Atlantic Books, 2004, Richard Seddon, editor), p. 7.

A second problem is that Waldorf schools often provide a very poor education. Academic standards are often woefully low. Parents who want to protect their children from undue pressures may inadvertently be led to the opposite extreme, where children are denied the benefits of solid academic instruction. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

A third problem centers on Steiner's racial teachings. Chinese parents should understand how Anthroposophy sees Asians in general and the Chinese in particular. According to Anthroposophical belief, the Chinese people reached their evolutionary peak soon after humanity left Atlantis (yes, Atlantis): 

“The old Chinese possess a wonderful Atlantean heritage, but they could not progress beyond this zenith.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 40. 

Rudolf Steiner taught that humans reincarnate in various racial forms. In general, lowly or “sub-standard” souls incarnate in nonwhite bodies whereas highly evolved souls incarnate in white bodies. Steiner deplored the mixing of the races, and he worried about the “Chinesification” of Europe (the appearance in Europe of lowly souls that should have incarnated in China but came to Europe instead). He said, in particular, that souls damaged by opium should be incarnating in China, not in Europe: 

“[A] kind of ‘Chineseness’ is beginning to manifest in Europe, as though Europe were becoming ‘chinesified’ ... Consider the following: Souls exist who, as a result of their former lives, are inclined to incarnate in Chinese bodies ... Now since the Chinese population is nowhere near as great as it was in former times [1], it is, in any case, not possible for all these Chinese souls to incarnate there. In Europe, on the other hand, the physical population has increased considerably in recent times, and so many souls can be accommodated here who were really destined for incarnation in Chinese bodies. This is one reason why keen observers are beginning to notice that Europe is becoming ‘chinesified’ ... By bringing about the ‘opiumising’ of Chinese bodies and causing generations to come into being under the influence of opium's forces, it was possible to condemn the Chinese to take in, to a certain extent, some very immature, sub-standard souls ... But those souls who had themselves decided to incarnate in Chinese bodies were thereby prevented from approaching these ‘opiumised’ bodies. They were diverted to Europe where they brought about among the European population those [inferior] traits.... [2]” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1988), lecture 13, GA 173. 

Steiner deplored the presence of Chinese souls in Europe because he considered the Chinese to be inferior. He taught that the Chinese are backward and incompetent.

"[T]he Chinese were unable to think out any legal system." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 70. 

"[T]he European sort of invention is impossible for either the Chinese or the Japanese ... [T]he Indians in those very ancient times...had tremendous powers of imagination. The Chinese had none at all ... The Chinese lack imagination whereas the Indians have been full of it from the beginning." — pp. 77-79. 

"[T]he Chinese were a prosaic people interested in the outer world, a people who did not live from within." — p. 82.

[For more on Steiner's racial teachings, see "Steiner's Racism", "Races", and "Differences".] 

Chinese parents certainly should have the right to send their children to Waldorf schools. But they would be well advised to think about the matter very carefully. Do you really want your children to be lured toward Anthroposophy and its way of thinking? — RR

Footnotes provided by Roger Rawlings:

[1] Yet another problem with Steiner's teachings is that they are often based on fallacies or sheer ignorance. The population of China today is larger than it was in ancient times, of course. Indeed, the population of the entire Earth is far greater than it was in ancient times. But Steiner did not recognize these facts. 

“[T]he idea that the population of the earth increases is just superstition on the part of modern science, which always makes its calculations from data to suit itself. The truth is that even in the most ancient times there was a vast population in China, also in South America and North America. There too in those ancient times the land reached out to the Pacific Ocean. If that is taken into account the population of the earth cannot be said to have grown." — THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS, p. 68. 

Steiner's teachings, which form the basis of Waldorf education, are severely disconnected from reality.

[2] Steiner says that the Chinese have largely been damaged by the use of opium. Souls who have suffered from opium, he says, should incarnate in China, not in Europe. But because China's population has not grown (!) while Europe's population has grown, there aren't enough Chinese bodies to accommodate all the opium-damaged souls who are trying to incarnate on Earth, but there are plenty of European bodies available. So some "immature, sub-standard souls" are incarnating in Europe (where they don't belong) instead of in China (where they do belong). 



It appears that one reason for the popularity of Waldorf education in at least some segments of the Chinese population is that the term "Waldorf School" has been replaced, in Chinese, by the phrase "China, Germany, Happiness." This amounts to a form of clever PR or, perhaps, false advertising. [See, e.g., https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/31534.]

The actual origin of the name "Waldorf School" is less august. A German factory owner, Emil Molt, prevailed on Rudolf Steiner to create a school for the children of the factory's workers. The factory produced cigarettes — it was the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory. Hence, the school became The Waldorf School. 


There are superficial similarities between Waldorf schools and Montessori schools, but the two forms of education should not be confused with one another. The differences are far greater than the similarities. The greatest difference is this: Waldorf education is rooted in occultism whereas Montessori education is not. [See, e.g., "Ex-Teacher 5".] This means a chasm yawns between Waldorf and Montessori. The thinking behind Montessori is rational; the thinking behind Waldorf is irrational. Montessori education arguably makes sense. Waldorf education certainly does not.

We can summarize this, perhaps, by quoting Steiner. Here is a statement in which Steiner expresses the Waldorf view of rationality. Alluding to the Waldorf belief in reincarnation (each human lives many lives, alternating between life in the spirit realm and life on Earth), he says that rational education is bad for kids because it redirects them to their past lives in the spirit realm (their lives before Earthly birth), which they have already completed:

"You will injure children if you educate them rationally because you will then utilize their will in something they have already completed — namely, life before birth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 62.

Steiner's statement rings true only to mystics who share his occult beliefs. And bear in mind, Waldorf education is based on Steiner's occult teachings. Indeed, the quotation, above, comes from the book in which he lays out the occult rationale for Waldorf education. [See "Oh Humanity".] — RR

October 12

From THE DAILY HERALD [Provo, Utah, USA]: 

Provo’s newest charter school 
puts the focus on outdoor learning

...As Provo’s newest public charter school, Treeside Charter School has a different approach to education than district schools. The charter school aims to provide sensory-based education by using nature, art, music and movement to teach Utah’s core education standards…

[The school’s] nature-based learning means going to a garden box outside to learn about fractions, or crafting a snowball to learn about spheres…

Corinna Tanner, a member of the school’s board, found out about Treeside Charter School after she started searching for local schools that use the Waldorf Education model. An old online thread led her to the Waldorf-inspired Treeside Charter School being built a mile from her house.

Before that, she was ready to move to Salt Lake City to give her preschooler the future chance to get into a Waldorf school.

Tanner said she liked Treeside’s approach as opposed to public schools that give young children homework. She was educated at a similar school in Colorado….

Waldorf Watch Response:

Many people find Waldorf methods lovely and even inspirational. Sensible educational practices can certainly be based on the Waldorf approach.

It is important to understand, however, that there is much more to Waldorf than meets the eye. Indeed, much of the Waldorf approach runs contrary to the impression that is often formed initially.

The Waldorf doctrines about nature, for instance, are deeply equivocal. According to the religious doctrines underlying Waldorf, nature is the abode of invisible, amoral beings called "nature spirits" or "elemental beings." Interactions with these beings (principally gnomes, sylphs, undines, and fire spirits) can be instructive but also hazardous. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Beings".]

Virtually all parts of the Waldorf approach are based on mystical beliefs. Arts are emphasized, for instance, because of the belief that we can ascend into the spirit realm through the arts, while spiritual beings can descend to Earth along the same avenues. [See "Magical Arts".]

Some "Waldorf-inspired" schools take inspiration from Waldorf methods without embracing Waldorf religious beliefs. But other "Waldorf-inspired" schools are actually full-bore, religious Waldorfs that — for one reason or another — do not yet claim the imprimatur of the Waldorf movement. If you are attracted to a "Waldorf-inspired" school, you should investigate to determine, as well as you can, precisely where the school stands on this spectrum.

[To delve into Waldorf educational methods, see "Methods". To investigate the standard Waldorf curriculum, see "Waldorf Curriculum".] — RR

October 11

From Stop Steiner in Stroud [UK]:

Homeopathy on the NHS

Today the letters page in the SNJ [Stroud News and Journal] has a very long plea against the proposed ban of homeopathy on the NHS [National Health Service] signed by 33 individuals.

It is an impressive line-up of anthroposophists, a shamanic healer, and sundry other alternative health practitioners from the local area.

The anthroposophists, such as Mehta family members, Swann family, Michael Evans, [Richard] House himself, Graham Kennish (a previous commenter here) and Gabriel Millar do not mention their Steiner affiliations but are mostly listed as “concerned citizens” or teachers.

Richard House does however use the word allopathic to describe bona fide medicine, which is a giveaway to anyone who knows about how anthroposophic medicine is peddled. The Steiner version of medicine used in schools, care homes and so on is anti-vax and based on spiritual imaginings.

Until last year the local Steiner medical centre St Lukes was partially funded by the NHS....

"Homeopathy [is] a system of therapeutics, notably popular in the 19th century, which was founded on the stated principle that 'like cures like'...and which prescribed for patients drugs or other treatments that would produce in healthy persons symptoms of the diseases being treated ... [M]ost homeopathists believed in the action of minute doses of medicine." — "Homeopathy", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, Oct. 11, 2017.

In general, homeopathists dilute dosages to such an extent that, really, nothing is left except water (which is deemed to have, at that stage, wholly spiritual rather than physical curative qualities). When homeopathic pills are prepared, they often contain little except sugar or other ineffective ingredients; there is little or no actual medicine in the compound.

Homeopathy is largely dismissed today by the medical community; it is generally considered to be a form of quack medicine.

Anthroposophical medicine — which is often employed in and around Waldorf schools — incorporates many types of medical quackery, including homeopathic practices. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

The Waldorf-critical website THE QUACKOMETER BLOG has a lengthy section dealing with homeopathy. [See http://www.quackometer.net/blog/category/quacktreatments/homeopathy.] On a page in a different section of the site, blogger Andy Lewis writes:

Homeopathic remedies are just sugar pills. So whilst the administration of sugar pills and magic dance lessons are high up on the agenda of the [Waldorf] school doctor, actual health practices with real benefits, such as hearing tests and vaccinations, are not offered. [4-26-13  "Steiner Schools, Vaccination and Measles Outbreaks"  http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2013/04/steiner-schools-vaccination-and-measles-outbreaks.html.]

Today at the Waldorf Critics list, historian Peter Staudenmaier has posted a message about Anthroposophical homeopathy. [See https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31596.] — RR

October 10

The Waldorf movement has grown and spread 
as new Waldorf schools open here and there, 
often with much fanfare. 
The other side of the story is that 
— usually far more quietly — 
more than a few Waldorf schools fail 
[see "Failure"]. 
Here is an account of one such failure. 

From KentOnline [UK]:

The Canterbury Steiner School in Chartham 

will be auctioned off in October

By Joe Wright    jwright@thekmgroup.co.uk

A soon-to-be-closed school is expected to sell for more than £1.5 million when it goes under the hammer this month.

The Canterbury Steiner in Chartham, which will shut its doors for the last time this December, is expected to attract a lot of interest at auction.

...Founded in 1976, the £2,800-a-term school offers the unique educational style of Rudolph [sic] Steiner whose approach to education was to inspire imagination, involvement and discovery in children.

The future of the school was thrown into doubt earlier this year amid a funding crisis when as pupil numbers tumbled from 130 to 90 in the sapce of four years.

But the cash-strapped school, was seemingly given new lease of life in May, when bosses revealed a mystery investor had come forward with much-needed long-term funding.

However, in a dramatic U-turn just six weeks later, Friday, December 15 was announced as the final closing date.

The previous story, announcing the final closing date,
was not much more informative:

The Canterbury Steiner School in Chartham 

will close in December

By Emma Grafton-Williams   egraftonwilliams@thekmgroup.co.uk

The Canterbury Steiner School in Chartham is set to close after running into financial difficulties.

In a closure notice, school leader Tessa Carias said existing pupils would continue to be educated until the end of the autumn term at Christmas.

In June, it emerged that a mystery investor had come forward with funds to maintain the unique style of education the school provides.

But just six weeks later, the school has announced it can no longer continue, bringing an end to its 41-year life.

...Ms. Carias said: "We are very sad to announce that Canterbury Steiner School is closing in December 2017.

"Although attempts have been made to continue the Steiner/Waldorf education we offer, we can no longer financially sustain the school on the present site.

"...For all the children who have benefited from being here and forged lifelong links with our school community, this news will no doubt be met with shock and sadness, which are shared by us all.
"We sincerely hope that it becomes possible for Steiner education to continue in some future form in Kent."

October 9

Waldorf schools are often extremely wary of modern technology. 
Many are averse to computers and even televisions. 
[See, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".] 
Resisting the appeal of such technologies is increasingly difficult, 
but when Waldorf schools yield, they nonetheless usually remain 
skeptical and highly cautious. 
Some parents are drawn to the schools for this reason, 
and some press the schools to keep their guard up.

From WAMU [Mayland, USA]:

Some Maryland Parents Pushing Schools, 
State to Bring Back Wired Internet

[by] Kate McGee

Two years ago, the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda [Maryland] was undergoing some major renovations when school leaders decided to give the school more than just a new roof. They also installed dozens of internet wall jacks where you can plug in an ethernet cable. Yes, the school was going back to wired internet.

...It was an interesting move. Just 12 percent of public classrooms across the country report they don’t have a Wi-Fi connection that supports all students — a number the Federal Communications Commission is trying to get to zero by 2020. But as schools and the federal government try to expand internet and Wi-Fi access, the Waldorf School brought back wires.

Why? In a word: safety.

...Parents and administrators at the school are concerned how exposure to Wi-Fi radiation could affect school kids. That possibility was enough for the Waldorf School to remove Wi-Fi at the urging of parents, including Theodora Scorato.

“In the last decade technology has infiltrated our life in ways I never thought possible,” Scorato said.

At first, she was concerned about how using screens affects children’s eye sight and learning. But then she also started reading about concerns about radiation emitted by Wi-Fi.

...The Waldorf School isn’t the only school to remove Wi-Fi. The Lowell School in D.C. also removed wireless routers from its kindergarten wing, and schools in Cyprus, Denmark, Italy, and Israel have removed Wi-Fi from classrooms. Still, most of the research says there’s not enough evidence to link Wi-Fi radiation directly to chronic health issues, like cancer. Studies are limited and results are mixed.

But as technology continues to infiltrate our lives, more scientists are studying the issue. Right now, the International Agency for Research on Cancer considers Wi-Fi radiation as a possible carcinogen, in the same category as coffee, gasoline exhaust and even pickled vegetables.

Waldorf Watch Response:

The IARC report — which focuses on use of wireless telephones — actually dates from 2011. The results cited in the report were tentative and inconclusive:

"The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate."

There were no specific references to "wi-fi" in the report. The difference between wireless phones and wi-fi systems is significant.

Below are excerpts from a news account in 2017. Articles such as this — appearing in publications standing at varrious levels of sophistication — generally represent today's scientific consensus.

From The Express [UK]:

While Wi-Fi might seem like unknown territory, there has been extensive research on radio waves for decades. 

In 2013 a review published in the Radiation Safety Journal researchers concluded that Wi-Fi technology does not pose a risk to health.

This is because the type of radiation it uses is at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum.

According to the American Cancer Society, this has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around or cause them to vibrate, but not enough to ionise.

...[U]nless you’re constantly streaming video, Wi-Fi devices only usually transmit information just 0.1 per cent of the time.

In comparison, mobile phones transmit — next to your head — at a strength a hundred times more powerful during a call.

Even then, current research has found no adverse effects from constant phone use for a decade.

...[M]ost experts believe [Wi-Fi] isn’t a danger.

Cancer Research UK state on their website: “There has been some media speculation that Wireless internet (Wi-Fi) and smart meters, which can be used to record energy use in your home and transmit it back to your energy provider, could cause cancer. 

“The radio waves produced by Wi-Fi and smart meters are very low power, much lower than those given off by mobile phones, and well within international guidelines. 

“The evidence to date suggests exposures to the radio waves produced by smart meters and Wi-Fi do not pose a health risk."

For previous stories about the Waldorf attitude 
toward modern technology, type the word 
"technology" in the "Search this site" box 
at the upper right.
Other search terms such as "computers",  
"television", and "vaccination" should 
also yield interesting results. — RR

October 8

Currently offered at the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore 
as a "Teacher Resource" for members of Waldorf faculties: 

The Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of Rudolf Steiner
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000)

"We can find an authentic modern way of working on the chakras [incorporeal psychic organs] in the exercises created by Rudolf Steiner, who, on the basis of a new kind of thinking process, recast certain yoga exercises in a form consistent with the modern and even future stages of (spiritual) development. In this way he fulfilled a small and little known branch of yoga meditative practice, the Gayatri-Sadhana, the goal of which was prophetic, for it was focused on the reversed Kundalini (awakening the energy of all seven chakras from top down instead of the usual upward method) in a way that had become possible only at this much later historical time."

— from the preface

October 7

From the Camden Haven COURIER [Australia],
announcing openings in a new Steiner school:

Enrolments open for Port Macquarie Steiner School

[by] Peter Daniels

Work to upgrade a Table Street hall to house the Port Macquarie Steiner School will begin shortly.

...[E]nrolments for term 1, 2018 are now open.

...Spokesperson Alanna Alfaro says interviews for trained and experienced Steiner teachers will commence next week.

“Applications from teachers are currently being processed to select the foundation staff for the school,” she said.

“Steiner Education is modelled on the work of Rudolf Steiner, based on the development of the child in every aspect – physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally.

“Steiner Education helps to connect children to their natural environment, cultivates reverence and respect for one another and the world around us, integrates the arts in all aspects of the curriculurm, brings liveliness to learning, and appreciates the special qualities of childhood.”

Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner spokespeople can hardly be blamed for describing Steiner or Waldorf education in the most attractive terms. They need to recruit students, after all. And, often, they are genuinely, deeply convinced that their form of education is marvelous.

The problem for parents is that quite often the descriptions given by Steiner spokespeople turn out to be misleading. Some parents select Steiner/Waldorf schools for their kids only to become seriously disillusioned later on. [See, e.g., "Our Experience", "Coming Undone", "Moms", and "Pops".]

At root, the problem is that Steiner education is based on a belief system consisting of occult (secret or hidden) spiritual doctrines. [See, e.g., "Occultism" and "Secrets".] Rudolf Steiner's devout followers genuinely believe that they possess cosmic, clairvoyant insights that must be withheld from the general public. [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance" and "Inside Scoop".]

Steiner spokesperson Alanna Alfaro may have told reporter Peter Daniels the absolute truth, to the best of her knowledge. But what, if anything, has been left out of the description of Steiner education given in the Camden Haven COURIER? Here are a few glimpses, suggesting what Steiner/Waldorf schooling is really all about:

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

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

• “One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ ... [T]he Waldorf school is essentially religious.” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 134.

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

• "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy." — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis , THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii.

• "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second." — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 166.

Steiner or Waldorf schools do not, principally, focus on educating children in any conventional sense. They focus, instead, on enacting the religion called Anthroposophy. The statements we have just read reflect a few of the beliefs embraced in this religion, such as: 

• children have — or will develop — four bodies

• children have karmas

• there are many gods 

• various gods find their homes in Waldorf schools 

[See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Polytheism", and "Spiritual Agenda".]

Not all teachers in these schools are fully committed to Anthroposophy, but Rudolf Steiner said they all should be: "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 118. And we have just now read Gilbert Childs seconding Steiner: "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second."

Some Steiner or Waldorf schools are more wholly infused with Anthroposophical religious fervor than others. Some press Anthroposophy on their students in unmistakable fashion; others are far more subtle and indirect in their missionary work. [See, e.g., "Sneaking It In".] But the truth is that all genuine Steiner or Waldorf schools are, to one degree or another, Anthroposophical religious institutions. [See "Schools as Churches".] Thus, tellingly, these schools typically require the students to begin each day by reciting, aloud and in unison, prayers written by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Prayers".]

How deeply Anthroposophical will the new Port Macquarie Steiner School turn out to be? That remains to be seen. But at least one clue is available. The organizers of the school are seeking "trained and experienced Steiner teachers." Usually, such teachers are well versed in Anthroposophy, and many will prove to be devout adherents of that faith. [See, e.g., "Teacher Training" and "He Went to Waldorf".]

Deciding to send you child to a Steiner or Waldorf school is a serious matter. Perhaps it is the right decision for you and your child. But you should make the decision with your eyes fully open. — RR

October 6

From the course catalogue of the Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC), a Waldorf teacher-training institution:

Foundation Studies

Foundation studies are also woven throughout the three-year program cycle. As a pedagogical basis, we have designed our work with [Rudolf Steiner's book] The Study of Man to occur within the three-year timeframe, each year covering approximately a third of the text. The Balance in Teaching lecture course [lectures by Rudolf Steiner] is also woven into the pedagogical work.

WISC students study three of Rudolf Steiner’s basic anthroposophical books: Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path during the grades 1-3 focus year; Theosophy during the grades 4-5 focus year; An Outline of Esoteric Science during the grades 6-8 year. Both more experienced and newer students benefit from their shared engagement with the foundational materials, which are actively approached throughout all three years of the program.

In this way, our program demonstrates the reality that anthroposophical studies are not a finite achievement that ends after some period of time, but rather, constitute an ongoing process in the life of a teacher.

[downloaded 10-6-2017; catalogue last revised 9-03-2017   http://www.waldorfteaching.org/waldorf_institute_course_catalog.shtml, p. 20.]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Proponents of Waldorf education often claim that Waldorf today is free of any mysticism or occultism of the sort that Rudolf Steiner may have promulgated long ago.

The reality is that Waldorf teachers today receive instruction in Steiner's occult beliefs much as their predecessors did, and they are expected to base their work on those beliefs. They receive such instruction during their training to become Waldorf teachers, and they are encouraged to continue studying Steiner's occult teachings — which constitute the essence of Anthroposophy — throughout their careers. ("[A]nthroposophical studies are not a finite achievement that ends after some period of time, but rather, constitute an ongoing process in the life of a teacher.")

To put the matter plainly: The doctrines of Anthroposophy continue to inform Waldorf education today. This is why, in the description of "Foundation Studies" provided in the WISC catalogue, we see that Waldorf trainees study at least five Steiner texts: STUDY OF MAN, BALANCE IN TEACHING, INTUITIVE THINKING AS A SPIRITUAL PATH, THEOSOPHY, and AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (original title: AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE).

Any trainee who takes these texts to heart will become, in effect, a believing, practicing Anthroposophist. Thereby, she will fulfill Steiner's basic requirement for Waldorf teachers:

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

All five of the books assigned by WISC under the heading "Foundation Studies" are worth careful investigation, but STUDY OF MAN is perhaps the most revealing. This book is the central exposition of Steiner's rationale for Waldorf education; it consists of lectures Steiner delivered to the faculty of the first Waldorf school, defining the purpose and approach of Waldorf education. Authorities as the Anthroposophical headquarters have reaffirmed the central importance of this book: 

"The basis of Waldorf education is a study of the human being and developmental psychology presented by Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) in his volume of lectures entitled A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN BEING or STUDY OF MAN." — Pedagogik-Goetheanum, 2009.

What will you find if you study Steiner's STUDY OF MAN? Statements such as this:

The task of education conceived in a spiritual sense is to bring the Soul-Spirit into harmony with the Life-Body [sic: emphasis by Steiner]. They must come into harmony with one another. They must be attuned to one another; for when the child is born into the physical world, they do not yet fit one another. The task of the educator...is the mutual attunement of these two members." — Rudolf Steiner, STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 19-20.

You might think that the task of a school is to educate children, providing them with knowledge. But this is not the primary goal that Waldorf faculties aim for. As explained by Rudolf Steiner in this, his most important exposition of Waldorf schooling, the key task of Waldorf education is to help children to incarnate properly — that is, help the children to achieve a proper fit between the various components of their beings. Anthroposophists believe that humans have both souls and spirits; the "soul-spirit" or "spirit-soul" is the combination of these invisible components. Waldorf teachers think their job is to "harmonize" their students' soul-spirits with their etheric bodies (also called life bodies or temporal bodies: these are the lowest of three invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood, according to Steiner). Ultimately, all of a child's invisible components (soul, spirit, etheric body, astral body, and ego body) need to be harmonized with her/his physical body; thus is successful incarnation achieved.

STUDY OF MAN continues in this occult vein for nearly 200 pages — the book contains 14 occult lectures. No one reading the book can have any doubt about the real nature of Waldorf schooling. Waldorf is an enactment of the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy. It was this when Steiner concocted Waldorf education decades ago in Germany, and it remains this in all genuine Waldorf schools today.

[To delve deeply into STUDY OF MAN, see "Oh Humanity", which provides a guided tour of the entire book.]


As we have seen, Steiner said that the purpose of Waldorf schooling "conceived in a spiritual sense" is to help kids with their incarnation on Earth. Does this mean that the purpose of Waldorf schooling conceived in an educational sense might be to give kids a good, solid academic education? No. Academics are generally low on the list of Waldorf priorities; Waldorf schools often have low academic standards. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".] As a leading Anthroposophist has explained, 

“The success of Waldorf Education...can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30.

Attaining "life force" is, from an Anthroposophical perspective, essentially the same as incarnating properly, so that your bodies (physical, etheric, astral, and ego) are filled with the right spiritual/physical energies.

No, the purpose of Waldorf schooling is primarily spiritual, not academic. Waldorf schools are really, beneath the surface, Anthroposophical churches. [See "Schools as Churches".] You might like the idea of sending your child to a school that is primarily spiritual. But you should understand that the religion enacted in Waldorf schools is Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Unless you can accept the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy, the spiritual nature of Waldorf schooling will ultimately be alien — and quite likely unacceptable — to you. — RR

October 5

From Scroll.in:

Raising children in a screen-free home is tough – 
but recently, I discovered the perfect compromise

...I decided to keep my home media-free because the advertisements both on television and the internet are not really appropriate, not to mention misleading. Unsupervised time on either medium is dangerous, and I don’t want [my children] to become video game addicts at least until they are teenagers.

This is why we don’t have a television set. We don’t watch YouTube or Netflix (well, not until the kids are asleep and I open it up like some guilty pleasure.) I chose the Waldorf education system for my eight and nine-year olds for its keen no-electronic-media philosophy.

Waldorf Watch Response:

Before choosing Waldorf education "for its keen no-electronic-media philosophy," you should understand the thinking behind that philosophy.

Sensible arguments can be made for limiting the amount of time children spend staring into electronic screens, but the Waldorf argument is mystical rather than sensible. The fundamental Waldorf objection to technological devices is a fear of demons. Rudolf Steiner taught, and his followers believe, that technology provides the means for demons to incarnate on Earth. 

Let's take this a step at a time. According to Steiner, even technological devices as basic as steam engines bring demons to the Earth:

"When we build steam-engines, we provide the opportunity for the incarnation of demons ... In the steam-engine, Ahrimanic demons [i.e., the demon Ahriman and his minions] are actually brought to the point of physical embodiment.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Relation of Man to the Hierarchies” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. V, Nos. 14-15, 1928).

What is true of steam engines is even more true of electronic gadgets, according to Anthroposophical teachings:

“[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time...television, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... [O]pportunities for a virtual incarnation of...demons are constantly on the increase." — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, "On 'Mechanical Occultism'" (MITTEILUNGEN AUS DER ANTHROPOSOPHISCHEN ARBEIT IN DEUTSCHLAND {i.e., Announcements Concerning Anthroposophical Work in Germany}, nos. 68–69, 1964). 

Fear of demons causes Waldorf schools to implement a keen no-electronic-media philosophy. Usually, however, the schools describe their views in calmer terms. Thus, for instance: 

"Why do we choose to protect our children from exposure to TV, videos, movies, computer games, gameboys, and other media? ... The Waldorf School is designed to nourish the feeling life of children and to strengthen the imagination ... Students accustomed to passively receiving impressions have difficulty making the inner effort necessary to sustain imaginative thought ... Parents are especially asked to refrain, throughout the years at Summerfield (even in HIGH SCHOOL!), from any media exposure on a school night ... We encourage parents to....create a media-free lifestyle." — Summerfield Waldorf School, downloaded May 13, 2015.

Waldorf PR can be persuasive, but don't be taken in. You may want to have a "media-free lifestyle" in your home. You may have perfectly rational reasons for this. But don't be hoodwinked into thinking that Waldorf schools share your rational reasons. The Waldorf reasons are mystical and superstitious. Steam engines let demons incarnate on Earth. So do televisions. So do computers. Indeed, all electric gizmos should be feared. Electricity itself is demonic:

"[E]lectric atoms are little demons of Evil." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity" (General Anthroposophical Society, 1940), GA 220. 

Steiner's followers have heeded him on this matter: 

“The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web. And fallen spirits of darkness [i.e., demons]...are active in this web.” — Anthroposophist Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24.

You should send your child to a Waldorf school only if you understand, and agree with, the mystical, superstitious, demon-haunted thinking that Waldorf schools embody. — RR

October 5

Currently being promoted by SteinerBooks:

Broadening Science through Anthroposophy
Vol. 1,
The World of the Ethers 
(Temple Lodge, 2017)

From the publisher:

Ernst Marti devoted his life to researching the “etheric realm” — a subtle area between the physical and spiritual. Taking the numerous statements and references by Rudolf Steiner as his starting point, Marti develops our understanding of the etheric world in various fields ... 

The Etheric explores the fourfold realm of the ethers. Giving an overview of their cosmic origins in the evolution of the Earth, Dr. Marti shows how the ethers work in the phenomena of warmth, light, sound, and organic life. He brings contemporary understanding and insight to the classical elements of fire, air, water, and earth as the media through which ethericity manifests and works in the world. Four physical forces are also explored that, as opposites of the ethers, have a constant tendency to break down and annul what life-giving ether creates. Dr. Marti then studies the shadow aspects of the ethers connected to what he terms the “sub-natural” forces of electricity, magnetism, and nuclear force.

Given that the author was unable to complete this book during his lifetime, his student and colleague Irmgard Rossmann edited the final version in the spirit of her teacher. It is published in two volumes, with this first release focusing on the world of the ethers and the second on the world of formative forces. 

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  • October 3

    From the Bristol Herald Courier [Virginia, USA]:

    Wolf Hills Community School


    Abingdon school offers an alternative teaching style for students

    ABINGDON, Va. — Tucked away inside the William King Museum of Art is a school where 12 children hang up their backpacks and jackets, draw pictures or write their thoughts for the day on a dry erase board and remove their shoes.

    “As they take off their shoes, they are settling in, settling in for the morning,” said Lori Pennington, the program director and a teacher whose 6-year-old son, Asa, attends the school.

    Wolf Hills Community School is a one-classroom learning institution that teaches in a different style than traditional public schools.

    “We are a progressive education school, a project-based school,” said Victoria Blevins, director of administration.

    ...Her children come from a Waldorf school background, having gone to one in the New England area prior to moving to Southwest Virginia. Waldorf education has its foundations in anthroposophy, “the belief that humanity has the wisdom to transform itself and the world, through one’s own spiritual development,” according to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. It was established by Rudolf Steiner and Emil Molt in 1919.

    The goal of the approach is to design a curriculum deemed “developmentally appropriate to the child,” that addresses the child’s need to learn in a tactile and intellectual way, according to the association.

    This philosophy is different and beneficial, Blevins said.

    Waldorf Watch Response:

    The Waldorf approach can seem sensible and attractive — until you look under the hood.

    The thinking on which Waldorf is based, Anthroposophy, is not a "philosophy." In fact, it is an occult religion. [See "Occultism" and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Waldorf beliefs are, consequently, mystical and — from most people's perspective — bizarre.

    The developmental stages of childhood, according to Waldorf belief, are bound up with the incarnation of a child's four bodies. Yes, you read that right. Waldorf believes that children are born four times: once when the physical body is born; a second time when the invisible "etheric body" is incarnated at age seven; a third time when the invisible "astral body" is incarnated at age 14; and a fourth time when the invisible "ego body" is incarnated at age 21 — the end of childhood. [See "Incarnation".]

    Moreover, according to Waldorf belief, children repeat in their own lives the cultural/spiritual evolution of humanity. The Waldorf curriculum is intended to present each subject (math, history, etc.) at the "proper" stage of childhood development. Thus, for instance, Waldorf fifth graders often study ancient Greek myths, since fifth graders are thought to be recapitulating the evolutionary experience of the ancient Greeks. Likewise, astronomy classes for sixth graders are often limited to the astronomical knowledge available to the ancient Romans, since sixth graders are thought to stand at the evolutionary level of those long-ago Romans. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum" and, e.g., "Oh My Stars".]

    “The child recapitulates the cultural epochs of humankind.” — Waldorf teacher Peter Curran, quoted in WHAT IS WALDORF EDUCATION?, a collection of essays by Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), pp. 21-22.

    For Anthroposophists, “cultural epochs” or “ages” are long stretches of time in mankind’s spiritual evolution. They are dated from the sinking of Atlantis. Yes, Atlantis — Anthroposophists believe in such things as Atlantis. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans.]

    Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, taught that humans evolve upward by progressing through a series of racial stages, starting with dark-complected racial forms and moving toward light-complected racial forms. This is central to how humanity "transforms itself through spiritual development." [See "Steiner's Racism" and "Forbidden".]

    "The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149. 

    Not all Waldorf teachers subscribe to all of these beliefs; not all Waldorf teachers even know about all of these beliefs. But beliefs of this sort lurk in the ideology that gave rise to Waldorf education and that still dominates the Waldorf belief system today. [See, e.g., "Today" and "Teacher Training".]

    Schools that are not officially part of the Waldorf educational network may be largely free of the worst aspects of Waldorf belief. But parents considering such schools for their kids would be well advised to investigate.

    The Waldorf approach can seem sensible and attractive — until you look under the hood. — RR

    October 3

    From GloucestershireLive [UK]:

    Even more cases of the measles reported in Gloucestershire outbreak

    It's affected two schools, and now cases have increased

    by Victoria Temple

    3 Oct 2017

    The number of measles cases in the Stroud outbreak has risen, health officials have confirmed.

    There are now up to 12 cases of measles in the current outbreak, which has affected two schools, and seen cases among young children.

    Nurses spent the day at Wynstones School in Brookethorpe on Friday where up to six children have the highly contagious disease. They offered vaccinations to parents and children.

    ...Marling School in Stroud has also advised parents that they have seen one confirmed case of measles.

    ...Gloucestershire Public Health England (PHE) has said that the number of measles cases is likely to be twelve, with five confirmed by laboratory cases, five probable cases with initial GP diagnosis, and two probable cases.

    PHE is continuing to monitor the situation and is asking parents to check that they and their children have received two doses of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and be aware of the signs and symptoms.

    Wynstones School has written to all parents advising them to contact their GP for further advice.

    Wynstones School is a fee-paying school which follows a Steiner Waldorf curriculum....

    The school has around 268 children....

    ...A spokesman for Gloucestershire’s PHE said there may be more cases in the Stroud community.

    “We are aware of a small number of additional probable cases of measles in the community and are investigating to see whether there are any links with the cases at the school,” said a spokesman.

    “Public Health England is working with the school to offer vaccination to those who are not up to date with their MMR vaccine.”

    For previous reports on 
    recent measles outbreaks 
    in Waldorf or Steiner schools, see 


    October 1

    From the Waldorf Critics discussion site, continuing a conversation about the value of vaccination and the general, if informal, Waldorf aversion to it:

    31562Re: [wc] Yet another measles outbreak at a Steiner school in the UK

    Thanks to Margaret for this information [about a measles outbreak at a British Waldorf school], a salutary reminder that this is not an abstract topic. I am in Italy at the moment on another research trip, and there is a vivid public debate going on here right now about measles, immunization, schools, and public health. Italy is currently experiencing a kind of measles crisis, with multiple outbreaks across the country and a huge spike in confirmed measles cases; four people have died so far. In Germany and Austria, where I just came from, media reports about measles outbreaks at Waldorf schools are becoming an annual ritual. In the first half of this year alone there were measles outbreaks at Waldorf schools in both Germany and Austria. I think it would make discussion of the topic a good deal more grounded to keep this real-world context in mind. Greetings to all,

    Peter S. [historian Peter Staudenmaier]

    Margaret Sachs' message can be found at 

    Sachs refers to a news report published in Glouchster Live 

    An extended excerpt from that report is available on the Waldorf Watch news page for September, 2017 

    For previous news coverage,

    [R.R., 2017]