.
WALDORF / STEINER
NEWS


May 21, 2019

"Childhood diseases — these specific diseases result from a necessary developmental process in which the human being tries to overcome influences from the inherited physical body. The child must bring inherited substances into line with his own 'I', a process that culminates in the change of teeth. The intensity of this process depends on the degree of conformity between the physical body and the 'I'. The bigger the difference, the more intense the harmonization process expressed in these types of disease will have to be. This basic concept of the origin of childhood diseases has been complicated by new forms of medication that suppress symptoms (vaccination). Although these medicines are widely applied to prevent childhood diseases, it is clear that the harmonization process is partly blocked by their use" — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 20. 







Waldorf Watch News Editorial Rationale

The world faces more urgent problems than the proliferation of Waldorf schools. But if we are to solve those problems, we need to educate our future leaders rationally and well. We need to equip children to understand reality, not lure them into miasmas of occult falsehoods. Waldorf schools may not be one of our biggest problems, but they constitute one obstacle deflecting us from sensibly addressing our biggest problems.
— Roger Rawlings, editor

.






NEWS



May 21, 2019


HARVARD, STEINER, 
AND SAVING THE WORLD 


An unconventional take on Rudolf Steiner and his works has appeared on a business school website, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. According to this take, Steiner was a sort of entrepreneur who created a new sort of alternative capitalism.


The Unconventional Capitalism 
That Shapes Business History 

by Geoffrey G. Jones

…[T]he unlikely influence on ecological and socially responsible business of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who in 1913 founded Anthroposophy — a "science of the spirit," provides further evidence on alternative capitalisms to the American capitalism of today. Steiner and his followers created a new way of doing business based on distinctive (some would say highly odd) beliefs which sought to restore harmony between humans, and especially between the natural and spiritual worlds…

Weleda, the company [Steiner] formed, is still very much in business making skin creams and other things from natural ingredients. Biodynamic agriculture, founded by Steiner, is flourishing, and accounts for many award wining [sic] wines among other more important things. In Europe, social banks such as GLS in Germany and Triodos in The Netherlands were founded on Steiner's principles, and have proved significant funders of organic agriculture and renewable energy. And then there are thousands of Waldorf schools, Steiner founded the first Waldorf school. Mainstream — totally not. Significant — I think so, especially as a driver of green entrepreneurship.

[5/21/2019   https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-unconventional-capitalism-that-shapes-business-history   This item originally appeared on May 15.]





Waldorf Watch Response:


Rudolf Steiner certainly made a splash. He launched several social initiatives that are still up and running — Waldorf education among them. [1]

But in assessing Steiner’s achievements, it is surely insufficient to say that they are based on “distinctive” or “odd” beliefs. The truth is that his enterprises are based on the weird new religion he promulgated — the spiritual system he dubbed “Anthroposophy.” [2] In effect, Steiner’s various enterprises constitute a cult [3], with Steiner himself serving as cult leader (a role he now plays from beyond the grave). [4] Steiner indeed advocated lively interchanges “between the natural and spiritual worlds” [5] — and we should carefully consider the implications.

Anthroposophy can be credited with some good works, undoubtedly. Promoting environmental sensitivity is certainly good, as is advocacy of renewable energy and, arguably, organic agriculture. But the good done by Anthroposophy must be weighed against the harm Anthroposophy may cause. Weleda, for instance, does not simply make “skin creams and other things from natural ingredients.” Weleda makes and promotes nostrums having little or no medicinal validity, “health” treatments that may undermine health — for instance, the mistletoe extract Weleda sells for the treatment of cancer. [6] Patients relying on mistletoe to cure their cancer have been sold a terrible bill of goods.

If Anthroposophy may damage the body, it may also inflict severe damage to the psyche (or mind, or soul — you choose the signifier). Children enrolled in Waldorf schools are lured toward the dark mazes of Steiner’s mysticism. Individuals young or old who enter those mazes may become trapped there with little or no hope of escape. [7] Becoming a victim of a cult is no small thing — it can warp a life permanently.

The various arms of Anthroposophy are, in reality, components of a revolutionary, messianic movement that aims to remake all human institutions in conformity with Steiner’s bizarre visions. [8] Steiner’s followers may never attain their goals, but this hasn’t deterred them from industriously working toward those goals. [9] Observers standing outside Anthroposophy should not delude themselves about precisely what they are observing.

Anthroposophy is by no means the biggest problem facing humanity today. But we should see Anthroposophy for what it actually is, not credulously praise it as a “driver of green entrepreneurship.” Such a description entirely misses the actual nature of Anthroposophy. [10]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] There are not "thousands" of Waldorf schools in the world. The most reliable (but pro-Waldorf) tabulation indicates there are about 1,100-1,200 Waldorf or Steiner schools now in operation. [See https://www.freunde-waldorf.de/fileadmin/user_upload/images/Waldorf_World_List/Waldorf_World_List.pdf.] Typically, these schools are considerably smaller than conventional or public schools, and some are in fact tiny. [See, e.g., the fourth item in the Waldorf Watch "News Briefs" for May 17, 2019.]


[3] Thus, Anthroposophy is a subject of interest for cult watchers, such as Cult News 101 [https://www.cultnews101.com/search/label/Waldorf%20School]. Calling Anthroposophy a cult may go too far, but only slightly. [See, e.g., Steiner Fact 2 in “Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education.”]


[4] Steiner (1861-1925) is defunct. He presumably is now inactive. But Anthroposophists still treat him as their leader. [See, e.g., “Guru”.] By the way, calling Steiner a philosopher is misleading. He was, by his own account, a clairvoyant occultist. [See "Occultism".] 

[5] The central promise Steiner made to his followers is that he could show them how to know the spirit realm with objective certainty. [See “Knowing the Worlds”.] Steiner claimed to have immediate, virtually daily interactions with spirits. He claimed, among other things, to be able to communicate with the dead. [See, e.g., “Steiner and the Warlord”.]

[6] See, e.g., “Mistletoe and Cancer — Heart of a Scandal”, May 19, 2019.

[7] For some accounts by individuals who have suffered from their experiences in and around Anthroposophical enterprises, see “Cautionary Tales”.

[8] Concerning Anthroposophy’s aims, see “Threefolding” and, e.g., “Mission”. Concerning Steiner’s bizarre visions, see, e.g., “Steiner’s Blunders” and “Say What?

[9] For an overview of the Waldorf school movement, see “Here’s the Answer” and “Waldorf Now”. To look into Anthroposophical medicine, see “Steiner’s Quackery”. To explore Anthroposophical agriculture, see “Biodynamics”. For recent news about vatious Anthroposophical undertakings, see the Waldorf Watch News Archive.

[10] See “Anthroposophy” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

— R.R.







May 19, 2019 


MISTLETOE AND CANCER - 
HEART OF A SCANDAL 


Anthroposophists in France are suing former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra, alleging that his statements about Anthroposophical medicine are false and defamatory. [1]

Unfortunately for them, however, a pair of recent articles published in French provide evidence that strengthens Perra’s position. Here are excerpts from one of the articles, which is available at the site Sciences Et Avenir {Science and the Future}:


Cancer: 
Weleda at the Heart of a Scandal 
in Anthroposophic Medicine

By Olivier Hertel

Our investigation reveals that Weleda, a Swiss cosmetics and pharmaceutical company [2], is still selling in France its stock of a product supposed to fight cancer, a product that has not been authorized for sale in France since 2018. According to a recent study, these mistletoe extract injection ampoules [3] have no efficacy against the disease and could even be dangerous for patients.

…On June 7, 2010, [a patient we will call] Stéphanie consulted…a general practitioner…for breast cancer … [T]he doctor prescribed 28 injections of mistletoe extract, a herbal medicine sold by…Weleda under the name "Viscum fermented album" [4]. He injected it into the breast, around the tumor, during several sessions. Soon thereafter, Stephanie's condition deteriorated, the breast taking a very worrisome aspect … After months of suffering, Stephanie died on March 18, 2013. She will therefore never know the judgment of the National Disciplinary Chamber of the College of Physicians [5], ruling on the complaint she filed in 2012 against her general practitioner … [The doctor] was sentenced to a two-year ban from practicing medicine … [H]e is now leading seminars on alternative medicines, one of which is a seminar on alternative medicine for the treatment of cancer!

…This is not an isolated case. In 2008…an Anthroposophic doctor from Aisne [6] was suspended for 3 years by the same disciplinary chamber under similar circumstances. One of his patients, who had breast cancer and whom he treated with injections of "Viscum fermented album", died. At the heart of these two tragic cases is therefore the fermented mistletoe extract or "Viscum fermented album", one of the pillars of so-called "Anthroposophical" medicine for the treatment of cancer [7].

[This treatment] was conceived at the beginning of the 20th century by the Austrian Rudolf Steiner, the inventor of Anthroposophy … According to Rudolf Steiner, mistletoe is a "plant-animal" with "astral forces" capable of containing the spread of cancer cells [8]…

…Weleda…theoretically no longer distributes this product [in France]. However, we were easily able to order it — without a medical prescription — from a Parisian pharmacy … "Just place an order on Weleda's professional website and the box will be delivered the next day," we were told at the counter. For about 50 euros, we received the next day a box containing 6 ampoules, or 6 injections. When we opened the box, we saw it provided no information about the formulation of the product, instructions for its use, warnings about contraindications and adverse effects, etc….

What about the real effectiveness of these mistletoe injections? … In March, a systematic review, — a critical analysis of all scientific publications on the subject — was published in two parts in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology [9], a journal specializing in clinical and experimental cancer treatments. By screening all studies available in English and German since 1995 (a total of 3647 specific references), the researchers concluded that the product has no efficacy in the treatment of cancer or even in supportive care. The authors state that most studies showing a benefit are either of poor quality or compromised by strong conflicts of interest because they are linked to the pharmaceutical companies directly concerned.…

[5/19/2019    https://www.sciencesetavenir.fr/sante/weleda-un-medicament-anti-cancer-vendu-sans-autorisation_133575    This article originally appeared on May 14. Translation by Roger Rawlings, relying heavily on DeepL  For the companion article at Sciences Et Avenir, see https://www.sciencesetavenir.fr/sante/les-fondements-de-l-anthroposophie-et-du-viscum-album_133576.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See "Grégoire Perra".

[2] Weleda is a company, having branches in numerous countries, that produces medicinal and cosmetic preparations based on Anthroposophical principles. [See https://www.weleda.com.]

[3] Extract of mistletoe has been advocated in Anthroposophical medicine since early in the twentieth century. "Around 1920 three intellectual and spiritual pioneers set about giving a specific form to new ideas which were abroad, as disparate threads of anthroposophical teaching and research activity. In 1921 Dr Ita Wegman (1876-1943) opened the Clinical and Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim in Switzerland, a hospital using anthroposophical medicine for sick patients. Viennese-born chemist Oskar Schmiedel (1887-1959) had already worked alongside both Dr. Wegman and Rudolf Steiner since studying chemistry at Munich University, and indeed worked with Dr Wegman to produce the first mistletoe preparation for cancer treatment which is still in use today." — https://www.weleda.com/about-us/our-heritage/since-1921.



[6] Aisne is a "department" in northern France. Departments constitute a level of government below the national level; they rank between administrative regions and communes.


[8] Steiner's teachings about mistletoe are extraordinary. He said the plant (or plant-animal) is not of this Earth, and thus it has unearthly powers. [See "mistletoe" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[9] See, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30673873: "With respect to survival, a thorough review of the literature does not provide any indication to prescribe mistletoe to patients with cancer" [March, 2019].

— R.R.







May 17, 2019


◊ News Briefs ◊


From The Hartford Courant [Connecticut, USA]:


In more than 100 Connecticut schools, 
vaccination rates are raising concerns 
among public health officials

By Josh Kovner

Connecticut’s vaccination rate still shields the large majority of school children from measles and other preventable diseases. But new numbers show alarming pockets where more than 100 schools have fallen below the 95 percent "blanket immunity" level, creating concern among public health officials.

Individual examples [include] a specialized Waldorf school in Newtown that equates high vaccine waiver rates with a "welcoming atmosphere" for families...

In Newtown, 37.7 percent of students at Housatonic Valley Waldorf School had [vaccination] exemptions....



Blanket immunity — also called herd immunity — is general immunity throughout a community, attained when a very higher percentage of the population is vaccinated.






From The Mansfield Courier [Victoria, Australia]



Steiner Best ResourceSmart School 
in the Hume region

THE Mansfield Steiner School has been awarded the 2018 Best ResourceSmart School for the Hume Region.

Manasfield Shire Mayor Harry Westendorp, who recently visited the school to present the award, said "This school is a leader in our community in all areas of ResourceSmart".

"It is so impressive and refreshing to see students who are proud and passionate about what they have done," Cr Westendorp said.

The school joined the ResourceSmart Schools program in 2014....

 

ResourceSmart is a voluntary program in which schools implement environmental sustainability "across the school facilities, community and curriculum." [See https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/schools.]






From UT News [University of Texas, USA]:

How to Prevent a 
Measles Outbreak in Austin

By: Sahotra Sarkar

Measles has returned to the United States with a vengeance, even though it was officially eliminated in 2000. By the end of April, there were 704 measles cases reported in 2019, the most in a single year since 1994, and it’s only a matter of time before it hits Austin. There have been 15 cases so far this year in Texas...

Schools are our problem communities, and the ones our public health leaders should be keeping a close eye on. For measles, because of how highly contagious it is, we need a 95% vaccination rate to achieve herd immunity — a situation in which it cannot spread. As many as 16 of our schools do not reach that threshold and have vaccine refusal rates higher than 5%.

The worst is Austin Waldorf School, with a 49.01% vaccine refusal rate for the 2017-2018 academic year....



Austin is the state capital of Texas. Colleges and universities in and around the city include the University of Texas at Austin.






From The Gladstone Observer [Gladstone, Australia]:

Agnes Water's Steiner school
plans to relocate 


by Juliabartrim

TWENTY lucky children will be going to school beachside by the end of the year.

The Goora Gan Steiner School, which opened at Agnes Water in January last year, has announced plans to relocate the school to the vacant upper level of the Agnes Water Surf Club...

"We started with eight students, now we've grown to 20 enrolments and lots of inquiries," [school facilitator] Ms Thomson said...

[https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/agnes-steiner-school-plans-to-move/3463616/]



There are approximately 1,100 Waldorf or Steiner schools in the world. Some are quite small. Some grow and flourish, some fade away. [See "Failure".]








May 15, 2019


WYNSTONES WALDORF - 
ANOTHER ACCOUNT


Steiner schools in the United Kingdom (UK) are in crisis [1]. During recent months, several of the schools have received blistering inspection reports.

Other UK Steiner schools have fared better, and some of the criticized schools have evidently improved. But the overall crisis continues.

Here is a follow-up report on the situation at a long-established Steiner school in Glouchestershire [2].

From The Stroud News and Journal [Stroud, UK]:


Wynstones Steiner school given 
the worst possible rating 
by Ofsted inspectors 

By Miranda Airey

OFSTED [3] inspectors have rated Wynstones School [4] as 'inadequate' after uncovering a catalogue of failings, including concerns over pupil safeguarding.

The Steiner Waldorf school…was found to be inadequate – the lowest of four grades [5] – in every single category [6]…

Ofsted's damning report, following an inspection in March, came after an inspection into boarding provision at the school in November which raised concerns [7]…

In the latest report, the inspectors have noted: "The trustees and managers have failed to ensure that the independent school standards (ISS) are met in full [8].

"They have not ensured that the quality of teaching and learning is of an acceptable standard.

"Nor have they assured themselves that the arrangements to keep pupils safe are robust enough [9]"…

The school, which opened in 1937 [10] and follows the Steiner Waldorf principles of education, was rated as 'good' at its last inspection in 2007.

But in the intervening years, standards have slipped, with management tasked with "too many responsibilities to ensure that the school provides a good quality of education and carry out effective child protection arrangements", the inspectors said…

[T]he inspectors also noted that "standards across the school are too low" and that "many pupils are working several years behind where they should be"…

[The report] says younger pupils with special educational needs do not receive the support they need to prepare them for upper school and other pupils, particularly the most able, make slow progress and do not reach the standards they are capable of.

The necessary leadership and support to help staff improve pupils’ outcomes was found to be lacking, and the inspectors noted low standards of behaviour and poor attendance amongst the pupils.

A spokesman for Wynstones said the school was deeply disappointed with the inspectors' findings, but accepted its conclusions and was "working to rectify every weakness as a matter of urgency and restore the school to its 'good' rating…."






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:



[2] See "Inspections: Win Some, Lose Some", Part 2, May 11, 2019.

[3] Ofsted is the UK government's Office for Standards in Education.

[4] Wynstones is a Steiner or Waldorf school serving day students as well as boarding students. The school is located in the village of Whaddon, on the edge of the city of Glouchester.

[5] The four grades given by Ofsted are, from lowest to highest, • Unsatisfactory, • Requires Improvement, • Good, and • Outstanding.

[6] The six categories on which schools are graded are • Effectiveness of leadership and management, • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment, • Personal development, behavior and welfare, • Outcomes for pupils, • Early years provision [i.e., provisions for the youngest students], and • Sixth form provision [i.e., provisions for the most senior students].

[7] See, e.g., "Another 'Damning' Inspection of Another Steiner School", February 28, 2019. "Boarding provision" refers to the provisions made for boarding students.

[8] The Parliament has established standards that independent schools in the UK are expected meet. These standards are revised as Parliament sees fit. [See, e.g., "The Independent School Standards - Advice for Independent Schools".] 

[9] The failure of various Steiner schools to make sufficient "arrangements to keep students safe" — also called "safeguarding" the students — has been the focus of much attention in the media and elsewhere. But inspectors have found serious failings in many other parts of Steiner school operations, including teaching and management.

[10] Wynstones is thus one of the oldest Steiner schools in the UK. The oldest is Michael Hall, which was founded in 1925.

— R.R.







May 14, 2019

SUPPORT FOR AN 
EX-WALDORF TEACHER 


Former Waldorf student and teacher Grégoire Perra is currently facing several lawsuits filed by Anthroposophists who allege that he has circulated false and slanderous statements about them and their practices.

Perra has now received support from a potentially important ally, the French Association for Scientific Information (AFIS).

Here is a translation of excerpts from the AFIS announcement:


AFIS supports Grégoire Perra's 
information campaign on Anthroposophy

Anthroposophy is a doctrine created by Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century based on a spirituality that combines elements of Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. It is imbued with various pseudosciences, including astrology … It is used in many fields, such as agriculture…medicine…education (Steiner-Waldorf schools) and cosmetology…

The education part of this movement, Steiner-Waldorf schools, includes about twenty schools in France. According to Grégoire Perra, a former philosophy teacher in one of these schools, students are exposed to R. Steiner's pseudoscientific ideas, sometimes through quasi-religious ceremonies. He also points out that parents often do not really realize the hidden content of the teaching given [in these schools]. Moreover, considering that some of these schools are under contract with the National Education Department, he explains that the real nature of the schools' pedagogical practices is sometimes concealed from inspectors…

The French Association for Scientific Information supports Grégoire Perra in his action to denounce pseudoscientific practices that target children, especially in schools. The Association commends Perra’s work in ensuring that parents are truthfully informed about the nature of the education provided.

[5/14/2019    Science & Psuedoscience, AFIS, https://www.pseudo-sciences.org/spip.php?article3175    This statement originally appeared on May 13. Translation by Roger Rawlings, leaning heavily on DeepL.]





To read some of Perra’s work translated into English, see, e.g., “He Went to Waldorf” and “My Life Among the Anthroposophists”.





Perra has established a crowdfunding page, seeking financial assistance as he tries to fend off the multiple attacks being made against him. (He is not a wealthy man, and the lawsuits he faces may threaten to bankrupt him.) To see the page, and to consider making a donation, go to https://www.okpal.com/soutenir-le-lanceur-d-alerte-gregoire-perra/#/.

— R.R.







May 12, 2019

WALDORF, MEASLES, 
AND THE BIG APPLE


As measles epidemics spread in the USA and elsewhere, Waldorf schools continue to be a center of focus for media reports. Recently, an article in The New York Times — about the spread of measles in the New York metropolitan area — gave prominence to Waldorf schools. 

A measles outbreak occurred a few months ago among New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community [1], where opposition to vaccination is widespread. But, The Times reported, such opposition is also found in other New York communities, including communities centered around Waldorf schools [2]. 

The article quoted parents who send their children to Waldorf schools but who hold varying views about the advisability of vaccinating children against communicable diseases. As historian Peter Staudenmaier posted yesterday at the Waldorf Critics discussion site, the Times' article "includes quotes from a range of Waldorf parents on vaccination attitudes, well worth reading for a sense of the unresolved tensions within the Waldorf movement over immunization."


Measles Outbreak: 
Opposition to Vaccine Extends 
Well Beyond Ultra-Orthodox Jews in N.Y.

By Sharon Otterman and Sean Piccoli

As the measles outbreak deepens in New York City, health authorities have been focusing on schools affiliated with ultra-Orthodox Judaism, because those are the only city schools within which measles transmission has occurred so far. But immunization data...suggests that reluctance to vaccinate in New York is much more widespread.

The majority of the dozens of New York City schools that had less than 90 percent of their children vaccinated for measles in the last school year were not ultra-Orthodox Jewish…

…Some were schools that hew to nontraditional philosophies, including the Waldorf education movement, which tends to attract parents who favor alternative medical practices [3]…

On Monday afternoon at the New Amsterdam School, a small Waldorf school on Avenue B in the East Village [4], parents and children filed out of a gated walkway...

Nationwide, schools associated with the Waldorf education movement have some of the lowest vaccination rates … While the [Waldorf] movement does not take a formal position on vaccination, and has no religious affiliation [5], its philosophy tends to attract bohemian families [6].

A handful of parents [at] New Amsterdam said they were surprised to learn the school’s religious exemption rate [7] for immunizations was 35 percent in the 2017-18 school year…

"…I guess we respect each other as a community enough to let people make their own choices," said Amy Joyce, who has two children at the school, both fully vaccinated…

Two parents who said they had not vaccinated their children declined to give their names…

One, a mother of a first grader, said that her choice had never been an issue at New Amsterdam…

A father of two girls at the school said, "I’m not totally anti-vaccine, but I think giving [vaccine] to kids at such young age when they haven’t really developed a strong enough microbiome on their own is detrimental to their health [8]"…

The Brooklyn Waldorf School [9], which enrolls about 200 children, is in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn…

Twenty-four percent of the children had religious exemptions from immunizations last year. Last Friday, some parents expressed concern about the anti-vaccination views of fellow parents.

"It makes me angry that people are not following the doctor’s advice — and society’s," said Maria Jarnit-Bjergsoe, 39, who is pregnant. She said that both of her sons at Waldorf were vaccinated. "[Failure to vaccinate is] just putting other people in danger unnecessarily"…

For now, children with vaccine exemptions are permitted to attend [Brooklyn Waldorf].…

[5/12/2019   https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/nyregion/measles-outbreak-ny-schools.html    This article originally appeared on May 9.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews adhere strictly to Hebrew law and custom, and they largely reject modern cultural practices. (They often consider the term “ultra-Orthodox” offensive; they generally refer to themselves as Haredi Jews. “Haredi” is a Hebrew term denoting great awe of God.)

[2] Indeed, there is overlap among various communities harboring opposition to vaccination. Some children from the ultra-Orthodox community attend Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/nyregion/measles-rockland-county.html.]

[3] Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner advocated alternative medical practices [see "Steiner's Quackery"]; these are employed today by Anthroposophical doctors. Anthroposophy is the metaphysical system pieced together by Rudolf Steiner, drawing from Theosophy and other sources. [See “Anthroposophy” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] See https://www.newamsterdamschool.orgNew Amsterdam School has approximately 40 students. The East Village is part of Greenwich Village, a district in lower Manhattan.

[5] The Times is wrong on this point. Steiner claimed that Anthroposophy is a form of “spiritual science” — it enables practitioners to attain objective knowledge of the spirit realm, he said. [See “Knowing the Worlds”.] But most close observers would conclude that, in fact, Anthroposophy is a religion, not a science. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”] In that case, Waldorf schools — which stand on the foundation provided by Anthroposophy — should be judged as having a “religious affiliation.”

[6] “Bohemian,” in this sense, is a metaphor, denoting an unconventional lifestyle. (Literally, Bohemians are natives of the region in southeast Europe known as Bohemia.)

[7] Religious exemptions are often claimed by those professing sincere religious objections to practices such as vaccination. However, because assessing spiritual sincerity is so difficult, authorities often extend religious exemptions to almost anyone who applies, whether or not these individuals genuinely adhere to faiths that frown upon vaccination, etc. Another wrinkle: Parents of Waldorf students may claim religious exemptions whether or not they are Anthroposophists.

[8] This is one of many arguments made by opponents of vaccination. By and large, the medical establishment denies these arguments; medical authorities strongly support vaccination. (“Microbiome” refers to the internal bodily environment created by microcrobes.)

[9] This is a second, larger Waldorf school in New York. [See https://www.brooklynwaldorf.org.] Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs comprising New York City. Bedford-Stuyvesant is a section of northern Brooklyn.

— R.R.






May 11, 2019

INSPECTIONS: 
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME 


The Steiner education movement in the United Kingdom (UK) has been rocked by a series of highly critical inspection reports. As a result, Steiner education in the UK may fairly be said to be in crisis. [1]

Two new reports open the latest chapter in this long, complex tale.


1.


From BristolLive [Bristol, England]:


How Bristol Steiner School 
did in its latest Ofsted inspection

The positive rating follows a series of 
damning reports at Steiner schools across the country

By Emma Grimshaw

Bristol Steiner School has been awarded a 'good' rating [2] in every category following its latest Ofsted inspection [3].

It's been a turbulent period for families who have chosen a Steiner education following a series of damning Ofsted reports from Bristol, Frome and Exeter's free schools [4].

But the latest inspection conducted at Bristol's fee-paying Steiner, based in Redland [5], offers a welcome change.

Headteacher Ruth Glover said: "Steiner education has received a lot of bad press recently, but this school's progressive attitude shows that the Steiner model of education is not flawed and can stand the test of time…"

Bristol Steiner Academy, an all-through free school in Fishponds [6], plans to take Ofsted to court following its inadequate rating earlier this year.

Ofsted’s report into the school in January, following November’s inspection, was damning [7]…

The Fishponds school’s principal, Joss Hayes, said: "External partners have already confirmed that safeguarding is effective at the school [8].

"We are committed to making improvements [9] and have started implementing a number of new learning programmes," she added.






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] See “Steiner School Crisis”.

[2] “Good” is the second of four ratings used by the official school inspectors. The highest rating is “Outstanding.” The ratings below “Outstanding” are, in descending order, “Good”, “Requires Improvement”, and “Inadequate.”

[3] Ofsted is the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education.

[4] See “Inadequate”.

[5] Redland is a well-to-do suburb of the city of Bristol. Bristol Steiner School, in Redland, is a private Steiner school — the student's families must pay to send their children there.

[6] Fishponds is an outer suburb northeast of Bristol. Bristol Steiner Academy, in Fishponds, is a free school (what in the USA would be called a charter school) — enrollment is "free" there (the government pays).

[7] See, e.g., “More Inspections, More Failures”, January 17, 2019.

[8] Poor safeguarding — that is, failure to adequately ensure the safety and wellbeing of students — has been a prominent issue identified by inspectors at various UK Steiner schools. [See, e.g., “S. A. Exeter”.]

[9] In acknowledging the need for improvements, Joss Hayes acknowledges shortcomings at the school. The new, positive inspection report indicates these shortcoming have been, or are being, addressed.





2.


From GlouchestershireLive [Glouster, England]:


The damning Ofsted report that rates private 
Gloucestershire school 'inadequate' 
in every single category 
and raises safeguarding worries

Ofsted say the Steiner school must do better after it was rated inadequate [1] across the board but the school has started to address weaknesses

By Janet Hughes

A private Gloucestershire school [2] which charges up to just shy of up to £10,000 [3] a year in fees has been branded failing by Ofsted inspectors in a damning report.

Inspectors rated all six areas [4] of Wynstones School on the outskirts of Gloucester as inadequate after a visit in March and say it must carry out more checks on staff.

Inspectors say its pupils are at risk because managers are not carrying out the necessary safeguarding checks and training to ensure all staff, volunteers and trustees are suitable to work with children…

Standards at the Steiner Waldorf school, which takes in pupils from the age of three to 19, have slipped since Ofsted last visited in 2007 when it was rated good [5] and nobody has been properly holding the teachers to account, says the report.

Management have had too many responsibilities to ensure that the school provides a good quality of education [6] and carry out effective child protection arrangements, say inspectors.

And from early years to the sixth form the quality of teaching and learning and outcomes for the 317 pupils at the school on Church Lane, Whaddon were branded inadequate.

Although parents value the emphasis on crafts craft, drama and other creative areas at the school [7], education standards are too low and many pupils are working several years behind where they should be, says the report…

What the school says:

"The school is deeply disappointed with the Inspectors’ findings. We do, however, accept their conclusions and are working to rectify every weakness as a matter of urgency and restore the school to its 'Good' rating.

"Our teachers are deeply committed to the pupils at Wynstones and passionate about their work with them. We are confident that we have the capacity to improve.…"






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] This is the lowest of four ratings used by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education.

[2] This is the Wynstones School, a Steiner Waldorf school located in the Glouchestershire village of Whaddon.

[3] Approximately $13,000 US.

[4] Ofsted rates schools according to their performance in six areas:

1. Effectiveness of leadership and management
2. Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
3. Personal development, behavior and welfare
4. Outcomes for pupils
5. Early years provision [i.e., provisions for the youngest students]
6. Sixth form provision [i.e., provisions for the most senior students]

A rating of “overall effectiveness” is then given, based on assessments in the six areas.

[5] Assessments of overall effectiveness may change dramatically from inspection to inspection, as these news accounts suggest.

[6] While safeguarding has been the focus of much media attention, quality of education is also highly important. In various recent inspections, Steiner schools have been found to provide students with a poor education. Other failings, such as ineffective management, have also been identified at these schools. [See “Inadequate”.]

[7] Steiner or Waldorf schools are often highly attractive, thanks to their emphasis on the arts. [See, e.g., “Magical Arts”.] The question for parents becomes whether or not the attractions of these schools are misleading. Aside from relying on official inspection reports, assessing a Steiner or Waldorf school can be difficult. [See, e.g., “Non-Waldorf Waldorfs” and “Clues”.]

— R.R.







May 9, 2019

WALDORF, MEASLES, 
AND BLACK MAGICIANS 


Waldorf schools continue to receive unflattering notice in the media because of the high number of unvaccinated students often found in these schools.

The following is from an editorial in the Greensboro News and Record [North Carolina, USA]:


Our Opinion: And now, measles, 
a disease that's a threat to all 

Not long ago, measles was virtually extinct in America.

Now the disease is back and spreading fast, and we have our own willful ignorance to blame…

Measles cases have surged to a 25-year high in the United States. As of May 3, there were 764 reported cases in 23 states…

Part of the problem is a fear of vaccinations, fueled by a viral myth that getting the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, shot can cause serious side effects, including autism. That myth is rooted in a thoroughly discredited 1998 British paper that was so flawed that it was withdrawn by its publisher.

But some people hold fast to the misinformation and have used religious exemptions to avoid vaccinations. Complicating matters is a troubling outbreak of measles outside of the country. Globally, the number of reported measles cases rose to more than 112,000 in the first three months of 2019…

[W]e have seen what happens in this state when parents resist vaccinating their children. An Asheville school last fall saw the worst chickenpox outbreak in the North Carolina since 1995. Thirty-six students contracted the disease at the Asheville Waldorf School, where nearly 75% of the 152 students were unvaccinated.

Nineteen of the 28 kindergartners who enrolled in the school for the 2017-18 school year had an exemption to at least one state-required vaccination…





While Waldorf schools almost never have official anti-vaccination policies, they nevertheless often align themselves — at least informally — with the anti-vaxx movement, and they are often chosen by families having countercultural, technology-averse, anti-vaxx inclinations. The consequence is that outbreaks of preventable diseases often occur in and around these schools. The chickenpox epidemic at the Asheville Waldorf School is one example. Other examples are evidently plentiful in Germany, which has the highest concentration of Waldorf schools in the world. The following is from a message posted by Dr. Peter Staudenmaier, a historian who studies the Waldorf/Anthroposophical movement, and who keeps abreast of current news in Germany:


As usual around this time of year, there are several ongoing measles outbreaks at Waldorf schools in Germany…with a fair bit of media attention over the past few weeks. It is becoming pretty much an annual ritual. Many Steiner fans nonetheless remain adamant in their beliefs about the dangers of vaccination and the great conspiracy that supposedly surrounds the topic.

[5/9/2019   https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/32065    Staudenmaier posted this message on May 6.]




Rudolf Steiner warned his followers about dark conspiracies like the one Staudenmaier mentions. Steiner taught that evil conspirators will pursue their deplorable aims through the use of hellish vaccines:


"[T]hose whose intentions toward humanity are not good, in other words those who are black or grey magicians, [strive to] gain possession of [occult] secrets … Such things have been going on behind the scenes of external events during the current decades. The purpose was, firstly, to present certain groups of people with the secret of how to dominate great masses [of people] … This secret involves knowing how those masses…can be thoroughly dominated and how such domination can be put in the hands of some few individuals … Certain circles in this materialistic age are striving to paralyze and make impossible all of humanity’s spiritual development … Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation ... [T]hese inoculations will influence the human body in a way that will make it refuse to give a home to the spiritual inclinations of the soul … [I]noculations will be tested that already in childhood will make people lose any urge for a spiritual life.” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91.


Vaccines — specifically those vaccines created by black magicians and other materialistic malefactors — will destroy your child’s soul. So, for heaven’s sake, protect your child from this dark conspiracy.

This, at least, is the view that prevails in certain Waldorf circles. The result is predictable: Epidemics of dangerous diseases break out, diseases that could easily have been prevented by giving children the vaccinations they need.




For previous coverage here of these issues and events, see, e.g., "Waldorf and Measles (Again, and Again, and...)", April 29, 2019; "Waldorf and Measles (Continued Once Again)", April 28, 2019; and "News Briefs", April 27, 2019. Also see "C'Pox in A'ville" and "Steiner's Quackery".

— R.R.







May 6, 2019

PLAIN CRITIQUE 
FROM BREMEN 




André Sebastiani, ANTHROPOSOPHIE - Eine kurze Kritik
{Anthroposophy - A Brief Review}
(Alibri, 2019)


A new book about Anthroposophy and Waldorf education has been published in Germany. Written by André Sebastiani, an educator living in the city of Bremen, it has received several glowing reviews.

Sebastiani, who is gaining some prominence as a Steiner critic, writes in a bracingly no-nonsense style. Here is a sampling of Sebastiani's prose (in a doubtlessly imperfect translation):


Realistically speaking, [Rudolf] Steiner was not an intellectual — he was neither a philosopher nor a scientist. He was actually a narcissistic gasbag and conspiracy theorist who wanted to play God and who produced nothing but wild fantasies. His delusions and ghostly encounters were endless, and from them emerged the dogmatic esotericism called Anthroposophy, which is a species of religion, by no means a science [1].

Anyone who soberly considers Steiner's confused outpourings and fabrications can only conclude that they were produced by a nutcase, and yet in spite of this, Anthroposophists claim that their system is a science [2].

The Federation of Free Waldorf Schools, the powerful umbrella organization for Waldorf schools in Germany, watches over every Waldorf school that is created. It holds the naming rights, it grants permission to operate, and it is thoroughly in control.

Steiner's theory of “threefolding” [3] rules the day [in Waldorf schools]. The state has to butt out. The individual should submit to the organization. Authority resides in the collective, wiping away individual freedom [4]. But in practice the lack of a clear management structure, administrative regulations, etc., at these schools often leads to chaos, with everyone poking their nose into everything [5]. There is no democratic decision-making [6], but instead power tends to flow to unofficial circles of teachers and parents who exercise influence behind the scenes.

Despite what we often read in the press, Waldorf schools are not innocently founded by happy parents making their own choices. Without support from a hard core of Anthroposophists, the parents' initiatives would come to nothing. In fact, at least one founding teacher with long experience in Waldorf pedagogy and administration is always needed [to get these schools started].

Specialized Waldorf teacher training is a scandal in itself; running contrary to the German constitution, it strikingly illustrates the influence of Anthroposophists. Anthroposophical esotericism is the sole viewpoint [7].

To be sure, Anthroposophy is not taught as a subject in Waldorf schools, but this is because everything at these schools amounts to applied Anthroposophy [8]. The classes are composed as “karma communities" reflecting the Anthroposophical image of man. The students’ “temperaments” determine the seating order [9]. Curricular content and methods are adapted to seven-year cycles of development [10]. The ideas of karma and a cosmic evolution are omnipresent [11]. Waldorf education centers on sorting the children into a set number of esoteric-Anthroposophical categories, created by Steiner, each of which is subject to a dogmatic teaching plan [12]. Free individual development cannot and must not exist in these schools [13].

However, none of this is openly explained, either to the students or to their parents [14]. This is one of the reasons why Waldorf graduates often believe that Anthroposophy was not present in their schooling [15].






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[2] See “spiritual science” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[3] See “Threefolding”.

[4] Steiner claimed to promote human freedom, yet Anthroposophy effectively abolishes the possibility of free choice. [See “Freedom”.]

[5] Endless, ineffectual discussion often occurs in Waldorf faculty meetings; everyone has an opinion, but — far too often — nothing is agreed upon. [See, e.g. “His Education”.]

[6] Steiner taught that democracy is applicable only within very narrow limits. [See “Democracy”.]

[7] See “Teacher Training”.

[8] I.e., the students are not taught Anthroposophy as such, but they are subjected to the effects of Anthroposophy in subtle, endless ways. "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy." — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii.

[9] See “Temperaments”.

[10] See “Most Significant”.

[11] See “Karma” and “Evolution, Anyone?

[12] See “The Waldorf Curriculum”.

[13] See “Methods” and “Basement” (“Steiner essentially asserted that children move forward in a sort of lockstep, as members of groups rather than as distinctive individuals”).

[14] See “Secrets” and, e.g., “Our Experience”.

[15] The presence of Anthroposophy in Waldorf classes can often be hard to detect, yet it is pervasive. [See, e.g., “Sneaking It In” and “Indoctrination”.]

— R.R.







May 4, 2019


CONTINUING TRAVAILS 
OF A STEINER SCHOOL 


A British newspaper, The Hemel Gazette, has assiduously followed developments at the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL), which education officials in the United Kingdom ordered to close several months ago. [1]

The Gazette has now published a spate of new articles, bringing the story up to date. All of these articles deserve to be read in their entirety. You can begin by using this link: https://www.hemeltoday.co.uk/education/steiner-school-exclusive-what-is-happening-now-at-the-rudolf-steiner-school-1-8913435.





[Hemel Gazette]



Here are excerpts from some of the articles:

1.

Steiner School exclusive: 
What is happening now 
at the Rudolf Steiner school?

By Ben Raza

Although RSSKL closed 11 months ago, this was far from the end of the story.

Just weeks after it shut its doors, trustees announced plans to re-open a ‘new’ school on the same site…

This would have been as part of a link-up with the Alpha Schools group [2]…

However in late August…that deal collapsed amid mutual recriminations.

The nursery element of the school [3] lasted for a few months at the end of 2018 … In that time it received a highly critical Ofsted report [4], which gave it the lowest-possible rating…

Nonetheless bosses [5] were still telling the Gazette in October that they had plans to re-open the entire school [6]…

RSSKL declined to comment this week.






2.


Waldorf or Steiner schools often present a lovely face to the world. But hidden from public view, there can often be dysfunction at these institutions. The Steiner school in Kings Langley was one of the foremost Steiner schools in the United Kingdom (UK), but inspectors determined that RSSKL had serious faults, including a culture that failed to adequately ensure the safety of the students.


The background of how 
and why the school closed

By Ben Raza

Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley shut its doors last May 2018…

The story began in December 2016, when Ofsted inspectors graded the school as Inadequate [7] and urged bosses to “urgently address” safeguarding issues [8].

This was followed by a series of additional Ofsted visits, each critical of the school. While RSSKL did make a series of changes…the Secretary of State for Education nonetheless began moves to remove the school from the Register of Independent Schools, which would effectively close RSSKL.

The school continued its fight to remain open, and in April 2018 announced that parents [9] had offered to loan RSSKL £750,000...almost the precise figure (£791,511) which the school’s most recent accounts say had been spent on legal fees in 2017-18.

But the curtain finally fell in the summer ... On May 10 the school failed its final Ofsted inspection…

[T]he new council [of trustees] voted to close the school.






3.


The inspectors found that the management of RSSKL was lax. Too often, proper procedures were not followed, the inspectors found. Thus, on the subject of safeguarding, adequate records evidently were not maintained. Moreover, the school evidently did not handle complaints properly. 


Safeguarding records deleted

By Ben Raza

While safeguarding was first raised as a problem at RSSKL by Ofsted inspectors two-and-a-half years ago, the investigation found that school bosses “failed to keep records appropriately” until its final 12 months.

And the School Inspection Service [10] had described the lack of one person [responsible for] updating records as a “major weakness”…

The report says: “Parents are of the view that records may have been deleted…

“[I]n some cases information relating to safeguarding and other matters was deleted when staff left the school…”

The school’s understanding of how to deal with safeguarding concerns is also criticised.

The report describes “the mistaken view that, because a complaint did not meet the criminal threshold, no further investigation…was required.…”






4.


Parents often choose Waldorf or Steiner schools for their children at least in part because the schools seem to offer a safe refuge from the bustle and turmoil of modern life. That these schools might fail to protect the students was a shocking revelation. Even more shocking was the almost-unthinkable evidence that sexual abuse might occur in these schools.


The untold story of the sex abuse 
allegations at a £9,857-a-year 
private school in Hertfordshire 

By Ben Raza

A controversial private school was subject to allegations of sexual abuse going back more than a decade — and the scale of the problem may have been even greater.

Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL), which charged up to £9,857 per year, was forced to close last year, following a series of problems with safeguarding students, leadership, finances, and insurance.

But with a new school [11] expected to open later this year…the Gazette can exclusively reveal that a report has found:

Numerous accusations of sexual misconduct by staff against students were reported over the last 15 years;

Historic accusations and records about staff have disappeared;

Parents who raised complaints were subject to anonymous threats;

Staff who acted as whistle-blowers felt forced out of the school….






5.


Inspectors found failings in virtually all parts of school life at RSSKL: there were "problems with safeguarding students, leadership, finances, and insurance" — and quality of teaching. But, naturally, the issue of student safety — epitomized by allegations of sexual abuse at the school — resonated most strongly. Of course, isolated incidents of sexual abuse may occur anywhere, and they may not reflect particular institutional failings. But evidence suggests that sexual abuse may have occurred over a long period at RSSKL.


History of sexual allegations 
at £9,857-a-year school

By Ben Raza

While [RSSKL's] recordkeeping is strongly criticised in the [SIS] report, at least two previous incidents [of alleged sexual abuse] are believed to have occurred over the past 15 years.

In one case a teacher left after less than a year at the school “following a sexual allegation”.

The report states: “We found no evidence that this was reported to the authorities.”

Another incident involved a parent reporting a sexual approach made by a teacher to a child — and the teacher being allowed to continue teaching the class…

The report adds that just months later the teacher admitted the allegation.






6.


RSSKL has its defenders, who have sometimes behaved in ways that bring little credit to themselves. Indeed, evidence suggests that efforts have been made to silence the school's critics. Just as records may have been destroyed, other steps may also have been taken to cover up RSSKL's problems. But as often happens, attempts at a cover-up can backfire, creating a negative impression of an institution's culture.


Threats to whistle-blowers 
and complainants?

By Ben Raza

Following the suspension of one teacher at RSSKL, parents who were believed to have complained were sent anonymous threats.

The report says that this came when “the reason for (the) suspension...(was) divulged by a staff member”.

It adds: “An anonymous threatening letter suggested that they and their children were targets.
Although this was not orchestrated by the school, with the likely suspects being children, responsibility for the leak lies with them.

One family who complained were sent a letter by the school’s solicitors...

It told them: “You agree not to make further allegations...but [if] allegations are made or continued then the School will give notice for the immediate removal of your child…”

Two teachers who raised safeguarding concerns said they had been subject to bullying.

In the report one of them said: “I would be happy to meet and detail the abuse, bullying and harassment I and my family have had to endure since our names were released into the community as a result of making a child protection report.”






Etc.

To review other Hemel Gazette article in this series — articles not excerpted here — see


What was the Denis McCarthy case? 


and


Drug dealing at £9,857-a-year school -
but no action recorded 





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:


[1] For reports from the Hemel Gazetts and other news outlets, see “RSSKL” and “RSSKL 2”.

[2] Alpha Schools is a private limited company; its chief business is running private primary schools. Alpha would have assumed overall management of RSSKL, but RSSKL's staff evidently intended to retain as much control as possible. This was apparently the cause of friction between Alpha and RSSKL. [See, e.g., "Dead Again: Revival Efforts Fail", September 1, 2018.]

[3] I.e., RSSKL's nursery school(s).

[4] Ofsted is the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education. [See https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted.]

[5] I.e., RSSKL leaders.

[6] The plan evidently entails forming an alliance with the Avanti schools trust. Avanti’s primary focus is sponsoring Hindu schools in the UK. [See https://avanti.org.uk.] But RSSKL is not, of course, a Hindu school.

[7] "Inadequate" is the lowest grade Ofsted issues; it is a failing grade, effectively an F.

[8] I.e., protecting the safety of students at the school. Poor safeguarding practices have been an issue at several UK Steiner schools. While this issue has been emphasized in most news reports, in fact inspectors found many and varied failings in the schools, including poor teaching and lax management. [See “Steiner School Crisis”.]

[9] I.e., parents of students in the school.

[10] “The School Inspection Service (SIS) is an independent body established to carry out inspections of independent school in England under Section 109(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008.” [See https://www.schoolinspectionservice.co.uk/who-we-are/.]

[11] Situated on the same grounds, and run in a similar manner — perhaps with many of the same staff — the “new” school would apparently be, in effect, a continuation of the old school.

— R.R.







May 3, 2019

WALDORF FESTIVALS - 
ELEMENTS AND FAIRIES 


Waldorf schools are usually careful not to reveal too much about their beliefs and practices. [1] But occasionally, perhaps by accident, they drop their guard, at least a little.

The following is a “sponsored post” (a Waldorf PR release) printed in the Shawnee Mission Post [Kansas, USA]:


SPONSORED POST

Prairie Moon Waldorf School features 
MayFest this weekend, 
upcoming “Four Elements” day camp


Arrive at a Waldorf school and you are likely to see children woodworking, knitting, singing, acting out ancient myths, cooperatively working in groups on meaningful tasks such as gardening, or freely playing outdoors. [2]

Waldorf education, a nature-based, “whole child” approach to schooling, turns 100 years old this year [3] … This weekend and throughout the summer, Lawrence’s Prairie Moon Waldorf School will offer a series of opportunities for families to explore Waldorf, starting with a “MayFest” event [4] this coming Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and continuing with a number of day-camp sessions throughout the summer…

This weekend’s MayFest even…features student musical performances and a Maypole dance [5]…

For those interested in exploring Waldorf further, Prairie Moon will offer a series of day camps this summer. The lineup includes a “Four Elements” nature camp July 8-19…which will provide a chance for children to explore hands-on the elements of fire, water, air and earth [6]; [and] a “Fairy Tales and Forest Trails” camp June 3-14 [7]….






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] See “Secrets”.

[2] Such activities do indeed occupy the students for long stretches in typical Waldorf schools. These activities fill the time that might otherwise be devoted to academic subjects — what most people would call real education. Academic standards at Waldorf schools tend to be low. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.] Waldorf schools have very different goals and purposes than you will find in most other schools. [See, e.g., “Here’s the Answer”.]

[3] For the Waldorf take on nature, see “Neutered Nature”. For the Waldorf version of the “whole child” approach, see “Holistic Education”.

The first Waldorf school was opened, under the direction of Rudolf Steiner, in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany.

[4] The Waldorf year is punctuated by a series of seasonal festivals that are, in essence, disguised religious observances. They are usually given innocuous names such as "spring festival" or "Mayfest," but in fact they have spiritual importance in the semi-Christian Waldorf belief system. "Festivals … [T]he annual festivals mark important moments in the calendar … The main festivals are: Easter, Whitsun, St John's, Michaelmas, St Martin [sic], Advent, Christmas, Epiphany. These festivals are not only reminders of events that took place in the past, but also reflect cyclical spiritual events that take place in the breathing process of the earth every year….” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 45. (In Anthroposophical belief, the earth breathes in and out on a seasonal schedule.)

To explore the connections and disconnections between Anthroposophy and Christianity, see "Was He Christian?"

[5] See “Maypole dance” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).

[6] The thinking behind Waldorf schools tends to be backward and anti-scientific. Thus, for instance, Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner endorsed the ancient belief that there are really just four elements, not the dozens catalogued in modern science. [See “elements” in the BW/SE.]

[7] According to Waldorf belief, nature is the abode of “nature spirits” or “elemental beings” — otherwise known as “fairies.” These invisible beings really exist, Rudolf Steiner taught. Gnomes dwell in the earth, sylphs in the air, undines in water, and fire spirits (“salamanders”) in fire, he said. [See “elemental beings” “nature spirits”, “fairies,” “gnomes”, etc., in the BW/SE.]

Steiner's teachings on these matters are echoed in Waldorf belief and practice today. Consider the following book, recently reissued by an Anthroposophical publishing house. Note that the author was a Waldorf teacher:




[SteinerBooks, 2013]


“That fairyland and its denizens should be as much a concern of scientists as they have long been of poets and painters and storytellers was one of Steiner’s deep convictions. For he was a close observer of their life and work, and it was clear to him that they were of profound importance to the earth ... That Rudolf Steiner himself knew and loved the Little People (as traditional also calls the fairies) no one could doubt who heard him speak about them.” — Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS - A Natural History of Fairyland (SteinerBooks, 2013), p. 3. Ms. Spock died in 2008.








May 2, 2019

◊ Calendar ◊


Here are some upcoming events in the Anthroposophical/Waldorf scene in America, as presented at rudolfsteiner.org

(For primers on some of the topics mentioned in the following announcements, see The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia — for instance, the entries on "Anthroposophy", "Sophia", "biodynamic gardening and farming", "karma", "reincarnation", and so on.)




Please join us for an evening of conversation and exploration on our work with anthroposophy today.

• How can our work with anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner’s ideas inform and support how we meet the world in service as individuals and in community?

• What is the connection between our inner work and daily experience within our work communities, economic activities, and meeting the social, technological, and ecological challenges that face us in our culture?

• Can we imagine an Anthroposophical Society of healing and invitation toward a more human-centered future?




This course will investigate the principles and practices of The Sacred Feminine, and its relationship with agriculture and food systems. The ethical costs and injustices of industrialized agriculture are intolerable … We will discuss how biodynamic agriculture and other sacred paradigms can help us move away from the edge of [ecological] disasters … Through reading and discussing selected writings and lectures of Rudolf Steiner and others, we will deliberate the role of the human on Earth and the development of human consciousness….




The Karma Project: ]
A Western Approach to Reincarnation & Karma ]

[May 8, 7:15pm Central 8:15 Eastern; Online]]


What culture of inner and outer practice is needed, in ourselves and within the community, so that a creative future may emerge?…

Guidance — and challenge — from Rudolf Steiner (August 3, 1924): "If we want to experience our karma in a comfortable way — it will surely take vengeance on us in one way or another ... to be anthroposophists we must be able to observe our own experience of karma with constant wide-awake attention.”

…An anthroposophic psychology must take seriously the different functions of body, soul, and spirit. Spirit — light, freedom, beyond time and space; Physical Body — vehicle for experience and expression; Soul — the mediator. Karma — held as precious in Spirit, stamped into the Physical Body, and worked in Soul. Whereas the Spirit sings in light and freedom, the Soul learns through darkness and constraints, through struggles. The anthroposophic notion of karma helps us understand how we can wrestle with our own being, transforming through experience.




1919: Discord and Destiny, ]
four lectures by Eugene Schwartz ]
[May 11 & May 18, Kimberton PA]]

During the autumn of 2019, Waldorf schools worldwide will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first Waldorf school. Eugene Schwartz contends that the year 1919 was, in fact, destined to be the only year in which Rudolf Steiner could have taken this momentous step. In four lectures, each covering one season of 1919, Eugene will focus on the words and deeds of Rudolf Steiner in the context of the artistic, political, pedagogical, and scientific developments of that time.




























For previous Waldorf-related news items,

see the News Archive

at the 

Waldorf Watch Annex.












The news items on this page are culled from media around the world, especially those in English-speaking countries. The commentary appended to most items is my own. (I sign my contributions, not because I like seeing my name or my initials, but to keep authorship — and responsibility — clear.)


I often generalize about Waldorf schools. There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; describe the schools based on available evidence concerning their structure and operationsBut not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes, its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), and the composition of its faculty. 

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.

Momentous events, with potentially enormous consequences, are afoot in the wide world. Seen in this real-world context, events in and around Waldorf schools may seem insignificant. But as long as we care about the well-being of children who have been sent to Waldorf schools, or who may be sent there, we should carry on with our work here.


— Roger Rawlings









































Artwork, such as it is, by R.R.