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.