and Views and Blogs and...
"Milkwood Steiner School Bush Dance - The annual Milkwood Steiner School Bush Dance will be held on Saturday the 28th of May at Milkwood Steiner School-107 Boulter Rd, Berrimah [Australia].
“Please join us for a family friendly evening of live traditional bush music and dancing.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Bush dancing is sometimes thought to be an Australian aboriginal dance form, and indeed there has been aboriginal influence. But bush dancing derives primarily from the traditional dances brought from Europe by white settlers. Many Waldorf or Steiner schools today make an admirable effort to affirm the peoples in the lands where the schools operate. Affirming whites and their descendants is easy, in Waldorf practice and belief; affirming nonwhites is more difficult, in Waldorf practice and belief. Rudolf Steiner's teachings are deeply rooted in the culture of northern Europe, particularly Germany and Scandinavia. Steiner taught that white Europeans stand at a higher level of spiritual development than other, darker humans. He said humanity consists of advanced races and savage races, high races and low.
“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type ... The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” 
Steiner left little doubt about the sorts of people who "express the pure, ideal human type":
"If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence." 
According to Steiner, if you are a good, moral, spiritual person you will evolve upward into higher and higher races during the course of your many reincarnations on Earth. If you are an evil person, however, you will evolve downward into lower and lower races. If you are truly evil, eventually you will fall out of the bottom of the hierarchy of races and cease to be human.
"Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits [i.e., incarnate beings locked within the physical level of existence]." 
According to the belief system that underlies Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, races represent levels of spiritual evolution. Lowly races tend to die out as humanity advances to more elevated spiritual conditions. However, it is also possible for an entire race or nationality to descend to a lower condition.
"The French as a race are reverting.” 
The French are falling, according to Steiner, at least in part because they have brought blacks to Europe, raising the specter of unhealthy interactions between whites and blacks.
"The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe." 
Lowly races exist, Steiner said, because some humans are unwilling or unable to evolve upward.
"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind, since they have not developed their eternal life-kernal [or spiritual essence]. Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form." 
Steiner taught that different races have significantly different kinds of blood, and the inferior blood of low races creates the destiny of those races. In particular, aboriginal peoples — such as Australian aborigines — have blood that prevents them from being integrated into higher, more civilized human societies. Such peoples are doomed to “go under”:
“Take, for example, a people that is the product of its environment, into whose blood this environment has built itself, and try to graft upon such a people a new form of civilization. The thing is impossible. This is why certain aboriginal peoples had to go under, as soon as colonists came to their particular parts of the world.” 
Sexual unions between people of different races — “exogamy” — are not as deadly as efforts to mix the bloods of different types of animals, Steiner said, but they are destructive.
“Just as this mingling of the blood of different species of animals brings about actual death when the types are too remote, so, too, the ancient clairvoyance of undeveloped man was killed when his blood was mixed with the blood of others who did not belong to the same stock.” 
But do not fear: All will be well. After the worst humans drop away, becoming subordinate nature spirits, the rest of humanity will evolve upward to purer and purer stages, and eventually there will be no more races, and we will all be one big happy family. [See “Love and the Universal Human”.] According to Steiner's teachings, we cannot proclaim the equality of all humans today; some humans are darker and lower than others. Our evolution toward equality depends on the ability of each individual to become, spiritually and racially, white. The key, in this sense, is whiteness.
“If we contemplate white in an artistic way, we have the soul image of the spirit ... And if, as artists, we take hold of black, we have the spiritual image of death." 
The implications of this "artistic" precept for skin color are appalling, and Steiner was very concerned about skin color.
“One can only understand history ... if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual ... if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” 
Truly, deeply spiritual people have white skin: White skin is what humans have when they embody high spiritual forces.
“[T]he impregnation of the flesh by the spirit is the characteristic mission, the overall mission of white mankind. People have white skin because the spirit works in the skin when it wants to come down to the physical plain ... [W]here the spirit has not yet worked as spirit...where it assumes a demonic character, not fully penetrating the flesh, white skin coloring does not occur.” 
Thus, people with white skin — standing at a higher level of spirituality — lead human evolution into the bright future.
"The white race is the future, the race that is spiritually creative.” 
Do Anthroposophists today believe Steiner's racist doctrines? Do any Waldorf teachers today believe those doctrines? I certainly hope not. But very few of Steiner’s admirers have faced up to the blatant racism imbedded in his teachings, and fewer still have explicitly renounced it. [See "Rudolf Steiner's Racism", "Races", and "White Guys".] Racism is woven into the very fabric of Anthroposophy. [See "Embedded Racism".]
 Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.
 Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1. (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86.
 Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.
 Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 559.
 Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 558.
 Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS, p. 69.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1922), GA 55.
 Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), VIII.
 Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), p. 52.
 Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 37.
 Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE- ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS, p. 62.
“Locally handmade Waldorf Inspired home decor - $10 (Nanaimo) - We are a pair of local mama friends who have come together to offer lovingly handcrafted items for you and your loved ones...for children, adults, house and home! We love the beauty (both visual and tactile) of natural materials and hope our items will bring a little joy and magic to your space.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Waldorf schools often serve as portals into an alternative world: the world of Anthroposophy. There is much beauty in these portals and in that world. Steiner stressed the need for schools to surround children with beauty, and Waldorf schools often accomplish this. The purpose is occult — ultimately, the purpose is initiation into the occult system Steiner devised, Anthroposophy. But there is no denying that, on the surface at least, Waldorf schools are often very attractive. [See “Magical Arts”.]
In addition to stressing beauty, the Anthroposophical lifestyle contains other appealing elements: emphasis on natural materials,* simple wooden and woolen toys, organic foods, an unhurried daily pace, green values, and the like. The obverse side to these attractions, however, is that most of the advantages of contemporary life are rejected. Anthroposophical life generally turns its back on the modern world and moves in a retrograde direction, back into the darkness of superstition and mysticism. Steiner, of course, claimed that his thinking was progressive and forward-looking, but in fact it was largely medieval. [See “Superstition”, “Magic”, "The Ancients", and “Occultism”.]
If you become enamored of a Waldorf school and its Anthroposophically centered community, you may find yourself drawn further and further into an all-encompassing way of life. You can find books on how to raise your children in a proper Waldorf way, how to be a proper Waldorf mother, how to be a proper Waldorf housewife, how to make bread the Waldorf way, how to make Waldorf soups, and so on and so forth. You can confine yourself to Waldorf-style songs, Waldorf-style poems, Waldorf-style prayers. You can outfit your home with Waldorf-inspired furniture and decorate your walls and windows with Waldorf-inspired art. You can ingest Waldorfish vitamins, and use Waldorfish herbal medicines, and anoint yourself with Waldorfish skin-care products. You can let Waldorf take over all parts of your life. [See, e.g., the array of books shown in “Nov. 1-15, 2010” at the Waldorf Watch Annex.]
The potentially all-inclusive nature of Anthroposophical life is one reason some people call Anthroposophy a cult. The other major reasons are that Anthroposophy consists of peculiar spiritual teachings, and it depends almost wholly on the pronouncements of a single individual, Rudolf Steiner.
Think carefully before entering a Waldorf portal.
* Is it possible that the Nanaimo window hanging is made of plastic? Heaven forfend.
“ESP may be useful in defense, health, science, unconventional areas
“Of the many kinds of so-called anomalous or unusual phenomena, the mysteries of the human mind certainly seem to be among the most interesting.
“For example, the extrasensory perception (ESP) techniques and processes generally called ‘remote viewing’ have provided valuable information and insight for U.S. defense and intelligence activities.
“Although many of these remote viewers reportedly had better-than-average natural ESP abilities to begin with, it is also conjectured that all people have these sixth-sense perceptions too. However, many people probably don't recognize their internal hunches and feelings. Further, most of us don't practice using these awareness skills on important defense and intelligence efforts.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Human knowledge is limited. The universe still holds many mysteries. Science is a process of discovery, not a set of final, unquestionable conclusions. As ignorant as the ancients seem to us today, we will appear fully as ignorant to our great-great-great-great grandchildren.
Does ESP exist? No. At least, we have no firm evidence for its existence. Lots of people believe in it. The US government has spent wads of money trying to develop and use it in espionage. Cops call on psychics for help in murder investigations. People check their horoscopes in the newspaper. We kiss rabbits’ feet, look for four-leaf clovers, wear our lucky underpants... But what has come of such efforts? Nothing. Or, if not nothing, then next-to-nothing. (The US government stopped wasting its money on this stuff some time ago. At least, so I’ve read — and I have a hunch that it is true.)
Hunches. We all have hunches. Are these reliable? How many people do you know who have hit the jackpot in a lottery playing hunches?*
Some hunches work, or seem to work. If we accept the stories of hunches that worked, and disregard that zillions of hunches that proved false, we might be impressed.
Is there such a thing as ESP? Is there such a thing as clairvoyance? No one has yet proven it, and in fact the overwhelming weight of evidence is that, no, these things do not exist.
Still, the universe is mysterious. Perhaps, someday...
Why am I wasting our time here at Waldorf Watch on such ponderings? Because the entire Waldorf system is built on the assumption that clairvoyance exists and can be made reliable. Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and so do many Waldorf teachers working today. Are they correct? Do at least some Waldorf teachers have astonishing psychic powers? If you send your children to a Waldorf school, you are gambling that the answer is yes.
For Rudolf Steiner’s teachings — which form the foundation of Waldorf education — to be borne out, three tests would have to be met. We would have to learn the following, with a high degree of certainty. 1) Clairvoyance is possible. 2) “Exact” clairvoyance (i.e., clairvoyance that is almost 100% reliable — the kind Steiner claimed) is possible. 3) Steiner’s “clairvoyant” visions are true. Bear in mind, even if clairvoyance were possible, and even if such a thing as “exact” clairvoyance were possible, we would still need proof that the things Steiner claimed to see really exist. Other “clairvoyants” have reported seeing very different things.
As of today (May 9, 2011), we have little or no reason to think that clairvoyance exists, that “exact” clairvoyance is possible, or that Steiner’s visions are true. Maybe this will change. But here are two suggestions: 1) Don’t hold your breath. 2) Don’t send you child to a Waldorf school unless you are firmly convinced that Steiner’s visions are true. [See “Clairvoyance”, “Exactly”, "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", and “ESP”.]
* What do we mean by “hunch”? Is a hunch a mysterious perception gained through psychic powers beyond the reach of science? Or is it a guess, a conclusion we leap to because our brains are wired to make such leaps? We often need to make important decisions without waiting to gather evidence and carefully analyze our findings. And it helps if we are subjectively sure that we have the right answer — i.e., we firmly "feel" or "intuit" it — without being paralyzed by indecision. In the wild, when being eyed by a hungry lion, several courses of action are possible, but you better decide quickly. For instance, you might have this intuition: "I bet I'll improve my life expectancy if I leave the immediate vicinity pretty soon." Being a hunch, this would pass through the brain in a millisecond — and your legs would already be pumping. Waiting to reason things out ("Hm. I see the lion is twitching her tail. What does that mean? Is she a friendly lion? Would she let me pet her?") is not the best policy under such circumstances. Reasoning things out is an important activity, but sometimes unconsidered certainty serves us better. Our brains are capable of reasoning and they are capable of hunches, and often we feel more sure of our hunches than of our logic. None of this proves anything supernatural. It merely proves that the tendency to have hunches has been built into us by our evolutionary history.
From the publisher’s description of SOUL ECONOMY:
“Today’s schools fill children’s heads with information instead of helping them develop their natural human faculties and capacities. They place too much stress on memory ... [Rudolf Steiner] describes an education based on the human as a continually developing being of body, soul, and spirit. From this perspective, Waldorf education depends on the teacher’s ability to observe and respond to each stage of a child’s development.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Waldorf schools very rarely tax the memories of their students. The schools have minimal interest in conveying information — knowledge — to the kids. Instead, they try to ease the students' way through the various stages of childhood development. This may seem attractive — but the Waldorf conception of childhood development is severely detached from reality.
Waldorf schools assume that all children pass through rigidly defined stages and that they do so in virtual lockstep. The three major stages run from 1) birth to age seven/eight, 2) age seven/eight to age fourteen/fifteen, and 3) age 14/15 to age twenty/twenty-two. When a child’s baby teeth fall out (around age seven), the “etheric body” incarnates, and the child passes from the first to the second stage. When a child goes through puberty (around age fourteen), the “astral body” incarnates, and the child enters the third stage. Eventually, when childhood ends (around age twenty-one), the "ego body" or “I” incarnates.
The three stages of childhood are, Steiner taught, recapitulations of prior periods of human evolution, periods that occurred "on" various "planets" (actually, these were sequential incarnations of the entire solar system):
“If you recall the teachings of Spiritual Science on the subject of the education of the child you will know that in the first seven-year period of life...man develops principally the physical body ... [T]his is really a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Saturn ... The second of the seven-year periods...is a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Sun ... The third seven-year period...recapitulates the development of the astral body that normally belongs to the Old Moon epoch.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 68. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".]
This is all codswallop, but it is the basis of the Waldorf curriculum. (If you don't think that a child acquires a set of invisible bodies, Waldorf may not be right for you.)
Waldorf schools claim to honor the individuality of each student, but in fact they generally treat all the students of the same age (six, seven, eight...) as largely indistinguishable. Thus, for instance, in TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock has chapters titled “The Six-Year-Olds”, “The Seven-Year-Olds”, “The Eight-Year-Olds”, and so on, up through age thirteen. All children of a given age are treated as essentially the same. For example, all eight-year-olds are going through the same life change:
“The child of eight is leaving one phase of growth behind him and preparing to enter another.” — Spock, p. 50.
With few exceptions, all nine-year-olds exhibit the hallmarks of the next stage:
“By nine most of the changelings of the previous year have accomplished their change and reappear in school after the summer holidays with a strangely different look and new reserve.” — Spock, p. 61.
And so forth.
Of course, Waldorf teachers do not think that all the members of a class are identical. Some kids in any class are older than the class average, some are younger, some are female, some are male, some come from affluent homes, some may not. There are differences that meet the eye and differences that don't. True-blue Waldorf teachers, believing in reincarnation and karma, will assume that each child has a unique karma (although all the kids in a class share various karmic strains, such as the karma that led them to be in this particular class). The main difference Waldorf doctrine finds among children lies in the students' “temperaments." Using an ancient and entirely baseless system of classification, Waldorf teachers slot some kids as "melancholics," others as "phlegmatics," still others as "cholerics," and the remainder as "sanguines." (To determine which kids go into which category, the teachers may rely on their “clairvoyance” or their dreams or, in some cases, horoscopes.) Class assignments and seating will often depend on these arbitrary and false discriminations. (See chapter 10 of Spock’s book: “The Temperaments”.)
The Waldorf system is arbitrary, discriminatory, and irrational. And it often fails to provide anything like a real education — that is, the kids often come away without having acquired much real information. Too often, children emerging from Waldorf schools have memorized little, internalized little, learned little. As a public school principal said to a mother who transferred her children from a Waldorf school,
"They are nice kids, but they don’t know anything."
[See “Incarnation”, “Our Experience”, “Temperaments", "Karma", “The Phlegmatic Sits by the Window”, and “Soul School”. Also relevant: "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", "Horoscopes", and "Dreams".]
"Studies support Waldorf educational methods - Waldorf early childhood programs are centered on the premise that young children learn best through play, and in the latest issue of Scientific American, free, unstructured, imaginative play is shown to be vital in the early lives of children ... Another, different research study has also proven what Waldorf education has staunchly upheld for ninety years: school children require less work, more play ... A new study has also found that personal home computers affect student grades negatively and that excessive [exposure to] screen media has a negative impact on growing children.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
From time to time, proponents of Waldorf education allude to studies that, the proponents say, show the value of Waldorf educational methods. Usually, however, if we look closely, we find far less than initially meets the eye. What do the studies referred to here actually affirm?
1) Children need to play. OK. Very few people would deny this. Students in Waldorf schools are given opportunities for “free, unstructured, imaginative play” — but so are students in many other kinds of schools, if only during recesses, and virtually all children have opportunities for such play outside school hours.
2) A study indicates that children should play more and work less. But other studies show precisely the opposite. Indeed, many studies show the great value of early childhood education, beginning academic work as early as possible. This is precisely the antithesis of the Waldorf approach.
3) A study finds that excessive use of computers and other “screen media” is harmful. Sure. Excessive use of anything is harmful to kids — that is what the word “excessive” means in the context of children’s well-being. But there are also plenty of studies that show the benefits of computer use by children.
Waldorf schools wave a highly selective batch of studies or reports or opinion pieces that seem, at least tangentially, to support the methods that Waldorf schools are determined to use no matter what. But when we consider this “evidence,” the substantiation of Waldorf methods is small. Indeed, what we actually see here is the anti-intellectual, antiscientific, anti-modern bias of Waldorf schooling. Brainwork is minimized, academic standards are often low, and anything that smacks of modern technology is viewed with alarm. Why? Because in the occult doctrines that underlie Waldorf schools, intellect and science and technology plunge us too deeply into the physical level of existence, under the sway of the arch-demon Ahriman.
There is very little solid research propping up Waldorf schools; rather, the schools stand upon a foundation of occultism.
"The Spiritual Task of the Mother ... The challenge of home-making today can bring stresses, problems and questions. Join us in exploring the spiritual basis of the mother’s role. Our group [The Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand] holds monthly workshops on the last Saturday of every month ... This month’s topic is: Soul Types - Another Way of Looking at Your Teenager ... Registration Fee - $20 (Inclusive of craft materials) This may be negotiated if this fee is difficult for you to attain."
Waldorf Watch Response:
Anthroposophists — including those who serve on Waldorf faculties — usually deny that their ideology is a religion, yet they eagerly provide spiritual advice and guidance. They think they possess special knowledge on such matters as “soul types.” The primary source of their spiritual “knowledge” is Rudolf Steiner, according to whom the spiritual tasks of mothers and fathers involve helping their children to incarnate properly and helping them to fulfill their karmas.
Waldorf teachers believe that, to a significant extent, parents can help their children best by relinquishing control to Waldorf teachers. Steiner told Waldorf faculty members to take charge as soon as possible. Doing so immediately after a child is born would probably be best, if only it could be arranged.
"[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.
The would be the "moral" approach.
Steiner indicated that most parents, being ignorant of Anthroposophical doctrines about childhood, damage their children. So he told Waldorf teachers that they will need to undo the harm caused by parents. (If parents can be educated to accept Anthroposophical doctrines, so much the better; but in any case Waldorf teachers should steer children in the correct direction.)
"You 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. Indeed our intentions will only be fully accomplished when we, as humanity, will have reached the stage where parents, too, will understand that special tasks are set for mankind to-day, even for the first years of the child's education. But when we receive the children into the school we shall still be able to make up for many things which have been done wrongly, or left undone, in the first years of the child's life.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16.
Note that in referring to the special tasks set for mankind today, Steiner meant the spiritual-evolutionary needs of humanity during the current Earth “planetary condition.” In other words, he was speaking of occult spiritual matters — the things humanity needs to do in order to proceed to the next evolutionary stage, on Future Jupiter. These are the sorts of things Anthroposophists understand and ordinary mortals do not; this is the sort of wisdom that makes Waldorf teachers fit to raise children and ordinary mortals unfit.
If mothers learn how to discharge their "spiritual task" (under the tutelage of Anthroposophists), so much the better. Children will be better off, then. But the key is tutelage by Anthroposophists.
The news page is not generally the place
for personal statements, although I have done
some editorializing in response to the news.
And in April, 2011 — when I anticipated suspending
my news gathering efforts for a while —
I posted the following personal statement:
A personal note:
I must seem to be an utterly implacable foe of Rudolf Steiner and all his works. Perhaps, indeed, that is what I have become. Almost.
I didn’t set out to be such a foe. A Waldorf student since age seven, I was raised to be an Anthroposophist — and for much of my life, I teetered on the brink of becoming one. Life would have been far easier if I’d gone over the edge, as I often longed to do. But somehow I had suspicions and doubts; somehow I held back.
I commend holding back. There is a real universe; and there are ways of apprehending it. Fantasies like Steiner’s, attractive though they may seem, can be recognized for what they really are: nonsense. Comforting nonsense. Alluring nonsense. But nonsense all the same.
(And yet, I still feel the allure of such nonsense. At one level, I still wish that the fantasies of my youth had proven true. All of the people who “educated” me shared a grand and beautiful vision. And they waved that vision in front of me, luring me on. My science teacher gave me antiscientific books to read. My history teacher directed me to legends and myths. My headmaster encouraged me to join a Steiner study group. Oh, how I longed to believe!)
We face a simple choice, really. Truth or untruth. The question isn’t what makes us feel good, or what we wish were true, or what we once longed to believe. The question is, What is the truth? And finding the truth, while difficult, is often within our capacities. We have brains. We have the tools of logic, science, and scholarship. We can differentiate between what is and what is not.
I suggest that the comfort found in fantasies is, in the end, worthless. False comfort is, in the end, no comfort at all. I commend cleaving to what is and setting aside what is not. And, you know, the truth has one inestimable advantage. It is the truth.
This page will be up and running again when circumstances allow.
— Roger Rawlings
April 11, 2011
Washington Waldorf School fifth graders
performing a shadow puppet show about Isis and Osiris
(ancient Egyptian gods).
"A private school in Bethesda [Maryland, USA] is the target of a series of hate crimes after four months of vandalism including swastikas, fires and broken windows, Montgomery County police said today.
"The Washington Waldorf School, at the 4800 block of Sangamore Road, reports someone has broken windows, set fires, and used spray paint to draw swastikas on eight occasions, police said.
"The Washington Waldorf School is one of 200 affiliated schools across the nation whose teaching style is based on the writings of Rudolf Steiner, an early 20th century Austrian philosopher and teacher, according to its website."
Waldorf Watch Response:
Such vandalism is deplorable, and it is completely incompatible with principled opposition to the Waldorf movement. Everyone — including critics of Waldorf schooling — should actively oppose such conduct.
Who are the vandals in this case? Disgruntled students? Disgruntled former students? Neighborhood hooligans with no connection to the school? Vandalism is often random and senseless.
Anthroposophists think they are surrounded by enemies. [See “Enemies”.] They tend to associate their opponents with the arch-demon Ahriman and his hordes. [See “Ahriman” and "Evil Ones”.] A chasm of misunderstanding and disagreement separates Anthroposophists from their critics. If we all — as fellow seekers of the truth — are ever to come together, we will need to emphasize any matters on which we agree. One area of agreement, I hope, encompasses basic moral precepts. Violence, wanton destruction, demonization — these, I submit, should be repudiated by all people of good will. [See "Can't We All Get Along?"]
My own position (for what little it matters) is that Anthroposophists have every right to believe whatever they want, and Waldorf schools have every right to exist. Waldorf schools must, however, openly profess their true purposes and agenda. [See "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda".] Until they do, they recruit new students and seek government funding under false pretenses. Once they do acknowledge their purposes, free and open decisions can be made. Anyone who wants what Waldorf offers will be free to select it, while anyone who dislikes the Waldorf agenda will be free to look elsewhere.
There is some variation among Waldorf schools, of course. Some of the schools are more deeply committed to Rudolf Steiner's occultism than others are. The Washington Waldorf School says this about itself:
"Waldorf education takes a spiritual view of what it means to be a human being, and is grounded in a path of personal development called anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner. We do not see ourselves as a religious school, however...."
This is a fairly standard Waldorf disclaimer. The key question may be whether you discover a particular Waldorf school to be a religious institution, not whether the school "sees" itself this way.
From North Shore News:
In 1919, after the devastation of the First World War, a visionary scientist named Dr. Rudolf Steiner was asked by a colleague, 'What can we possibly do in our society to prevent a repeat of this most horrific event?' Dr. Steiner replied, 'We need a new way of thinking.' This conversation led to the development of the Waldorf curriculum. One of the ways Waldorf education develops this new way of thinking is through a curriculum that nurtures and develops not only the mind, but the whole human being.
Waldorf Watch Response:
Much of the "news" coming out of Waldorf schools is — not to put too fine a point on it — propaganda. Waldorf supporters often provide slanted, starry-eyed statements, and reporters pressed for time often accept these uncritically.
Let's look through the passage quoted here.
◊ Rudolf Steiner was indeed a "visionary" — he claimed to be a clairvoyant. [See "Exactly".]
◊ Steiner was not, however, a "scientist" — despite his own claims and the claims of his followers. Steiner's "science" consisted of his professed use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. Steiner performed no actual scientific work in any scientific laboratory or elsewhere. [See "Everything" and "Steiner's 'Science'".]
◊ The "new way of thinking" proposed by Steiner is — for starters — the irrational, imaginative, proto-clairvoyance promoted in Waldorf schools. [See "Thinking Cap".] Steiner's adult followers attempt to move beyond proto-clairvoyance to full-blown clairvoyance, and especially its high version (which Steiner claimed to possess) "exact" clairvoyance. [See, e.g., "Exactly".]
◊ The Waldorf curriculum (geared especially to the spiritual needs of Germans, as comprehended by Steiner) is meant to foster irrational, imaginative, proto-clairvoyance and lead children toward the occult, pagan religion created by Steiner, Anthroposophy. [See "Curriculum", "The Good Wars", "Here's the Answer", and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]
Why, aside from spreading propaganda, are so many "news" accounts about Waldorf schools so far off the mark? Imagine a cub reporter who rushes up to an overworked editor and shouts, "Chief! I've got a hot one! I've learned that Waldorf schools are based on occultism! Paganism! Mysticism! Gnomes and demons and ghosts! Let's crack this wide open!" After giving the kid a calming shot of bourbon and the rest of the day off, the editor would start the process of hiring a new cub reporter.
The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth. Waldorf schools, otherwise known as Steiner schools, follow the directions laid out by Rudolf Steiner. He was a good man, Rudolf Steiner. Or at least he meant well. He hoped to remake the world, suffusing it with loving kindness. And what was the tactic he meant to employ? Spreading occultism.
“There is no other means of bringing about a universal human brotherhood than the spreading of occult knowledge through the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1953), p. 143.
OK? Take a deep breath and remind yourself that Waldorf schools, otherwise known as Steiner schools, follow the directions laid out by Rudolf Steiner, who was an avowed occultist. His most important book is titled AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. Some of his other books are OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS, AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY, OCCULT HISTORY, and so on. [See "Occultism".]
But surely Steiner's occultism doesn't find its way into Waldorf schools themselves, right? Actually, sadly, it does. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers need to develop a special clairvoyant form of consciousness, the "Waldorf teacher's consciousness":
“[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, if I may so express it. This is only possible, however, when in the field of education we come to an actual experience of the spiritual ... [We need] what humanity has lost in this respect, has lost just in the last three or four centuries. It is this that we must find again.” — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p. 21.
What have people lost? According to Steiner, clairvoyance. But Steiner promised his followers a new, higher form of clairvoyance — and he explicitly told Waldorf teachers that they should strive to develop such clairvoyance.
At a minimum, Steiner said, Waldorf teachers should accept the teachings of people like himself who are clairvoyant.
"Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of [clairvoyant] spiritual-scientiﬁc investigation concerning the human being. And each Waldorf teacher applies this knowledge with heart and soul ... In educating the child, in the daily lessons, and in the daily social life at school, the teachers ﬁnd the conﬁrmation for what spiritual science [i.e., Steiner's occult teachings, Anthroposophy] can tell them about practical teaching." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, pp. 224-225.
[For more on the way occultism pervades Waldorf consciousness, see "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]
The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth.
(Oh. I almost forgot. ◊ About nurturing "the whole human being" — the Waldorf concept of the whole human being is occult. In Waldorf belief, whole humans have twelve senses, three invisible bodies, both souls and spirits, karmas, doppelgängers or doubles, spiritual connections to the zodiac, and other good occult stuff. The Waldorf curriculum focuses on these and on the all-important process of reincarnation. [See, e.g., "What We Are", "Holistic Education", "Astrology", and "Incarnation".] The truth about Waldorf schools is almost incredible. Yet it is the truth.)
“A Day in the Life of a Waldorf School - Shining Rivers Waldorf School [St. Louis, USA] has provided holistic, experiential education since 1994 ... A gentle, homelike environment is created where beautiful storytelling and songs ignite the imagination for ample play with natural toys.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
School days at Waldorf schools are often quite pleasant. With little academic pressure put on them, Waldorf students play and relax in an atmosphere of myth and beauty. It can be delightful.
Whether real education occurs there may, however, be a different matter. [See, e.g., “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]
Even more to the point, you should ask yourself whether something hidden or occult is happening within the pleasant Waldorf atmosphere. “Imagination,” in Waldorf language, is often a code word for clairvoyance, the form of “higher” thinking that is meant to allow direct perception of the higher worlds. This is the acknowledged goal of Anthroposophy. It is also a generally unacknowledged goal of Waldorf education:
“The artistic element, then, begins to be the guide to the first stage of exact clairvoyance — that of imagination.” — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 64.
Here we see Steiner acknowledging. But how many Waldorf schools acknowledge? Steiner taught his followers to guard their secrets, and often they — including Waldorf teachers — give high priority to concealment. [See, e.g., “Secrets” and "Clues".]
Waldorf schools often use terminology that obscures more than it reveals. [To consider what “holistic education” is, in a Waldorf context, see “Holistic Education.”]
“Some professional educators talk about rote learning as if it were a bad thing. Like the person who wrote this advertisement for a school in Philadelphia: ‘In Waldorf schools children learn by doing and by interacting rather than by wrote memorization. [sic]’ Memorization and rote learning are not trade-offs for ‘doing and interacting.’ All have their place in the educational process. For example: learning the difference between the words rote and wrote requires a little rote memorization.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Indeed, some sorts of knowledge can be learned only by rote. Waldorf schools generally downplay such learning because they disparage much real-world knowledge. Indeed, they generally agree with their founder that the brain and its workings are of very little account.
“Within the brain nothing at all exists of the nature of thought." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Kessinger, facsimile of 1929 edition), p. 88.
Indeed, they value "higher" forms of knowledge and thought, which shift the focus from the brain to higher, invisible organs:
"Thoughts and feelings of a new kind and unknown before will be noticed uprising in the soul ... And just as the eyes and ears of the physical body are built by natural forces out of living matter, so will the organs of clairvoyance build themselves out of the feelings and thoughts thus evoked.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1944), p. 28.
That's what Steiner wrote.
(You can learn it by rote, if you please. But that would be a mistake.
◊ “The intellect destroys or hinders.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophical Press, 1995), p. 233.
◊ “A man who would receive Anthroposophy with his intellect kills it in the very act.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE, NATURE, AND CULTIVATION OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, 1963), p. 15.
So knuckle down to develop your organs of clairvoyance.)
“We were introduced to Waldorf Education by close friends. The wife of the couple, an artist and educator, had discovered Rudolf Steiner in her professional reading. Once awakened to the joy of Waldorf Education, the couple became committed to making it available for their son ... David and I wish for a world where all children have access to a child-centered education that succeeds at celebrating the uniqueness of each child while thoroughly supporting and honoring the important journey of their development.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
Yes, such an education sounds perfect. You are unlikely to find it at a Waldorf school, however. Waldorf teachers try to treat their students as individuals, but their worldview gets in their way. They see the children through a screen of false concepts.
Far from “celebrating the uniqueness of each child,” the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, categorizes individuals by race and temperament, among other injurious differentiations. A black child, for instance, may be treated well at a Waldorf school, but Anthroposophy does not affirm racial equality. Steiner differentiated between high races and low races, races that are evolving higher and those that are deteriorating.
“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.
All children of one race are thought to stand at a different developmental level from all children of other races. The hope for a child born into a "low" race is that s/he may rise into a better race in a coming incarnation (Anthroposophists believe in reincarnation).
“We must distinguish between soul-evolution and race-evolution. A soul may be incarnated in a race that is declining; but if that soul does not make itself evil, it will not be reincarnated in a race that is falling back, but in one that is on the up-grade [sic]. Enough souls are pouring in from other quarters for incarnation in races that are on the down-grade (i.e., bad souls) [sic].” — Rudolf Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Kessinger, facsimile of 1920 edition), p. 138. The final phrase, “i.e., bad souls” is an explanatory note added by Steiner’s Anthroposophical editor.
Aside from race, children in Waldorf schools are slotted into the four classical “temperaments.” The children are given different work assignments and they are seated in different parts of the classroom based on this wholly baseless system of classification. The following is from the book WALDORF EDUCATION FOR AMERICA:
1. Cholerics are very attentive and critical. Most cholerics are boys. They may have high shoulders; they often seem bony. They may turn into bullies or become prey to tantrums. “To handle cholerics, give them challenges ... Choleric people show themselves best in emergencies.”
2. Sanguines are appreciative and “want to be with you.” They are “harmoniously built;” they do not find their bodies to be encumbrances. They are in danger of drifting through life unconstructively. “They can be handled well with the books that they make in the Waldorf schools, reflecting what is learned in diagrams."
3. Melancholics are slow; they yearn for depth; from this depth, they may derive “an ethical impulse.” “They do not like being called to the [chalk]board.” One typical group of melancholics consists of “junior high school girls who suddenly grow thin and tall with slumping shoulders.” Melancholics may be moody, given to headaches, unfriendly, and worried about their health. “For these melancholic children biographies are a wonderful thing ... They see that they are not the only people in the world who have suffered.”
4. Phlegmatics are extremely sensitive to the atmosphere in the classroom. Confusion makes them tense. They often have rosy cheeks and may be overweight because they do not expend much energy. They may be in danger of “becoming dull and uninterested in the world.” “For the phlegmatic children there is one thing that suits them well: the arts, painting, music, eurythmy.” — Anthroposophist Hermann von Baravalle, WALDORF EDUCATION FOR AMERICA (Parker Courtney Press, 1998), pp. 102-105.
Racial discrimination is almost never overt at Waldorf schools today, but it remains embedded in the Waldorf belief system. By contrast, belief in the four classical temperaments is still openly espoused in the Waldorf movement today. How do Waldorf teachers determine the termperaments of their students? In part, through the use of clairvoyance — which is a delusion.
To conclude this little summary,
let's look at an item totally out of sequence:
New Waldorf schools are created now and then, all around the world. And Waldorf schools die now and then, all around the world.
The Waldorf movement generally trumpets news of Waldorf openings while hushing up news of Waldorf collapses.
Here is a rough translation of the headline and first paragraph of a French blog posting that touches on these matters. The headline, in French, is "L’école Steiner-Waldorf des Capucines ferme définitivement ses portes."
The Steiner-Waldorf School of Capucines
finally closes its doors
Posted on January 18, 2018
The news of the closure of a Steiner-Waldorf school is usually something that the leaders of these institutions do not want to publicize, as this would draw attention to an event whose causes they would prefer to keep hidden. That's why everything is done so that the news does not shine out. A Steiner school dies silently, without cries of agony, disappearing from the public scene as if it had never existed. No report is issued, nor of course is any public announcement made, because a candid accounting would be harmful to Steiner-Waldorf schools in general; it would reveal not only local problems, but more importantly it would reveal serious structural dysfunctions caused by the sectarian nature of these schools.
[downloaded 1/20/2018 https://veritesteiner.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/lecole-steiner-waldorf-des-capucines-ferme-definitivement-ses-portes/ Rough translation by Roger Rawlings.]
Waldorf Watch Response:
The blog in question is called La Vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf (The Truth about Steiner-Waldorf Schools). The blogger is Grégoire Perra, a former Waldorf student and Waldorf teacher. If you can read French, you would be well advised to follow Perra's posts. Having been a Waldorf insider, Perra knows whereof he speaks. (If you can't read French, various online translation services may help you. There is, for instance, Google Translate, which is far from perfect but seems to be improving.)
Perra is a whistle-blower who was once prominent in the Anthroposophical community. After he left that community and began writing critical essays, Steiner-Waldorf authorities sued, trying to silence him. But he won the trial.
Some of his most significant work is available, in English translation, here at Waldorf Watch. Included are:
("He Went to Waldorf")
("Mistreating Kids Lovingly").
The account of Perra's trial is available at "My Life Among The Anthroposophists - Part 3".
For more about the closings of Waldorf schools, see "Failure" and, e.g., an Oct. 10, 2017 news item covered here: "The Canterbury Waldorf School will be auctioned off in October".
Concerning Waldorf failures generally, here is a statement made by an Australian Waldorf teacher:
"In my four decades in Steiner [education], I have seen many [Steiner] schools born ... Sadly I've also seen many die. Sometimes the death is physical, where the school simply vanishes; in others it is a spiritual demise. This is when the purity of the Steiner educational impulse is contaminated, or at worst, corrupted totally ... I can not recall any of these schools dying due to external attack ... Rather every tortured demise was caused from within. The cancer took root in the souls of one or other of the elements of the school community itself...." — Alan Whitehead, A CREATIVE LIFE - Memoirs of a Rudolf Steiner Teacher, vol. 3, Into the Wind (Golden Beetle Books, 2001), p. 2.
A spiritually dead Waldorf school may survive in some form or other, at least for a while. But it will no longer be a real Waldorf school. And, precisely for this reason — because it has lost its raison d'être — it may eventually close its doors. Then again, losing "the purity of the Steiner educational impulse" may merely be a matter of perspective. One faction within a Waldorf school may interpret Steiner's teachings differently from another faction. Strife and dissension may result — this is often the case in Waldorf schools — and the losing faction may accuse the winners of apostasy and betrayal. The school may survive, but at the cost of becoming a difficult place to work. As another Waldorf teacher has written:
"[W]hen things go bad [at a Waldorf school] they do so from the inside ... [S]everal teachers had, through a misunderstanding and misapplication of Steiner's words, become excessively, in fact obsessively, preoccupied with [X, Y, or Z — the details aren't important] ... 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 ... I got myself a job at the [non-Steiner] Lenox School ... My work at Lenox was rather trying, since the students were much nastier than the ones at the Rudolf Steiner School ... [but] the teachers were considerably easier to get on with." — Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), pp. 94-115.
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch,
use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 2. WALDORF SCHOOLS TODAY ◊◊◊
Bringing the inquiry up to date: What goes on inside Waldorf schools today?
Waldorf schools in the 21st Century
What they're saying
What they're reading
What they're saying (cont.)
More, and more, and...
Still more, and still more, and...
A brief look at the purposes of Waldorf schooling
A brief summary of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines and teachings
A guide for students and parents
Steiner's theory of everything
Some of the things you aren’t supposed to know
To survive or not, to teach or not
Debating and evaluating Waldorf education
News about Waldorf schools
The Watch in Waldorf Watch (Cont.)
Dispatches from Deutschland
< ◊ >
If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed on this site,
you might begin by consulting the following resources:
THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY
THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
WALDORF WATCH INDEX
WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS