Earlier this month, Grégoire Perra was finally acquitted in a French court after the Federation of Waldorf Steiner Schools in France decided to sue Grégoire Perra, a former Steiner teacher, for publishing a critique of the schools and the anthroposophy movement.
The trial appears to have collapsed as the court accepted that the account was not written out of malice but as an honest examination of the Steiner School system. It also looked as if the trial had its farcical moments:
The President of the Tribunal: Mademoiselle X., what did you found of defamatory in the testimony of Grégoire Perra ?
Miss X. : Everything is a tissue of lies and vile errors against Waldorf schools!
The Chairman: Yes, but what exactly did you find defamatory in the passages?
Miss X. I do not know, I did not read, I have just been flying …
The document is important as it is perhaps the most detailed personal account of what goes on inside a Steiner School from someone who is prepared to step back, be objective and open about those experiences. Today, we find out that yet another Steiner School in the UK is applying for state funding. Already two schools are state funded and a further couple are due to open. This document takes on an urgency and its English translation deserves to be widely read amongst all concerned with the direction of state education and the Gove’s Free School programme.
For that reason, and with Grégoire Perra’s permission, I reproduce his account in full on this blog.
I cannot account for the accuracy and completeness of what Perra has written. What makes this document remarkable is that it brings together many consistent accounts from ex-students, ex-Steiner parents of the experiences they have had. The commonalities cannot easily be dismissed or this ex-teacher’s experiences discounted as a one-off and unrepresentative. The complete failure of UK schools to acknowledge their anthoposophical connections and beliefs is consistent with Perra’a account. The alternative is that UK schools have undergone a very wide-ranging transformation away from Steiner’s philosophy but have failed to provide any evidence whatsoever that this is the case. For me, parsimony suggests that Steiner Schools are what they appear to be – the educational and recruitment wing of a strange and distasteful, Germanic, secretive and esoteric religious cult..
As a society, we need to be aware of that.
THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL INDOCTRINATION OF STUDENTS IN STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS
By Grégoire Perra
Anthroposophy is the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), philosopher, Theosophist, mystic, and teacher of the early twentieth century, from Austria-Hungary. The Anthroposophical Society, an association which has the mission spreading Steiner’s esoteric doctrine, is the result of a split that occurred in 1913 within the Theosophical Society. Rudolf Steiner’s doctrine has a large component of Gnostic teachings, with elements as diverse as reincarnation and karma, the solar nature of Christ, the various nonphysical bodies of man, etc. But Steiner’s teachings are not merely theoretical. Rudolf Steiner proposed them as the foundation for new activities, some of which have attained global success: among them are the cosmetics firm Weleda, biodynamic agriculture, and Waldorf education.
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 Montessori 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. 
And yet, these links between Steiner-Waldorf schools and the work of Rudolf Steiner, and the ties to the institutions that promote Steiner’s work, are quite real. I can testify to this in several ways: as a former student who received most of his schooling from Waldorf schools; as a former teacher at these schools who received “teacher training” at the Rudolf Steiner Institute of Chatou (as it were, the IUFM of Steiner-Waldorf schools in France); and as a former member of the Anthroposophical Society who, for years, worked closely with the directing committee. From 1979 to 1989, I was a student of Steiner-Waldorf schools of Verrières-le-Buisson and Chatou, near Paris. I was nine years old when my parents, disappointed by the schools run by the Ministry of Education, put me in a Waldorf school. At the end of that period, during my years of high school, I attended some lectures on Anthroposophical topics.  This is why, from 1990 to 1995, as a young student, I wanted to regularly attend public lectures at the Anthroposophical Society in Paris, where I became a member from 1995 to 2009. From 1992 to 2004, I was also, with some interruptions, a teacher in both Steiner-Waldorf schools in the Paris region. During that same period, and until my resignation in 2009, I worked closely with the President of the Anthroposophical Society in France, especially on the issue of young people, for whom I had been asked to design “Anthroposophic training.” An important part of this work was to contact Waldorf alumni who “have the karma to join Anthroposophy,” in the words of Bodo von Plato, a member of the directing committee of the General Anthroposophical Society, with whom I collaborated to this project. So I was an important member of the Anthroposophical Society, giving lectures, leading working groups, illustrating and writing articles in various journals, and co-authoring a book published by one of their in-house presses.  I occasionally had the “privilege” to meet with a member of the directing committee of the central Anthroposophical Society, which is headquartered near Basel, in Switzerland. Within the Anthroposophical Society, 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.  This cult also held meetings even within the school premises of Steiner Verrières-le-Buisson.
Today, with hindsight, it is clear to me that what led me to become an active and prominent member of this sectarian organization began with my enrollment in a Waldorf school at the age of nine years. The rest of my course in life was only the logical result of the indoctrination I had been subjected to.
I. An Insidious Indoctrination
1. Hiding Anthroposophy in the Subjects Taught
Based on my experience as a former student, a teacher at my old school, and an Anthroposophist, I would like to describe the subtlety of indoctrination that students in Waldorf schools are subjected to. In fact, its chief characteristic is its nonidentifiable form. I should state that the various ideas of Rudolf Steiner are taught to Waldorf students, but this is done without reference to their origin or their special nature. The teachers associate these ideas with their subjects as if they were objective facts and not part of a prescribed vision of reality. This is why Waldorf students can have the feeling that they are left completely free to form their own ideas. At the most, they may notice certain specific practices (that may seem very odd to some of them), which they may choose to ignore. Nevertheless, Anthroposophical ideas and practices form their psychic, cultural, and intellectual universe for many years, immersing them unconsciously in a worldview that will accompany them throughout life and that they are likely to return to on many occasions.
The invisibility of the indoctrination process depends primarily on the public’s ignorance about Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is indeed very complex. Contrary to what one might expect, only a small part of it is what might be called its esoteric doctrines (teachings about the cosmic nature of Christ, reincarnation, the cosmic evolution of the Earth in several successive incarnations, the spiritual hierarchies, etc.). This esotericism is cultivated by Anthroposophists, often members of the Anthroposophical Society (but not always). However, the largest part of the Anthroposophical worldview does not consist of these ideas; instead, it consists of interpretations concerning all fields of knowledge and the arts.
Thus, there are multiple Anthroposophical interpretations of zoology, botany, pedagogy, physics, history, geography, literature, philosophy, diet, mathematics, etc. In art, there are specific Anthroposophical practices in painting, architecture, music, dance, theater, etc. Rudolf Steiner indeed expressed his views in all of these areas. When a teacher works in a Waldorf school, s/he has no need to make allusions to the subject of the “esoteric teachings” of Rudolf Steiner… and often s/he does not. S/he just teaches traditional subjects, coloring them lightly as interpreted by Rudolf Steiner or his followers. Because inspectors from the ministry of education do not know these interpretations — they are not the specialists in Anthroposophy — they have difficulty identifying them. To make my point clearer, I will give some examples:
In the fourth grade (CM1), Waldorf students study zoology and tackle the physiology of various animals, like the lion, the cow, and the eagle. At first glance, their class work appears to be an objective study of the behavior of these animals. At least that’s what an inspector will see in the students’ notebooks. But the teacher will also orally tell the students that the eagle must be understood in relation to the human head, the cow in relation to the human metabolic system and limbs, and the lion in relation to the human rhythmic system (the heart and lungs). Thus, the teacher conveys basic elements of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrine, namely that man is a tripartite being having within himself, in a latent state, the various animal kingdoms. 
Another example: In the early grades, Waldorf teachers tell the children a great number of legends or myths. At first glance, this is part of a traditional study of literature and mythology. But the teachers slip in Anthroposophical interpretations… They make subtle allusions to the contents of Anthroposophical books such as MYTHS AND LEGENDS AND THEIR OCCULT TRUTHS  or HIDDEN WISDOM IN GRIMM FAIRY TALES . Most of these works were only recently translated into French (Waldorf teachers having access to them through German connections). National education inspectors therefore cannot detect the Anthroposophical doctrines slipped in by Waldorf teachers when they tell these legends and myths to the children.
One last example. In the 11th and 12th grades (high school), Waldorf School students study two works of world literature: the romance of PARZIVAL and Goethe’s FAUST. An inspector opening the students’ notebooks would find at first glance a study, scene by scene or chapter by chapter, of the two works in question, with various interpretations being considered. But if, knowing Anthroposophy, you look carefully at these interpretations, you will find that they encompass many elements of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines. For example, the study of the character of Mephistopheles in FAUST always leads to the conclusion that he is a bipolar character. He thus becomes the representative of the “Forces of Evil” which, according to Steiner, are divided into the forces of Lucifer and the forces of Ahriman.  The study of a seemingly innocent work thus becomes an opportunity for indoctrination that is difficult [for outsiders] to detect. Indeed, no mention of Rudolf Steiner will usually be made by the teacher. It suffices for the teacher to take (artificially) these interpretations of the work being studied, and then present them as universal and timeless truths (since they are found in other works at other times, as the teacher will then show). The same thing happens with the interpretation of the chapters of the romance PARZIVAL. Each time, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner are presented without mentioning their origin.  But this subtle process is at work in all subjects from Kindergarten on! To realize this, it suffices to read Steiner’s TEACHING PLAN  or COUNCILS , and then connect what is said by Waldorf teachers with the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner.
The hidden nature of these Anthroposophic ideas — in the form of interpretations presented in all subjects — makes it particularly difficult for students to become aware of what is happening. How indeed can they be aware of ideas that, in their original form, are mixed with traditional teaching, like spice added in a dish, and do not at first sight contradict but extend traditional teaching? I believe that those who undergo indoctrination in creationism are somewhat more fortunate. Probably, at one time or another, the ideas they are taught will clearly clash with the objective data of current science. This is rarely possible with Anthroposophic tenets when they are more or less blended with modern scientific data. Indeed, precepts about science are constantly updated by the Anthroposophical authorities, which then communicate them to teachers in Waldorf schools. 
One can imagine the impact of the Waldorf method when it is routinely used on the intellectual formation of children.
Students thus live with Anthroposophic ideas mixed with objective data in the subjects they are studying. And since the Anthroposophic ideas keep coming back in different forms, they eventually are regarded as objective truths, without their source ever being revealed. Only if you decide to become an Anthroposophist do you encounter these ideas openly expressed, with their origin made clear. But by then, this will not be an issue for you, it will be something you have joined and wish to propagate, since you will have become a disciple of the Master
2. Subtle Indoctrination of Students in All Subjects
Anthroposophical teachers in these schools thus always transmit their ideas to students in ways that are not easily identifiable. The ideas are almost never presented as those of Rudolf Steiner, but as interpretations of works belonging to the cultural heritage. So there is at first no study of botany that is specific to Steiner-Waldorf schools, but underneath are Steiner’s writings about Goethe’s botanical theories, which can be injected into a traditional teaching SVT.  There is not, at first sight, a view of world history specific to Steiner-Waldorf schools, but there are Rudolf Steiner’s comments about various civilizations.  It is the same for all subjects and disciplines, including artistic education. But only a person who has the vast literature of Anthroposophy at his fingertips will be able to detect this practice. Making this even more difficult is the fact that most works of Steiner were not fully translated into French until recently; previously, they were passed by oral education from Germany. This is why the doctrinaire character of Waldorf schooling had been able to escape notice, thus far, by inspectors of National Education. In some ways, you could say Waldorf schooling has a subliminal character.
When I received Waldorf teacher training, especially that given at the Institute of Chatou, I could ascertain that this practice is highly organized. Indeed, already at that time, I was struck by the gap between the rhetoric of our trainers — constantly stating that the teacher should be creative and never apply prescribed formulas — and the training that taught us decades-old methods that had not changed since the founding of the first Waldorf school in 1919. In fact, having taken this training for two years, I can testify that it is essentially doctrinal training, it is not aimed at developing teaching skills. We were taught how to instill, at each stage of child development, certain ideas and Anthroposophical concepts by surreptitiously combining them with traditional teaching (of course it was not described this way), and to see how in each of the disciplines taught, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner can be indicated. 
For example, the trainer specializing in the teaching of history taught us to identify, in the course of historical events, the polarity between Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces, and to teach history to students from this angle. Thus, the French Revolution was to be taught in terms of the polarity between Danton and Robespierre, one being the representative of Luciferic forces (Danton), the other representing Ahrimanic forces (Robespierre). Or the trainer specializing in chemistry taught us how to describe each of the elements of Mendeleyev’s periodic table as singular expressions of cosmic principles. Thus nitrogen and oxygen became, in our eyes, cosmological entities endowed with a kind of “temperament.” We were taught what chemistry experiments could be arranged in the laboratory to demonstrate to students the evidence of such temperaments in the periodic elements. I could give many more examples of how we were taught to teach students specific elements of Rudolf Steiner’s belief system — or rather to present reality in the light of this belief system — without telling the students that we were presenting a biased view. In fact, the training of Waldorf teachers consists of learning how to lead the students, without their knowledge, to see the world through the eyes of Rudolf Steiner!
At the time I was very surprised that nobody had written textbooks for Waldorf trainees, since Waldorf methods looked so old and firmly established. On reflection, I now understand that it is not possible for Waldorf practices to be written down, because this would run the risk of exposing the systematic nature of such indoctrination. The claim that Waldorf methods should be kept alive, not freezing them in writing, is in reality only an alibi used to assist concealment. However, in reality there are many Waldorf texts that are neither published nor distributed publicly. I remember that sometimes the trainers made mention of one or another of these works to the most reliable trainees, making copies for their personal use. But the key information was given orally. One of these secret books was given to me when I was a teacher. On the first few pages one finds: “This document is the property of the Educational Section of the Free University of Science of the Spirit, entrusted to this college … [and] given until the end of teaching activity…”  The secret nature of the transmission of such material makes clear the shameful link between the esotericism of Rudolf Steiner and the education provided in Steiner-Waldorf schools. Such documents should obviously never be made public and should be returned to the Goetheanum  by their owners if they stop teaching.
The methods of instilling Anthroposophic references in the traditional teaching of students were introduced by Rudolf Steiner himself at the founding of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, in the 1920s, and have recently been published. Little known among Waldorf teachers, this large volume — dense, difficult to read — is a kind of dogmatic set of references touching on almost all areas of practical life in a Steiner school: repetition, internal rules, decisions to be made concerning left- and right-handedness, methods of teaching geography at different grade levels, ties displayed between Anthroposophy and Steiner pedagogy, etc. [In English, such books as FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS, and DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS present such material. They were published by the Anthroposophic Press. — RR]
One finds there significant questions and answers, for example:
• A teacher asks, “How can we, in the teaching of geology, link geology and the Akasha Chronicle?” [This is a celestial storehouse of wisdom accessible through clairvoyance. — RR] Concerning what Anthroposophy says about glacial periods, Rudolf Steiner answers: “…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. ” (p. 99-100)
• To a teacher who asks the question, “How can we draw parallels between what science says and the point of view of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] concerning the glacial period?” Rudolf Steiner replies: “You may well draw a parallel. You can of course identify the Quaternary period in with Atlantis and the Tertiary with what I describe as Lemuria [a lost continent that preceded Atlantis], if you do not fix things too precisely.” (p. 101)
• A teacher asks, “How should we treat the natural history of man? How should I begin this study in fourth grade?” Rudolf Steiner replies: “For man, you will find almost everything scattered throughout my lecture cycles in one way or another … Just fit [my teachings] to the school … So rely on what you know through Anthroposophy.” (p. 125)
— ADVICE; MEETINGS WITH TEACHERS AT THE WALDORF SCHOOL IN STUTTGART (The Federation of Steiner Schools-Waldorf, October 2005).
This form of teaching has been meant, from the beginning, to convey Anthroposophy to students, mingling it with traditional teaching and presenting Steiner’s assertions as facts, by no means as hypotheses. The fact that this book is published today by the Federation without any critical distance, either in the notes or in the foreword, shows that the teachers in Waldorf schools are not meant to ponder these things! For them, Anthroposophy represents the truth, and being necessary to the human soul, it must be communicated to children from an early age. Speaking to students about Atlantis or Lemuria is a “moral necessity” for a Steiner teacher. It is just a matter of not getting caught in the act of openly teaching Anthroposophy.
3. Making Cultural Works Sacred
I would now like to describe another aspect of the insidious indoctrination of students. It is to produce in the mind a sacralization of certain cultural works, as if they were printed in vibrant red. It is always the same, regardless of the ages of these works or the countries where they originated: FAUST, the TREATMENT OF COLORS, and the METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS, by Goethe , PARZIVAL, by Wolfram von Eschenbach , the enigma of Kaspar Hauser , LETTERS FOR THE ESTHETIC EDUCATION OF HUMANITY, by Schiller, and the Altarpiece, by Isenheim. Also included are a few minor markers such as the story of Gilgamesh, Manichaeism (the doctrine of Manes), the myth of Atlantis, etc. It is thus that during their university years, so many Waldorf graduates choose to address one or the other of these works as subjects for dissertations. Such works represent for them a kind of unsurpassable cultural horizon of leitmotifs to which they keep coming back unendingly.
But what is the purpose for making of such works sacred? By making Anthroposophical references “sacred” to the students, it is easy to attract them to the Anthroposophical Society. Simply offer them a chance, after graduation, to attend a conference on Goethe, or Kaspar Hauser, for example. When you know the Anthroposophical Society from the inside, you see that it is organized around a few charismatic figures who appear as specialists of various cultural works. Within the Society, there is always a specialist on FAUST,another on PARZIVAL, one on the Isenheim Altarpiece, etc. And these positions are held dear. These specialists are in a way intermediaries between the normal cultural world and that of Anthroposophy. This clever strategy was instituted by Rudolf Steiner himself. Indeed, Anthroposophic ideas are often presented under the guise of a study of certain works. The name “Goetheanum” for the seat of the General Anthroposophical Society is an illustration. Those interested in Goethe will be conducted through Steiner’s commentaries on scientific or poetic works of this great German writer, and thereby they will be introduced to Anthroposophy. The process is even more effective with alumni of Steiner-Waldorf schools, for whom these references were presented during Waldorf schooling as if they were absolute standards of excellence. Waldorf students are indeed introduced to these works at specific ages, as if their study were a sort of initiation ritual. Not having studied the “period of Faust” can thus feel tragic to certain other students of Anthroposophy, so they spend a holiday in a German Waldorf school to fill this abominable gap. These works are a kind of common cultural heritage that is holy to Waldorf students everywhere. Obviously, this contributes to actually closing the intellect, since the same works are returned to over and over, with the same comments (those of Steiner) being repeated from a bygone century. During my studies, I chose as the subject of my thesis the design of nature in Goethe’s FAUST, and I remember it was not easy for my thesis director to persuade me to study another author. I saw the same thing happen with other classmates from our Waldorf school. One did his thesis on the philosophy of Goethe’s METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS, another did his literature DEA on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s PARZIVAL, and so forth. Getting beyond this circle of restricted and sanctified references is not easy for a Waldorf student! It is not that he will have no interest in anything other than FAUST or PARZIVAL, but in his eyes no other works will convey the same literary or scientific benefits; these special works are not simply references, for him, but objects of devotion. Throughout the world, Steiner-Waldorf schools shape the mind of their students around a small number of cultural works that will pave the way for them to Anthroposophy.
4. Disguised Anthroposophic Rituals
Another element of the pedagogical practice of Steiner-Waldorf schools contributing to this insidious indoctrination is pervasive worship and religious practice. At first glance, this resembles traditional Christian ritual observance. Almost all Christian holidays are celebrated at these schools: The festival of Saint Michel, the festival of Saint Antoine, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the festival of St. John, etc. The schools’ leaders know and, if necessary, make use of Christian terminology … But behind ceremonies that superficially seem akin to traditional forms, in fact we find disguised Anthroposophic rituals “adapted” for children.  Indeed, Anthroposophy contains — in addition to many Oriental references — what might be called “Christian esotericism.” The Archangel Michael is deemed to be a cosmic entity, the god Christ is said to have been connected to the Sun and later he became the Spirit of the Earth, etc. Anthroposophists celebrate Christian holidays, but within these rituals are hidden Anthroposophic beliefs. In Waldorf schools, Anthroposophic rituals and esoteric teachings in the form of traditional rituals are carefully modified to reflect in the end the Anthroposophic interpretation of their content.
For example, students celebrate — every year, in late September — the victory of Michael over the Dragon. They enact the legend of St. George rescuing a princess. Little by little, through connections only students immersed in Waldorf education are likely to make, they come to understand that the Dragon is an allegory of the materialism of the modern era, and Michael is the spiritual force that can confront it, delivering the human soul (the princess) who was about to be devoured by the monster. This is in fact an implicit reference to a key element of the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner, which is that a spiritual battle took place in 1879 between the forces of darkness and the forces of light embodied by the Archangel Michael. Thus, this small pageant condenses doctrinal elements that Steiner describes at length in his books.  It is the same for all so-called Christian festivals celebrated in these schools: in fact, esoteric Anthroposophic teachings are presented as allegorical and symbolic form during ritual ceremonies integrated into school life.
In these schools, the number of rituals corresponds to the many Christian festivals and the observance of the seasons of the year. But we must also count prayers and meditations used in Waldorf schools, as well as “rites of passage.” In form and in content, these are even more specifically related to Anthroposophy. Indeed, at different times of the day, students recite words (according to their different ages) that are actually meditation texts written by Rudolf Steiner himself or by his disciples.  There are prayers for morning classes, for the afternoon before meals (a kind of grace), for the beginning of the week, for the beginning of the year, for the first grade upon entering the school, for leaving school upon graduation, etc. On each of these occasions, these readings or chorused recitations give rise to small ceremonies that are an integral part of Waldorf education. It even happens that teachers often advise parents of the words they should read to their children at different times of the day. Again, the teachers never say explicitly that these words are from Rudolf Steiner — these just words to be recited because of tradition. We should note in passing how cunningly teachers avoid using the words “prayers” or “mantras” near the students. Indeed, by designating these activities as merely cultural practices, awareness of their real nature is avoided. This trick comes from Rudolf Steiner himself, who in an interview with the first teachers of the school in Stuttgart said:
“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.” 
Students are thus led to repeat texts containing Anthroposophic ideas in simplified form, but without being able to identify their origin and without open acknowledgment of the Master who wrote them. These texts soak deeply into the mind by force of being recited continually. Take for example the morning verse that students from all Steiner schools recite in unison with their teacher from the 9th to the 12th grade (high school years):
I look into the world
In which the Sun shines,
In which the stars sparkle,
In which the stones lie,
Where living plants are growing,
Where animals are feeling,
And where the soul of man
Gives dwelling for the spirit.
I look into the soul
Which lives within myself.
God’s spirit weaves in light
Of Sun and human soul,
In world of space, without,
In depths of soul, within.
God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee
I turn myself in prayer,
That strength and blessing may grow
In me, to learn and to work.
I recited these words almost every morning for four years. It is only by reading the work of Rudolf Steiner called THEOSOPHY  that I came to understand this is a digest of Anthroposophical precepts about the relationship between humans and the universe. Indeed, the first stanza shows the relationship between the four kingdoms of nature (mineral, vegetable, animal, and human) that Steiner connects with the four cosmic substances (the physical, the etheric, astral, and spiritual). The second stanza establishes an implicit parallel between God and the Sun, which Rudolf Steiner describes in OCCULT SCIENCE  asserting that Christ is the Sun God who descended to the earth at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. The last stanza is an allusion to the strength of the Holy Spirit, the immeasurable cosmic entity that Steiner evokes by example in THE MEANING OF LIFE  and other books. I could also give the example of words we had to recite at the beginning of meals:
Again, far from being a simple poetic text on nature, this prayer condenses key elements of Anthroposophical doctrine concerning the relationship of the human soul with the different elements. For example, there is the belief about human temperaments [phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, melancholic], each associated with an element [earth, air, fire, water].  Or, likewise, the relationship between the components of the human soul and the elements. 
A final example: At the beginning of each afternoon, our class teacher made us recite the following words:
Pure source from which everything flows,
Pure source, where everything returns,
Pure source, who lives in me,
To you I will advance.
Years later, I discovered that this poem was actually an adaptation of a mantra that Rudolf Steiner gave to his disciples in one of his esoteric lessons:
Original self, from which we come,
The origin that lives in all things,
To thee, thou Higher Self, we return. 
This shows how skillfully, under innocent appearances, Rudolf Steiner condensed and concealed his esoteric teachings in the words that students should recite in Steiner-Waldorf schools.
The pervasive ritual practices in Waldorf schools are meant, I believe, to immerse students in a kind of permanent religious atmosphere that will fit in their psyches as an addiction. I remember having felt, as a teenager, that I was living in a kind of monastery, punctuated by daily rituals and recitations. But this religious atmosphere was consistently associated with pervasive artistic practices as well as the frequent recounting of legends, folk tales, and myths — it was an artistic environment generating a mythical-religious feeling, which in my opinion is not without consequences and perverse effects:
• At an age when they should be awakening, learning to reason and think critically, the children are mothballed instead — they develop a pronounced tendency to rely on emotion and imagination, which later may encourage credulity and impulsive behavior;
• Some alumni develop psychological blockages against facing psychological reality. I have often observed among them a propensity to hide and forget what could be disturbing, as if it had never existed. In particular, when they became aware of certain realities relating to the sectarianism of the Anthroposophical community, everything was as if their brains suddenly refused to integrate such disturbing information. I found this ability to play “ostrich” to be even greater among Anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers. I remember well the dysfunctional administrative operation of these schools, which were run collectively : Often essential information did not circulate, urgent decisions did not get made, and essential tasks simply passed into oblivion — for example, steps that needed to be taken to assist students to enroll for baccalaureate programs! But teachers and leaders simply let things slip as the drama had not yet ended;
• Waldorf graduates feel a need to reproduce the ceremonies in which they were immersed throughout their schooling. They want to celebrate holidays as Rudolf Steiner led Anthroposophists to do, and to practice many Anthroposophical meditative exercises  as well as to meditate using numerous mantras . Upon becoming a parent, one of my former classmates said about ten prayers to his children every evening, one after the other;• There is a kind of inhibition and misuse of sexuality in adolescents. As a teacher of these schools, I often heard my colleagues say it was important to provide adolescents with a “strong spiritual content” and make them work hard to divert the powerful forces of sexuality into which they might “fall.” I believe this inhibition and this diversion promoted adhesion to the religiosity of the school, and later to that of Anthroposophists;• There is an overemphasis on the ego and exaggerated exaltation of the mystic realm. Indeed, Steiner-Waldorf teachers place the highest possible value on dreamy and mystical attitudes. As a student, I indeed could see how our teachers showed the highest esteem for those who retained longest the attitudes of gullible children transported by imaginative stories. The student who seemed to be in a dreaming state was placed on a virtual pedestal in comparison to his peers. Later, as a teacher, I often heard teachers in faculty meetings praising the receptive qualities of students who were dreamy, naive, and enthusiastic. It was said of such students that they knew how to keep the soul intact and pure. We often even said that in principle a good Waldorf education should slow the maturation of students’ intellectual faculties as far as possible. In addition, teachers flattered and lavished praise on students for abilities they didn’t really possess, trying to keep them as long as possible in a sort of “floating” disconnection from reality. This is why the egos of students leaving Waldorf schools are so developed. At first sight, these students seem to have a self-confidence that could be considered a good quality. But looking more closely, we very often see that this colossal self-assurance is based on nothing but empty air. Quite often these students have done virtually no academic work for years: Rituals, religious chants, and preparing for holidays takes up so much time in Waldorf schooling that the time devoted to actual school work is literally reduced to a trickle.
Kept in a thorough artistic-mythical-religious atmosphere and expanding their egos, these students are accustomed to a state of laziness that will make them social misfits, unable to escape except through bluster and seduction. Because don’t people often replicate what they themselves have experienced? Having been in some way seduced by their teachers, these students may try to proceed through seduction. That is why their results for the baccalaureate exams in writing are so pathetic, although the same students can be tremendously good at oral presentations. Thus, in the school where I worked and tried to prepare students for the baccalaureate, hardly 40% of students were successful, and even they succeeded mostly due to the oral portion of the process. Of course, extension of the dream state greatly facilitates the ability to later become a Anthroposophist, as this mystical doctrine overwhelms those who plunge, as I did, into abstruse metaphysical speculations. Anthroposophical mysticism is a kind of natural extension of the dream state that is overdeveloped in Steiner-Waldorf institutions. Overdevelopment of the ego aids individuals who tend to arise in life lecturing or even becoming gurus. Later they may find, in the context of the Anthroposophical Society, the roles of spiritual guides, the roles they are in fact familiar with from their childhood. It is therefore common to find students in Steiner-Waldorf schools who systematically and blindly trust their own feelings, or hunches, sometimes up to the level of considering themselves apprentice mediums.
II. A System Closed on Itself
• The grades in Waldorf schools are not identified by the traditional nomenclature in France, from the CP to the Terminal, but are labeled 1 to 12. Even today, I have trouble getting my bearings when I want to compare the two nomenclatures,• It is customary in Waldorf schools to have a one-year gap — that is to say, students of Steiner-Waldorf schools are enrolled in classes one year later than students in other schools, because Waldorf teachers believe that students will benefit if their intellectual development is postponed,• Waldorf students draw in a different style, using special crayons (“pencils of wax”),• Waldorf students practice an art that exists nowhere else (eurythmy, a kind of yoga dance invented by Rudolf Steiner),• Waldorf schools attend special rituals,• The same group of students remain together throughout their school years,• The chief teacher for any group of students is called the “class teacher” and will be responsible for that group from first to sixth grade, sometimes even from first to eighth grade,• At the end of their schooling, students create what they call a “masterpiece,” that is to say a personal work they must carry out autonomously, etc.
This continuing proximity of students with their teachers is such that it does not seem abnormal, unless significant missteps sometimes lead school officials to take some limited measures. Having been both witness and victim, I can say that unusual closeness is part of the rationale of these schools. This is why there is rarely any strong resistance against the excesses that may arise, but as much as possible they are tolerated. Some examples of these abuses that I have witnessed: It was not uncommon that some teachers went to a cafe with students for conversation and a glass of wine after school, or teachers invited students to come shopping with them. I also remember a high school teacher unashamedly distributing a postcard from her latest theatrical performance, where she was seen in a bathing suit. Yet this act amounted to distributing pictures of herself in underwear without realizing the trouble it could cause, encouraging developing adolescents to visualize the naked body of their young teacher. Another teacher went every week with her section to gay and lesbian bars in the capital, and invited some to sleep at her home if they had difficulty returning home. Some teachers did not hesitate to keep up with the students using familiar or even obscene language. I even knew a case of harassment of a student by a teacher for nearly two years, despite repeated complaints from the student. It had been in vain to complain to the school manager that, during gym class, the teacher was continually sending the student “sms” magnifying his legs or other parts of the body.
Here I must be very clear and also mention legally reprehensible behavior. Indeed, some ethical rules seem to be disregarded in the Steiner-Waldorf schools, and there are cases of sexual and romantic relationships sometimes occurring between students and teachers. 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? When this teacher left school after completing certification to teach elsewhere, all teachers of the upper classes — except one who probably wanted to be cautious, but who like the others who knew what had happened — came to a party in the apartment. Among themselves, teachers and students pretended to ignore or hide what was an open secret.
I in no way seek to draw attention to the misconduct of a colleague or to throw stones at him; and if I mention this story, it is because it is indicative of the common pitfalls that occur in Waldorf educational institutions. I could moreover provide other examples. Basically, they are an integral part of the system of indoctrination. Because it is only at the cost of psychological closeness — with significant risk of misbehavior — that students can be fascinated and subjugated to their teachers, encouraging their indoctrination. To my mind, this colleague should be considered a victim who, like any young beginning teacher, merely applied the standards prevailing in the school where he had been hired, and he did not receive the benefit of the normal guard rails that would have enabled him to resist temptation. I also remember that when I entered this school and I discussed this story with a colleague, she replied: “Here, that was never considered a problem!” Myself, coming from such a Waldorf school where the rule of law was not really respected — as I explained above — I admit to not having seen a problem, either. The Federation of Waldorf Schools — to whom I mentioned this in a open letter that I sent them when I left this school — does not seem to have found any reason to be indignant or to react.
4. A Confusion of Roles
When I worked in one of these schools, I myself was quickly caught up in the whirlwind in which all lines of separation are erased. Very soon, our colleagues become a kind of family, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Students become for us both our children and our friends and associates. There reigns a sort of permanent “incestuous” atmosphere that can go haywire very quickly for everyone. A mantra recited by the teaching community at some faculty meetings reflects this total confusion of identities:
Me in the community,
And the community in me.
Far from being a saying designed to encourage healthy collegial solidarity, these words rather reflect the total confusion of identities prevailing in the Waldorf school system. Nobody there knows who he is or what exactly his role is. This confusion between an educational institution and a family structure is reflected in the language used in schools, where students must call the teachers who follow their individual work at end of schooling (the masterpiece) their “godfathers” and “godmothers.” Hierarchy officially is absent from the schools (since the teaching community is supposed to be self-organizing), but this produces power games and other profoundly unhealthy influences. Also, it is not surprising that this nebulous dissolution of personalities and responsibilities gives rise to stories of illicit relations between teachers and students. It is what often happens. When the leaders of a Waldorf school gain knowledge of misconduct, they often respond by using it as leverage to control colleagues. I twice heard the stories of colleagues who were directed to one of the members of the Internal College (steering committee) of the school, to whom they confessed grave professional misconduct in their dealings with students (the teacher dating a student since she was in third). No reprimand resulted, but they knew that the leaders of the school now possessed their secret and could use it against them if necessary. Criminal behavior by teachers was accepted within the pupil-teacher organization of the school, and it became leverage for the leaders. For what could be more intimidating than a fault that the leaders know about but choose to “keep under the table”?
III. The “Anthroposophical Movement” and Its Institutions
• A specific kind of cosmetics (Wala and Weleda products)• A form of agriculture (Biodynamics, Demeter products)• Some nursery schools and kindergartens linked to Waldorf education,• Vocational training centers,• Financial services (NEF bank in France)• Anthroposophical pharmacology and medicine, with clinics and hospitals,• A specific medical association (APMA, Anthrosana),• The Institutes of Curative Pedagogy (Camphills and other institutions for the disabled and caregivers using the methods of Rudolf Steiner, The Allagoutes),• Specific arts (eurythmy, Werbeck singing, Haushka painting, the art of the word, dramatic expression, architecture, etc.),• Specific welfare methods,• A specific form of gymnastics (the Gymnatique Bothmer),• A specific form of Christian worship (the Christian Community),• A special youth literature (Iona Editions),• Camps (Colonies Iona),• Specific retirement homes (notably in Ribeauvillé),
• Centers of specific vocational guidance (the Michael Foyer, located at St. Menoux in Allier), etc.,• Some libraries (Solear-Triads, Pentagramm’),• Some publishers (Triads, EAR, Pico della Mirandola, Iona)
• A specific astrology,• Specific tours (organization Idriart),• Specific methods of meditation,• A specific dietary regime ,• Specific psychological therapies (many Anthroposophists tend to become psychotherapists),• A specific youth movement (NEOLOGOS site).
• Firstly, there is the Anthroposophical movement, which I detailed above.• Then there is the Anthroposophical Society, consisting of branches (ordinary Anthroposophical groups meeting once or twice a month to study the works of Steiner).• Above, there is the School of Spiritual Science, confined to those Anthroposophists who are allowed to hear the lessons of the First Class (the secret worship in which some lectures of Steiner are read, accompanied by mantras that are considered especially sacred — members have the duty to meditate on these regularly and not divulge them to anyone else).• Finally, in the School of Spiritual Science, there are various Professional Sections (devoted to education, agriculture, arts, literature, eurythmy, social sciences, medicine, drama, etc.) … the members meet according to their professional activities.
V. Waldorf Schools and Anthroposophy:
These schools are frequently inspected by the Ministry of Education, so how would it be possible for indoctrination in the theories of Rudolf Steiner to occur there? It would be so conspicuous that long ago that the schools would have been revealed as sectarian institutions and the French state would have stopped subsidizing them.
And yet there is much indoctrination, but practiced so subtly that it escapes the vigilance of many: parents, students, and even sometimes even those who practice it, not to mention the institutions of the Republic. Only a person who was, like me, both an Anthroposophical student and teacher is unquestionably in a position to identify the inner workings of this phenomenon. But I am not alone in this. How is it possible to explain that relatively few alumni later call Steiner-Waldorf schools into question?
2. Anthroposophy, a System Protected by Respect for Tradition, Isolation, and Intellectual Jargon
• Intellectual saturation inherent in Anthroposophy
When teachers Steiner-Waldorf schools state that their teaching is based on “a comprehensive conception of the human being,” you would think they work from a philosophical and anthropological understanding independent of any link to Anthroposophy as esoteric doctrine and religious practice. But there is absolutely nothing of the kind! Reading the reference books used by Waldorf teachers leads  you to realize that the concepts of reincarnation, karma, and even Anthroposophical Christology are inextricably mixed with Rudolf Steiner’s directives about the education of children. The educational precepts of Rudolf Steiner are inseparable from his Anthroposophical teachings about human beings and the cosmos. Besides, this problem is fully known to the Federation of Steiner schools in France, which tried a few years ago to grant itself academic legitimacy by forming a study group in collaboration with René Barbier, researcher in the sciences of education, the University of Paris VIII. In June 2007, an update on the value of the “action research” conducted with academics, Anthroposophists who participated concluded:”We are led as a provisional conclusion to reopen the question — which arose in the context of action research, but also elsewhere — of a possible transformation in Waldorf pedagogy.”It seems to us that we can encourage the dissemination of the spirit of our school in society and in the culture of our time, through a process of ‘benevolent transfer.’ Drawing from heterogeneous learning environments and transforming them expansively, we should disavow inflexible teaching methods that violate this underlying spirit — that is to say, methods that contravene the objective that we all share.” 
To understand how Waldorf teachers very often do not realize that they practice an insidious indoctrination, you must take into account the widespread phenomenon of formulaic, empty assertions. Indeed, Anthroposophists and Waldorf educators have long said that Anthroposophy is not taught to students in their schools. An example is this statement of Antoine Dodrimont, affirming in a recent article on the blog Growing Differently: “We must insist on the fact that Anthroposophy is not a worldview to be taught to children. If this were the case, we would not respect their freedom nor that of their parents. Pedagogy is open to all children of the earth in accordance with the philosophical and religious choice of the families. Freedom is a sacred value recognized by Anthroposophy and the pedagogy based on it.” Contrary to the claims of Mr. Dodrimont, Anthroposophy is actually taught to students of Steiner-Waldorf schools, but in a form which can not be easily identified. I heard such statements again and again from the mouths of my teachers when I was a student, and after I became Waldorf teacher, I in turn repeated such denials countless times — a skillful process of autosuggestion preventing one from seeing reality. It would be absolutely impossible for a teacher in a Waldorf school to denounce internally the things I have mentioned, because it would stir up hostility from a vast network reaching far beyond his school. Indeed, various Anthroposophical institutions are independent of the Anthroposophical Society in appearance only. During their careers, most active members of the Anthroposophical Society work as Waldorf school teachers. Knowledge of the internal functioning of these schools disproves the words of Antoine Dodrimont, who declared: “With regard to the Anthroposophical Society, it is not involved in the operation of schools that are independent entities based on their own strengths.” In fact, the Steiner-Waldorf schools are run by a narrow and strict network and are woven into the Anthroposophical Society.
3. The Indoctrination of Parents
To complete the overview of indoctrination of which Steiner-Waldorf schools are one of the pivots, it is now necessary to say a word about the parents.
The indoctrination of parents is so ingenious. Many parents who send their children to these schools do so without knowing about Anthroposophy and without themselves being Anthroposophists. This was the case with my own parents. Firstly, the schools do not openly reveal the various elements of their underlying Anthroposophical doctrine. On rare occasions only will the teachers speak, a little cautiously, of such matters as the “reappearance of Christ in the etheric world” or reincarnation. But initially, we talked to parents only about our teaching methods. Later the parents are invited to attend, at least once per quarter, educational meetings. At these, while speaking to them of different materials and activities performed by their children to school, the teachers may gradually refer more and more openly to the “foundations” of this pedagogy. Still later, parents will be offered conferences where the themes are less about the pedagogy and more about the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner.
The indoctrination of parents also goes to those who willingly accept it, by entering more and more deeply in the life of the school. We start by asking them to participate in the annual fair, just manning a booth or making cakes, then do the same at other fairs, then to collaborate at the trimester fairs by assisting the teacher. Then they are invited to become members of various school committees and to take roles in pageants such as the “Play of the Shepherds”, the “Play of the Three Kings”, and “The Paradise Play”, which are staged around Christmas, etc. They are also asked to participate in the school gardens, and serve as guides during various trips their children’s classes take, or of classes in which they do not have children, etc. Some parents end up spending their lives at school!
4. The Indoctrination of Teachers
It begins with the obligation to participate in many educational meetings per week (unpaid) where the talk is supposed to serve the students’ welfare, but in which many portions are designed to evoke the Anthroposophical foundations of Waldorf pedagogy. Of course, these meetings begin with the reading or recitation of prayers or words of Rudolf Steiner intended for the teaching profession.
“The management of teaching and education, which truly bear all spiritual life, must be entrusted only to those who educate and teach. No agency of the State or in the economy should interfere in the management or direction of education. Each teacher should devote sufficient teaching time to be able to become a director in his field. He will take care of the administrative side, as he takes care of education and teaching themselves. (…) No parliament, no personality — those who have perhaps taught but no longer teach — can be recognized.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SOCIAL PROBLEM (Ed., E.A.R.), p. 12.
Of course, this life of isolation within the school is not without major problems developing in social behavior. In these schools, I have observed collective harassment of teachers by one or another of their colleagues. During my four years of teaching, no less than seven teachers were victims of severe depression following the Waldorf practice of persecution. Designating scapegoats is, in my opinion, part of the sectarian logic at Waldorf — the purpose is to break the individuals, who do not understand what is happening to them, to transform them gradually into docile creatures. In all these schools, there are sordid stories of teachers who have suddenly been harassed for longer or shorter periods, for very different reasons, and often with no good effect. These deplorable practices are made possible by the fact that there is no trade union structure in Steiner-Waldorf schools, Rudolf Steiner having been opposed to unions on the ideological level. Also contributing is the distrust of the laws of the “outside world” — an attitude that, quite often, the victims themselves do not think to challenge. Teachers of Steiner-Waldorf schools — who are both the indoctrinators and the indoctrinated, the persecutors and the persecuted — do not find fault in the system to which they are committed. They only follow a transcendent logic by which the same one person can be, in turn, a victim and then a perpetrator of the victimization of individuals. 
Funnily enough Perra’s peice came up in discussions on Reading Skeptics’ email discussion list after you addressed our SitP in April. I looked through his essay and found this passage which I can directly compare with my experience as a Steiner parent:
> 3. The Indoctrination of Parents
> To complete the overview of indoctrination of which Steiner-Waldorf
> schools are one of the pivots, it is now necessary to say a word
> about the parents. The indoctrination of parents is so ingenious.
> Many parents who send their children to these schools do so without
> knowing about Anthroposophy and without themselves being
> Anthroposophists. This was the case with my own parents.
Yup, me too.
> … Firstly, the
> schools do not openly reveal the various elements of their underlying
> Anthroposophical doctrine.
Ours has quite openly had Steiner study groups going since way back. There was no pressure to join, just the opportunity there if one wanted to.
> … On rare occasions only will the teachers
> speak, a little cautiously, of such matters as the “reappearance of
> Christ in the etheric world” or reincarnation.
I had none of that.
> … But initially, we
> talked to parents only about our teaching methods. Later the parents
> are invited to attend, at least once per quarter, educational
> meetings. At these, while speaking to them of different materials and
> activities performed by their children to school, the teachers may
> gradually refer more and more openly to the “foundations” of this
> pedagogy. Still later, parents will be offered conferences where the
> themes are less about the pedagogy and more about the esoteric
> teachings of Rudolf Steiner.
Ours has parents’ evenings once a term. Just like the mainstream comp our older son went to after leaving Alder Bridge except smaller and less boring. I don’t think I’ve heard one word about Steiner’s teachings.
> The indoctrination of parents also goes to those who willingly accept
> it, by entering more and more deeply in the life of the school. We
> start by asking them to participate in the annual fair, just manning
> a booth or making cakes, then do the same at other fairs, then to
> collaborate at the trimester fairs by assisting the teacher. Then
> they are invited to become members of various school committees and
> to take roles in pageants such as the “Play of the Shepherds”, the
> “Play of the Three Kings”, and “The Paradise Play”, which are staged
> around Christmas, etc. They are also asked to participate in the
> school gardens, and serve as guides during various trips their
> children’s classes take, or of classes in which they do not have
> children, etc. Some parents end up spending their lives at school!
Yes, parents at our school help organise all sorts of events, and make cakes, and help teachers (e.g. accompanying the party on class trips out). Some parents are on school committees (the school practically runs on volunteer effort). Some take parts in plays. Many help maintain the gardens, some help as guides on open days. Some seem to spend most of their lives at the school!
(This is different from some state schools how exactly?!)
I wonder if, according to Perra, I am now indoctrinated?
Presumably I wouldn’t know it if I was, but I wonder what the implications would be. Does it mean that some sort of Steiner illuminati are subtly controlling me?
And does he say what the cure is? Is there some deprogramming I can undergo, or will it take a silver bullet or stake through the heart to stop me?
From online encounters with John Stumbles over the past few years, I have to say that he appears to be among the fervently proselytizing and more heavily indoctrinated parents.
It’s true that many Steiner school parents do the things mentioned. It’s true, also, that some wake up to a reality that is different from the dream they believed in.
This, by the way, is nothing short of tragic:
‘I don’t think I’ve heard one word about Steiner’s teachings.’
Steiner’s teachings is what parents should hear about at parents’ evenings. After all, Steiner’s teachings are essential to the education their children is receiving.
I’m curious why you think that. Would it be, for example, my saying “early in my association with Steiner education I came across Steiner’s esoteric “Anthroposphical” ideas and decided they were wacky nonsense” that lead you to that conclusion?
 from http://stumbles.org.uk/John/Steiner/skeptic/
Sure, that post* helps create an impression. But mostly your posts and your interaction with other people in blog threads.
*which I read long ago. I have not reread it, so if you’ve changed it, I do not know.
I have changed my essay quite a lot over the years, often in response to discussions on blogs etc., and I would be genuinely interested to know what you think of it. (Please feel free to reply by email if you wish – there’s an address at the bottom of the page.)
Please can you point to any posts and interactions with others in blog threads that that are “fervently proselytizing” and provide evidence that I am “heavily indoctrinated”. If one can “proselytise” for evidence and critical thinking I will accept the first charge, but I’m baffled what doctrine I am supposed to have been indoctrinated with.
This is a humorous response to this extensive and very biased criticism which can be very well defined as an attack. Some people simply cannot yet differentiate between subjective and personal experiences of so called Steiner schooling (I wander why they call the schools this way. I’m sure Dr. Steiner was not consulted on this otherwise he would have named the first school this way himself) and what Dr. Steiner hoped to inspire in the education of the human being through his discoveries and research. Has this person taken the time to really understand Dr Steiner’s true motives for his work and research? If this so called secret cult was so controlling I wander why this person kept attending such a school. These are schools run by imperfect human beings who teach as they believe. I’m not sure Dr. Steiner puts his approval seal on each of their certifications. It takes genuine research to see if a teacher is true to Dr. Steiner’s indications and guidelines or mainly to his or her own ideas and personal interpretations of whatever was received as teacher training. One thing is to disagree with a school’s approach to education and another with Dr. Steiner’s research and practical instructions and advice on education and pedagogy. One needs to study Dr. Steiner’s own ideas first and then see what are the links and connections between what is this so called secret cult and what is Dr. Steiner’s Anthroposophy. After all he himself stated that Anthroposophy may not be for everyone and his greatest wish is to have the greatest openness and not develop a secret cult. The School of Spiritual Science is not secret or meant for some chosen specials. I noticed that some people want to feel chosen and act that way but I noticed others are open and ready to explain anything. The meditative activities have some structure and nothing is of a secretive or if exclusive nature. The same way one cannot begin with sheet music as soon as picking up an instrument one needs some familiarity with aAnthroposophic ideas and meditations before being able to make a conscious decision to be a member and participate in these activities. After all that is what Anthroposophy is all about, true self knowledge and freedom in loving activity. Anything else is not Anthroposophy but something else.
On your first point Laura, indeed if you have read your Steiner you will know that he most definately did not want them to be called Steiner Schools or have obvious links with Anthroposophy ‘lest they wring our necks’. Decpetion from the start. That is why they are called Waldorf Schools in many countries – after the factory where they started.
“These are schools run by imperfect human beings who teach as they believe. I’m not sure Dr. Steiner puts his approval seal on each of their certifications.”
Read “Faculty Meetings” sometime.
“It takes genuine research to see if a teacher is true to Dr. Steiner’s indications and guidelines or mainly to his or her own ideas and personal interpretations of whatever was received as teacher training. ”
Make no mistake, Steiner’s “indications and guidelines” are exactly what Waldorf teacher training is teaching and training.
“One thing is to disagree with a school’s approach to education and another with Dr. Steiner’s research and practical instructions and advice on education and pedagogy. ”
Since one stems from the other, one can disagree with both simultaneously.
“One needs to study Dr. Steiner’s own ideas first and then see what are the links and connections between what is this so called secret cult and what is Dr. Steiner’s Anthroposophy.”
I have, and they are one and the same.
“The School of Spiritual Science is not secret or meant for some chosen specials.”
You could say that, but then you would have to explain the “First Class”.
“I noticed that some people want to feel chosen and act that way but I noticed others are open and ready to explain anything.”
“After all that is what Anthroposophy is all about, true self knowledge and freedom in loving activity. Anything else is not Anthroposophy but something else.”
No true Anthroposophist would be a racist, for example?
Perra: Many parents who send their children to these schools do so without
knowing about Anthroposophy and without themselves being Anthroposophists. This was the case with my own parents.
Stumbles: Yup, me too.
Perra: … Firstly, the schools do not openly reveal the various elements of their underlying Anthroposophical doctrine.
Stumbles: Ours has quite openly had Steiner study groups going since way back.
Way back to when John? Obviously, from your own comments, not “way back” to BEFORE you enrolled your child. Lots of Steiner schools have study groups for existing parents – it helps to ensnare them when their kids are already committed to a school system they can’t easily leave. Where are the study groups for PROSPECTIVE parents – so that they can learn about Steiner schools BEFORE enrolling their kids?
Those study groups are here at the Quackometer, and other sites like The Waldorf Review, Waldorf Critics, Waldorf Watch and the Ethereal Kiosk. Waldorf schools simply won’t discuss Anthroposophy with parents until they have secured their children into their system. Why not… if Anthroposophy is so neat?
The whole Steiner/Waldorf issue leaves me deeply troubled.
My father & uncles fought fascism and now it seems supporters of Nazi racial ideas get public funds.
The last time anyone with ideas like Steiners got anythingfrom the British taxpayer, the RAF delivered it every night using Lancasters
The evidence suggets that, whatever Rudolf Steiner’s unenlightened views on race, Steiner-Waldorf Schools and teachers do not necessarily share or follow them:
Why link to this article and not the whole section?
Because we (Andy and I, at least) were talking about Steiner-Waldorf schools, and Professor McDermott’s report specifically addresses the question of whether, or to what extent, Steiner’s views on race are manifested in S-W education.
The “whole section” you link to is “Racism and the Relationship of Anthroposophy to Nazi Philosophy” which itself is a fascinating subject, on which Peter Staudenmaier (the subject of many of the links there) amongst others has done a lot of scholarly work. However, useful ammunition as it may be for the Steiner-haters, it doesn’t tell us any more about today’s Steiner schools than the history of the churches collaboration with the Nazis tells us about today’s Catholic or Protestant schools.
 amongst whom I do not include Staudenmaier: his work is undoubtedly critical of anthroposophy and many (but not all) anthroposophists but from what I see that is led by the evidence rather than prejudice.
John, I don’t think your comparison works.
I’m no friend of Christianity, but the churches have a cultural heritage over 2 k years old filled with divers perspectives from across the globe.
Steinerism arose in Germany, at the same time and engaging with the same nationalistic, pseudoscientific racialist, crypto-religious folk-mystic and eugenic ideas that were subsequently drawn into Nazism.
The church may be guilty of an inadvisable liaison with the Nazis, but Steiner, even if it isn’t a direct ancestor of Nazim, must share a very recent common ideological ancestor.Those ideas must be current to some extent in the current schools, or else why call them Steiner Schools at all? So I think it’s legitimate to ask searching questions on that point.
I agree. And McDermott does ask those questions and attempts to answer them, not only from Anthroposophical theory but from experience drawn from his team’s study of the inner-city Waldorf school they examined and elsewhere. Have you read his report?
“However, useful ammunition as it may be for the Steiner-haters, it doesn’t tell us any more about today’s Steiner schools than the history of the churches collaboration with the Nazis tells us about today’s Catholic or Protestant schools.” – not does it tell us any less: anyone think the book has been closed on why the Catholic church had such a dodgy political history throughout the 20th century? One hopes the leopard had changed his spots, but these things need to be borne in mind when assessing such groups.
I was a Steiner-Student for 13 years (Germany).
It took me a long time (I´m in my fourties now) to allow myself to put the “waldorf-vail” aside, that was put over my view on the world.
For long, long years I was defending “my school” against criticism.
And yes, I loved it and we had a good time. This can not be taken away, and still I`m good friendship to several school-mates.
On the other hand…we had nothing to compare.
But my view on the underlying system has totally changed.
When I started studying pedagogy on a state university, I had my first awakenings when it came to arts teaching for kids.
Take any Steiner-school in the world, look at the childrens water-paintings and you feel like “oh, that looks exactly the same as what we did…decades ago!”
Clone-art, yet very aesthetic, parents love it, not the usual kid`s scribblings (if they are allowed to).
In my art-lessons with kids at state schools (6 to 8 years) we had so much fun with the individual creativity of each of them. They were allowed to use any kind of material, even trash or things made of plastic (*unthinkable* in my days at the Steiner-school…).
Totally, totally different to my own experience of only emulating what the teacher showed us.
So I started questioning the methods of “my school”, but still I was convinced, that, in general, we`ve had a “better” education.
Well, we have been told that constantly, so one day you may believe it.
A few years ago, my father became severely ill and died of cancer.
The disease brought me again in deeper contact with Anthroposophy (my dad was convinced of their ideas) and their concept of a deeper, carmic sense of illness.
And for the first time in my life, these ideas appeared to me deeply cynical, based on nothing but speculation and the “clairvoyance” of Mr. Steiner.
My father was “allowed” to take the Chemotherapy, yes, but they made it very clear, that, without the anthroposophic remedies, he would suffer a lot more, and he should be well aware, that the “normal medicine” is “only working on the surface” and even worse, is poisoning him.
The last point, certainly is true, Chemo can be hell and the side effects are often hard to bear.
Some of the anthr. doctors even suggested him *not* to take the Chemo, because that would keep up the mental block he (supposedly) had built up against his “carmic duty”.
For me, as sad as it was, it was an eye-opening experience, because I was confronted with my naivity and believing in hear-say (concerning the accusations against “normal medicine” for ex.) without looking for some evidence.
Waldorf people do believe.
They need to, because if they start really questioning Anthroposophy, they will never get satisfactory answers.
They will (so was I) be tought, that they not yet have the full capability of understanding “the mystery” – only very few people can.
One should not rely on rationality too much, or on the materialistic way of looking on the world – as done by “the scientists” (these were often presented as some sort of “bad guys”, who yet need to exist to have someone to fight against….)
I started to read original Steiner texts on diseases, and I became more and more angry and sad.
Nobody really knows if there is any deeper sense behind *anything*, or if there even may be a deeper sense behind a severe or deadly disease – that belongs to philosophy or religion.
And maybe people can get help out of such ideas.
But to say that it is a fact – no way.
By working through all that, for the first time I fully got it, that Anthroposophy really is some kind of religion.
Which is – in itself – totally NOT the problem.
Religious belief is (or seems so be…) part of the world, and who needs it shall live happily in it (as long as nobody get´s killed…but that is another story).
To deny religious/occult/esoteric content in Steiner Schools is ridicoulus and wrong.
That means – for the parents who think about giving their kid to a Steiner-school, they need to be told what lies behind it.
To let parents believe that the teaching has nothing to do with Anthroposophy, religion, esoteric, astrology…is simply unfair and should be questioned on every level – from the parent over the teacher up to governments who fund these institutions.
I wonder…if the Anthroposophists are so convinced and sure about Anthroposophy – why hiding it so desperately?
I am so encouraged to read, that even members of the Anthroposophic Society are able to leave the circus and tell people what goes on inside.
It is never too late to go and to let go…
I just want to say thanks for writing this.
It is my personal experience, too, that waldorf school children are led to believe they’re getting a superior education and are privileged to be growing up in such a wonderful environment. All other schools are much worse. (Which sounds horrible for a kid who, like me, was unhappy in waldorf.) And you don’t have anything to compare with, if that’s where you’ve been all your life. (I left after 6th grade… and got something to compare with.)
Thanks for your feedback!
I had the comparison later by studying pedagogy at university.
Working in a “normal” class-room was really a great experience, even though I didn`t finish my studies and made my way into the arts and crafts…
*The* proof for some more-ore-less anthroposophic friends, that Steiner-school helps to evolve exactly these specific skills…however…I`ll never know, and it simply doesn´t matter 😉
Has anyone followed in Steiner’s way of communing with whatever from which he claimed to have read his revelations? Any follow-up prophets so to speak. There have been many translators and proselytes that have spread his message. If there have been no sub-prophets, then the WORD according to Steiner stands alone without corroboration and definitely without updates. This makes it easy to dismiss as simply ravings. I suppose this verification requirement may have application in other venues.
A little more on the subtle but real effects of institutional racism – something that John Stumbles seems to think is perfectly acceptable. http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/a-culture-in-denial/
What was it I said that gave you the impression that I consider institutional racism to be perfectly acceptable?
Whatever it was I must have been expressing myself particularly incompetently to have conveyed that impression. I think racism — institutional or otherwise — is abhorrent and intolerable.
In the context of Steiner education, in my essay on the subject at http://stumbles.org.uk/John/Steiner/skeptic/, I specifically flag up Steiner’s attitudes to race as an area of concern that the Steiner movement needs to tackle. I do however point out that Steiner’s views on race do not necessarily mean that Steiner teachers or schools are racist (any more than the Bible’s racist, misogynist, homophobic etc views are necessarily held by teachers in C of E schools). This is a matter discussed more authoritatively than I can by McDermott & Obermann in their report “Racism and Waldorf Education” (http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/Racism_McDermott.html) that resulted from an incident during their study of an inner city Waldorf school.
“What was it I said that gave you the impression that I consider institutional racism to be perfectly acceptable?”
Could it be that you support Waldorf environments – environments that (if they have Anthroposophists – and you bet they do) have racists living comfortably among them – even promoting racism in Steiner’s format? Waldorf IS institutional racism – so if you consider Waldorf to be “perfectly acceptable” then that’s exactly the impression you are giving people. You keep pointing to Anthroposophists who don’t get that Steiner was a racist. BFD… EVERYBODY knows Anthroposophists don’t understand that Steiner was a racist…
Let’s not even get into which McDermott brother has announced he is an Anthroposophist and which hasn’t. It’s literally splitting hairs when you try to make this distinction. Ray cites Robert right in the research paper… And Ida Oberman is also an Anthroposophist http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ida-oberman?dref=397%2C2740%2C11666. This paper isn’t as neutral as you make it out to be so let’s just be honest about that.
” I think racism — institutional or otherwise — is abhorrent and intolerable.”
Yeah, so do Waldorf teachers… but that doesn’t stop them from believing what Steiner taught about the races… and some pass his ideas along – right in the classroom. Why do you claim there’s no evidence of this happening? If it doesn’t happen, where’s the person from Waldorf claiming it doesn’t happen? Even Sune Nordwall – the Waldorf apologist before you – attributes this to young, inexperienced, enthusiastic teachers who might mistakenly teach what Steiner taught. Well, isn’t that what they do for everything else?
More important than whether they actually teach Steiner’s racism, is how racism plays into the Waldorf classroom. Of course we know Steiner placed tremendous significance on an individual’s race with regard to their spiritual status. In developing Waldorf education, Steiner gave “indications” for many many things… some of them racist of course. Waldorf teachers today are, sarcastically speaking, thoroughly trained NOT to access those bits of Steiner’s wisdom. They, instead, focus on things like left and right-handed children, large and small headed children, eye color, hair color, and let’s not forget the temperaments, choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic – each of which include body shape characteristics… then we have all the indications for the different ages, the significance of the changing of teeth and so forth. With so many other things to focus on, and despite racial spiritual hierarchies being the foundation of Anthroposophy, and notwithstanding that the child’s incarnation is the primary responsibility of the Waldorf teacher, Waldorf teachers pay absolutely NO attention to the skin color of the child or the skin colors of the parents when interacting with the child and the parents… again speaking sarcastically of course.
I don’t think it is splitting hairs (either literally or metaphorically) to make a distinction between Ray McDermott, Professor of Education at Stanford University whose engagement with Waldorf Education appears to be limited to one study over the last 20 years, and Roy McDermott who is an Anthroposophist and, according to Waldorf critic Dan Dugan, is the brother of Professor McDermott. You and I have already discussed this on the Wholefoods Market forum where I challenged you to justify your implication that Professor McDermott’s academic integrity was compromised either in principle or in practice by his alleged brother’s beliefs or activities. In that instance you seemed to rather grudgingly allow that Prof McDermott’s report might be “reasonably balanced”. Now, however, you are again claiming that his report “isn’t as neutral as [I] make out”. Which is it: balanced or biased? Let’s be honest about it.
I know that but I don’t think her Anthroposphical connections negate her work. The historian Peter Staudenmaier who specialises in Steiner and Anthroposophy seems to respect her, and even Dan Dugan acknowledges some merits in her work. Is that blowing your mind?
“Which is it: balanced or biased?”
It’s reasonably balanced – considering it was written by an Anthroposophist. It definitely ISN’T unbiased.
“I know that but I don’t think her Anthroposphical connections negate her work.”
Two Anthroposophists write a document about racism and you come here waving it around as if racism somehow has ended for Waldorf schools. That is definitely NOT the case so stop pretending it is. Waldorf schools have YET to acknowledge their racism. Here’s hoping that time will come soon.
You seem to be implying again that Professor Ray McDermott is an Anthroposophist. We went through this before and you produced no evidence that Ray is an Anthroposophist. If you have some evidence now please produce it.
More seriously you are alleging that Ray McDermott’s report is biased. For a professional academic this would amount to professional misconduct. This would be an extraordinary charge to make, requiring extraordinary evidence to substantiate, against a professor at a small Mid-Western university let alone an institution with the prestige of Stanford University. I challenge you to produce evidence substantiating your accusation, or withdraw it.
PS I stand corrected regarding the name of the other McDermott.
“Ray McDermott, Professor of Education at Stanford University whose engagement with Waldorf Education appears to be limited to one study over the last 20 years”
He may or may not be an anthroposophist but besides co-authoring that study, he is (or was) a Waldorf parent: http://www.steinercollege.edu/waldorf
Thanks for the information.
The first testimonial is also interesting in the context of the current discussion.
” I challenge you to produce evidence substantiating your accusation, or withdraw it.”
When did this become a court of law? He obviously quacks like a duck… (apologies to the Quackometer). This is just another Anthro pretending to be mainstream. If the movement wasn’t FULL of liars, I might have an obligation to prove something. Has he ever officially denied being an Anthroposophist? Only YOU have denied he’s an Anthroposophist… why don’t you ask HIM?
Unfortunately, the world of Anthroposophy is chock full of people who are willing to LIE about who they are or what they do or believe in order to promote Anthroposophy. Remember the Dutch Commission which reviewed Steiner’s statements… ALL Anthroposophists… every single one of them… but to hear Anthroposophists discuss it, this was an “independent” study.
The Waldorf movement is a bunch of people in denial. There will always be people like me to remind them of who they really are.
I admit defeat.
You make assertions about, and allegations against Professor McDermott which you apparently cannot substantiate and then accuse him of being a liar?!
Those of us who stick pedantically to verifiable facts are clearly no match for your intellectual rigour.
“Those of us who stick pedantically to verifiable facts are clearly no match for your intellectual rigour.”
Yes, isn’t the abundance of “verifiable facts” what Waldorf is famous for? … Not lying, not racism, not child abuse… when I think of “verifiable facts”… I think of Waldorf.
Two brothers, one a declared Anthroposophist, the other an “educator”… The “educator” writes a paper that cites the work of the Anthroposophist. And you have trouble making the connection? It doesn’t take a lot of rigor to smell something fishy. Again, it was a nice study, but certainly not unbiased.
Why would you think bias never entered the study written by two Anthroposophists?
And who the hell is Roy McDermott? Ray’s brother’s name is Robert.
You’re welcome John.
Ah, the infamous Kenneth Chenault! I can easily imagine a Waldorf
school in 1960s America marketing itself to Chenault’s parents as a
haven from the overt and widespread racism of the time. For all their shrewdness in appealing
to those wishing to avoid the current prevailing culture (equally true
today), the schools are notoriously bad at explaining the nature of
the alternative they do offer.
I’m not aware of any academic studies of Waldorf education that are
authored by neutral, external observers with no personal investment in
the movement. I’ve been looking for a while. My guess is that it is
too small a niche, with overall unremarkable results to attract the
attention of mainstream educationalists.
The McDermott piece John links to above is a follow-up to his original
1996 article “Waldorf education in an inner-city public school” in The
Urban Review journal. Unfortunately this is behind a paywall but I
have read it and will quote from it below. It’s full of glowing praise
for the Milwaukee Urban Waldorf School and addresses racism only
briefly at the end. He found that the background of racist tension in
that particular community carries across in to the school. While generally
moderate and positive in tone, McDermott has some reservations:
“Staff members are not always better equipped than the children to
handle the hidden injuries of racism. The staff and faculty at Urban
Waldorf represented a wide gamut of opinions on race and the possible
presence of racism at the school. Some were quick to point to what
they thought were unquestionable cases of racism inherent in Waldorf
philosophy and practice, and others were as quick to deny the
possibility of racism at any level, in any practice.”
“Sometimes, we were able to observe seemingly honest and engaged
dialogue about the construction of race and the consequences of
racism; at other times, stances were taken, and dialogue was perhaps
“It is easy to imagine why there are disputes at the school about
Waldorf educators’ insisting on teaching Norse tales and Greek myths
to the exclusion of African modes of discourse.”
“A gentle and loving curriculum may not be enough, and assuming so may
itself be racist.”
While positive about the particular case of the Urban Waldorf school,
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/Racism_McDermott.html is more
strident in tone and confirms most of what I’ve heard from the
critical side of the fence. What I find disappointing is that
McDermott is almost a lone voice on the Waldorf side in his insistence
on taking Steiner’s race legacy seriously and that in the almost 20
years since he visited Milwaukee, the debate has not moved on.
Thank you for your thoughtful and informative comments.
I have a couple of questions:
What is Kenneth Chenault infamous for?
And is it possible that his school actually was a haven from the overt and widespread racism of the time? From what I hear in some parts of the USA that’s not setting the bar very high even nowadays.
Thank you for your excerpt from McDermott & Co’s full report. As you point out one has to pay for it (I think Springer publish it at about 30 Euros) and my parsimony exceeds my curiosity. What you quoted seems roughly consistent with the separate (free) report in saying that Steiner-Waldorf has an issue to deal with the legacy of Steiner’s racist thinking and sometimes they manage it better than others.
However I think that all cultures derived from the Abrahamic religions have a legacy of racist — to the point of genocidal — attitudes. We know there is racism in mainstream schools and if we do the maths Steiner schools seem no worse than mainstream and may be better.
Our pervasive culture is also homophobic, religiously-intolerant and — arguably worst of all — deeply misogynist and (at the risk of launching the more extreme Steinerphobes on a cherry-picking expedition!) Steiner-Waldorf education seems to me to deal rather better than most with these issues.
Lastly you say
Leaving aside whether one wishes to position McDermott “on the Waldorf side” simply because he sees some good in some of it, one must acknowledge at least his collaborator on the Milwaukee project, Ida Oberman who (as I pointed out earlier in this discussion) is (unlike McDermott) and Anthroposophist but who has written critically about Waldorf Schools’ relationships with the Nazis.
If the debate to which McDermott and Oberman contributed has not moved on much in 20 years it is certainly not to the credit of the Waldorf movement, but if sections of the Waldorf community have developed a bunker mentality rather than engaging with its critics, the purveyors of vituperative rhetoric amongst the anti-Steiner lobby may surely claim some credit for that response.
 Steiner’s racist views would seem not to have been confined to half-baked theories of evolution: if Staudenmaier is to be believed Steiner (along with many of his fellow-countrymen) supported Germany’s genocide in Namibia
 which is not to let other religions off the hook
“The infamous Kenneth Chenault”
By that I meant he always seems to come up when the subject of Steiner’s racism is discussed. So often that it’s almost comical. As in: “Steiner schools can’t possibly be racist, look, even a successful black guy like Kenneth Chenault went to one!” Forgive me, but it’s not exactly a good line of argument.
“And is it possible that his school actually was a haven from the overt and widespread racism of the time?”
Yes, that’s possible. Equally possible is that the background of discrimination in the local community was reflected in the school, as McDermott found in Milwaukee.
But we are in danger of conflating discrimination and racism and thereby missing the point. Nobody is suggesting that Steiner schools are hotbeds of racist discrimination.
Instead of asking about the number of incidences of discrimination, let’s ask how they are dealt with when they do arise, as they inevitably will in any school. The critics position, as I understand it, is that when they aren’t dealt with adequately, the underlying philosophy of the school (Anthroposophy) and an individual teacher’s rigid interpretation of it may be the reason why. This is noteworthy because it would come as a nasty surprise to parents unfamiliar with Anthroposophy.
There is some overlap here with the reported problems some Steiner schools have in addressing bullying more generally.
This sounds academic and nit-picky until, perhaps, it happens to your family and you leave a Steiner school trying to make sense of what happened.
There’s another story in the news today about a Waldorf teacher – harming children.
This time, the teacher encouraged children to cut their skin with knives. The teacher later realized that it was a mistake. But hey, where else are you going to get education like THAT?
“But we are in danger of conflating discrimination and racism and thereby missing the point. Nobody is suggesting that Steiner schools are hotbeds of racist discrimination.”
Yes, they don’t discriminate when ENROLLING children – after all, children of all races have to incarnate into their bodies. It isn’t a *bad* thing that a child is born to a race other than white, it’s just something that has to be dealt with appropriately by the Waldorf teacher. They are very specifically trained to deal with children of all races for this very reason.
Oh now we’re really getting down and dirty: who says (pre-existing?) children “of all races” have to “incarnate” “into” their bodies? And what does “appropriately” mean? We know there us not enough genetic difference amongst races to count for anything: why should it give rise to something which needs “dealing with”? In what does the “training” consist? Sensitivity to culture, or some mythical notion of spiritual differences? Wow, the cloven hoof really peeped out for a moment there, didn’t it?
Rita, I’m glad you asked. Firstly, Steiner says all children are in the process of incarnating into their bodies until age 7… so, there’s no question that this is true. “Appropriately” can mean many things… for one thing, it’s very dangerous for a child to think critically, or intellectually for that matter. Also, eating potatoes is bad for the developing brain. But there can be much more severe incarnation problems in children. Some children aren’t children at all, but demons inhabiting the bodies of children. These are sometime the most difficult children Waldorf teachers must “deal with”. Waldorf teacher training provides solutions for all these incarnation issues including dealing with children who are not white (for example, special seating accommodations for black children with regard to their proximity to the window). Steiner laid out these important ideas in his many books that are required reading for Waldorf trained teachers. There are many examples in this book that’s required reading for Waldorf teachers (the title keeps changing but it’s there).
Sorry, I forgot to leave a link to the book… Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner:
Oh, eating potatoes is bad for the developing brain, I see: must be why the English have always had such trouble with the Irish, I see this racist approach solves a lot of historical problems.
This is a corker!!
But what else can you expect??
Unbelievable – except that I went through almost exactly the same thing… right down to being reported to (and cleared by) Child Protective Services. These schools must pass these ideas around as our daughter’s teacher convinced my ex to do this. I have documented being falsely reported to CPS on my blog in a sworn declaration to the court http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2011/06/court-declaration-objection-to.html. Coincidence?
Here’s another corker… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2384747/Ringwood-Waldorf-School-pupils-told-cut-art-lesson.html
“The part-time teacher was suspended after pupils at Ringwood Waldorf School in Hampshire sliced themselves as part of the lesson, and later resigned from her post as school chiefs were investigating the incident.”
I don’t even know where to begin, other than to say sending my son to that “school” was my worst nightmare!! I would highly recommend that if you feel it is the appropriate school for your child, make sure psychological tests of the teachers have been conducted and PASSED. Possibly, Not all walDORK schools are as incompetent as the one in Sarasota, FL but after my family’s horrifying experience I have lost faith.
[edited: removed name]
To Mr Stumbles, and other defenders of the Steiner faith.
It is not simply the racism of Herr Steiner that needs questioning, but the whole gamut of his nonsense philosophy. That’s one hell of a lot of questioning! He was clearly entirely barmy.
Steinerism is like so many religions, in that, in order to try to survive criticism, it has to continually try to re-invent itself.
By all means address your comments to “defenders of the Steiner faith” (although I wonder how many you’ll reach on this site) but may I ask you to read my peice on Steiner Education (to which I have referred earlier in this thread and elsewhere on this blog) and let me know what words in that text suggest that I share that “faith”?
John, I tried to read your article, but within the first few sentences, you convinced me I shouldn’t. I think it was the “Frankly yes” part. In the few exchanges I’ve had with you, I’ve discovered a Waldorf cheerleader who claims to be a “skeptic” for effect. Your arguments don’t hold water since you base them on Anthroposophist’s views of their own movement. Seriously, John, step back and have a look at what you’re doing. They don’t make grains of salt big enough to take with that article. I may give it another try sometime, but the “full of crap” factor seems way too high for me to get through it today.
Always a pleasure to hear from you, though.
Dear Pete K,
Thank you for your response to my recent message. To clarify, the “Peter” in my message was Peter Robinson, not yourself.
As for your comments about a “Waldorf cheerleader” maybe you are mistaking me for someone else? Or, as you admit, simply haven’t read my piece.
Yes, I knew who you were responding to. If you didn’t want anyone else to read it, you should have sent it in a private email.
You are John Stumbles aren’t you? Are you suggesting we haven’t had many interactions – in fact many have been right here on this blog. That you don’t see yourself as a Waldorf cheerleader pretending to be a skeptic doesn’t surprise me and I doubt it surprises anyone else why has read your apologia here.
No I don’t see myself as a “Waldorf cheerleader” and I don’t think most people who’ve actually read what I’ve written on the subject do either. That you do doesn’t surprise me since you have stated that you see Steiner Education in “purely black-or-white terms”, so I suppose you regard anyone who isn’t as dogmatically anti-Waldorf as you as being an apologist or “cheerleader” for it.
” That you do doesn’t surprise me since you have stated that you see Steiner Education in “purely black-or-white terms”, so I suppose you regard anyone who isn’t as dogmatically anti-Waldorf as you as being an apologist or “cheerleader” for it.”
Well, a cheerleader cheers for the team, whether they’re winning or losing, or cheating, or mangling other players… that’s what a good cheerleader does. Despite TONS of evidence to the contrary, you continue to produce the same old apologia that critics know as the standard Waldorf line – that Waldorf schools are generally good but there are “one or two” odd schools that have problems once in a while. You pull the same deceptive gags the Waldorf federation and AWSNA and Wikiposophists pull, pretending Anthroposophists aren’t connected to Anthroposophy so they can give credibility to Waldorf education. It’s dishonest and disgusting… and it’s what you do, John. I’m certain, most people see your baloney for what it is… but hey, if you fool 5%, that’s 5% you didn’t have before, right?
I invite anyone to read my essay on the subject and see if what you’ve just written bears any resemblance to what I’m saying in it. I don’t think it does but it’s hard to objectively critique one’s own work and maybe an impartial observer might get a different impression.
On the other hand I and anyone who takes up my suggestion have the advantage that we have actually read what I’ve written, which you tell us you have not done, so it’s a bit like arguing about some controversial book with someone who refuses to read it because they “know” it is bad!
Seriously: I am open to discussion and criticism of my my ideas based on evidence, reason and critical thinking. Several times when Steiner critics (and others) have presented evidence or analysis I had not been exposed to before I have revised my thinking (and writing) accordingly, and I daresay I shall continue to do so. I have been wrong about all sorts of things in the past, am probably wrong about many now and will no doubt be wrong about things in the future. For me the liberating thing about skepticism is the attitude that being wrong itself is not bad — it’s part of the human condition — but what is deeply wrong is refusing to accept when we are wrong and to change our thinking and behaviour.
John, here’s where you are mistaken, once again:
“On the other hand I and anyone who takes up my suggestion have the advantage that we have actually read what I’ve written, which you tell us you have not done”
Trying to mislead readers again? Again, I suggest readers simply search for your name in these blogs (or mine) and see how many times you and I have discussed what you’ve written. They could go to the Etherial Kiosk blog and read our debates there too. Even the Whole Food’s forum has our discussions. To suggest I haven’t read what you’ve written is just plain comical. The suggestion that your opinion may have changed over these discussions isn’t born out by the discussions themselves. You’re a broken record begging for attention and wondering why somebody who has already heard your song wouldn’t want to hear it over and over again.
Parents coming here are looking for the TRUTH, John, not apologia. If I thought anybody reading this was actually taking your link seriously, I’d go to more effort to dismantle your nonsense sentence by sentence (not here of course). You should be thankful I’m ignoring it. 😉
Earlier in this discussion you wrote:
I took that as meaning you didn’t read my article, which is the substance of my thinking on Steiner-Waldorf education.
Also, I don’t think I have ever posted any comments on Alicia’s blog (Google “site:zooey.wordpress.com stumbles”), so I doubt that I have had any debates with you there. Maybe you really are confusing me with someone else?
“Maybe you really are confusing me with someone else?”
I’m sure I’m not confused about you John. It’s not the same as your confusion about the McDermott brothers. You were on the DC’s Improbable Science blog too, weren’t you? That’s where I may have been confused because Zooey also engaged you there. You were defending Steiner’s racism there and the racist practices in Steiner schools. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the right guy.
I did indeed contribute to the discussion on David Colquhoun’s blog which must, as you say, have caused the confusion you suffered. You also seem confused when you state that I was “defending Steiner’s racism … and the racist practices in Steiner schools” when actually I said, for example:
I trust you are now less confused.
“I trust you are now less confused.”
Your confirmation helped. 😉
Excuse me for butting in, John and Peter. I just (re-)read John’s article. I think it’s relatively thoughtful and well written, although naturally I don’t agree with all of it.
I would like to pick up on one aspect: the “secrecy” around Anthroposophy. John, your phrase “one would barely trust the Steiner movement to organise a piss-up in a brewery” certainly rings true! Much less would one trust them to run a school…
Of course there’s no global conspiracy to keep the cult of Anthroposophy a secret from gullible parents. But there is certainly a problem, as I illustrate with my own experiences just written up here:
I think there are several things going on here. Firstly, I suspect that some of the schools themselves are confused about the role of Anthroposophy. Secondly, no one person in many schools is responsible for their communications. When the advertising for our local Steiner school went from non-existent to barely literate, parents were rightly outraged. Thirdly, they struggle to survive and the more pragmatic ones realise that an honest attempt to explain Anthroposophy would simply not help their chances.
Great blog Mark. I’ve linked to it.
Thanks for your comments and the link — interesting piece (I’ve commented on it there).
Sadly they don’t have a monopoly on disorganisation: when our older son left the Steiner school and went to a local comp we found that it, too, had significant deficiencies in the area of arranging refreshments in fermented beverage production facilities. What have your experiences of the school(s) you subsequently sent your child(ren) to been?
Quite possibly. Whilst I’m sure schools vary a lot I think many schools — and teachers — are more interested in the pedagogy than the deeper points of anthroposophy.
That’s certainly true of ours. As Napoleon said “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence”; I doubt any (UK, at least) Steiner school can afford professional PR people writing their websites and prospectuses and other aspects of how they present themselves to the outside world, and the more involved and motivated people who take on these tasks are probably simply unaware how outsiders — particularly the more sceptical, let alone antipathetic ones — see them.
Dunno. My limited experience of some (mercifully few) really dyed-in-the-wool Anthroposophists is they seem to think that if everyone else knew about Anthro they’d realise how wonderful it was and beat a path to their door! Certainly at our school there have always been people running Steiner study groups for anyone interested in learning about it (and advertising them on noticeboards and in the school newsletter). If they don’t publicise Anthroposophy on their website etc it may just be that the school (or those writing the website) think it is more important to communicate the practical side of the education.
But I do think that schools should say how Anthroposophy fits into what they do, and how dogmatically or pragmatically they approach it and the words of Rudolf Steiner (as well as addressing other criticisms raised towards them).
As Napoleon said “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence”;
Unfortunately, there’s malice there too. Do you think it’s really incompetence when Waldorf schools don’t call emergency services when a child is seriously hurt? We’ve seen many examples of this right here on this blog. Almost always, it’s someone ELSE who calls the authorities. All teachers are mandated reporters of abuse and violence – yet you somehow believe Waldorf teachers are simply incompetent when they don’t report abuse. It has nothing to do with their school’s reputation, right? You should market those rose-colored glasses John… since they apparently prevent you from looking at actual evidence when it has been presented to you.
Oh dear, Pete, you do seem to be confusing me with someone else again.
I am the person who is suggesting that various aspects of Steiner/Waldorf pedagogy may have some merits and that overall Steiner-Waldorf education is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. I have never claimed that it is all flawless and perfect and that one cannot find any examples of incompetent or even malicious behaviour amongst its practitioners: you must be confusing me with someone else again.
As someone who tries to maintain an open mind and to be reasonably well-informed about S-W E I confess I was surprised by your statement:
There is a long comment thread even on this post, let alone the total to all Andy’s posts on Steiner Education and I cannot recall everything that’s been discussed; but I confess I cannot recall any, let alone all the “many examples” of Waldorf schools not calling emergency services “when a child is seriously hurt”. And I am surprised: I would have thought that such outrageous behaviour would have stuck in my mind. I’m sure you, as a diligent reporter on the failings of Waldorf education, have references to these occurrences to hand: I would be indebted to you for refreshing my memory.
“I am the person who is suggesting that various aspects of Steiner/Waldorf pedagogy may have some merits and that overall Steiner-Waldorf education is neither wholly good nor wholly bad.”
Oh, so YOU’RE that person… Thanks for clarifying.
This is getting old John. Every time you don’t agree with what you’ve said in the past, you pretend I’m confusing you with someone else. If you don’t stand by your positions anymore, why not say so? Why try to blame me? You don’t seem to recognize your opinions when they are related back to you. How come? You seriously think you’re the voice of reason, don’t you?
Have you looked at the links I provided, or are we only supposed to follow your links? Try actually reading what people post sometime. You might try Andy’s blog about the cutting incident – the school didn’t notify authorities immediately did they? Then there’s the child who was severely burned, again the teacher didn’t get help, a neighbor called for help. How about the incident where the teacher duct taped the children to their chairs? It happened TWICE before the school took ANY action – and even then excused the teacher. There are more like this… but you have to pay attention John. I should invite you to read my blog sometime – if you haven’t already. There are lots of incidents listed there… from Waldorf schools all over the world. They’re all bad John… every single one… even the one you belong to. And it really will take Waldorf people to see this before they consider improving. That’s why cheerleaders aren’t helpful at all in these situations. Why not get out of the way so people who get it can actually motivate Waldorf to self-evaluate and improve?
I try to keep an open mind on Steiner Education (as on other matters). If I come across evidence that challenges my opinions or beliefs I try to evaluate it fairly and, if necessary, change my beliefs rather than dismissing or distorting the evidence. Over time I have changed my opinions on Steiner Education (and no doubt will continue to do so). This is part of a practice which some people call “scepticism” (spelt with a ‘k’ in your part of the world). I recommend it to you with enthusiasm, though without much optimism of your adopting it. However if – as it seems – you are offended or outraged by it, it might be better if you avoided engaging with skeptics, and whilst you never know when you might encounter one, keeping away from sceptical blogs might be a good start!
One principle of scepticism is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in my last reply to you I challenged you to produce evidence to support your claim that “Waldorf schools don’t call emergency services when a child is seriously hurt” which you said “[w]e’ve seen many examples of …right here on this blog”. So was asking for multiple instances where children were seriously hurt requiring emergency services to be called but the school didn’t do that.
Your first example was where children suffered cut fingers. It’s not stated in the report but I think it’s fair to assume that if the children had butchered their fingers with meat cleavers that might have been mentioned: instead it seems that the children had something equivalent to paper cuts drawing a little blood. Now I understand the US has a very litigious liability culture but here in the UK I think our hard-pressed emergency services would not be impressed at being summoned to deal with such minor injuries which the school’s trained first-aiders would have been quite capable of dealing with.
I’m not aware of the duct tape incident you refer to but I am curious how the use or abuse of duct tape can lead to serious injuries requiring attendance of emergency services.
So we have one instance of a child being severly burned and the teacher failing to summon help. Which I will have to take your word for because you don’t provide a link to the evidence and I don’t have the time to search for it myself.
That’s one example, Pete, not the “many examples” which you claim.
I totally agree the burns incident sounds horrific. I agree the other incidents seem bad. I’m not claiming that nothing bad ever happens in Steiner Schools. But bad things happen in other schools too. You can cherry-pick examples of bad things that happen in some Steiner schools, but you could do the same for mainstream schools. I’m not seeing evidence that all Steiner schools are consistently worse than all other schools.
 There’s a pretty good guide to this practice written by the late Barry Beyerstein.
It seems that your comment over on stopsteinerinstroud.com didn’t get past moderation. You didn’t really engage with what I wrote but merely took the opportunity to link to your own writing. Sorry, it’s not my blog and wasn’t my decision, but I thought it only fair to let you know what happened to your comment.
> What have your experiences of the school(s) you
> subsequently sent your child(ren) to been?
This is of limited relevance, but we have had some minor disagreements with a childminder and a nursery that were resolved to everybody’s satisfaction. So far no problems or surprises with the primary school, although we’re only a month in.
My point about Steiner schools is that the flat, collegiate management structure means that when problems do occur, as they inevitably will anywhere, no one person is ultimately responsible on the part of the school for resolving them.
> Certainly at our school there have always been people
> running Steiner study groups for anyone interested in
> learning about it
There are study groups at the school we looked at too. However, they’re not advertised to prospective parents or the general public. I’m curious, John: at which point in your relations with your child’s Steiner school did you become aware of Anthroposophy?
> I think many schools — and teachers — are more
> interested in the pedagogy than the deeper points of
> If they don’t publicise Anthroposophy on their website
> etc it may just be that the school (or those writing the
> website) think it is more important to communicate the
> practical side of the education.
I think you make the fundamental mistake of assuming that the practical pedagogy and Anthroposophy can be separated. We don’t have to get as far as the deeply esoteric cosmology of Steiner or his alternative history of the world. At an everyday level, look at the symbolism of the festivals, Eurythmy and the biodynamic garden at many schools. Then look at the content of Steiner teacher training courses, which are essentially Anthroposophical seminaries. There is no practical Steiner pedagogy without Anthroposophy.
> But I do think that schools should say how
> Anthroposophy fits into what they do, and how
> dogmatically or pragmatically they approach it
Exactly. I think we can furiously agree on that!
Thanks for your message.
Their loss 😉
Thanks for letting me know.
Tell me about it 🙁
Management or governance (I forget which term they used) was one area the Woods Report recommended that Steiner schools could learn from mainstream practice. (And as Bing & “Lovelyhorse” have pointed out, and Andy reiterated, at least one of the authors of the report could be expected to be pretty favourably inclined towards Steiner-Waldorf Education).
Although to be fair, governance of any organisation (right up to, currently, the most powerful nation in the world) is a hard problem and indecisiveness is not the only vice: there are many who quite decisively do the wrong things!
As I recall it was while our first child was in kindergarten. One of the other parents was a full-on Anthro and once bent my ear for several hours talking about different sorts of angels, biodynamic gardening and probably a lot else beside! But I take your point (and I know we “furiously” agree!) that Steiner schools should be upfront about where Anthro fits with what they do. Incidentally have you read Daisy Powell’s dissertation?
I know, and I know Anthroposophists think their symbolism and hand-waving nonsense has some deep profound effect on children (and adults, from what Gregoire Perra claims). I’m sceptical: I think they’re kidding themselves, like the tantrik who Sanal Edamaruku challenged to kill him using only his claimed magic powers. I’d rather they didn’t entertain such nonsense (and I don’t think all Steiner teachers have drunk so deeply of the kool-aid as Perra) but from what I’ve seen of the teachers I’ve known I think it’s pretty harmless – certainly no worse than teachers believing they’re being guided by some bronze-age sky fairy, which you can find in any school in the country.
I’m more concerned at the reports of dodgy science and history etc being taught and I’ve watched out for it in what my current child at the school is getting taught, and what I’ve seen over the years of other classes’ teachers’ blackboard work but I haven’t seen anything iffy at our school. As to what happens at other schools, and upper schools (ours maxes out at Steiner class 8) I can’t say.
Hey John, We’re discussing your blog here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/27399
And I’ve started picking the content apart for you here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/27401 and here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/27402
But the good news is, at least I finally read your blog.
“I’m not seeing evidence that all Steiner schools are consistently worse than all other schools.”
You actually need to look John. That’s something your rose-colored glasses hinder your ability to do. Follow the links on the stories… it’s that simple. Andy doesn’t have *that* many blogs about Steiner schools here… All you need to do is read the comments others have posted and follow their links. Can you do that big guy?
That you don’t find cutting and duct-taping incidents problematic is very telling, BTW. Thanks for this!
I don’t know if you’re some bro’ in the ‘hood hipster for whom the word ‘bad’ means what old-school types like me would call ‘good’, if you have difficulty comprehending what I say, or whether you deliberately choose to take it as if I’d said the opposite of what I actually did say; whichever it is, it makes it extremely difficult to have a rational discussion with you.
Just curious, but since I’ve listed SO MANY incidents of bullying on the Waldorf Critics’ site, (in response to your blog), I wonder if your rose-colored glasses will allow you to admit that bullying is a Waldorf problem – and that there are Waldorf-specific reasons for this – as many many parents have pointed out. Will your opinion change on this issue now that you have the evidence you have been asking for? Didn’t think so.
“I don’t know if you’re some bro’ in the ‘hood hipster for whom the word ‘bad’ means what old-school types like me would call ‘good’, if you have difficulty comprehending what I say, or whether you deliberately choose to take it as if I’d said the opposite of what I actually did say; whichever it is, it makes it extremely difficult to have a rational discussion with you.”
You didn’t say they were bad John – READ YOUR OWN WORDS… you said they “SEEM BAD” – It SEEMS like you know what you’re talking about – but actually, you don’t.
You SEEM to be the one with the reading (and writing) comprehension problems John. Seriously, try reading things carefully… like I do.
You SEEM to be conveniently forgetting that you still haven’t produced any evidence to support your claim that there are multiple instances of children in Steiner-Waldorf schools being seriously hurt requiring emergency services to be called but the schools didn’t do that. If you can’t justify this serious allegation please would you at least have the decency to withdraw it?
“If you can’t justify this serious allegation please would you at least have the decency to withdraw it?”
No, I won’t withdraw it, but I’ll reiterate it. There are multiple instances RIGHT HERE ON THE QUACKOMETER BLOG of children in Steiner-Waldorf schools being seriously hurt and that required emergency services to be called but the schools didn’t do that. Again, all one needs to do is look at the links to find them. The cutting incident is one… the duct-taping incident is two… the burning incident is three… additionally, there are other instances of this happening that are not conveniently documented on Andy’s blog but which have been documented elsewhere. Mr. Stumbles can’t be bothered to look for even the ones right here on this blog, yet he expects me to do it for him. I can only imagine how much effort he put into investigating Waldorf education before blogging about his wonderful experience of it.
For anyone interested, I and others have discussed Mr. Stumbles’ blog and have provided extensive lists of complaints from parents of children who were bullied and abused in Waldorf schools. Those responses can be found on the thread here: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/27399
Professor Peter Staudenmaier points out “I think that gets right to the point that John seems to be missing. Bullying occurs in all sorts of schools. Karmic rationales for bullying are a distinctive feature of Steiner education. That is why this feature is a consistent aspect of critical commentary on Steiner schools.”
Coincidentally, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying.
So, rather than you being bothered to provide links to the evidence you claim supports the serious allegations you are making, you demand that I should trawl through the reams that have been written on this blog (getting on for 30,000 words on this page alone) to find what you are referring to, and that I am at fault for not doing so? I must admit a grudging admiration for the breathtaking spin you put on this: it is worthy of some of our less scrupulous politicians!
And, according to you, cut fingers and contact of adhesive tape with skin now constitute serious injuries and any school (sorry, I mean any Waldorf school) should call the emergency services when such things happen? How about grazed knees and nettle stings? You could add those to your definition of serious injury and prove to your own satisfaction that every Waldorf school in the world is guilty of the charge you allege!
“So, rather than you being bothered to provide links to the evidence you claim supports the serious allegations you are making”
I ALREADY HAVE.
” you demand that I should trawl through the reams that have been written on this blog ”
It’s called “research” John. It’s part of the effort required for actually learning stuff. Of course you are welcome to bypass that part and continue to speak out of ignorance. Nobody is stopping you (obviously).
“And, according to you, cut fingers and contact of adhesive tape with skin now constitute serious injuries and any school (sorry, I mean any Waldorf school) should call the emergency services when such things happen? ”
It’s hard to argue with logic like that. Considering you haven’t read the articles apparently – I’m wondering if you’re being obtuse on purpose again. I’m sure 1/2 the class pulled their children out of an expensive, private school that requires a HUGE committment (like Waldorf does) over a paper cut. People toss away thousands and thousands of dollars over paper cuts all the time John. A little duct tape on the skin… how could that possibly harm a child… I’m sure those wacky parents overreacted to children being bound to their chairs. It’s AGAINST THE LAW TO DO THIS, but hey, why should the school speak up… if the parents want to call the police – so be it, right?
At Highland Hall, they didn’t report pedophiles. Hey, no blood gushing, right? Not an “emergency”, right?
Seriously, John, you need to LEARN about what you’re defending. If you can’t be bothered to do the research required, don’t expect people to take you seriously. This stuff isn’t easy… it takes a LOT of work to understand why Waldorf is the way it is. If you’re not going to do the work, then fine… but don’t waste my time asking me to do it twice.
No, you mentioned the incidents which, you claim, support your serious injuries allegation but you did not give references to where independent reports on these incidents could be found.
Although if you can arbitrarily define a cut finger as a serious injury I suppose you can define the mention of an incident as a reference to it.
I wrote to John: “I’m wondering if you’re being obtuse on purpose again” and John confirmed: “No, you mentioned the incidents which, you claim, support your serious injuries allegation but you did not give references to where independent reports on these incidents could be found.”
I acknowledge I could be wrong, and that obtuseness may come naturally to John.
Well said: how is it that people swallow the mumbo-jumbo?
ThANK YOU For such a thorough picture of waldorf practice and the depth of thought and insight behind it. I am a teacher and am aware that everything we teach carries importance and it seems you feel cheated by the waldorf substance. I feel that government education is mostly without real nourishment for my students so I am not as suspicious as you. I like the verses you quoted. As a scientist and Christian I find them both rational and affirming, and do not feel indoctrinated or threatened in any way. I’m left wondering what your real concern is. Philip mirkin
“I’m left wondering what your real concern is. ”
Seriously? I’m left wondering if you’re real, Philip. You see no reason for concern here? This leaves me very concerned. Is there *any* criticism that the Waldorf movement will take seriously?
Whether pro or anti anthroposophy, one fails to look at the fact that this took place in France which is against any form of teaching that doesn’t fall under the criteria of National Education. It has, for many years, tried to close down Steiner Schools brandishing it as a Sect and organising raids in the schools themselves, back in the mid 1980’s, sending the police in the middle of lessons attended by very young children. The French government is currently trying to ban homeschooling which is seen as a dissident movement in order to eventually be able to ban any independent school which does not follow the national curriculum and hasn’t been vetted by the Inspection d’Académie. This in the name of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité… The fact that Grégoire Perra was “acquitted” is no brainer, the school was never going to win that one. If you speak to any French native (and I am French myself) and try to find faults with “Laïcité and its propaganda”, you will see how they foam at the mouth, isn’t that a form of indoctrination?
“Whether pro or anti anthroposophy, one fails to look at the fact that this took place in France”
The trial took place in France. Mr. Perra’s observations are common to all Waldorf schools. Confirmation that his testimony is truthful has been abundant.
“The fact that Grégoire Perra was “acquitted” is no brainer, the school was never going to win that one. ”
And still, they sued Mr. Perra. Why? If they knew they couldn’t win, then what was the lawsuit about? Punishing Mr. Perra?
I know a lot about Steiner’s Philosophy and the guy was completely wacko. That’s all that needs to be said about him. However. I would still much rather send my children to a Waldorf school than any public school in the US. I have toured some and am still convinced that the majority of what goes on there will be good for my children. We don’t go all Waldorf at home and I don’t have a problem not incorporating the philosophy that I don’t like there. There is something wrong with every single school in this country and it is in this day and age absolutely a question of choosing the lesser evil.
“There is something wrong with every single school in this country and it is in this day and age absolutely a question of choosing the lesser evil.”
That assumes you know which is the lesser evil. Waldorf definitely is NOT! Public schools have to abide by the law. Waldorf schools are private, and therefore, DON’T! Public schools fire bad teachers, Waldorf schools move them around (like churches move bad priests around). The only thing Waldorf schools are good at is collecting money. Imagine what could happen if all that money wasn’t diverted from the public school system. Waldorf’s goal is to keep children stupid for as long as possible – potentially for their entire lives. Why would you put your children into a system that doesn’t value intelligence?
Load of crap. Why are you obsessed with smashing Waldorf when not one bit of systematic evidence suggests its harmful? You idiots keep trying to kick homeopathy on “lack of evidence” and here you are lauding a collection of allegations and anecdotes as holy writ. Hypocrites.
Here’s the evidence I’ve collected that Waldorf is harmful. http://thewaldorfreview.blogspot.com/ Care to comment?
I am Waldorf teacher of 20 years and anthroposophist, in the United States. I consider myself an anthroposophist not because I believe in a Steiner doctrine, but because I find it to be a perspective that is fascinating and enriching in my life. Steiner did say and write a lot that would seem crazy to those with a more materialistic and rational way of thinking, but as far as i know he never asked us to take any of it on blind faith. In any case, this was always emphasized by my teachers in teacher training at Antioch Graduate School. The meditative practices he recommended, if one wanted to develop one’s own capacity for spiritual thinking, are actually pretty simple and straight forward, though they take discipline to practice. There is no “hocus pocus” involved with those, and are they not very different from other techniques of meditation or sacred study or practice. I try to be an open-minded and objective person in my life. Sometimes it puts me in a state of cognitive dissonance, I admit. For example, I attend Catholic Church with my elderly grandmother, but often in the car, before I pick her up, I listen to the “atheist” show on the public radio station. This always gives me plenty to think about, and yet, there is plenty I enjoy and find meaningful at church.
I have two young adult children who attended Waldorf School, neither of whom are students of or believers of anthroposophy or Steiner. I believe they find it all mildly amusing. However, they see it is an important part of my life, and they are respectful of that, as I am respectful of their world views. My daughter is a Ph.D. student in computational biology at Dartmouth University, and has a non-spiritual view towards life. However, she highly values her Waldorf Education which took her all the way through High School. Without entering into the long and detailed debate on this website, I would like to say that she and I both feel her education inspired and guided her to be curious and searching, to work hard and be self-disciplined, and to find joy in life and love for the world and humanity. One of her professors told me she had one of the most amazing “math brains” they had ever encountered, not only being able to “do” math, but to have an intuition for the meaning and concepts behind it. Of course I am not objective where my own daughter is concerned, but I also find her to be a remarkably caring and socially gifted person. For example, she volunteers in a prison, tutoring in science and writing, and has an appreciation of the arts. My husband works in the computer industry, and he and I both feel computer “types” are often not “people people”. We often wonder if many of his colleagues have “Asperberger’s Syndrome” (I put this in quotes because there is some controversy around this diagnosis), because they communicate so poorly and do not have social intuition. In any case, I believe my daughter’s Waldorf Education contributed to her well-roundedness. Although she was strong in math, she always participated in the arts, sports, and so on, which is an unquestionable gift in life. This is not impossible to do in public education, but it is difficult, and the mainstream system is not set up for this.
I know the people on this thread must think I am silly and indoctrinated, but I do believe that beginning math with the “math gnome” puppets in first grade was a first step, appropriate to a six year old, that led to a love of math and clear, but creative, thinking. Even at that young age, the children didn’t think the gnomes were “real”, but their imaginations and joy were engaged. They also did many clapping and movement games with math, and so on. Math was taught in many different ways, and was fun. My nephew now attends first grade in a highly regarded public school district, and his math homework is boring and tedious. My children show no evidence of indoctrination, and I am grateful for their education.
Also, just to let you all know, the Anthroposophical Study groups in our (very academic) community are posted and open to the public.
I think you are missing the point. Steiner did indeed say a lot of things that people would consider crazy. And for very good reasons. If yoiu are going to send your children to such a school, it is important that prospective parents understand just what Steiner did indeed suggest about the universe. Whilst schools keep such things quet, parents cannot make an informed choice about whether a school that takes such things seriously is right fot them.
Perhaps I am missing the point, if indeed the schools keep anthroposophy “quiet”. I’m sure some do more than others. I suppose I was responding more to the general tone of criticism. And I have heard some proponents of Waldorf Ed say only the content and methods are relevant, not the spiritual view and practices that are underneath. But when I was a brand new parent, one of the first things I did was attend a study group, and we read directly from Steiner…so I don’t know why that would be considered overly “quiet”. I did indeed think it was quite strange, but I still liked what the school was providing my children very much. The information on Steiner is available to anyone who chooses to seek it, right? All one has to do is open a book. All Waldorf Schools that I know of say very upfront that the method of education is based on Rudolph Steiner, usually on a brochure or website. Many people send their children to Catholic school, or Quaker school, not because they are followers of that religion, but because they believe the education is good for their child. The Christian religion has as many “beliefs” that are as “crazy” as Steiner’s, does it not?
Also, I have been thinking more about this important topic since I last posted, and I would agree, I do think Steiner said and wrote many things that many people would consider “crazy”. But in the end, how much does it matter in the big picture, if the result of his life and study has resulted in so much good work in the world? I would recommend the film “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner”. It doesn’t focus on the world view or philosophy of Steiner, but what organizations born out of anthroposophy are doing all over the world. It is quite amazing.
And in my opinion, the pedagogy and teaching methods of public education in France and USA are quite “crazy” in a different way. One would have to contemplate the purpose of public education, and educate oneself regarding education and child development, to realize this. And not many people do. Of course, that is only my opinion. And Steiner himself did want there to be different kinds of schools so people could choose.
But I do appreciate your point, and your fair and respectful tone as well. Thank you Andy. I did hesitate to enter the dialogue at all, given that this is basically an anti-Waldorf discussion thread. I’m sure I don’t actually have the skills to enter such a debate, but wanted to share a bit from “the other side”. I am just a person who is grateful for what Waldorf Ed has brought to my children and my life. I am not a scholar, advocate, or anything like that. I am also a person who is always curious about both sides of an argument. Thank you for reading and responding.
To think that the methods of Waldorf-Steiner schools can be kept seperate from their spiritual views of Rudolf Steiner is to profoundly misunderstand the nature of the schools. The curriculum and activities of a Steiner School make no sense without understandinf Steiner’s rationale for them. Delayed reading? Prescriptive Art? Eurythmy? Mythical history? Festivals? Technological limits? Teaching styles? All have spiritual rationales.
But parents are told Anthroposophy is not taught. Utter misdirection. Anthroposophy underpins everything. Waldorf Schools are Anthroposophical Schools. And parents are told the teaching is done because of ‘understanding child development’ etc – not for occult reasons. Deeply dishonest.
If these things are done for ‘crazy’ reasons, then in what sense can this be in the best interest of children? Surely teaching should be done from a stance of making use of best evidence and best practice, not because of the clairvoyant visions of a mystic? To say that Steiner education has done “so much good work in the world” cannot be taken for granted. How many children have not fulfilled their potential because of the absurdly restrictive education? How many parents have felt misled and cheated? How many families split up because of the cult-like atmosphere? How much harm because of the belief in occult medical practices?
Yet more tosh … From quackometer …
Hello Kirsten, you wrote:
“Also, I have been thinking more about this important topic since I last posted, and I would agree, I do think Steiner said and wrote many things that many people would consider “crazy”. But in the end, how much does it matter in the big picture, if the result of his life and study has resulted in so much good work in the world?”
The “big picture” you are trying to get readers to see is that the body of Steiner’s work, Anthroposophy, is a good thing overall. The small picture, which is Steiner education, is the picture we focus on here. And the role of Anthroposophy in Steiner education is huge. The ONLY reason Waldorf education exists is to promote Anthroposophy to the world. That’s it! If you are a Waldorf school teacher, you know this. The article points this out too.
And this is what Waldorf schools refuse to divulge. They do a great disservice to the world by hiding this from parents and there is NO reason to do this. People who want an Anthroposophical education will be happy with Waldorf. People who don’t, won’t! Why do they insist on making so many people unhappy? You must have noticed parents pulling their children out of your school. Why do you believe they do this, when Waldorf is so wonderful? They all realize at some point that they have been lied to by Waldorf educators.
Waldorf education is not unlike Steiner’s other initiatives – biodynamics, Anthroposophical medicine, Camphill schools and so forth. Each initiative seeks to infuse Anthroposophy into a system which doesn’t require it and typically suffers for it.
interestingly my wife mentioned to me this school system as we are looking a school for our daughters. So I intently looked at the inside out of the anthroposophic understanding and its prevailing assumptions. What should I say. my girls will not go there. Not on the basis that a certain faith is better than any other, although I would say that there ought to be an absolute original blueprint before all, but the prevailing assumptions are clearly luciferian in its philosophical nature. Without much ado here on this blog, I would suggest considering the Bible, backed up by evidences for its reliability. According to that standard, then seek understanding of anything else that claim revelation of anything about anything. A site that I have found insightful in many ways is http://www.amazingdixcoveries.tv. Enjoy!
Wow… Pete Karaiskos has been spouting aggressive non-sense in this comment thread for 3 years straight… incredible. I have no affiliation with or history with Steiner schools or anything of the like, but from reading the initial post I didn’t see much wrong.
Do you think that conventional schools do not have an agenda and indoctrination method? Children are taught to be obedient, unquestioning, submissive slaves to a system that tells you what to do and expects loyalty or punishment (do this homework or you get a detention), (don’t talk back to the teacher) etc… Schools are made to homogenise children into 9-5 worker drones which will not be likely to think for themselves, question the society and system which they are brought into, and do not disturb the status quo…
That is why we now live in a society where “scientism” zealots are the norm, with the most narrow minded viewsets that cannot be reasoned with… they believe that the absolute truth is the current publicly known scientific knowledge (the same mindset than over 100 years ago claimed that man could never invent a flying machine, or that travel of 50mph would kill a human, or the bees technically cannot fly) given to them by a corrupt system which has no regard for the benefit of the general populace.
It is difficult to know how to respond to your comment without starting by calling it an outstanding display of ignorance and prejudice.
You clearly do not understand Steiner Schools and I would even guess have not read my article. How can you even begin to say you ‘find nothing wrong’ with a school system built on a philosophy of spiritual racism? How can you criticise mainstream schools for restricting children without acknowledging how Steiner education is probably the most restricted curriculum out there with the most asusrd constraints put on children. The fact that Steiner Schools allow children to run around unsupervised does not mean they are free to do what they like and learn what they like.
You claim mainstreams schools are restrictive yet have not understood how Steiner schools literally dictate everything to children to copy into their books. It’s old fashioned blackboard rote. How do you explain that vast diversity of children that come out of mainstream schools and the extremely poor diversity of Steiner Schools? The caricature of mainstream schools is not one that is recognisable. There may be poor schools and poor teachers but you paint with ridiculously large brush stokes.
As for you depiction of science – you clearly have absolutely no understanding of science. There has never been a time when accepted scientific understanding thought “a man could never invent a flying machine, or that travel of 50mph would kill a human, or the bees technically cannot fly”. These are myths and idiocies.
I read the article and found it humorous, and a big overreaction… sorry just my opinion, I wouldn’t have said anything if you didn’t decide to insult me.
1. Based on spiritual racism? What like the mainstream political and scientific thought of pretty much the whole Western world up until about World War 2? England (my country), Germany, America… all were pro-eugenics, it was mainstream scientific thought that it would be beneficial to euthenise or steralise certain racial groups, and the disabled, amongst other things.
2. I need only look at the current state of my own generation (I am 25 years old) to see what the current mainstream educational system has done to children and their progression into adulthood. In England and America especially is where this is most obvious. Then look to places in Scandinavia where they have less than 2 hours of school a day, virtually no exams, looser curriculum, and they have the highest education scores in the world.
3. I can be sure that I have a greatest understanding of advanced cutting edge fields of science, which people like yourself would ridicule and proclaim to be “pseudo-science” out of your narrow-minded, publicly conditioned belief systems.
Such as the papers I have received from the CIA Freedom of Information Act on Dr Yan Xin and his experiments with external qi projection (from the 1980s to the current day), Dr Yan Xin was famous for having healed George Bush senior (who went on to perform parachute jumps when he was over 80 years old), and the ex-Premiere of China, as well as millions of normal Chinese citizens (during his 8-14 hour qi emitting lectures, where he would talk and emit qi non-stop, not even a toilet break, for upto 14 hours at a time, within which many people had miraculous healing experiences).
One such paper I received I meticulously photographed page by page and uploaded online for anyone who wishes to read it (as it was classified from the years of 1993-2003, and if you try to buy it online it sells for over $400 a copy).
Have a read if you like, in it are detailed reports and data from studies including where he was able to modify the half-life of radioactive isotopes (considered impossible, by any method).
(Be sure to “sort by name” in order to read it in correct order.)
Spiritual racism has never been a part of science. It is today a part of Anthroposophical thought.
I am in Sweden right now. Their educational system is far closer to the UKs than any alternative cult education like Steiner. There is much concern in Sweden regarding declining standards internationally. You clearly have no idea.
The idea that you have the ‘greatest understanding’ of science is not matched by your credulous reporting of fringe and pseudoscientific ideas.
Haha… I read you like a book, the first call of defense for you utterly predictable types (by the way why have you made it so I am unable to reply to your comment?)
“Psuedoscientific ideas” that have been carried out at University Beijing, Harvard University, University Technology California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California… amongst many other places. Endorsed by top level Chinese military generals, and the man who was the head of the first Chinese nuclear weapons program (nicknamed Grandfather Rocket by the Chinese), and some of the most highly respected physicists of modern history, including the “founder” of quantum physics in China. (I have a list of all the notable scientists who have endorsed Dr Yan Xin’s studies but I can’t find it… I have over 7gb of his studies, writings and recordings of his live qi emitting lectures).
You close-minded “scientism” zealots are all so predictable… it makes more sad than amused though unfortunately.
How about you have atleast a cursory look at the document I linked to you instead of making bold and arrogant proclamations? I guess you know better than world leading scientists that have been amazed and marvel at Dr Yan Xin’s groundbreaking studies…
That you are quick to believe that which you wish to be true is not the sign of an open mind but an empty mind.
There are two possibilities here. You have stumbled across miraculous new discoveries that turn everything on its head or you have been too quick to believe the ramblings and boastings of charlatans. You make appeals to authority (e.g. Generals, professors) rather than a cool appraisal of the evidence.
For example, for ‘qi’ to be able to alter the rate of radioactive decay would mean that the most precise and most tested theory in science (quantum theory) was spectacularly wrong. You have a choice. Do you accept the conspiratorial boastings of mavericks? Or do you accept the overwhelming evidence if a century of painstaking research into the most profound theories of science?
You accept the conspiracy theories because it makes you feel special. It feeds a narcissism you obviously have that requires you to believe that you are superior to others in having insight that conformists do not. You think you have me read like a book? I have seen your types many times.
“These experimental results (by Dr. Yan Xin and his coworkers) are a first in the world. They unequivocally demonstrate that without touching substances, the human body can affect them and change their molecular structures and properties… They are new scientific discoveries and the prelude to a scientific revolution” –
Dr Qian Xuesen, 1987 – Chairman of Chinese Association of Science and Technology, former Goddard Professor at Jet Propulsion Lab of California Institute of Technology (also co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab of California Institute of Technology), author of Engineering Cybernetics, founder of modern Chinese aerospace science, founder of the first Chinese nuclear weapons program.
You obviously are more educated than the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab of California… give me a break…
By ‘first in the world’ you mean unreplicated and highly provisional.
No one in their right mind would accept a result that defied the whole corpus of modern physics in the unreplicated results if a single researcher.
I note that your reference to a Wikipedia article does not back up your quote.
You are clearly in awe to authority rather than to evidence and reason. Let me politely suggest that this is the source of all your error.
Reference for quote – http://yanxinqigong.net/research/qian.htm
Not sure why are telling me what “I” mean, as that was a quote from Dr Qian Xuesen, who is likely 100x more intelligent, educated, and world renowned that yourself.
I don’t think you grasp the level of mastery that Dr Yan Xin is at… in my opinion he is like a “Jesus” type figure… healing thousands of people at a time for upto 14 hours, completely free of charge and of his own virtue (he states high virtue is essential for advanced qi cultivation/practise).
He has performed hundreds of studies since the 1980s, inspected and endorsed by some of the greatest scientists of the time, personally healed George Bush sn (guy is 92 now) aswell as the ex-Premier of China, was awarded a commendation by the state of New York.
You talk of me being “in awe of authority” I am the complete opposite, I don’t believe anything unless I am certain of it, I have over 50 scientific papers by Dr Yan Xin, all with very conclusive results. You are the one that is trapped in your conditioned belief system, and will not accept or even look at the evidence I have provided you.
I note that the source of your quote is not an independent source. I retain my full rights to be suitably sceptical. Something you abandoned long ago. You also note that if the quote is genuine then Xuesen is objectively wrong. A sole researcher like this could never provide sufficient evidence for such a discovery. Independent replication after publication is the bare minimum in science. Such a result would generate a flurry of activity all over the world if it could be done as measuring half life decay times is undergraduate science and trivial. Against it is worth nothing that no discrepancies in decay times have ever been noted in a century of research bar your favourite charlatan.
Mavericks buffoons in science are unfortunately common. Some might be simple incompetents. Others liars and cheats. This is a far more likely explanation than some dude coming up with earth shattering results. That you rely on one ‘researcher’ against the evidence of everyone else shows how uncritical your mind is. But I am wasting my time because you are “certain”. A closed mind in other words.
If you do not have a closed mind you could tell me what it would take for your “certain” views to be dislodged?
Comical…. Dr Yan Xin is a high level Qigong master…. he trained with the Abbott of the Shaolin Temple from the age of 4…. you cannot just take some researcher out of a University and get him to perform external qi practises….
If there are others on Yan Xin’s level (which I am sure there are), they are out in the mountains and caves of China, in hermitage meditating for years on end.
Why don’t you read one of the study excepts from the document I sent you rather than making your wild assumptions that what he has done is impossible.
Yes it is impossible to change the half-life of radioactive isotopes, apart from with qi it seems, this is precisely why they conducted this experiment, so that there could be no claims that an outcome was reached by some other method that was not solely the effect of the “external qi” projection.
Would you like me to upload some of the published studies of his in PDF format for you? I don’t think you have even looked at the data in the priceless document I shared with you…
For my “views to be dislodged” as you so politely put it, would take evidence of falsification of Dr Yan Xin’s studies. What would it take for your “certain views to be dislodged”? Because I have provided evidence where you have not, I have provided the names of high level endorsers of his studies whose individual credentials engulf your entire life’s accomplishments.
It might be worth pointing at that qigong is made up bollocks. He is a master of bollocks. Since the age of 4.
It is also worth pointing out that you cannot change the half life of radioactive substances. More bollocks. Whatever “experiments” your chap has done they are better explained by fraud or incompetence than world changing discoveries.
Xin’s “discoveries” are falsified by the entire corpus of quantum mechanical research. I respect this is a subject you know absolutely nothing about but you are obviously not prepared to listen to those that do. This is because you are not interested in the truth but in preserving your self image as a free thinker. Your error is that you mistake ignorance and self deception for free thinking.
“… healing thousands of people at a time for up to 14 hours, completely free of charge and of his own virtue …”
I’m curious what exactly can he heal? Are there any limitations?
Your arrogance and sheer ignorance astounds me. This is a perfect example of modern “scientists” thoughts and attitudes.
It is surprising you make accusations of ignorance and arrogance. First of all, it is you that are claiming to know more about physics than those that have spent life-times researching the subject. Although you you nothing, you are prepared to tell everyone else they are wrong about science. You place yourself on a pedestal, a privileged position, and then call others arrogant for daring to suggest that the Emperor has no clothes.
There is no helping you of course. You are trapped in a prison of your own making – an intellectual black hole – and you have done this by abandoning the very tools that could free you from your confined mind – evidence and reason.
A philosopher by the name of Stephen Law has written a very good book about such people as yourself. Check out “Believing Bullshit” – it described very well how people like yourself fall into the beliefs of false gurus and then surround themselves with thoughts that prevent introspection and criticism. But I suspect you will not read this book, such are the strength of your defenses of ignorance.
Because I have provided evidence and do not confine my knowledge to mainstream status quo propaganda I am in “an intellectual black hole”? Nice hypocrisy.
I’ve seen your other beliefs and how aggressively you attack beliefs that you do not agree with, quite disheartening actually, how much constant negativity 1 human being can spew without repent or pause.
For instance my mother cured her cancer (uterus sarcoma) naturally, through natural diet and lifestyle changes alone… yet her doctor tried to pressure her into surgery and chemotherapy, saying that she “would die very quickly” if she did not go through with conventional treatment…. well that was in 2011 and she made her tumour shrinks over 6 inches and it has not grown back, while her doctor has died of cancer in the meantime.
I would very much like to meetup with you in person at the Yeovil Beer Festival tomorrow or Saturday, or if you are not available then some other time at a pub in Bath are wherever is convenient for yourself? As I think you might be more open to reason and normal non-offensive human interaction in person, than you are here online.
One of the ways you confine yourself to your intellectual black hole is by dismissing science as propaganda and thinking that are not confining yourself to the ‘mainstream status quo’ by accepting the absurd evidence of a maverick. There are many people out there that claim to have evidence and insight that mainstream science does not. They tend to write green ink letters to real scientists or engage in cargo cult science – such as your favourite chap. You singularly fail to grasp a very simple concept: that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That someone can influence radioactive decay rates is an extraordinary claim. That there is no evidence beyond what one man published is not extraordinary evidence – in fact it is very weak evidence that can be dismissed without further consideration. Such pathological science experiments are very typical. They are always done on noisy data (like decay rates), at the limits of detectability. They are not done on unambiguous events, like levitating a chair. Signals from such experiments never develop in time. They are not made larger, or more precise or more predictable. They do not fit in with any new working model that can create predictions for new discoveries. They are unlike science – they are pseudoscience. History is littered with such nonsense. Proponents wear the mantle of Galileo claiming persecuted, unrecognised genius. Galileo was right though, and recognised for it.
Testimonials for self-prescribed cancer cures are also two-a-penny. All are due to misunderstandings of the nature of disease, its progress and so on. People do die though because they believe others’ mistaken tales – that is why repeating them with certainty is a dangerous game and not impressive.
I am afraid I cannot meet up, but thanks for the offer, because I am not in the country. I am afraid that plumping papers in my lap is not going to cut the mustard for the reasons given above. Good evidence would require a corpus of independent replicated research. It does not exist. I am not interested. This is not having a closed mind – but having a mind that can tell good evidence from bad evidence; good ideas from silly ideas.
Enjoy the beer.
Alexander, thank you for making the effort to come here to attack me personally. I am honored.
You clearly have a better understanding of the world and the mysteries of science than I have – and possibly most of us. I think that may put you on a level with Steiner himself.
“Dr Yan Xin is a high level Qigong master”
Yes, I can see why this is very important. Likewise, Steiner was a high level Anthroposophist… TOP level, I’d say, and yet some people still have doubts about him. There’s just no explaining that.
I know from being a top level expert on Anthroposophy that getting people to recognize my authority is sometimes difficult. I suspect you have experienced similar problems as an authority on Yan Xin and pseudoscience. Be patient my friend. The world will accept your views just as it will mine… eventually.
“First of all, it is you that are claiming to know more about physics than those that have spent life-times researching the subject. Although you you nothing, you are prepared to tell everyone else they are wrong about science.”
And yet you claim that studies backed and endorsed by people such as the guy who is the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Technology California, and pioneer of the Chinese space and nuclear weapons programme, Chinese generals, 3 US Presidents (George Bush senior, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush), top quantum physicists at the University of High Energy Physics, Beijing, Harvard University, official commendation from the New York Senate and the House of Representatives, among others are backing “bullshit”?
I will keep a keen eye out for you in the future, because I don’t appreciate your horrendous attitude and would like to have a civilised discussion in person… See you in a few weeks hopefully.
Here are 16 papers of various studies Dr Yan Xin has released, uploaded just for you from my large collection (I have many more but I’m not sure you even have the goodwill to briefly look at 16 of them).
“The scientific papers on these qigong experiments have been rigorously reviewed by highly accomplished academics, including Professor Qian Xuesen (Tsien Hsue-sen), former Chairman and current Honorary Chairman of Chinese National Association of Scientists, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, formerly Goddard Professor, Co-Founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; Professor Zhao Zhongyao, an eminent expert on nuclear physics in China, member, Academia Sinica, an early academic advisor to Dr. C.N. Yang who later won a Nobel Price in physics (being a member of Academia Sinica is roughly equivalent to being a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences); Professor Bei Shizhang, biophysics expert, world renowned biophysics teacher, member, Academia Sinica; Professor Feng Xinfang, microbiologist, member, Academia Sinica; and Professor Hu Haichang, thermophysicist, member, Academia Sinica.
After they became aware of, participated in, or reviewed the scientific papers on the qigong experiments I conducted in collaboration with a number of experts and professors from prestigious Chinese universities, such as Tsinghua University and Beijing University, they all acknowledged that qigong is highly scientific in nature.
Professor Qian Xuesen has unequivocally advocated the creation of human body science. At the same time, he predicted that the integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, qigong, special human body functions, and a unified theoretical and scientific work will result in a great leap forward in modern medicine. Furthermore, he suggested that this event will revolutionize modern science as a whole, and that a second cultural renaissance will arise and come to fruition in China.
A number of scientists, represented by Professor Qian Xuesen, including the top leader of Chinese qigong affairs for past ten years, the late General Zhang Zhenhuan (a retired general formerly in charge of the Commission on Science and Industry for National Defense and the first president of Chinese Research Society on Qigong Science), have continuously supported scientific research on qigong and consistently acknowledged the results set forth in various scientific qigong papers.”
We have established you cannot supply independent sources for that quote supposedly from Qian Xuesen or the context of that quote.
I am also glad to hear that several people in China are convinced that a scientific breakthrough will occur based on QiGong or other similar magic. When that happens, perhaps we can talk again.
And some “little known” guys from the West also…
Don’t worry we will talk again before then, unless you are going to ignore me in the street?
I was taught about religious beliefs and entities (as a christian orthodox) and we have religious christian practices that you won’t find in Catholicism and I have no “wounds ” left. I just want to ask regarding one of your comments in your tremendous explanation on anthroposophy. How perverted are you today because of the teachings you received?….” it was an artistic environment generating a mythical-religious feeling, which in my opinion is not without consequences and perverse effects:”
Well my wife and i became re acquainted with an old friend of mine who use to teach at my high school.he went on to law school and then ended up teaching at a waldorf school.after discovering what steiners teaching are all about we are diametrically opposed to anything he has to say. unfortunately our former friend is so entranced in steiners SATANIC CULT TEACHINGS he is blinded and deceived by Lucifer. we started having strange paranormal things happening in our life that required us to invoke the blood of Christ in order to have them stop.
Yes I can endorse the findings of this article through my own experiences of indoctrination into Steiner’s Anthroposophy by my mother at the age of 12 years, at the time when I needed to be developing my own critical thinking faculties. I had no grounds from which to comment on Steiner’s findings taken from his spiritual investigations. This led to an arrested development in myself whereby I was always in either a subservient or a dominant position in relation to other people. The point of reference in relation to presenting myself as either subservient or dominant was always Anthroposophy. I can attest to everything the above author has outlined in regard to poor boundary issues between one person or another. I too became a Waldorf teacher from 1974 to 2003. Recovery from living in this closed cultish system was a lengthy process, actually facilities by 10 years teaching in a Catholic school where independence of thought and exercise of critical thinking faculties was paramount. Having taking that step in my development, I then needed to address my religiosity issues, which continued to keep me in spiritual groups of various kinds as opposed to becoming an active participant in contemporary mainstream society. This is where I find myself to date. And the journey continues. However, with all due respect to the movement of Anthroposophy I have not thrown out the baby with the bath water and not only the content of Anthroposophy but also parental imprinting of social mores and biases have all resurfaced for reexamination and reassessment.
Thank you for this worthwhile reflection and commentary on a movement that influences its adherents in a way that begs conscious appraisal.
I have to disagree with what the author says. I attended Waldorf schools from sixth grade (11 years old) through 11th (year before graduation, 16 years old). My mother was also a Waldorf teacher for forty years (after teaching in public/government schools before that). She is also an Anthroposophist. I had not heard about 90% of these connections between Anthroposophy and Waldorf school or subjects, even though I lived with my mother and, as an adult, asked her about the connections many times–because I am a curious person–something I attribute in large part to my Waldorf education.
Personally, I am agnostic, nominally Christian (both my parents were raised Christian, so that’s hardly surprising). If anything, Waldorf school opened my eyes to the very many religions and beliefs of the world. I would say that Waldorf education is actually why I am open to all religious and spiritual beliefs as plausible, and why I am agnostic.
In contrast to what this article says, my mother and other teachers never tried to indoctrinate me and actually didn’t want to talk about Anthroposphy. They considered that their own belief system. Yes, it informed their teaching, but, no, it didn’t make me into an Anthroposophist. Most people, ergo, most teachers, have personal belief systems and religious beliefs. Those beliefs inform their lives and teaching. There’s nothing wrong with that. I consider the curriculum to be classical. It may have shortcomings in that it may need updating with some later works (I’m not saying it hasn’t been, I don’t know). My own personal experience was that it was weaker in the sciences and maths than the arts (Again, I’m not saying that’s true in all Waldorf schools.). But that is a far cry from saying it’s purpose or effect is indoctrination.
I think the opposite is true. Waldorf school taught me to think critically, to engage with the world, and to accept different perspectives from my own. That is the opposite of indoctrination.
The author of this article is the only person who seems interested in indoctrination here. He is close minded, rude, and arrogant beyond belief. He won’t take an outside or conflicting opinion seriously in the slightest.
I pity people like that, he will spend his entire life missing the entire reason he is supposed to be here. That is to develop, mentally, physically, and spiritually, things which cannot be done if you close your mind-off to anything you are not comfortable with, or that has not been spoon-fed to you by the organisations that seek to run and control the entire globe and it’s populace. Knowledge is power, and if you think they are teaching true knowledge in schools or university courses, then nativity and ignorance has blinded.
I am glad to have read this (translated?) article. I do not doubt the author’s experiences and I sympathize with his indignation after having finally emerged from under Steiner’s spell, as it were. But I also think that “insidious indoctrination” – while true at a certain level – may mis-portray the conscious motivations of the Anthroposophists. The whole tone of this article, while understandable in the context of the author’s lifelong experience, tends to attribute all sorts of conspiratorial dynamics to those working in and behind the schools. My guess – and I may be wrong – is that much of this functions unconsciously (as the article itself points out repeatedly in the case of the teachers), and, as in so much of human behavior and social affairs, people who are fairly sincere and trying to act in the service of certain ideals end up causing harm or promoting an unwise adherence to systems and ideas which are not ultimately beneficial, at least not to many people in their sphere of influence. So I would caution against all-or-nothing views for or against the Steiner schools and Steiner himself – who was, I believe, a complex and tragic figure. This does not mean that one should not bravely denounce all deplorable behavior and its results, as this article does.
I attended a Steiner school in the United States (first through eighth grades), and my experiences during that time, and also my current feelings about those memories, were and are mostly positive. There would be arguments for and against the practices at this school, which were not ideal, but which at least felt mostly benign. I believe I was especially fortunate in having the particular teachers I did, and even at the time I recognized that certain other teachers were much more problematic.
I have also, recently, looked carefully at a number of Steiner’s works, and I am fascinated by him. I now believe that the fundamental problem lies somewhere in his means of “knowing” all kinds of hidden realities, and also in his role as a spiritual leader – which is a very risky business for any human being, in my opinion. I have to say that any credibility attaching to his assertions regarding all levels of reality pretty much collapsed after I searched for evidence of his own experiences and found only “objective” treatments and generalized accounts of what one “should” experience in higher worlds, cleansed of “subjective” elements – which are, in my opinion, the most valuable elements when considering and evaluating spiritual experiences. I have not been able to get a good intuitive sense of the extent to which Steiner was consciously fabricating, but I cannot avoid concluding that he was almost certainly not acting and speaking with complete honesty, though he may have believed that this was somehow justified in the greater cause of building what he probably thought was a much-needed social/spiritual movement.
I would like to recommend careful and un-hasty consideration of Steiner himself, to those trying to understand the whole phenomenon of Anthroposophy. Those considering sending their children to a Waldorf school will probably not have the tons of spare time needed to do this. I have found several scholarly attempts at an even-handed treatment of some of the methods Steiner recommended for attaining to spiritual worlds (in books by Olav Hammer and Egil Asprem), but they are preliminary and certainly do not attempt an understanding of what Steiner may have thought, in his own mind, that he was really doing – which may not be possible, of course, especially since his death. I think that Anthroposophy speaks to a deep desire in our world for approaches to human knowledge that acknowledge spiritual realities, but I think that it should probably not be treated as a standalone and sufficient guide and home for such desires and the understanding of such realities. Steiner practically exudes certainty and relative omniscience, and I believe that these are fundamentally mistaken and misleading qualities in any human being.