What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools

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

As the current coalition government appear to be very keen to allow Steiner Schools to open under the Free School programme, I wrote to my Lib Dem MP for Wells, Tessa Munt, with my concerns. Her constituency will overlap with the catchment area for the first Steiner School opened under the scheme, in the Somerset town of Frome.

She consulted with a Minister in the Department of Education. The response took some time but the message was simple:

So, it would appear that I am mistaken to be concerned.

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

The Core Beliefs of Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science

Rudolf Steiner was a central figure of the occult revival at the start of the 20th Century. He believed he had access to a higher consciousness through a clairvoyant knowledge of the spiritual world. After splitting with Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant, he took the German speaking theosophists and set up his own spiritual esoteric movement, Anthroposophy – the knowledge of man.

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

Steiner’s visions gave him insights into all areas of human life, including farming (biodynamics), art, dance, diet, architecture, biology, history, geology, finance, and, crucially for us here, medicine and education. These insights have led to thousands of anthroposophically inspired organisations including schools, farms, cosmetic and health companies (e.g Weleda), Banks, (e.g. Triodos) and spiritual communities (e.g. Camphill, Christian Community).

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

Steiner viewed the spiritual world to be real and populated with many nature spirits, elementals and root spirits (gnomes). Steiner believed his clairvoyant techniques were a genuine scientific approaches to studying this spiritual realm. They were extra tools, not an alternative to science. We often see Steiner followers repeating the view that Steiner philosophy embraces and extends science. Of course, the reality is that science is undermined by the insistence of the reality of nonsense. This too is important in understanding Steiner Schools.

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

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

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

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

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

In time, however, blondness will disappear because the human race is becoming weaker. In the end, only brown- and black-haired people will be able to survive if nothing is done to keep them from being bound to matter. The stronger the body’s forces, the weaker the soul’s. When fair people become extinct, the human race will face the danger of becoming dense if a spiritual science like Anthroposophy is not accepted.

All of Steiner’s movement, whether agricultural, medical or educational, is designed to assist people through their current incarnation and into better future incarnations. Thus, the Camphill movement, helps disabled people overcome their karma so that they will not be so unfortunate in future lives. Steiner Schools are designed to assist the spirits to enter children’s bodies as they grow and to prepare their souls for better lives. We can view Steiner Schools not as educational establishments, but as places of spiritual midwifery.

In the 1920′s and 30′s, Steiner’s worldview resonated well  with the political zeitgeist in Germany and the movement grew significantly. Anthroposophical agricultural practices were set up at Dachau by Himmler and medical supplies used for experiments supplied by the Steinerist Weleda company. (In more modern times, biodynamic agriculture is adopted in places such as the Duchy Home Farm at Highgrove where you can attend courses on how to please the elemental spirits whilst planting, through astrology, homeopathy and ritual.) Although currently presented as humanistic, Steiner’s philosophy is fascistic and reactionary. He recognised that amongst many people, the movements aims and beliefs would be seen as absurd and urged his followers to be coy.

This secrecy was a natural extension of the esoteric and occult nature of Anthroposophy. As is necessary with esoteric organisations, how it is presented to the outside world will differ considerably from inner beliefs. Although, ostensibly, secrecy was a necessary part of the how an initiate moved through the orders of the movement in order to prepare the mind for the next level of revealed knowledge, secrecy could also be used to protect Anthroposophists from outside scrutiny and criticism, and so further their aims undetected.

Steiner-Waldorf Educational Philosophy

Steiner started his first school for children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. There are now many thousands of mostly private schools around the world based on Steiner pedagogy.

You may have heard of many of the rather different views of Steiner Schools such as delayed reading, eurythmy dance and focus on art. You may also have heard of their adoption of alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, in treating children. Steiner Schools are keen to stress that they do not teach Anthroposophy and they are merely ‘inspired’ by the ethos of Rudolf Steiner. It is worth looking at how the newly approved state funded Steiner School in Frome presents itself.

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

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

There is no mention on the site about the nature of ‘Dr Steiner’s work on child development’. Indeed, Steiner education is presented as a progressive, child-centred education based on an understanding of child development (What school would say they do not adopt such an ethos?). But this would only be true if you accept that childhood is a process of stages of spiritual incarnation. Whilst it is true that schools do not explicitly teach anthroposophy, their entire curriculum is guided by Spiritual Science. In the same way that Michael Gove will not want schools to teach the educational theories of English literature professor, E.D. Hirsch, he may want schools to have a curriculum informed by his ideas for political and social reasons.

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

People will object that the children then learn to read and write too late. That is said only because it is not known today how harmful it is when the children learn to read and write too soon. It is a very bad thing to be able to write early. Reading and writing as we have them today are really not suited to the human being till a later age – the eleventh or twelfth year – and the more a child is blessed with not being able to read and write well before this age, the better it is for the later years of life. A child who cannot write properly at thirteen or fourteen (I can speak out of my own experience because I could not do it at that age) is not so hindered for later spiritual development as one who early, at seven or eight years can already read and write perfectly.

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

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

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

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

The fact that the curriculum of a Steiner Schools is driven by anthroposophic goals requires Steiner Schools to seek special statuses to avoid breaking the law. Steiner Schools in the UK lobby to remove themselves from the requirements of various government curriculum demands and targets, such as EYFS, so that they can follow their own programme. Steiner schools have also sought to be inspected, not by Ofsted, but by the specially created Schools Inspection Service which has staff that will understand their ‘special approaches and characteristics’. The School Inspection Service is based in Bruton, a Somerset town with a Steiner School. Martin Bradley is one of the key inspectors for SIS and a governor of Hereford Steiner School.

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

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

We must not be afraid to talk to the children about Atlantis. We should not omit that. We can even present it in a historical context. But then you have to disavow standard geology … The ice age is the Atlantean catastrophe. The ancient glacial period, and recent average conditions in Europe, are nothing other than what has happened since Atlantis sank.

Steiner also  rejected germ theory and embraced homeopathy – a situation that leads to Steiner Schools being sources of large numbers of unvaccinated children.

Which brings us on to medicine in Steiner Schools.

Anthroposophical Medicine in Steiner Schools

Many Steiner Schools have an Anthroposophical Doctor. These are registered and trained doctors, but extend their practice through Spiritual Science. As such they embrace forms of homeopathy and naturopathy. Unlike conventional homeopaths, who claim to consider the whole person, anthroposophical doctors need to also consider past and future lives. Whereas many alternative doctors use spiritual knowledge to treat the body, the role of the Anthroposophical doctor is to use spiritual knowledge to treat the spirit – the current physical body is secondary to this consideration.

Doctors in the schools have a strange attitude to medicine. At the St Paul’s Steiner School, the relationship is described as follows:

The doctor may prescribe Anthroposophical or homeopathic remedies or therapies such as art therapy, massage or Eurhythmy therapy sessions for which the parents are administratively and financially responsible. Curative eurythmy is the name given to specific exercises that are given to help children with their physical and inner development. These exercises are undertaken with a specially trained Eurythmy therapist.

The school does not carry out dental checks, hearing or sight tests, nor does it provide immunisation boosters.

So, the GMC registered doctor may prescribe extra magical dance lessons, but not provide services that could help them with specific problems or even save their lives.

This spiritual attitude has perverse effects. Steiner believed that measles was an important disease for children to have as it aided their “spiritual development”. It is a disease that will kill and injure some of the children it infects. Indeed, a recent review entitled Anthroposophy: A Risk Factor for Noncompliance With Measles Immunization documents measles outbreaks in the UK after the virus was able to gain a foothold in anthroposophic communities. The UK’s Health Protection Agency views Steiner Schools as a ‘high risk population’.

Steiner was also against the eradication of smallpox by vaccination as he believed that this would only delay the spirit’s karmic destiny in other lives. Belief in reincarnation is not harmless. Steiner appeared to accept the death of a child as an acceptable part of helping spirits through their incarnations. Your child is just an expendable vessel. But their spirits will receive great karma. I hope you are happy with this.

How should we understand modern Steiner Schools?

So, we have a problem. The history of the Steiner’s movement would suggest it is at best barmpottery, and at worst, deeply unpleasant and racist nonsense that threatens the wellbeing of children through crackpot ideas about medicine and an absurd approach to education. Clearly, the UK government does not think there is a problem as I was told in my letter from Tessa Munt that the Frome proposal had gone through full due diligence.

Lord Hill of Oareford wrote to MP Tessa Munt as part of my enquiry saying,

Can we be confident that the Department of Education did indeed carry out a rigorous assessment? I understand no scientific specialists were involved and I doubt very much that civil servants familiar with the occult nature of anthroposophy would have been included in the review. An assumption in such reviews must be that applicants are being open and honest. Is it possible that the schools are pulling the wool over the eyes of civil servants? We should explore that now.

Misleading Parents and Authorities. Undermining and Silencing Critics.

We can start off by recognising that none of what I have talked about here is presented to new parents. You will struggle to find any mention of anthroposophical beliefs and its goals on school web sites.  The new Free School in Frome is typical with is misdirection in claiming that it does not teach children anthroposophy.  Steiner was very clear about how schools should present themselves to the outside world,

[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf [Steiner] School with its Anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with Anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck.

Steiner was also clear that the spiritual and religious nature of anthroposophy should be disguised and told teachers,

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

There are a number of ways we may view this contradiction between the Government’s belief that all is well and the stated intentions of anthroposophy. One explanation is that Steiner Schools have undergone massive evolution  and have distanced themselves from the racist doctrines and the absurd goals of anthroposophy. They are now somehow just using Steiner’s ethos of creativity, spirituality and closeness to nature to create a different school atmosphere. Another explanation is that Steiner Schools are still guided by anthroposophical initiates who want to use them to fulfill Steiner’s goals and view an esoteric and occulted approach as vital for this to succeed. And if so they are being successful in fooling people.

So we need to look for evidence.

An obvious danger in researching esoteric organisations is that by definition source material may be hidden. We must be careful not to slip into conspiratorial thinking. And as such, ambiguity will always follow us. Original sources are most often in German. Translations have deliberately censored chapters that leave out sensitive material. Books have been written by sympathetic authors that steer clear of racial doctrines and other contentious issues. Also, anthroposophy relies on an oral tradition where initiates are led into the inner beliefs. All this makes collating sets of evidence somewhat tricky.

Let’s start by seeing how existing state funded schools respond to request to see their anthroposophical links. In April 2012, Hereford Steiner School, the UK’s first state funded anthroposophical school, set up by the last Labour government, was asked for staffs’ associations with anthroposophical organisations under Freedom of Information laws,

I would be grateful if you could provide details of the professional membership of any Anthroposophical organisations and societies held by the school principal, the school governors, all teaching and support staff, including the school doctor. This need not identify individuals by name, their role or job title would be sufficient.

The School refused. It stated it had no interest in their staff’s associations with anthroposophy and considered such information as private.

A request for an internal appeal was made with various objections including noting that their application form for staff  invited “applicants to describe their awareness of Anthroposophy.”

The publicly funded school sought legal advice in order to prevent handing over the information and then denied holding the information. This was pointed out to them as being simply untrue. A complaint was made to the Information Commissioner. Finally, on the 31st of October 2012, the school relented and gave a very limited response, apologising for withholding the information.

The School has subsequently gone to pains to further remove text that describes its anthroposophical links from its web site and application forms.

The French Steiner School Whistleblower

Last year, an important document (translation) was written by the ex-anthroposophist and Paris Steiner School teacher, Grégoire Perra. In the document, Perra describes the French school’s  systematic and subtle indoctrination techniques practiced on not just children, but parents and teachers. He describes how the school routinely misled authorities as to what they were doing.

The nature of their teaching, such as keeping one teacher with children throughout their school days was disguised for example,

“Indeed, in these schools, misleading state officials is commonplace. For example, I witnessed that, when a teacher is scheduled to be inspected in class, s/he will commonly be replaced by another teacher who has the [necessary] skills or qualifications. [37] Then the students are asked to “play the game” in the presence of the inspector, and to act as if the teacher who conducts their class [this day] is their regular teacher. [38] Similarly, it may happen that there are health and hygiene inspections.”

He describes the same sort of reluctance to be open about the schools anthroposophical founding,

On the website of the Federation of Waldorf Schools, or on visitors days at these schools, no one will speak openly about the links between Waldorf education and Anthroposophical beliefs. You will hear about a form of schooling that places the development of the individual at the center of its concerns, taking into account the uniqueness of each human being. Rudolf Steiner is presented as a teacher and philosopher of the last century, while the Steiner-Waldorf schools are described as innovative institutions, comparable to Montessorri schools. You will not hear about Anthroposophy as an esoteric doctrine constituting the theoretical foundation of Waldorf teaching, and certainly you will not hear about the human or institutional ties  that directly connect Waldorf schools and the Anthroposophical Society.

School inspectors fail to spot problems in the teaching content because they have no idea about how Spiritual Science subtly undermines established facts,

Because inspectors from the ministry of education do not know these interpretations [Steiner's views on taught subjects] — they are not the specialists in Anthroposophy — they have difficulty identifying them.

Most worryingly, Perra describes how the closed world of the Steiner School leads to abusive relationships. Teachers are encouraged to form long lasting bonds with children, which in some cases turns in a very wrong direction,

For example, when I was teaching, I witnessed in one of these schools an illicit relationship that had begun between a teacher and a student of the upper classes. They started dating when the student was in 10th grade (Third) and the situation continued until the 12th grade (First or Terminal). All class teachers of the high school knew about it, including some who were members of the board of the school. How could they ignore it, since this teacher and this student had come to live together in the same apartment?

It would be easy to dismiss Perra’s account as a one-off account of a school that had gone bad. But when put in context of the knowledge of Steiner’s goals for anthroposophy, we see a coherent and deeply disturbing insight into the murky world of Steinerism.

Perra describes how the role of schools is not to explicitly turn children into anthroposophists, but to subtly indoctrinate – to “prepare them to move naturally toward the Anthroposophical movement”. Disturbingly, he describes how many of the teachers, maybe periphery to the inner circle, are unaware of what they are doing is indoctrination.

Perra’s document ought to be dynamite and throw Gove’s plans for Steiner Free Schools into disarray. In France, the anthroposophical organisation is worried too and are currently pursuing Perra in the courts.

Perra will not be the first person who has been intimidated or smeared for speaking out. One of the few academics who writes on the history of anthroposophy, Peter Staudenmaier, has been pursued online by supporters and web sites set up to question his credibility. Blogger zooey discovered that the Swedish Waldorf Schools Fellowship in Sweden paid Sune Nordwall to ‘monitor the debate’ on the web. However, his actions have included an alleged threat to Mumsnet with libel if they posted about Steiner Schools. He uses pseudonyms to post misleading information on articles such as this, and creates blog posts to attack Staudenmaier.

Professor Edzard Ernst found himself to be under attack from a German journalist who was under the pay of anthroposophical organisations Weleda and Wala. The newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, in an article, Schmutzige Methoden der sanften Medizin (The Dirty Tricks of Alternative Medicine), discovered that Claus Fritzsche was being paid €43,000 to run a set of web sites that denigrates Ernst for his criticism of anthroposophical and homeopathic medicine. Ernst has though been attacked by bigger enemies. In the past, Prince Charles tried to remove him from his Professorship at Exeter for expressing his views on alternative medicine.

Responses

The picture I have painted is one of a secretive and, perhaps, dishonest organisation that does not disclose its origins, beliefs and goals to prospective parents of its schools. The Steiner movement has of course responded to similar criticisms in the past. What sort of arguments do they use?

The first type of argument is to suggest my concerns are historical – that they do not apply to the modern Steiner movement. If this is true, then I would simply ask where is the evidence for this? Such a shift in the anthroposophical movement would surely have been historically documented and debated. I find no reason to believe this has ever happened. I see no evolution in the organisation’s purpose, practices and beliefs.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe this would be a very hard thing to achieve for anthroposophy. Anthroposophical beliefs are based on the revealed wisdom of the revered Rudolf Steiner. He claimed his beliefs had authority because the techniques were scientific in nature – repeatable and available to those who could reach the required level of spiritual development. If the movement were to question core beliefs, like the racial hierarchy  this would obviously put into doubt all his teachings and undermine the very foundations of the movement. Just as within mainstream religions, there is a huge inertia against questioning core revealed beliefs and exclusion of those that do. In short, anthroposophy is irrational and pseudoscientific because it contains no self-correcting mechanisms.

The next sort of argument is that the schools must be doing good because there are plenty of adults who have been through the schools who have successfully been to university and are having good careers, often in technical or scientific areas. Well, yes. As almost all students in the UK have been through a private Steiner education, we are talking about relatively wealthy families who can afford the fees. Within such families, of course children tend to do well with educated parents and perhaps pushy parents. Also, within Steiner Schools you may well find good teachers who do the right thing for their children.

Finding excellence is no guarantee that excellence is the expected outcome. As Steiner schools move into the state sector, the ability of Steiner schools to fulfill their promise of excellence across a wider social demographic may be much harder to achieve and may well be truly damaging. Commonly , it is pointed out that state schools practice dodgy pedagogical philosophies and restrict creativity. The tactic is to assume the default position: that if there are faults in mainstream education, the answer must be Steiner. Of course, this is a fallacy.

A related argument often comes from Steiner teachers or their associates that says that they taught in the schools but ignored all the “mumbo-jumbo”. This argument reveals two things: that firstly all the mumbo jumbo is present, and secondly, the hierarchical and esoteric nature of anthroposophical organisations. People are slowly pulled into the inner circles. Not all are blue card carrying ‘First Class’ member of Anthroposophy, as they are known. Outside of the inner circle, goals and beliefs are systematically obfuscated. There will be teachers with little idea of the nature of anthroposophy, but have found the idea of such schools alluring.

We can see the sort of obfuscation that occurs in responses to other criticisms.

When Professor David Colquhoun posted similar criticisms of Steiner Waldorf Schools, a comment was posted under the name SWSF (presumably the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship) as follows,

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) works to support and promote Steiner education in the UK. Both the SWSF and its member schools are unequivocal in their condemnation of racism and in their commitment to the universal principles embodied in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and protected by the Equality Act October 2010.

The SWSF refutes categorically any statement, suggestion, implication or inference that any of its member schools would tolerate racism in any shape or form or that Steiner education is racist.

As writer Dan Dugen has noted, it is common for Steiner followers to “equate racism with overt hatred, and since they don’t feel that they hate anybody, they’re sure that they can’t be racists. They don’t understand that ignorance and paternalism are racism, too.”

It is true that Steiner schools have many black children and teachers in them. And it would appear that they would not refuse admission on grounds of race. But if they were to apply Steiner’s beliefs equally to all children, then differential treatment and attitudes may surface depending on racial characteristics. Of course, if one accepts Steiner’s racial hierarchy as true, then applying his teaching methods may not be seen as racist – just practical. Similar beliefs were at the core of South Africa’s apartheid – differential treatment was necessary due to different racial temperaments and cultures. Racism in South Africa did not occur just when police were brutalising protestors, but through the very fabric of the structure of society.

In short, it is not sufficient for Steiner Schools to say they condemn racism, they need to express how they now recognise Steiner’s anthroposophy was inherently and insidiously racist and how the movement has now rejected all such doctrine and taken steps to eliminate it from the many thousands of anthroposophically based organisations across the world. I have not seen that happen.

What to do?

Emma Cragie, former trustee of Bruton Steiner School, with her sister Annunziatta Rees Mogg (whose brother is local MP Jacob Rees Mogg) and Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The UK government looks likely to approve the many more Steiner Free School applications that are springing up across the country. The pattern is likely to follow the Frome example: applications are being made near existing private schools; when approved, the first intake will be from the private school which will then be promptly shut down, as happened at The Meadow school at Bruton near Frome in Somerset, under the guidance of Emma Cragie, of the Rees-Mogg clan (see image) . The Steiner Free Schools are essentially the nationalisation of a private school for existing children and offering no new choice to local communities.

How these news schools manage their intakes in future years will be interesting. The private schools have managed this through a network of Steiner kindergartens ensuring parents of new children have an aptitude for accepting the Steiner ethos. Children will find it difficult to transfer from existing state schools as they will have nasty Ahrimanic habits, such as wearing LED trainers, playing Gameboys and being able to read and write.

How Free Steiner Schools select children will pose challenges. They will not want to expose themselves to the ‘wrong sort of parents’. Much of what is available publicly on the internet about the inner goings on of Steiner schools has come from ‘survivor’ parents who may at first found Steiner Schools alluring, found something was not quite right, investigated and were subsequently horrified. Here is one such story and well worth reading. When the school is state funded, such horrified parents are be ticking time bombs under the schools and government policy.

The ambitions to create many larger publicly funded Steiner Schools will create staffing issues too. There will be too few Steiner trained teachers and it will take some time for Canterbury Christchurch University to get up to speed. Teachers will be uncertified, untrained or imported from overseas. This will create vulnerabilities for the schools – they may well be overstretching.

As Perra describes in his document, the closed and secretive nature of Steiner schools is an environment where the predatory or unscrupulous may take advantage of children. All environments with children risk potential problems, but the detached Steiner schools with a sense of their own spiritual superiority and unwillingness to allow outside scrutiny and criticism pose a dangerous habitat. I hope I do not have to point out that I told you so.

Media scrutiny of these schools is feeble. As I discussed recently, the Guardian’s attempts at shining some light resulted in a slightly mocking article rather than raising any serious concerns. The Guardian staff are full of people with associations with Steiner Schools.  The BBC recently interview me and several other critics for a special programme on new applications for Free Schools. That story looks like it has been spiked – I have no idea why. (see updates below)

But light can be shone into this rather murky world. And indeed blogging is a good start. Earlier this year, writer James Gray investigated how Aberdeen University were going to set up a Chair in Anthroposophical Medicine funded by a donation of millions from anthroposophical organisation, the Software AG Foundation. The story ended up in the Guardian and the  Times Higher Education suggesting how the University was supporting ‘pure quackery’ and its reputation would be shattered. The University decided against accepting the money and dropped its plans.

You too can shed some light. Our legislators need educating. Write to them, especially if there is a Steiner School proposed near you. Parent need to understand that Steiner Schools are not just cuddly tree huggers, but there is a distinct spiritual agenda behind the educational philosophy that is not being disclosed. Informed choice here is the key thing.

If the government is serious are providing choice in school types, that only makes sense if that choice is based on freely available, accurate and complete information. I hope my summary here suggests, at least, for Steiner Schools, that this may not be the case.

Updates

Sunday 4th November

Just a few days later and reports of sex offender unchecked at Glasgow Steiner Schools:

“Shock as it emerges serial sex offender was employed by private school to teach music to kids: STEVE BIRCH refused a check at The Steiner School in Glasgow and was allowed to remain in position for four years.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/serial-sex-offender-was-employed-by-private-1416155

Monday 5th November

The BBC has been in contact and the story on Steiner Schools has not been spiked as I stated, but is due to be aired later this month.

Further reading

The excellent DCScience blog on “the curious Steiner Waldorf cult”.

Part 1  The true nature of Steiner (Waldorf) education. Mystical barmpottery at taxpayers’ expense.

Part 2 The Steiner Waldorf cult uses bait and switch to get state funding.

Part 3 The Problem of Racism

and, in general,

 http://www.waldorfcritics.org/

http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/

http://zooey.wordpress.com

https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/

 Specific Articles:

https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/he-went-to-waldorf THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL INDOCTRINATION OF STUDENTS IN STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS By Grégoire Perra

 

https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/coming-undone - A Parent’s story.

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/Staudenmaier.html Anthroposophy and Ecofascism – Peter Staudenmaier

https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/mistreatment Mistreating kids Lovingly – Steiner Schools

 

* Anthroposophical Schools are known as either Steiner Schools or Waldorf Schools depending on which country in the world you live in. I have tended to stick to Steiner Schools as I live in the UK.

319 comments for “What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools

  1. Andreas Lichte
    November 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    “Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner’s books are ‘an incitement to racial hatred’, says BPjM

    (…) The “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) examined 2 books by Rudolf Steiner for “racist content” and decided that the content of the books is racist.

    To understand the BPjM´s importance and function here’s its self-portrayal, quote:

    “General information about the BPjM (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons) We are an official administrative authority of the German government called “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”). Our task is to protect children and adolescents in Germany from any media that might contain harmful or dangerous contents. This work is authorized by the “Youth Protection Law” (Jugendschutzgesetz – JuSchG). Media monitored by us are, among others: videos, DVDs, computer games, audio records and CDs, print media and internet sites. Objects are considered harmful or dangerous to minors if they tend to endanger their process of developing a socially responsible and self-reliant personality. In general, this applies to objects that contain indecent, extremely violent, crime-inducing, anti-Semitic or otherwise racist material. (…)” see the BPjM-homepage for the rest.

    The 2 books examined by the BPjM are:

    – „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“

    English title: „Spiritual-Scientific Knowledge of the Human Being“

    – „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen im Zusammenhang mit der germanisch-nordischen Mythologie“

    English title: „The Mission of Individual Volk-Souls in Connection with Germanic-Nordic Mythology“

    The 2 decisions differ from one another only with regard to which particular statements by Rudolf Steiner the BPjM considered to be racist. As stated in the respective decisions on i) „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“ and ii) „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen“, decisions page 6:

    „Der Inhalt des Buches ist nach Ansicht des 12er-Gremiums in Teilen als zum Rassenhass anreizend bzw. als Rassen diskriminierend anzusehen.”

    „The content of the book [by Rudolf Steiner] is, in the opinion of the board of 12 representatives, considered in part as an incitement to racial hatred, respectively as discriminating on grounds of race.“

    This is followed by a definition. I only translate the most important part:

    „Ein Medium reizt mithin zum Rassenhass an, d.h. stellt Rassenhass als nachahmenswert dar, wenn darin Menschen wegen ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu einer anderen Rasse, Nation, Glaubensgemeinschaft o.ä. als minderwertig und verächtlich dargestellt oder diskriminiert werden (Ukrow, Jugendschutzrecht, Rn. 284).”

    “A medium incites racial hatred, that is, depicts racial hatred as worthy of imitation, if human beings are represented as being inferior or contemptible or are discriminated against, due to their affiliation to another race, nation, religious community or the like.”

    This definition is followed by those of Rudolf Steiner’s statements that were considered by the BPjM as racist. I translate only statements concerning BLACK PEOPLE directly (…)”

    read more: http://www.ruhrbarone.de/waldorf-schools-rudolf-steiner’s-books-are-“an-incitement-to-racial-hatred”-says-bpjm/

    • May 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities. To be frank I very much doubt it with how judging and against Steiner this all seems. On the racist subject, look around you is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. The article above is great, but anyone with kids knows that it is Love and development that is crucial, specifically ‘love”. Simply seeing that Countries that suffer more and may be less evolved is simply visible when we look around. WE are not much better, I mean UK as a whole and all folks. We poison our lands, and actually on the subject of vaccinations, my daughters legs swelled up blue after her injections at age 2 and she screamed uncontrolably and was admitted to hospital. Thankfully my partner knew to raise her legs so she didnt end up losing he legs and have a stroke through lack of blood in the brain. This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we). AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us when all we wanted was our daughter helped. And my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned.

      Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously. Anyway, can you folks not see the good in Steiner? The biofarming, organic, the setting up schools for all the types of kids,.a man that actually did something for the world.. Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more? AND the answers can never be answered, though spiritual revelations of the world we live in truely can begin to unravel it a little at a time.

      • May 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        “On the racist subject, look around you is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. ”

        Really? On the heals of WWI in EUROPE, Steiner was pointing out that it’s the darker skinned nations are warring? And you believe him?

        • May 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm

          If we are going to quote Steiner then we should use exact quotes. The basis though that has been covered here, is basically less evolved. This has to be taken as a whole country, and not individuals as I see it. Obviouslyfor instance not all white folks are evolved at all.

          What Steiner has predicted is that evolution will occur when spirits skin are in a white body. None of us should believe a word he says, and this is also the basis of what he talks of, to find out for ourselves, to simply inquire and actually be loving, open and meditate, contemplate to see if the so called unseen world becomes clearer.. AS said this is folks being caught up on a so called prediction.

          I started reading Steiner and doing the meditative exercises and already had been doing so anyway, and then read of his inquiry notes. And books on the so called higher worlds. Whether folks are ready to face it or not, we are, and do become spiritual beings. It’s ongoing. BUT belief cannot know, only directt experience. HENCELY the inner work needed, to find love., to be love.

          • May 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

            “This has to be taken as a whole country, and not individuals as I see it. Obviouslyfor instance not all white folks are evolved at all.”

            Yes, according to Steiner, they should be ahead of everyone else…

            “What Steiner has predicted is that evolution will occur when spirits skin are in a white body.”

            And based on Steiner’s prediction, you have decided to live your life as a racist. Nice to know.

            “None of us should believe a word he says, and this is also the basis of what he talks of, to find out for ourselves”

            So, you have found out for yourself that white people are more evolved than other people?

            “Whether folks are ready to face it or not, we are, and do become spiritual beings. ”

            Not by spewing racial hatred disguised as “love” you don’t.

          • May 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

            As Pete has said, Livedan Livedan (is that your name? at least have the guts to post under your own name) you are a vile racist and, though you claim not to be a racist, I do not think you are an ignorant bigot but a fully aware and conscious racist. You are utterly disgraceful and disgusting.

        • May 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm

          Pete, I cannot reply to your comments when you leave off the notifications for a reply. ANYWAY, the last I am likely to say is this, your are directing first of all a lot of I am racist at me, and actually annoying yourself it seems. LETS truely break this down, Steiner actually says that evolvement may take place with the German race leading the way. NOW BEFORE you freak out, we are not talking mass killng and the well known war, but a loving spiritual species moreso in general.

          SO I am not German, and I take this statement from Steiner as not racism that I may not be as loving and advanced as some on this planet. I know I am a work in progress. BUT please if you insist, then keep calling me racist and whatever else.

          • May 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

            “Pete, I cannot reply to your comments when you leave off the notifications for a reply.”

            I have no control over this. Believe me – I WANT you to reply. You are absolutely living proof of the racist mindset in Steiner people and why they don’t believe they are racists.

            “ANYWAY, the last I am likely to say is this, your are directing first of all a lot of I am racist at me, and actually annoying yourself it seems. ”

            Naw… I never get tired of calling racists racists.

            “LETS truely break this down, Steiner actually says that evolvement may take place with the German race leading the way. NOW BEFORE you freak out, we are not talking mass killng and the well known war, but a loving spiritual species moreso in general.”

            Oh I’m loving where this is going… Yes, Steiner stopped short of killing the inferior races. Good point!

            “SO I am not German, and I take this statement from Steiner as not racism that I may not be as loving and advanced as some on this planet. I know I am a work in progress. BUT please if you insist, then keep calling me racist and whatever else.”

            So, you are white, but not German – so you see no reason to take offense at Steiner putting Germans ahead of other Europeans. Wow! I find it amazing that you aren’t offended.

          • May 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm

            ” NOW BEFORE you freak out, we are not talking mass killng ”

            I let this one go by too easily. Steiner described that before we “evolve” into the next epoch there will be a great war between “white mankind” and “colored mankind”

            “[T]hese things cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle. White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the [prior] period when the spirit was kept away from the body, when the spirit could only be sought outside of the physical human being. But the result will have to be that the transition from the fifth cultural epoch [i.e., the present] to the sixth cultural epoch cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas. And world history will consist of those events that will lead to these battles between white and colored mankind, until the great fight between white and colored mankind has been brought about. Future events are frequently reflected in previous events. You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science, we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES {The Spiritual Background of the First World War} (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 38, translated by Roger Rawlings, 2010.

            So yeah, a lot of killing will be involved in the process of spiritual evolution you have decided is correct.

          • May 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm

            So, in the future, if you are white, your destiny, according to Steiner, will be to KILL “colored mankind”. How do you feel about doing this?

            Bad luck for you if you happen to evolve into darker skin at that incarnation I suppose. Steiner predicts you’ll be killed off. How do you feel about this? I’ll bet you’re secretly hoping you won’t EVER incarnate into darker skin. What Steiner follower would?

            If skin color doesn’t make any difference in Steiner’s overall plan, why forecast a war like this?

            BECAUSE STEINER WAS A RACIST!

        • May 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

          I see your view, though obviously I am not agreeing. What I would say, is maybe read all or at least half of steiners work first before making an opinion of the context of how you see Steiner and my words. IN FACT it’s a plain judgement at me as you know. I would also suggest to only read what you can understand. It’s a well known fact that not all people can even understand a chapter of one of steiners books, why don’t you see for yourself. The online book “how to knoow higher worlds” is a good place to start. This is a perfect example of evolvement or not, and btw, I also struggle at times getting my intellect to grasp his view, as he is speaking with so much depth. I suggest understanding a person truely before judging.

          • May 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            “What I would say, is maybe read all or at least half of steiners work first before making an opinion of the context of how you see Steiner and my words. ”

            You presume I haven’t.

            ” It’s a well known fact that not all people can even understand a chapter of one of steiners books, why don’t you see for yourself. ”

            I personally own more than a dozen Steiner books. I’ve been in multiple study groups. Steiner said it requires 10 years of study before someone can judge his work. I’ve done far more than that.

            ” The online book “how to knoow higher worlds” is a good place to start.”

            I have it in my home – and have read it. Personally, I’d start with “Occult Science” (which is what I did).

            “I also struggle at times getting my intellect to grasp his view, as he is speaking with so much depth. ”

            Piling it high isn’t depth. He had no source from which to achieve this “depth” you claim he had. He pulled his ideas out of his ass – nothing more. After 18 years of studying Steiner, I can say that with complete confidence.

        • May 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

          It appears to me Pete that maybe applying some of what he said would be useful, namely contemplation, stillness and practicing the feeling of love and humility in all areas. YES this is like the beginning, where we all are still are working on areas , or at least I know I am still.

          If you have studied that much then I would say you know he says apply the work obviously. Really it is not about reading it all i. Though yes I know that he said that reading material that one doesn’t even truely comprehend, is still getting it into the soul. As for mass killings, well I peronally have been crippled with pain stopping sleepproperly for years, and being rested, or even getting 3 hours sleep was once common before through pain/agony. This went on for years, spasm salso every few seconds whilst laying down as the neck was triggered more bylaying down, yet the so called agony ended.

          I ALSO know of many folks including myself who have either had near death experiences or left the body (Samadhi) or even left “at will” and can assure you that if you have almost drowned or been in a snow bank freezing (type in Dr David r Hawkins snowbank experience) then you too may realise that the fear of death is only fear, and after enough pain, or a quick so called death then folks can and do realise their true nature i.e spirit, that cannot die. So in the bigger picture it is not awful if we go through something that wakes us up to not being the human body which experiences fears and agony.

          However I had not heard of thegreat war prediction, though may have forgotton the six eopch lecture I read.

          • May 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

            “If you have studied that much then I would say you know he says apply the work obviously.”

            Again, you presume I haven’t. You question how could anyone read and apply Steiner’s exercises and not come away with your viewpoint.

            “I ALSO know of many folks including myself who have either had near death experiences or left the body”

            No you don’t.

        • May 17, 2014 at 3:33 pm

          Humans are the racists and haters, and so a great war would not surprise you nor me would it?

          predicting that, does not mean he is racist.

          Look at how US supposedly helped Iraq, and ended the Saddam Hussein nonsense. AND yes I am being sarcastic meaning how ignorant us humans are, with warring.

          What did Steiner do? Predict,

          and I would say being clairvoyant myself a few times (often it is graced, not at will) then the lecture the tasks and aims of spiritual science, and the work of the angels in mans astral body really woke me up.

          How could Steiner know pictures/visions are put in the astral body, how did he know (re task and aims lecture) that a clear thinker will grasp the picture at point A, and a non clear thinking clairvoyant will get confused and not understand it, and receive it at point B. I have experienced this, me and another person guided in a way that I really don’t see the point in explaining. The point is, Steiner set up schools, cared to try to make a difference and predicted from the akashic records, which you likely refute. AND so do I, I don’t know, all I know is when he has hit the nail on the head over direct experience here, and that has been a few times now.

          • May 17, 2014 at 7:07 pm

            “Humans are the racists and haters”

            I think you’re projecting.

            “predicting that, does not mean he is racist.”

            Seriously? Armageddon is a war of white people against non-white people – but that’s not racist.

            “What did Steiner do? Predict, and I would say being clairvoyant myself a few times (often it is graced, not at will) then the lecture the tasks and aims of spiritual science, and the work of the angels in mans astral body really woke me up.”

            Oh, excuse me… I didn’t realize I was in the presence of a clairvoyant. I should take everything back now.

            “How could Steiner know pictures/visions are put in the astral body,”

            He didn’t because they aren’t. How did he know Great Britain floats in the ocean and isn’t connected to the sea bed?

            “I really don’t see the point in explaining.”

            We’re in agreement there.

            “The point is, Steiner set up schools, cared to try to make a difference and predicted from the akashic records, which you likely refute. ”

            Let’s just let that sink in a little…

        • May 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm

          This is the 6 Epoch Pete, and so it looks like Steiner was mentioning the previous great war that has already been.

          • May 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm

            Ignore that was my error.

          • May 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

            “Ignore that was my error.”

            Um… ya think? If you hadn’t just finished scolding me for not knowing my Steiner, this wouldn’t be so hilarious. So you think Steiner’s war of white humankind against colored humankind was fought in Europe as WWII?

  2. November 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I also wrote to my MP who passed on my concerns over Steiner Free Schools to Lord Hill at the DfE. He wrote back: “One of the principles behind our education reforms is to give parents greater choice over the type of school their children attend…The approval of a Steiner school simply means that parents will be able to choose to apply to the school if they believe that a Steiner education will be right for their child.”

    The politics of Free Schools aside, greater choice sounds like a laudable aim, but it must be an informed choice. As Andy makes clear, the Steiner school movement goes to great lengths to avoid talking about their history and beliefs. Luckily for prospective parents, there is now much more information available online than there was even a couple of years ago. So far though, government scrutiny has been as feeble as that of the mainstream media.

    Lord Hill goes on to say: “While Steiner schools do pursue a particular pedagogy, and could be said to have a distinctive ethos, they cannot be said to promote a particular faith or religion.” If that distinctive ethos includes an overriding concern for the spiritual welfare of children over multiple incarnations, sometimes to the detriment of their health and education in this lifetime, whether or not you call it a religion seems a moot point.

  3. November 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for this excellent post.

    I visited the Department of Education (along with the British Humanist Association) to talk to civil servants about Steiner and Maharishi schools. Three of us faced seven or so civil servants, some of who had responsibility for selecting “Free Schools”.

    The conversation was amiable enough. But I was struck by the lack of curiosity of the DfE staff. When I asked, it turned out that not one of them had any scientific background. Sad though that was, it should not be important because you certainly don’t need to be a scientist to understand that the karma, reincarnation etc that lie at the heart of the Steiner approach are just nonsensical. They don’t seem to appreciate that the schools’ attitude to immunization contradicts directly the government’s declared policy, and endangers the children at the Steiner schools but also the entire neighbourhood.

    That leaves me baffled by the fact that they have approved Steiner schools for state funding. I can think of only two possibilities.

    (1) Perhaps they are naive -they seem to believe what the schools tell them, despite the fact that anyone with a bit of curiosity can very easily find out the truth of the matter. That would be characteristic of official regulators who tend to look only at the boxes that have been ticked on the forms presented to them. That was the procedure adopted by the University of Wales when validating external degrees. It eventually led to the University of Wales being shut down. In brief, the DfE assessors seemed to be quite naive and to deficient in critical thinking ability.

    (2) The only alternative explanation that I can think of is that the “expert” civil servants were actually a charade. They had been told by Gove what he wanted, and they caved it, despite knowing that it was wrong. In other words, the whole process represented the sort of policy-based evidence that appeals to the egos of politicians, but isn’t good for the nation.

    Michael Gove famously said that children should know about “Newton’s laws of thermodynamics”. Anyone so deeply ignorant of science as that remark suggests Gove is, could easily believe in gnomes, reincarnation and Ahriman. It worries me that we should have a minister of education like that.

    • david
      March 28, 2014 at 12:54 am

      What have scientists done with my world/your world???
      Very systematically F%^*% IT UP and are continuing to do so…and are allowed by the authorities to continue to do so…and these ‘scientists’ don’t seem to think there is anything wrong…litterally blinded by science to the common sense views that any five year old can see
      Viva Rudolf Steiner for throwing a spanner in the works of scientific materialism that has been and is behind the lack lustre society in which we find ourselves (yes our little ones too).
      Learn from children,love your neighbour where you can,advocate animal rights,stop animalistic behaviour in humans (especially in blind scientists who don’t have courage to speak up when their own futures are threatened and drive the shiny cars they don’t enjoy).
      I hope they come to their senses soon !!!

      • EdPsychMummy
        March 28, 2014 at 1:10 am

        How insightful,whilst you’re at it let the kiddies die from Measles, Mumps and Rubella as well – we don’t want those pesky scientists to think they’ve got something right, do we now?!

      • March 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        “I hope they come to their senses soon !!!”

        Optionally, you might.

        But hey, if you can’t trust religious crackpots, who can you trust, right?

        • May 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

          Humans are the racists and haters, and so a great war would not surprise you nor me would it?

          predicting that, does not mean he is racist.

          Look at how US supposedly helped Iraq, and ended the Saddam Hussein nonsense. AND yes I am being sarcastic meaning how ignorant us humans are, with warring.

          What did Steiner do? Predict,

          and I would say being clairvoyant myself a few times (often it is graced, not at will) then the lecture the tasks and aims of spiritual science, and the work of the angels in mans astral body really woke me up.

          How could Steiner know pictures/visions are put in the astral body, how did he know (re task and aims lecture) that a clear thinker will grasp the picture at point A, and a non clear thinking clairvoyant will get confused and not understand it, and receive it at point B. I have experienced this, me and another person guided in a way that I really don’t see the point in explaining. The point is, Steiner set up schools, cared to try to make a difference and predicted from the akashic records, which you likely refute. AND so do I, I don’t know, all I know is when he has hit the nail on the head over direct experience here, and that has been a few times now.

        • May 25, 2014 at 11:15 am

          It would be a lot more realistic if folks posted comments like this link re the Aryan and roots of anthroposophy.

          As my parnter says online people tend to feel they can say what they want, and in public instead be what is the normal curteous behaviour.

          Unlike you Pete I left Steiner over a decade ago from only reading a small part of one book and a handbook, and about 3 lectures. Now I had just started re reading again and still see some of the good, at least interesting intellectual talks Steiner has done, re the wakeul sleep, and the normal everyday approaches to life he had. THE roots however, mentioned below, clearly show where he went astray with the astral world imo, and maybe mere beliefs or self created delusions.

          So although I appreciate all conversation and views, it might be worth considering that before you judge another, that other may not even know what you are talking about. As said, this link is a uych more realistic way to put a point across, and people are more likely to see a person swearing and judging
          as exibitting lower consciousness,human intelligence rather than listen. Secifically when people like evidence, as opposed to name calling, which will likely go againt your cause and life imo.

          https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/atlantis-and-aryans

          • May 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm

            “As my parnter says online people tend to feel they can say what they want, and in public instead be what is the normal curteous behaviour.”

            Unfortunately, Livedan, you showed little evidence of wanting to learn anything from people here. You came here – planted the same post in half a dozen places (bad form) and that post was full of racism. Here’s a news flash – it isn’t normal, courteous behavior to jump onto a website and plaster racist crap all over the pages. If you acted like someone who wanted to be educated – instead of pretending to educate everyone else by providing links to Waldorf’s main disinformation page, you may have indeed received some education or at least help. Do you suppose the link you have provided above has escaped me all these years? I linked to Roger’s Waldorf Watch site only yesterday on my facebook blog. Roger is a former Waldorf student, BTW. But you came here to educate – not the other way around.

            ” Now I had just started re reading again and still see some of the good, at least interesting intellectual talks Steiner has done”

            You’re on Sune’s webpage… what do you expect to see? Sune makes Steiner’s racist philosophy sound awesome – he’s not even restricted to things Steiner actually said. Once you’ve ventured down that rabbit hole, you may never come out again – he even tries to make sure you can’t escape once you’ve clicked on his website links. Sune is a self-proclaimed expert on Steiner – but cannot even defend what he has written on his own pages. You cannot even know Steiner was quoted accurately on Sune’s website. The man simply has no integrity… and yet, you’ve based your world view about people’s skin color on this.

            “and the normal everyday approaches to life he had” You’re putting me on now, right?

            “So although I appreciate all conversation and views, it might be worth considering that before you judge another, that other may not even know what you are talking about. As said, this link is a uych more realistic way to put a point across, and people are more likely to see a person swearing and judging as exibitting lower consciousness,human intelligence rather than listen.”

            Oh, so the RACIST is taking me to the woodshed for not being nicer to him as he espoused his racist ideas all over Andy’s blog.

            “Secifically when people like evidence, as opposed to name calling, which will likely go againt your cause and life imo.”

            So, the actual article Andy wrote wasn’t evidence? Or did you even read the article before posting your racist nonsense here? But hey, I get it – it only took a link to one article explaining Steiner’s racism (besides the one you’re commenting on) and – ipso facto – now that you’ve read it – you’re no longer a racist, right? The reason you felt compelled to mention a nurse who attended to you wasn’t “colored” escapes you now. Steiner magic is everywhere these days isn’t it?

            You should read Waldorf Watch cover to cover before you go back to Sune’s website. It may open your eyes much wider about Steiner. You’ve got a long way to go!

  4. November 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

    lecanardnoir: This post was edited as it was very long with lots of links, many of which were not declared as written by the poster. This comment thread is being more heavily moderated than most due to the potential for abuse and my desire to see proper debate. So, all, please keep comments short and to the point. Posts with links are likely to fall into my moderation queue and delayed. Posts with a gish-gallop of many links is bad form. Attribution is good. Declaration of interests even better. Sock-puppeting will not be tolerated. The furtherance of harassment and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Many thanks.

    However. the final paragraph in the comment is well worth publising.

    Andy also writes about me:

    “Blogger zooey discovered that the Swedish Waldorf Schools Fellowship in Sweden paid Sune Nordwall to ‘monitor the debate’ on the web. However, his actions have included an alleged threat to Mumsnet with libel if they posted about Steiner Schools.”

    The Swedish Federation of Waldorf schols did not ask me to monitor the web and report what is published about Steiner Waldorf education, both for and against, primarily in Sweden, where I live, but also abroad. I suggested it to them and they agreed. Did I threaten Mumsnet if they posted about Steiner schools? Not in general, only specific libelous posts with the WC-group and the myths it publishes (see above) as source.

    Keep up the good work, Andy, that I think I saw somewhere at your blog. I know it’s there, … somewhere.

  5. PaulC
    November 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Very good investigative piece, thank you for this. I am aware of two former Steiner school attendees who were abused by their teachers; and although it is very certain that Steiner schools are not unique in this aspect, I believe that the nature of the staff / student relationships at those establishments made the ensuing damage worse.

    On another note, I am not clear what you are saying about E.D. Hirsch, whose ideas about the importance of a common cultural vocabulary seem to me to be very reasonable.

    • Andy Lewis
      November 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Paul, my point was not whether Hirsch’s ideas on education are reasonable or not, but to make a simple point that we do not teach children about E.D. Hirsch’s theories. The children will be oblivious to the pedagogical underpinnings of their curriculum. (And some teachers too.) As with anthroposophy in Steiner Schools.

      • Billy Bell Ottewill
        May 11, 2014 at 1:53 am

        Really well written and reasoned article. I do have a couple of problems. Your use of the word “Occult” is misleading, I think you should define it’s meaning as it was when Steiner was writing. Also, it must be said that racism is a concept, the acceptability of which has changed over time, as do its parameters. I’m not condoning racism at all, I merely want to point out that there are plenty of figures from history we respect who had racist tendencies by today’s standards, and I think it’s misleading not to acknowledge this. But as a writer, you have my utmost respect.

        Right, I’m going to throw my hat into this ring, not as an attack, but simply because a student’s view (from an English Steiner school) might be interesting to you. I graduated two years ago, and I just want to share some of my experiences. I will do my best to be as unbiased as possible.

        So first of all, I come from within the steiner community, in fact my mother is a steiner teacher and I was educated in steiner school from the age of 4, to the age of 18. I am an atheist, I do not believe in homeopathy beyond the power of the placebo (as valid as that power may be in some circumstances), and I subscribe to none of Steiner’s teachings regarding spirituality. I took my A-levels at the Steiner school, and hold one C grade and one A*, as well as an A grade AS Level. Three of my classmates are at Cambridge studying PPE, Classics, and History.

        I agree with you to some degree that the openness of information about Steiner schools and the spiritual Philosophy therein is in need of attention. However, Steiner’s writings are by absolutely no means hard to get hold of, at least not in England, as many are sold in major bookshops. With the arrival of the internet, the information is more and more readily available. I would argue that while some work needs to be done on openness, very little of the actual philosophy is hidden.

        In my 14 years at Steiner schools, never once did I feel indoctrinated by the philosophy or spiritual teachings of Steiner. There are practices such as reciting a morning verse which includes words such as “god”, “soul” and “spirit”, and while this does feel distinctly “culty”, I can also see that repetition of a positive message each morning can be beneficial to unity and concentration. However, I can assure you that eventually you know it so well that it loses all meaning and basically just tumbles out of your mouth, which could be seen as really, really “culty”, or ultimately utterly futile. Steiner’s name was, in fact, not mentioned until at least the age of 14, and that was almost always in reply to students’ questions about him, usually skeptical, and never met with undermining, shunning, or indeed any manner of spiritual theory, besides when teachers were mentioning personal beliefs in conversation towards the end of schooling, and I cannot recall a time a student replied with “that makes sense”.

        The Bible is taught in the earlier years (around 9 or 10, I believe), in a section of the Class that is story time. Evolution is taught as fact in later years, and the Bible is studied occasionally in literature, sociology and history classes. I quite firmly believe that it’s important for school students to study the Bible because it is so hugely influential on the society we all live in. So yeah, at first it is taught as stories, then as a text of historical significance. Steiner’s teachings are never taught to the children either. No-one I know who has come from a Steiner school is now Christian or an anthropop (as we call them), and very few hold any spiritual belief other than simply being agnostic, hardly uncommon for people in their 20s and 30s. I can’t speak for other steiner schools, although I do know people who went to other ones, but I’ve never met someone who felt that they had been brainwashed or indoctrinated and all feel they have made free and independent choices about their spiritual beliefs, or rather, lack thereof, because they are almost all atheist.

        The way Steiner’s ideas are really felt in the education system is something that, to me, makes sense. One is, essentially, that telling people facts that they can remember is not education. Waldorf education is quite enjoyable, and I think it strives to instil a love of learning in people, so that rather than trying to make sure you know stuff (although of course we learn maths and history and english and science and everything else, to national standards by age 14), it tries to make sure you have an interest in the world around you. It also works really hard to give you critical faculties, and we spent a lot of time learning to question media sources, in particular, which I think is an extraordinarily valuable skill. So, in a sense, just learning to learn. Secondly, it’s the basis of learning the right thing at the right time, which sounds odd until you look at the correlation in the attitudes of children and young people at certain times, as well as the changes we all go through, to the subjects taught. For example, teh Bible stories are told to you at around age 9-10, when children are generally becoming more moral (say what you like about the Bible, but it is the basis of our sense of right and wrong), you are taught about ancient Greece and the origins of democracy as you become more individual, social and argumentative aged 12, and about the french revolution aged 14, when you start getting rebellious and lippy. To me, this makes perfect sense. Engagement and understanding can be seriously helped along by sympathy for the subject. It also happens in simpler ways, as you aren’t taught things beyond your understanding, and everything is covered at a time when you are psychologically ready to get the most out of it. Obviously, this is decided by Steiner’s theories on education ad is generalised, but I always thought it worked really well, as i remember a really good deal of what I learned at school, quite a lot more than many of my non-steiner contemporaries. Maybe worth considering.

        It makes me sad I even have to say that I was never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever taught anything resembling racism, and I should like to point out the the texts in question have nothing to do with his educational theories. Identifying isolated incidents where horrible people taught horrible things is like debunking the state systems because it has produced by far the largest number of criminals. We still believe in systems that produce illiterate people, and with good reason, because the vast majority of students from the system aren’t. I’m sure there are racists in Waldorf education, there are racists everywhere! This kind of selective evidence is as misguiding and manipulative as many of these comments claim Waldorf education to be. I, admittedly, have not read up on Steiner’s theories that contain racist content, but the fact that I was never taught this makes me think that as with any belief system (spiritual or otherwise), there are extremists. Should we not teach good Christian morals (which are standard western morals) like “don’t kill people” just because the Bible also says being gay is wrong? Should we not teach that Abraham Lincoln was a great man for freeing the slaves, even though he also said: “Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man.”? We pick and choose the concepts we support and uphold, in spite of the few bad apples that inevitably appear in any system that grows. Even science contains dangerously dogmatic figures.

        Hopefully what I’ve stated above about the benefits of the education system will make sense independently of their (regrettably) spiritual basis, and it has long been my belief that they operate just as well when paired with contemporary psychology. For me, the best thing would be some alterations of the core educational concepts to meet with proven, or at least reliable, psychological theories, because I think they would be a viable and extremely beneficial addition to education. I agree that there should be more openness about the beliefs that underpin these ideas, and I personally am not comfortable with this in theory, although they seem to have made very little impression on anyone I know who went through the system. But it still stands that they need to be open, and I am aware of a number of Steiner schools actively engaged in organising free sessions in which parents can come and get information about the theories underpinning the education, although I cannot vouch for the openness and honesty therein.

        Thank you for reading. It’s quite late and there may be some discrepencies in what I’ve written, perhaps some unfinished thoughts or unexplained opinions that I forgot to validate or follow through, so if you are interested in anything I had to say, do reply and ask, as opposed to just attacking me. I’m very interested in this debate. I hope it’s clear I am not some brainwashed waldorfian, just someone who has an in-depth view of a flawed system with admirable qualities that is, in my eyes, too often attacked for its problems and too rarely mined for its genuinely effective educational methods. Just to say, I wrote this not to refute any of your claims or to try and convince you to believe in the system, but merely to mention that there are upsides and downsides to all this and I think my view is unique and valuable in this debate.

        • May 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

          Billy

          To respond to some of your points. (Beware of )

          I use occult as Steiner intended and as a dictionary would define. Occult: both “supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena” and the related definition “cut off from view by interposing something”.

          And whilst society may have changed its ideas about racism, the charge is that Anthroposophy has not.

          That Steiner’s writings are ‘easy to get hold of’ is not the point. It is the schools reluctance to describe their education system in the terms that Steiner believed. The schools try to maintain they are ‘inspired’ by Steiner rather than the living practice of Anthroposophy in education. A deceit.

          A key point about introduction is that it is subtle. Would you be in a position to know how you have been indoctrinated? If you have been immersed in the Steiner world, by what standards would you judge your level of indoctrination? Your view of the educational system would suggest you have not been immune.

          And this point is most important regarding racism. Anthroposophists do not regard Steiner as racist. If you have been inculcated in their worldview, understanding the blatant racism may be hard. If you cannot recognise Steiner’s racism (you claim not to have encountered any) then I suggest you are not in a good position to understand how others see his worldview as abhorrent.

          • Billy Bell Ottewill
            May 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

            I often get that reply, that I’m too close to it to really know, and people seem much more willing to believe this (despite knowing that 5 minutes with me in person would show you I am not some spiritual crack pot steiner), rather than believing that they have had a bad experience, or that people who don’t like steiner are giving them evidence which supports a negative view, completely biased. It’s like basing your view of Christianity on child molestation as opposed to love, peace and compassion, despite the act that three of those are much, much more common.

            Just out of curiosity, where would I have seen racism in lessons?

          • May 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

            HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all, of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities.To be frank I very much doubt it with how judging and against Steiner this all seems. On the racist subject, look around you, is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. The article above is great, but anyone with kids knows that it is Love and development that is crucial, specifically ‘love”. Simply seeing that Countries that suffer more and may be less evolved is simply visible when we look around. WE are not much bette. I mean UK as a whole, and all folks. We poison our lands, and actually on the subject of vaccinations, my daughters legs swelled up blue after her injections at age 2 and she screamed uncontrolably and was admitted to hospital. Thankfully my partner knew to raise her legs so she didnt end up losing hre legs and have a stroke through lack of blood in the brain. This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we). AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us, when all we wanted was our daughter helpe. And my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned. Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously.

            Anyway, can you folks not see the good in Steiner? The biofarming, organic, the setting up schools for all the types of kids,.a man that actually did something for the world.. Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more? AND the answers can never be answered, though spiritual revelations of the world we live in truely can begin to unravel it a little at a time.

          • May 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

            “HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all, of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities.”

            Here’s another Steiner follower who doesn’t understand what racism is… trying to explain to the rest of us how Steiner’s ideas were noble and not racist.

            Seriously – fuck off you racist piece of shit.

        • May 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

          HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities. To be frank I very much doubt it with how judging and against Steiner this all seems. On the racist subject, look around you is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. The article above is great, but anyone with kids knows that it is Love and development that is crucial, specifically ‘love”. Simply seeing that Countries that suffer more and may be less evolved is simply visible when we look around. WE are not much better, I mean UK as a whole and all folks. We poison our lands, and actually on the subject of vaccinations, my daughters legs swelled up blue after her injections at age 2 and she screamed uncontrolably and was admitted to hospital. Thankfully my partner knew to raise her legs so she didnt end up losing he legs and have a stroke through lack of blood in the brain. This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we). AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us when all we wanted was our daughter helped. And my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned.

          Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously. Anyway, can you folks not see the good in Steiner? The biofarming, organic, the setting up schools for all the types of kids,.a man that actually did something for the world.. Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more? AND the answers can never be answered, though spiritual revelations of the world we live in truely can begin to unravel it a little at a time.

  6. November 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you for this very good article !

  7. November 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I have written extensively about an incident that occurred only a few years ago regarding the teaching of racism as science at Highland Hall Waldorf school http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?q=racism, http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4, http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?q=europeans.

    Highland Hall taught my child that the blood of Europeans is more evolved than the blood of Asians and Africans. When questioned about this lesson, the first respondent, Karen Grant, replied that this represents “out of Africa” theory. It was clear they were clueless. Several conferences ensued with Highland Hall teachers and staff and rather than refute the racist implications of that lesson and reprimand the teacher, they DEFENDED the lesson. Later, I met with two Highland Hall board members who again defended the lesson by claiming it wasn’t racist. http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/10/highland-hall-board-members-clueless.html The racist teacher has been passed to another Waldorf school. http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/2012/05/lake-champlain-waldorf-school-reviews.html

    You may say, yes, but this is very far away from the UK. Highland Hall is the Waldorf teacher training center for Southern California. Teachers receive training there and go on to teach all over the world. When Claire McConnell was caught duct-taping children to their chairs http://www.wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=1364683&nav=0RZFGxHZ, she was shuffled to the UK where she used her Waldorf credentials to try to secure work as an au-pair. Notice, she was EXCUSED by AWSNA representative Patrice Maynard in the article. Maynard, in this article http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57509260/private-school-parents-less-apt-to-have-kids-vaccinated-than-public-school-counterparts-ap-analysis-indicates/, excuses Highland Hall for having the least vaccinated student population in California putting everyone who comes into contact with this school at risk of catching or spreading diseases – often unknowingly to infants or elderly grandparents.

    Waldorf schools are not what they want you to believe they are!

    • May 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      I cant reply to your hatred Pete,either you stopped replies, or my phone hasn’t loaded the reply button. Like I said my Partner is so called foreign.

      It is clear you have not understood or maybe even read my post. I AM NOT trying to be offensive, you did that. As said LOOK at the countries, the corruption, the suffering. IF folks move to the UK for instance, they better their life. AND that was the reason folks including my parnter moved. Racism is far from tolerated here.THOUGH yes it may occur as with all bullying.

      • May 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

        “I cant reply to your hatred Pete,either you stopped replies, or my phone hasn’t loaded the reply button. Like I said my Partner is so called foreign.”

        The “hatred” is clear in YOUR comments. You, sadly, don’t understand how racist your remarks are. I’m literally embarrassed for you.

        “It is clear you have not understood or maybe even read my post. I AM NOT trying to be offensive, you did that.”

        Racists don’t try to be offensive… but sometimes it comes naturally.

        You really need to understand what racism is before you attempt to lecture others.

        Keep posting your diatribe – it makes Steiner look GREAT! Not racist at all.

        • May 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm

          What does it matter what body or colour ski is possibly indicating a more evolved spirit.

          I look at the other work of Steiner, and so what if one day I am in a white or darker skin. And the same non preference is for my partner, and friends. If howver we end up being all in white bodies as a depth of spiritual awakened occurs, then so be it. That is no big deal.

          I took those comments of Steiner as no idea if he will be or is right, and instead focused on inquiry, and reading what I have understood of his work from direct expereince. Which made me wonder how on earth could he know of such occurences that had occured spiritually in my partners and my experience, with much depth. Most people cannot understand his work, unless some of it relates to their own direct experience.

          It is not something he would ever wish people to blindly believe, it’s simply about inquiring, being still, loving and observing what can be seen in the world, and sometimes higher energies also are realised. THAT are not of this world, nor any colour for your reference. REALLY this is a very small part of steiners work taken far off the point of all the other writings imo and love care he has provided as the cause to get so many schools for devlopment of all sorts of childeren and farmiing.

          • May 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

            “What does it matter what body or colour ski is possibly indicating a more evolved spirit.”

            Yes – why would it matter? How odd that Steiner’s own skin color just happened to land at the top of the list. But then, to make these observations, he would certainly have to have been a more evolved spirit (white). But yes, just the luck of the draw that you abide by a system of racial hierarchies that puts you at the top. Could have been the other way around, right? You could have easily chosen a belief system that suggests whites are less spiritually evolved that other people – but luckily, you found Steiner – who pointed out the reality of the spiritual world to you.

            “I look at the other work of Steiner, and so what if one day I am in a white or darker skin. And the same non preference is for my partner, and friends. If howver we end up being all in white bodies as a depth of spiritual awakened occurs, then so be it. That is no big deal.”

            Yeah – no big deal – from your perspective.

            “I took those comments of Steiner as no idea if he will be or is right, and instead focused on inquiry, and reading what I have understood of his work from direct expereince.”

            So, you decided to become a racist even before verifying for yourself what Steiner said. I suspect this happens a lot with Anthroposophists.

            “Which made me wonder how on earth could he know of such occurences that had occured spiritually in my partners and my experience, with much depth. Most people cannot understand his work, unless some of it relates to their own direct experience.”

            You must like horoscopes.

            “It is not something he would ever wish people to blindly believe, it’s simply about inquiring, being still, loving and observing what can be seen in the world, and sometimes higher energies also are realised.”

            So again, are you saying you have verified for yourself that white people are more evolved than other people?

            “THAT are not of this world, nor any colour for your reference.”

            Fantasy never is.

            ” REALLY this is a very small part of steiners work taken far off the point of all the other writings imo and love care he has provided as the cause to get so many schools for devlopment of all sorts of childeren and farmiing.”

            Yes, don’t get me started on the wonderful things his schools have done – while FOLLOWING HIS INSTRUCTIONS.

        • May 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm

          You have called me racist many times now. I am not Sune whoever that is or site. I am simply a person who has read of many spiritual folks, from krishnamurti to steiner and others.

          Funnily enough they all have some relevance I see….and if it wasnt for direct experience (that u can dismiss as I would also, or mock me and name capl more if u like )then without direct experience I would not myself question where did steiner get access to such accurate spiritual understanding….mand quite a lot that is verifiable by only direct experience.

          I have read and spoken to many sources, but none have covered the info mentioned in th lectures of the work of the angels in mans astral body and the tasks and aims of spiritual science . Combining those two and no other lectures is seen as a reason that will still veiw steiner (as possible beyond human understanding) and only clear to those who hage had direct guiding phenomenal experience. Otherwise a non judgemental mind of folks is needed, “without the need to read their work if inner work, like working on judgements, anger, is put as a prority to all else”…

          If u are in the enlightenment culture or socialise with such folks..then freewill is something often refuted by those from the east spiritually a lot, and now in many parts of the world. Even the physics community is divided on choice. Steiner mentioned this in said lectures re angels putting pictures(guidance in many ways) into mans asrall body, with an impulse so that we may claim and understand freewill.

          God knows Pete what is true, but I know other realities exist, I know you keep name calling and judging without even knowing my take on life and steiner. If you have no spiritual life you then fine. But if you do live a more aware life, then consciousness is clearly different in some contries..why?

          Why do you suggest i am deluded, suggesting when you clearly have no info to really even make such a statements of me . That is putting me into a belief you have of me, and does not make it true..no matter how much you try to convince me, yourself, others.

          • May 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm

            “You have called me racist many times now. I am not Sune whoever that is or site. ”

            You don’t have to be Sune to be a racist.

            “I am simply a person who has read of many spiritual folks, from krishnamurti to steiner and others.”

            Don’t forget to add “and came away a racist.”

            “quite a lot that is verifiable by only direct experience.”

            Do you know how many people swear sugar pills cure cancer – Through “direct experience”?

            “I have read and spoken to many sources, but none have covered the info mentioned in th lectures of the work of the angels in mans astral body and the tasks and aims of spiritual science .”

            So your other sources were grounded in reality?

            “Otherwise a non judgemental mind of folks is needed”

            So we should be open to Steiner’s racism? Not judge it as being racist before accepting the possibility of the “truth” of it? Well, I suppose anyone could do that – but WHY? Why embrace a racist philosophy – just because one man believed it to be true? CAN YOU THINK FOR YOURSELF? Or are you the product of a Waldorf school?

            “If u are in the enlightenment culture or socialise with such folks..”

            Trust me- you aren’t and you don’t. “Enlightenment” through racism is bullshit! Feel free to believe whatever you like, however. Just know you’re full of crap.

            “Steiner mentioned this in said lectures re angels putting pictures(guidance in many ways) into mans asrall body, with an impulse so that we may claim and understand freewill.”

            Yes, but Steiner was a racist idiot.

            “God knows Pete what is true”

            This is a rare statement I don’t have an answer to.

            ” I know other realities exist”

            If they were real, we would have detected them by now… Oh wait… Steiner did. So do lots of people who do drugs.

            ” I know you keep name calling and judging without even knowing my take on life and steiner. ”

            Why would I need to know any of that to evaluate what you have written? You might be the most wonderful racist in the world. Congratulations!

            ” If you have no spiritual life you then fine. But if you do live a more aware life, then consciousness is clearly different in some contries..why?”

            Let me guess… skin color?

            “Why do you suggest i am deluded, suggesting when you clearly have no info to really even make such a statements of me . ”

            I’ve got more than I need about you and about Steiner. There’s only one requirement that I need and that is to recognize racism. Unfortunately, despite all your study, you haven’t learned how to do that – in fact, you have embraced it and yet deny you are a racist. Why not just accept the fact that you’re a racist and move on?

            “That is putting me into a belief you have of me, and does not make it true..no matter how much you try to convince me, yourself, others.”

            No “belief” involved here. You’re either a racist or you aren’t. Your comments indicate you are. Do you want to now retract what you’ve said on this site and renounce Steiner? Or do you want to continue living your life as a racist? It’s completely up to you and has absolutely NOTHING to do with me.

  8. Daniel
    November 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    This is very well reasoned and researched. However, I think there is a broader discussion that is missing. The question is, “what is the role of government in our education”? If I review public school education, or what you refer to as “main stream education”, I see a very specific philosophical worldview at work. Why is it that this worldview, that perhaps you consider to be superior, should be forced on my children? Why is your philosophy the standard upon which we treat all of education?

    I went to a public school (in the US) and a Waldorf school. I received a very poor education in the public school, and was lucky enough to have parents who were well educated and could find an alternative. That alternative was the Waldorf school. The education was far superior.

    Now you may argue that is all very well, but don’t use my “public” funds for this school. Well, to that I have to ask, “where did the public school funds come from”? From all of us as tax payers! So why can’t I have the choice of sending my child to the school of my choice when it is originally my money? Your philosophy may work for you and your family, and so you send them to your “main stream school”, but for my family I want the choice of another school that I know is superior.

    I will never be able to convince you that the Waldorf school is superior, just as you will never convince me that the main stream school is superior. So unless you consider yourself a dictator who will decide what is right for my life and my family, you can’t argue that I should have no choice.

    Educate your children according to your philosophy and I’ll educate mine according to mine. My funds will be applied to my children’s education, and your funds will be applied to your children’s education. Is that not fair?

    • Andy Lewis
      November 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Daniel – I am not sure whether you have not read my post, misunderstand it, or choose to misunderstand it.

      I do not want to deny parents choice. I want to make sure that choices parents make are made on the basis of all relevant information. Steiner schools systematically fail to disclose very relevant information. And it is not about ‘your funds and my funds’ – Steiner Schools have now chosen to enter the world of public funding – that makes this a collective debate, something Steiner adherents will have to get used to.

      • Daniel
        November 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

        Andy Lewis,
        I associated your grievance with others who you quoted in your article, such as Dan Dugan. Also, you talk in some detail about the impact of Waldorf schools on particular communities, such that they dry up other establishments. You wrote, “when approved, the first intake will be from the private school which will then be promptly shut down”. Now perhaps this is not an outright condemnation of the principle of public funding for Waldorf schools, but it comes quite close. You are arguing that it is not practical, or feasible to fund a Waldorf school because it has too great an impact on the broader community. It is not as though you are simply looking to get better disclosure for Waldorf schools; you are skeptical of the funding in the first place. If I misunderstood the section I quoted, please clarify your position.

        Most, if not all other Waldorf critics who I have read on the net argue against the notion of public funding for Waldorf education, as a matter of principle. In other words, even disclosure of some standardized sort would still disqualify a Waldorf school from funding.

        I see two or three major questions:
        1) What is relevant information to disclose?
        2) Can there be publicly funded free schools in a community without impacting the freedom of other families?
        3) How is the philosophy and pedagogy of a Waldorf school different from a “main stream” school and does that place it in a unique position (ie disclosures etc)?

        I don’t have enough time right now to start addressing these questions, but they are my starting “placeholders” for how I frame the topics.

    • Andy Buckley
      November 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Yes, that is fair… if you are prepared to pay privately for that non-mainstream educational philosophy, as long as you taking that option does not force others to do so against their will (or by obscuring its nature), and as long as the “alternative way” remains within the law. I am not a lawyer and have next to no knowledge of the statutory requirements on educational establishments in the UK, but I imagine that some of what the above article describes would (should…) be considered to be of borderline legality if taken to court.

      But yes, if some parents want their kids to have a Steiner/Maharishi/etc. education, in full possession of the facts about that education and without forcing others to take the same path, then it’s fair. But the situation in the UK is not so clear cut… a few attempts to discuss along those lines follow:

      * One reason for UK Waldorf/Steiner schools receiving focus here and elsewhere is that new legislation is permitting them to apply for public funding. Hence Steiner schools are becoming state schools in the UK (“public”, in the American sense rather than the silly British one!)

      * Following on from that, there of course cannot be publicly funded options of every type of schooling philosophy in every geographical area. Hence under the “Free Schools” programme the *only* state funded school in a catchment area may end up being a Steiner or Maharishi one, and parents who cannot afford private education for their kids (i.e. most people) will have to send them to one of these non-mainstream establishments whether or not they like it. So “your preference” and “my preference” are not independent if we happen to live in the same area and both want our kids to go to state-funded schools.

      * Choice is nice, but in a world of finite state resources it makes sense for there to always be a “default” option consistent with the mainstream of educational practice and free of the sorts of controversial aspects described in the article. Yes, that will restrict someone’s freedom, but this is a consequence of living in a social society: in providing a good, basic service for all, not all personal preferences can be met… but there is always the private option for those who are determined. The parallel with the medical quackery aspect of this blog will hopefully be glaringly obvious to many.

      * Private services still have to remain under the rule of law and relevant regulation, of course… they do not have carte blanche to do *anything* they like. Even private schools have to demonstrate that a basic standard of education is being achieved and that the children in their care are being psychologically and physically cared for (or at least I believe and hope that is the case). That requirement is all the more critical when the school(s) in question are being publicly funded. Given that there are several big questions to be answered about Steiner schools in this respect, I’m with Andy L and David Colquhoun in being surprised and disappointed at the apparent lack of curiosity (and investigative due diligence) among the Dept of Education officials charged with overseeing the Free Schools programme.

      • November 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

        “* Hence under the “Free Schools” programme the *only* state funded school in a catchment area may end up being a Steiner or Maharishi one, and parents who cannot afford private education for their kids (i.e. most people) will have to send them to one of these non-mainstream establishments whether or not they like it. ”

        Then why stop at “free schools”? In an environment where private institutions can compete with traditional state-run ones – for the “public good” – it seems like a very logical approach to have “free fire departments” too. Specialized religious groups could replace traditional fire-fighting techniques with their own fire-fighting techniques, perhaps, “rain dancing”. If you happen to live in a city where there is *only* enough demand for one fire department, and it happens to be one of the ones that practice “rain-dancing”, well…too bad!

        • Daniel
          November 5, 2012 at 2:27 am

          Pete
          When you point out that we could have “free fire departments”, implied is the idea of standards. In other words, it is clear that it would be a disaster to have a “free fire department” where there is not regulation or a standard. A fire department must be able to put out fires and this is a basic requirement. My interpretation of the analogy you are proposing is that a Waldorf school is akin to the “rain dancing” fire dept? If so, then clearly there are standards of education and the Waldorf school must prove that it can educate students. As long as the public school is measured to the same standard, then we agree. Both fire departments must prove they can put out fires, and both schools must prove they can educate students.

      • Daniel
        November 5, 2012 at 2:18 am

        Andy Buckley,
        Your post is quite reasonable. I don’t pretend to know much at all about the Dept of Education in England. I am here simply to advocate for Waldorf education, as my experience with it has been a positive one. I also want to make sure it is being dealt a fair hand. I should point out that I’m not even sure on the exact mechanics of how public funding can or should work for Waldorf schools. – So I am really here in open dialogue, to work on issues that are related to this question.
        Take your point about choice being nice, but not always practical. Andy L also related concerns with regard to this. I have ideas about how a mechanism would work to achieve this, but until it is tried it is only an idea. If our discussion is centered on how it works today in England, then I really have far too little knowledge (but I’ll be happy to comment on aspects as they are explained to me). I also may agree with you that the current system is broken or inefficient! As I stated, I am not defending the specific implementation of funding, but the idea of funding as a principle.
        In summary, I believe I should have the ability to send my child to a Waldorf school as I am a tax payer. I am sure there is not a perfect implementation of a funding system that achieves that. I open to discuss what a better system for public funding might be.

    • Kate Corwyn
      November 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Choice is all well and good, but using State money to teach racist, anti-scientific garbage is not. If parents truly wish to brainwash their children into whatever religious peculiarities they wish then reluctantly I think we should permit them to do so, but not at the expense of me and the rest of the UK taxpayers. I extend that to all religious schools, not just to things like Steiner.

    • Archie Blogs
      October 14, 2013 at 12:09 am

      Dear Daniel,

      it is all very well and good if both parents consider choosing a Steiner School for their child, based upon a sound knowledge of Anthroposophy, but what happens if one parent is more concerned than the other of the potential negative consequences of this type of education for their child?

      Please consider the following scenario:

      A father has been tricked into impregnating an Anthroposophist lesbian, who turns around and says to the father that she doesn’t want him to have anything to do with his child until the child is 7 years old.

      She then looses her court case when the father has insisted on his rights and has gained limited access to his child, with whom he has built up a fantastic relationship.

      In the meantime, the child’s started going to a Steiner Kindegarten against the father’s judgement, but has then started at a mainstream primary school due to a lack of funds on the mothers’ part, before she hears of a bursary at the local Steiner School, and then decides to send her child there at age 7, regardless of the father’s informed opposition to the school, since he knows various “Steiner casualties” personally and has done a not insignificant amount of research into the pedagogy and the underlying philosophy.

      What then happens to the child in question?

      i.e. when one parent is very pro and the other very anti a Steiner based “education”?

      I look forward to your reply.

  9. Daniel
    November 4, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Andy, you point out at the end of your article, “If the government is serious are providing choice in school types, that only makes sense if that choice is based on freely available, accurate and complete information. I hope my summary here suggests, at least, for Steiner Schools, that this may not be the case.”

    I agree with the first part of this statement, but disagree with the latter part. All schools should have standards that apply across the board. There should be transparency on the pedagogy and tested quality, and perhaps achieved by standardized test scores or other measures.

    Whether a teacher is a member of a Lutheran, Catholic, Buddhist, or other church is not the business of any parent or education board. If the teacher is a member of the Anthroposophical Society is also no ones business. I don’t believe we should review the sexual preferences of teachers either, unless they have committed a crime in this area.

    So the standards for what is personal and what is public are quite clear. If you are a criminal, you lose rights due to your actions. If you are a law abiding citizen, then your academic credentials and professional conduct are all that matter. The Waldorf schools meet this criteria, and if an individual teacher falls short, then the legal system is utilized.

    Your article tries to make the assertion that Waldorf teachers do not have the rights of other citizens, and this aspect makes no sense to me.

    • November 24, 2012 at 3:46 am

      Daniel,

      “Whether a teacher is a member of a Lutheran, Catholic, Buddhist, or other church is not the business of any parent or education board. If the teacher is a member of the Anthroposophical Society is also no ones business.”

      Of course it’s of interest to parents, students and official bodies. What people believe always influences what they teach and the way they teach: if they teach other than what they believe they are dishonest and we would prefer honest teachers. If they teach what they believe we all need to know what those beliefs are. For example, when teaching economic development theory, I made a point of ensuring my students knew which theories I thought had merit and which not. It did not prevent me from teaching opposing theories and explaining them properly but it did ensure that students could take any bias I had into account. If I had not been honest, the students would not have adequately been able to assess what was being taught. Not to be interested in the beliefs of the teacher is really not to be interested in the subtleties of discourse that can turn a message one way or another; it is a preference to be conned.

  10. November 4, 2012 at 1:37 am

    “If the teacher is a member of the Anthroposophical Society is also no ones business. ”

    Except that many school websites specifically ASK about the teacher’s “connection” or “commitment” to Anthropsophy – right on the employment application. Anthroposophy is a very big deal to Waldorf schools – and they want to know that the teachers accept Anthroposophy, hook, line and sinker. Parents have EVERY right to question why this is – and Waldorf schools have NO right to deny parents answers about this!

    • Daniel
      November 5, 2012 at 3:00 am

      With how our society, at least in the US is arranged it does create problems. Ideally if a teacher is a member of the AS it should be no ones business. Because we don’t really have a mechanism today for public funding of schools this gets more difficult. But it is a difficulty that should be addressed and overcome.

      My issue is as follows. The public “main stream” school has a philosophy and worldview. I would call it a religion. That religion is one of materialism. When they interview teachers for their main-stream classrooms, they ask that if the teacher has a spiritual life, that they leave that behind, because the religion of materialism does not recognize the spirit.

      Because you are an advocate for the religion of materialism (correct me if I’m wrong, but so far I can infer this), then you don’t even see the issue. Your philosophy and worldview are confirmed by the main stream school. The fact that teachers in this school are not allowed to bring their spiritual understanding into their teaching is a positive outcome for you.

      For this reason there is really no such thing as a main-stream school. There are only schools that have philosophies and worldviews. Schools may be publicly funded or privately funded. In either case, regardless of funding, they will hold to their philosophical cores and hire teachers that meet their requirements.

      I believe the parents should have a choice. They should know that a Waldorf school has a philosophy and a worldview, just as they should know that a “main-stream” school has the philosophy of materialism, or something in between. But in either case, the teacher’s privacy must be held in high regard. The teachers are evaluated so that they demonstrate quality results.

      Teachers should not be put through an experience that pries into personal matters; only items of a professional nature are evaluated. I believe it is enough to know that the school upholds a specific pedagogy. If parents wish that type of education, then they send their children, otherwise they choose another school.

      Now we certainly can discuss what is necessary for disclosure of a “pedagogy”. I think this will be its own robust conversation. :-)

      • November 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm

        ” The fact that teachers in this school are not allowed to bring their spiritual understanding into their teaching is a positive outcome for you.”

        Spiritual “understanding”? Don’t you mean spiritual “beliefs”?

        “Teachers should not be put through an experience that pries into personal matters; only items of a professional nature are evaluated.”

        Their “profession” is to SPREAD ANTHROPOSOPHY. It only looks like teaching to people who don’t know the difference.

        “Now we certainly can discuss what is necessary for disclosure of a “pedagogy”. ”

        Sure, ANY disclosure would be better than HIDING it? FULL disclosure is what is legally and morally appropriate.

        • Kate Corwyn
          November 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

          There is little difference between Steiner schools and other religious schools in that respect. Read theission statements for the major religions and all of them see education as an opportunity to promote their own set of beliefs to children, in the cery cynical knowledge that young children are most vulnerable to reloigious brainwashing.

  11. November 4, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I got pretty much the same response: that they would not have approved the school if the concerns were correctly identified. The fact that the concerns were correctly identified and they still approved the school, as I had said in my letter, appeared to have passed them by.

    I suspect the letters were written in advance…

  12. Diana Winters
    November 4, 2012 at 5:21 am

    A terrific article. I wanted to offer one small correction on a point of Steiner’s dogma: in anthroposophy, while humans do reincarnate progressively in “higher and lower races,” humans do not reincarnate as animals. There are religions with notions of karma in which animals reincarnate in parallel to humans (that is, bears or lions reincarnate, but bears always reincarnate as bears and lions always reincarnate as lions, etc.), and other religions in which humans and other animals can “cross” reincarnate, i.e., reincarnate as other species. Anthroposophy is not either of these. Anthroposophy was originally a schism of theosophy and these Westernized versions of karma thoroughly reject those aspects of karma that they inherited from the religions of southeast Asia.

    Steiner always emphasizes the differences between humans and animals. Animals are not thought to have souls in the way that humans do. (They do have “group souls,” that is, all dogs possess a common dog soul, which individual animals are “members” of.) Humans are more spiritually advanced than other animals and are able to “learn from our pain” (that’s what karma is basically about), in a way that animals are not thought to be capable of. See:

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/ManfKarma/19100517p01.html

  13. Diana Winters
    November 4, 2012 at 5:23 am

    Daniel wrote:
    “Educate your children according to your philosophy and I’ll educate mine according to mine.”

    That only works if you are entirely honest and forthcoming about what your philosophy is when you try to recruit my child for enrollment in your school. If you’d like to be left alone with your educational philosophy, then don’t run schools. Is that not fair?

    “My funds will be applied to my children’s education, and your funds will be applied to your children’s education. Is that not fair?”

    Of course that is fair … if you aren’t running a school you are trying to recruit my child for. In that case you are asking for my funds, yes?

    • Daniel
      November 5, 2012 at 3:18 am

      Yes, I agree with you. Each school, whether main-stream or Waldorf, must disclose its pedagogy. I suspect that we may disagree on what constitutes “disclosure”, but we should discuss this. My only wish is that it is done equitably.

      For example, in main-stream schools evolution may be taught with natural selection and mutation as the only mechanism for the advancement of a species. Today, there is quite a bit of debate on how evolution is taught in the classroom. Yet there is no formal “disclosure” from the main-stream school on what their underlying philosophy is on this topic. Yet there is a specific philosophy underlying it. If we are going to probe and disclose the philosophy of a Waldorf school, we must do the same for the public school.

      The point is not to put a school on trial, but to disclose enough about the philosophy and pedagogy so a parent can make an informed decision. Too often Waldorf critics are not even-handed. They really just want to disparage Waldorf education, not seek a solution for society.

      • Kate Corwyn
        November 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

        The “debate” over how evolution is taught has been manufactured by the religious groups.

  14. Diana Winters
    November 4, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Daniel:
    “Whether a teacher is a member of a Lutheran, Catholic, Buddhist, or other church is not the business of any parent or education board. If the teacher is a member of the Anthroposophical Society is also no ones business.”

    Dandy. Then why is it that when Waldorf schools hire teachers, they give preference to anthroposophists? They do indeed not only inquire about the applicant’s “relationship to anthroposophy,” but often make willingness to state a commitment to anthroposophy the primary credential for the job.

    “I don’t believe we should review the sexual preferences of teachers either, unless they have committed a crime in this area.”

    Um, excuse me but exactly what sort of a crime does a person commit in the “area” of sexual preference? I do hope you misspoke.

    • Daniel
      November 5, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Regarding the teachers membership in the AS, I started to address this in my prior response to Pete. But my comment about “sexual preferences” has to do with not prying into the private lives of teachers. On the other hand, if a teacher commits a sexual crime, that is clearly not protected.

  15. November 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Daniel wrote:

    “Whether a teacher is a member of a Lutheran, Catholic, Buddhist, or other church is not the business of any parent or education board. If the teacher is a member of the Anthroposophical Society is also no ones business.”

    I made the Freedom of Information request to the Steiner Academy Hereford which asked about this. I very carefully worded the request to ask about “professional membership”. Given the fundamental importance of Anthroposophy to Steiner education and the existence of, for example, the Pedagogical section of the Anthroposophical Society, I do think that membership falls into the same category of professional affiliations that you’d expect of other professionals such as doctors, architects, builders…

    It can’t simultaneously be both a private matter (such as religion or sexual orientation) and the entire foundation of the way in which you relate to children as a professional person.

  16. November 4, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I should add that I was also careful not to ask for the names of individuals and their Anthroposophical affiliations. The purpose of my request was to find out whether or not this information is recorded at all.

    • Daniel
      November 5, 2012 at 4:47 am

      MarkH,
      This is a complex topic, so I’m not trying to be dismissive of it, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to get into all the issues.
      Teachers have the right to a private life, while parents have the right to choose the pedagogy that is right for their child. We need to find a happy medium here, where both interests can be attained.
      Membership in the AS is really a very private matter. Events and meetings are done on the teachers own time, if they so wish to attend at all. They are not reimbursed for conferences or their time at conferences (of course I am not overseeing schools, so this is a generalization and may have exceptions). AWSNA conferences are certainly an exception as these are directly “professional associations”.
      The AS is akin to church on Sunday. When a regular teacher attends church, they may have Gospel lessons that inform their teaching or give them some wisdom that helps them better understand a child in their classroom. For the Waldorf teacher, this same type of inspiration comes from attending an AS study group.
      Even the pedagogical section of the AS is not setup to create apostolic constitutional decrees, like the Catholic pope. They make no decrees. It is a free association, and a personal one at that.
      Now it is true that the pedagogy of the Waldorf school must be reviewed by every parent. But this is analogous to reviewing what takes place in the classroom. Every main-stream school parent is not reviewing the various churches that inspire their teachers. They are leaving their children in the hands of a professional institution that has demonstrable results, and regulations.
      However, there is a certain philosophical worldview as the foundation for the pedagogy. This is where it becomes more complex. I already mentioned in a prior post that main-stream schools actually have the same problem, but their worldview is centered on materialism.

      I am not sure the way our society is organized is really ready for this. My issue is that society must transform and become ready. It is denying parents the freedom they deserve to not resolve this situation.

      In the mean time, I think regulators are doing what they can to try and accommodate those parents who want an alternative.

      • November 5, 2012 at 11:53 am

        Hi Daniel,

        Sorry to repeat myself, but the point of my FOI request was to help shed some light, as Andy suggests is needed, on the institutional relationship between Anthroposophy and Steiner/Waldorf schools, not to gain information on particular individuals. This is more complex than it needs to be because of the way schools behave when asked about it. The eventual answer from Hereford was actually less interesting than their initial reaction to the question.

        You wrote: “Now it is true that the pedagogy of the Waldorf school must be reviewed by every parent.” Absolutely right. The problem is that the schools typically don’t go out of their way to help parents do so. They have a responsibility to do so in my view, because Steiner/Waldorf pedagogy and Anthroposophy is relatively unfamiliar and for many an unknown quantity, compared to say, a mainstream faith school.

        Also: “I already mentioned in a prior post that main-stream schools actually have the same problem, but their worldview is centered on materialism.” I’m reluctant to go down this particular rabbit hol , but have to point out that sweeping statements about the inadequacy of mainstream education is a typical feature of Steiner propaganda. There are good and bad mainstream schools and a great deal of variety in ethos and approach, even within the constraints of the UK national curriculum.

        Also, I’m never sure what “materialism” means in this context, but I’ll give you a worldview that I would be happy for a school to promote and perhaps you can tell me if it’s materialistic: “Science works and critical thinking is a useful skill. It’s good to ask questions and ‘I don’t know, but let’s find out together’ is a great answer.”

      • November 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        “I am not sure the way our society is organized is really ready for this. My issue is that society must transform and become ready.”

        That was Steiner’s issue too… and he was quite happy to “transform” society through covert methods, like lying to parents about what their children are learning in Steiner schools.

        “It is denying parents the freedom they deserve to not resolve this situation.”

        Ultimately, parents don’t have the freedom to harm their own children Daniel. Sometimes the state has to step in and put a stop to child abuse. This is what they should do with Waldorf schools. Dishonesty is part of Waldorf’s objective.

  17. November 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks to Andy for a great post!

    As for anthroposophy — of course it’s not a private matter, as it is the foundation of the pedagogy. The teacher’s engagement with anthroposophy is essential for the profession. Without anthroposophists on the staff, you can’t run a waldorf steiner school. Mark H is quite right that:

    ‘It can’t simultaneously be both a private matter (such as religion or sexual orientation) and the entire foundation of the way in which you relate to children as a professional person.’

    Daniel wrote that ‘academic credentials and professional conduct are all that matter’. This — when it comes to waldorf schools, which base their entire organisation, their methods and so forth on anthroposophy — is simply not true.

    As a former waldorf (steiner) student myself, I disagree with Daniel about another thing too: this kind of education is not superior. He also claims that parents should be able to make the choice they wish (at the expense of others). And I would say that for a parent to make an informed choice when the schools obfuscate the role of anthroposophy is pretty difficult. Daniel himself contributes to this obfuscation by trying to give off the impression that anthroposophy is irrelevant and the teachers’ relationships to it should not be asked about. Where’s the element of choice in all this? I think choice would require basic honesty about the contents of the alternatives offered.

    • Daniel
      November 5, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Alicia,
      This is far more complex than your attempt at framing it as a binary issue. As I posted earlier, the main-stream schools have their philosophy and worldview. We need a mechanism to review and reveal the main-stream school’s spiritual belief system, if you want to apply the same standard to the Waldorf school. But I view a different approach as more equitable. Namely, allow parents to choose and keep the regulators responsibilities only to educational results.

      You quoted Mark H, “It can’t simultaneously be both a private matter (such as religion or sexual orientation) and the entire foundation of the way in which you relate to children as a professional person”. – That is revealed by the pedagogy of the Waldorf school. There is no need to delve into what a private teacher does on their own time for spiritual renewal. And if this is not enough for you, then figure out a mechanism whereby I can be allowed to apply my funding to my preferred philosophy.

      Therefore, what I grant you is that we may not be setup as a society to handle this complex situation properly. Ideally we would allow teachers to have their own spiritual life, and allow parents to choose what school and what pedagogy their children are exposed to. That ideal may fall short in our current societal order.

      You wrote, “this kind of education is not superior”. Alicia, you had a bad experience with a Waldorf school. I had a fantastic experience. We both have our anecdotes and these clearly do not make a statistical conclusion either way. That is my point. You use your experience to make your own decision, and I’ll make my decision. I respect your experience, please respect mine.

      You wrote, “He also claims that parents should be able to make the choice they wish (at the expense of others)”. No, you did not read what I wrote. I don’t want to make a choice at others expense; I want to make a choice at my tax-paying expense. I want the funds I pay for school taxes to go to the school I choose for my child. This is not at the expense of anyone else.

      You wrote, “I think choice would require basic honesty about the contents of the alternatives offered”. I agree with you here. There should be complete honesty about the pedagogy, while protecting the privacy of the teachers.

      Alicia, I understand you had a really rough experience in your school. You are blinded by that bad experience and attempt to keep other people from having the freedom to pursue their own experiences. Try and transcend the person feelings and think about the interests of innocent citizens.

      • November 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

        Daniel:

        ‘That is revealed by the pedagogy of the Waldorf school. There is no need to delve into what a private teacher does on their own time for spiritual renewal.’

        It appears to me that you don’t understand the role of anthroposophy in waldorf pedagogy. I agree with you that the teacher’s spirituality is his or her own business. However, WHEN this spirituality directly informs the pedagogical practices — it is not longer a private matter as far as those consequences go.

        ‘I respect your experience, please respect mine.’

        How is it that as soon as someone posts a viewpoint that contradicts the viewpoint of a Steiner school proponent, they start to assume we don’t respect their viewpoint? The only way to ‘respect’ you folks, I’ve noticed, is for us to shut up. That’s the only way you aren’t going to complain that your viewpoint is not ‘respected’.

        This crap about ‘respect’ isn’t about respecting the other person — it is rather about you demanding all kinds of special considerations for yourself. Because nobody has said you can’t promote your positive perspective on Steiner education. You simply don’t want critics to present theirs and want them shamed as disrespectful for speaking their minds the way you speak yours.

        ‘There should be complete honesty about the pedagogy, while protecting the privacy of the teachers.’

        The privacy of the teachers cannot be protected at the cost of the children. If the teacher’s beliefs influence their treatment of the children and the methods used in education, people have right to know. There’s no other way. Complete honesty about the pedagogy requires complete honesty about its anthroposophical foundation and what it means to the teacher’s work in the classroom.

        ‘Alicia, I understand you had a really rough experience in your school. You are blinded by that bad experience and attempt to keep other people from having the freedom to pursue their own experiences. Try and transcend the person feelings and think about the interests of innocent citizens.’

        Daniel, I understand you had a really good experience in your school. You are blinded by that good experience and attempt to keep other people from knowing what waldorf education is really about and this at the cost of those families who, unwittingly, end up with an education they don’t understand. Try and transcend the personal feelings and think about the interests of innocent children.

        • Andy Lewis
          November 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

          Thank you, Alicia.

      • November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

        “And if this is not enough for you, then figure out a mechanism whereby I can be allowed to apply my funding to my preferred philosophy.”

        It’s called PRIVATE SCHOOLS. They are available to anyone… even Waldorf schools have tuition assistance programs for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. BE SATISFIED WITH THIS. Waldorf schools don’t belong in the public sector BECAUSE they are religious, they’re racist, but most importantly, because they’re dishonest! Here’s a thought for you Daniel… Dishonest adults and other people’s children are NOT a very good mix.

        • May 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

          HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities.To be frank I very much doubt it with how judgingand against Steiner this all seems. On the racist subject, look around you is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. The article above is great, but anyone with kids knows that it is Love and development that is crucial, specifically ‘love”. Simply seeing that Counties that suffer more and may be less evolved is simply visible when we look around. WE are not much better, I mean UK as a whole and all folks. We poison our lands, and actually on the subject of vaccinations, my daughters legs swelled up blus after her injections at age 2 and she screamed uncontrolably and was admitted to hospital. Thankfully my partner knew to raise her legs so she didnt end up losing he legs and have a stroke through lack of blood in the brain. This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we. AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us when all we wanted was our daughter helped, and my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned. Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously. Anyway, can you folks not see the good in Steiner? The biofarming, organic, the setting up schools for all the types of kids,.a man that actually did something for the world.. Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more? AND the answers can never be answered, though spiritual revelations of the world we live in truely can begin to unravel it a little at a time.

          • May 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

            “This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we. AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us when all we wanted was our daughter helped, and my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned.”

            Why would you think anyone reading this would want to know whether the nurse was “coloured” – and what difference would that make to your story?

            “Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously.”

            Looks like we have our very own rotten apple right here.

        • May 18, 2014 at 8:20 am

          Re your floating isles post. And btw I had msg you on fb since this system with you not having the reply option on your recent posts mean posts are all over the place.

          Re your floating isles post,

          Lewis also comments on a remark in passing by Steiner, that the British isles are floating (which they are as part of one of the tectonic plates, that float on the interious of the earth). For some comments on this perplexing comment, made when the theory of plate tectonics was only in its infancy, see

          “Floating islands”

          What are the central ideas in anthroposophy as the general philosophy at the basis of Steiner Waldorf education?

          These are the central ideas in anthroposophy

          Is anthroposophy “secret” and difficult to investigate for anyone even slightly interested, a myth Andy likes to cultivate?

          No.

          Did Steiner as originator of both Steiner Waldorf education and anthroposophy think it that should be?

          No

          The whole of anthroposophy is an effort and work to make public, develop and fruitful in personal and public life spiritual understanding that in earlier times was held secret by small groups of people. All of it is published, also on the net, much in English translation at

          Rudolf Steiner Archive

          For a description of some of the typical myths about about Steiner Waldorf education and anthroposophy, as the general basis in the broad sense of Steiner Waldorf education, see

          here.

          Maybe, finally, a picture of Rudolf Steiner as the main originator of Waldorf education and anthroposophy can be of some interest.

          Who was Rudolf Steiner

          © 2013 Sune Nordwall

          http://www.thebee.se/Guardian/

          • May 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

            “which they are as part of one of the tectonic plates, that float on the interious of the earth”

            Coincidentally, Sune has made this claim multiple times. It isn’t in Steiner’s writings – only in Sune’s writings. You yourself said we need to actually quote Steiner. Can you find the quote? I can. It says they swim in the ocean. If you’re getting your Steiner from Sune, you’re in HUGE trouble.

            “Is anthroposophy “secret” and difficult to investigate for anyone even slightly interested, a myth Andy likes to cultivate?”

            See, you’re already started making up straw-man arguments like Sune does on his Myth page. The claim isn’t about how difficult it is to INVESTIGATE Waldorf – the schools THEMSELVES should be open about what they teach and why. Sune can’t claim they are so he made up his own myth in put it in the critics’ mouth. It’s more Waldorf dishonesty – and very plain to see.

            “The whole of anthroposophy is an effort and work to make public, develop and fruitful in personal and public life spiritual understanding that in earlier times was held secret by small groups of people. All of it is published, also on the net, much in English translation at Rudolf Steiner Archive”

            Yes, and parents absolutely should read Steiner’s own words, racist as they may be. Unfortunately, Waldorf schools don’t really want parents to do this. They have parent evenings where Anthroposophy, if mentioned at all, is shown in a good light – not a racist doctrine.

            “For a description of some of the typical myths about about Steiner Waldorf education and anthroposophy, as the general basis in the broad sense of Steiner Waldorf education, see here.”

            Indeed – for MYTHS regarding Waldorf education and Anthroposophy – visit Sune’s website. For the TRUTH about Waldorf education and Anthroposophy – stay right here.

  18. Jonathan
    November 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    When the Free Schools programme is complete and an area has a CofE, a Catholic, a Jewish, a Steiner, a Maharishi, a Shi’ite and a Montessori school, where will all the normal kids go?

    Choice my arse.

    How about doing away with any form of segregation. All kids no matter what background go to their local school.

    • Harlan
      November 5, 2012 at 3:16 am

      Brilliant. We want to be able to choose between musical genres, politicians, and different kinds of foods, because these things are important to us. Why would we eliminate all choice when it comes to the education of our children? Surely not because every local state school is surely providing a fantastic educational experience?

      Why should I be able to choose my laundry soap, but not my child’s educational provision? I truly wonder what irritates people about choice in this one area, when they demand choice in every other?

      I’m told that in the Netherlands, every school is simply state funded. This makes each available to any family, whatever the income level. It’s a cultural choice. This seems a sensible solution.

      In Hungary, all the state schools and private schools have a big schools fair, where they present their strengths and focus. Each family can choose which one they would like their children to attend. Note that if you choose a state school, you are not restricted to the local school — if there’s a different one you prefer, you can simply enroll your child there. (The private schools there also receive significant government funding: at a minimum, all teachers’ salaries are paid by the state. This makes these schools also affordable to most people.)

      Let’s get a little more creative than the one size fits all model.

      • Daniel
        November 5, 2012 at 5:44 am

        All right Harlan! I was wondering when someone else would have the courage to speak the truth, and straight to the point too!

      • November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am

        Harlan:
        ‘We want to be able to choose between musical genres, politicians, and different kinds of foods, because these things are important to us.’

        Presumably you pay for your music and your food yourself.

      • November 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        “Brilliant. We want to be able to choose between musical genres, politicians, and different kinds of foods, because these things are important to us. Why would we eliminate all choice when it comes to the education of our children? Surely not because every local state school is surely providing a fantastic educational experience?”

        Nobody is eliminating choice. You can choose to send your child to private Waldorf. The choice is really about “honest” schools vs “dishonest” schools. Children don’t get a fantastic educational experience at Waldorf… if they did, private Waldorf schools would be happy to stay private. They can barely keep their doors open these days, and it’s going to get a lot worse as the word spreads.

        “Why should I be able to choose my laundry soap, but not my child’s educational provision?”

        Do you have to *pay* for the laundry soap? Or do you expect it for free? And if somebody produced “laundry soap” that didn’t work… or did something to your clothes OTHER than cleaning them, wouldn’t you expect it to be labeled differently?

        “Let’s get a little more creative than the one size fits all model.”

        Or, more creative than one set of facts fits all…

      • Matthew Blogs
        October 14, 2013 at 1:14 am

        Dear Harlan, I shall put the same question to you that I put to Daniel.

        it is all very well and good if both parents consider choosing a Steiner School for their child, based upon a sound knowledge of Anthroposophy, but what happens if one parent is more concerned than the other of the potential negative consequences of this type of education for their child?

        Please consider the following scenario:

        A father has been tricked into impregnating an Anthroposophist lesbian, who turns around and says to the father that she doesn’t want him to have anything to do with his child until the child is 7 years old.

        She then looses her court case when the father has insisted on his rights and has gained limited access to his child, with whom he has built up a fantastic relationship.

        In the meantime, the child’s started going to a Steiner Kindegarten against the father’s judgement, but has then started at a mainstream primary school due to a lack of funds on the mothers’ part, before she hears of a bursary at the local Steiner School, and then decides to send her child there at age 7, regardless of the father’s informed opposition to the school, since he knows various “Steiner casualties” personally and has done a not insignificant amount of research into the pedagogy and the underlying philosophy.

        What then happens to the child in question?

        i.e. when one parent is very pro, and the other very anti a Steiner based “education”?

        Clearly this isn’t a case of a one size fits all model……

        I look forward to your reply.

        • October 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm

          “but what happens if one parent is more concerned than the other of the potential negative consequences of this type of education for their child?”

          That parent is forced out of the child’s life – by any means the school can produce… whether it be false statements to the Department of Child Services, false statements to police, to judges… whatever it takes. The offending parent must be removed from the picture. There are many, many cases on record of this happening and of Waldorf schools conspiring to get one parent out of the way.

          By the way, I predict Harlan won’t answer you.

          • Matthew Blogs
            November 22, 2013 at 5:16 am

            Many thanks for your reply, Peter. I was fearful that that might be the case. I am just waiting for the Steiner mafiosi to have me bumped off since I am the other parent in the equation.

            I have always been a very sceptical person by nature, but was essentially abused by a born again Anthroposophist: a lesbian who took advantage of me in order to impregnate her.

            She subsequently turned around and told lies about me in order to prevent me from having access to my daughter, to the courts.

            The mother, however wasn’t entirely successful in terms of her plan for complete autonomy over our daughter, since the courts granted me parental responsibility and defined (supervised) contact.

            I have built up a very good relationship with my daughter, ever since the seven years that have passed since her birth.

            The mother, however has insisted on entrusting a Teutonic Cult to raise our daughter, and I have been powerless to affect a change.

            The mother’s father is also a Freemason, who’s sisters, (and daughter) were Steiner indoctrinated.

            When I tried to prevent my daughter from being “educated” in this manner, by exercising my rights as a parent with “Parental Responsibility”, I was unsuccessful in changing the course of her “education”.

            I am wondering what, if any advice you can offer me., in order to balance out the potential damage to my daughter, who also (at present) has an (inherited from me) natural enquiring and inquisitive mind.

            I fancy I am walking something of a tightrope, since I believe that the school is aware of my opposition to their raison d’etre, and yet I do not want to be forever at loggerheads with them, nor the mother for my daughter’s sake.

            Many thanks, in anticipation of a reply.

          • November 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

            My suggestion is to make the school famous! It’s what I’m doing with Highland Hall. Cults like secrecy. Shining a spotlight on Highland Hall is what I’ve been doing for more than a decade. They have suffered greatly in the enrollment department. They had high hopes of constructing new performing arts buildings and renovating their entire campus. They collected over a million dollars to do it… and all of that is gone now. They had high hopes – before they screwed with my kids… now they’ve spent (stolen) the money they collected from parents (who will never see the performing arts buildings) and are having to offer free enrollment to black kids to combat their racist image and to fill seats in their temporary (asbestos-lined) classrooms they’ve had since the ’50′s. They really became famous among Waldorf schools when they messed with my kids. Make your school famous Matt… that’s my advice!

  19. Badly Shaved Monkey
    November 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Daniel

    You have written a great many words now. You seem very keen to concentrate on the issue of ‘choice’.

    You have not addressed the specific criticisms of Steinerist beliefs that underpin and permeate the teaching. Nor have you addressed the apparent concealment of those beliefs, which, from the evidence that Andy has presented, looks deliberate.

    Only after you have dealt with those can one decide whether Steiner schools are a legitimate choice. And only then could one properly discuss how that choice might be implemented if it is publicly funded.

  20. Hollywood Tomfortas
    November 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Andy,

    Since I invited Daniel to comment here, I’ll emerge from Lurkerville and offer my perspective on the topic.

    It’s been more than 30 years since I took the Waldorf Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner College in Northern California and having been a hard core (nerdlinger) Anthroposophist since 1976, I can provide a certain overview of the ever-entwining Anthroposophical and Waldorf movements as I’ve seen it evolve and devolve over that time span.

    Infamous on the Steiner Internet for the past 16 years as bloviating maverick, jejune jester and someone who actually trolls in his own name, I shall now purvey here my new identity as anthroposophical apostate in the context of Melanie’s recent characterization of me on Alicia’s blog as a “godless cultural Catholic.” (Thanks, Wendy!)

    I am very heartened and gratified by the work of Gregoire Perra, whose own apostate insights into the “soft cult” nature of anthroposophy may someday earn anthroposophy its own entry in the DSM-6??? manual of psychiatric disorders. (Interestingly enough, Rudolf Steiner predicted such an insane development, but more on that another thread.)

    My impression of the present controversy in the UK over the public funding for Waldorf schools is that youse guys and gals across the pond are about a decade behind the parallel developments in the former colonies here. I of course refer to Dan Dugan and his PLANS organization that sought legal action against the public funding of Waldorf charter schools here in California.

    It appears that legally, you folks in the UK have a much better case against the Anthros and Waldis than Dan did. We shall see.

    But back to my recounting the American history of Waldorf since 1980.

    Rudolf Steiner College was not the original name of the institution located in Fair Oaks, California, a northeast suburb of the state capital, Sacramento. Founded in 1976, its original name rang ponderous and cumbersome: “The Sacramento Center for Anthroposophical Studies.” As you might astutely and correctly guess, Germans were involved with the naming.

    And the chief German was Rev. Carl Stegmann (1897-1996), one of the first Christian Community priests ever ordained and the man who was personally commissioned by Rudolf Steiner himself to carry everything Steiner had said about the spiritual destiny of America to that country in order to advance anthroposophy there.

    Carl and his wife Christine, a eurythmist, finally emigrated to the USA in 1967, both at the age of 70, and the Center formed 9 years later during our famed Bicentennial Year.

    But as destiny would have it, the Center quickly shifted within two years to a focus on training Waldorf teachers and was re-named Rudolf Steiner College. By that time, Carl was 80, and he quietly withdrew from his own center to be venerated as the founding father, but not much else beyond a fringe group of young Anthroposophists dedicated to the so-called “America work” a direct translation of the phrase Rudolf Steiner himself used for Carl in 1923: “die Amerika Arbeit.”

    I realize that my comment is easily expanding into an article now, so I will cut off here, with a tease of coming attractions. I also realize that my historical recounting may not be on topic for this thread, so I’ll wait for feedback about that.

    Suffice it to say that the leading figure in Waldorf education in the USA today was centrally involved with that “mission shift” of Carl Stegmann’s center to Waldorf training. She is Betty (Kane) Staley, whom I call “Oma Waldorf” today because she is a nice Jewish mother of Waldorf, now grand-mother, (Oma) from New Yawk City and since I meself was raised Irish Roman Catholic in that same NYC, I can offer a unique perspective on just how she has managed to guide the American Waldorf movement to where it is today, leaving Waldorf Critics in her dust.

    Finally, since this is election day in the USA, I came up with this rough but still nifty analogy in honor of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith:

    Rudolf Steiner is to Carl Stegmann as Joseph Smith is to Brigham Young.

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

    • Melanie Byng
      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Tom – unfortunately most of your comment will be incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t followed events in the US.

      But – from Dan Dugan’s account of Betty Staley’s evidence re the PLANS (People for Legal and Non -Sectarian Schools) lawsuit in 2010, she appears to have behaved rather badly:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/15551

      The idea that she wouldn’t know about Michaelmas is .. well, she does know.

      If Staley is the ‘leading figure in Waldorf education in the USA today’ one might question the movement’s honesty and integrity. It’s much the same in both our countries, supporters of Steiner Waldorf schools are not entirely candid.

      • Hollywood Tomfortas
        November 20, 2012 at 3:05 am

        Hi Melanie,

        You’re quite right about the audience unfamiliarity with the American historical riff that I composed. And so, rather than add another installment which I had already started to answer your link to Betty Staley’s testimony, I thought it best to see if I could briefly summarize my own “devotee to apostate” experience over the last 36 years as Anthroposophist and sometime Waldorf teacher in order to communicate with this audience that is largely based in the UK.

        What came out was a 4 line poem, too long for a haiku, but somewhat haiku in quality, given that it seems to capture past, present and future all at once.

        Tom

        =========================

        We Steiner people are all quite mad.

        But we hide it very well.

        Alas, there is no cure for us.

        And you’re next.

        ==========================

        • November 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

          “But we hide it very well.”

          Seriously… not so much.

  21. Fiona Hughes
    November 6, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Post removed for sock/meat puppetry.

  22. al
    November 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    This author went out of his way to use words that carry a negative connotation today, like “occult” and “mystical.” That should be a sign to readers that this author is a nay-sayer and not a historian.

    A lot of important philosophers and thinkers of the past several centuries believed things that we no longer value today. That is no reason to discount the now-evolved values that have come out of their movements. In fact, this is pretty much true if you study ANY great thinker of the past, there were some good ideas, and some not-so-good ideas, so we should take what benefits us and do something good with it (like many of these schools do today). It doesn’t mean the schools subscribe to some of the more dodgy ideas the creator valued in his/her day. That should be obvious and it’s a shame this author can’t understand that.

    And, if a parent cannot take 10 minutes to research a “Steiner” or “Waldorf” school that is so transparently named, then I think that is on them. Why should they be told about every little historical detail that involved the creator of he movement? Do parents need to be hand-held and coddled? Obviously, there is nothing hidden about the schools’ origins if they are named after their creators!

    At any rate, there will always be a bunch of fearful, close-minded people like this on these sites drumming up skewed history in order to scare people into mindlessly following the masses. Sigh.

    • Andy Lewis
      November 9, 2012 at 12:26 am

      I did not go ‘out of my way’ to use words like ‘occult’. These are the words that Steiner used himslef to describe his philosophy, such as in his book “Occult Science”.

      • November 11, 2012 at 2:31 am

        Good point Andy, especially as “Occult Science” is required reading for Waldorf/Steiner school teachers. And let’s not forget Steiner’s “The Occult Significance of Blood.” It seems the word “occult” is problematic to occultists. Odd.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      November 9, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Did you miss the parts where it has been shown that Steiner schools actively conceal their philosopohies and how they influence the teaching?

      Do you think a parent who takes “10 minutes to research” what goes on in Steiner schools will gain a true impression of them if that parent relies on Steiner schools’ descriptions of themselves?

    • November 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      “It doesn’t mean the schools subscribe to some of the more dodgy ideas the creator valued in his/her day. That should be obvious and it’s a shame this author can’t understand that.”

      OK, which of Steiner’s ideas have the schools abandoned? Can you name a few for us, since it’s so obvious? They haven’t even adequately distanced themselves from Steiner’s racism. What exactly is so obvious to you?

  23. MK
    November 11, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I too wrote to Michael Gove, met with the Dept For Education and spoke to Ofsted about my concerns as I realised the arty and relaxed school I’d enrolled my child in was not what I thought it was at all.
    Gove told me he would look into it, the DfE seemed completely horrified and photocopied teaching resources etc and Ofsted said I should have researched what the school’s philosophy was about ! Bit tricky when the parents handbook avoids it and I hadn’t thought to Google ‘Steiner racism’ ,’Steiner lies’ etc
    I honestly think these schools are being funded simply because Gove’s mates are involved with Frome and politicians seem to make up rules to suit themselves.

    This is a great post and I really hope somebody somewhere will be embarrassed enough to sort this madness out !

    The schools will be in turmoil if they get local kids in wearing bright pink or black with Nike trainers and I-Pods, how will they explain that they can’t play football because it’s not good for their reincarnation ? Akward…

    What I remember from our school;
    The stifling of creativity -everyone had to make a fekking wooden spoon,draw a wet on wet volcano painting in Class 6, knit ,play ancient tunes on wooden recorders, decorate their main lesson books in an ‘appropriate’ manor ( the class teacher wrote on my daughter’s book ‘careful how you decorate’ too many black squares ! )
    No computers till age 14
    No CD’s no amplified music
    Really bad teaching a lot !
    All the older kids hating eurythmy.
    Parents evenings where the parents aren’t allowed to talk.
    A lesson on how Gnomes were real (for 13 year olds !)
    Having some very sweet staff and some really scary ones like the one who came from Brighton Steiner School and lasted 3 weeks as he told stories of decapitation and shook the kid’s hands so hard it hurt them…
    Racism and how it wasn’t dealt with ,not surprising really !
    Being sent a letter from the school’s solicitor saying I was not allowed to speak to Ofsted or the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the BBC piece and hope you will be visiting a pub in London soon !

    • November 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      “Being sent a letter from the school’s solicitor saying I was not allowed to speak to Ofsted or the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”

      Do you still have this letter? I’d love to post it on my blog…

      • Ted G
        January 28, 2013 at 11:56 am

        Have you posted this letter on your blog?

    • Andy Lewis
      November 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      If you are prepared to make public that letter, then it would be incredible!

    • May 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      HI, the area a lot of people seem caught up on is racism. I wonder if any one of you has had direct experience first of all of dimensions, beings and even have a clue of such realities.To be frank I very much doubt it with how judgingand against Steiner this all seems. On the racist subject, look around you is it not clear that a lot of suffering countries are of darker skin, is it not clear they are warring? THIS IS ALL Steiner was pointing out. The article above is great, but anyone with kids knows that it is Love and development that is crucial, specifically ‘love”. Simply seeing that Counties that suffer more and may be less evolved is simply visible when we look around. WE are not much better, I mean UK as a whole and all folks. We poison our lands, and actually on the subject of vaccinations, my daughters legs swelled up blus after her injections at age 2 and she screamed uncontrolably and was admitted to hospital. Thankfully my partner knew to raise her legs so she didnt end up losing he legs and have a stroke through lack of blood in the brain. This is very real and the system being what it is, and people being what they are, then we had one nurse clearly looking at us as if we had poisoned our daughter, clearly not believing that this occured about 7 days after my daughter injections. (we certianly do not look as drug addicts nor are we. AND no this was not a coloured person that doubted clearly in their body language and how they treated us when all we wanted was our daughter helped, and my partner is actually foreign, though not dark skinned. Schools and every institution will obviously likely always have a rotton Apple, irrespective of colour obviously. Anyway, can you folks not see the good in Steiner? The biofarming, organic, the setting up schools for all the types of kids,.a man that actually did something for the world.. Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more? AND the answers can never be answered, though spiritual revelations of the woorld we live in truely can begin to unravel it a little at a time.

      • May 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

        ” Ask yourselves why is it that darker skinned countries suffer so much more?”

        Um… because of racists like Steiner?

          • May 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

            For anyone interested, the link above is to Sune’s page defaming Andy Lewis. Regular readers of Andy’s blog may notice Andy hasn’t made the statements Sune attributes to him. Sune never provides a citation for anything… we’re just supposed to believe him (a well-known and prolific internet liar).

        • May 22, 2014 at 10:37 pm

          So are you ready to ignore this link and deny it also guys?. THE lectures are real, and I just wish you guys well with your issues of judgement in everyday life. But yes, if a teacher at a school said anything about this or that culture is less developed in consciousness then that is not really appropriate at all for kids at school.

          (Dr David r Hawkins calibrated countries, with much of the world, the majority being lower in consciousness, no one questioned that that I have ever heard).

          what have you guys brough to the world?? I mean where are all the handicap schools in every contient as Steiner was involved in bringign about., or bio farming, and if you looked into it there is a many health anti cancer therapies also the anthroposophical society is involved in…and so much more.

          http://www.waldorfanswers.com/RSOnInvalidityOfRace.htm

          • May 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

            “So are you ready to ignore this link and deny it also guys?.”

            The racist truth of Steiner? Yeah, but I ignore all your links Sune.

            “THE lectures are real, and I just wish you guys well with your issues of judgement in everyday life. ‘

            Issues of judgement? YOU ARE A RACIST – there is nothing to “judge”. Your comments and Steiner’s are the very definition of racism. There is no gray area here. No “judgement” required.

            “But yes, if a teacher at a school said anything about this or that culture is less developed in consciousness then that is not really appropriate at all for kids at school.”

            YA THINK? But thanks for acknowledging that Waldorf teachers who read Steiner have to bite their tongues to avoid having their beliefs slip out to their students. So you believe people should send their kids to Waldorf school because the racists there don’t generally spout out their own racist views to the students.

            “(Dr David r Hawkins calibrated countries, with much of the world, the majority being lower in consciousness, no one questioned that that I have ever heard).”

            I just farted. I’ll bet you haven’t heard that either.

            “what have you guys brough to the world?? ”

            Integrity? Honesty instead of lies? Science over superstition? Waldorf awareness?

            Do you mean me personally? Well, outside of Steiner, an idea I had lead to the creation of Dubiotech – which is a scientific city claiming to have created a 40% decrease in the cost of medicine in the middle east. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

            What have YOU brought to the world Sune? Covering up harm to children? A puerile website attacking people and promoting racism? Fake internet personalities that threaten to sue websites that host discussion critical of Steiner?

            “I mean where are all the handicap schools in every contient as Steiner was involved in bringign about.”

            You mean like CAMPHILL? One of the most abusive environments on the planet? You abusive liars do an even better job of harming people with disabilities than you do with children. You consider this an accomplishment?

            “or bio farming, and if you looked into it there is a many health anti cancer therapies also the anthroposophical society is involved in…and so much more.”

            Wanting to treat cancer – claiming to treat cancer – imagining you are actually treating cancer – is NOT treating cancer.

  24. MK
    November 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Andy, I Just found the letter and will get it to you. Pete I guess you will be able to get it if Andy posts it otherwise Andy has my email if you need it.
    .

  25. Graham
    November 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

    A couple more responses to address the balance-

    ‘Until a few years ago, you could get a BA in Steiner Waldorf Education from Plymouth University. It was never clear why the University chose to axe the course, but Canterbury Christ Church University is picking up and filling the market gap’

    The University of Plymouth took the decision to kill off the course because of poor recruitment and retention of students over the past three years. Many universities have altered their course choices which directly result from a shift in student fees and funding. Since the government’s withdrawal of funding for second degrees. As many people begin the course later in life after a change in career, they faced charges upward of £8,000 a year instead of the standard £3,225.
    In Steiner education, children keep the same teacher for a number of years, this is bound to have an effect on the availabiloity of new teaching posts for graduates.
    Despite the course’s closure, Professor Michael Totterdell, executive dean of the university’s faculty of education, insisted there was a possibility of a Steiner option in its BA Education Studies degree.

    “Indeed, in these schools, misleading state officials is commonplace. For example, I witnessed that, when a teacher is scheduled to be inspected in class, s/he will commonly be replaced by another teacher who has the [necessary] skills or qualifications. [37] Then the students are asked to “play the game” in the presence of the inspector, and to act as if the teacher who conducts their class [this day] is their regular teacher. [38] Similarly, it may happen that there are health and hygiene inspections.”

    This is common practice also in state schools also. With experience working as a teacher in several state schools and been through a few Ofsted inspections, it is common practice for the school to have prior warnoing of the inspection dates, and for the school to put adequate measures in place to esure a successful inspection. This includes briefing students and modifying the teacher/ teaching practice available on inspection days. An experienced inspector will be aware when this is occurring, and takes this into account for inspection reports.

    I could go on for there is valid fors and against for each point. I am neither for or against Steiner schools, but as a state teacher who is considering other education for my own children, see balanced and unbiased debate as the logical way forwards in this. Old views and science is simply that- old, we take what’s valid and discard what is useless.

    • Melanie Byng
      January 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Soon after making that statement, Professor Michael Totterdell ‘decided after careful consideration to retire’ from the University of Plymouth.

      The closure of the Steiner BA at Plymouth happened after a FoI request was made to the University requesting the course materials.
      http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/plymouth-university-axes-steiner-ba/
      Mike Collins notes: ‘Perhaps fear of ridicule is the reason Plymouth tried for so long not to divulge what students would be learning there.’

  26. November 24, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Graham, regarding OFSTED inspections I recently spoke to a UK state secondary school teacher who had been a head for several years (she gave that up and returned to regular subject teaching complaining of the thankless stress of it). She was most scathing of OFSTED, claiming that they were easily fooled by any school with staff experienced in gaming the system.
    Discussions in the comments following this Guardian “Secret Teacher” piece about OFSTED seems to back up her claims:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2012/nov/10/ofsted-inspector-notice-improve-secret-teacher

  27. November 24, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Andy,
    cracking article
    best wishes

  28. Hollywood Tomfortas
    December 19, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Well, this should warm the cockleberries of Sune’s Waldorf heart-that’s-not-a-pump:

    Kenneth Chenault, a graduate — and lifer (Pre-K-12) — of the Garden City Long Island Waldorf School, may become one of President Obama’s new cabinet appointees — either Treasury or Commerce.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-18/amex-s-chenault-said-to-be-discussed-for-treasury-post.html

    White House officials have approached American Express Co. (AXP) Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault about joining President Barack Obama’s second-term administration, possibly as Treasury secretary,. . . .consideration of Chenault among Obama’s staff may indicate the president hasn’t made a final decision on a replacement for Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has said he plans to leave the post. . . . Other potential roles for Chenault, a longtime Obama supporter, may be as Commerce secretary or as a senior adviser to the president, according to the people,

    Read this Waldorf alumni page about Mr. Chenault
    http://www.waldorfgarden.org/page.cfm?p=656

  29. Miruna Andreea
    January 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hello, your article is very well documented, however it looks like it’s written by someone who didn’t attending any class in a Waldorf school and nor is children. I think the only issue with the Waldorf system, as with any educational system, is that teachers can be more or less gifted in terms of teaching skills. I for one attended for a few years a Waldorf class with an outstanding teacher, and all i can say for sure is that racist or religious “voodoo” were never part of the teachings. On the contrary, there was a lot of focus on the creative development of the child that made the children in my class have great school results, way high above the other school systems. So your concerns should be filtered also through direct participation and observation in order to have an objective image on this.

  30. Miruna Andreea
    January 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hello, youHello, your article is very well documented, however it looks like it’s written by someone who didn’t attending any class in a Waldorf school and nor is children. I think the only issue with the Waldorf system, as with any educational system, is that teachers can be more or less gifted in terms of teaching skills. I for one attended for a few years a Waldorf class with an outstanding teacher, and all i can say for sure is that racist or religious “voodoo” were never part of the teachings. On the contrary, there was a lot of focus on the creative development of the child that made the children in my class have great school results, way high above the other school systems. So your concerns should be filtered also through direct participation and observation in order to have an objective image on this. r article is very well documented, however it looks like it’s written by someone who didn’t attending any class in a Waldorf school and nor is children. I think the only issue with the Waldorf system, as with any educational system, is that teachers can be more or less gifted in terms of teaching skills. I for one attended for a few years a Waldorf class w

  31. Badly Shaved Monkey
    January 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    No gnomes, Miruna?

  32. Badly Shaved Monkey
    January 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    I’m guessing that Miruna’s Waldorf school was not truly in Scotland.

  33. Miruna Andreea
    January 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    well, if gnomes were the worst thing children would hear about, it would be room for a lovely future, wouldn’t it?

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      January 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Not site what to take from your reply. We’re the gnomes there or not?

  34. Alistair Taylor
    January 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Marvelous posting. Your blog post is very informative. I got to know lots of useful info from your site. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Lucy Crompton
    February 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Dear all, I am someone that appreciates the value of education. Educated to PhD level and working in academia. I don’t believe that Steiner schools offer anything less than your average state comprehensive in terms of educational quality. I attended a comprehensive school myself, followed by a college and I think it is very hard for children who want to learn to do so on an environment where a teachers role is ofteb more ‘crowd control’ than education. As a firm humanist I certainly do not believe in mysticism, but I can’t see why these teachings are any more harmful than those of our accepted mainstream religions. I would much rather my child was being taught reincarnation and karma than the bigoted views of those more traditionalist religions. I have heard many stories over the years of science lessons taught by teachers that are in fact creationists, and therefore teach Darwinism as if it is just a theory, with no more supporting evidence than the garden of Eden. I utterly support the existence of alternative schools, and parents choice. Personally from talking to friends who attended Steiner schools I would happily send my children to one as this system seems to produce very well balanced individuals.

    • Andy Lewis
      February 5, 2013 at 1:17 am

      Once again: informed consent.

    • February 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Lucy, I agree that other religious and mystical traditions can be as harmful. But, while the Abrahamic religions have in their texts values that are abhorrent, they also have a tradition of explanation, modification, cherry-picking and dissent that has taken place over (in the case of Christianity, for example) 2,000 years. It is thus possible, in many religious schools, for parents to know precisely what the education on offer entails (many Christians, for example, don’t believe in miracles, the ‘virgin birth’ or slavery). In contrast, Anthroposophy is a modern religion that specifies a racially prejudicial and mystical karmic schema in a 20th Century context. Basic Anthroposophical ideas are often hidden from parents and many of the most unpleasant elements are denied even when they direct the pedagogy that is the basis for Steiner-Waldorf teacher training and teaching practice.

      Sadly, many of the ‘well balanced individuals’ who have been through the Steiner system are as protective of their schools’ record as their teachers. And, like their teachers, they deny the institutional racism inherent in their belief system. Given that pretty much every other organisation in the modern democracies recognize racism within their ranks, and have policies to improve things, it is not surprising that anti-racist campaigners wish to see Anthroposophical organizations shape up.

      The first stage in combating such racism is to fully understand that it exists, and why it exists, within one’s organisation. Steiner schools and many of their ex-pupils are still very much in denial about this. If they were ‘well balanced’ they would be calling for the rejection of Steiner’s racist ideology; they would be calling for Anthroposophy to be abandoned and for Steiner to become an historic curiosity rather than the focus of a cult.

      Finally, if pupils were well balanced they would also be calling for the rejection of the kind if anti-science mysticism that is rapidly making all rational discourse with Steiner proponents almost impossible.

  36. February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    “Personally from talking to friends who attended Steiner schools I would happily send my children to one as this system seems to produce very well balanced individuals.”

    That’s like going to a pottery factory and being shown only the finished products… All the samples look great if you don’t think about all the broken pots that didn’t make it to the shelf.

    For every child that graduates Waldorf, DOZENS have had their education distorted, interrupted or skewed by their encounter with Waldorf. The ones that have withstood the punishment of this cruel educational system seem like fine citizens… they certainly aren’t individuals – they all have had their rough edges smoothed to fit the Waldorf mold. Over the years, they have been humiliated into not asking questions (makes them seem smart when you meet them doesn’t it?). They are polite, and never talk back, well behaved… Stepford children. Years of abusive teaching practices will do that to children.

    How can Waldorf students be well-”balanced” when only one out of twelve makes it to the scales in the first place. Whenever you meet a Waldorf grad, think of the dozen students who (after being lied to by Waldorf) tried Waldorf and found it didn’t “fit” for them. Ask the Waldorf grad if he kept in contact with friends who didn’t end up graduating. The answer is always the same… NO. “Individuals” don’t behave like that.

  37. Alan
    February 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I just wanted to make some observations based on some of the things I have read here.

    1. Some of the critics of Steiner Education say that first hand experience of the education and its value, whether as a parent or pupil in a school, doesn’t count as “evidence.” Why not?
    2. Some Steiner Schools are apparently not very good at PR
    3. Anthroposophy is denounced as “secretive” even though hundreds of Steiner’s written works are published in English and available on request from any good public library. They are also available to buy from Amazon as well as directly from the publishers. Practically everything Rudolf Steiner ever said or wrote is available either online or in books.
    4. Andy’s comments about Anthroposophy and occasional “quotes” are not supported by references to the original published material and so are impossible to validate by going back to the source (usually Steiner) and forming one’s own opinion. I personally like to test things out for myself and don’t like taking someone else’s word for it.
    5. There appears to be no real room for debate because conclusions are already drawn.
    6. The conversation appears to be irretrievably polarised (can you sense the emotion in some of the posts?) and I can’t help being reminded of the debates in the Middle Ages between the church and the “heretics.” I thought that modern people had grown beyond that but apparently not. That makes me incredibly sad quite frankly. Whatever happened to good will?

    • Andy Lewis
      February 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Alan

      My argument about Steiner Schools is simple: they do not disclose the nature of their schools to parents. Yes, much of Steiner’s work is published. But schools refuse to engage and say how his work influences their approach to teaching. Some of what they say is clearly misleading. That is why they are secretive.

      You ask for good will. I believe the full onus is on the schools to start being open about how Anthroposophy drives their schools. That would show good will.

    • Melanie Byng
      February 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Alan -

      yes, I agree – it’s often struck me that anthroposophists view ‘materialists’ (their term) as heretics who will not accept the True Church of anthroposophy. I’m sorry if this makes you sad, but as we are no longer in the medieval era there’s little risk of those who reject Higher Worlds being stretched on the rack or burnt at the stake. So, we can all rest easy.

      ‘Practically everything Rudolf Steiner ever said or wrote is available either online or in books.’

      A parent should not be obligated to read the entire rambling, contradictory oeuvre of a spiritual guru before placing their child in a school. The school should be honest and upfront from the very beginning, there’s absolutely no excuse for not being so. However – in my opinion – there’s little evidence Steiner Academies intend to be honest, in fact the Principal of the Steiner Academy Frome told such a whopper to the BBC that archangels wept. It’s all complicated by anthroposophy being esoteric – there’s no fun at all if everyone knows what’s actually going on.

      That’s why it can be useful to read something by a former Waldorf student and teacher who has been on the inside:

      “I was a member of the School of Spiritual Science — that is to say, I was included in the special category of Anthroposophists having access to higher occult truths that are withheld from regular members of the Anthroposophical Society. I participated in esoteric lessons, which is to say I participated in the secret cult of the School of Spiritual Science.’

      https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/he-went-to-waldorf

      No one wants to ban anthroposophy or to stop people from following Steiner’s ideas if that’s what they want to do. But we question what evidence the proponents of Steiner have to justify basing an entire school pedagogy on the insights of an esoteric religion.

  38. February 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    “1. Some of the critics of Steiner Education say that first hand experience of the education and its value, whether as a parent or pupil in a school, doesn’t count as “evidence.” Why not?”

    It counts as the evidence of one pupil or parent. Unlike hundreds of parents, students and teachers who have spoken with a common voice – that Waldorf causes harm. My blog is filled with evidence – not one or two parents – hundreds! Have a peek… http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/

  39. Alan
    February 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Andy,

    I agree that it might be useful for the schools to find a better way to explain how Rudolf Steiner’s work influences the curriculum and teaching methods in the school. Clearly they are not succeeding at the moment, as is evident from the various blogs. It is, however, no secret that it does. Otherwise why call the school a “Rudolf Steiner School” at all?

    Secondly, your characterisation of Anthroposophy is very interesting but it is so extreme (at least that is the way I read it) that I would like to know your sources so that I can read it for myself and form my own opinion. I realise that most prospective parents might not have the time to do this and are quite comfortable to take it on your authority but I am not. In the spirit of true scepticism, which I know you espouse, I want to read it for myself. So, can you please give me, and other interested parents, clear references that back up your characterisation?

    Melanie,

    What makes me sad is the lack of common ground and polarisation of the points of view expressed on this site. I was not characterising anyone as a “church” or a “cult” but just noticing that others were doing so and that no-one seems to be really listening. Listening is what I mean by good will I think. When things get polarised into, for example, “materialists” versus “anthroposophists” or the like then the end product is almost inevitably fear, anger and hatred which leads ultimately to fundamentalism in its many disguises, which is the scourge of modern times WHEREVER it originates. We are all imperfect human beings though are we not?

    Have you read any of the “rambling, contradictory oeuvre of a spiritual guru” that you refer to? Could you refer me to anything in that body of work that you would consider helpful for me to read that would justify your point of view? Apart from the link to the very interesting essay by Grégoire Perra that you kindly shared that is. I won’t comment on that now as I need more time to read it properly.

    Pete,

    I imagine that it takes a lot of courage for someone to come onto this blog and speak out about their positive personal experiences of Steiner Education. I am sure that there are hundreds more like that out there too if someone wanted to start a bog for them. It is not about numbers, it is about why. I want to know WHY people have one view or another view. If someone has a positive view I am interested. If it is negative I am also interested. Listening to everyone is the key to forming fruitful dialogue and a way forward.

    • Andy Lewis
      February 6, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Alan,

      Before we go on, it is good etiquette to declare any interest you may have in the subject. Would you care to do so?

      Next, you ask why call a school a “Rudolf Steiner School?” A good question. One I have been pursuing with the proposed Bristol Steiner Academy. Answers are not forthcoming.

      http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2013/01/steiner-academy-bristol-a-challenge-be-open-with-parents.html

      You then ask for the sources of Steiner’s works so that you can read for yourself, but in previous comments you appear to be well aware of the publications of his works. Which way do you want to play this?

    • Melanie Byng
      February 7, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Alan – cheer up – I’m sure our common ground is that we all want the best education for our children.

      You ask: ‘Have you read any of the “rambling, contradictory oeuvre of a spiritual guru” that you refer to? ‘

      Yes I have.

      ‘Could you refer me to anything in that body of work that you would consider helpful for me to read that would justify your point of view?’

      This is clearly just a game for you. Can you point me to anything in that body of work which would change it? Whatever you imagine my point of view is.

      ‘When things get polarised into, for example, “materialists” versus “anthroposophists” or the like then the end product is almost inevitably fear, anger and hatred which leads ultimately to fundamentalism in its many disguises, which is the scourge of modern times WHEREVER it originates. ‘

      Yes. Although I do believe it was the scourge of earlier times too. It’s best not to get too excite however; anthroposophists need not fear the lions.

  40. Alan
    February 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Andy,

    I am well aware, as you say, of how to access Steiner’s work. Any online search will provide that information. What I have asked you for is which of his works you have accessed and read in order to form the view that you have expressed so strongly on this blog. It is normal in academic circles to provide references for points of view such as this.

    I am aware that there are probably many people who are about to make judgements about Rudolf Steiner Schools based on what you have said about anthroposophy and other related matters. It is no game for them. They are deciding on the future education of their children. I think it is “good etiquette” as well as good practice, and empowering for your readers to give references for people to read for themselves. Otherwise you will be setting yourself up (inadvertently I am sure) to be the “authority” on the subject and people will have to trust you. This is not in keeping with the core message of your blog, unless I have misinterpreted you somewhere along the way.

    I don’t want to plough through hundreds of titles to try to find the parts you are talking about when you can give me the references and save me the bother. So, are you able to help me (and other parents) to read for themselves from the sources that you used to arrive at your statements above about anthroposophy? Or not? Over to you…. ☺

    The interest I have in this dialogue is to establish the truth. Like you, I want to “stick to the arguments” and leave personal interests out of it for the same reasons you do.
    I would be very happy to have a personal dialogue with you if you like, perhaps we might meet at one of your forthcoming talks for example.

    • Andy Lewis
      February 7, 2013 at 1:16 am

      I note you did not declare any interest. Before we go on, would you like to reconsider that?

      I will note that my posts do contain extensive links to sources. If you feel I have missed anything important, then please feel free to suggest specific references missed.

  41. February 7, 2013 at 12:15 am

    “I imagine that it takes a lot of courage for someone to come onto this blog and speak out about their positive personal experiences of Steiner Education.”

    Perhaps… but unlike how Waldorf people treat those who are critical of Waldorf education, nobody here is going to threaten them or their family if they say positive things about Waldorf.

    You *do* know that families are often threatened when they start complaining about Waldorf, don’t you? Again, my blog is filled with lots and lots of mentions of this. I myself had threats made toward my children by their TEACHER – because I dared speak out against their school. So please, spare me the talk about the “courage” of parents who declare they like Waldorf, it’s definitely *not* the same thing at all. Waldorf supporters are free to speak… Waldorf critics speak at their own risk… Ask Gregoire Perra.

  42. February 7, 2013 at 12:20 am

    “I don’t want to plough through hundreds of titles to try to find the parts you are talking about when you can give me the references and save me the bother.”

    Likewise, I’m sure Andy doesn’t feel compelled to provide a citation for every sentence in the article. If there are any issues Andy raises that you have questions about, please point them out. I’m more than happy to help Andy in providing citations to support what he said in the article. I’m sure others will too. Which statements are you suspicious about – or are having trouble attributing to Steiner?

  43. Melanie Byng
    February 7, 2013 at 11:54 am

    It’s understandable that parents may want some sources – regarding Steiner’s race doctrines, here is a comment from historian Peter Staudenmaier made after my post on on DC’s Improbable Science blog. (at that time I wrote as Thetis):

    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853#comment-8660

    There’s a complication for British parents. Peter Staudenmaier states:

    ‘Aside from anthroposophist statements, there is relatively little literature available in English on Steiner’s racial teachings. The best sources are in German.’

    Adding, later in his comment: ‘The task is not as easy as it is for German readers, however, since a number of English translations of Steiner’s published works have been surreptitiously cleansed of openly racist and antisemitic material. Among many others, four of Steiner’s major statements on race have never been published in English’.

    He provides a list of Steiner’s works which are available in English. The online library for Steiner’s work is here: http://www.rsarchive.org/

    Since writing this (in 2010) some of Peter Staudenmaier’s academic papers have become available to download here: http://marquette.academia.edu/PeterStaudenmaier

    I encourage anyone who would like to debate this material to raise questions or concerns on the Waldorf Critics list – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/

    For those with some German, historian Helmut Zander discusses his work here:

    http://www.srf.ch/player/tv/sternstunde-philosophie/video/sternstunde-philosophie-mysterium-anthroposophie–der-historiker-helmut-zander-im-gespraech-mit-norbert-bischofberger?id=cd417eb3-78a9-40c3-9342-21bde5e7a471

    http://www.ceres.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/en/personen/details/helmut-zander/

    • February 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      For some comments on the writings by Peter Staudenmaier, that Melanie suggests the readers of this blog to read as “information” about Rudolf Steiner’s views of “race” in different senses, and Peter Staudenmaier’s relation to the subject, see

      http://thebee.se/Staudenmaier

      http://waldorfanswers.org/ThreeConcepts.htm and

      http://thebee.se/comments/PS/OnPS2004Paper.html – some comments on the paper “Race and Redemption” by Staudenmaier.

      They show that Staudenmaier’s discussion of the subject, after his first untruthful demagoguery now 13 years ago, is based on superficial understanding of the subject, and that his argumentation purely is based on the word “race” and not on concepts.

      They also show his non-interest in actually understanding the subject he discusses, and a non-interest in the different meaning of the word in the different contexts in which Rudolf Steiner used them, of which only one of them refers to the word “race” as it is used today in an anthropological sense.

      The other two main senses are

      - humanity during the stages of the development of our present solar system, and

      - the human forms that developed from beginning to end of Cenozoic time, that is Tertiary and Quaternary time, that can be understood to be the time in the main referrred to in anthroposophy as “Atlantean time”.

      To understand what sense of “race” Rudolf Steiner actually was referring to when he used the word at different times, one needs to analyse the published transcripts, as he did not always make this clear explicitly in the lectures, and it has to be inferred from the context.

      As anthroposophy mainly has been approached from a humanistic perspective both by anthroposophists and others so far, only little has been developed in terms of understanding anthroposophy from a natural scientific perspective in the broad sense of the word so far.

      The two last mentioned papers are a small contribution to this. A discussion that mixes up comments that refer to the different meanings of the word, the way both Staudenmaier and anthroposophists often do is meaningless.

  44. February 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    “For some comments on the writings by Peter Staudenmaier”

    By whom? Someone equally qualified? Are you a PhD Sune? Are you an historian? No wait… you’re a paid disinformation spreader.

    “To understand what sense of “race” Rudolf Steiner actually was referring to when he used the word at different times, one needs to analyse the published transcripts, as he did not always make this clear explicitly in the lectures, and it has to be inferred from the context.”

    We KNOW the context Sune. Individuals are spirit beings that incarnate into multiple human forms throughout their existence. That’s the context. The additional context is that those human forms may be “ranked” in hierarchical fashion. This idea is repeated in Steiner dozens if not hundreds of times. It isn’t a misunderstanding Sune, it’s what Steiner ACTUALLY TAUGHT over and over again… and the notion is RACIST. Steiner was a racist Sune… the sooner you acknowledge it, the better understanding you will have of Anthroposophy’s relation to the world today.

    • Melanie Byng
      February 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Sune, when you say: ‘the way both Staudenmaier and anthroposophists often do’ it strikes me that your work is very much your own interpretation of Steiner’s ideas. Perhaps you’ve created your own vision of who Rudolf Steiner was, who you’d like him to be, just as the Richard III Society have created their own version of the (recently exhumed) Richard III. This situation isn’t without pathos. But we shouldn’t get too attached to historical figures.

    • February 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      You’re not quite right. Understanding Steiner takes more the reading Staudenmaier has engaged in. It takes conceptual analytical thinking. Without it, you get the word goulash produced by Staudenmaier.

    • Alan
      February 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Andy,

      I am sorry but I don’t understand what you mean by declare my interest. I thought my last paragraph covered that. Forgive me if I am being a bit slow here but would you mind explaining what you mean? Perhaps an example?

  45. Melanie Byng
    February 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    To continue from a previous comment – more generally I recommend parents read The Sun at Midnight, The Rudolf Steiner Movement and Gnosis in the West By Geoffrey Ahern, available here:

    http://www.jamesclarke.co/product_info.php?products_id=226

    website here: http://www.sun-at-midnight.com/index.page

    That they also look here: http://www.rsh.anth.org.uk/pages/tues_talks.html

    and here: http://www.rudolfsteinerpress.com/

    • Melanie Byng
      February 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Plus that parents reflect on the content of teacher training courses here: http://www.waldorftraining.org.uk/courses.html

      Here: http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/plymreadinglists/

      and here: http://www.westt.org.uk/testimonials.html

      Where it is very clear that anthroposophy forms the basis of Steiner Waldorf education. If you want to understand what will happen in your child’s education, you have to understand what anthroposophy is, and why it is there.

      A spokesperson for the proposed Steiner Academy Bristol suggested that they will be training their own teachers in-house. I suggest that if they intend to circumnavigate the anthroposophical basis of Steiner Waldorf education (unless they plan to throw a voile over it and hope no one notices it’s there) they should change the name of their proposed school and submit another bid.

      • February 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        You really do sound paranoid, Melanie.

        Rudolf Steiner schools are schools primarily based on Steiner’s thinking and philosophy the same way Montessori schools are based on the thinking and philosophy of Maria Montessori.

        That’s what the names of the Rudolf Steiner schools tell, at least to people who have some form or normal understanding of names of institutions.

        But his philosophy, anthroposophy, is not taught as such at the schools, and he explicitly stated as an injunction that is should not.

        http://waldorfanswers.org/Injunction.htm

        For some comments on what Gregoire Perra writes, whoi claims that it is, in spite of this, see

        http://thebee.se/comments/FrenchTeacher.html

        He’s overdoing his argumentation and does not seem to have understood the basis for what he has been teaching and have some perspective on it.

        The paranoia you are cultivating – and Peter Staudenmaier – is just that; paranoia.

        Probably all of Steiner’s lectures on Steiner Waldorf education are published on the net, for free access and download, at

        http://steinerbooks.org/research/archive.php#waldorf

        Anyone can read what he thought Steiner education should be, in addition to the 710 titles one can find at Amazon for simple search on “Waldorf education” – http://amzn.to/11QdK3h

        The first title listed – http://amzn.to/11QdK3h – Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash is very good.

        It’s written by the teacher of the children of the Swedish journalist Göran Rosenberg at the Waldorf school where he had them when he worked for Swedish TV in the US a number of years ago. In November last year, Göran Rosenberg was awarded the prestigious Swedish August Prize for his novel about his father: “A short stop on the wey from Auschwitz”.

        http://bit.ly/WTxuvW

        He had a release presentation of the book at the anthroposophical “Kulturhuset” in Järna some months ago.

        What you and Peter Staudenmaier cultivate is just little founded paranoia.

        Steiner Waldorf schools don’t cultivate and spread anti-Semitism.

        They are marked by among other things the way people of Jewish origin have contributed to its founding and development up to this day, and by the important role played by the history of Jews and Judaism in its curriculum, as part of understanding the history of humanity.

        And Steiner Waldorf pupils in Germany, that has the largest number of Waldorf schools world wide, are least right wing extremist and hostile to foreigners of all pupils in Germany accoding to independent research – http://bit.ly/b1vmln

        Relax, have a massage, and a beer, or some soothing tea if you prefer. There are far greater problems and dangers in the world to children, also with a Jewish background, than Steiner Waldorf schools.

        • February 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

          Sune Nordwall wrote about PhD Peter Staudenmaier: “Understanding Steiner takes more the reading Staudenmaier has engaged in.”

          Sune believes a PhD/historian/professor can study Steiner/Anthroposophy for decades but requires even more reading before understanding Steiner. But parents, well, they should be able to grasp enough from a couple of parent evenings… right?

          Sune wrote about former Waldorf teacher Gregoire Perra:
          “He’s overdoing his argumentation and does not seem to have understood the basis for what he has been teaching and have some perspective on it.”

          Sune believes even Waldorf teachers mis-understand Steiner. But parents should be able to look Steiner up on-line and get a good grasp of what is “THE BASIS” for what is being taught to their children.

          Notice the clever wording:
          “But his philosophy, anthroposophy, is not taught as such at the schools, and he explicitly stated as an injunction that is should not.”

          Sune is famous for creating strawman arguments (his straw-colored website should be a reminder if you visit). Critics don’t claim Anthroposophy is “taught” to the students, they claim, as Sune acknowledges above, that it forms the BASIS for all that is taught in Waldorf. It is the lens through which teachers view students. And that lens is a very racist lens because, and there’s no getting around it, Anthroposophy is a racist doctrine.

          “Steiner Waldorf schools don’t cultivate and spread anti-Semitism.”

          Yet, Waldorf schools today are indistinguishable from the Waldorf schools that claimed to be in complete alignment with the policies of Nazi Germany.

          Sune, nobody is going to relax and have a beer while Anthroposophists push racist ideas on our children.

        • February 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm

          “Anyone can read what he thought Steiner education should be, in addition to the 710 titles one can find at Amazon for simple search on “Waldorf education””

          Thanks. Can you please point us to GA349?

        • Melanie Byng
          February 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

          Sune – apparently all critics of your movement (especially female critics) have paranoia. Another woman who writes an intelligent and challenging blog is in your words a ‘former psychiatric patient’. And similar comments were made about the Norwegian author of ‘Det de ikke forteller oss – Steinerskolens okkulte grunnlag’ This book:
          http://www.cappelendamm.no/main/Katalog.aspx?f=10119&isbn=9788202318888

          About Gregoire Perra you state:

          ‘Some years ago, someone who worked as a Steiner Waldorf teacher in France hit the wall from caregiver burn-out in his work, collapsed and became allergic to everything connected with his former work. Since then, he has started to describe it from the perspective of more traditional education.’

          I don’t think I can add anything to that. We should let it stand for a while and marvel.

          yes – people should read as much as they can. Nor should they take my word for anything, they should read and consider for themselves. However a note about Jack Petrash, to quote Roger Rawlings:

          ‘When he was a child, Jack Petrash was taught “about the benefits of asbestos.” Later, of course, asbestos was identified as a carcinogen. On this basis, Petrash argues that schools should not place too much emphasis on teaching children facts. “This [e.g., society’s changed understanding of asbestos] is the obvious flaw in fact-based education. Whether we were taught about the solar system, the Soviet Union, or computers, much of what we had to learn in school is now outdated.” [Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Gryphon House, 2002), p. 26.]‘

          from: https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/today

          I’ve already discussed with you the research you link to, but I will repeat myself.

          The German study you mention examined a variety of settings, including non-Waldorf schools, and showed that schools with “the highest proportion of non-German students” had the highest rates of xenophobic attitudes – this finding held across all settings. Thus it’s the fact that there is an extraordinarily small percentage of ‘foreign’ students at German Waldorf schools, which are overwhelmingly white – in sharp contrast to public schools in Germany, that leads to the report’s statistic re Waldorf schools.

          The German report therefore produces no evidence, when controlling for other confounding factors, that Steiner Waldorf schools “are least hostile to foreigners and express least extremist right wing attitudes of all pupils in Germany.”

          You say: ‘There are far greater problems and dangers in the world to children, also with a Jewish background, than Steiner Waldorf schools.’ I absolutely agree, of course there are.

          I believe it would give you greater credibility if you were to admit that most of the sites you link to were written by yourself, admittedly under different names.

  46. February 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    “The first title listed – http://amzn.to/11QdK3h – Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash is very good. ”

    Jack Petrash is the guy who, after learning that asbestos is harmful, decided facts aren’t worth knowing. https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/today Why would you ask readers not to read Staudenmaier and then send readers to the site of such an obvious idiot Sune?

  47. Melanie Byng
    February 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Grégoire Perra has his own blog:

    http://gregoireperra.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/lendoctrinement-a-lanthroposophie-dans-les-ecoles-steiner-waldorf-lien-avec-le-site-de-lunadfi/

    And there is now a French Waldorf Critics site:
    https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfcriticsinfrance/home?pli=1

    Plus on German radio today: Resistance against state Waldorf School in Hamburg
    Criticism sparked by outdated pedagogical approach:
    http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/campus/2004639/

  48. February 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Melanie, you write:

    “it strikes me that your work is very much your own interpretation of Steiner’s ideas. Perhaps you’ve created your own vision of who Rudolf Steiner was, who you’d like him to be,”

    No. I’ve analysed his writings and lectures for long from a conceptual perspective.

    • February 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Sune wrote: “No. I’ve analysed his writings and lectures for long from a conceptual perspective.”

      If the conclusions you come up with aren’t supported by Steiner’s writings, then whose conclusions are they? They’re YOURS Sune.

      Apparently, nobody actually understands Steiner as well as you do (nor CAN they ever hope to), but how much time would you say parents and teachers (and historians) should spend trying to understand Steiner before sending their children to Waldorf (or even commenting about Waldorf)?

      I’m guessing by your previous comments that it must take YEARS of study for parents to understand what Steiner really meant. Maybe parents who need to understand Steiner should get started well before they’re even parents… maybe they should start while they’re still in school… OH, sorry, you’ve already thought of this…

  49. Alan
    February 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    May I point out that I seem to be observing a bunch of people who have already made up their minds fruitlessly bashing each other with their “truths?” It seems to be getting personal. I can see that this sort of “discussion” is no discussion at all.

    I have read some very interesting links though, including the ones to Staudenmaier and Perra. I had no idea this stuff was out there. As Staudenmaier (PhD!!!) has given his references to R Steiner in the proper way I have decided to read the books he refers to and make up my own mind.

    What would be really interesting to me, but I don’t expect it to ever happen, would be to meet everyone and have beer together, or go for a hike in the mountains for a week. I can see that behind all these posts and agendas are real people with stories to tell and all this arguing on a soulless computer screen is obscuring our common humanity behind a smokescreen of emotional rhetoric.

    • Melanie Byng
      February 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Alan – very glad you’ve discovered both Dr Staudenmaier and Gregoire Perra, there’s no substitute for making up your own mind. But do consider cutting down on the ecumenical tone-trolling.

  50. February 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    “What would be really interesting to me, but I don’t expect it to ever happen, would be to meet everyone and have beer together, or go for a hike in the mountains for a week.”

    Here’s another “beer” suggestion. What’s up with that? Does Anthroposophy look better to people after a few beers? Or is this new “What’s all the fuss about” attitude the next tactic for discussion – as authorized by Waldorf? Sune (the most aggressive/abusive Waldorf proponent on the net) asking people to chill out is just creepy.

    • February 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I think Steiner answers my “beer” question above: “You must not try to receive these insights in a sober-minded and intellectual way.” [STUFEN DER HOHEREN ERKENNISNIS, p. 66.]

      So maybe there’s something to Sune’s suggestion… maybe we all just need to drink until Steiner’s insights may be properly received. Maybe it doesn’t take 20 years of study… just 20 year old Scotch.

  51. arnold schwarzenegger
    March 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    If your had actually been to a Steiner school you d know that this is a load of bullshit so stop writing about them when you don’t know shit about how they actually work

    • March 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Arnold, aren’t you supposed to be promoting CHIME schools? Waldorf is your competition.

      Some of us here actually know how Waldorf schools work… and don’t work.

  52. annie
    March 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I went to a steiner school up until class 8 and then left to do my GCSE’s at a state school that received outstanding in every category in it latest ofstead report. I loved both schools but decided I wanted to do my A levels in a steiner school because you are given the freedom to be yourself instead of being just another child pushed to get results.

    • Melanie Byng
      March 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Arnold and Annie – with respect, do you believe your comments are good advertisements for Steiner education?

  53. arnold schwarzenegger
    March 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I’m sorry I swore that was stupid and I’m also not trying to advertise waldorf schools but I’m a student and have been for 8years and I justget really annoyed with people like this dude who completelslag off Steiner scho when they have had no experience firstly, in the morning we don’t jump over fires and I can guarantee other things he said are also not true. And iII also get annoyed anata people who are so easily persuaded by this who can’t prove any of thispeople like

  54. arnold schwarzenegger
    March 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Sorry my phone messed up I meant firstly instead of astlant

  55. March 17, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Arnold… What was said that requires proof for you?

  56. Prasenjit
    March 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Really confused here. I fail to understand what Andy Lewis means when he mentions to Alan about “declaring his interest”.

    I was trying to read through all of the debate and comprehend the philosophy of Steiner education systems.

    What intrigues me is that Andy consistently refuses to get into a debate and answer questions that Alan raises.

  57. March 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    “Really confused here. I fail to understand what Andy Lewis means when he mentions to Alan about “declaring his interest”.”

    Cousins to the gnomes are the trolls… and typically when Andy (or someone else) asks for someone to “declare their interest”, it means the poster appears to have a vested interest in Waldorf or Anthroposophy. Usually, we find out they are on the board of a Waldorf school, or married to a Waldorf teacher, or part of some Anthroposophical initiative… something like that.

    As it turns out, Alan went off to read up on the subject.

  58. Support Worker
    March 27, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I have worked as a support worker at a Steiner establishment for two years I have a degree in art and am also a child minder with years of experience working as an outreach worker. Student’s needs are met staff show concern about real issues and support creative ideas. Students are taught a multitude of crafts and lean the precision of tools. Drama and dance are used to help with expression and acting out real life situations. All students have music lessons and explore World music as well as modern song writing. Students learn to cook and experience working outdoors, building with green technology, rearing animals and growing food. Students use the internet and core skills are met. I realise in the past mistakes must have been made but that is all over the educational spectrum. I wish I had attended a Steiner school my teachers beat me from age 4 because I struggled reading it was horrendous, I was brilliant at drawing but that seemed to be unimportant. Art is a great way to learn, my feeling is if your child seems to require special attention it would be worth visiting a school to meet the staff and have a chat to make up your own mind. Staff train in diversity. Having experienced Steiner education as a worker my only concern is that the pay is poor. I honestly feel that Steiner must be an altogether modern educational setting that treats each person as an individual. It is a caring and inspiring environment. Students who attend the establishment where I work did not fit into State School some people don’t and it is important that the State consider this issue. Kind Regards

    • Andy Lewis
      March 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

      How would a Steiner School treat a child as an individual whose talents were in physics and mathematics? How would painting with watercolours (not black obviously) focus on this child as an individual?

      • Mickey Mouse
        March 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

        At my school in particular i know the maths and physics departments are very good indeed. I am currently taking maths A-level and find the course very helpful and well taught. Many people in my year passed their maths and physics CCSEs with far higher marks than they would have expected possible due to the high standard of education at our school. I personally am taking an A-level in Fine Art as well as maths which just goes to show that, since I am doing well in both the school offers quality education on a variety of subjects not just academic ones or artistic one, but both. Painting is an entertaining activity for children and helps to develop their imaginations and artistic skills.
        So in answer to your question, the school deals very well with maths and physics as you seem to doubt. There are several students at my school taking both subjects at AS level and at A2, and receivng excellent tuition in both as well as all other subjects such as languages and artistic subjects.

      • March 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        In my experience: a Steiner school can’t do that. Nor can a Steiner school assist an individual who desires to make progress in other areas… even basic things such as reading, writing, maths. They don’t adapt the curriculum for a child who is already reading when s/he starts school, for example. What’s left for such a child is to wither away in boredom. Unless s/he is also thrilled by flute playing, form drawing, eurythmy and wet-on-wet painting — in which case at least some interests are met.

        Whether an individual child’s needs are met depends on the child’s ability to adapt to the Steiner curriculum. The Steiner curriculum is not going to adapt to the child.

        • Mike
          March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

          Wrong. In my experience each child’s learning is tailored exactly to their abilities, strengths or weaknesses. This is one of the key features of Steiner education in fact; it is recognised that not all children learn well in the same ways and the education is altered for them individually.

          • March 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

            In my experience, and in the experience of many others I’ve been in contact with, this is not the case. So I echo what you said: wrong.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that if your personality and your gifts and abilities are more or less in line with what is expected according to the anthroposophical model of child development then you don’t crash head-on with the Steiner system. If, however, you’re not so lucky, you’ll run into problems.

            Steiner schools are not suited for all children, and there’s no reason to pretend they are. It would be better for Steiner schools to admit when Steiner education is unlikely to work.

            I’ve been reading quite a lot of books about Steiner education. You almost invriably get a lot of ‘truths’ about how children are, how they develop and what is appropriate at certain ages. Rarely any acknowledgements that these are not universal descriptions — some children are vastly different from the model described. I’ve asked Steiner folks, teachers, what they’d do if a child wants more intellectual challenges — the answer is: nothing; they say the Steiner curriculum provides these children, too, with what they need, no additions or alterations needed. Such responses, and reading Steiner education literature, only confirm my own experience: there is little in steiner educatione for the individual who didn’t fit the pre-conceived model.

          • Andy Lewis
            March 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

            Is that using the barmpot idea of child temperaments?

          • March 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

            By the way, are Mike/A Giraffe and Mickey Mouse the same person? Or am I talking to two people here?

          • Jonathan
            March 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm

            Child temperaments are not necessarily the only thing that defines different children. Just because you don’t agree with the idea of “temperaments” doesn’t mean you think all children are the same and learn in the same way do you? As mike said, different children have different strengths/weaknesses and benefit from varied teaching styles.

          • March 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

            Jonathan: that is the problem with the anthroposophical model – it is too restricted. It tells you how children are, and if a child is not like that — bummer!

            The temperaments is just one part of that. Another is the idea that children develop in 7 year cycles and that these cycles are associated with certain ways/manners of being, experiencing and learning. In quite a rigid way.

          • A Giraffe
            March 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

            Not to get technical or anything but people do “regenerate” roughly every 7 years since that is how long the most resilient cells in your body last before dying and being replaced; therefore every 7 years (or so) you are physically a “new person”! :)
            But seriously, I agree with Jonathan in general, the steiner system is reputed to be quite good at recognizing different children’s strengths, what model they use to do this is unfortunately not a subject i am very strong on, but from personal experience, it works well enough. Besides having varied teaching methods for different students is better than can be said for most schools where all students are treated the same and if it doesn’t help them, oh well. In this case, I would say that any kind of adapted teaching is better than none.

          • Andy Lewis
            March 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

            This seven year regeneration thing is of course nonsense on several levels.

            Firstly, cells in your body regenerate at different times with some, such as the intestine lining replace every few days, blood in weeks or so, bone in 30 years and brain cells – never.

            And secondly, Steiner thought of the seven year cycle as essentially a spiritual metamorphosis that corresponded with some elements of the bodies metamorphosis such as change of teeth.

            You should be very careful when trying to do post hoc justifications for spiritual beliefs with cherry picked science.

          • March 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

            A Giraffe/Mike/whoever: ‘the steiner system is reputed to be quite good at recognizing different children’s strengths’

            I know it’s ‘reputed’ to be this; this is standard Steiner school talk. It’s one of the reasons I’m objecting, because I don’t think people should believe this reputation is necessarily deserved. It’s basically something that Steiner proponents say. There’s nothing to back it up, except… their own claims that this is so.

            So my suggestion to parents is to read lots of Steiner education literature and imagine what might be the consequences if your child does not fit the model described.

            I have no idea what you mean with ‘varied teaching methods for different students’ — I have not seen anything to suggest they have this, neither in the literature, nor from my experience or from that of others. I have to conclude that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Perhaps you had a really great teacher who did adapt the teaching methods to individual students, but that’s not something she’s getting from Steiner literature.

            As for getting ‘technical’ — no, that’s not at all what the 7 year cycles signify in the anthroposophical view of man. You might want to check it out actually.

          • March 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

            ” In my experience each child’s learning is tailored exactly to their abilities, strengths or weaknesses. This is one of the key features of Steiner education in fact; it is recognised that not all children learn well in the same ways and the education is altered for them individually.”

            I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this comment. Nothing could be both further from the truth – and at the same time closer to Waldorf PR.

            I wonder if Mikey Mouse has read any of the teacher training materials about what Steiner thought about “individuality”… Steiner frowned on children behaving as individuals… and so do many Waldorf teachers (who are true to their training). Being an individual gets more children bounced out of Steiner schools than any other “problematic” behavior. Being an individual in a Steiner school means being a victim.

          • Michelle
            March 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm

            @Andy
            You are avoiding Mike/Giraffe’s main point just because of some joke about 7 year cycles. If that was meant as a serious point, apologies, but followed by a ” :D ” suggests that not to be the case… Anyway how about you stop picking on irrelevant details and answer the actual point he made.

        • zoe
          March 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm

          well the obvious answer is that not everyone goes to a steiner school, those who do and stay are perfectly happy with the way we are taught, with creativeity and academic skills. and the rest can attend schools where thier exams is everything and thats that.

          • March 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

            Well, I rest my case. This comment is so telling. Not only in its language, so to speak, but also in its prejudices against education outside of waldorf.

          • Isla Beebach
            March 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm

            Zoe (with a small z presumably)

            Capital W at the start of the first sentence.
            Steiner should have a capital S.
            The word is “creativity”.
            Their is spelled like this. Not i before e.
            “exams ARE everything”.
            You mean “that’s” as a truncation of “that is”.

          • Michelle
            March 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm

            You people make me sick. You pick on an individual for such petty frivolities to avoid confronting the argument head on and in doing so believe you are taking the high ground because you are suddenly in the right? Pathetic.

        • Mickey Mouse
          March 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm

          I believe your sources are misinformed.

          • March 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

            Mine? I went to a Steiner school myself, have read numerous books on Steiner education, discussed the topic with people over several years time now. I think I’m less likely to be misinformed than you are. Especially considering that you claim to be a 17 year old student, still in school, who appears to reject even obvious facts such as about the link between Steiner education and anthroposophy.

        • Mike
          March 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

          Yeah, sorry I wasn’t trying to justify Steiner’s 7 year theory, just drawing from something I read about some kind of cell taking 7 years to regenerate (not related in any way to Steiner) but it looks like i drew an incorrect conclusion and for that I apologize. My intention wasn’t to contradict anyone or fire up a discussion on the subject.

      • Andy Lewis
        March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        MM – How do you know you have done better because of your anthroposophical education in your Steiner School?

        • Mike
          March 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm

          I didn’t say I had done “better” then anything, but you seem to think Steiner schools offer nothing except painting; this is an incorrect assumption entirely.

  59. Terence
    March 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This article would be hilarious if it was not so god-damn misleading! Who wrote this crap?

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      March 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Terence
      March 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm
      This article would be hilarious if it was not so god-damn misleading! Who wrote this crap?

      Happy to give an exactly accurate answer: you did.

      • Michelle
        March 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm

        It was my understanding Andy Lewis wrote this crap…

        • Badly Shaved Monkey
          March 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm

          I said exactly.

          • Terence
            March 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

            Phew, well I am relieved we managed to sort that one out! Happy days!

          • Michelle
            March 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

            That makes no sense, unless Terence is Andy Lewis.

  60. Miša
    April 1, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I teach at a Waldorf school in the Czech Republic.

    I know that Steiner’s philosophy was potty. My colleagues do, too. They’re not fools. In fact, having taught in about a dozen “normal” schools I can vouch that my Waldorf staffroom provides the most intelligent, educated colleagues I have yet experienced. We are there because despite the rantings of anthroposophy our Waldorf school provides us with a platform to provide a better education than state-controlled schools allow.

    Christians do a lot of good. Nobody wants to close down their charitable institutions simply because the philosophy underpinning their philanthropy requires a belief in an egocentric omnipotent homophobe who runs the universe. We just let them carry on doing good.

    Waldorf schools deserve the same – and where they don’t do good, market forces will have the effect Darwin described.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      April 1, 2013 at 8:30 am

      We are there because despite the rantings of anthroposophy our Waldorf school provides us with a platform to provide a better education than state-controlled schools allow.

      Define steinerist education that excludes the rantings of anthroposophy. What are the crazy parts that you have excluded? Where is this systematic process documented and how is it monitored?

      • Miša
        April 2, 2013 at 6:25 am

        You seem to be conflating “Steinerist education” with “Steiner school”.

        One is an abstract concept which may or may not inspire action; the other is the reality experienced by students.

        The latter, in my albeit limited experience, is a place where teachers who believe in child-centred education gather together. Odd stuff like eurythmy happens, but it is seen as odd, a charming eccentricity like funny hats at Harrow.

        • Badly Shaved Monkey
          April 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

          Someone, somewhere is ensuring that the “odd stuff” happens in your school. Who is that?

          I ask repeatedly, but no one has answered, when did the systematic revision of steinerist education occur so that the worst aspects of Steiner’s beliefs were removed from the schools operating in his name?

          • Miša
            April 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm

            What makes you think it was systematic?

            There’s no Head Anthroposophist sitting in a Transylvanian castle stroking the spirit body of a cat!

          • Badly Shaved Monkey
            April 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

            I think you’re being disingenuous.

            If your defence is that there is no systematic management of the education offered by steinerist schools then you have just cut parents and children completely adrift and Steiner schools can just make things up as they go along.

        • Andy Lewis
          April 2, 2013 at 8:20 am

          Miša – My impression is that there are people who very much want people like you on the periphery to think like this.

          • Miša
            April 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm

            Who cares? The “people on the periphery” are no less than the people in the classroom. That is where the children’s learning experience occurs.

          • Andy Lewis
            April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm

            But happily going along with what the Steiner School says should be happening.

          • Miša
            April 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm

            Yes, I only ask a child to speak when their aura is glowing green.

    • April 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Misa, the extent to which parents can choose secular schools varies around the world and in many countries the choice you allude to (incorrectly)in your ‘Darwin’ comment does not exist. In the UK, for example, a large percentage of schools have a religious observance element in their daily structure and in Scotland I believe observance is a statutory duty. You say that ‘nobody wants to close down charitable institutions because…’ Well, that simply isn’t the case. A great many people believe that it would be better to replace the religious charities with secular charities; we do not want to see any religion, including Anthroposophy, promoted to our Children as either a specific or an accepted set of values. You seem to think that your decision to teach in an Anthroposophical school is OK because others teach in other religious schools but in both cases a set of values, in which tacit support for mysticism (racist mysticism in the case of Anthroposophy)is being inculcated to children as if those values are not harmful. Given the recent racial tensions in the Czech Republic, I would have thought you would be particularly sensitive to the undercurrents of bigotry than can pervade the social sphere unless they are openly addressed. For example, how many Romany teachers and pupils attend your school? I believe the non-white Czech population is about 5% – largely people of Vietnamese origin, is that represented in your school in the pupils and staff? Finally, Darwin did not describe market forces – I hope you are not teaching that to your students because, ‘social Darwinism’ leads to very dire consequences indeed – not unlike the consequences of Anthroposophy and its more potent cousin.

      • Miša
        April 2, 2013 at 6:33 am

        Are you entirely sure you are not being driven by some unfortunate childhood experience? Your desire to purge the world of non-Humanist elements seems disconcertingly strong.

        As regards the colour of the people in the school – I must admit, I’ve not looked. I’ll check it out. I tend to run discussion classes (English language) and what I can say is that the kids in the Waldorf school are the least racist Czechs I’ve yet encountered. It’s just not an issue there – whereas it’s very much an issue in the mainstream high school in which I also teach.

        • Andy Lewis
          April 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

          I am driven not by a “desire to purge the world of non-Humanist elements” but for public schools to be honest and open about what they are and what they do.

          • Miša
            April 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

            I suspect most school managers don’t actually know what they’re doing or why – so good luck in your quest.

    • Andy Lewis
      April 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Miša. If you think Steiner’s philosophy was potty, do you still teach a Steinerist curriculum? Eurythmy. Myths? Restricted art? Little real science, technology etc?

      • Miša
        April 2, 2013 at 6:45 am

        Hi Andy,

        Please see my reply to Badly Shaved Monkey (above).

        In addition, being largley funded by the Czech government, Waldorf schools here have to comply with the Czech curriculum, so you get a nice blend of obligatory academic study as required by the government, plus a piano in every classroom.

        I get the impression from the passion aroused in this and other blogs that some people have had appalling experiences in Steiner schools. This is no great surprise – schools are run by people and wherever you go, you get good people and you get bad people. An educational model can only ever increase or decrease the chances of a good education being provided – where people are concerned, there’s never any guarantee. Steiner schools provide a greater opportunity for a child-centred education to be provided, so child-centred teachers congregate there and deal with the historical eccentricities of the system with greater or lesser enthusiasm, just as more academically-motivated teachers might congregate at exam factories and deal, with greater or lesser enthusiasm, with other traditions, such as up-tight dress codes or the singing of hymns.

        No educational environment is perfect. As teachers, we just have to choose the environment which best enables us to deliver the type of education in which we most believe.

  61. April 3, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    “This is no great surprise – schools are run by people and wherever you go, you get good people and you get bad people.”

    Unfortunately, whenever those educators are bound by a religious or occult doctrine, you don’t get the kind of accountability you would expect from normal institutions. If these schools were run as a business, for example, they would get rid of problematic teachers who are ruining the reputation of these schools. But instead, these schools are run like religious cults and problematic teachers are moved around from school to school – often ending up in administrative positions or worse yet, teacher training positions. The most deaf-to-criticism of these are at the heads of Waldorf/Steiner school organizations like AWSNA and SWSF (or the other one with the same initials).

  62. adzcliff
    April 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Changing the subject ever so slightly: given that the Health Protection Agency regards Steiner schools as essentially unvaccinated communities, I’m more than a little worried about the two South Wales institutions in light of the recent measles epidemic. Have we heard anything from or about these schools, and any attempts they are or aren’t making in protecting the health and well-being of the children in their care?

  63. Sharon Bratley
    April 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Hello. I am currently writing an essay for my degree and am trying to find some academic journals regarding Steiner education and particularly detractors of it. Can’t seem to find anything. Can you help please?

  64. UnaM
    September 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for this informative post.

    My husband agreed to put his daughter through Steiner Waldorf education in 2002, because she was unhappy in mainstream school and he really felt it would be a good move for her, being a creative and intelligent girl.

    Just three years later she broke off all contact with my husband and he has heard nothing from her since in over seven years.

    We have never been able to understand why she did this. We believed the Steiner system extolled family values but we were wrong. She changed dramatically during her years at Steiner, at first becoming somebody we hardly recognised, then finally hardly more than a stranger. We tried to communicate our worries to the school many times, but were just fobbed off with clap-trap on every occasion. I don’t know what they were teaching her within those four walls (I have a better idea after reading this!), but it certainly wasn’t how to maintain a normal relationship with your family!

    I’m glad you’ve posted this information for others to read. It needs to be said and understood. What happened to my step-daughter was just sinister and I don’t think we’ll ever get to know the real truth. She exists in her Steiner bubble and as long as that lasts I believe we will never have the chance to rationally communicate with her. My husband is utterly broken-hearted and will forever regret the day he agreed to send his precious little girl to a Steiner school.

  65. I Speak Freely
    September 25, 2013 at 12:01 am

    So many aggressive anti-Waldorf comments. I would suggest reading the original Steiner. There is far, far more of interest than to refute. We need a differing world-view and forks in the road have been taken with certain interests in mind that are not for all personkind. Open thinking and finding the good where the good exists is where I’m currently at. It’s not in slander, but in creative thinking.

    • September 25, 2013 at 1:41 am

      “I would suggest reading the original Steiner.”

      Me too… be sure it’s in context though – you don’t want to read Steiner on a blog since most Anthros take Steiner’s words out of context to make them seem acceptable. Start here: http://digitalseance.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/faculty_meetings_1_2.pdf since this is required reading for all Waldorf teachers.

      Here are a couple of quotes from this book:

      ““It is not that the planets move around the Sun, but these three, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, follow the Sun, and these three, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, precede it.” (pp. 30-31)

      “For the seventh, eighth, and ninth grade independent religious instruction we could move into a freer form and give a theoretical explanation about such things as life before birth and after death. We could give them examples. We could show them how to look at the major cultural connections and about the mission of the human being on Earth. You need only look at Goethe and Jean Paul [i.e., Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, a German author] to see it. You can show everywhere that their capacities come from a life before birth.” (p. 184.)

      “The task of Anthroposophy is not simply to replace a false view of the world with a correct one…The task is to raise the spirit-soul into the realm of the spiritual, so that the human being is no longer a thinking and feeling automaton…The human being is…in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos.” (p. 115.)

      “The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul. The soul acquires nothing more than the possibility of clichés. Those who enthusiastically speak French transfer that to other languages. The French are also ruining what maintains their dead language, namely, their blood. The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe, but it works, in an even worse way, back on France. It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” (pp. 558-559)

      “With the students, we should at least try to…make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside.” (p. 607.)

      Dr. Steiner: “That little girl L.. in the first grade must have something very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [the highest element of one’s spiritual being]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the [1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.”

      A teacher: “How is that possible?”

      Dr. Steiner: “Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in…. They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences….

      “I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.

      “Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short time between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world.” (pp. 649-650.)

      I could keep going… and this is only one book of dozens like this that Waldorf teachers are required to read as part of their teacher training. It isn’t as if Steiner had some crazy ideas that were separate from his educational method… Steiner’s weird ideas ARE the education children receive in Waldorf.

  66. November 19, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I went to a Waldorf school and I can tell you that my first hand experience was not at all as depicted. I am not trying to go against you article (well written), but I would just like to give my opinion. I believe that Waldorf provides a nurturing enviroment for young children. Because I am very artistic, going to a Waldorf school was something I will always be thankful for. After grade 9 I switched and went to a boarding school. I was not deficient in any subject, rather I was ahead. Perhaps there used to be a thread of religious beliefs in the system; however, I can surely attest that it is very different today. I do not follow any religious beliefs myself. In fact science was one of my strongest subjects. I hope that if you are reading this and trying to make a decision of what school to send you child to or perhaps just forming an opinion, you look at both sides to the story. Thank you for the article!

    • November 22, 2013 at 2:44 am

      Lulu, my experience wasn’t at all as depicted either. It was MUCH worse than anything you’ve read here or on any blogs – guaranteed. The school I was involved with was a horrible school run by horribly dishonest people who put the school above the students. By far, most of the children left without getting anything resembling an education. Often, children were molested, abused, bullied – but most obviously depressed. As for achievement, one student I know of tried to take college chemistry and was literally laughed out of class – he didn’t have even a 5th grade level understanding of chemistry. Probably 20% of my son’s graduating class went on to college… yet the school boasts 98% of grads go on to “renowned” colleges. Waldorf schools all have one thing in common… dishonesty toward the public. That attitude was placed there by Steiner himself and has never left. They literally lie about everything – and that has been the common thread in every critical blog about Waldorf. Let’s be honest for once… Putting known liars in charge of other people’s children is just a dumb idea.

  67. November 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    After reading this article, what I wonder is having you actually visited a Steiner school and have you actually seen what it is like first hand? I have attended to many Steiner and state schools, so I can see both sides. Some of the negative things mentioned, such as the fire jumping is completely unrealistic, at a young age I participated in this, no one actually jumps over fire, it is hot coals and a great deal of ash, the ash is less than a ft wide and can easily be stepped over, children are never in any real danger, and are surrounded by lots of teachers and parents.
    In the four different Steiner schools I attended, over 70% of my year went on to further education. While almost all of them went on to good universities. As you would expect, art was a large part of the culture, and was introduced in to every lesson. Steiner schools in the UK were again very different from the ones on the continent. For example, I went on an exchange to France and Germany, the school in France looked more like a prison, frights would break out frequently and either the teachers didn’t notice or just didn’t care! Germany was a lot better, much more like how a Steiner school was intended to be like I guess. And the schools in America, some were truly terrible, so I have been told, while others improved after certain members of staff left.
    On the spiritual side of things, we were never forced to participate in any thing we or our parents weren’t comfortable with. And finally injections weren’t mandatory like they were at state schools, parents were fully informed about them, and told where the closes doctors’ surgery was. On premises medical support consisted of the bare every day minimum, I personally never encountered any hippy dippy herbal nonsense. My brother went to a state school, as was equally happy with his education, sure they were different, but that is what suited us as individuals.

    • November 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      “children are never in any real danger” – I’m guessing you mean – except for the ones who actually have caught on fire during this ridiculous ritual.

  68. Angele McKenzie-Smith
    November 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    From a Steiner Parent and Mainstream Professional Teacher of 40 years. Thank God for Democracy and the Secular State, warts and all, where we are free to draw our own sources, influences and conclusions for the decisions we have to make and are free to make our own mistakes. Andy Lewis has not been born yet and does not have due gratitude for this freedom. He should go and work in Saudi Arabia for a year or two. He obviously does not understand academic thinking and cannot exercise his mind beyond his own conditioning. The great Mother Teresa said ‘ You cannot love someone if you are judging them’. Has Andy Lewis really read and studied Steiner’s incredibly hard-working life and his painstakingly written huge volume of literature on his working beliefs? Can he really see no good in the man that writer Colin Wilson describes as ‘one of the greatest men of the twentieth century’.
    Bigoted thinkers such as Andy Lewis seize maniacally on a word like ‘esoteric’ or ‘occult’ and get carried away with the fairies.

    Our Steiner Waldorf experience was inspirational, warm, sensible and far-reaching in its imaginative, creative way of bringing the real world to children and enabling them to make sense of and have meaning for their place in it, beyond the vacancy of ghastly state values and mindless following of the big Pharmaceutical companies and Advertising agencies. Oh yes Mr. Steiner, you gave us something of great value indeed.

    • November 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Angele, In the interests of academic thinking you might like to read some critical analysis of what was Mother Theresa’s real agenda by reading Christopher Hitchen’s book on the subject – an outline can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9WQ0i3nCx60.

      • Angele McKenzie-Smith
        November 25, 2013 at 1:52 am

        Well Nick, a bit of a mis-nomer there. Anyone truly interested in an objective, reasoned approach to Mother Theresa’s Christ-centred work would not be homing in on such a sick, cynical and massively unbalanced perspective as shown in the video clip you have posted. As for the posh British lady on the videoclip who thinks that the 15 year old who shouldn’t be in the hospice of the dying but should jolly well ‘get a cab to the nearest hospital and DEMAND an operation’…..someone tell the lady this is downtown Calcutta, not Knightsbridge. Are these people for real? How can anyone really be that ignorant? This is euro-centric thinking at its worst and most arrogant. Lead me to the ‘unsubscribe’ button NOW.

        • November 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

          Hardly a Eurocentric view from Hitchens et al – they were pointing out that Mother Theresa was extremely wealthy. It’s a given that the wealth disparity in India is massive so it’s cheaper for a wealthy person to send someone to Hospital in a taxi in a poor country than in a wealthy country. For example, my dad was in hospital in 2010 and his income is only 1000 Baht per month – he went there and back by Taxi, paid for by other members of the family. But, unlike Mother Theresa’s organisation, me and my siblings have ordinary low (by European standards) incomes while MT’s bank accounts had hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal. I think it is you who is Eurocentric because you seem to have completely ignored the context of income disparity in Calcutta and the massive wealth of Mother Theresa.
          But perhaps you think Mother Theresa deserving and those who sought her help undeserving? Typical of the Anthroposophical value-system in which ‘souls’ are reincarnated in a ‘Karmic’ hierarchy. Are your values similar to the values inculcated at Steiner Schools? There’s no reason for the outside observer to think anything else.

    • November 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      ‘You cannot love someone if you are judging them’ – Judging Waldorf is a very important thing for parents to do. Loving Waldorf is not.

      • Angele McKenzie-Smith
        November 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        This kind of smart-arse, straight-from-what-I-had-for-breakfast remark from Pete K. above, is not only using words in a cheap and demeaning way, (why would you?) but dangerous and nasty in the way that he makes mis-connections completely out of context and deliberately misunderstands the point I was making which is, that in order to really independently assess something that we wish to critique (not judge….who has the authority to do that, eh?), it behoves us to look at it with an open heart… get it Pete?…otherwise we are not ‘seeing’ it clearly without a prejudiced agenda and we definitely won’t learn anything. I guess folk way back had trouble doing this with Beethoven’s music when it first appeared. Some people still don’t get it.

        • November 26, 2013 at 4:44 am

          “This kind of smart-arse, straight-from-what-I-had-for-breakfast remark from Pete K. above, is not only using words in a cheap and demeaning way”

          Sorry you feel that way. I’ll try to choose my words more carefully.

          ” in the way that he makes mis-connections completely out of context”

          Um… kinda like you with Mother Theresa?

          “and deliberately misunderstands the point I was making”

          I didn’t misunderstand your point. I just used it to make a better one.

          “which is, that in order to really independently assess something that we wish to critique (not judge….who has the authority to do that, eh?), it behoves us to look at it with an open heart… ”

          Yeah, I did that with Waldorf many years ago… Studied Anthroposophy in earnest for over 10 years. According to Steiner, that gives me the authority to judge Anthroposophy… and by extension – Waldorf. If Waldorf expects parents to judge it with an open heart, they should stop lying about what they teach and why. An open heart from Waldorf would be a prerequisite to demanding an open heart from the public.

  69. November 26, 2013 at 4:48 am

    “Can he really see no good in the man that writer Colin Wilson describes as ‘one of the greatest men of the twentieth century’.”

    Oh my… Colin Wilson… really! Well, that settles it! LMAO!

    • December 4, 2013 at 12:24 am

      I want to chime in a bit here with some things I’ve noticed.

      1. Steiner addressed much of his future critics in his work. I find it interesting to read the critics, and compare with what he said about how his words would be taken. In my opinion, Steiner wins every time.

      2.Steiner address many things that are not perceptible to ordinary senses. This may cause doubt for some, but I know for a fact that these non-physical senses exist.

      3. He held that anyone could develop these senses, not only a pridvedged few..though it takes hard work and a disposition that not everyone has (in this incarnation)

      4. Most of the genuine criticism I see of waldorf schools seems to only be traceable back to elements induced by people coming long after Steiner gave his original recommendations. For how much he talked about how Anthroposophy, and life itself is a Living thing, I think he would not be approving of the rigidified form that many people describe here.

      5. In understanding what I do of the influence of Ahriman, I can see for myself that human endeavors are totally being swayed by those forces. And ‘you can bet that they are affecting waldorf schools, and trying to pervert them in a way that makes them seem totally discreditable.

      6. When Steiner says something like “Many people today are not real human beings”..I have not doubt that this is true. And I rely on my own senses to tell me this. Not all people have the same endowment. And this endowment is not merely physical, but extends beyond that. It is creepy as fuck, I myself am concerned. And yes, it does sound crazy, but that is no indication that it isn’t reality. There are other sources that come to the same conclusion. Sense perceptible human (physical body) can be inhabited by a range of spiritual beings.

      7. Many of the critiques come from what Steiner would refer to as a Materialistic viewpoint. I find it interesting to imagine Steiner refuting the criticism. He was undoubtedly more profound and deep a thinker than any of his critics. It is no wonder that he arrived at conclusions about the world that are shocking to some.

      8. The proof is in the pudding. Such things like “not letting the child read till the change of teeth”.. well, how does that pan out? I see a potential truth in that. Before criticizing it, let people come forward and let us watch their life development over the course of the entire lifetime..not just the few years in childhood.

      9. For me, most of his criticism is refuted in his original works..he outlined so many things and foresaw how things would go, and even though many people would and did attack his proclamations, he did us a huge favor by downloading this current of information into the human world here. All in all, I think the world has been done a major favor by Steiner, even if all the complaints against him (though most are not against him, but against institutionalized applications of his ideas,..a decidedly ahrimanic activity)

      • December 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm

        Grunchy, you say –

        “6. When Steiner says something like “Many people today are not real human beings”..I have not doubt that this is true. And I rely on my own senses to tell me this.”

        Please give some examples of the categories of people or individuals you consider not to be real human beings. Do you agree with Steiner’s assessments?

      • December 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Quite Nick. For schools who like to call themselves ‘humanist’ it is amazing how readily they wish to deny the humanity of some people – usually those who disagree with their obnoxious dogma.

        • December 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

          They applied this “non-human” or more specifically “demon” label to my daughter. What monsters Waldorf “teachers” must be – to do that to a child? It changed my daughter… she started slicing her own skin and continued to harm herself. Why, why label a child like this? What kind of monsters do this to a little girl? Seriously, when I hear people like Grunchy talk about this behavior as if it’s a normal thing, I REALLY strengthens my determination to expose Waldorf and the harm these schools do to children – in the name of Steiner. I can’t help but look upon Waldorf students with a great sense of pity. The world will too someday as word gets out! http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-highland-hall-permits-bullying-and.html

        • December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

          On a topical note, Anthroposophy’s official position on Apartheid was to support it. So I assume, Grunchy, you will be pleased that Mandela is no longer a direct influence?

  70. December 4, 2013 at 2:07 am

    “1. Steiner addressed much of his future critics in his work. I find it interesting to read the critics, and compare with what he said about how his words would be taken. In my opinion, Steiner wins every time. ”

    You mean he actually knew people in the future would think he’s full of crap? What was he, clairvoyant?

    “2.Steiner address many things that are not perceptible to ordinary senses. This may cause doubt for some, but I know for a fact that these non-physical senses exist. ”

    What are “non-physical senses”? Is that like a sense of humor? Steiner said we have 12 senses… are those what you’re talking about… or some 13th sense? So, what exactly constitutes a “fact” to you? Anything Steiner said?

    “3. He held that anyone could develop these senses, not only a pridvedged few..though it takes hard work and a disposition that not everyone has (in this incarnation)”

    And he was completely wrong about this. But let’s test my theory. Do you know of anyone who has developed these senses? I know people who have followed Steiner for 40+ years… still nothing. Have you even encountered the Guardian of the Lesser Threshold yet? Has ANYONE EVER developed even one non-physical sense – whether a Steiner follower or not?

    “4. Most of the genuine criticism I see of waldorf schools seems to only be traceable back to elements induced by people coming long after Steiner gave his original recommendations.”

    That would be everyone on the planet now…

    ” For how much he talked about how Anthroposophy, and life itself is a Living thing, I think he would not be approving of the rigidified form that many people describe here.”

    Great. So, let’s stop pretending we’re doing Waldorf right…

    “5. In understanding what I do of the influence of Ahriman, I can see for myself that human endeavors are totally being swayed by those forces. And ‘you can bet that they are affecting waldorf schools, and trying to pervert them in a way that makes them seem totally discreditable.”

    Yes, Ahriman is very very bad. Even Waldorf can’t escape Ahriman’s stranglehold. I guess even Steiner didn’t see that coming… So, it’s Ahriman, not the Waldorf schools that should be discredited… got it!

    “6. When Steiner says something like “Many people today are not real human beings”..I have not doubt that this is true. ”

    Um… ya think?

    “And I rely on my own senses to tell me this. Not all people have the same endowment. And this endowment is not merely physical, but extends beyond that. It is creepy as fuck, I myself am concerned. And yes, it does sound crazy, but that is no indication that it isn’t reality. There are other sources that come to the same conclusion. Sense perceptible human (physical body) can be inhabited by a range of spiritual beings. ”

    Ah… body snatchers… Yes, I love this part of Steiner’s (and apparently your) delusions…

    “7. Many of the critiques come from what Steiner would refer to as a Materialistic viewpoint. I find it interesting to imagine Steiner refuting the criticism. He was undoubtedly more profound and deep a thinker than any of his critics. It is no wonder that he arrived at conclusions about the world that are shocking to some. ”

    Yes… “deep thinking” requires a superficial effort… like Steiner produced. He basically took a lot of ages-old baloney and blended it with a bunch of 19th century stereotypes to come up with Anthroposophy. He didn’t think deeply at all about this… that’s why he contradicted himself (famously) hundreds of times. He was no more than a charlatan. Arriving at a shocking (delusional) understanding of the world is in no way evidence of deep thinking… sorry.

    ” 8. The proof is in the pudding. Such things like “not letting the child read till the change of teeth”.. well, how does that pan out?”

    TERRIBLY! It’s a dumb idea.

    ” I see a potential truth in that.”

    Imagine my surprise…

    “Before criticizing it, let people come forward and let us watch their life development over the course of the entire lifetime..not just the few years in childhood. ”

    So, you can, with a straight face, connect reading readiness and the falling out of baby teeth… and expect people to look for a “potential truth” there? You know where you’re posting, right?

    “9. For me, most of his criticism is refuted in his original works..”

    Really? That’s where the criticism is coming from…

    “he outlined so many things and foresaw how things would go, and even though many people would and did attack his proclamations, he did us a huge favor by downloading this current of information into the human world here. All in all, I think the world has been done a major favor by Steiner, even if all the complaints against him (though most are not against him, but against institutionalized applications of his ideas,..a decidedly ahrimanic activity)”

    Why do you think this? Please, please name one thing that Steiner gave the world that was of any benefit? He didn’t produce a single thing that the world can be grateful for… Anthroposophists, yes… but the world… sorry… no! Anthroposophists are happy to point out the wonderful achievements by Steiner… but they are only “achievements” in the Anthroposophical world… nowhere else. Nobody (who is not an Anthroposophist) praises Steiner’s eurythmy, his art, his sculptures, his architecture, his science, his ethics, his poetry, his philosophy, his agriculture, his medicine… and so on.

    People entering Waldorf are led to believe Steiner was something special – and it sometimes works but only because they are around Waldorf teachers and admirers… (hey, check out the Wikipedia articles on him if you have any doubts). Steiner had one special ability… LYING!

    • December 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      I said “Steiner had one special ability… LYING!” I should have said, Steiner had one special ability… that he passed on to his followers… LYING!

      Also, regarding the above laundry list, item 9 “For me, most of his criticism is refuted in his original works…” It’s always fun to re-read Steiner’s original works. Today, on the Waldorf Critics list, a link was posted to one of Steiner’s original works… Gospel of John (Basle): Lecture VII on racial decadence… http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA100/English/LR1942/19071122p01.html in which Steiner charts human evolution (complete with a chart similar to the one depicted in this article). There is a passage I like that indicates what Steiner’s relationship to “facts” may have been:

      “Four chief races peopled the surface of the earth; they divided it among them: the white, yellow, red, and black races. But the atmosphere which surrounds the earth is one and undivided. This is referred to in John 19:23: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout”. The garments of Christ are the symbol for the surface of the earth; the coat, on the other hand, woven in one piece, symbolises the air which, undivided and Indivisible, surrounds the earth on all sides. Here, again, it must be emphasised that this symbol is also at the same time an historical fact.”

      It typifies what Steiner was doing… putting together his concocted, unrelated ideas until they formed “facts” in his mind. It demonstrates an elaborate but logically void scheme by Steiner to construct the world in a way in which he was able to avoid actually learning anything REAL. It worked for his entire life. He died a complete idiot!

  71. December 17, 2013 at 12:49 am

    These schools are for adults who want to reinforce their own egos and pretensions about education and its value for children who long ago became instinctively aware that education is bullshit and of little value, more of a trap for educators and children alike than anything progressive or helpful in becoming a better/smarter person.
    It’s the blanket Linus of Peanuts carried to his grave along with his lunchbox…Personally, I think a child will learn more and grow more emotionally and intellectually in a poorly run public school than in any private or different kind of learning environment. Schools have long been havens for witchcraft since they were first instituted by bored housewives and wayward couples… If a child survives and grows in life it is thanks to religion and G-d’s very real interest in all His children world wide.But all children are better off in Hebrew Schools, Shuls and synagogues.
    Lechaim, lechaim to life!

  72. December 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Plans for a new Steiner school in Uckfield, East Sussex, under the government’s free schools scheme. http://www.steineracademysussexweald.com/
    Thanks for this article – a lot of parents in this area are on a steep learning curve on this subject.

  73. Tui
    January 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Hi all, I’ve had a read through this article, and the commentary, and have a few comments I’d like to add.

    I’ll open by clearly stating my position, to keep the naysayers happy.

    My mother is a retired Steiner teacher, Anthropop and Christian Community congregant.

    I am an ex Steiner student (early homeschooling, and last 2 years of secondary), with 8 years of state education, most definitely NOT an anthropop, a confirmed member of the Christian Community Church, but now openly non-christian, openly apposed to organised religion, engineer, technologist, cynic and salesman.

    I have 4 sons, 1 of whom had a couple of years at a small Steiner school as a 8-9yo, 1 who had no Steiner schooling, 1 who has had 2 years of secondary, and the youngest who has been in Steiner schools since he started.

    Now for comments;

    Andy, you do yourself a disservice by trying to present your position as objective. You clearly have an agenda by the way you attempt to ridicule or minimise any apposing viewpoint or proponent of, while supporting people such as Peter, who is clearly running at the ragged edge of his emotional envelope. Why not just step up and state your real agenda? You’ll feel better, and your commentary would read much truer.

    Peter, clearly you had bad experiences, but in my personal evaluation, both as a student and as a parent, the parents that most loudly rail against any school, whether state or otherwise, should spend a little more time focusing on their own parenting. “The school turned my child into a ….” is often just a cop-out for absentee parenting. A strong home will win against a bad teacher every time in my experience. Any actual physical abuse falls outside this, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. The crank world view that Steiner schools are producing occult “Stepford children” shows that you’ve never looked past your own agenda. Sure, they tend to wear funny clothes, and don’t have a great fondness for “short back and side” haircuts. Sorry. I can happily run through my own graduating class to blow the “Stepford” argument out of the water, let alone the many other ex students I have regular contact with.

    For the rest of you, my more general comments;

    Steiner was a 19th century Austrian. Taking this into account, his evolutionary model and implicit racism are entirely in context. Anyone who takes his entire works verbatim without applying this filter is bound to come undone, whether pro or anti. The same applies to anyone. Tectonic plates weren’t accepted up until the 1970s, but now people would be looking for straight-jackets if you argued against them for too long.

    Steiner also lived in northern Europe, so again, his position on footwear and the energy drawn out through the earth is consistent with this. If he’d lived in NZ or other temperate climates, he probably would have had a different view. Again, those (in this case Steiner teachers and anthropops) who do not take this in to consideration are being disingenuous.

    Eurythmy is simply flaky, but harmlessly so. Really, if you want to get wound up about it, you should get out more.

    As for the argument that “schools should disclose their nature” (extrapolation) or “informed consent”, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I’ve never had any trouble getting answers to any of the questions I’ve asked, and certainly more easily than the state schools my boys have been to. What are you wanting? If the information you get isn’t satisfactory, then the onus is on you, not the school.

    Regarding the “funding” argument, that’s clearly flawed as well. “They” are not using “your” “money” to fund “my” schooling for “my” children. They’re using the tax the parents of the students have paid, that would have otherwise gone to fund schools they patently don’t want. “Your” money still goes to the school you chose to put your child in. Funding in the UK, Australia and NZ at least is applied “per student”. I’m not sure how government funding is applied in Europe or the US. Clearly most parents at the various schools (Steiner or otherwise) are quite happy with the level of disclosure they were provided. If you end up only with special interest schools in your area, and are without options you’d like, then clearly, you are the minority. That’s how it works, unless you want a totalitarian state? Given that Steiner families are probably well above the average income on average, hence tax, there would be a case to argue “their” money is funding “your” school.

    Andy, if your issue is with “misinformation” or full disclosure, maybe you’ve got bigger fish to fry? How about any political party around election time? Any new taxation policy? Any campaign to justify speed cameras?

    Regarding the comment about getting rid of “bad” teachers, this is an issue with all schools, and largely not of their doing. It is very difficult to fire teachers for performance-based issues, whether state or private. The (very) country state school I went to for many years collected some teachers that could not get jobs in other schools, or jobs in any other profession for that matter. Once in, there was almost no chance they were leaving though.

    As an avowed cynic, I’ve evaluated Steiner education against state, and private, both in retrospect with my education, and ongoing with my boys. On balance, for us, Steiner education wins by a large margin. We were always very aware that the Steiner schooling system might not work for all of our boys, and that the single teacher system does mean that sometimes the system may be fine, but that particular class may not. We have found that for our boys, the Steiner schools they have been to have helped build them into well-rounded, caring, intelligent, inquisitive and capable young men. The state schools have simply treated them as numbers. The most extreme case was a phonecall to complain that one of our boys had been very well behaved for the first two weeks of term, but had been troublesome for the most recent three weeks. He had been working with me for those two weeks, at the complete agreement of his year Dean, and had not bean near the school, or even in the same country.

    Yes, Steiner schools have a fairly high “churn rate”. Most of this is around the fact that many parents put their children through Steiner schools up until around Class 8, then put them into a state school for high school. This is largely triggered by the perception by parents that state education will set their children up better for university, or that their child will be prejudiced against by universities as a result of Steiner high school education. In practice, many universities are now quite the opposite, as Steiner students tend to perform well above the average. This is skewed by the fact that most Steiner students tend to be from white, middle-class families, a situation that is changing now though. In practice the Steiner high-school education probably presents a better opportunity for most students, as it is a general program, and doesn’t channel the students down a particular channel at a time when they really wouldn’t know their “A” from their elbow when it comes to career choices, and in a society that offers far less guarantee that they will have a lifetime “career” than in previous generations. From my experience, Steiner schools produce more scientists, lawyers and IT engineers per capita than state schools. An a massively lower rate of unemployment. For the complainant who mentioned the child that was good at maths or sciences, I’d suggest these are exactly the children that would benefit most, due to the broader program. For me, it was a life saver. At 15, I was well on my way to a career in black-market agriculture prior to joining my Steiner class.

    Yes there are some bad teachers in Steiner schools. In my experience, the state school I went to had many more. Most Steiner teachers are there because they believe in the Steiner system. Many state teachers, particularly in country schools, are there because they can’t be arsed doing anything else.

    As for the presentation of Steiner schools being some occult program to disenfranchise children from their parents or society, may I suggest spending more time reading about JFK’s assassination or lunar landings? Your skills are wasted here.

    Anyone that want to meet a cross section of alumni, I’m happy to arrange contact with the pros, the antis and the in-betweens. Given that most of my class-mates have their children in Steiner schools, I’d say they’ve clearly been “indoctrinated”, therefore don’t have a valid opinion, so probably a waste of time. Several of them are professors at various unis, so you may need to act quick to stop them recruiting to the dark side!

    Or to bottle all of this in to one sentence – lighten up for god’s sake (;-)). And that applies to the sandal wearers on both sides.

    • January 14, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      “Peter, clearly you had bad experiences, but in my personal evaluation, both as a student and as a parent, the parents that most loudly rail against any school, whether state or otherwise, should spend a little more time focusing on their own parenting. “The school turned my child into a ….” is often just a cop-out for absentee parenting.”

      Ah… couldn’t be the school’s fault… even when we hear the same thing from SO MANY parents… even when the school has an agenda… which is indeed to turn children into… (Anthroposophists). Must be those pesky parents (where have I heard this before?). The schools are fine, the parents are the problem. (Wasn’t it Steiner himself who said this?) In fact, why involve the parents at all… just keep them out of the loop. Why not do “secret” things – on the sly, with their children… that’s the ticket. Involve the children in “secret councils” where they can confess their sins to their teachers. Steiner himself said a child’s Waldorf teacher is more important than the parents to the child. Waldorf schools work actively to promote absentee parents… parents sometimes get in the way of the “instruction” the schools have in store for the children. In many cases, they isolate the receptive parent and work to extinguish the problematic parent – not just from the school, but from their children’s lives. I’ve been contacted by several dads who have had this happen to them.

      “The crank world view that Steiner schools are producing occult “Stepford children” shows that you’ve never looked past your own agenda. Sure, they tend to wear funny clothes, and don’t have a great fondness for “short back and side” haircuts. Sorry. I can happily run through my own graduating class to blow the “Stepford” argument out of the water, let alone the many other ex students I have regular contact with.”

      Seriously? You think it’s about appearance? You should put some effort into reading the actual arguments. The misunderstanding seems to be yours.

      “Eurythmy is simply flaky, but harmlessly so. Really, if you want to get wound up about it, you should get out more.”

      Um… hello? WHO is getting wound up about Eurythmy? Could it be the people who insist it is included in EVERY grade of EVERY Waldorf school on the planet… and that EVERY Waldorf student must perform it… no exceptions? If Waldorf people think Eurythmy is so great… they’re the ones who should get out more. Steiner, and Waldorf teachers, consider Eurythmy the spiritual embodiment of Anthroposophy… get it? It’s like praying put to motion.

      “As for the argument that “schools should disclose their nature” (extrapolation) or “informed consent”, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

      No worries. Read a LOT more about the subject… it will help. Stop trying to use your personal experiences as proof of global phenomenons.

      “If the information you get isn’t satisfactory, then the onus is on you, not the school.”

      Is the word FRAUD in the dictionary of the Waldorf school you come from?

      ” I’m not sure how government funding is applied in Europe or the US. ”

      Yes, that’s another topic you could learn more about. The schools LIE about their nature in order to get funding in Europe and the US. We don’t have public funding available for religious schools in the US… so any Steiner school that gets public funding in the US has had to lie in order to get it.

      “Clearly most parents at the various schools (Steiner or otherwise) are quite happy with the level of disclosure they were provided. ”

      That’s clearly not true… as evidenced by the HUGE rate of turnover in Steiner schools. MOST people who attend a Steiner school LEAVE long before graduation… So clearly something is driving parents out in groves. That you think non-disclosure of their agenda might not be part of this is comical. You even contradict yourself below (but won’t acknowledge this).

      “Yes, Steiner schools have a fairly high “churn rate”. Most of this is around the fact that many parents put their children through Steiner schools up until around Class 8, then put them into a state school for high school.”

      That is just not true. It’s an excuse… a really bad one. Really, you should get out more and query parents like I do. At my kids’ school, Highland Hall, the “churn rate” was 25% of students PER YEAR! That’s not class 8 graduation… sorry.

      “We have found that for our boys, the Steiner schools they have been to have helped build them into well-rounded, caring, intelligent, inquisitive and capable young men. The state schools have simply treated them as numbers.”

      In Steiner schools, children are considered spiritual (sometimes troubled) souls that are in the process of incarnating into human bodies with the guidance of their Waldorf teacher. I’d rather have my kid treated as a number, frankly!

      ” In practice, many universities are now quite the opposite, as Steiner students tend to perform well above the average.”

      Source please? Who told you this? Wikipedia?

      ” From my experience, Steiner schools produce more scientists, lawyers and IT engineers per capita than state schools.”

      I’m glad you qualified this… it simply isn’t true… not even close to being true.

      “Yes there are some bad teachers in Steiner schools. In my experience, the state school I went to had many more.”

      Sigh… yes, you had a unique experience. I’m happy for you.

      “Most Steiner teachers are there because they believe in the Steiner system.”

      That’s part of their qualifications. If they don’t believe in the Steiner system, the can’t (and shouldn’t) be Waldorf teachers. This is an important point however… as often teachers who behave badly are described as working “outside” the Steiner system. Oh, and the bad teachers are passed from Steiner school to Steiner school. That’s what the Steiner system is.

      “As for the presentation of Steiner schools being some occult program to disenfranchise children from their parents or society, may I suggest spending more time reading about JFK’s assassination or lunar landings? Your skills are wasted here.”

      I’m sure you’ve got the moon landings covered… I think I’ll stick to the stuff I know.

      “Given that most of my class-mates have their children in Steiner schools, I’d say they’ve clearly been “indoctrinated””

      I think this is a good sentence to end it on.

  74. Tui
    January 15, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Thanks Peter, you made my case beautifully. You and a few online “special people” make up a “global phenomenon”, but actual, real world (and this world), experience is irrelevant. I’m regularly in touch with just about every graduating student from my year, the year above, and the year below. Happy to put you in contact if you’re up for a real conversation, with humans. Or are they all irrelevant too? I bow to your obvious balance and wisdom on this. What are we on to next, vapor trails or HAARP?

  75. January 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    “Thanks Peter, you made my case beautifully. ”

    And you, mine.

    “You and a few online “special people” make up a “global phenomenon”, but actual, real world (and this world), experience is irrelevant. ”

    Really? You think I don’t have real world experience of Waldorf schools?

  76. Andrei
    January 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve been attending a Steiner school in the UK now for 7 years now, (I’m now 17). This is the first time I’ve heard about any of this spiritual nonsense. We have never been indoctrinated in any thing, the majority of people are atheists and most of the teachers I’ve spoken to don’t have a clue about what Steiner did or what his beliefs were. The Steiner system isn’t for everyone and its aim is not to give people good grades, but to develop people into free thinking, articulate individuals, which in the long run is far more important than owning a piece of paper with a letter on it. So many people I’ve spoken to all say the same thing, whenever they meet Steiner pupils they notice how well they can express their opinions and formulate their ideas. I was in the state system for four years until the age of nine and I felt so oppressed. I was labelled an idiot and sent to special classes for reading and writing. They didn’t take into account my age (I was a year younger than most of the class) and felt worthless. At the age of six my parents had to hire a maths tutor to help me with my homework, which I think is a disgrace and shouldn’t happen at any school at that age. My parents finally decided enough was enough and sent me to Steiner which we’d heard about from friends. The school gave me a chance to breathe and I’ve progressed hugely from being there. I’ve become more open and have learnt extra stuff, which I wouldn’t have learnt in the state sector, such as projective geometry and an insight into quantum physics. I’d go mad just working on my GCSEs which are highly limited.
    Overall the Steiner system has advantages and disadvantages. If you want your child to get all A*s in all subjects, then this is definitely not the place for you. However if you want your child to have a deeper insight into the world and not feel under constant pressure, than it’s perfect. I agree that a lot of Steiner’s beliefs sound mad and I truly believe he was insane, but I have only benefitted from his style of education. I’d also agree that the school is more suited to younger children aged 5-14. Steiner was a madman, but the legacy of his education does not at all reflect that. The only spiritual input we have is some story or biblical reading at assembly which happens only 3 times a year. The style of teaching does not reflect Steiner’s delusional beliefs.

  77. Andy Lewis
    January 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Andrei. In my experience it is common for pupils to have absolutely no idea about the educational system you are immersed in. That is the nature of Steiner education. It is not disclosed to you. It is an esoteric initiated belief system. You are not initiated, but you have been prepared for that initiation.

    One of the ways pupils are prepared is by distrust of the outside education world and an indoctrinated belief in the superiority of the Steiner approach. You are told that pupils “can express their opinions and formulate their ideas”. Projective geomoetry is Steiners occult mathematics. Everything you were taught was framed by Steiner’s curriculum. And you were constantly told you were benefiting from this.

  78. January 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    “The style of teaching does not reflect Steiner’s delusional beliefs.”

    Andrei, does it make sense to you that teachers in Waldorf teacher training are asked to focus on Steiner’s delusional beliefs for YEARS, only to abandon those beliefs when they become Waldorf teachers? Seriously?

    I thought Waldorf students were supposed to be good at “critical thinking”… What does your critical thinking tell you is going on here? Does it make more sense that teachers to train in Steiner’s ideas but don’t use them, or that they simply do what Steiner told them to do and tell the public that they don’t practice them while they DO?

    • Yannis
      January 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Pete. I’m currently undergoing Steiner education, and Just thought I’d point out that, actually, many Steiner school teachers don’t undertake any Waldorf training whatsoever. However, Waldorf teacher training is only indispensable for adults who wish to become a head of year to raise a class from year one all the way to year 8. So not “YEARS” and I guess then that previous, fatuous proclamation you made earlier, I must sadly announce was actually a misconception. Furthermore to your other point, If what I sad isn’t in the category of “critical thinking” then I don’t know what it.

      • Yannis
        January 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

        is

        • January 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm

          “Just thought I’d point out that, actually, many Steiner school teachers don’t undertake any Waldorf training whatsoever.”

          Well, no, not that many actually. It would certainly be better if they didn’t, of course, but sadly, Waldorf teachers are Waldorf trained. That’s what makes them Waldorf teachers. Uninitiated teachers may be at your school, but they typically have menial (to Waldorf) teaching positions. The sports teacher may not be Waldorf trained, or the after-school helpers… maybe a crafts teacher here and there… but the main teaching body will ALWAYS be Waldorf trained at the least and Anthroposophists in all likelihood.

      • Andy Lewis
        January 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        And of course, many teachers do not undertake any training whatsoever. Let’s leave that thought to sink in.

        As with all esoteric initiated organiations, there will be those further in and in the know and some on the periphery. Pete’s point is perfectly valid.

  79. February 6, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I am a parent of 3 children at a Steiner school. I am well aware of Steiner’s background, and yes anthroposophy has questionable tenets. But my children are being educated above all to question any such ideas. I believe that Steiner Waldorf is preferable to state schooling that would indoctrinate my children into capitalism the ‘job market’ or other worldviews without Steiner’s focus on questioning the validity of those systems. It is the fundamental principle of nurturing the child towards optimum individual and social agency that innoculates them against dependence on any doctrine including anthroposophy itself.

    • February 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      “I am a parent of 3 children at a Steiner school. I am well aware of Steiner’s background, and yes anthroposophy has questionable tenets. But my children are being educated above all to question any such ideas.”

      No they aren’t. Sorry. They are being prepared to ACCEPT Steiner’s ideas. That’s the whole point of Waldorf education. That you’ve missed this isn’t surprising – they go out of their way to hide it. Every once in a while they slip up, and a parent finds out the horrible things they teach. When they quietly taught Steiner’s racism to my child as if it was scientific fact, I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to find out. They have since DEFENDED this lesson (and all of Steiner’s teachings BTW). You think Waldorf is a place where children can ask questions freely? Seriously? Have you been to your child’s Waldorf classes? Or are you just repeating the nonsense they have convinced you of?

      ” I believe that Steiner Waldorf is preferable to state schooling that would indoctrinate my children into capitalism the ‘job market’ or other worldviews without Steiner’s focus on questioning the validity of those systems. ”

      Funny you use the word “indoctrinate”… it’s the very word we use to describe what Waldorf education does to students and their parents… indoctrination. Steiner NEVER questioned the validity of a system without presenting HIS alternative to that system. It’s not about questioning the world we live in – it’s about making it like Steiner wanted it to be. So Waldorf kids may question established science – but they will get the Steiner version of that science as the answer.

      ” It is the fundamental principle of nurturing the child towards optimum individual and social agency that innoculates them against dependence on any doctrine including anthroposophy itself.”

      And to you, Waldorf produces individuals? Seriously? Have you looked at the actual output of these schools? Waldorf students come out of a cookie-cutter. Put 10 kids in a room and you can spot the Waldorf kid a mile away. Why is that, I wonder… if they’re each individuals? They’ve had their spirit destroyed, their individuality diminished, and their thinking commandeered for so long, they are Stepford children.

      Are you actually paying attention to your child’s education – or just the hype around it? What leads you to believe the most occult educational system on the planet would be interested in producing free thinkers? If they stumbled onto a method that was likely to produce free-thinking individuals, they wouldn’t have to hide all their underpinnings would they? Seriously, you believe the path to individual thinking is through mythology taught as science, spirits, demons, occult ceremonies, candle-lighting and chanting? Is it a sign of “free thinking” to be able to believe stupid things… freely?

      • Billy Bell Ottewill
        May 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

        This a load of bullshit. I know hundreds of Waldorf kids, age 3 – 30 and none are anthroposophists. A tiny number are religious, but almost every single one of them is an atheist. “Mythology taught as science, spirits, demons, occult ceremonies”? I don’t know what Steiner school you went to, but in 14 years, I never experienced any of this. I mean, we jumped over a really small fire once a year, during a picnic in the sunshine…. Chanting? I’d call it poetry with spiritual connotations and content like, y’know, all the poems…. And just candle-lighting on its own is not really that threatening.

        I am ex-Steiner, Atheist and doing well at University, like all my classmates, who are studying degrees in, to name a few, Psychology, Evolutionary Biology, Biochemistry, History, PPE, Medicine (as in being a surgeon, not a homeopath) and of course a few arts degrees here and there. I also know people who have started construction companies, work as Chefs in Michelin restaurants and who are computer programmers. The diversity is impressive. Cookie cutter? I think not I was at University with three Steiner students for 6 months before I realised any of them were ex waldorf.
        I genuinely think that were Steiner an ancient religion or something, all the statements here would be considered racist. People have the right to believe what they want, right? There are always fundamentalists. But we would never attack and deride Muslims, because we are aware that their numbers are, by a vast majority, kind, loving, normal people, and a negligible percentage are violent fundamentalists. It suits us well to find bad examples of things we disagree with, but admitting you may be wrong is much harder

        I agree openness is required in the system, although I now know a great deal about it all and it wasn’t really hard to find out. But yes, it should be made openly available.

        Many of the statements here, criticising beliefs

        • Pete Karaiskos
          May 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

          “This a load of bullshit. I know hundreds of Waldorf kids, age 3 – 30 and none are anthroposophists.”

          This is an example of “proof” in Waldorf.

          “A tiny number are religious, but almost every single one of them is an atheist.”

          ” I don’t know what Steiner school you went to, but in 14 years, I never experienced any of this. I mean, we jumped over a really small fire once a year, during a picnic in the sunshine…. Chanting?”

          So you DID experience what you claim you didn’t. Nice to know.

          “I’d call it poetry with spiritual connotations and content like, y’know, all the poems…. And just candle-lighting on its own is not really that threatening.”

          Yes – Waldorf people call lots of things what they’re not. Finger slicing becomes “paper cuts” to Waldorf apologists. You DO understand that you grew up in an environment in which an event in where adults get young children to jump over a fire seems normal to you, right?

          ” People have the right to believe what they want, right? ”

          Don’t get me started on this one. When one group’s secret beliefs causes harm to others, then NO, they don’t get to believe whatever they want. Did the NAZIS have the right to believe in genocide?

          Waldorf schools HIDE their beliefs WHILE causing harm to children, so the people in these schools need to be exposed. You can’t say in one breath you don’t care for their dishonesty in promoting themselves and in the next breath declare that they have a right to do so.

          ” It suits us well to find bad examples of things we disagree with, but admitting you may be wrong is much harder”

          What do you say to those “bad examples” – the children who have suffered at the hands of well-meaning but extremely dishonest people trying to promote their ideas in whatever way they can? The “bad examples” are PEOPLE too. They are children who have been harmed by this system – which you acknowledge lies to parents. You need to learn a LOT more about Waldorf before you can know with certainty that you are wrong about this system. There is MUCH more harm being done than good.

          Waldorf has been waiting a long time for someone to set it straight. You seem to have good ideals. Why not work from within to fix what’s wrong with Waldorf instead of pretending that critics are cherry-picking Waldorf problems that don’t exist.

          “Many of the statements here, criticising beliefs”

          What’s wrong with that?

          • Billy Bell Ottewill
            May 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm

            For some reason, the end of my post is cut off. I forget what I was saying. Clearly Waldorf isn’t so good for the memory….

            I want to make it clear that I do agree with a great deal of what you say, but my point is that the evidence presented here is in the minority. This is what I meant by bad examples, not the children themselves.
            The more shocking cases (racist teachings etc.) are not in negligible numbers, I can see that after further research, although they are still in a minority. Once again, I draw the Islam comparison.

            I’ve gone deeper into personal research, as much of what I have read here has raised questions about the education system for me. I do now agree that it needs to be open about the Christian content in its philosophy, although I still completely disagree that Waldorf education is geared towards teaching Steiner’s beliefs, as all I ever experienced was teachers just applying his ideas about education, which I personally believe are good ones that operate independently of the spiritual beliefs they were born of; they do make a lot of sense when cut away, although I do understand how difficult this can be to see. Teachers in the Waldorf system are encouraged to interpret Steiner’s methods in their own way, sometimes with, believe me, fantastic results, but unfortunately, occasionally (I really do mean this, as the examples are many, but there are many steiner schools where these things never happen), with disasterous ones. I think it is unfair to criticise good teachers for using a methodology that was written by someone who also had some racist scientific (I use that word really, lightly) theories, which, fyi, the vast majority of Waldorf teachers disown. Surely we accept that it’s possible to subscribe to some theories and beliefs without subscribing to others, even if they do come from the same person.

            Where my questions start to be raised are in the regulation of certain content in Steiner’s teachings. At my school, the Bible was taught as stories, and then as a text of historical significance, along with the Qu’ran. I think you’ll agree that this is a good thing, as the context in which it is taught is non-religious. However, I worry that if the teachers are encouraged to be creative and tailor their lessons to their students, what’s to stop them teaching the Bible as history, genesis as science or even sharing Steiner’s controversial theories as fact? It’s clear that these things happen, so perhaps there isn’t anything to stop them, and that is concerning, even if it is quite rare.

            “Waldorf schools HIDE their beliefs WHILE causing harm to children, so the people in these schools need to be exposed.”

            This is quite debatable. I agree that they hide their beliefs, and I think this really needs to be addressed, and I hope Eugene Schwartz continues his work in making this accepted within the community. However, I don’t think that many of them damage the children as a few do. For every teacher who is preaching racist or overtly occult beliefs in the classroom, there are 1000 who aren’t. I just want to make it clear that it is not common practice in any steiner school I have ever head of, and I do believe I would know this, to preach Steiner’s spiritual philosophy. If they’re doing it subconciously, they’re doing an awful job of it, as no-one comes out of Waldorf schools an anthroposophist. This really is true. Show me some evidence that Waldorf school produce anthroposophists, and I will eat my words.

            I was referring to the fundamental idea of belief. The Nazis didn’t just believe something, they actively harmed people. Some Waldorf teachers may too, but it doesn’t mean that believing what they believe is wrong, only their actions are wrong.

            If you live in the UK, I recommend you go to see the jumping over the fire. It’s quite odd in theory, I agree, we all thought it was weird, I’ll give you that, but it’s just a tradition, very casual, really not ritualistic. It’s quite hard for me to convince you just by telling you, but it’s very easy to make it sound really dark and strange, it’s just really not in reality.

            “Waldorf people call lots of things what they’re not”? If you think I’m brainwashed, you will not believe this, but as I’m not a follower of Steiner, you can perhaps believe that my frame of reference on this is more detailed than yours. It’s all so harmless in reality, the verses, the candles. If the Waldorf community has some grand ulterior motive, it’s really, really not working.

            I am by no means pretending the problems don’t exist, and thank you for that respectful remark. Do I have the wrong end of the stick? You say I should fix the problems. Does this mean you see some positive traits in Steiner? I’m afraid I can’t work from within it as I am not within it any more.

            What I’m really defending and promoting here is just a kind of non-prejudiced look into the practises of Waldorf teachers, because 99% of them are really good teachers, and a good deal of the techniques, are non-spiritual, very effective and much, much better than the state system. I think there are many problems and questions in the system, but also that its progressive nature is successful and needs to be separated from spirituality, because it could be brilliant. I just recommend you look into it and ignore the spirituality, because it all works without it.

          • Andy Lewis
            May 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm

            Billy. A lot of the ‘weird things’ you remember at school are done precisely to normalise them in a child’s view. This is a core technique of indoctrination and what cults do to make their strange beliefs appear reasonable. I recommend you read Stephen Law’s “Believing Bullshit” which has a chapter on how this works for cults. The Steiner School does not teach you Anthroposophy directlt – but prepares you for it. I suggest you also read Gregoire Perra’s essay (which you can also find on this site). Such things as Eurythmy, delayed teaching, the constrained art, festivals, rituals, hymns, myths, etc are indeed odd out of context. But by immersing children in such things, the world of Anthroposophy is waiting for them.

          • May 13, 2014 at 1:21 am

            “This is quite debatable. I agree that they hide their beliefs, and I think this really needs to be addressed, and I hope Eugene Schwartz continues his work in making this accepted within the community. ”

            I’ve met Eugene – I even offered a room for him to stay in when he was lecturing in my area. I liked him at one time – but sadly, since he made the You-Tube video mocking parents who complain about bullying, I can see he is as bad as every other Waldorf teacher when it comes to completely missing the point.

            “For every teacher who is preaching racist or overtly occult beliefs in the classroom, there are 1000 who aren’t. I just want to make it clear that it is not common practice in any steiner school I have ever head of, and I do believe I would know this, to preach Steiner’s spiritual philosophy.”

            Billy, you just don’t understand the racist requirement in Steiner’s teachings – that’s why you don’t notice it in your teachers’ lessons. My son was the only one in his class who noticed the racism in the lesson that was being taught. I met with his school and guess what? They’re “all in” on the racism. They – AS A SCHOOL – agree with the lesson that was taught. They agree with Steiner’s racism. Here’s how it goes – and it’s very simple:

            1) Each “individual” is a spirit being – a soul.
            2) Each soul incarnates into different bodies throughout its experience on Earth.
            3) Each soul learns and has the opportunity to grow with each incarnation.
            4) As the soul grows, it incarnates into more perfect human forms.
            5) Those human forms can be ranked from less to more perfect. (See Steiner’s chart in the article above for an explanation of this hierarchy).
            6) Each human (or sub-human) form (race) has its special characteristics – Blacks are childlike – Whites are intelligent – and individuals within each race can advance or decline or influence their karma for future incarnations.

            To Anthroposophists, a person’s skin color is an indicator of their spiritual development. It doesn’t describe whether they are a good or bad person, but it is a meaningful marker to them nonetheless. When a Waldorf teacher has a non white child in their class, they interact with that child in a different way than they do with white children – per Steiner’s own instructions. It’s no different than the temperaments – and how Waldorf teachers are instructed to interact with cholerics differently than they interact with phlegmatics. Its in their training and their reading materials. If race wasn’t an important part of Waldorf teaching TODAY, it wouldn’t have remained in their teacher training materials all these years – especially after having received so much attention. You may not see the racism overtly, and may not even catch a lesson promoting racist ideas, but Steiner’s racist philosophy absolutely plays a large role in how Waldorf teachers look at their non-white students.

            I appreciate that you are looking closer at this topic Billy!

          • May 13, 2014 at 1:37 am

            “Does this mean you see some positive traits in Steiner?”

            I did at one time. You can probably tell, it wasn’t just a passing phase for me. But that time has long past. I see too much negative and too much dishonesty.

            What I will say, however, is that if Waldorf was honest with the public (let alone with itself) – and screen parents carefully to ensure they (school and parents) know exactly what they are getting before they sign up, Waldorf would do a lot better. Hiding their intentions (even though Steiner told them to do this) is what causes so much criticism. Most often, the kids and parents who get bullied by Waldorf are the ones who don’t fit in… not the ones who fit nicely within the system. Why not go to some effort to ensure that EVERYONE who is in a Waldorf school actually wants to be there.

            ” I’m afraid I can’t work from within it as I am not within it any more.”

            I suspect you have more influence than you know. Look at how many ex Waldorf students (and teachers) have become critics. Their work has been especially meaningful in these debates.

  80. Mr Grumpy
    March 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

    On the Bristol Steiner Academy facebook page, someone linked to this article but their post was removed for the following reason:

    “The post you have advised people to read does not do that (..join a good discussion..). He has been invited to Steiner academies so he can see for himself what it is really like, and the type of positive education it has to offer, but won’t visit, let alone engage in any debate.”

    I’m pretty sure there is quite a bit of debate on this page.
    They really do not like any sort of criticism and completely sidestep any of the negative issues

  81. Mr Grumpy
    March 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

    The entire thread seems to have been deleted.
    Clearly not as open and honest as they claim to be.

    • Andy Lewis
      March 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Yes, after you tipped me off that they were saying I was not interested in debate, I went there for a debate. I found the quackometer facebook was banned from commenting, so I used my private facebook account. I asked a few questions, mainly: ” what aspects of Steiner’s view on education have you abandoned and why?” The question was firmly not answered. I was accused of being a troll by a governor and then the thread was deleted.

      So much for debate.

  82. March 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    ” what aspects of Steiner’s view on education have you abandoned and why?” A good question Andy. Over the years that I have been looking at Anthroposophy I have often asked similar questions and they are very rarely answered at all but, if they are answered, the answer is usually entirely rhetorical so one is no closer to understanding what the Anthroposophists actually believe and no closer to knowing how they might behave when loyalties are tested. And because the social sphere of Anthroposophical apologists is so broad, encompassing elements of the media, local and national government and conservative/green politics there are a great many non-anthroposophists unwilling to join the debate. One of my concerns is that the cultural impetus of all things Steiner will be greatly enhanced by the growth of UKIP: on the one hand UKIP seems so different, on the surface, from Anthroposophy but on the other hand they are so similar that they can not fail to strengthen each others arguments on issues around localism, patriotism and sense of place – all aspects that reinforce more openly problematic groups like the EDL.

  83. EdPsychMummy
    March 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Recently, I have been looking in to schools in my local area for my child and upon reading the information provided in a local Steiner school’s prospectus, I must say I was totally spellbound! I believed that I had found the perfect provision for my beloved first child – an opportunity to give him a (real) childhood free from stress and performance-related anxiety. I am an Educational Psychologist and pride myself on being an intelligent and insightful person … after reading this article (and related articles on this site), I felt sick to my stomach, that I had actually fallen victim to the propaganda presented to me. When I re-read the prospectus with my critical eye, newly refreshed with information re: Anthroposophy, the information took on a whole new meaning. I was able to identify subtly embedded references to Anthroposophy and contextualise some of the teaching approaches which I had read about, I had naively previously thought of them as being cute if not a little eccentric – uh no! They are laced with occult, mystical weirdness which no children should be exposed to – , let alone paying someone to do them to your child!!

    My goodness, thank you, thank you, thank you for opening my eyes and saving my little dot from a childhood lost.

  84. March 19, 2014 at 2:03 am

    “When I re-read the prospectus with my critical eye, newly refreshed with information re: Anthroposophy, the information took on a whole new meaning.”

    You mean like this quote – from a pro-Waldorf article?

    “They were teaching them things, but in such a way that the kids didn’t even know they were learning.”

    The article is here:
    http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1006191/what-is-a-waldorf-preschool

    Don’t miss my comment which is posted below the article.

    Pro-Waldorf articles are very cheap information. If you can imagine how many parents have been duped by Waldorf teachers and administrators (as you almost were), you can probably well imagine how easily a reporter dropping in on a Waldorf school for an hour or two might be easily duped – (or should I say “spellbound”) into reporting what you, yourself thought you had initially discovered.

    Waldorf people are excellent liars. Kids can’t help but pick up on the fact that their teachers lie regularly – and this can cause tremendous internal conflict… or who knows… maybe they’re teaching kids to lie in a way that the kids don’t even know they are learning. Nothing good can come of putting children in such close proximity to dishonest people. Glad you escaped!

  85. Zeus
    March 22, 2014 at 4:55 am

    I am overwhelmed my the sheer lack of ignorance this article has presented. Steiner was a man of his time and presented themes which were (and still are) ahead of their time. It is clear that the person who wrote this article is still presiding in an era where all people supposedly think alike. Fortunately for the world today, not all people think alike and I’m VERY glad that parents are given greater choice over the kind of schooling that thy have sent their children. As a former Steiner students and a teacher who is currently studying Anthroposophy, I have found that it is all down to a matter of belief. The school in which I am currently studying does not hide the philosophy behind it’s practice and parents are free to ask questions and also attend the same course which I am attending. The majority of parents of Steiner students are like-minded and are free to the spiritual element of the philosophy. Many have described it as “coming home”. I have also heard of this “racial” element presiding over Steiner’s theories, but it is important to note that the times in which he lived were very different to now. The anthroposophy studies in this day and age is somewhat filtered and not all of Steiner’s perceptions/ideas are relevant, therefore not actually recognised. Ask any true anthophosophist of today’s day and age, and they will not believe in half the dogmatic idiologies that are prenated inte article above (such as gnomes).
    At the end of the day, some people believe in the Bible and actually think the world is only 10,000 years old and that the “Great Flood” with Noah actually wiped out the Dinosaurs!? Ironically, this is actually taught as FACT in many Christian schools around the world, where parents are happy to send thir children. Have a think. In light of some personally idiologies, you are happy to slam a fantastic education system that is mostly funded by governments all over Europe and has proven to enlighten and free children from real instituionalised thinking?
    My point is this. Until you have gone through the system, been a teacher, seen the other side of the coin and actually attended meetings with modern anthroposophists, can you really form a true judgement on the outcomes of Steiner education? Original Anyhroposophy is NOT taught or promoted in school (unless in the US- where some may), but the curriculum far supersedes the political ball-play of today’s mainstream schooling. At least children are put first and teachers are encouraged to continually develop as good human beings.

    • March 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Zeus – I am pleased you think my article displays a lack of ignorance.

      Perhaps you could answer a couple of questions for me:

      1) You say “Original Anyhroposophy is NOT taught or promoted in school.”

      Could you tell me which parts of Steiner’s Anthroposophical education you have now rejected and why?

      And a linked question.

      2) You say that the school you teach does not hide the philosophy behind it’s practice.

      Could you point me to your school web site that explains to prospective parents exactly what your school’s philosophy is and, for example, your answer to Q1 is given to parents?

      Or do you wait until parents are enrolled before initiating them into your belief system?

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      “The anthroposophy studies in this day and age is somewhat filtered and not all of Steiner’s perceptions/ideas are relevant, therefore not actually recognised.”

      I agree with Andy. I’d like to see a list of Steiner’s perceptions that are no longer recognized by Anthroposophists. We know, from several visitors here, that they still believe the racial elements of Steiner’s theories. They teach them to kids – not 100 years ago, but today. They still lie to parents, just like Steiner taught them to. Steiner’s science hasn’t changed (it’s ahead of its time after all). So what parts of Steiner’s “original” Anthroposophy have been abandoned by Anthroposophists today? Did you come here to be honest, or to promote Waldorf?

      “Ask any true anthophosophist of today’s day and age, and they will not believe in half the dogmatic idiologies that are prenated inte article above (such as gnomes).”

      Really? Can you name a single Waldorf school anywhere on the planet that doesn’t teach that gnomes are real?

    • March 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Whatever the degree of anthroposophy taught at our school the children nevertheless leave with an extremely open and questioning attitude. The anthroposophical doctor who attends my children’s development has always injected just the right amount of care and attention and the child progresses more freely and unencumbered. I contrast this with my own conventional schooling in which very little attention was paid to my development, I could either decide to fit in line or not. i don’t really care what model is used for interventions provided it puts the child’s development (and their development within a group) at centre and eases their progression.

      I was never seen as an individual differenced and unique, but our Steiner school each child is seen as whole, nonanalysable, and worthy of attention and education, held with reverence within a class of peers, and almost always flourishing. The class does not distribute along a dimension of achievement-leaders and coping-followers. Instead every child gets to be feted sometimes and nurtured to regain a foothold at other times. There is no ‘culture of excellence’, each is excels in his/er own way.

      The Christian culture of my own schooling was never made explicit, like anthroposophy it is a mythical system of reference. I take it like I take anthroposophy, my children attend church, they engage with Steiner’s ideas, and at ages of 6,9,11 they have learned that fairies and elves are real in the stories they inhabit, that Jesus is alive in their own souls, as the wood is real within the objects that they make. If we had signed up to a school that bases its world view on philosophy of science then ultimately I don’t think the outcome would be any different.

      The problem that faced me with accepting the state schools was that they had no abstract philosophical background other than inherent conservatism.

      The homeopathy at our school I take as just another process. I neither believe in it or not as if it were a form of science; it is a healing process of belief-placebo-therapy, and if it soothes anxiety and encourages inner strength, like a sugar pill and a kiss on the forehead, that’s fine by me.

      You touched however, on the fundamental: Steiner education is about de-institutionalising people’s development, making their education a true process of building the spirit, the intellect, skills. They are taught to break free from received wisdoms, to question boldly, and in so doing they come to see others, the human social world and the natural environment, as the true objects of their life’s path. A career, a job title, are not what they crave. Many leave our school already self-employed and avoiding the ‘career path’ mentality.

      i want my children to not be prepared for an industrial, hierarchical, institutionalised world, but to be whole people who have the strength to stand on their own and follow a path that their imagination finds for them, in the same way that I and a large proportion of fellow parents at our school follow our life paths confidently and with a high degree of self-efficacy. At a guess I would say that well over half the families at our school have a self-employed culture – does that give you a clue? The college of teachers approach rather than the head-teacher model, this contrast with the conventional centralised-hierarchical control and decision making structure is informed by anthroposophy. It resists the assumptions of civilisation that hierarchy is innate or necessary in a non human-scale society. Hierarchy is just another kind of mythology, a masculine-patriarchal belief system as opposed to a self-organising feminine principle that underlies all our other human relations.

      The three pillars of individual, social and environmental responsibility that Steiner espoused, these are illustrated by the mythology of anthroposophy as an improvement on the industrial-hierarchical and humanist social model assumed by the nation-state conservative culture around us. In our school every child is a sovereign being, that is what anthroposophy enables.

      • March 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        “Whatever the degree of anthroposophy taught at our school the children nevertheless leave with an extremely open and questioning attitude.”

        Sure they do… Because the answer to their questions, so far, has been “Because the angels made it that way”?

        “The anthroposophical doctor who attends my children’s development has always injected just the right amount of care and attention and the child progresses more freely and unencumbered.”

        Maybe the doctor should consider injecting something along the lines of IMMUNIZATIONS…

        “I contrast this with my own conventional schooling in which very little attention was paid to my development, I could either decide to fit in line or not.”

        At Waldorf, kids can fit in, or leave.

        ” i don’t really care what model is used for interventions provided it puts the child’s development (and their development within a group) at centre and eases their progression.”

        This isn’t Waldorf… sorry. The SCHOOL and the TEACHER is at the center of Waldorf education… the child is not!

        “There is no ‘culture of excellence’,”

        Boy, you can say that again!

        “The homeopathy at our school I take as just another process. I neither believe in it or not as if it were a form of science; it is a healing process of belief-placebo-therapy, and if it soothes anxiety and encourages inner strength, like a sugar pill and a kiss on the forehead, that’s fine by me”

        So, the strength of your children’s education must be based on homeopathic principles too. No actual substance, not one molecule of fact… just endless explanations about why learning actual facts is harmful to the soul.

        “You touched however, on the fundamental: Steiner education is about de-institutionalising people’s development, making their education a true process of building the spirit, the intellect, skills. They are taught to break free from received wisdoms, to question boldly, and in so doing they come to see others, the human social world and the natural environment, as the true objects of their life’s path. ”

        So, you haven’t noticed that Anthroposophists are social outcasts? Seriously? There are Anthroposophists who spend days, weeks, months – without contacting anyone who isn’t an Anthroposophist. They rarely hire an outsider if an Anthroposophist is available.

        “A career, a job title, are not what they crave. Many leave our school already self-employed and avoiding the ‘career path’ mentality.”

        Yes, I noticed in the news, the Waldorf Circus is coming to town. A career as a juggler or clown, actor, chef, farmer or Waldorf teacher might sound wonderful to you. Some people prefer to actually continue learning beyond school. That’s what a career path provides.

        “i want my children to not be prepared for an industrial, hierarchical, institutionalised world, but to be whole people who have the strength to stand on their own and follow a path that their imagination finds for them, in the same way that I and a large proportion of fellow parents at our school follow our life paths confidently and with a high degree of self-efficacy.”

        What happens if your child wants an industrial career? That choice is taken away with a Waldorf education! Your child simply won’t have the educational foundation and would have a ton of catching up to do in order to fulfill his/her career goal. In this case, your personal views (or are they Steiner’s?) have set the child back. Will you happily accept an industrial career path for your child? It’s Ahrimanic, after all. That is what Anthroposophy enables… taking choice away from children – in the name of Steiner’s bright ideas.

        “At a guess I would say that well over half the families at our school have a self-employed culture – does that give you a clue?”

        I’ve been self-employed my whole life. Never went to Waldorf. Imagine that?

        “In our school every child is a sovereign being, that is what anthroposophy enables.”

        You are sadly mistaken here – and really, nothing could be further from the truth. Waldorf students don’t have anywhere near the career choices non-Waldorf students have. How could they, with such a limited education?

  86. Christine
    April 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm
  87. Christine
    April 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UpMs6oET7I#t=137

    Sorry meant to add this link …

    • April 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      I loved the final comment in the video… that you “get something that’s not part of a normal education”. Gee… Ya think!

      Why would anyone trust statistics that are coming from known LIARS? Waldorf can’t lie to the public 99% of the time, and expect the public to believe statistics about graduate success rates without actual numbers to support them. They have absolutely no credibility with the general public – so it’s up to them to provide proof for the 90% claims they are making. Otherwise, statements like these likely to be taken for what they really are – more dishonesty from the Waldorf movement.

  88. John Berger
    April 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Poor Pete! Such hatred, such rampant paranoia! Have you no life apart from panting at the thought of ranting blogs? I am no shrink, but pretty sure you can get treatment for it – especially in the US.

    Neither I nor any of my (now adult) children have been to a Steiner school, but know people who have. All seem fairly normal to me: articulate, relatively happy, well educated and responsible citizens of planet Earth. I hated of my early schooling and wished I could have experienced something resembling care; paid my tuition fees in the school of life instead. Only reading this (mostly hot wind) concerned for my granddaughter’s education.

    Cheer up Pete – all this angst may cause you real harm!

    • April 17, 2014 at 1:28 am

      “Neither I nor any of my (now adult) children have been to a Steiner school”

      So you’re just talking out of your ass and taking pot-shots at me while supporting a school system you don’t understand… one that, by the way, harms children on a daily basis. I think the source of the hot wind you’ve noticed is obviously closer to you than it is to me.

      Waldorf schools are coming under the spotlight in the news lately – for non-vaccinations, for bullying, for poor academics, for pedophiles in their ranks, and for outright fraud. I’m happy to have played a part in the recent, well-deserved scrutiny they are receiving. Your angry words serve as encouragement. Thanks!

    • April 17, 2014 at 1:45 am

      I wrote: “Waldorf schools are coming under the spotlight in the news lately ”
      Here’s one that’s under the spotlight TODAY!

      http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/scotland/private-school-child-care-probed-1.322856

      [quote]A Care Inspectorate spokesman said: “We have received complaints around staffing and the care of children at the Aberdeen Waldorf School Kindergarten.

      “We are currently investigating these issues and the outcome of our investigation will be published in due course.

      “Because concerns have been raised about the school as well as the nursery, we are also carrying out a focused joint inspection with colleagues from Education Scotland over the next few days.

      “Our first priority must always be the safety and well-being of children. Anyone with concerns can contact our helpline on 0845 600 9527.”[/quote]

  89. isabel lyckholm
    April 28, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Hi all. Well all this has been very interesting reading. Everybody has valid points weather it be negative or positive. I can only recount our own experience as a Steiner family and that it will touch or prick a conscious maybe of some or one individual.

    We have one daughter who is now 12. She attended a normal primary school for the first 2 years aged 5-7 while on awaiting list for the local steiner school. We attended the special character talk and felt that this would suit our child’s needs.

    As we waited our child was happy, learning and had a great teacher. Towards the end of these 2 years bullying started and children with severe problems started surfacing. Our daughter began learning the rules of protecting herself but becoming totally unable to cope. We felt it necessary for the move to happen. It did.

    The first year at steiner helped to unlearn the protection she had gone into and our child returned. It became very nurturing and I found myself being involved as my husband and I had already taken the decision I would be a home mum. E was continuing to learn and the teacher approached the academic subjects in a way that was not stressful and more in accordance to our child’s speed of learning.

    This peace continued until she was 10.

    Now, I am not an expert in child development but I am aware that her need to learn changed at this point. Disagreeable behaviour started to exhibit its self, this was mainly directed at the eurymie and craft teachers. I went, I talked and was told you are the parent ,you stand on the outside we will fix. I dealt with it at home and felt it was also important for my daughter to learn to adjust her behaviour. This lasted for a short time. In the end I made an appointment with said teachers and kindly told then how to deal and teach her.

    This problem fixed peace continued until she was 11.

    A math book and projects started coming home as her new teacher decided it was time homework began. Great contact with this person created a good all round home/ school relationship but the learning still suffered. The math book was designed as backup at home, so I thought. But having read it and worked out what level she should have been on I got a tremendous shock.

    At this point I stopped getting involved with the school and realized that it was up to my husband and I to teach her the basics. We spent 18 months bringing her up to where she needed to be. While this was happening the clashing with many more teachers really started.

    Explosion point happened. The craft teacher went to far with her vindictive behaviour causing fear in E, the circumstances I don’t need to elaborate! A telephone call with the principle followed with the assurance of remediation. I waited. 5 days later I called again. A meeting was set up with teacher, family and principle.
    Principle scared, teacher still vindictive, child terrified and parents confused and mildly irritated.

    Now to round of a good story, we moved E to a normal state primary school for her final year. Within 3 weeks she was in the top maths and English group, incredibly happy,enthused and loving the structure, order,discipline and normality. Me included.

    I could end here but I feel it is also important that certain issues be known. A lot of this we found out after we left.
    The teacher with a good home work ethic had 7 special needs children in this class. He was assigned no special needs or teacher aides. He left.
    The vindictive craft teacher is past retirement and has had several run ins with other families and children. We were assured by the principle that this had never happened before.
    Many children have been pulled out because they are not learning anything.
    The teacher for the 7 and 8 year olds is trained in high school horticulture and does not know how to teach reading. The parents don’t know.
    A festival in the kindergarten held at the end of term for families to attend saw them all locked out until it was over.
    Over half of my daughters class will have left by the end of primary. This has happened in other classes also.

    I wonder how the high school functions!

  90. Miss P
    May 10, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Brilliant, finally a good summary of anthroposophy. It is just what I am looking for, fits my own ideas perfectly!
    Thanks, that saved me reading through all those lectures and books although now I am pretty keen to track some down and start a reading group actually.
    Personally I think the church is bonkers and a lot of schools are C of E which is a serious worry.
    Anyway, each to their own, all for our own karma and soul journey.
    Love and Light !
    Miss P

    • May 10, 2014 at 12:31 am

      The article is not a very good summary. See http://thebee.se/Myths/ why.

      • May 10, 2014 at 1:11 am

        “The article is not a very good summary.”

        Sune means, it doesn’t look very good for Waldorf.

        Sune, the paid Waldorf apologist has fabricated his own myths about Waldorf education – which he can easily dispel. In fact, he’s never lost a straw man argument. On that basis alone, I recommend visiting his website.

  91. May 10, 2014 at 1:06 am

    “The article is not a very good summary.”

    Andy’s article is an excellent summary of Waldorf education. However, Sune, the paid Waldorf apologist, has fabricated his very own myths about Waldorf education which he would like to dispel. Sune has never lost a straw man argument – so on that basis alone, I highly recommend his website.

  92. May 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    “If you can’t beat them, join (recommend) them …”?-)

    Short correction on me: From appr 2008 to the end of 2011, at my own suggestion, I worked (half time) for the Swedish Federation of Waldorf schools purely as reporter about what was published in the media, mainly in Sweden, but also abroad, about or related to Steiner ed. At no time have I written anything on behalf of the Federation, neither in any Swedish media nor on the net. Before, during and after the period I have commented on the subject, purely based on my own interest and research for now 40 years, and participated in the building of http://waldorfanswers.org

    For a description of Andy’s part in a defamatory and libelous BBC-film on Steiner education some years ago, see http://thebee.se/BBC that describes the origin and unjustified core of his anti Steiner crusade.

    • May 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      ““If you can’t beat them, join (recommend) them …”?-)”

      Yes – I’ve learned that recommending your website is just as effective as criticizing it. People who look at it can certainly come to their own conclusions… and by far, they RUN.

      “Short correction on me: From appr 2008 to the end of 2011, at my own suggestion, I worked (half time) for the Swedish Federation of Waldorf schools purely as reporter about what was published in the media, mainly in Sweden, but also abroad, about or related to Steiner ed. At no time have I written anything on behalf of the Federation, neither in any Swedish media nor on the net. ”

      That’s plainly a lie Sune – and it has been dispelled here several times. Is Percy Bratt your personal lawyer? You threatened Mumsnet by mentioning his name? If he isn’t your personal lawyer, on what basis did you threaten Mumsnet with a lawsuit through Percy Bratt? If you weren’t representing the SFWS, why did you mention their lawyer?

      You’re just lying through your teeth about this – just like everything else. It’s obvious to anyone who will bother to find out.

      • May 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        Hey Sune, aren’t you going to answer my question about Percy Bratt? Will you answer another question that has been posed to you many times – why do you pretend to be someone else when you are representing SWSF – i.e. a mother with children? Is lying part of representing them? Is that what you were paid to do? Lie about Waldorf and invent positive Waldorf experiences?

        I just want to point out that once again, Sune Nordwall has popped onto this blog to lie through his teeth – and then run away. Readers should check to see how many times this has happened. The man can’t defend his own actions. It’s pitiful to watch. When the truth comes out to play – Sune Nordwall runs away!

        • May 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

          I see, now that Sune is back, he will certainly want to answer this question. I’ll post it again:

          “Is Percy Bratt your personal lawyer? You threatened Mumsnet by mentioning his name? If he isn’t your personal lawyer, on what basis did you threaten Mumsnet with a lawsuit through Percy Bratt? If you weren’t representing the SFWS, why did you mention their lawyer?”

          Why aren’t you willing to answer this question Sune? Has Percy Bratt ever even heard of you? Does he know you are using his name to shut down websites? Do you think he might get angry if he found out? Is that why you keep avoiding this question? Shouldn’t somebody contact Percy Bratt to see if he is aware of you using his name in this way?

  93. May 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Just to let everyone know, the BBC has replied to my complaint about the Radio 4 Food Programme and their positive coverage of Camphill. http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-bbcs-enchantment-with-woo/ the Botton Community is clearly Anthroposophical http://www.cvt.org.uk/botton-village.html

  94. Sally
    May 16, 2014 at 1:38 am

    I do not see how anyone can be misinformed by Steiner schools. All of Steiner’s books are available online along with a range of views and opinions from people who have experience of the schools. The schools have open days for prospective families where they can talk to other parents or teachers and see with their own eyes what is going on. Parents can do their research and decide if this education and philosophy fits with the views of their family. If it doesn’t there are plenty of other educational philosophies out there. Horses for courses.
    Throughout history people with views outside of the mainstream have been treated with suspicion. The growth of Steiner schools worldwide suggests they are offering something which appeals to a growing number of people. I think you need to look at the products of a philosophy rather than focussing on the parts that seem whacky to you and that don’t seem to make sense. Our modern way of thinking has created a society that is unhealthy in a lot of ways and yet we rarely question it in such an aggressive way. Parents walk into Steiner schools and they feel like it is a healthy place for their children to be with loving teachers and healthy natural environments. The students who graduate are usually kind, successful people.
    Each Steiner school, like any other, has an individual character according to where it is and who works and attends there. Some schools are better than others – just like the mainstream system. I have worked as I teacher in both systems and like any human system they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I get fed up with the derision Steiner schools receive from people who don’t have any real experience of them or complain about them because the one school they tried did not work for them.
    Also remember that the teachers have to be qualified and registered with local education authorities in most countries. They have the same training as teachers in mainstream schools.

    • May 16, 2014 at 3:48 am

      “I do not see how anyone can be misinformed by Steiner schools.”

      Seriously? Have you been to the “Why Waldorf Works” website? Have you seen the “Overcoming Racism through Anthroposophy” document? This is exactly how Waldorf intentionally misinforms people. Do the schools tell prospective parents that their children will be steeped in Anthroposophy continuously? Or do they make it sound like Anthroposophy is in the background or even more dishonestly, something the teachers need to learn but don’t practice?

      “Horses for courses.”

      Waldorf is the equivalent of the racing form lying about the length, type and condition of the course… as well as the past performances of the horse. Customers would rightly be very reluctant to put their money down at a racetrack that lies about statistics.

      ” I think you need to look at the products of a philosophy rather than focussing on the parts that seem whacky to you and that don’t seem to make sense.”

      The philosophy is Anthroposophy – and Anthroposophists are absolutely wacky. Are you suggesting otherwise?

      “Parents walk into Steiner schools and they feel like it is a healthy place for their children to be with loving teachers and healthy natural environments. The students who graduate are usually kind, successful people.”

      How about the ones who don’t? For every student who graduates a Waldorf school, as many as a dozen have come to the class and have been removed. I’ve made the example in the past of the pottery shop that won’t show you the broken pots in the back – just the nice pots that survived. Parents often describe being duped by Waldorf hype – not the least of which includes the “natural environment” they produce. What makes you believe Waldorf grads are successful? The cherry-picked few successful actresses they parade around?

      “I get fed up with the derision Steiner schools receive from people who don’t have any real experience of them or complain about them because the one school they tried did not work for them.”

      So they should keep trying Waldorf schools until they find one that works for them? Or until their kids are adults I suppose. I guess you’re also fed up with those kids who had their educations destroyed when their parents were duped. Why should they be complaining – often decades later?

      I’ve got lots of real experience of Waldorf – and I’ve collected hundreds of testimonies of parents who feel deceived by Waldorf. Your suggestion that they should have known better is not very helpful. Waldorf schools themselves should be honest about what they teach and more importantly – WHY!

    • May 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Ah – so the racist is SUNE! Good to see you here Sune. Why are you using aliases instead of posting your puerile racist crap under your real name?? Are you under the employment of the SWSF again? You’re doing a lousy job if you are.

      • May 18, 2014 at 7:04 am

        You’re paranoid. I haven’t commented here as Livedan. The page linked to can probably be found using a search engine.

        • May 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

          “You’re paranoid. I haven’t commented here as Livedan. ”

          But Sune, who can believe you when you say this? You’ve already been exposed for being dozens of fake personalities on the internet – You even pose as a woman with children pretending to be satisfied with Waldorf. The idea that Livedan Livedan needed to source YOUR website to support his racist views should be troublesome to you… Do you permit children to find your website with search engines too?

      • May 18, 2014 at 7:08 am

        And I’ve never been employed by the SWSF.

  95. May 18, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Unlike Andy, Helen, another spinoff of Melanie Byng’s anti-Steiner crusade since years, seems more reluctant than Andy to publish at least some comments on defamation, and has not accepted an answer to defamation by a “humanist” in Sweden that I saw that she had published, like BBC based on superficial research (http://thebee.se/BBC),

    http://thebee.se/articles/FredrikBendz-eng.html addresses it.

    Maybe Andy is more fair.

    • May 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Oh Sune – nobody could ever defame you. You do a great job of that yourself.

  96. Jan
    June 16, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Hi
    I have recently had to remove my child from a Steiner School simply due to the ‘cultist’ attitude of the staff and other families. He had attended since play group, was thriving, loved the school and we as a family were very involved and fully supported the curriculum. However, when hundreds of thousands of dollars of school fees began disappearing and I queried where it went, we were very quickly shunned as a family by the school community. I spoke to other families, their general response was that yes, they were concerned but didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’ by asking questions. The Principal who is responsible for the disappearing funds, simply lied to me when I questioned where the funds went, then began a systematic, and deliberate campaign to discredit me and my family. The ultimate responsibility rests on the School Council, a group of 6 volunteer parents, not one between them of whom has any business or management experience, who hide behind the veil of confidentiality. I was told to put my concerns in writing, their delayed response to my letter, was fabricated and misleading – lies. The staff are terrified the school will become insolvent are just waiting for a ‘disaster to happen’ their word, however, again, are mainly concerned with not rocking the boat. Jobs for Steiner teachers are few and far between. The bullying in this school is endemic from management down.

    One more year like last year and the school of over 100 children, will be insolvent, however the school has not addressed this, is still accepting fee payments from the hard working families who comprise the school community. Families are slowly leaving in dribs and drabs as they become fed up with management’s mismanagement which filters down to poor outcomes for the children. Not to mention life endangering non-maintenance of equipment and buildings.

    I have contacted Independent Schools Victoria, Steiner Australia and VRQA. They all concur they are watching this school closely, have serious doubts about it’s long term viability, however they are required to let things ‘run their course’. No one is actually being held accountable for the shameless waste of money, unsafe practices and destruction of what could have been a beautiful school.

    Just another way the intangible cultist values are parroted by people claiming Steiner expertise to promote their questionable aims.

    • ivan
      September 1, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Jan
      I guess you are in Victoria, Australia
      I realise you may be reluctant to mention which specific school you have pulled you child out of, still i am more than curious to know, as i have considered sending my children to Steiner and would like to avoid a disaster.

      • Jan
        September 1, 2014 at 4:00 am

        Hi Ivan
        Read the financial reports for the last five years to gain an understanding of income and expense trends. Read the minutes of the School Council meetings and accompanying reports. Clarify what government grants the school has successfully applied for, the govt will be reluctant to invest scarce resources in a school with doubtful future.

        All common sense actions and questions any parent considering a 7+ year investment would make a priority. Depending on their constitution the school are required by law to provide this information. If they are less than open about this, there is probably a very good reason why and don’t waste any more of your time on them!

        Best of luck

      • September 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        Ivan, it sound to me like you believe these problems can be isolated to a single school. They can’t. Embezzlement is common in Waldorf school environments. I’ve read reports about this happening time and time again on The Waldorf Review. I’ve been demanding for decades that one school, Highland Hall, reveal their board meeting minutes – records they are required to make public in order to claim 501-c3 tax status. They just DON’T comply with the requests – or the law for that matter. Years ago they supposedly collected over a million dollars for a new performing arts building. Years later, no building. Does anyone believe that money is still there? Their CFO quit years ago. They don’t look like a school sitting on a million dollars to me. Their asbestos-filled lower grade classrooms should be a good indicator of where their priorities are. Why don’t they spend some of their money to protect the children? Nobody asks them anymore.

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