Yes, we know that celebrities and politicians put their children in waldorf. What’s that supposed to prove?
My parents put me in waldorf, apparently without being aware that waldorf equals irrationality. And my parents are far more intelligent and educated than some–if not most–of the people on those celeb lists.
During the time I’ve actively participated in waldorf criticism, I have met one bright and knowledgable parent after another–and they all fell for the superficial charms of waldorf.
Do you somehow think that all these people are more stupid than Jennifer Aniston and Andreas Carlgren?
Do you think these outspoken rationalists and secularists are more gullible, more likely to fall for irrationality, than actresses and politicians who were raised by anthroposophists?
Or isn’t it more like this: waldorf makes an effort to hide its irrationality. Some people, the brighter ones, I’m sure, detect this after while. Some others never catch on.
8:46 pm, July 30, 2009
“Northernrefugee aka Cathy has added a comment to this discussion.”
Are you proving to everyone your obsession with following and naming mothers on internet forums?
Or are you trying to scare and intimidate me?
You could link to the pages you publish comparing me to Hamas, a terrorist and anti semite who uses quotes from the Talmud (which would be bizarre considering my husband is Jewish/Arabic and other mixed).
Or the page where you publish my full name and the (small) town where I live, with my young family.
Just as you did at Mumsnet, even after I repeatedly begged you to not to because my children still had friends they saw from the Steiner community. But you talked about my maiden name, and where I lived, which just proves that you must have been cross referencing and following me around.
What you never do say, of course, in you ranting tirades about terrorists and “twisted hate campaigns” is that the reason forums close discussions, and messages are deleted , is because they are bombarded with masses of emails threatening legal action. Justine at mumsnet posted some of the emails they were receiving. Steiner Waldorf supporters seem to like this technique; I think it’s called “chilling effect”.
I only used a nick name to try and escape from being followed; and to protect my children from repercussions. But I imagine that you, thebee have probably contacted everyone you can think of; Jeremy Smith from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship certainly quoted you almost verbatim on a blog, asking if my maiden name was what he guessed; he also said I wasn’t a “bona fide parent” whatever that was meant to mean, (as a mother of three children who spent approx a collective 9 yrs at a Steiner schooI). I still cannot quite believe how extraordinarily unprofessional this was coming from someone representing the movement in UK.
In the past you have apparently contacted Peter Staudenmaier’s university, who were puzzled and non plussed.
You say at some point that the quotes Steiner made about race are used to “shock”. But the point is, they are shocking. His belief about reincarnating through races is central to how his cosmic world view pans out, and the things he says about skin colour are repellant. These beliefs crop up right until the end of his life and in much of his work.
But much of anthroposophy’s “truths” and”laws” are shocking to those of us with a rational outlook. If only there had been transparency and disclosure from the start.
I just wondered, by the way, why you think it’s legitimate for you to use a nick name, sometimes a female one on mothering boards for instance?
9:42 pm, July 30, 2009
72. Margaret Sachs
The Bee asks why certain well-known people sent their children to Waldorf schools. The answer is simple. The schools did not come clean about Anthroposophy and its role in Steiner “education.” That’s why I sent my children to a Waldorf school. Before doing so, I asked some crucial questions. I asked if the children are taught Anthroposophy or exposed to it in any way.” The answer was “No. The teachers are Anthroposophists but there is no Anthroposophy in the classroom.” I said “Good, because I wouldn’t want my children to be taught a religion I didn’t know anything about.” The answer I got to that was that Anthroposophy is not a religion. Never having been lied to at any other school about their programs and their educational philosophies, it never occurred to me I was being lied to.
As time went on, my husband and I noticed more and more religious activities at the school, including a reincarnation ritual, but we shrugged our shoulders and figured that it was harmless. We made the mistake of ignoring red flags because we liked our children’s class teachers. There was also a certain amount of brainwashing going on. It was always being pointed out to us why the way various things were done in a Waldorf school was superior to the way they were done in other schools. Parents want to believe they’ve made the right school choice for their children, so it is easy to fall for the constant explanations as to why Steiner education is superior to all others, even if one doesn’t buy into all of it. It took an incident in which teachers broke some laws and we found out about the mishandling of situations involving pedophiles for us to say, “Whoa! Something’s not right here.” We got on the Internet and bingo! There’s a lot that’s not right about Steiner schools and thank God (or Al Gore or whomever you want) that we have the Internet now so parents have the opportunity to discover the truth before committing their children to an education that is quite different from what its PR makes it out to be.
So, if a male teacher at our Waldorf school had not inappropriately touched our daughter and some other girls, we might never have gone hunting on the Internet for other people who had bad Waldorf experiences and we might never have learned that Waldorf schools are really Anthroposophy schools. We would still believe our children’s Waldorf school was the innocent, charming place we were brainwashed into believing it was. In the ensuing years, I’ve come across so many Waldorf horror stories, and none of them are surprising to me because I can find parallels in events and behavior I witnessed or heard about at our Waldorf school.
Thanks for your article, Unity. You have done good deed.
9:49 pm, July 30, 2009
73. Margaret Sachs
Sorry! I meant to say, “You have done a good deed.”
10:59 pm, July 30, 2009
Thebee – why did you publish the name and address of Northernrefugee? Was it an attempt to intimidate and to encourage others to send hate mail?
The fact that numerous politicians sent their children to Rudolf Steiner Schools is, as you point out, and indication, that they did not think that they would receive “an irrational education.” Do you think that proves anything else? Do you think that it’s proof that the Steiner system of education is “rational”? It’s an indication the views of the politicians/public figures in question, it proves nothing about the quality of the education they or their children received.
What about the fact that a number of Steiner schools in the US and Eurpoe are state supported? Evidence of the efficacy of the Steiner system? I think not. Do you think that the fact that a large number of state schools in the US teach “creationism” is evidence that this idiotic collection of pseudoscientific nonsense has any validity?
Since you obviously have only a very shaky understanding of the use of the subject – predicate propositional form as a means of logical reasoning I shan’t bother to enter into a critique of the actual ideas underlying Steiner education but, it must be said, you don’t seem to have presented many in your posts, preferring to rely on the argument that ” the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son is in a Steiner school, therefore they must be good.” Fantastic.
10:39 am, July 31, 2009
“Thebee – why did you publish the name and address of Northernrefugee? Was it an attempt to intimidate and to encourage others to send hate mail?”
No. I did not find out in what city she lives until long after the discussion in the public forum she refers to (http://thebee.se/comments/MN.html). She had published a letter to the editor at one time where she told it.
When I started posting in the forum to address the promotion of the repeatedly untruthful writings of [americans4waldorf.org] to try to badmouth Steiner Waldorf education, using a female pseudonym, Zooey, who is a female who uses a male pseudonym (literature figure), immediately joined and told my name. She was then joined by other WCs from the WC mailing list (http://americans4waldorf.org/Myths.html) who repeatedly used both my first and my full name and told and discussed my personal qualities in the discussion as conscious harassment. My first name is still published 247 times in the forum, 14 of them with my full name.
When I got tired of it, I started to address Northernrefugee with her very common first (not full) name too, that she uses on the mailing list of the WC-group, in addition to her pseudonym. When she complained about this, I suggested that she change it on the public WC mailing list with its public archives, which she then did.
“I shan’t bother to enter into a critique of the actual ideas underlying Steiner education but, it must be said, you don’t seem to have presented many in your posts …”
I still harbour the faint hope that people read the pages I have linked to.
“… preferring to rely on the argument that ” the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son is in a Steiner school, therefore they must be good.” Fantastic.”
Not the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son. The Norwegian (Labour) Prime Minister is a former Steiner Waldorf pupil like the Swedish Minister for the Environment.
Was it fantastic? When the Prime Minister celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year, he told that he, born abroad, had to struggle hard with the Norwegian language. He did not learn to read and write properly untl the fourth-fifth grade (starting first grade at seven), but the school let him be a child for many years. He never experienced that as a problem and told he is very grateful for the school.
As for the present Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, he has told that he’s happy he has put (or had) his children both in the public and a Steiner school (state financed).
79. Nick Nakorn
While it is very worrying that senior ministers of a nation state such as Norway are advocates of Anthroposophy, it should not be assumed that advocates of irrational systems of thought lend their support because they are stupid. One of the most common assumptions made by critics of powerful and undemocratic regimes is that intelligent people can’t support bad ideas; sad to say, they can and frequently do.
Power, when combined with a quasi-familial and supportive cohort, is an intoxicating mix for people unable to cope with uncertainty. Hierarchical and fascist regimes also appeal to those with a sado-masochistic nature; to be rigidly controlled allows an extension of child-like dependency and to rigidly control others provides instant gratification, an illusion of responsibility, status within the cohort and political and financial opportunities.
But to stay within such regimes requires that the intelligent person subjugates their own sense of rationality in favour of the dictates of the regime. In short they have to lie. Not only to they have to lie to themselves to prevent themselves from facing up to their own under-developed adulthood, they have to lie to those of us who are on the edge of the cohort – as critics, as neighbours as ex-members or as concerned observers.
Nearly 20 years ago, I became hugely interested in Steiner education as a possible option for my daughter and for several years attended events and open-days, summer parties and school functions at the Kings Langley Steiner School. I was on their Volunteers list and, at the time, was in a vulnerable psychological state. That my mental health was poor (and often still is) made me an ideal candidate for inculcation into the Steiner machine. But poor mental health doesn’t necessarily interfere with one’s rational brain function and in conversations with Steiner staff I came to the conclusion that they were madder than me.
An example of such a conversation happened after I had attended a story-telling session for the younger children in which the words ‘natural’ were used a great deal. At the end of the session, I asked the teacher,
“I’m interested to know what you mean by ‘natural’, can you tell me how you teach concepts of naturalness and how that relates to play?” The teacher replied,
“We believe that every child should, in their early years, only use natural toys, be surrounded by natural objects and surfaces. That’s why we don’t like felt tip pens, and prefer wooden toys and candle light.” The teacher beamed, as if he had revealed some great inner truth. I replied,
“But everything is natural. Humans do what humans do in the same way that birds do what birds do. Why is a wax crayon, made from petroleum products any more natural than a felt tip pen made from petroleum products? And, anyway, both are products of organic chemistry. Oil is a natural material surely?”
“No,” said the teacher, “wax crayons are natural because they are not made of chemicals.”
“Everything is made of chemicals.” I replied, “if you have some notion of only allowing toys and games that meet a particular aesthetic, why not just say so.”
“All our toys are natural”, the teacher continued, “we don’t allow mad-made objects to corrupt the children – you see all these toys are wooden.”
By this time the teacher’s beaming smile had transformed into a fixed and ghastly grin.
“But who made the wooden toys?” I asked. “And why are they varnished? I thought you said you liked natural surfaces. None of this makes sense at all. I’m trying to get to the bottom of what you mean by ‘natural’ because if it is simply a pre-defined aesthetic or a substitute for the word ‘good’, the children are going to grow up with a very weird idea of how the world works, how to use language and how to distinguish between categories.”
At this point, the fixed grin was replaced by an aggressive, legs-planted, arms folded stance. “Look mate,” He said, unfolding his arms and poking me in the chest with his finger, “I’ve explained it to you and you’re just trying to make trouble. We know about you, you’re the one who’s been asking questions about television aren’t you?”
“Well, yes. Do you have a television?”
“Of course not! My wife and I only have a natural home and we don’t allow such pollution!” With that, he switched back from aggressive to smiling mode, picked up a small child from the floor and, shielding the child’s head as if from imminent danger, walked out of the room, leaving the other toddlers effectively on their own. My partner and I stayed in the room until another teacher arrived, at which point we left to see older children make things in the metal-work shop.
At the end of the day, we were going to our car when we noticed the original teacher leaving in a brand new Audi.
‘Vorsprung durch technik’ as they never say at Steiner.
PS all deconstructions and implications gratefully
Another reason for the paucity of complaints from alumni of Steiner-Waldorf schools: This pedagogy could not function nor attract unless it incorporated genuinely innovative ideas and practices. Thus the method of teaching writing stresses the personal development of the student over artistic practices or initiative, etc. Such elements lead many students to enjoy being enrolled in these schools. And many teachers flourish there — despite everything — in their teaching practices. We would be lying if we did not recognize this, but still we have to wonder about some very problematic aspects of this flourishing. In addition, denying it could reinforce among parents who support this system the sense of being victimized if they are denied their free choice. They often opted for this pedagogy because they perceived its positive aspects and the "blessings" for their children.
Some pedagogical innovations effectively promote the free thinking of students. I think this is particularly notable in the methods of learning to read and calculate, how to approach science through experiments and not pure theory, etc. In his first philosophical works, Rudolf Steiner was able to intuit practices that promote the development of free thought — he sought to describe precisely the essence of this thinking activity. As a professor of philosophy who taught for a few years in one of these schools, I must admit that I've met students with whom his effects were positive, because they had a real taste for reflection, and they dared express their ideas and opinions. They could often show original and profound thinking in their remarks.
But these factors that promote the students' thinking combine, in this pedagogy, with the insidious indoctrination described above. This puts students in a frighteningly paradoxical situation: They feel that they owe the development of their judgment and the awakening of their reason to a pedagogical method and a teaching team that also indoctrinate them. For many students, this contradiction will be a source of suffering throughout their lives, if they are able to become aware of it at all. Think of the logical alienation and psychological damage, for the mind to owe part of its blooming to a sectarian context! How can one later challenge the very thing that seemingly gave us our well-being? For my part, I know that much of my ability for analysis comes from educational elements which I enjoyed in the Waldorf school where I received my education. But I also know that the cost of my inner freedom was this hidden indoctrination that I suffered since the age of nine. And I also know that it led me slowly but surely into a deep and deadly environment (Anthroposophic) that was mentally confining.
• Intellectual saturation inherent in Anthroposophy
When you become an Anthroposophist, you must ingest the enormous work of Rudolf Steiner (thousands of lectures and dozens of books, not to mention the work of successors). There is thus simply no room for curiosity about something else, all the more so as long as this doctrine, covering every area of life, is so complex and difficult to assimilate. "We read nothing but Steiner!" I proudly declared one day to the leaders of an Anthroposophic journal to which I contributed. For Waldorf teachers, this attitude translates into a total lack of reference to other systems of thought and other pedagogies, all of which are discredited in advance.
• Respect for tradition
Elements of the Anthroposophical doctrine are considered by Waldorf teachers to be THE truth. I know from experience that it is absolutely impossible, in such schools, to consider aloud the possibility that Rudolf Steiner may have been mistaken. At most, one may concede that his successors may not have understood or applied his message properly. Teachers do not therefore use a critical eye to examine why they teach these "truths," which form their whole cultural universe. The Anthroposophical community effectively bans any internal questioning, as I have often had occasion to realize, not only as a teacher but also as an editor in their various journals. 
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. Only on rare occasions 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 about different materials and about activities performed by their children at school, the teachers may gradually refer more and more openly to the "foundations" of Waldorf 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 is especially directed at those who invite it by entering more and more deeply into the life of the school. We start by asking them to participate in an annual fair, just manning a booth or making cakes, then to do the same at other fairs, then to collaborate at the trimester fairs by assisting a 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 become involved with the school gardens, and to serve as guides during various trips their children's classes take or those taken by classes in which they do not have children, etc. Some parents end up spending their lives at school!
4. The Indoctrination of Teachers
Contrary to what one might think, the teachers in these schools do not all start as Anthroposophists, but many are just teachers seeking an alternative structure, or student-teachers looking for a job. Currently, these schools are indeed unable to recruit enough Anthroposophists to meet their staffing requirements, as the Anthroposophical Society is reduced to a
small group of the retired or the perfectly enlightened who are unqualified to teach. Therefore the schools must recruit applicants from outside. Most of the time this is done the same way students or parents are recruited, that is to say, without revealing the school's true coloration. I was able to see how we recruited people who were only told, to begin with, that they would become part of a "an innovative, alternative pedagogy." Only gradually are the recruits eventually invited to accept Anthroposophical ideas.
The indoctrination 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.
Teachers must also attend conferences that open educational meetings, where esoteric themes are discussed. At first, the uninitiated do not understand much of what is happening nor the esoteric verbiage. I remember a disorienting first meeting during which a colleague of the executive committee of the school gave a speech, three quarters of an hour long, about iron "meteorites" (from meteors crashing into the Earth) which he said bring the forces of the archangel Michael down to humanity — this was meant to give courage to the teachers. In Anthroposophy, discussions are commonly meant to provide what they call "spiritual communion,"  Such a conference is not just a simple means for communicating ideas — it is an act of sacramental communion.
the practices I have described do not always lead to the complete indoctrination of all students immersed in this teaching. Few of the students will become, as I did, members of the Anthroposophical Society. Most will only be impregnated with ideas that they will adhere to more or less consciously. For some, this will result in unconditional sympathy for Waldorf Schools. Others will work in the "Anthroposophical movement." Only a few become members of the Anthroposophical Society.
But teachers can use a Waldorf school to identify those students who are most receptive to the ideas of Anthroposophy. Those students are approached at the time of adolescence, often by a teacher with whom the contact is already quite close. For me, this was my history and geography teacher who took me aside after class to pursue certain subjects that could not be developed for the whole class. I remember that we talked directly about issues such as reincarnation, the incarnation of Christ, the Ahrimanic principle, etc. Students who do not have this potential affinity with Anthroposophy are not solicited. There is not, in fact, a recruitment effort so extensive as to be highly dangerous.
Teachers unhesitatingly show less interest — even a certain contempt — towards those young people who "lack openness" to their message. My professor of history and geography told me one day that a classmate, although serious and brilliant, received no more than an average grade of 12 in the study of FAUST because of his stubborn resistance to certain "progressive ideas" (as the teacher put it).
Even if it is not said openly nor always consciously, students are sometimes rated more according to their degree of adherence to Anthroposophy than according to their school work, and they may feel this pressure accordingly. Those who rebel will be branded as bad students.
Often, they will voluntarily leave Waldorf before the end of their schooling
What seems to have happened is this: the anthroposophical movement has come up with the idea that in order to protect themselves from the unfortunate reputation of being a cult, they would happily (and in a magnificently paradoxical way) behave as a cult would behave. A cult, which will not tolerate dissent. Cults often don’t. Anthroposophy, unfortunately, sometimes (this is not the first time) seems all too willing to join other cults in this untoward habit. Again, I can’t comprehend why; it is not criticism or dissent — even if it were unfair — that will suffocate anthroposophy, it is lack of breathing space that will. The enemy is within the movement itself. It is its own mentality — or perhaps, to speak Anthroposophese, the aberrations, nay, the pathologies of its group soul.
Naturally, this development ought to concern not only critics of anthroposophy but also — and perhaps even more — other anthroposophists.
Pete K · September 23, 2012 - 2:14 am ·
Gregoire, firstly, good luck in your battle. Not to make light of the court case, but it seems very much like an escalation of what happens to hundreds of parents in Waldorf schools each year. When parents voice dissent in their school, they are “controlled” by the people within the school… and they will do whatever it takes to assert that control. I have personally seen people within the “movement”
1) gossip about a dissenting parent and their child – sometimes to the point of slander and defamation,
2) drive a wedge between parents to the point of divorce,
3) threaten harm to a dissenting parent’s child,
4) expel or threaten to expel children mid-semester,
5) hold “councils” with children – in retreats away from their parents, in which teachers tried to get children to reveal information about their parents,
6) drive a wedge between the child and the dissenting parent,
7) purger themselves in court… (I could keep going)
all in efforts to keep dissenting parents quiet. More and more, the public is waking up to what happens in these schools… and eventually, the criticism will catch up to them and Waldorf will no longer be able to contain the bad press (I call that the moment of “Critical Mass”).
spiritual art of shutting people up « the ethereal kiosk · October 27, 2012 - 8:29 pm ·
[…] Perhaps there is a place for anger; anger is a drive, sometimes necessary for preserving your own sense of self and self-worth. And the movement has got to learn to deal with it much better — not with threats and similar means. Not with trying to silence people — neither directly, nor indirectly. Threatening or harassing former students, parents and adherents for their criticism should certainly be unworthy of any education movement, unless it’s actually about more than just education. In which case it’s also an unworthy behaviour, but the motivations begin to emerge, you understand why it’s happening. If you realize the kind of spiritual beliefs that underpin the movement, and if you understand that these beliefs sometimes inspire fanaticism, then you have an explanation as to why online forums, e g, cave in to legal threats by the movement’s adherents. You understand why national waldorf organisations can threaten former parents that there will be consequences if they go too far. Often empty threats, but in some cases real. […]
"...I must bring something else to your attention. We must be aware that with the baptism in the Jordan by John a spirit descended to the earth, lived on the physical plane for three years and experienced death on Golgotha, a spirit who, before the baptism in the Jordan, had lived in circumstances which were completely different from earthly ones. What does that mean? It means, anthroposophically speaking, that that spirit had no earthly karma. I beg you to keep this in mind.
"A spirit lived for three years in the body of Jesus of Nazareth without having an earthly karma in his soul. Therefore all of Christ's earthly experiences have a completely different meaning than that of a normal human soul. When we suffer, when we have this or that experience, we know that the suffering is founded in karma. That was not the case for the Christ spirit. He had to go through a three-year earthly experience without a karmic burden.
"What did that mean for Him? Suffering without karmic meaning, truly unearned suffering, innocent suffering!
"The Fifth Gospel is the anthroposophical Gospel and shows us the only three-year earthly life for which the concept of karma in the human sense is not applicable. A further consideration of this Gospel teaches us something else about those three years, which we have compared to the life of an embryo, created no karma, was not charged with guilt. A life was lived on the earth that was not conditioned by karma and also created no karma.
"One must assimilate all these concepts in the profoundest sense in order to correctly understand those extraordinary events of Palestine, which are otherwise inexplicable. For how greatly have they been misunderstood over the ages! And what impulses have they nevertheless given! Their profound meaning is often ignored.
- See more at: [wn.rsarchive.org]