WALDORF / STEINER      

     NEWS      





The news items on this page are culled from media around the world — especially in English-speaking countries. The commentary appended to most items is my own.
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 shrink to near-irrelvance.
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






May 24, 2018



TROUBLES AT 
THE HEADQUARTERS 


The inner life of the Anthroposophical community — including the Waldorf community — has often been turbulent. From its beginning, Anthroposophy has been riven by factions and schisms. There have been doctrinal disputes, power struggles, and personality clashes. While striving to show a placid, beatific face to the world, Anthroposophists have often drawn their daggers when facing one another. 
This is only to be expected, perhaps. After all, Anthroposophists are human beings, having all of the virtues and faults of humanity at large. While aspiring to cosmic transcendence, Anthroposophists live here on Earth, coping with life and its challenges pretty much like everyone else — imperfectly — humanly.




Reports of turmoil and struggle have sometimes emerged from within Waldorf schools. Thus, for instance, a former member of a Waldorf school board has given this description of the teachers at her Waldorf school:

"I used to watch the Waldorf teachers at parent gatherings ... The teachers would stand on the stage with their arms around each other, singing songs in rounds, while parents beamed. 'How lucky we are to have this school,' was the mantra. Personally I was amazed by the teachers' performance as they presented a 'real' sense of unity between them. Amazed because behind closed doors, they were all backstabbers. Seemingly insecure people competing for the top position on the Anthroposophical dog pile. It was never pretty. There was a lot of acting out, both blatant and passive (aggressive)." — Debra Snell. [See, e.g., "Coming Undone".]

Similarly, an aggrieved Waldorf teacher has written the following:

"[T]hree years of productivity and relative peace were followed by a period of discord ... I remember several occasions when the work of the College [the school's executive committee] ground to a halt for weeks or even months because of implacable bees in the bonnets of one or two members. I remember other occasions when good people left the school because they couldn’t stand it anymore ... Between them the school's managers and their protégés had turned the Rudolf Steiner School into a place where I didn't want to be [anymore]." — Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004)pp. 102-115. [See "His Education".]




Now a news account has emerged from within the Anthroposophical community, detailing struggles at the headquarters of the Anthroposophical movement. The events there are of little interest to outsiders (two members of the executive council were expelled), but they loom large for Anthroposophists. The news account issued by the Nexus News Agency — an Anthroposophical outreach service — is long, detailed, and somewhat tendentious. I will reproduce just a few excerpts, and I will add some footnotes that may help clarify matters for outsiders:


A vote and its consequences

By Christian von Arnim

The official statement from the annual general meeting of the worldwide General Anthroposophical Society (GAS) [1] at the Goetheanum [2] in Dornach, Switzerland was terse: “The meeting also refused to affirm the extension of the period in office of the two executive council members Paul Mackay [3] and Bodo von Plato [4]”....

As well-informed sources made clear, there was dismay in the executive council [5] about the decision of the AGM [6] not to follow its recommendation to reaffirm Mackay and von Plato in office....

Others were less restrained and accused the Swiss Anthroposophical Society [7] — or, more precisely, its executive council — of having lobbied against the affirmation of the two GAS executive council members by unfair means....

What this vote was clearly not about was a new dispute about the constitution of the GAS or the fundamental direction of the society, as happened around the turn of the millenium and in the noughties when the society was riven with an internal conflict stoked by a vocal splinter group. That conflict ended in the courts and with the expulsion of the members of the latter group....

The disappointment is palpable in Swiss circles that the council of the Swiss society has been publicly turned into the scapegoat for the vote against Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato.... [8]

[I]t was not just the Swiss executive council which rejected a proposal from some in the group of general secretaries of national societies that they should present a united front in support of Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato at the AGM — because there was no such unity....

There was also criticism of the overly emotional and sometimes less than objective argumentation which sometimes also turned personal....

[A] question remains about the failure to inform members who were unable to attend the AGM about anything else that happened at the meeting. Reading some of the notices, also in reports to the members of national societies, one might well conclude that the affirmation of Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato was the sole item on the agenda. Not a word about the report of treasurer Justus Wittich on the severe hole in the Goetheanum finances — possibly a subject which is just as serious with just as much relevance for the long-term future of the society. [9]

[5/24/2018   http://www.nna-news.org/news/article/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=2696&cHash=e7447424523ebb8c4bd7cf1d74f293c3   This story originally appeared on May 23.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] The General Anthroposophical Society is the central, formal body of the Anthroposophical movement. Anthroposophists are not required to join, and membership has fluctuated over the years.

[2] The Goetheanum is a large building (in effect, a cathedral) that serves as the headquarters of the General Anthroposophical Society. Located in Dornach, Switzerland, the Goetheanum — named for the German poet Goethe — was designed by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] Born in 1946, Paul Mackay studied Anthroposophy in England and Germany. He has been active in Anthroposophical banking and in Anthroposophical medicinal/cosmetic manufacture. He became a member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in 1996.

[4] Born in 1958, Bodo von Plato studied Waldorf education in Germany, Austria, and France. Having been a Waldorf teacher in Paris, he developed and led the cultural impulse research center at the Friedrich von Hardenberg Institute for Cultural Studies in Heidelberg, Germany.  He became a member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in 2001.

[5] I.e., the central administrative committee of the General Anthroposophical Society.

[6] I.e., the Annual General Meeting.

[7] There are arms of the General Anthroposophical Society in many countries. Like the GAS, the national arms have their own executive councils.

[8] The Swiss Anthroposophical Society may exercise particular influence at the Goetheanum, since the building is in Switzerland. However, the Nexus News Service indicates that opposition to Mackay and von Plato came from other quarters, as well.

[9] Some of the strains within the Anthroposophical movement are caused by the movement's sometimes-precarious financing. There is a perpetual need to generate sufficient funds to support the GAS and various Anthroposophical initiatives, including Waldorf education.

— R.R.










May 23, 2018



RUDOLF STEINER VS. 
SO-CALLED EDUCATED PEOPLE  




Today's quotation posted at The great [sic] Rudolf Steiner Quotes Site:


"At the present time, one regards every man as intelligent, even as if he were wise. However, that is not the case. One can be intelligent and have the most stupid thoughts. The greatest foolishness is thought out very intelligently. Especially if one looks at a large part of contemporary science, it must be said: This science is actually intelligent in all areas, but it is certainly not wise."

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 353 – Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker – Dornach, May 10, 1924 (page 214)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger





Waldorf Watch Response:

This quotation touches on a subject we have discussed here recently: the relationship between Anthroposophy and modern science. Although Rudolf Steiner sometimes said that there are no real contradictions between Anthroposophy (which he classified as a spiritual science) and the modern physical sciences, he in fact harbored a deep hostility to modern science. There is a fundamental conflict between Steiner's teachings and the findings of modern science. The universe described by "spiritual science" — in particular the description propounded by Rudolf Steiner — is utterly unlike the universe described by modern physical science — built on the insights of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and others. [See, e.g., "Science" and "Steiner's 'Science'".]


Modern physical science is wrong. That's part of what we can find in today's quotation. But Steiner's words are also interesting at a deeper level. Steiner meant his statement one way; we may read it another way.


"One can be intelligent and have the most stupid thoughts." Steiner presumably meant that it is possible to be quite intelligent and yet to disbelieve his teachings — a smart person may stupidly accept the modern physical-scientific description of reality instead.


Steiner's followers will read his words as he meant them. But many other people nowadays would be inclined to turn Steiner's words around. They would agree that a smart people can believe stupid things, but one example that would likely spring to mind is Anthroposophy itself. [1] A smart person may fall under Steiner's sway — but how can this be? Why would any intelligent person accept Steiner's phantasmagoric, irrational teachings?


It's a deep question, touching on many deep yearnings in the human psyche. We would all like to think that our lives have meaning. We would all like to think that we matter. We would all like to think that life is more than a series of random, serendipitous accidents. We would all like for life to be more fulfilling, more meaningful, more magical than that. Steiner was one of the many seers and prophets who have volunteered to answer our questions and satisfy our yearnings.


The chief problem with believing Steiner is that he requires us to reject virtually all real knowledge. If we are to believe him, we must reject real knowledge, and established facts, and the testimony of our own senses.


Steiner did not just oppose modern physical science; he rejected most modern scholarship of all stripes. He said we need a wholly different mindset than the kind of thinking used by "so-called educated people." Steiner said the following, for instance:


"The time must come when [we] take up the irksome task of [getting beyond] the way thinking is taught by the so-called educated people in the universities." — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 92.


The "so-called educated people" — these were his real opponents, he knew. Steiner stood against education as it is usually understood; he stood against modern knowledge, as university-educated people understand it. [2] The knowledge found in universities is, he knew, ultimately incompatible with his own teachings:

"The kind of life and thinking emanating from the Universities started the trend towards abstraction — towards what was subsequently to be idolised and venerated as the pure, natural scientific thinking which to-day invades the customary ways of thought with such devastating results."  — Rudolf Steiner, “Spiritual Emptiness and Social Life” (THE GOLDEN BLADE, 1954), GA 190.

Actual knowledge, such as that found in universities, is "devastating" for "customary ways of thought." The customary ways come to us from out of the past; they are suffused with superstition, fantasy, and ignorance. [See "The Ancients".] But Steiner embraced those antique ways of thinking, turning to them to develop his fantastical belief system, Anthroposophy. We must reject factual, knowledge-based, university-based thinking, Steiner said:

"Human beings must embark upon the unpleasant task of abandoning the mode of thinking which the universities produce in the so-called educated classes today...." — Rudolf Steiner, BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 1, GA 178.

The "so-called educated classes" (that is, college graduates) and the "so-called educated people in universities" (that is, college professors and students) — Steiner set himself up in opposition to these people, people who actually pursue and may even possess actual knowledge about the actual universe. Steiner wanted us to accept a different way of thinking instead. He want us to accept his way of thinking — his dreams and fantasies and falsifications.

Come to Anthroposophy, Steiner urged. All that is required is to repudiate rationality, and knowledge, and real education.

So, yes, it is possible to be quite intelligent (as Steiner was) and yet think the most stupid thoughts (such as the doctrines of Anthroposophy). Steiner was, in this sense — and quite contrary to his intended meaning — completely correct.

[To delve more into the question why intelligent people might fall for Steiner's falsehoods, see, e.g., "Why? Oh Why?", "Fooling (Ourselves)", and "Inside Scoop".]

— R.R.





[1] If you are unacquainted with Steiner's teachings and the many bloopers they contain, you might take a gander at "Steiner's Blunders".

[2] Steiner's repudiation of regular, rational education has clear implications for the sort of education he founded: Waldorf education. [To consider the actual nature of Waldorf "education," see, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Soul School", and "Spiritual Agenda".] Waldorf education is ultimately religious. [See "Schools as Churches".] This may appeal to you. But make sure that you understand the particular religion on which Waldorf is based: Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anrothroposophy a Religion?"]











May 21, 2018



WALDORF, STEM,  
AND LOOPING  


From Cowichan Valley Citizen (British Columbia, Canada):



Sunrise Waldorf School teacher 
honoured for STEM


Lisa Hitch, a Grade 8 teacher at Sunrise Waldorf School, was named May 4 as a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)....

Hitch is one of 64 teachers across Canada in three categories to get these awards but she is one of only two in British Columbia. Her award honours “outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teachers that help develop the culture of innovation Canada needs today, and in the future,” according to the government’s website about the awards.

In Waldorf schools, a teacher takes a class from Grade 1 all the way through to Grade 8, so this is Lisa’s eighth year with this class....

Sunrise Waldorf could be called a “low-tech school” — no computers in class — but Hitch still uses inquiry-based methods to help students find the extraordinary in the ordinary. They learn to gather, process and analyze information, moving from wonder to observation to concepts....

And, she uses a program she herself brought to the school, called cyber civics, in which students learn how to retrieve, analyze and use online information, including how to critically evaluate search results and properly cite sources....






Waldorf Watch Response:

It is certainly possible for Waldorf teachers to excel. It is even possible for Waldorf science teachers to excel. And when they do so, they certainly should be commended.


Waldorf teachers often face special obstacles, however — obstacles that may make their jobs unusually challenging.


One major obstacle is the principe that, in Waldorf schools, providing students with a good education is only a secondary objective. Enacting the occult essence of Anthroposophy is considerably more important. Thus, one Waldorf spokesperson has written this:


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


In making this assertion, Gilbert Childs echoes Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education. The most important requirement and objective for a Waldorf teacher is to be a true Anthroposophist. Thus, for instance, Steiner said the following:

"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.

Fidelity to Anthroposophy can cause Waldorf teachers to reject much of modern scholarship and research, especially the findings of modern science. Anthroposophy is a gnostic religion [see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] that describes the cosmos — including the Earth and its inhabitants — in terms that are utterly unlike the descriptions produced by modern, rational inquiry [see, e.g., "Everything"]. For this reason, science education in Waldorf schools is often quite weak. [See, e.g., the Waldorf Watch news item for May 11, 2018: "The Limitations of Science at Waldorf Schools".]

We should pause to acknowledge that not all Waldorf teachers are devout Anthroposophists. Waldorf schools sometimes hire non-Anthroposophists when they can't find enough true disciples of Rudolf Steiner to teach all subjects and all grades. But the goal is to hire Anthroposophists — which means hiring individuals who give only secondary priority to teaching.

 
If Waldorf science classes are often weak, the Waldorf approach to modern technology is similarly constrained. Notice that Sunrise Waldorf School "could be called a 'low-tech school' — no computers in class." At a typical Waldorf school, there would usually be few if any computers anywhere on campus — in the classrooms, in the offices, or anywhere else. There would also typically be no televisions, no movie projectors, no overhead projectors — few if any electrical, technological gizmos of any kind. The reason may shock you. Anthroposophy posits the existence of numerous demons. One of the worst is Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".] Anthroposophy teaches that technological devices allow Ahriman and his minions to incarnate on Earth. So, for instance, a leading Anthroposophist has written this:

“[T]he whole computer and Internet industry is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman ... The net of ahrimanic spider beings developing out of the internet around the earth...will serve [Ahriman] particularly effectively and offer him extremely favorable potential to work.” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, "The Being of the Internet"; see, e.g., The Philosophy of Freedom, downloaded 2/10/2018.

Again, assertions like this echo Rudolf Steiner, who was fearful of science and technology in most of their forms:

“Everything that has arisen in recent times in the way of materialistic science and industrial technology is of an out-and-out ahrimanic nature.” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 55.

Ms. Hitch has evidently found creative ways to help her students deal with the Internet (which they presumably do at home). Still, any teacher who is true to Steiner should be extremely wary of cyber technology — perhaps more than is rationally justified — and s/he might well convey this wariness to her students — perhaps more than is rationally justified.

[For more on the Waldorf view of computers, the Internet, and so on, see, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]



 
We should hope that math instruction in Waldorf schools is not pervaded with occult beliefs. After all, two plus two equals four even among Anthroposophists. 

Still, a strange, mystical vibe often exists in Waldorf math classes. Anthroposophy contains many numerological inclinations. Steiner taught that various numbers have profound spiritual significance. 

"Two is called the number of revelation ... Four is the sign of the cosmos ... Five is the number of evil ... Seven is the number of perfection ... [etc.]" — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 32-44.


While such beliefs may not be explicitly taught in most Waldorf math classes, nonetheless a spiritual atmosphere often prevails.

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

[For more on these matters, see "Magic Numbers" and "Mystic Math".]




We should comment on at least one more topic raised in the Cowichan Valley Citizen article.

The article initially identifies Ms. Hitch as an "8th grade teacher," but it later says that she has shepherded a group of students from first grade through eighth grade ("In Waldorf schools, a teacher takes a class from Grade 1 all the way through to Grade 8, so this is Lisa’s eighth year with this class"). It is, indeed, common for a Waldorf teacher to stay with a group of students this way. The practice is sometimes referred to as "looping" (at the end of one year, the teacher loops around and teaches the same students the next year). Sometimes a Waldorf teacher stays with a class through fifth grade, sometimes through eighth grade, and sometimes — in rare cases — s/he stays with the class all the way through twelfth grade.

One advantage of looping is that the teacher should get to now her students very well, and thus she should be able to tailor her work to meet their needs.

But there are also disadvantages. A student who dislikes that particular teacher is in for a long, difficult journey. Moreover, even when students and teacher get along well together, that sole teacher will have an enormous influence in the lives of those kids. Inevitably, the kids will wind up hearing and learning primarily just one point of view — that one teacher's point of view. And if that teacher is an Anthroposophist, then all the years controlled by that teacher may amount to Anthroposophical conditioning of the students. Not to mince words, those years may amount to Anthroposophical indoctrination. [See "Indoctrination".]

And then there's this. In the Waldorf system, a teacher who stays with a group of students year after year is expected to teach that group all of their main subjects: math, science, history, geography, literature, and so on. Consider what this means. One teacher will teach essentially all subjects in first grade, and then s/he will teach essentially all subjects in second grade, and then in third grade, and then, and then, and... No teacher is truly qualified to do this. If a teacher is especially good at science and math, s/he is likely to be less qualified to teach history, for instance, or literature. And it is extremely doubtful that she is truly qualified to teach any subjects, even her best subjects, at all grade levels. The Waldorf system ensures that at least some subjects will be taught badly, probably at several grade levels. By cramming, and working overtime, a teacher may contrive to stay more or less ahead of her students year after year. But it will be a strain. And inevitably the teacher will wind up trying to teach material that is s/he has not truly mastered. The Waldorf system ensures that at least some subjects — perhaps many subjects at multiple grade levels — will be taught badly.
— R.R.












May 20, 2018



PLAYING, LEARNING, 
AND DREAMING  


From The Suburban Times [state of Washington, USA]:



Planting the Seeds for 
Early Childhood Learning

Early childhood education is a necessity when it comes to having a well-developed child. Education happens in many ways through a school system as well as the work that is done by parents at home. Developing a love for learning early is important so that the child looks forward to the learning process. Learning can take place in numerous ways and should be adapted when needed to a child’s learning speed and abilities....

Early childhood education can be extremely rewarding for the child, educator and parents because it is setting up a foundation that is meant to last a lifetime. This foundation must be nurtured and built carefully to allow it to set well....

Bright Water Waldorf School in Seattle on Capitol Hill says, their kindergarten has play at its heart. "Through longer periods of free play, children develop social skills and creative problem-solving, such as how to build a silk-and-wood fort together, or how to dress a doll to keep it warm. Play is balanced with more structured activities, such as watercolor painting, felting, preparing a snack, and counting games, all in a predictable rhythm. Teachers strive to show behaviours and speech worthy of a child’s imitation. These activities and new family relationships enrich a child’s young life, and build a bridge for the whole family between home and school"....

[5/20/2018   https://thesubtimes.com/2018/05/18/planting-the-seeds-for-early-childhood-learning/   This story originally appeared on May 18.]





Waldorf Watch Response:

Early-childhood education — preschool instruction intended to ensure that children are ready for the beginning of formal schooling in first grade — is indeed highly important. Kids who start out behind their peers in first grade may stay behind, or fall even further behind, as formal education proceeds. For these children, school can become a torment, and its benefits may remain out of reach. This can produce seriously damaging long-term (sometimes life-long) consequences.


Preschool programs that emphasize play may certainly help children in many ways. But if these programs scrimp on preparation for academic instruction — things like basic preparation for reading, writing, and math — the children may emerge ill-equipped for regular schooling. Waldorf preschool programs often scrimp in precisely these ways. Despite the reference to "counting games" in the item above, Waldorf schools generally hold that kids are not ready for basic academics until they are at least seven years old.


According to Waldorf belief, young children should be kept in a dreamlike state of consciousness. Toddlers have an innate connection with the spirit realm, Waldorf doctrine holds, and this connection should be maintained as long as possible:


“Childhood is commonly regarded as a time of steadily expanding consciousness.... Yet in [Rudolf] Steiner’s view, the very opposite is the case: childhood is a time of contracting consciousness.... [The child] loses his dream-like perception of the creative world of spiritual powers [i.e., the spirit realm and its gods] ... This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine. ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16.


Waldorf schools actively attempt to slow the maturation of their students. This is done in order to preserve youngsters' connections to the gods. Rudolf Steiner told Waldorf teachers to think of their efforts as an extension of what the gods did for children before sending them down for Earthly incarnation:

"We [Waldorf teachers] will be conscious that physical existence here is a continuation of the spiritual, and that we, through education, have to carry on what has hitherto been done by higher beings [i.e., gods] without our participation. This alone will give the right mood and feeling to our whole system of teaching and education, if we fill ourselves with this consciousness: here, in this human being [i.e., the student], you, with your action, have to achieve a continuation of what higher beings have done before his birth."  — Rudolf Steiner, STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 17.

The connection to the gods will be broken, Steiner said, if young kids are taught to think rationally. Dreams, and imagination, and play are far more helpful for young children, he said. Rationality can be damaging:

“You will harm him [i.e., the student] if you are educating him rationalistically [i.e., emphasizing rational thought or intellect], because you are coercing his will into what he has already done with — pre-natal life [i.e., life in the spirit realm before incarnation on Earth]. You must not introduce too many abstract concepts [i.e., rational or intellectual thoughts] into what you bring to the child. You must rather introduce imaginative pictures ... In educating we take up again in some measure the activities which were carried out [by the gods] before [our] birth ... The spiritual Powers [gods] have so dealt with us that they have planted within us this image activity [i.e., access to true imaginative pictures] which works in us after birth. If in our education we ourselves give children images we are taking up this cosmic activity again."  — Rudolf Steiner, STUDY OF MAN, p. 39.*

Despite their concerns about the harm that can befall children if they are educated too young, Waldorf schools are usually eager to receive even the youngest children into Waldorf early-childhood programs. Waldorf teachers typically think they understand children far better than other adults do. (Waldorf teachers understand the connections between infants and the gods, for instance, and they know that rational education can harm the kids.) They want to undo the influence parents have had on their children. Steiner urged Waldorf teachers to see their task in this light:

"You [Waldorf teachers] will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents." — Rudolf Steiner, STUDY OF MAN, p. 16.

It would be best, perhaps, if Waldorf teachers could take control of children almost immediately after the kids arrive on Earth. Speaking to Waldorf teachers, Steiner said this:

"[I]t might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into one's care soon after birth." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69.

Waldorf programs for very young children can be attractive. Their emphasis on play can be charming. But parents should understand the real nature of these programs before enrolling their children in them.
— R.R.





* This is hard going. Here is the gist of this passage in a somewhat clearer translation:

“You will injure children if you educate them rationally ... We must see that [correct] thinking is a pictorial activity [i.e., an imaginative process] which is based in what we experienced before birth [i.e., in our previous lives in the spirit realm] ... To take this into our own feelings, namely, that education is a continuation of supersensible activity before birth, gives education the necessary consecration.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 61-62.

To delve into the sort of thinking Steiner advocated, see the discussion of "living thoughts" in "Thinking".

Steiner's prescriptions for the education of young children are encapsulated here:

"Although it is necessary, especially today, for people to be completely awake later in life, it is equally necessary to let children live in their gentle dreamy experiences as long as possible, so that they move slowly into life. They need to remain as long as possible in their imaginations and pictorial capacities without intellectuality." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2004), pp. 103-104.












May 19, 2018



◊ READINGS ◊


CHARLEMAGNE, DRUIDS, 
GNOSIS, AND WALDORF



  
[Waldorf Publications, 2015.]


Defenders of Waldorf education sometimes admit (a bit shamefacedly) that Waldorf originally arose from the bonzo supernatural preachments of Rudolf Steiner. But that was long ago, they say. Waldorf thinking nowadays is bonzo-free, they assure us.


We must take such assurances with salt.


The thinking behind Waldorf schools today remains bonzo, and it remains rooted in Steiner’s preachments.


Here’s an example. This is material from a book that was published recently, in the 21st century, by a Waldorf educational organization.


The book is AN EXPLORATION INTO THE DESTINY OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL MOVEMENT. The author is Waldorf teacher Fran Lutters. The publisher is Waldorf Publications, at the Research Institute for Waldorf Education. The copyright is held by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). The date of publication is 2011. The book was reprinted in 2015.


(The material I will quote is a little hard to follow. It is bonzo, after all. I will add some footnotes that may help you navigate through it.)



…The Lord of world karma is Christ [1] … [T]here are not only good spiritual beings [2], those who serve the Lord of world karma; there are also evil ones who oppose Him … The hosts of the Good are led by the prince of the archangels, Michael [3], and those of Evil [are led] by Ahriman/Satan [4]….


…[Rudolf] Steiner…may be called the great teacher of karma and reincarnation [5].… 


When we want to find the origin of [the karma of the Waldorf School] we must go back to the 8th and 9th centuries, the time of Charlemagne [6] … Charlemagne founded the first schools in his realm, and…he learned to read and write himself.… [7]


[Charlemagne’s grandfather] Charibert de Laon…may be called the spiritual leader of the 8th century … Many of the deep insights into the world of the stars, of nature and the seasons possessed by the Druids [8]…were [known to] Charibert de Laon … [H]e connected these insight [with knowledge] about the Sun God, who had made his abode in a son of humanity [9]….


[C]osmic Christianity [10] was taught in the Hibernian (Irish) mystery temples [11] … The Hibernian mysteries…taught knowledge of divine hierarchies [12] … [T]he Hibernian mystery centers [13] taught the wisdom on the ancient mysteries and of the Gnosis [14]….


All Gnostic schools and ancient mysteries were eradicated by Rome in the 4th century … [But in] the 8th century world karma had matured to the point that this knowledge could be revealed to humanity … Charibert de Laon was one of those who were able to receive this revelation….  


— Frans Lutters, AN EXPLORATION INTO THE DESTINY OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL MOVEMENT, pp. 51-53.



Lutters proceeds to explain that Waldorf schools are modern successors to the mystery centers of yore, especially the Hibernian mystery centers. He says that Rudolf Steiner made this evident in lectures he delivered to teachers at the first Waldorf school. [15]



The lectures [Steiner delivered on] August 22 and 23, 1919, look like a renewal of the Hibernian mysteries within modern pedagogical striving … It is as if in these lectures we are permitted to tread the path of the Hibernian mysteries again, but now as Waldorf teachers … That which was once sought in the great Hibernian mysteries…finds its renewal in Waldorf school pedagogy…. [16]


— Frans Lutters, AN EXPLORATION INTO THE DESTINY OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL MOVEMENT, pp. 149-150.



So there you have it. This is what Waldorf schools are. This is what the karma of Waldorf education is. "That which was once sought in the great Hibernian mysteries…finds it renewal in Waldorf school pedagogy."


This is what a Waldorf teacher tells us, anyway. He tells us this in a Waldorf publication released by Waldorf authorities in the 21st century.





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] According to Steiner, Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God”.] Christ now presides over the forces of karma, so that he may free us from karma in the future. [See the entry for “Lord of Karma” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. ]


[2] These are, primarily, gods. Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. [See “Polytheism”.]


[3] According to Steiner, Michael — the Archangel of the Sun — is a warrior god who fights on behalf of Christ, the Sun God. [See “Michael”.]


[4] Ahriman is the chief devil of Zoroastrianism. The god of darkness, Ahriman is the opponent of the Sun God. [See “Ahriman”.] In Zoroastrianism, the Sun God is known as Ahura Mazda.


[5] Steiner’s followers consider him to have been one of the greatest spiritual masters in all of human history. [See, e.g., “Guru”.] Many of Steiner’s teachings center on Christ, and thus they bear a resemblance to Christianity. Yet in many ways, Steiner's teachings — which constitute the core of Anthroposophy — are fundamentally incompatible with the New Testament. Thus, for instance, Anthroposophy is polytheistic, and it emphasizes such unbliblical doctrines as karma and reincarnation. [See “Karma” and “Reincarnation”.]


[6] Charlemagne (742-814) was king of the Franks and, later, leader of the Holy Roman Empire.


[7] I.e., Charlemagne was an educational innovator. As such, he set the example for subsequent educational innovators (such as Rudolf Steiner).


[8] These were priest/magicians of the Celtic religion, a pagan faith that flourished in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Their teachings included such things as astrology (“deep insights into the world of the stars”), which have been incorporated into the Waldorf belief system. [See, e.g., "Astrology".]


[9] I.e., he knew that the Sun God had incarnated in the body of a human (Jesus).


[10] “Cosmic” Christianity is the religion centered on the Sun God who incarnated on Earth; it is polytheistic and gnostic.


[11] I.e., it was taught by the Druids. Steiner taught that there have been three major streams of spiritual wisdom: a northern stream, an eastern stream, and a western stream. The “Hibernian mystery temples” were centers of secret spiritual wisdom of the western stream. Also called the “Arthurian” stream (for King Arthur), the western or Hibernian stream was epitomized by esoteric Celtic lore.


[12] I.e., gods. (In Anthroposophy, the nine ranks of gods are subdivided into three major groupings called “hierarchies”.)


[13] I.e., the Hibernian mystery temples and other centers of secret spiritual knowledge in Hibernian lands.


[14] I.e., secret Christian or semi-Christian spiritual knowledge. [See “Gnosis”.]


[15] These lectures provide the rationale for Waldorf education. [See “Oh Humanity”.]


[16] Lutters modestly qualifies his assertions, here ("look like", "as if"). He defers to Rudolf Steiner, so he does not assert his conclusion dogmatically. But he is clear about his conclusion ("That which was once sought in the great Hibernian mysteries…finds it renewal in Waldorf school pedagogy").

— R.R.












May 17, 2018



WONDERFUL WALDORF ARTS 
(AND MYSTERY WISDOM) 


From The Shepparton News [Victoria, Australia]:



Steiner works with the arts 
to lift students


Steiner education provides enjoyable and relevant learning through deep engagement and creative endeavour, to develop ethical, capable individuals who can contribute to society with initiative and purpose.

Mansfield Steiner School principal Fran Cummins said Steiner education was a “highly respected international educational movement” with more than 1050 schools in 60 countries.

Ms Cummins said Steiner education was future-orientated and the holistic style underpinning this pedagogy supported the healthy wellbeing of children….

“The Steiner curriculum…is based on the unfolding development of the child…with a strong emphasis on teaching through the arts and experiential learning,” Ms Cummins said.…






Waldorf Watch Response:

Articles in local media, especially small newspapers, tend toward boosterism. If a business or other institution is local, the reporters generally boost it. This understandable tendency accounts for much of the glowing treatment Waldorf or Steiner schools often receive in small media outlets.

Today's article in The Shepparton News is a particularly striking example. The reporter has become, in effect, a Waldorf PR spokesperson. She uncritically passes along the self-promoting claims made by a Waldorf representative, conveying these claims as if they were factually true. This is particularly evident in the first paragraph quoted above, in which enormous claims are made (Waldorf education is "enjoyable," "relevant," etc.) without attribution. At least in the following paragraphs, we glean that the reporter is repeating the views of Fran Cummins, the principal of the local Waldorf school.

Some of what Ms. Cummins says about Waldorf education may be true, but the article provides no evidence. And certainly the article does not dig to learn whether any of Ms. Cummins' claims are untrue.

If a reporter were to dig, she would at least learn that Waldorf's "future-oriented" and "holistic" approach is rooted in occult mysticism. Virtually everything at a Waldorf school stems from the esoteric, spiritual fantasies propounded by the founder of Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner.

Let's focus on a single example, the subject identified in the Shepparton News headline: art. Waldorf schools do indeed place great emphasis on art. Waldorf students typically paint and draw and make music and stage plays of various kinds and listen to stories and myths and epics. Waldorf schools often seem almost indistinguishable from arts academies, and they are often quite beautiful as a result. Many families are drawn to the schools for this reason alone.

Art is surely a wonderful thing. Children surely benefit from deep exposure to art. But to understand the unique Waldorf approach to art, we need to consult Rudolf Steiner. If we do this, we will find, for instance, that one Steiner book about art is titled ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998). Another is titled ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996). 

Hello? Mystery wisdom?

What Steiner means is that the arts arise from hidden spiritual knowledge of the sort he claimed to possess. Art comes to us from the gods, he said, and it provides a way for us to contact the gods. (Yes gods, plural. The Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, is a polytheistic religion. [See "Polytheism".])

Thus, Steiner made statements such as this:

“This is what gives art its essential lustre: it transplants us here and now into the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, quoted in THE GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961), p. 25.

When Steiner said such things, he meant them literally. He taught that gods descend to Earth through artistic elements such as beautiful colors, musical tones, and graceful dance movements. And he said we can rise into the spirit realm through the same elements. For instance, here's something he said about eurythmy, a special form of dance practiced in Waldorf schools (and invented by one R. Steiner):

"Eurythmy shapes and moves the human organism in a way that furnishes direct external proof of our participation in the supersensible [i.e., invisible, spiritual] world. In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY, p. 247.

Note that Steiner speaks of "having" people do eurythmy. This is what happens in Waldorf schools. The students are generally required to do eurythmy. This form of mystical movement is considered central to the Waldorf curriculum. Eurythmy links people directly to the spirit realm.

Or consider a special type of painting that is usually stressed in Waldorf schools: "wet-on-wet" watercolor painting. In this type of painting, large wet brushes are used to apply thin watery paint to paper that is itself already wet. The resulting images are indistinct floods of color in which no distinct forms or shapes are visible. Why would Waldorf schools want to promote such painting? Because the images produced conform to Steiner's description of the spirit realm:

“You see, when the soul arrives on earth in order to enter its body, it has come down from spirit-soul worlds [i.e., the spirit realm] in which there are no spatial forms ... But though the world from which the soul descends has no spatial forms or lines, it does have color intensities, color qualities. Which is to say that the world man inhabits between death and a new birth [i.e., between incarnations on Earth] is a soul-permeated, spirit-permeated world of light, of color, of tone; a world of qualities not quantities; a world of intensities rather than extensions.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), p. 23.

In having their students create such paintings, Waldorf teachers link the students to the spirit realm (or the teachers think this is what they are doing). The teachers enact the religious beliefs of Anthroposophy no less than when they "have" the students do eurythmy, or play musical instruments, or immerse themselves in fables and myths.

The arts at Waldorf schools provide a form of Anthroposophical religious experience (or they are meant to do so). Waldorf schools are, ultimately, religious institutions. And the religion is Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

You may want to send your children to a religious school. But before sending them to a Waldorf school, make sure you can embrace the religion found there.

[For more in the arts in Waldorf education, see "Magical Arts", "Lesson Books", and, e.g., "Eurythmy".]
— R.R.











May 16, 2018



NEWS BRIEFS

1. SPIRALING



Photo by Caitlin Fowlkes 
Siskiyou School Administrator Aurilia McNamara, left, and artist Livi Gower unveil a new mural on Friday.


From Ashland Daily Tidings [Oregon, USA]:


The spiral loops back — and out

BY CAITLIN FOWLKES


The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where each number is equal to the sum of the two before it. Any two successive numbers create a ratio very close to the golden ratio forming a spiral, which is found in many natural phenomena such as galaxy spirals, hurricanes and flowers.

This idea inspired Livi Gower’s Ashland High School senior project. Gower, a Siskiyou School alumnus, donated a unique Fibonacci sequence mural to the school Friday morning.... [The Siskiyou School is a Waldorf school in southern Oregon; it consists of grades 1-8.]

"The Fibonacci spiral and the Fibonacci sequence is the best way that I can explain in a visual way Waldorf education, and especially the Siskiyou School, and how they approach education because the Fibonacci sequence is a visual representation of something very linear,” Gower said.... 

...The mural now hangs in the courtyard of the Siskiyou School....

[5/16/2018   http://dailytidings.com/news/education/the-spiral-loops-back-and-out    This story originally appeared on May 15.]





Waldorf Watch Response:

Ms. Gower's mural may be even more appropriate as a representation of Waldorf education than she realizes. Her design, resembling an enormous mandala, consists of numerous spiral forms. Mandala-like images, and spirals, have great significance in Waldorf thinking.

◊ Mandalas — or images resembling mandalas — are common in Waldorf schools. Students are often asked to create such images, sometimes in arts classes, sometimes in geometry classes. [See, e.g., "Lesson Books" and "Mystic Lesson Books".] As aids to meditation, mandalas are believed to have great spiritual power, and geometric designs resembling mandalas hold a special place in Waldorf doctrine. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, taught that the study of geometry promotes the development of clairvoyance. Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92. [See "Mystic Math".] Geometric mandalas thus have the potential for advancing the students' spiritual development, as conceived in Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds".]

◊ Spirals are employed in mystical or religious observances in Waldorf schools, especially observances of Advent. In a darkened room, in silence or to the accompaniment of hymns, young Waldorf students walk along a spiral path, lighting and carrying candles. On other occasions, spirals may be traced and walked outdoors. [See the entries for "spiral", "Spiral of Light", and "spiral walks" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Moving along spiral paths has deep spiritual meaning and power, Steiner indicated. “[W]e must expand through seven turns of a spiral, each time moving through all twelve signs [of the zodiac], thus passing a total of seven times through twelve points. Imagine gradually expanding into the cosmos along a spiral path. Having circled through twelve signs for the seventh time, we arrive at divine spirit.” — Rudolf Steiner, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 92.









2. A SCARE


From The Berkshire Eagle [Massachusetts, USA]:


Bomb threat prompts evacuation of 
Berkshire Waldorf High School in Stockbridge

By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle

STOCKBRIDGE — Police are investigating the source of a bomb threat Tuesday that prompted the evacuation of the Berkshire Waldorf High School.

A call from a "fake number" came in to the Stockbridge Police about noon from a male who said he planted pipe bombs in the school lockers and that he had "full magazines," according to Police Chief Darrell Fennelly. 

Town police arrived and evacuated students and staff to the gym at the Stockbridge Town Offices before checking the school and determining there was no danger....

[A]s they waited in town for their school to be declared safe, one student after another said they found the threat to their private school of 45 students to be "surreal," and reflected upon finding themselves less insulated from broader societal trends than they may have previously thought...

Stephen Sagarin, the school's director...said that in his 33-year teaching career, he's never seen a bomb scare. When asked if he had any suspicions about who the caller might be, he said he had no idea.

"My suspicion is that it's not someone related to our community," he said.






Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools generally aim to be safe havens — they want to shelter their students from the dangers, turmoil, and allurements of the outside world. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don't. When outside forces create problems for Waldorf schools, there may be little lasting effect. After the troubles pass, the schools can reconstitute themselves, erect their protective barriers again, and proceed much as before. Sometimes, however, troubles arise from within. Despite the reflexive denial that anyone "related to our community" could be at fault, Waldorf schools are sometimes shaken by internal crises. Sometimes these are severe enough to threaten the schools' continued existence. [See, e.g., "The Waldorf Scandal", "Slaps", and "Extremity".] It will be interesting to learn who phoned in the bomb threat that created the "surreal" disruption at the Berkshire Waldorf School.

We might note a couple of tangential points in passing. Stephen Sagarin, faculty chair at the Berkshire Waldorf High School, is the author of THE STORY OF WALDORF EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES (SteinerBooks, 2011). A former editor of the Research Bulletin of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, he has a blog called "What Is Education?

We probably should also note the extremely small size of the Berkshire Waldorf High School: 45 students, according to The Berkshire Eagle. Proponents of Waldorf education often claim that theirs is the fast-growing independent school movement in the world. The implication is that the Waldorf movement is large and rapidly expanding. In reality, however, many Waldorf schools are minuscule, and the overall rate of the movement's expansion is not terribly impressive. There were somewhat fewer than 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide in 2010 [see "Waldorf Now"], and today there seem to be somewhat more than a 1,000. New Waldorf schools are created fairly often, but not all survive, and some of the survivors are tiny. Still, the Waldorf movement has big ambitious, and it certainly bears watching.
— R.R.











May 14, 2018



LETTERS, NUMBERS, 
AND INDOCTRINATION


From The Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]:


Literacy and numeracy push 
sidelining play in early years

By Pallavi Singhal


A push to ensure students have core literacy and numeracy skills by the age of eight will significantly reduce time for play, and is the opposite of what is being done in leading school systems such as Finland, according to Sydney principal Andrew Hill.

Mr Hill, head of Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School, said tests such as NAPLAN [National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy], which students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, could be affecting teachers' ability to build skills such as creativity and collaboration in the early years....

...Mr Hill said that formal reading and writing instruction should be delayed to better match the "natural rhythm of children" and lay down proper foundations for learning....

Mr Hill said students at his school begin being taught literacy and numeracy in year 1 [i.e., first grade] and it usually takes about two years to establish those skills.

He said that parents usually withdraw students from the NAPLAN tests in the early years but the school generally performs well in later years....






Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf or Steiner schools often seek exemption from the academic requirements set by education officials. Proponents of Waldorf education claim that the Waldorf approach is better attuned to the natural maturation process of children, and it attains excellent results over the long term. 

Let kids be kids. Let them play when they are youngPut this way, the Waldorf approach seems sensible. Adding references to Finland's excellent school system (a system that bears only superficial similarities to Waldorf), and alluding to desirable attributes such as creativity and collaboration (which actually have only secondary importance in the Waldorf scheme of things), may buttress this impression. But many serious, contentious issues lurk below the apparently sensible Waldorf surface.

A particularly controversial part of the Waldorf approach is delaying instruction in math and reading until kids are at least seven years old. Children aren't ready for these academic disciplines until then, Waldorf proponents say — but once Waldorf students are ready, they catch up with students at other types of schools.

One consequence of the Waldorf approach is that Waldorf students are denied early-childhood instruction in basic academics, which many education experts say is invaluable. In a larger sense, the Waldorf approach raises the question whether a school should intentionally delay the development of its students in any sphere of education.

To understand the Waldorf approach, we need to know what Waldorf spokespeople mean by such phrases as the "natural rhythm of children." This "natural rhythm" is the unfolding of the developmental stages of childhood, as conceived by the founder of Waldorf schooling, Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner taught that child mature according to a natural sequence of seven-year-long phases. [See "Most Significant".] During the first seven years, a child primarily develops his/her physical body. Then, at age seven, the "etheric body" incarnates. This is an invisible body of formative or life forces.  [See "Incarnation".] The etheric body (like other bodies that come later) is perceptible only through the use of clairvoyance. Children are not ready for academic brainwork, Steiner said, until the first seven-year phase is completed and the second phase has begun.

Problems with the Waldorf approach become immediately apparent. Does the "etheric body" exist? Does clairvoyance exist? Is there any basis for believing in the cycle of seven-year-long childhood phases? If not, then the rationale for Waldorf education is seriously undermined. [For more on this rationale, see "Oh Humanity".]

Of course, a pragmatic evaluation of Waldorf schooling might overlook these issues and simply focus on academic results at the end of, let's say, the second seven-year period, when students are about 14 years old. Waldorf students should have caught up with their peers by then, or they might even have surpassed their peers. Mr. Hill says students at his school do well in later years. This may or may not be true — a careful study would need to be made. [See the section "Waldorf Graduates" in "Upside".]

But an academic evaluation of Waldorf schools may miss the point. Waldorf schools often have low academic standards [see "Academic Standards at Waldorf"]; this can be taken almost as a given. The aims of these schools lie elsewhere. For the the sake of argument, however, let's accept the proposition that Waldorf schools eventually provide at least an acceptable level of instruction in most subjects. Would these school pass muster, then? Would you want to send your child to one?

Go back to the issue of etheric bodies and clairvoyance. These mystical conceptions open a door to the occult Waldorf worldview. Waldorf schools are fundamentally wed to an mystical, esoteric belief system: Anthroposophy. Virtually everything at these schools derives, to one degree or another, from the phantasmagoric doctrines of Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Soul School".] The underlying purpose of Waldorf schools is to serve and spread Anthroposophy. [See "Here's the Answer".] Although Waldorf spokespeople usually deny it, Waldorf schools strive to lead children toward the strange beliefs espoused by Anthroposophists. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda".] These fantastical, otherworldly beliefs are woven throughout the Waldorf curriculum. [See "Sneaking It In".] Not all Waldorf students succumb to the indoctrination practiced by these schools [see "Indoctrination"], but many students do succumb, to one degree or another [see "Who Gets Hurt?"].

The ultimate question about Waldorf schools is not whether they manage to provide a more or less acceptable academic education. The ultimate question is whether children should be sent to schools that aim to indoctrinate them in Anthroposophy. The indoctrination may be subtle. It may be mild. It may often miss its target, leaving some students unscathed. But do you really want to send your child to a school that will try to steer your child — even if only subtly, even if only mildly — toward Anthroposophy? You probably should consider doing so only if you yourself are an Anthroposophist.
— R.R.












May 12, 2018



CHRIST, KARMA, 
AND INITIATION    




[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973.]


Currently spotlighted at the Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib.:

FROM JESUS TO CHRIST

[by] Rudolf Steiner


In these lectures, Steiner shows how the Mystery of Golgotha [1] can be seen as the pivotal event of human history, and the Gospels as initiation documents [2] that can help us on a path of spiritual development. He demonstrates how the religious streams of Zarathustra and Buddha [3] helped prepare the way for the events of Palestine. [4] Steiner's emphasis is on rediscovering the esoteric path to Christ [5] and of awakening to the new revelation breaking through in our time: Christ as the Lord of Karma. [6]


[5/12/2018    http://www.rsarchive.org]






Waldorf Watch Response:

The "Christianity" observed in Anthroposophy and in Waldorf schools is unlike anything you will find in authentic Christian denominations — it is Christianity as reconceived by Rudolf Steiner. This means it is a form of gnostic Christianity interwoven with teachings derived from Theosophy, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and other spiritual traditions. It is a polytheistic faith that incorporates such unbiblical doctrines as karma and reincarnation.

Steiner considered the New Testament to be flawed. He rectified the flaws by creating his own "Fifth Gospel" containing what he said are the truths about Christ's descent to the Earth and his ministry in the bodily form of Jesus. [See "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".] To give an extremely brief summary: Steiner said that Christ is the Sun God (otherwise known as Apollo, Hu, Baldr, and so on) who incarnated in the body of a man named Jesus. Christ stayed on Earth for just three years. Jesus was an ordinary human being except for certain unique features in his lineage. There were actually two Jesuses, Steiner said — two Jesus children, each born to parents named Mary and Joseph. One Jesus had the soul of Zarathustra, the other had the spiritual essence of Buddha. One of the two Jesuses died so that his inner being could migrate into the other Jesus, thereby creating a human vessel containing both Zarathustra and Buddha. It was into this compound person that the Sun God descended, thereby creating a human vessel containing Zarathustra, Buddha, and the Sun God. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".]

The following notes may help illuminate Steiner's teachings on some of these matters:


[1] Golgotha is Calvary, the hill on which Christ Jesus was crucified. The Mystery of Golgotha is the spiritual mystery of the incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus — as explained by Rudolf Steiner. To put this most simply, we might say that the Mystery of Golgotha is the miraculous incarnation of the Sun God in the body of a human being. "His [i.e., Steiner's] phrase 'the Mystery of Golgotha' refers to the redemptive, world-transforming presence of Christ in Jesus." — Robert McDermott, THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 2009), p. 40.

[2] I.e., the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) contain spiritual secrets that, when properly understood, lead to occult initiation. The concept of initiation is crucial in Anthroposophy. Important spiritual information is hidden from us — it consists of "mysteries." We can learn the truths of these mysteries only when we become initiates — that is, only when we have been inducted into the inner circle of spiritual savants. Steiner professed to be a very high initiate, and he said he could show his followers how to become initiates. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] Many Anthroposophists, including numerous Waldorf teachers, consider themselves to be initiates.

[3] Zarathustra was the Persian prophet, also known as Zoroaster, who founded the religion known as Zoroastrianism. (In Anthroposophy, Zarathustra is said to predate Zoroaster. Zarathustra lived long ago, then he was reincarnated as Zoroaster, and later yet he was reincarnated as one of the Jesus children.) Buddha is Siddartha Gautama, a Nepalese prince who attained complete spiritual enlightenment, thereby earning the title of "buddha" (enlightened one). Buddhism is the religion based on his teachings, meant to enable devout followers to become buddhas in their own right.

[4] I.e., the events of, and surrounding, the life of Christ Jesus.

[5] Anthroposophy is gnostic — that is, it emphasizes the importance of spiritual knowledge, as distinct from faith or good works. Specifically, it emphasizes hidden, occult, mysterious spiritual knowledge that must be attained through the process of spiritual initiation. [See "Gnosis" and "Inside Scoop".] Faith and good works are also important in Anthroposophy, but they are secondary to occult knowledge.

[6] Steiner taught that all humans are subject to karma, which we create for ourselves. (Your karma is your fate or destiny created by the sum of all your actions in your past lives. The doctrine of karma is closely connected to the doctrine or reincarnation.) To be truly free, and to rise to ever higher levels of spirituality, we must break free of karma eventually. Christ enables us to do so, Steiner taught. Christ has already returned — the Second Coming has already occurred, according to Steiner. Christ exists now in the etheric region surrounding the physical Earth. From his location there, Christ acts as the Lord of Karma, giving us the potential to free ourselves from karma so that we may evolve to the Future Jupiter stage of cosmic development. [See "Future Stages" and the entry for "Lord of Karma" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]




If you want to delve further into these matters, you should certainly study FROM JESUS TO CHRIST, as recommended today by the Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib.
— R.R.












May 11, 2018



THE LIMITATIONS OF SCIENCE   
AT WALDORF SCHOOLS  



From Waldorf Today, Newsletter #404:


The Wonder of Natural Sciences 
in Waldorf Schools


A recent study by the Austrian government found that Waldorf graduates have a greater aptitude and affinity for the natural sciences than their peers. Why is that? What makes the Waldorf approach to science education so special, and so effective?






Waldorf Watch Response:

Terms such as “aptitude” and “affinity” can be slippery. What precisely can we affirm about science instruction in Waldorf schools?

In general, science courses tend to the weakest parts of the Waldorf curriculum. Rudolf Steiner’s followers tend to view modern science askance, distrusting its findings. In this, they follow the example set by Steiner himself. Steiner opposed “scientific simpletons” [1] with their “scientific trash” [2] and their “logical, pedantic, narrow-minded proof of things.” [3] He deplored “primitive concepts like those...of contemporary science.” [4] What is wrong with science? "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." [5] Hence, "[W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons...we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity.” [6]

[See “Steiner’s ‘Science’” and “Science”.]

Steiner and his followers prefer “Goethean science” — they want to study natural phenomena in the way advocated by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). The problem with this is that Goethe's principles are essentially unscientific. [See "Goethe".] A "Goethean scientist" projects preconceived ideas about spirit onto the physical phenomena s/he observes. As attractive and comforting as this approach may be, it is thoroughly unscientific. [See, e.g., "Steiner and the Natural Sciences" — a critique by Nobel Prize winner Max von Laure.]

Waldorf science teachers are in a difficult position. They must be true to Steiner, but this means they must be false to science.

“The teacher of the physical sciences in the Rudolf Steiner school is faced with a formidable task. He cannot morally be present in the school and teach unless he has absorbed, understood, and is in agreement with Rudolf Steiner’s basic conception of the world. This presupposes a spiritual origin of the physical world ... Material science and explanations [i.e., straight physical science] cannot explain nature.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, TEACHING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1997), p. 1.


Teachers of science in Waldorf schools face a daily dilemma. If they teach their sciences straight, they violate Steiner’s doctrines. But if they are faithful to Steiner, they must violate the established truths of modern science.


Accepting the truths of modern science would open a Waldorf science teacher — and Waldorf students — to the terrible influences of the arch-demon Ahriman. [7] Here is a Waldorf teacher explaining how he and his colleagues could fall into the temptation offered by Ahriman if they operated as ordinary, competent science teachers:


"How easy it is to succumb to this temptation [offered by Ahriman], for all of us strive to be competent, to master our task and our material, to do things well. Yet if we succumb, we begin to turn our students into materialists with their feet rooted in the earth, their gaze focused downward. [8] Ahriman would like to turn human beings into completely physical beings. He works to wed humans to the earth and reduce them to creatures of instinct. By giving in to his temptation, we aid him in his task." — Roberto Trostli, "In Matter, Spirit — Science Education in the Waldorf School", RESEARCH BULLETIN, Research Institute for Waldorf Education, Autumn/Winter 2013, Vol. 18 , #2.


Teaching science straight is not just a mistake, from an Anthroposophical perspective. It is demonic. It causes teachers and students to lose their souls. Steiner said so.

◊ “Everything that has arisen in recent times in the way of materialistic science and industrial technology is of an out-and-out ahrimanic nature [9] ... [I]t would chain human beings to the earth. Human beings would not progress to the Jupiter evolution. [10]” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 55.

◊ "[T]oday...the spirit-soul [11] is asleep. The human being is thus in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world [12], in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls to materialistic impulses. This is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.

Modern sciences represent an evil temptation that may destroy humanity. Trying to avoid this horrible prospect causes Waldorf science teachers to steer away from scientific reality:


"[I]f schools follow Steiner's views on science, education will suffer. Steiner believed that materialism was insufficient for the understanding of nature. He believed that science needs to 'go beyond' the empirical and consider vitalistic, unobservable forces ... Anatomy and physiology a la Steiner are unrecognizable by modern scientists: the heart does not pump blood; there are 12 senses ('touch, life, movement, equilibrium, warmth, smell,' etc.) corresponding to signs of the zodiac ... Physics and chemistry [as taught at Waldorf] are just as bad: the 'elements' are earth, air, fire, and water. The four 'kingdoms of nature' are mineral, plant, animal and man. Color is said to be the result of the conflict of light and darkness. Typical geological stages are Post-Atlantis, Atlantis, Mid-Lemuria, and Lemuria. [13]" — Eugenie C. Scott, "Waldorf Schools Teach Odd Science, Odd Evolution", National Center for Science Education. [See http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/Eugenie_Scott_94.html.]


Despite what "a recent study by the Austrian government" may or may not have indicated, the truth is that science instruction in Waldorf schools is often woefully deficient.





Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 276.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), pp. 93-94.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 240.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, HOW CAN MANKIND FIND THE CHRIST AGAIN (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 54.

[5] Rudolf Steiner, “The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets” (THE GOLDEN BLADE 1966).

[6] Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940. 

[7] See "Ahriman".

[8] I.e., the physical sciences direct our attention to the material world and away from spirituality. This is Ahriman's aim, "to turn human beings into completely physical beings."

[9] I.e., having the nature or character of Ahriman.

[10] According to Steiner, humanity will progress by entering the next incarnation of the solar system, called Future Jupiter. Any humans who fail to reach Future Jupiter will be lost. [See "Future Stages".]

[11] I.e., the combined soul and spirit. (Your soul is your spiritual identity during one incarnation, Steiner taught; your spirit is your eternal spiritual identity.)

[12] I.e., a demonic region ruled by Ahriman. [See the entry for "Ahrimanic world" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[13] According to Anthroposophical belief, humanity lived on the continents of Lemuria and Atlantis before the dawn of the modern era. There is no scientific basis for this belief. [See "Lemuria" and "Atlantis".]

— R.R.













May 10, 2018



◊ READINGS ◊

THE ENORMOUS IMPORTANCE  
OF WALDORF SCHOOLS  



Waldorf faculties tend to have an extraordinarily exaggerated view of their own importance. They think Waldorf schools are crucial to the continued evolution of humankind. They are, in this sense, on a messianic mission. [See "Mission".]

The following, written by a Waldorf teacher, is from a Waldorf text published in the 21st century. I have added some explanatory footnotes.


"A Waldorf school is more than just another independent school that provides a developmental education. [1] It is an organization that seeks to allow the spiritual impulses of our time [2] to manifest on earth in order to transform society [3] ... Steiner described the founding of [the first] Waldorf School as a ceremony within the Cosmic Order [4] ... [T]he founding of every subsequent Waldorf school also has cosmic significance ... [W]e may celebrate the founding of a Waldorf school because it strives to bring the soul-spiritual [5] into the realm of human life.” — Roberto Trostli, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven”, Research Bulletin, Vol. 16 (Waldorf Research Institute, Fall 2011), pp. 21-24.



Waldorf schools are important to the "Cosmic Order." The founding of every new Waldorf school is a cause for celebration because of the spiritual significance of the Waldorf movement. Waldorf schools serve the will of the gods — they enable "spiritual impulses" from on high to be enacted upon the Earth.


Rudolf Steiner taught that humanity is evolving from an extremely primordial condition to ultimate apotheosis. We will become gods. Indeed, we will become the highest gods. And Waldorf schools serve to promote this evolution.


Anthroposophists believe that we have evolved as the solar system has incarnated and reincarnated over and over. The gods have overseen this process, and it has been for our benefit. The first incarnation of the solar system — the first stage of our evolution — was a period called Old Saturn. This was followed by periods called Old Sun and Old Moon. We now live at an evolutionary stage called Present Earth (we live on the physical planet Earth during a period of cosmic evolution in which the other planets of the solar system also exist as separate worlds). When this stage ends, the solar system will next incarnate in a form called Future Jupiter, which will be followed by Future Venus, and then Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages" and "Vulcan".]




[This is a portion of a chart from THE TEMPLE LEGEND, 
a collection of Steiner lectures (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 357; color added.]



The main thing that has happened during this evolution, Steiner taught, is that we have risen to higher and higher states of consciousness. During Old Saturn, we were essentially comatose. During Old Sun, we reached a consciousness similar to deep sleep, and during Old Moon, we rose to a consciousness akin to light dreaming sleep. Now, during Present Earth, we have ordinary waking consciousness. During Future Jupiter, we will attain perfected imagination — a form of clairvoyance, "Jupiter consciousness". During Future Venus, we will attain a higher stage of clairvoyance, perfected inspiration — "Venus consciousness." And during Future Vulcan, we will attain a still higher stage of clairvoyance, perfected intuition — "Vulcan consciousness."


Waldorf schools here and now play a crucial role in all this (or so the devout members of Waldorf faculties believe). Waldorf schools here and now emphasize imagination, inspiration, and intuition among the students because they are laying the foundation for humanity's attainment of higher levels of these mental stages on Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. The sort of imagination fostered in Waldorf schools is not a stage of perfected clairvoyance; it is — generally speaking — just imagination. But it is meant to foster in children a consciousness that will lead to clairvoyance eventually, if not in this life then in a future life, and if not during Present Earth then during Future Jupiter. The same holds for inspiration and intuition. Waldorf schools emphasize these because they are supposedly linked to clairvoyance.


Not every Waldorf teacher believes all this. Not every Waldorf teacher is a devout Anthroposophist. But for the true-believing followers of Rudolf Steiner who work in Waldorf schools, these beliefs are virtually gospel truths.


This is why the founding of new Waldorf schools should be celebrated.


Or not.






Waldorf Watch Footnotes:

[1] Waldorf education is "developmental" because it is keyed to the incarnation of a series of invisible bodies — the etheric body at age seven, the astral body at age 14, and the "I" at age 21. The arrival of these bodies marks the developmental stages of childhood, according to Anthroposophical teachings. [See "Incarnation".] 


[2] In Waldorf belief, these impulses are summarized in Anthroposophy.


[3] Anthroposophy seeks to remake all human institutions; it is a revolutionary movement. [See, e.g., "Threefolding".]


[4] I.e., a divine cosmic event, overseen by the gods.


[5] Anthroposophists believe that humans have both souls (spiritual identities during a single incarnation) and spirits (immortal spiritual identities).

— R.R.














May 9, 2018



STEINER SCHOOL 
TRYING TO STAY ALIVE 



The struggling Steiner school in Kings Langley, UK, declares that it will remain open at least for the beginning of the coming fall term. Beyond that, however, it can make no promises. The government's Office for Standars in Educations (Ofsted) has ordered the school to cease operations.

The following is from The Hemel Gazette [Johnson Publishing, UK]:



Rudolf Steiner bosses say that 

school is “highly likely” to remain open 

throughout 2018-19 - 

and blame falling student numbers 

[on] Ofsted reports and bad press


By Ben Raza


Bosses at Rudolf Steiner School [in Kings Langley] say the school WILL be open when the next academic year starts – but that there are “no guarantees” it will remain so. 


Student numbers have fallen by almost a fifth at Rudolf Steiner School since the safeguarding saga began. 


In March 2015 the Kings Langley School had 387 students. 


But by February 2018 that had fallen to 334. 


And the school expects that figure to have fallen to 315 when the next academic year begins in September.... 


A school spokesman...blamed the falling pupil numbers primarily on the repeated problems with Ofsted inspections, and with negative media coverage. 


A series of inspections have criticised the school, culminating with the government threatening to close the school altogether. Another Ofsted inspection is expected during the summer term. 


The school is currently appealing against [the closure order].... 


[5/9/2018   https://www.hemeltoday.co.uk/news/rudolf-steiner-bosses-say-that-school-is-highly-likely-to-remain-open-throughout-2018-19-and-blame-falling-student-numbers-of-ofsted-reports-and-bad-press-1-8482936   This story originally appeared on May 1; notification did not reach Waldorf Watch until May 9.]





For previous coverage of the situation at the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley, see news accounts from May 2, April 28, April 19, and April 14, 2018.















For previous Waldorf Watch "news" items,
at the website









































[R.R., 2018.]