supervising the attacks

I was browsing the internet for documents on the Swedish waldorf curriculum (perhaps one could hope to find something as juicy as Avinson’s guidelines for teachers?). I happened upon the notes (pdf) [update: on may 30, the document has been retracted from the website — download it from here instead] from a meeting by the Swedish Waldorf School Federation. In these notes, I read quite a few funny things. But this took my breath away:

The blog debate

In England, the attacks on [waldorf] pedagogy have led to parents withdrawing their children from the waldorf schools. The [Swedish Waldorf School] Federation has employed Sune on a part-time basis to monitor the debate. [Pdf-document, p 9.]

Say what? This organisation — the official body representing all waldorf schools in Sweden — has hired Sune to monitor the debate. The UK debate. He who has worked actively to stifle all debate. Sune from Sweden is supervising the UK debate — and is paid by the Swedish Waldorf Federation to do the dirty work. Have they lost their minds? I begin to think they truly have, big time. He’s not ‘monitoring’ any ‘attacks’ or debates, I tell you that. He believes he’s engaged in a war, and he’s prepared to run this war single-handedly. Whether or not there is an actual enemy.

See previous posts about The Bee.

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241 thoughts on “supervising the attacks

  1. So, the Swedish Waldorf Association has paid Sune to monitor the debates in the UK? On mumsnet and any other forum. On twitter. Everywhere. That’s where he gets his money from.

    If anyone reading this is unaware of Sune on twitter, his avatars are @The3bee and @MycroftII

  2. Yes, monitor, which in Sune-lingo means ‘make disappear’ and ‘threaten everybody who needs it for the sake of anthroposophy’ and ‘yell libel–defamation–crusade–hate-group’. What a splendid idea.

    And of course, if the board members of the federation want to check what these ‘attacks’ were about — then lots of these debates have been removed on his initiative. Thus they have his word. And they don’t know how confused that word is. It’s a scandal. I’m outraged. It’s clear they lack any common sense.

    They’d better be out there following the debate instead of hiring Sune to monitor silence it.

  3. Since Sune’s monitoring isn’t functioning to satisfaction, I thought I’d post a few reactions from Twitter. For the benefit of the Swedish Waldorf Federation. After all, they don’t monitor the situation themselves, or they wouldn’t have needed to hire someone to do it for them. (Someone they thought would do it for them, more accurately.)

    david_colquhoun:
    RT @ThetisMercurio: the Swedish Waldorf Federation pays to monitor UK ‘attacks’ on #Steiner pedagogy RT @zzzooey: http://wp.me/p1nCt-WQ

    JoBrodie:
    @ThetisMercurio I wonder what we can do to shut down the Steiner school in Blackheath & get even more parents to withdraw their children ;-)

    ThetisMercurio:
    Swedish Free (from criticism) schools: the Brits are under surveillance RT @zzzooey: supervising the attacks: http://wp.me/p1nCt-WQ

    thewitch:
    Hahahaha! Snacka om att de hugger sig själva i ryggen. Jag kan inte sluta skratta!

    ScepticLetters:
    @david_colquhoun @ThetisMercurio @zzzooey @jackofkent I hereby defame the Swedish Waldorf Federation

    dattadeva:
    LOL! Det låter faktiskt helt fruktansvärt korkat. Moraliskt/intellektuellt självmord.

  4. I know this document. I was thinking of posting the link to it here, but abstained as posting may cause the document to disappear from the public view. Now you did it, Zooey (I saved the doc on my PC in case it disappears).

    See point 3 in the http://www.waldorf.se/pdf/profeb09.pdf .
    Zooey, perhaps we can help to draw the true face of anthro/steiner/waldorf system to the daily light by translating to English?
    The sum of the point 3 is (the same as usual):
    “We (the anthro/steiner/waldorf) require running things in our way (we possess the universal knowledge)”.

    The sum in general: “we require all kind of exceptions enabling us to do what we please – financed by taxpayers; we cannot reveal to the taxpayers what we really are doing – they may withdraw the financing.”

    In Sweden, the anthro/steiner/waldorf request all kind of exceptions in the new School Law on the way. The current state of the process:
    http://bit.ly/cRrOQu [link to pdf shortened /-a]

    Sune: When I (earlier) searched the Internet on waldorf, I asked myself “what is this thebee living of (he must be typing all days)?” There is the answer (the Swedish Waldorf Federation may not be the only employer).

    I Sweden, the main event was in August 2008 (Zooey, could you bring forward the docs?), discontinuing the waldorf teacher education within the frame of teacher education, I think.

    @ThetisMercurio, [removed /zooey] and others in the UK (the few to who so much may be owned by so many):
    Now, with the “in preparation for Mr. Gove’s generosity” (as ThetisMercurio put it May 27 at “guidelines for child study”) at the door, you can remember what the people in your country previously accomplished. The next may be the Battle of Britain. Remember: Never Give In!

  5. Jolly good show, alfa-omega! We will fight woo on the beaches! (or in the sandpit)

    Yes, UK parents do owe a great deal to [removed /zooey] and to another mother, Barking (who appeared under that name on mumsnet) I arrived much later. Let’s hope, after so much diligent investigation, analysis and comment, a more accurate picture of Steiner Waldorf education is emerging, in spite of all the positive stories by Guardian journalists and those with an interest in advancing the brand.

  6. Thanks for your comments alfa-omega and thetis! I’m coming back to them later. For now, I’m reposting this short text I wrote on the Swedish skeptics forum. It’s in Swedish, but I think it is relevant to Swedish/Nordic readers.

    ****

    Sune Nordwall är nu anställd av samarbetsorganisationen för alla waldorfskolor i Sverige, nämligen Waldorfskolefederationen (www.waldorf.se). Hans uppgift är, enligt federationens egna mötesprotokoll, att på internet övervaka ‘attackerna’ mot waldorfpedagogiken.

    Detta är enligt min mening ett tecken på att Waldorffederationen saknar all förmåga till rationellt omdöme och kritiskt tänkande.

    Sune övervakar inte debatten, han försöker med alla medel få tyst på den. Till exempel arbetade han stenhårt på att få bort kritiska kommentarer till den här debattartikeln i DN:
    http://www.dn.se/debatt/utbildningen-for-waldorflarare-maste-godkannas-igen-1.1083081

    DN föll tyvärr till föga. Jag har postat en del av de raderade kommentarerna på min blogg (https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/sadant-de-inte-vill-tillata-manniskor-att-lasa/). Vad gäller merparten av dem, kan jag inte se att de bryter mot DNs kommentarspolicy.

    När det nu står klart att Sune dessutom arbetar på uppdrag av Waldorfskolefederationen, är stanken från denna soppa ännu vidrigare.

    ****
    http://www.vof.se/forum/viewtopic.php?p=399092#p399092

  7. Följ gärna kommentarerna på VoF. Jag är fullt enig med Devadatta som skriver:

    ******

    För övrigt så är det här ett tecken på Waldorfskolefederationen totala moraliska kollaps, att de anställer en nätstalker för att övervaka “attackerna” mot Waldorf. Maken till eufemism får man leta efter. Kan iofs hända att de är så ignoranta att de inte vet vad Sune Nordwall sysslar med. Det här är religionens eviga fördel: de kan locka enkelspåriga och högt motiverade människor som arbetar för dem hela tiden (även om Sune är i en klass för sig).

    Jag trodde faktiskt att de så småningom skulle ta avstånd från honom eller ignorera honom, men nu stöder de alltså honom aktivt. Får se om han får Annmari/Kajsa som assistent också.

    *******
    http://www.vof.se/forum/viewtopic.php?p=399101#p399101

  8. Even though this is insane I think you should also see the positive side of this, that (if true) “In England, the attacks on [waldorf] pedagogy has led to parents withdrawing their children from the waldorf schools. ” It means you’ve made a difference and is on the right track!

  9. In some way, yes. It’s just that the truth is that these parents withdraw their children not because of ‘attacks’ but because failures on the part of the steiner schools themselves. Of course, nobody can see that the ‘attacks’ were no attacks because Sune works like a busy bee to have all alleged ‘attacks’ removed from the internet.

    I think it is important to show the real reasons why parents withdraw their children. It’s their standard excuse: blame the critics. They don’t want to accept or acknowledge their own wrong-doing.

  10. from Twitter:

    bengoldacre @david_colquhoun it all depends on whether it’s (a) taken seriously by morons or (b) regarded as fanciful metaphors

    Me: It IS taken seriously. That’s one major reason it’s worth talking about, obviously.

    thetismercurio @bengoldacre classic :) If only it wasn’t taken seriously by morons like Ofsted & potentially Gove I could pack up my gnomes & leave twitter

    thetismercurio pulled a Swedish Waldorf Federation anthro out of the hedge this morning. “Please,” he said, “It is entirely a coincidence that I am here,”

    ThetisMercurio @zzzooey yes, I defame the Swedish Waldorf Federation again & suggest they all leave my property forthwith. And take their gnomes with them.

    Please don’t send any gnomes back to Sweden, dear!

    But maybe now that this is known as well as other facts — isn’t it FINALLY time Mumsnet reinstated the old threads and posts and the accounts of those who were banned?

  11. @ alpha-omega:

    Yes, and I have the other documents /meeting notes from the federation’s website. I hardly know where to begin. I share your concern about them not publicizing any more documents. On the other hand, I figure it’s a bad idea to know about things and not use that knowledge. It’s difficult to decide though. The Sune stuff was… well, it’s impossible to keep silent about!!

    Also, it is election year in Sweden this year too. In these notes, there was quite a lot of stuff about politics and PR-strategies and contacts with politicians. I will quote in upcoming posts.

    @ thetis

    I still hope they’ll reinstate the threads, posts and bannedd members on Mumsnet. They really should. It’s awful that they haven’t.

  12. zooey – At least mumsnet might like to make a comment revising their request to parents not to write about Steiner Waldorf education, in the light of this revelation – though that request (made last year) seems to have been ignored with their tacit blessing. I don’t believe they liked being dictated to.

    In effect, though no one is claiming it was the Swedish Waldorf Federation’s intention for Sune to behave in this way, it appears that mothers on a British forum were being silenced by the employee of a Swedish esoteric organisation with no interest in the experience of families in the UK.

    I hope mumsnet’s founders now understand that posters had genuine concerns which need to be heard, especially when there is an issue of public funding.

    My question is: why does a Swedish organisation care enough about comments made by British parents who have been involved with Steiner schools in the UK to pay someone to monitor these comments?

    And does this in any way explain the extraordinary quoting of screeds of texts by Steiner and menacing language aimed at mothers on other mumsnet threads by posters like ‘jeepers creepers’ and ‘Marcusjohannes’, since deleted by the forum?

  13. Now consider this: the waldorf school federation pays Sune to ‘monitor’ the debates. The federation is financed by the schools belonging to it, i e the waldorf schools of sweden.

    Where does the waldorf schools’ money come from? The tax-payers.

    The tax-payers are financing Sune’s quest to keep the internet free from criticism of the movement cherishes.

    That’s very nice to know. Or not.

  14. So, the Swedish taxpayer is financing the suppression of criticism of an occult philosophy.

    One can only suppose that if Michael Gove allows funding of Steiner schools through his Academy or Free Schools plans, UK taxpayers may soon pay for the monitoring (and potential suppression) of such criticism in any country deemed to be in some way dangerous to the educational wing of the international Anthroposophical Movement.

  15. Yes. Some of their money probably comes from private donations — but of course the schools pay membership fees too. And the schools are 100% tax funded. The conclusion can only be one thing, I fear.

  16. What a bore you are, Alicia.

    Do you actually do anything constructive with your life?

  17. It’s funny though, you should choose to be anonymous. Earlier, you seem to have posted this comment on another blog:

    http://counterknowledge.com/2009/01/origin-of-the-specious-race-lies-and-stereotypes-in-steiner%e2%80%99s-anthroposophy/#comment-11277

    Saying:

    ‘Not suprising that it is an anonymous work.’

    Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised you chose to be anonymous here, when you posted such a moronic comment?

    On counterknowledge, it seems to me you also claimed:

    ‘This article is a real devils brew consisting of lies and distortions. The author has made no real attempt to enter into the essential nature of anthroposophy and instead throws mud at some straw man.’

    Quite revealing, I must say.

    Here we have another comment, seemingly penned by you:

    ‘As a Christian and an Anthroposophist, I can tell you that your understanding of both is quite superficial, in fact, your “understanding” of Anthroposophy is nil, and because you have passed judgement on something you evidently do not understand, you have no real interest in Truth.’
    http://newcreationperson.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/a-question-on-spiritual-epistemology/#comment-280

    Further down:

    ‘“By their fruits ye shall know them” If you are courageous enough to follow Jesus Christs advice, you might actually want to turn off your computer, leave your house, go out into the world and actually investigate the fruits of Anthroposophy.’

    ‘You have not made any kind of honest effort to study Anthroposophy. You are thus in no position to have any worthwhile opinion on its merits.

    This does not stop you from writing a bunch of garbage and posting on the net anyway.’

    You are a nice guy! And obviosuly not the kind of guy who would post garbage on the net! (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

  18. Did Jesus actually advise people to turn off their computers? Had he met Aric Sigman?

    What’s noticeable about many of the anthroposophists I’ve encountered in the last few months on the web is how nasty they are, spiteful playground bullies, even though they tell us anthroposophy is all about love etc etc. I’ve seen very little evidence that it is. They don’t like each other or the rest of us.

    Mercuryrules: you posted on The Ministry of Truth too, did you not?

    http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/07/22/pseudoscience-not-a-valid-educational-choice/comment-page-1/#comment-27696

    addressing Polecat (who wrote with such verve):

    ‘Don’t hold your breath waiting for the decline of Anthroposophy or Waldorf. The fact is, the movement is full of people, most every-one of them, possessing greater good-will, healthier feelings, and genuine intelligence in greater measure than you possess.’

    Mercuryrules: where is the evidence of any of this good-will or healthiness or genuine intelligence? Where?

    But you were not unknown to mothers who had encountered you on mumsnet, were you?

    http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/07/22/pseudoscience-not-a-valid-educational-choice/comment-page-1/#comment-27701

  19. Jesus sure was ahead of his time. Almost 2000 years. His audience must have been pretty baffled, not knowing what he talked about. Computers?

    Thank you, Thetis, for finding that comment to Polecat. I remember it; remember thinking it was quite extreme and also completely devoid of any self-knowledge.

  20. It is not easy for me to understand your actions to destroy the waldorf schools.
    Do you just want state-schools with state religion ? Is it for you a possibilitu to have a good waldorf school ?

    For me the essence is that education should be free and not state-controled, a political item.
    We need free people, people who can think independently.

    I am very interested to hear what your purposese are with these actions. It ist an aim in itself that parents withdraw theirt children from Wldorf Schools or are there further/higher goals ?

  21. Jan,
    My actions or somebody else’s? Because if you’re suggesting I’m acting to destroy waldorf schools, I have to say I think you are wrong. My writing can’t destroy waldorf education. And if waldorf schools are destroyed because of what people write, then there wasn’t much life in them in the first place. If they were so easily destroyed, I fear they were dead already — not just buried yet.

    I wonder what ‘state religion’ is, to you (and how come you think I — or somebody else? — supports such a notion)? I don’t believe in a state founded upon any religion. I think religion should be kept out of politics and education. The state needs to ensure the quality of education — and these considerations should be, to the extent it is possible, founded upon science and facts — because the children have rights too. I agree with you that children need to grow up to be free and independently thinking individuals. Thus their education can’t be entirely left to the capriciousness of the parents. I’m not in general in favour of state control — but I do think it has a place in the welfare of children.

    (Besides, I think I wrote about this in another thread just the other day: I’ve never been to state (municipal) school, neither did my brother. I’ve never been an adversary to private or free schools. Just for the record.)

    As for the last question you raise: I think I’ve written extensively about that too, and if you look around the blog, you will find lots of stuff on it. But ok, in short: no, I don’t care one way or the other if parents withdraw their children. I hope that if a parent has problems with his/her child and the waldorf school, and if this child is anything like the way I was as a child, and this parent reads my blog, s/he will rethink keeping the child in waldorf. That perhaps the parent will realize that the waldorf school isn’t honest and the child is unhappy. But more than that, I don’t care. I’m not here to offer advice or guidance to parents. Or to anyone, really.

    I write because that’s what I do. It’s for my own sake. It’s for anybody who wants to read it — whatever benefits they may draw from it, if any at all. There are no ultimate goals or anything — except perhaps my own amusement. I write for you as much as for anybody — and I don’t think for one second I will influence your opinions in any major way (and it doesn’t matter, for the writing, if I do or don’t!). I write for Thetis and Alfa-omega who obviously won’t send their children to waldorf — and who, in fact, had removed themselves/their children from waldorf before they got to know my blog! Just to name examples from the people who have commented on this thread.

    If I were an anthroposophist, I would be more concerned about the actions of Sune / TheBee and his supporters than I would be about the actions of the waldorf critics.

  22. @zooey
    Thank you very much for your extended reaction ! Thank you especially for your openess.
    As you know I take part in discussions on several sites/blogs. I see a lot of hatred against anthroposophy/the anthroposofic subculture/ anthroposophists. People who are usually tolerant become very intolerant when anthroposophy is at stake.
    It is likely that this hatred and the fortcoming attacks will sweep away the anthroposofic subculture in a very fast way. A fundamental renewal in the way people handle the anthroposoophy is alreay necessary for a long time.
    I don’t know the Sune case, I will study it.

  23. Jan,
    Sorry — I thought you had some knowledge of Sune already (not really realizing this thread had steered away from its original topic…).

    It amazes me — again — how people who think highly of anthroposophy have so little faith and confidence in it!

    I don’t agree with you (which is good news for anthroposophy ;-)) — I don’t think anything critics can do will undermine anthroposophy. I don’t think there’s a cause and effect relationship there at all; at least not in any important way. To be worth anything, anthroposophy would have to remain ‘alive’ due to its inherent strengths, and not due to an absence of criticism (or hatred or attacks for that matter). If it survived only because people critical of it left it alone — what would be the point? I think then, and only then, would it truly deserve to perish. I can’t think of anything more damning to anthroposophy than it being so boring that not even skeptics would bother! Being boring is possibly worse than being wrong ;-) (And boring is one thing anthroposophy is not.)

    I’m not sure which ‘attacks’ and ‘ which ‘hatred’ you’re referring to; I don’t see much of that. Or, let’s put it this way, I don’t see much I would regard as ‘attacks’ or ‘hatred’. (However, I do think anthroposophists often over-react to skepticism or even humour.) That said, I have had my run-ins with… one waldorf critic. As you probably know, I think you once commented on one of the posts where I had written about that. So, yes, there is waldorf criticism I avoid, because… well, I won’t go down that road again.

    I would be interested to read some of those discussions if you’d like to post links to them. I do follow German blogs but usually read the comments only at Egoisten regularly and occasionally at Info3 (but there’s not much happening there at the moment, in comments) and Waldorf blog. Of course, when there are specific posts that interest me in other places, I follow the comments.

    But to speak about it more generally (and not referring to certain unfortunate aspects/elements of the debate in the German language…), perhaps you and others are mistaking anger for hatred?

    I don’t have that much reason to be angry these days — I can be many other unpleasant things, perhaps, but I’m not particularly angry about waldorf or steiner or anthroposophy. But I used to be very very angry — and not without reason. And I can imagine what it feels like for a parent who feels s/he has betrayed her/his own child by putting the child in an environment which has been damaging to the child. And imagine what it feels like having wasted lots of time and money too — only to be taken for a fool. I’m saying that it would be better for everybody — including the waldorf movement, actually — if rightful anger wasn’t confused with unjustified hatred. Most of these parents and former students really are pissed off for a reason. If people are angry with some phenomenon, it’s not so strange that they lose tolerance for it. It has taken me many many years to feel the least bit tolerant towards anthroposophy. I was furious with it. Anthroposophy, to me, became identical to the most horrid of my waldorf school teachers and the most awful of waldorf school practices; it was identical to the most evil system imaginable. It’s not very easy to avoid anger, especially when experience is still close in time and in memory. (I left waldorf 20 years ago. I was very very angry for a very long time. And I was a child, not a parent. As I said, I can only imagine the dispair a parent might feel at having made such mistakes with such consequences.)

  24. @zooey
    Again thank you very much for your answer. This answer is very valuable to me as it made clear your anger and the anger other people might have towards the Waldorf School.
    It must have been a real bad time for you, terrible, and I am really deeply sorry for you
    (Off course Iam also interested in the details, but I do not expect that you tell them).
    It is a fact that in, and trough, the anthroposofic subculture ( to which I reckon the Waldorf schools) people sometimes suffer very badly.
    Off course you are right in saying that the situation of the anthroposophy is not depending of the critics. It is the way anthroposophists handle anthroposophy that made the situation catastrophic. I have confidence in the anthroposophic method, but not in the mainstream antthroposophy. I believe in a different kind of anthroposophy. Much more social and political and not sectarian, arrogant and bourgeois. I, as an anthroposophist, always criticised this mainstream anthroposophy ( a two front battle: against the adversaries of anthroposophy and against the mainstream anthroposophists).
    I am afraid my estimation of the situation is a realistic one. Because of a lack of content, the anthroposophic organizations will be swept away. We will see what will remain.. It will cause (hopefully) a fundamental reorganization.
    There are critics of anthroposophy and there are adversaries. I have no problems with the critics. You can discuss things with them. With the adversaries you cannot discuss, they play catch as catch can with anthroposophy. They hate it and want to destroy it. Such an adversary is off course Andreas Lichte. A hate-blog is also “Nachrichten aus der Welt der Anthropophie”, it is anonymous and does everything to hurt the anthroposophy ( a shame in a democracy).

  25. Jan Luiten –

    I’m grateful to anyone who takes the trouble to write here in English. It’s the only language I can read, which is a weakness common to a lot of Brits.

    I for one have no problem at all with anyone exploring an esoteric philosophy in their own lives. But when you say:

    ‘It is a fact that in, and through, the anthroposofic subculture ( to which I reckon the Waldorf schools) people sometimes suffer very badly.’

    I recognize and agree with what you say. That’s not to suggest that children don’t suffer for other reasons in other establishments, or that their parents aren’t disappointed and sometimes worse (the appalling example of some Catholic institutions is a case in point).

    I agree with zooey that it’s better if schools are secular and certainly that if there’s an underlying philosophy like anthroposophy, which is tantamount to a religion even if anthroposophists say it is not one, this should be made absolutely transparent to both parents and any society which is called upon to fund, inspect or otherwise endorse in this case Steiner Waldorf schools. Transparent means honest: openly explaining Steiner’s understanding of karma, reincarnation, incarnating souls, the occult role of the teacher, invisible beings etc. which undeniably informs the pedagogy and the behaviour of many of the school’s staff. And not as charming if eccentric metaphor.

    I can’t speak for those people who you say hate and want to destroy anthroposophy. The same sort of thing is aimed at skeptics of homeopathy – they hate and want to destroy it. Actually what they really want is to point out, firmly, that there’s no scientific evidence for homeopathy and that in their opinion it shouldn’t be funded by health services which have limited cash. I don’t know anyone who wants to make homeopathy illegal. Those who make extraordinary claims without any evidence to back them up will attract the scrutiny of skeptics, especially if they go after state funding. A word to the wise there.

  26. Fleet-footed Thetis, I support your view, expressed here, wholeheartedly –

    ‘I agree with zooey that it’s better if schools are secular and certainly that if there’s an underlying philosophy like anthroposophy, which is tantamount to a religion even if anthroposophists say it is not one, this should be made absolutely transparent to both parents and any society which is called upon to fund, inspect or otherwise endorse in this case Steiner Waldorf schools. Transparent means honest: openly explaining Steiner’s understanding of karma, reincarnation, incarnating souls, the occult role of the teacher, invisible beings etc. which undeniably informs the pedagogy and the behaviour of many of the school’s staff. And not as charming if eccentric metaphor.’

  27. Thetis:
    “this should be made absolutely transparent to both parents and any society which is called upon to fund, inspect or otherwise endorse in this case Steiner Waldorf schools. Transparent means honest: openly explaining Steiner’s understanding of karma, reincarnation, incarnating souls, the occult role of the teacher, invisible beings etc. which undeniably informs the pedagogy and the behaviour of many of the school’s staff. And not as charming if eccentric metaphor.”

    There is a dimension in the anthro/steiner/waldorf which, as far as I know, does not exist in the non-confessional schools, whether community comprehensives or free schools. It is difficult putting it in words (not because of English).

    In a regular community comprehensive or non-confessional free school, there is a agreement, not written but assumed, that the school does a job in educatution, while the children still are their parents’ children. I never felt, neither as a parent in a regular community comprehensive or non-confessional free school nor as a teacher in a regular community comprehensive or non-confessional free school that this fact (the children still are their parents’ children) was questioned upon.

    In a Waldorf School, which builds upon and is meant to promote Anthroposophy, the parents are regarded as guardians who the children have chosen at birth. As I have comprehended it, these parents-guardians are responsible for the “daily maintaining-job”, while the anthro/steiner/waldorf cult is responsible for what the child will develop into.

    Of course, if this were stated directly (instead of a “charming if eccentric metaphor”), the anthro/steiner/waldorf would not get customers (be it the Swedish voucher system or a fee in a private school). The pupils from the anthro/steiner/waldorf environment who would choose the Waldorf School anyway is a minority, not sufficient to run a school.

  28. @ ThetisMercuriio
    In fact the first Waldorf school was founded to create a state-free space for education.
    (Certainly not to promote anthroposophy). The whole field of education should be state-free. I am not just talking about Waldorf schools here but for all educational concepts.
    Anthroposophists should not build an interest-group just for themselves.
    But the state is demanding that the waldorfschool movement is talking with one voice.
    So you get a gremium, an organisation that can speak for all waldorf schools. Then, this organisation decides what school is a waldorf school or not. When, according to this organisation , you are not a waldorf school you get no money from the state.
    Voila an example of how technocracy rules.
    There should not be uniformity under the waldorf schools, they should be really free.
    Honestly, a real free Waldorf school does not exist.
    The best example of a Waldorf school I have seen was in Sweden, the Nibble Skolan in Järna. Very creative without dogma’s.

    The other side: materialistic education. Humans are to be identified where their bodies, they have no spirit. Is this “materialistic church” the better way of education ?
    This is what I mean with state-religion. This is not neutral at all. The state is backing this materialistic view, there is no equal treatment of ideologies or world views.

    It is not so easy to evaluate the `results`of Steiner education.
    In my own family all nieces and neviews who visited a waldorf school have become strong self-conscious people.
    A much broader survey would be necessary to see how waldorf pupils are doing after they left school.

  29. @alfa-omega – I absolutely agree and it’s beautifully put, your observations need to be widely read.

    I’m reminded of the Plymouth Brethren whose in-house inspection service now inspects many Steiner Waldorf schools in the UK. Their client base is tiny. The best that can be said for them imo is that they’re honest about their beliefs – actually that’s an assumption which may be corrected by someone directly involved.

    I can see that for certain proponents of Waldorf its collapse would be spectacular: if that’s all you’re trained in or your livelihood or ego is connected to its success you will fight for it. If you believe that you have an impulse, perhaps divine, to save or aid or direct the karma or supposed spiritual well-being of children, you will fight and even lie for it. I don’t know how much their present struggles/dissembling/disclaimers are due to the former imperative or the latter or both. I have some human fellow feeling about the former, of course though I earnestly oppose covert, occult impulses which impact on children or the vulnerable, or confused, quasi-scientific justifications for same – requiring exemptions & special favours.

    @falk – thank you. However impertinent it might sound: you might like to tell the UK education authorities that you agree with that statement.

  30. @Jan Luiten – I’m sorry but I don’t agree. Everything I read about the early days of Waldorf suggests that anthroposophy was a more important element than you’re suggesting.

    I really don’t understand what you mean when you talk about ‘materialistic education’ or a ‘materialistic church’. There are assumptions and established world-views in any institution which is why we need to teach robust critical thinking even at the expense of our own prejudices (laughter there from other parents of teenagers). ‘Church’ to me implies a fixed doctrine treated with largely unquestioning respect. That’s not the world we should be living in, I agree.

    There have been some interesting discussions re the historical and current meaning of ‘materialism’ on the Waldorf Critics Yahoo list.

  31. @ Jan — https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-3046

    Beginning from the end. I wouldn’t dispute that Lichte dislikes anthroposophy to such a degree that it becomes fairly unpleasant. I’ve taken exception to his methods before, on this blog — there are several old posts –, but I won’t say much about him now, since he isn’t allowed to post comments here anymore. I simply had it with him.

    I disagree with you about ‘Nachrichten…’ though (I forgot this blog because it has had no updates in months). In my opinion it is definitely nowhere near being a ‘hate-blog’ — and I find this designation unfair. This said, I don’t agree with every word written there — absolutely not. But I think that basically and on the whole the tone of the blog is reasonable. I understand that some anthroposophists find certain aspects of it offensive and perhaps mistaken, but again — pointing out something unpleasant or even being mistaken (or thought to be mistaken) is not the same as ‘hatred’. A harsh tone isn’t hatred either. The author of ‘Nachrichten…’ does not seem to me like someone who is driven by hatred or an unchecked desire to destroy; maybe s/he is an ‘adversary’, but not, as far as I can tell, somebody playing catch. S/he is critical and negative towards anthroposophy, yes. But I don’t see hatred, and I suspect that maybe the anthroposophical tendency to interpret non-anthroposophists actions in terms of evil intents plays a part here. I don’t know, but it could be.

    And, in any case, the anthroposophic movement doesn’t really have a choice — as long as it operates in society, people will write things like the stuff on ‘Nachrichten…’. It is inevitable. And some of it will be justified, some of it will not.

    Remember, too, that anthroposophy as always been criticized by people, for a number of reasons. It isn’t something new.

    You write:
    ‘Off course Iam also interested in the details, but I do not expect that you tell them’

    Interestingly, it’s more common that people object to me telling these things. Because the whole blog is full of the details. Somewhat disorganized, but still. There are, undoubtedly, many details to be told from 9 years in a school system. I’ve compiled a number of blog posts with quotes on this page: https://zooey.wordpress.com/posts/ — lots of those posts are about waldorf, some are about me and waldorf.

    But basically I was the kind of child who ought not to have been in a waldorf school at all. I wanted to read, not to play the flute. It was blindingly obvious that it didn’t suit me at all, yet the goal of waldorf seemed to be to keep all waldorf kids whatever the cost the individual had to pay for it.

    I got a sub-standard education, I had evil class-mates, and the whole experience was a waste of time and talent and a painful one at that.

    ‘Because of a lack of content, the anthroposophic organizations will be swept away. We will see what will remain.. It will cause (hopefully) a fundamental reorganization.’

    Yes. And the thing is, anthroposophy is not only the anthroposophic movement or the organizations. Whatver is worth keeping of the content of anthroposophy itself will surely remain, even if content-poor organizations go away. (And, in addition, the blame for lack of content can never be pinned on the critic — critics, at least some of them, are more focused on anthroposophic content than are some anthroposophists ;-) )

    Must eat supper now; back later.

  32. Zooey,
    could you please bring forward some documents which support what I state:
    Waldorf pedagogy is build upon and meant to promote Anthroposophy.
    Somewhere in the RS archive, perhaps 1919?
    I assume that you can find it much faster than I can.

    As for the UK:
    Those docs I hope Zooey can present may be the ones the UK education authorities need to read, perhaps.
    In the Academies Bill,
    http://www.education.gov.uk/~/media/Files/lacuna/academiesbillimpactassessment.ashx
    I cannot find any objective “promoting a cult”.

    Also:
    I undestand that the free schools are presented as “following the Swedish model”.

    Free Schools in Sweden are substantially more controlled by Skolverket (equivalent to Ofsted) than the community comprehensives are.

    I understand that the Academies Bill proposes less controll by authorities for the free schools. In that case, HIDDEN-confessional schools are even more dangerous than openly confessional schools, and not in line with the manifesto the Academies Bill is meant to execute, as far I can see.

    Also:
    earlier in the ego thread here at Zooeys, starting at and further down:
    https://zooey.wordpress.com/info/#comment-2662
    league tables were discussed. There, I stated that the league tables can be misleading, even apart from Waldorf.

    ON TOP of that I state now:
    nowhere in a community comprehensive or a non-confessional free school was I expected to execute laundering.
    It was not called laundering, of cause; it was expressed in the usual esotheric way. I did understand, however, and refused. And got bullied.

  33. Quick reply: I’d say, for education, the archive at steinerbooks is more useful than rsarchive. You can download several important books there, e g the Faculty Meetings. http://steinerbooks.org/research/archive.php#waldorf

    In the Faculty Meetings, he says

    ‘The Waldorf School needs to be a prime example of an anthroposophical institution. ‘ (p 355)

    View also p 55, p 107, pp 115-119, p 164, p 171. These are a few things I’ve marked in my print-outs. (Note that these page numbers are the book page numbers — they unfortunately differ (I believe, they usuall do) from the pdf-document pages. That is, if you’re reading the book as a pdf you will see a different page number in the document itself than what you see in the pdf-reader. The pages I’m referring to are not the pdf-pages, but the book pages.) The whole work is filled with anthroposophic references. It is also a highly interesting and entertaining read.

    Also, in a book called The Spirit of the Waldorf School, he talks about spiritual science and supersensible knowledge — and the importance of it for education. It’s full of references to this — and it is, of course, about anthroposophic knowledge.

    I would very much like to hear more about the ‘laundering’. I think I know what you mean (‘polishing’ results to make them look better?) — and I know this has been… eh… suspected by me and by others.

  34. One thing I didn’t comment enough on, I can see now, is this:

    ‘A hate-blog is also “Nachrichten aus der Welt der Anthropophie”, it is anonymous and does everything to hurt the anthroposophy ( a shame in a democracy).’

    I would say: quite the opposite. It’s what makes a democracy — characterized by free speech — a democracy: the opportunity and freedom to state opinions and arguments even if these hurt somebody. In a democracy, we do have to tolerate quite a lot of views that are despicable. (And ‘Nachrichten…’ isn’t even in that category, but let’s leave that out for the time being.) Being hurt and offended and upset and confronted with mistaken or ill-intended ideas… and so forth — that’s part of democracy, it’s the price we pay for democracy, if democracy is to be worth anything and not just a nice word on a paper. It is not a ‘shame’ — nor is anonymity (I very well understand why this blog author needs anonymity), by the way… in general, it’s the arguments that count, not the person! — it’s rather something to be proud of: that we grant freedom even to the dumbest people to express their ideas, and that we let the ridiculous, the erroneous, the dangerous opinions be freely expressed and discussed and refuted if necessary.

    We may agree or disagree with certain or all points stated by ‘Nachrichten…’ but the bottom line is that, whatever the case is, the fact that the blog exists is not a shame for democracy. It can’t be!

    And the blogger in question isn’t abusing free speech or democratic rights — s/he’s using them. And not particularly unwisely, in my opinion. But that’s an opinion; and as far as the content of the blog is concerned — it’s quite all right to disagree about its merits. But the fact that it is there in the first place — that’s a different question. It is a fact which is good for democracy — regardless of whether we happen do agree or disagree or be neutral towards the material on the blog itself.

    In addition, I want to agree with Thetis, as she writes:

    ‘Those who make extraordinary claims without any evidence to back them up will attract the scrutiny of skeptics, especially if they go after state funding. A word to the wise there.’

    This is certainly true. And what waldorf schools and anthroposophy want — and need — is the support (or at least acceptance) of ‘ordinary’ non-anthroposophist parents and politicians. In desiring this, they open themselves up for criticism to an extent that would otherwise not be the case. It’s a necessary consequence.

    And it is also true that waldorf teachers are supposed to fulfill a role that is unique in education, and has very little to do with education (as we understand it). The teacher is more important than the parents, in certain ways. (Over the years, there has been many mentions of this topic on the waldorf critics list. The role of the teacher, and of the school community, and of karma and ‘individual’ development and so forth — very interesting and big topics.)

    More later.

  35. Thank you, Zooey, for the references.
    Also, the list of course literature for the waldorf teacher education is revealing (I had it, but deleated all the maps some time ago).

    As for the laundering, it was even worse in my perception, but they (at the w-school I was part of for a while) did not see it that way. In my view, the purpose of education as such is different in w-school. They need the outsiders because the insider-pupil intake is not sufficient for running a school (it may have been different at your school in your time); to keep the outsiders and to keep the voucher money, they have to conform ON THE SURFACE to the general purpose of education. This is the big thing (to pretend to conform). The small things are on top of that (to let somebody pass grade 9 who is on the level of grade 7).

    I really cannot see how that fits into the Academies Bill in the UK.

  36. So, returning,

    ‘The whole field of education should be state-free.’

    But it can’t be entirely outside state control and interference. Not if the paramount concern is to be ensuring all children recieve an adequate education, and this, I think, should be the paramount concern. Freedom from state interference is a nice thing — but if taken to the extreme, it has a cost that I don’t believe it would be moral for society to disregard. What about those children who grow up paying the price for ‘state-free’ education — those children are practically held hostage to the whims of their parents and to all kinds of unreasonable ideas. If we talk about the freedom of parents and the freedom from state-interference in education — then we ought to talk about the freedom of children too. They are growing human beings whose interests actually may not always coincide with the interests of their parents.

    ‘Then, this organisation decides what school is a waldorf school or not. When, according to this organisation , you are not a waldorf school you get no money from the state.
    Voila an example of how technocracy rules.’

    This is not how it works in Sweden. Every school individually applies for permission to run a school; it would surprise me very much if the waldorf organisation had anything to say in this process. You could definitely run a school based on waldorf ideas without calling it a waldorf school — and still recieve money through public funding. The classification of the school — by private organisations — would not interfere with this decision.

    The individual school has to fulfill the requirements according to the law — but this goes for all cases, regardless of educational label. (That said, waldorf school have been given a ‘free pass’ regarding some issues.)

    ‘The best example of a Waldorf school I have seen was in Sweden, the Nibble Skolan in Järna. Very creative without dogma’s.’

    I know that even people who involved in that school back then considered it… less than optimal. In hindsight. Thinking it didn’t actually provide children with what they needed.

    So, yes, free. Very funny for the teachers, I bet. But the best for the kids? Hardly. Maybe even worse the ordinary waldorf schools. (I know way too little about this school to really say anything — but I wanted to stress that I have noticed not all views have been positive.)

    ‘The other side: materialistic education. Humans are to be identified where their bodies, they have no spirit. Is this “materialistic church” the better way of education ?
    This is what I mean with state-religion. This is not neutral at all. The state is backing this materialistic view, there is no equal treatment of ideologies or world views.’

    Hmm. I don’t know — I don’t think it’s up to the state to say if humans are bodies or bodies + spirits. Doesn’t seem to me like a question that is relevant in politics or education. I would say that the basic requirements on education — regarding quality, e g — are the same whether people have only bodies or bodies + spirit. Thus, no need to consult the ‘materialistic church’ or any other church ;-) What about making sure children have been provided with a good education — that they have knowledge and skills which are fundamental to function in society… and leave the rest up to themselves (and perhaps their parents)? I don’t see why the state needs to back either view: that the human being is only body or that she is body and spirit. Why should it? And if it did — why would anybody care to listen? It’s not its territory.

    In addition to that, I often suspect these ‘materialists’ have more complex views on the human being than ‘spiritual’ people care to admit. Plus, I whole-heartedly agree with ThetisMercurio’s comment: https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-3054

    ‘A much broader survey would be necessary to see how waldorf pupils are doing after they left school.’

    Indeed. And such a study would absolutely need to take into account all those who did, at some point, enter the waldorf education system but never finished. Because it is among those you’ll find the people for whom waldorf failed — and I think it is absolutely necessary for waldorf to learn about those failures too and the reasons for them. People who stayed until 12th grade and graduated are the ones who fitted in. They are only part of the picture, in determining the results of waldorf.

    @alfa-omega — no, I would assume they didn’t see it the same way. And it is also interesting to see that with the funding, they have become so dependent on the funding. Waldorf schools always depended on ‘outsiders’ — that was part of the point, not to cater only to anthroposophists (basically, the souls of children to non-anthroposophists are equally worthy of attention, so…!) — but the funding gave an opportunity to do this on a much larger scale than compared to before funding began. And during a few years — a decade — they were virtually alone. They got state funding, but there were hardly any other private schools (and even fewer state-funded ones). Then came the ‘free school’ movement (and also, about the same time, the financial responsibilty for education was transferred from the state to the municipal authorities), and waldorf schools, having been around for such a long time, were in an advantageous position. It would have seemed, I suppose, that with funding for independent schools now secured in a whole new way — in the ‘free school’ regulation — they had a golden opportunity to expand. However, the ‘free school’ reform also meant that other initiatives in education got the same opportunities that had been — more or less — the privilege of waldorf schools over quite a long time. Thus, these other providers snatched a big chunk of waldorf education’s customer base, in particular, I would guess, non-anthroposophist parents. (Parents like mine have a whole range of opportunities these days — back then, they didn’t. Clearly, this could only lead to one thing: some of these parents make another choice. And waldorf schools can no longer attract parents only through appealing to a status as ‘alternative’ or ‘non-state’.)

  37. Comments to Zooey’s add above:
    “The individual school has to fulfill the requirements according to the law ”

    I had difficulties, sometime great difficulties, to get this into the head of some staff.
    Some of the staff even suggested leaving the Swedish Waldorfschool Federation because the Federation adjusted to much to the valid legislation. The wise fathers in the Federation know that if they do not adjust, they will not survive, but a great part of the staff here and there does not see and/or not care that long. The w-schools wish to do what they please, getting the voucher money, of course; some of the w-schools more, some less, much depending on who the particular teacher and parents are (sometime parents are teachers as well).

  38. Comments to Zooey’s add above, continue:

    “waldorf school have been given a ‘free pass’ regarding some issues”

    In the legislation still valid as for today. The new legislation on the way (valid from July 2011) does not content explicid exceptions for waldorf (the movement lost that part of the political play in the backgroud). (That was the link to Lagrådsremiss).

  39. @zooey
    a first short reaction from me ( I have to do other things tonight) to let you know I am very impressed by your reasoning and the way you discuss al the points I have written.
    I will certainly think things over and look again to my own postion in these questions.

  40. I would like to add that Zooey’s description of the situation for waldorf as a whole, back then and now, is correct from my point of view.

  41. I made a mistake and put some comments under the “wrong” article “the inappropriate fascination”, I’m sorry.

  42. Ok, I posted a comment over there. I hope people hop away and read Jan’s comments on that thread, because they’re probably relevant both here and there. In any case, I was going to write about this elusive concept — spirit and the spiritual. Which I, agreeing with Jan (sort of), believe are not matters for the state. But on the other hand I disagree with Jan in that I don’t think the basic aims of education are spiritual — and I don’t think education belongs to the spiritual (or cultural if you will) sphere where the state should not interfere. (See my comment on the other thread.)

    So, spirit. Let’s view it as a broad concept, not something tied to anthroposophical spritual ideas. We already have the overlap spiritual/cultural (mentioned by Jan too). Anyway, and here come the misconceptions about natural sciences, about society and about education too. Would natural science — even in the most materialistic sense — be devoid of spirit? I would think the absolute opposite. Simply because gaining knowledge is such a highly spiritual activity. This goes for the content of knowledge too. Finding out more about how the human being, evolution, nature, the human brain, et c, work seems to me to be far more spiritual than positing ‘facts’ that have no connection to material reality. (Which is, in my mind, what Steiner did — he often made up, invented, explanations. He may have believed in them. But still: they are insufficiently connected to reality. They are great fiction — but finding out that they aren’t facts is, it seems to me, a hightening of spiritual consciousness.)

    So: if we take spirit to be about human activity — human thinking, creating, making art and achieving knowledge… that is what education should be about, and is inevitably about, because it is a human acitivty. Whether the state interferes or not (which I think it must do, but again, see my comment in the other thread and my comments above). But for the state to posit certain spiritual beliefs as ‘truth’ — that would be ridiculous, unnecessary and unhealthy. To sort factual truths from factual untruths, there’s the scientific method. I think we should use it to inform public policy. Science may be, in a way, a spiritual activity (not in the sense of anthroposophical ‘spiritual science’, mind you), but the results gained are not spiritual ‘truths’: they are as close to facts as we can get — until new facts are in, refuting the old.

    To be continued.

  43. I’ve been in two very different educational systems. The first was waldorf, the second would, undoubtedly!, be designated as ‘materialistic’ by most anthroposophists. But, with my admittedly somewhat precipitous views on spirit outlined above, I’d say without doubt the second part of my education was vastly more spiritual. Waldorf had more gnomes and fairies, more soft flute-playing and splishy-splashy water-colours, but that was as far is went. Learning, thinking, creativity — for all its spiritually sounding promises, it didn’t give you that. I got more art, philosophy, literature, and so forth, — all ‘consciousness’ enhancing aspects of life, I assume — from the non-spiritual education. Lofty ideals like ‘Love’ (re Jan’s comment on the other thread) and spirit and humanity — and, well, whatever — won’t do it. Education isn’t a playground for adults and their hazy — and no doubt comfortable — concepts. It’s much better to send the kids to the art museums or put classic literature in their hands. Spiritual activity — in a truer sense — will arise of itself. And with basic knowledge and skills — again! — the children have opportunities to pursue all kinds of paths in life. Reading, writing, maths, history, natural sciences. That’s a more important foundation than any flimsy notion of ‘Love’. If only because the former is something you can make happen — you can formulate concrete goals and work towards them, and also find out, through research, which methods work best in achieving those goals — the latter is, well, not very helpful: it’s simply a hope that something — not very well defined — like ‘Love’ will characterize all of humanity at some distant point in the future. It’s not a very useful notion in education, in my opinion!

    To be continued…

  44. Thank you @alfa-omega!

    I notice that I’m contradicting myself, because I wrote: ‘I don’t think the basic aims of education are spiritual’ — when I wrote that, I was thinking about the spiritual in a restricted sense (as in: belief in higher truths or realms), not the wider sense (compatible with thinking, creating, being) that I referred to later in my comment(s).

    (Still: to be continued.)

  45. @zooey – you’re very wise.

    Philosopher Dan Dennett also suggests we really have very little idea what we mean by spirituality – I’ve mentioned this before on this blog – we may imagine that this vague ‘spirituality’ is the opposite of ‘materialistic’, which sort of means shallow or immoral or selfish, more selfish at least than lofty spirituality. But since we all know that plenty of people who are supposedly ‘deeply spiritual’ are in reality profoundly, in Dennett’s words, ‘cruel, arrogant, self-centered’, there’s a problem with our use of the word.

    Instead, he suggests another way of achieving elusive ‘spirituality’: ‘let your SELF go.. ‘ because if what’s absorbing you is curiosity about the world’s complexities, with a proper sense of your own insignificance in the scheme of things, if you’re really engaged, he uses the word ‘centred’:

    ‘you will find the hard choices easier, the right words will come to you when you need them and you will indeed be a better person. That, I propose, is the secret to spirituality, and it has nothing to do with believing in an immortal soul, or in anything supernatural.’

    Daniel Dennett – ‘Breaking the Spell’ 2006

    I do believe certain government bodies, like Ofsted in the UK, have no real idea what they mean by the word spiritual, which is what leads them to get into such a muddle over Waldorf Steiner schools who at least say they have a clearer idea what they mean by it. They may well do. But this is not necessarily a Good Thing.

    I agree with you zooey that it’s possible to call all sorts of things spiritual if we should wish to: falling in love for example, or contemplating the art that moves us, even the beautiful game (topical reference). If one of the basic aims of education is to inspire or at least not get in the way of some individual, even profound engagement in the world, we should be pleased.

    As for meddling in a child’s supposed spiritual life, whatever a teacher thinks they’re doing, I have only one recommendation: don’t.

  46. Zooey:
    “[spiritual in] the wider sense (compatible with thinking, creating, being) that I referred to later in my comment(s)”.

    I would like to find a new term, ‘spiritual’, at least in English, sounds very much anthro to me.

    What you have written is just a next occurance of: we all have OUR spiritual life. Someone a sofisticated kind of, someone a simpel kind of. What is important: a OWN one.

  47. alfa-omega – I don’t like the word spiritual and don’t use it myself except here, in fact I’m always a bit disappointed when people do use it, except it seems impossible to avoid.

    So I’d like to find a new term too.

    And I think you have the point – whatever we call it, especially with children, it’s their OWN.

  48. I’m going to continue on my line of thought before replying to anything else. I have a feeling that there may have been objections to this use of the term ‘spiritual’ — and quite rightly. It is the point, sort of. That it can be taken to mean almost anything. Even stuff which nobody could object to. Waldorf parents in general probably think about the notion more in the manner I described. They don’t necessarily think of spirituality as having gnomes, fairies and St Michael shoved down one’s throat. And, in my opinion, waldorf school proponents thrive on this opportunity — it’s a good thing for them that ‘spirituality’ can be taken to mean just about anything. It’s good for them that parents interpret the term in ways that suit them personally. But it is a pretty useless way to define a method in education, because people don’t know what they are choosing. They may think they know, but they don’t, because the content of the word, in the waldorf context, is different than what many parents imagine when they hear it.

    I also want to challenge — again — Jan’s notion that the state belief is a kind of materialism. And that, since education belongs to the spiritual sphere, the state should not interfere. In fact, the state in its core functions ‘holds’ beliefs which are basically ‘spiritual’ in that they are founded upon metaphysical tenets. In this, the ‘materialistic’ state is far more imbued with the ‘spiritual’ than the school system could possibly be and remain healthy.

    Though, luckily, the state abstains from the spirituality characterized by belief in archangels, elemental beings and reincarnating spirits. This area of spiritual beliefs wouldn’t be useful. (It isn’t in education either, by the way.)

    So there’s politics and government and philosophies and whatnot, but I’d say the area where the state interferes most severely and deeply in the life of an individual is the criminal law. (Which also happens to be one of my interests, of course, which is why it makes sense to talk about it: I know much less about other aspects of the power of the state.) In criminal law, the ‘state’ philosophy is far from ‘materialistic’; it is, in fact, based on a number of ‘spiritual’ notions — notions pertaining to beliefs in metaphysical aspects of human life. Moreover, it’s every bit as alien to scientific knowledge as is the anthroposophic method/philosophy. People may not always realize this, because it seems so crass and… material. You have rules and enforce these rules to the letter. Rules, consequences; causes and effects; and so on.

    But in reality, the whole concept of responsibility is fraught with metaphysical beliefs. It’s an institutional belief in the spiritual side of man — if you will (or, at least, you could put it that way — the particular words used are perhaps less important than the content of this idea, and ‘spiritual’ is a useful word for everything from thoughts to gnomes). To function, criminal law must have some idea of what a human being is. Sure, there have been arguments in favour of eliminating metaphysics from the law, but any such efforts have been largely unsuccesful. But the way the law views man is incompatible with science. The responsible human being as construed by law does not exist. Jurisprudence is not — and cannot be — a natural science discipline and cannot adopt the concepts of natural sciences (or the biological, medical or other conceptions of man). It’s certainly not an insult to law to say this, nor is it meant to undermine it. Responsibility is closer to a religious idea than to a scientific one, if one would have to choose. It is not about pointing out law’s weaknesses because this is actually an acknowledgement of its strenghts — however odd this may sound. (If the content of the idea of ‘responsibility’ changed every time scientific knowledge progressed, there would be no predictability, and predictability is paramount to individual freedom in relation to state oppression.)

    But we don’t really need to speak of ‘spiritual’ here — even though, given a broad definition of ‘spiritual’, we certainly could. Responsibility is not a scientific concept, but it suffices to say it is pragmatic and/or philosophic (or something else). It’s not descriptive, it’s normative. Well, in any case, this was largely an excursion into the silly and trivial, and (obviously) I’ve left education behind here. So maybe this is irrelevant, maybe not. I don’t know. But keep in mind Jan’s statement that the state is ‘materialistic’. It operates on materialistic terms. It acknowledges only the material. A premature conclusion, in my opinion. So what notions does the state apply when enforcing its power over individual citizens in the most invasive way, i e, deciding to take away their freedom?

    That is responsibility, and the assumption is that most people are responsible. The assumption is that most people act out of free will most of the time. Responsibility for a certain behaviour requires a physical movement — a concrete behaviour prohibited by the law — that was preceded by an act of will. A crime has two prongs — one material/physical, one immaterial/spiritual. The act (actus reus) vs the intent (mens rea). Except for a few well-defined crimes, it’s not about physically causing an effect only. (This distinction between physical and mental aspects of the crime is fundamental to the very important difference between justifications and excuses, moreover!) The concept of a crime is thus a sort of body-mind dualism — it’s about material and immaterial aspects of human action. And I haven’t even got started on the mens rea itself!

    No doubt, though, that notions such as ‘act of will’ as understood legally (as in an act of will causes the physical motion and the result is an act) is pseudoscientific babble. But this doesn’t imply it’s not useful within its legal framework. But, the thing is, if ‘the state’ only cared about positivist science — it would not play with these metaphysic concepts at all. I don’t see any reason to belive that the state has a ‘religion’ and this ‘religion’ has to be ‘materialism’ — unless we understand materialism in an extremely restricted sense, i e, in an anthroposophy-taken-crudely sense: not bothering about the existance of gnomes, fairies and archangels. (All the kinds of beings on whom I don’t think we should waste any tax money, frankly. And I understand those anthroposophists who don’t want to be associated with these mythical beings either — but instead prefer a more ‘intellectual’ spirituality.)

    So, either ‘spiritual’ is useless, or it needs to be redefined. Or perhaps it needs to be reclaimed from the fairies-are-real folks.

    Well, I don’t know exactly what I wanted to say, really, except that it’s not so easy as to say that the ‘state’ and its power is ‘materialistic’ and education should not be (or rather, it should be left alone from interference by the supposedly ‘materialistically’ minded state).

  49. @alfa-omega:

    ‘What you have written is just a next occurance of: we all have OUR spiritual life.’

    True — because ‘spiritual’ can mean lots of things. And this is easy to capitalize on, for the proponents of waldorf education. One funny thing, perhaps, is that rather than avoid it, what if all scientifically and rationally minded people began using it for, like, the process of rational thinking or some such thing — hah!

    @thetis:

    true, all of it. I agree with Dennett too.

  50. We in our family, our friends and people we know but not consider nearer friends, we all have ett själsligt liv.
    How would you translate that, Zooey?

    I get offended when the anthros, especially those “recruited into Anthroposophy which happened to be along” (those “holier than thou”), claim over and over again “we are the ones with spiritual life, others are materialistic”.

    The reality I have met at the Waldorf School I have been part of for a while was not in agreement with the anthro/steiner/waldorf retorics, not the least.

  51. We could say jurisprudence is relativist and subjective: we can’t use science to say whether a law is right or wrong – it’s a judgement based on how we perceive ourselves as human beings (with responsibility) – although we can use science to gather evidence which we then use to make a judgement.

    This can be enlivened by reflecting on concepts of responsibility and free will as explored by Dennett in the talk alfa-omega links to above.

    Now I’m waiting to hear the meaning of ‘ett själsligt liv’.

  52. I was reminded of this, I had missed or forgot alfa-omega’s question.

    I would translate ‘ett själsligt liv’ as ‘a soul life’ or a ‘life of the soul’. Which, obviously, does not have to contain any spiritual entities, elemental beings or arch-angels. A more non-spiritual version could be ‘a life of the mind’.

  53. Thank you, Zooey, thank you – as always.

    Both translations of yours fit; ‘a life of the soul’ is more literal, nearer to what I mean, but the other, ‘a life of the mind’, expresses better that my perception of spirituality is not connected to Anthroposophy or any other esoteric religion.

  54. That is true, and perhaps it’s worthwhile making a distinction. To not have one’s definitions confused with anthroposophical concepts. But I think ‘själsliv’ is often used in a secular manner, i e, it’s used even when referring to functions of the brain, of consciousness, et c. (Consciousness being another word hijacked by spiritual folks…)

  55. Phew, that was a lot to read. I still can’t get Sune into a discussion so he can justify his stance regarding waldorf/steiner. I agree, for people who were educated to be confident, assertive members of our society (supposedly), I have found steiner acolytes to be anything but. Still, it’s only my personal experience. I find them furtive and lifeless.

  56. Well, you have a point. I don’t think they’re all like that or have to be like that… But reality is disappointing.

    As for Sune, it’s not easy to get answers or get him to engage with anything… Unless he feels he (the movement) gains something. It’s unfortunate really. Sad, even.

  57. Funny, I just mentioned Sune in my most recent comment here: http://www.csindy.com/colorado/the-device-is-not-ready/Content?oid=2398491 I don’t mind that he doesn’t comment. His relationship to Waldorf has already done the Waldorf movement a terrible disservice. He would do the Waldorf movement a favor if he kept his mouth shut for the remainder of his miserable life, IMO. The dishonesty of Sune’s behavior is very easy to demonstrate and it alerts people instantly that there is something more to Waldorf than meets the eye. That Waldorf hired Sune SPECIFICALLY to deceive parents is a HUGE red flag for most prospective parents. I’m happy to wave it. ;)

  58. That must be one of their most misguided decisions ever. It just isn’t possible to explain in any rational way. But I guess that may not be their thing anyhow. I can’t help but speculate why he’s so silent these days though. If his online writing activity was, as he said, his spare-time… well, even if it was work-time…

  59. @WiremuShane
    What exactly is it you want to tell the reader?
    That you personally know Waldorf pupils who are furtive and lifeless?
    Do you want to generalize this to “all” or “most” Waldorf pupils”?
    Do you think that the percentage of sub-assertive pupils among Waldorf pupils is significant higher than pupils of regular schools? Do you have any figures?

  60. Those are interesting questions Jan. Here’s my take… YES, all Waldorf students are “lifeless”, as you describe them. There’s a very real reason for this. Edgy kids don’t survive in Waldorf. Kids with a sharp wit, with a questioning mind, with a sharp intellect, with an expressive personality – are either dumbed down or drummed out. There is NO room for individuality in a Waldorf classroom. Therefore, the only children who make it to graduation are, indeed, dull. They have learned to be dull in order to survive. Right from kindergarten, they are taught not to ask questions… and as they enter high school, they know which topics are going to gain favor with their teachers and which will cause problems. Waldorf is set up to produce dumb (unquestioning) kids. By graduation, the trouble-making question-askers are gone, the life has been taken out of the remainder and you’re left with what many people describe as “quiet” and “respectful” graduates. Next time you talk with a Waldorf grad – look closer.

  61. Pete’s comment above is a wild generalisation. I wonder what evidence he has to back it up. I don’t recognise a single ex-Steiner pupil I know in that ludicrous stereotype of a Steiner Graduate.
    Some of my local Steiner school pupils move on to local schools to do their GCSE and A Level studies because the Steiner school isn’t able to offer the full range of subjects to a high level. (My own son and daughter had to take Film Studies at the local FE College as an evening course).
    Without exception the school gets reports back about how lively and perceptive the students are and what acute questions they ask. NO local school has ever reported negatively on the intellectual curiosity and perspicuity of the pupils they receive at 14 or 16 from our local Steiner school.
    Is negative stereotyping OK when applied to ex-Steiner pupils?

  62. I agree with Falk that Pete is making wild generalizations and indeed is stereotyping.
    This is something I often observe at Steiner-critics.
    You take your negative experiences with certain characteristics of certain anthroposophists or Waldorf teachers or Waldorf pupils, and you claim that all anthoposophists and all Waldorf teachers and all Waldorf pupils have this characteristics.
    This is the same what Geert Wilders is doing in Holland towards the Moroccan population.
    A small part of the Moroccan youth is causing trouble, but in his eyes a great deal of the Moroccans are criminal, thus stereotyping negatively the Moroccan community.
    Politically Geert Wilders is called a populist.

  63. Falk wrote “Pete’s comment above is a wild generalisation. I wonder what evidence he has to back it up.” Then went on to say that it must be false because he doesn’t recognize Waldorf graduates by my “ludicrous stereotype” (which, BTW, was “quiet” and “respectful”). That “NO local school has ever reported negatively on the intellectual curiosity and perspicuity of the pupils they receive at 14 or 16 from our local Steiner school” isn’t particularly surprising to me. What schools contact the schools their pupils came from to ask why the pupils don’t ask more questions?

    Even Waldorf acknowledges some kids aren’t a good fit for Waldorf. These are typically kids who are ahead of the game as far as individual thinking is concerned. My own kids struggled terribly in Waldorf – often refusing to do assignments that were “ridiculous” (in their words). My son was forced to consider intelligent design theory as if it were science. My other son was directly taught Steiner’s racist beliefs as if they were science. When my kids and I objected to what they were being taught and how they were being treated, they were punished and even expelled. They weren’t the only ones. How do you explain this in the light of producing free-thinking individuals? Read the reviews of parents and students here – especially about expelling students without warning as a way to frighten parents:
    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2011/07/highland-hall-waldorf-school-parent-and.html

  64. I am sad to hear of Pete’s experience of the Steiner school his children attended. Things do go wrong in some schools. Same as in state schools (public schools in the USA) there are teachers in Steiner schools who should never be let near any child. And I think such people when found out should be forced to leave the profession. There is a lack of proper monitoring and accountability in some Steiner schools and this must change.

    ‘ YES, all Waldorf students are “lifeless”.’
    I still see this comment as a negative stereotype.
    Pete’s comment regarding his later characterisation – ‘which, BTW, was “quiet” and “respectful” ‘. does not change the fact that it is a stereotype and I felt that in the context it is meant pejoratively. I.e., these children are not assertive, not questioning.

  65. “I am sad to hear of Pete’s experience of the Steiner school his children attended. Things do go wrong in some schools. Same as in state schools (public schools in the USA) there are teachers in Steiner schools who should never be let near any child. And I think such people when found out should be forced to leave the profession.”

    Those people go into Waldorf teacher training. The worst abusers of my (and many other) children are currently or have in the past been listed in Highland Hall’s teacher training program WISC. http://waldorfteaching.org/waldorf_institute_faculty.shtml. Also listed there – Patrice Maynard – once mentor to the famous Waldorf teacher who strapped children to their chairs, is now an administrator at AWSNA! http://www.wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=1364683&nav=0RZFGxHZ Several other teacher trainers at WISC are affiliated with AWSNA. The worst of the worst move UP, they don’t leave the Waldorf profession. Thank goodness there are people like me who are documenting this stuff.

    “There is a lack of proper monitoring and accountability in some Steiner schools and this must change.”

    When the body that does the monitoring (AWSNA) contains the worst of the worst, it’s easy to see why even schools as horrible as Highland Hall are permitted to continue using the Waldorf name. There’s no way Waldorf/AWSNA will hold them accountable for the harm they do. It’s up to me and the US courts to do that.

    “‘ YES, all Waldorf students are “lifeless”.’
    I still see this comment as a negative stereotype.”

    You’re right. I should have said – “It is the intention of Waldorf to make all Waldorf students lifeless”. Read here about the accounts of a former Waldorf teacher who seems to confirm this. http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/ex-teacher-5

  66. @Pete K
    “It is the intention of Waldorf to make all Waldorf students lifeless”.
    Do you think Waldorf schools should be prohibited?

  67. “Do you think Waldorf schools should be prohibited?”

    I don’t think they’re even “schools”. I think they’re really something else that is made to resemble a school. Traditional schools educate children. Waldorf’s stated purpose is not the education of children. Steiner said Waldorf’s purpose is the indoctrination of children and their parents into Anthroposophy. Their disdain for intellect makes Waldorf people the absolute WORST people to be running a school. Should they be prohibited from public funding? ABSOLUTELY! Should they continue to exist in the way they are today? Absolutely NOT! Can Waldorf fix itself? NOPE! Why not? There’s nobody in Waldorf that can be TRUSTED to fix Waldorf. The only solution for Waldorf is to come to terms with what it is doing to children – and that coming to terms must come from outside of Waldorf… Some higher authority (than Steiner) must tell them to stop. I’m hoping that authority will be the LAW!

  68. Pete says: ‘Kids with a sharp wit, with a questioning mind, with a sharp intellect, with an expressive personality – are either dumbed down or drummed out.’

    There’s a lot of truth in Pete’s comment, however much you like these children. The ferocity of your response, Falk, suggests he may have hit a nerve.

    Falk responds: ‘Without exception the school gets reports back about how lively and perceptive the students are and what acute questions they ask. NO local school has ever reported negatively on the intellectual curiosity and perspicuity of the pupils they receive at 14 or 16 from our local Steiner school.’

    I’ve no idea if this is true, it would certainly be odd (have you read all the correspondence? Much of it would be confidential, so if you’ve had access, questions should be asked) but it sounds like Steiner PR for the benefit of those new to this thread.

    Putting the unusual process of ‘reporting back’ to a child’s previous school aside – colleges and schools don’t make negative public statements about students. They don’t say: ‘Former pupils of Dothekids Community College are academically way behind those of other schools’, even if many of them are, or comment on a cohorts’ impressive drug use. Since the funding of FE colleges relies on student numbers, they are likely to be positive about everything they possibly can be. I would do the same, were I the principal of a school/college, and I think it’s vital actively to support young people of whatever background, but my candid opinion of Dothekids School or St Micha-el’s Gnome Academy would be quite another matter.

    It is as silly to take seriously: ‘without exception,’ and ‘NO local school …etc… intellectual curiosity and perspicuity.. etc etc’ as it would be to accept the suggestion that ALL Steiner Waldorf graduates are effectively zombies. We are talking about schools, not home life – in my view a more significant marker and the reason why a good few Steiner kids are notably charming and articulate. I know several very nice young people who have been at Steiner schools. They would have been just as nice if they’d been anywhere else though – plus their options might now be broader in an intensely competitive world.

    I think we can all agree though about Sune – and let’s not get sidetracked – it’s worth reminding new readers what this thread is about. Why would there NEED to be attacks on critical individuals when … ‘without exception … NO local school..’ and so on.. ? Surely the truth will out, success will be evidence enough?

    Pete writes: ‘I don’t think they’re even “schools”. I think they’re really something else that is made to resemble a school. Traditional schools educate children. Waldorf’s stated purpose is not the education of children.’

    Yes. That’s certainly my impression.

  69. Personally I think we should get rid of schools that fail their students badly. Whether these schools are waldorf schools is irrelevant. It’s the quality of education that matters.

  70. @Pete k.
    “Steiner said Waldorf’s purpose is the indoctrination of children and their parents into Anthroposophy”
    He never said that and you know it. Isn’t time to question yourself whether your image of Steiner is accurate?
    “Some higher authority (than Steiner) must tell them to stop. I’m hoping that authority will be the LAW!”
    So, you do want to forbid them. You want to take civilians the possibility to choose for this schools.
    This is not only a very paternalistic position, it is also a very intolerant one.
    Forbid all things I am not agree with. Do you think such a position fits in a democratic society?

    @ Melanie
    “I know several very nice young people who have been at Steiner schools. They would have been just as nice if they’d been anywhere else though – plus their options might now be broader in an intensely competitive world”.
    I think you cannot know for sure how pupils would have developed in a different surrounding. Do you regret that your own children visited a Waldorf school?

    @Alicia
    Who has to decide about the quality of schools?

  71. I would like to note that Jan was very successful at diverting attention from this statement of Pete’s:

    “Those people go into Waldorf teacher training. The worst abusers of my (and many other) children are currently or have in the past been listed in Highland Hall’s teacher training program WISC. http://waldorfteaching.org/waldorf_institute_faculty.shtml. Also listed there – Patrice Maynard – once mentor to the famous Waldorf teacher who strapped children to their chairs, is now an administrator at AWSNA!”

    … which seemed to be the point of abruptly changing the subject to debate whether the schools should be actually outlawed. It was a way to make it be Pete who appeared to be saying something extreme, to distract from the quite extreme circumstance he was describing.
    Personally I wouldn’t agree with outlawing Waldorf schools outright. But I thought the big switcheroo here was clever.

  72. Diana — yes, incredibly clever.

    Jan — ‘Who has to decide about the quality of schools?’ — People who know a thing or two about education, perhaps? There are lots of shitty schools — many shitty schools that aren’t waldorf schools, in fact. Quality criteria should apply equally to all. Simply — you test the kids knowledge. You require that schools have teachers who are highly qualified, and you demand that teacher training is of high standard — it shouldn’t be the way it is in Sweden: only the worst students go to teacher training. Schools that hire unqualified teachers should have to close — but this is only a reasonable thing to demand once teacher training is damn good. And attracts the good students, not the bottom of the list.

    I think you’re being stubborn and borderline-stupid here, Jan. I think you’re doing this only to provoke. You can’t honestly believe that we should leave schools entirely unregulated — and wasting the lives of the next generation as a consequence of negligence. Don’t you think children deserve a good education? Don’t you think they deserve a good start in life?

    This isn’t about waldorf education only — it applies to education in general. Can’t you see that?

    You also wrote to Melanie: ‘Do you regret that your own children visited a Waldorf school?’

    Does it surprise you that a — not insignificant — number of parents actually regret this choice? When they notice how — despite the nice promises of the school — their children fare ill, fall behind and are miserable as a result of the parents’ malinformed choice? Melanie is fairly mellow in her personal criticism of her children’s waldorf education — other parents have much worse things to say. And waldorf proponents should listen. (Yes, my mother regrets that decision, if you care to know, Jan. And she regrets not pulling out much much much sooner.)

  73. Melanie:

    ‘Putting the unusual process of ‘reporting back’ to a child’s previous school aside – colleges and schools don’t make negative public statements about students. They don’t say: ‘Former pupils of Dothekids Community College are academically way behind those of other schools’, even if many of them are, or comment on a cohorts’ impressive drug use. ‘

    No, I don’t know about reporting back either. I can’t, even in my most vivid imagination, see my second school reporting back anything — much less anything positive (because, academically, there was nothing to praise… and I was as lost in many other ways as well) — to my first school, the waldorf school. Why would they? That would mean telling the other school things that had to do with me — information that no longer concerned them. And that I would not have wanted reported back. Anyway — I did hear that they had had waldorf applicant(s) before, and turned them back becuase the academic level was too low. It was a private school, it was fully financed by the parents, and they could refuse anyone they wanted to. (These schools don’t really exist anymore with the free school reform… although there are many more free schools than there were ever private schools.) I think that is a kind of report from another school: what waldorf is doing is not good enough. And I’ve read, over and over again, about ordinary public schools taking over waldorf students who are far behind. I’ve read about teachers who tutor waldorf students who are far behind. But, of course, nobody reports any of this back to the waldorf school — it’s up to the child or the child’s parents. Anything else would be unethical. To gossip back that a former student — who’ve obviously left for a reason and, quite likely, been badly regarded for the decision to leave — is failing… well, even if the waldorf school really should have that info (and take it damn seriously), it would be wrong for a new school or a new teacher to deliver it. Simply because this school’s and this teacher’s loyalty should be towards the child, not to the child’s former school. Or perhaps I should say responsibility.

    ‘It is as silly to take seriously: ‘without exception,’ and ‘NO local school …etc… intellectual curiosity and perspicuity.. etc etc’ as it would be to accept the suggestion that ALL Steiner Waldorf graduates are effectively zombies. We are talking about schools, not home life – in my view a more significant marker and the reason why a good few Steiner kids are notably charming and articulate. I know several very nice young people who have been at Steiner schools. They would have been just as nice if they’d been anywhere else though – plus their options might now be broader in an intensely competitive world.’

    I wholeheartedly agree! In addition, there are probably some really good, talented teachers in waldorf schools — and I wouldn’t deny the possibility that these individual teachers have a significant, positive influence on their students. Not sure what that says about the waldorf system as such though. Probably not as much as its proponents would hope (I’m afraid).

  74. The whole “Who has to decide” gambit is just another distraction from what the person actually said. If someone has posted a horror story from a Waldorf school, these are common anthroposophical retorts: “Well who are you to judge the Waldorf schools” or “So you think the Waldorf schools should be shut down.” Then the conversation goes off on a long tangent about the pro’s and con’s of actually shutting a school, monitoring systems, bureaucracies, regulations, i.e., “who should decide,” theoretical discussion of parents’ rights etc. The horror story itself gets buried many posts back in the dialogue, for instance, the image of a child tied to a chair … so that any newcomer probably doesn’t read about the child tied to the chair, they just read a theoretical discussion of who should be monitoring quality in an educational system.

  75. Jan wrote: “Steiner said Waldorf’s purpose is the indoctrination of children and their parents into Anthroposophy”
    He never said that and you know it. Isn’t time to question yourself whether your image of Steiner is accurate?

    I didn’t quote him… but he said this, yes. Have you read Faculty Meetings yet? Look at pages 41-44… where he talks about feeding Anthroposophy to children. I won’t belabor this point since it’s in a LOT of his works. You don’t like the word I used – “indoctrinate” – but Steiner absolutely related this to teachers. He also related this to the Anthroposophical Society. Have a look at GA26 where he talks about how to pull members into Anthroposophy.

    “An old member finding a new member in the group which he attends, should not rest content to feel with satisfaction that Anthroposophy has gained a new adherent. He should not merely have the thought, ‘Here is one more whom we can fill with Anthroposophy’. But he should feel and be alive to the fresh human element which comes into the group with the new member.” http://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0026/English/ASGB1963/GA026_c03.html

    Jan continues:
    “So, you do want to forbid them. You want to take civilians the possibility to choose for this schools. This is not only a very paternalistic position, it is also a very intolerant one.
    Forbid all things I am not agree with. Do you think such a position fits in a democratic society?”

    My son, a Waldorf grad, believes parents should NOT have ANY choice in selecting a school for their children. He believes the state should run all schools, teach only facts AND that Waldorf schools should cease to exist. I’m even less tolerant. I think they should stop harming children, of course, AND I think they should be held accountable for the harm they’ve already done!

    It isn’t a matter of what I agree with – it’s that they are breaking the LAW! They are fraudulent in their practices. When they lie about their schools, there is no free “choice” to be made. We have laws to protect consumers from this. That’s exactly why our democratic society makes laws, so dishonest people or groups don’t behave in a way that’s above the law. Freedom doesn’t mean freedom to HARM others.

  76. I see many contributors have picked up on how silly it is to make sweeping statements and unverifiable claims.
    Of course my comments beginning, ‘Without exception….’ and ‘ NO local…’ are absurd.
    I was merely reflecting the tone of Pete’s comments. “YES, all Waldorf students are “lifeless”, etc. ‘“It is the intention of Waldorf to make all Waldorf students lifeless”. This is just not true. The link Pete provides in his Dec 30 post would only count as anecdote, I believe, as would my claims above.
    If my response was ‘ferocious’, (see Melanie above) it would be because I find negative stereotyping unacceptable no matter who it is applied to.

  77. Unfortunately, Falk, you seem to have missed the reasons why such statements are truthful. Steiner was opposed to intellect and intellectual thinking. There are dozens of examples throughout his works to confirm this. There are abundant examples on the internet about Waldorf teachers squashing questioning children AND questioning parents. If it’s in opposition to their policy, why do we have so many examples of this happening – world wide? Some questions are not tolerated in Waldorf. Depending on the age of the child, NO questions may be tolerated (let alone answered honestly). There are reasons in the pedagogy for behaving this way – having to do with “intellectualizing” students. Again, Steiner was opposed to this and that is why Waldorf teachers, in accordance with his plan, don’t answer children’s questions. Eventually, children stop asking questions when they lose hope of getting honest answers. The result is your typical Waldorf grad.

  78. “I think you’re being stubborn and borderline-stupid here, Jan.”
    Well. Ok, I think I estimate you higher than you do me. So be it.

    I think you know I once advocated the Finnish school system being one of the top school systems in the world. What are the features of that school system?
    But I don’t want to distract. Let’s face Waldorf.
    Like Falk I am opposing the easy stereotyping of Pete Karaistos. Everyone can see he is exaggerating very much. Of course there are problems in Waldorf as there are in the regular school system.
    Are the problems in Waldorf significantly more or more severe than in the regular schools?
    Are there figures about that?
    You also know I have my own critique on Waldorf, explained here on this blog.
    The thing is that I find the criticism of Pete , and sometimes of others, unreasonable, so I have to oppose it.

  79. ‘Well. Ok, I think I estimate you higher than you do me. So be it.’

    Well, Jan, I estimate you higher than you might think, which is why I wonder if you really mean some of the things you say seriously — or if you want to drive a point to the extreme. It sometimes seems as if you think it would be ok to allow schools that don’t teach anything at all and leave children completely without a future — just because, somehow, their parents’ or the group the family belongs to believe this is right. (Again, not talking waldorf. It could be — there certainly are — groups that are far far FAR more extreme.)

    ‘I think you know I once advocated the Finnish school system being one of the top school systems in the world. What are the features of that school system?’

    Yes. They have just what I think I mentioned in a comment above: high standards for their teachers. Being a teacher is considered prestigeous. Unlike Sweden, where the worst students — who have few other opportunities — go to teacher training, in Finland the best students become teachers. Or at least the better students. To teach in finnish schools, you also need an academic degree. There was an article in the Atlantic recently:
    http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/ ‘For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master’s degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal’s responsibility to notice and deal with it.’ — Many waldorf teachers have no academic degree at all (except the waldorf training), well, no university experience at all for that matter, it’s not prestigeous, it does not attract and select the best students, the teachers certainly don’t get paid even what public/state school teachers get paid… So?

    Don’t tell me that it’s about finnish kids starting school later — it’s true they do. But so do swedish kids. And sweden ends up shockingly low down on performance lists, ie, interntational comparisons.

    ‘Are the problems in Waldorf significantly more or more severe than in the regular schools?
    Are there figures about that?’

    I think there ought ot be, actually. But unfortunately there isn’t much research — and even less reliable research.

    ‘The thing is that I find the criticism of Pete , and sometimes of others, unreasonable, so I have to oppose it.’

    You’re very welcome to do it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. (Sometimes I think that perhaps you focus on the wrong things in his posts though — e g, I think one important thing is his objection against moving bad teachers to teacher training. I find it quite reasonable of him to criticize this practice. You don’t seem to think so, maybe you take too little notice of the truly valid points? The more principal points? I don’t know.)

    But I have to say I, on the other hand, find some of your ideas — for example, leaving schools to operate without any checks or any interferance at all — quite unreasonable too. (Which you know, because we’ve discussed it before.) You ask, who should decide? Well, somebody will have to, unless we accept that some kids are growing up deprived of an education — and, in the end, deprived of *their* freedom, deprived of their rights. Such a policy is plain wrong for rich, democratic countries. So, yes, there must be requirements and regulations for schools. We can reasonably discuss what these reguirements should be and what these regulations should look like — and we can do this and listen to people who know stuff, ie, researchers, professionals, et c — but we can’t just ignore that they must exist. Unless, as said, we accept that some children lose the chance at having a future.

  80. Alicia, A very reasoned and satisfactory reply to Jan, I think. I do agree that Pete is exaggerating in some ways (because of his own experiences, which were utterly shocking and horrific, he doesn’t want to agree that there are Waldorf schools that are not as bad, even Waldorf schools where the setting is basically healthy); yet it is also really blatant that Jan is motivated to move very quickly past Pete’s extremely important points like the fact that bad teachers in Waldorf are often not removed but rather promoted. Highland Hall is connected to the teacher training and is a very venerable, historic institution in the Waldorf world in the US. This is not some random Tiny Waldorf School in Nowhere, USA, that Waldorf fans can point at and say they are somehow off the grid or “doing it wrong”; in fact they, along with a couple of other “flagship” Waldorf schools like the Rudolf Steiner School in NYC and the Kimberton school in the Philadelphia suburbs, are a pipeline to Waldorf USA.

  81. True. That’s a common excuse. There must be something wrong in this particular school, they must be doing it wrong. But what if it’s actually the flagship school? (Like my school. I bet they were doing very few things ‘wrong’ — they were role-models for the entire movement. They wanted to be role-models for all of society, in fact.)

  82. I’m more than happy to (attempt to) justify my “extreme” positions. As somewhat of an “insider” – having married into a Waldorf family, I got a LOT of information about exactly how connected the Waldorf network is. My ex, for example, worked as an assistant to Joan Jaeckel, one of the heads of AWSNA. Her family is connected to the Pratts in Michigan – another big name in Waldorf. For much of my experience with Waldorf, I was a “new recruit” in the eyes of Anthroposophists, my kids were “3rd generation” Waldorf students… they had high hopes I would drink the kool-aid. Unfortunately (for them), I was raised in a Greek family, and where family comes before EVERYTHING. The well-being of my kids was and always has been my top priority. That my ex and her family could (had to?) turn their backs on them while they were being harmed is astonishing to me and a testament to what their priorities are. I’m VERY sorry that I learned, first-hand how sinister these people can be. I may have received the very worst Waldorf has to offer, but I believe every Waldorf school, because of the interconnectedness of these schools, has the potential to behave as badly.

    Getting back to Highland Hall, it is, as Diana describes, one of the models of a Waldorf school… not just because of its age, but because of the famous clientele they can point to (not all of them satisfied, BTW) – and often get financial support from. They spawn this behavior. I am in contact with a father who married the daughter of one of the teachers from Highland Hall (someone I know) and who is experiencing the same problems I have related on my blog. This is at a school removed from Highland Hall.

    Highland Hall’s worst are training other teachers. If I don’t speak up, who will? If I don’t keep track of who did what and who went where, who will? To me, these people are criminals out on bail waiting for trial. And they’re busy teaching their tactics to others.

    Whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not, I’ve made an impact on Highland Hall. They can’t fill their seats. They’ve stopped their expansion plans. They’ve lost funding from prominent celebrities. When you’re only one voice, you have to YELL a lot!

  83. @Pete
    Pete , I think I can understand your criticism for a great deal. Partly your are acting out of a pain (from the suffering of your children) which you have transformed in anger and partly you are doing this idealistically, from your point of view, to prevent that more children will suffer under the Waldorf regime. Correct me if I am wrong.
    Of course , you , like everyone else, have the right to criticize, and hopefully it sometimes will lead to debates through which we all come further.
    What I cannot accept, is that you are depicting Waldorf as a criminal organization which should be forbidden. Here I want to make a general point. We have discussions, debates, battles about what anthroposophy or Waldorf is, and what not etc. These could be tough discussions, but these discussions help us to build our opinion. It is important that these discussions are free, between partners with equal rights. But also , WE are the discussion partners, we are dealing with each other, like it or not. What are you doing when you are calling for the police in these discussions? “ I am talking to you, but in reality you are an “unperson”, a criminal, I am talking to you, but it were better you were in prison.”
    Or: “ I am right, and you are not, therefore I have more rights than you and/or I have the right to suppress you”. The discussions should be really free and not be mixed up with rights. “ I am right and I want the state to help me to give me my right, and to take the rights of others.” This is not the power of reasoning but the power of force.

  84. @Pete
    You brought this quotation:
    “An old member finding a new member in the group which he attends, should not rest content to feel with satisfaction that Anthroposophy has gained a new adherent. He should not merely have the thought, ‘Here is one more whom we can fill with Anthroposophy’. But he should feel and be alive to the fresh human element which comes into the group with the new member.” http://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0026/English/ASGB1963/GA026_c03.html
    Do you realize that this quotation gives evidence to the opposite as what you are claiming.
    I understand it as: “Be happy there is a new person, and you should not fill this new person with anthroposophy (indoctrinate).”

    Two sentences later we read:
    “It would be bad ― nay, nothing could be worse than this ― if there were justification for the idea gaining ground: ‘Valuable as Anthroposophy may be, I prefer to go elsewhere if I want to come near to other men, instead of letting fanatical, self-satisfied anthroposophists hurl their theories and thoughts at my head, with the implication: If you do not think as I do, you are only half a man.’ “
    So Steiner is critical about the behavior he fears to expect from the anthroposophists.

  85. It always amuses me when anthroposophists cite Steiner saying that fanaticism is bad and urging anthroposophists not to get too overzealous about anthroposophy.

    Have seen this many times.

    Critic says: Oh, all you anthroposophists ever say is, “Steiner said.”

    Anthroposophist replies: Not true! Even Steiner advised against this. Here, let me quote for you … yes here it is right here on page 1247a. On this very famous and important lecture tour, Steiner addressed his followers very clearly: “Anthroposophists must not be always saying ‘Steiner said.'”

  86. Jan to Pete:
    >What are you doing when you are calling for the police in these discussions?

    Jan, I’m starting to agree with Alicia that you can’t mean some of the silly things you’re saying. Pete isn’t calling for the police “in these discussions.” He’s not suggesting the police should come knocking at your door while you’re writing your opinions on Waldorf education on some blog. He’s suggesting the police knock on the doors of some of the people who have abused his children. I hope it happens some day.

    If even half of what Pete says happened at his children’s school is true, there is no doubt at all there are individuals affiliated with that school who belong in jail, but who are instead not only still teaching, but have been promoted up the anthroposophical hierarchy to train FUTURE teachers.

  87. But, actually, if they started to take Steiner truly seriously in that regard, it would be great… There’s no doubt Steiner accurately spotted a certain tendency, but I guess there was no way to prevent it (given that he had even wished to… which obviously is not beyond doubt…) as that is in the nature of movements of a certain kind.

  88. “What I cannot accept, is that you are depicting Waldorf as a criminal organization which should be forbidden.” Why can’t you accept that? They broke the law on several occasions. You cannot suggest ALL of Waldorf isn’t guilty of the crime of FRAUD at the very least. Their top organizations release statements about race that are fraudulent. Their enrollment practices are fraudulent. They lie to parents daily – about the well-being of their own children. They MUST be held accountable for their practices. Otherwise, what’s to prevent more children from being strapped to their chairs?

  89. “But, actually, if they started to take Steiner truly seriously in that regard, it would be great…”

    Sure … I’m just pointing out that if the ACTUALLY started to take Steiner seriously in this regard, they would just stop doing it – not quote Steiner himself advising them to stop doing it :) It cracks me up.

  90. Pete, I think Steiner was just having a moment or two of finding some of his own followers very irritating – wishing, perhaps, that they would not be instantly “in your face” with some new recruit, but just act normal. This isn’t surprising, I don’t think it’s unusual for a guru to find his own followers a PITA at times.

    It’s just very humorous how we end up circling round and round the issue with Jan. Now we shouldn’t argue over whether STEINER HIMSELF did or didn’t want anthroposophists to behave a certain way. The point is that they DO behave this way. Did Steiner want Waldorf schools to bring people to anthroposophy? How can we even be debating this? Of course he did, all anthroposophists know that, they only “debate” this with outsiders who they think DON’T know it, or when they want to come across that way to outsiders who may be reading the discussion.

  91. I wonder how many of the sort of statements Pete makes would stand up in a court of law – even in America?

    I do not deny his account of his children’s treatment there. But I wonder if he has any evidence to support the kind of accusations he makes against Highland Hall, apart from his own experience (which it has been pointed out to me on this blog, counts as anecdote and not evidence). I wonder whether he has actually pursued whoever he feels to be responsible through the courts?

    He doesn’t seem to understand the difference between something being wrong and something being fraudulent. I.e., racist teachings may be wrong but I can’t understand how they might be fraudulent. Perhaps Alicia’s legal mind can help me there.

    ‘You cannot suggest ALL of Waldorf isn’t guilty of the crime of FRAUD at the very least.’
    What does a statement like this really amount to?

    “They lie to parents daily” Is this the same sort of thinking that says, “This teacher is a liar therefore all teacher’s are liars?” Has this sort of language got anything to do with truth and justice?

    Diana’s take on Pete’s statements is more reasonable – “If even half of what Pete says happened at his children’s school is true, there is no doubt at all there are individuals affiliated with that school who belong in jail,..”

    All over the world prosecutions for abuse are successfully being brought against Catholic Schools and the men who taught in them. I have not heard of this happening in connection with any Steiner Schools. I wonder why this is not happening?

    There are valid criticisms to be made of Steiner schools but they need to be made fairly and impartially.

  92. ‘Sure … I’m just pointing out that if the ACTUALLY started to take Steiner seriously in this regard, they would just stop doing it – not quote Steiner himself advising them to stop doing it :) It cracks me up.’

    Oh indeed. It’s wonderfully contradictory in that way.

    ‘Did Steiner want Waldorf schools to bring people to anthroposophy? How can we even be debating this? Of course he did, all anthroposophists know that, they only “debate” this with outsiders who they think DON’T know it, or when they want to come across that way to outsiders who may be reading the discussion.’

    Exactly. Alternatively, we could put it like this: it’s a way of bringing anthroposophy to people. Sometimes openly but mostly in a more or less veiled form. It’s silly to pretend waldorf — whether for Steiner or for his followers — was ever detached from anthroposophy.

  93. Yes, I agree. Steiner’s ideals fell short in actual practice. As a very practical example of this, I look at Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy – where Steiner sets out his ideals for educating children… then compare that to Faculty Meetings and what *actually happened* in Waldorf environments where teachers were attempting to follow Steiner’s advice. His *ideals* weren’t working in practice. It isn’t hard to sense Steiner’s irritation at the questions he was being asked – especially when the teachers didn’t immediately accept his answers.

    If any inroads are to be made in reforming Waldorf, then what is happening in actual practice is what we need to look at. Highland Hall’s Waldorf teacher training staff includes people from AWSNA. http://waldorfteaching.org/waldorf_institute_faculty.shtml The people who have harmed children are training teachers.

    I don’t understand why people expect Waldorf to be evaluated separately from Highland Hall? If anyone here wants to reform Waldorf, I suggest they call AWSNA and get an explanation.

  94. ‘He doesn’t seem to understand the difference between something being wrong and something being fraudulent. I.e., racist teachings may be wrong but I can’t understand how they might be fraudulent. Perhaps Alicia’s legal mind can help me there.’

    I’m not sure my legal mind is capable to do that ;-) but I’d say it’s a stretch. With this I mean there might be a line of reasoning to support the contention in a specific case. One can’t exclude the possibility.

    But the ordinary denial (or the ordinary neglect to inform parents about various issues) that waldorf proponents engage in — eg, saying there’s no issue with race in Steiner’s teachings for example or claiming that there haven’t been questions about this and even dubious cases where this issue has popped up in unfortunate ways — is perhaps rather to be characterized as deceptive or dishonest than (legally) fraudulent.

    (But let’s say, hypothetically, that a parent says that ‘If there are any elements of racism in anthroposophy, I do not want to hand my money over to your organisation’ and the principal (somebody who could be said to gain from the deception) of the school, knowing better (which would be necessary for intent to commit fraud), denies the existence of such elements in the teachings. And that, as a result of this deceptive information, the parent decides to pay for this education. I’m not sure that this is realistic at all.)

    ‘All over the world prosecutions for abuse are successfully being brought against Catholic Schools and the men who taught in them. I have not heard of this happening in connection with any Steiner Schools. I wonder why this is not happening?’

    Interestingly, reading on the internet and also when I hear from people directly, it’s often stuff like: ‘I thought it was just my class that was so dysfunctional’, ‘I thought I had a particularly bad teacher’,’I thought my school/my class was unique in allowing so much bullying/violence’. Well, you know, if all those who had these experiences think they were just isolated cases… they may choose not to speak about them. Plus people have got used to the blaming-the-victim tactic. And, actually, in my case, I thought that you had to put up with the stuff — I thought all schools were like that and all human beings hated me and that was a reasonable excuse for them to be the way they were towards me. It’s possible that in other settings, the children create a social haven between them and they support each other… something that resurfaces when, as adults, they bring their complaints towards the system.

    Another fair interpration is that the abuse in catholic schools was more systematic and more extreme. But I don’t know if that is true or not.

  95. ‘I don’t understand why people expect Waldorf to be evaluated separately from Highland Hall?’

    It shouldn’t. Highland Hall apparently conforms to the criteria set up by their national organisation, AWSNA, which in turn follows international guidelines from… well, you know. Anyway — AWSNA seems to think HH is adhering to the standard, because otherwise: why’s HH still a member of AWSNA? Of course, they may have another picture of what’s taken place at HH or may think it’s all fine and dandy. But still. That means something too.

    It’s not exactly a small, new member school.

  96. “I wonder how many of the sort of statements Pete makes would stand up in a court of law – even in America?”

    I’m not taking every statement I make to court. But you’re welcome to try each one here.

    I’m going after the people who were and are connected to Highland Hall for conspiring to hide information not just from me but from the courts and from the police. They are mandated reporters who witnessed crimes in the form of child abuse and, in order to protect their school and their school’s reputation, conspired to cover up those crimes.

    “I do not deny his account of his children’s treatment there. But I wonder if he has any evidence to support the kind of accusations he makes against Highland Hall, apart from his own experience (which it has been pointed out to me on this blog, counts as anecdote and not evidence). I wonder whether he has actually pursued whoever he feels to be responsible through the courts?”

    That’s what I’m doing now. As far as evidence goes, I have many parent testimonies, documents, emails, witnesses. I think as far as documentation goes, I have an abundant amount.

    “He doesn’t seem to understand the difference between something being wrong and something being fraudulent. I.e., racist teachings may be wrong but I can’t understand how they might be fraudulent. Perhaps Alicia’s legal mind can help me there.”

    I’m not trying to sue them for their racist teachings. My son may do that – we haven’t consulted the attorney about this issue directly. I think he may have a case. But I’ve documented the racism as part of what they actually teach children – in accordance with Steiner’s beliefs.

    ‘You cannot suggest ALL of Waldorf isn’t guilty of the crime of FRAUD at the very least.’
    What does a statement like this really amount to?

    That each and every Waldorf school falls under an umbrella of deception. AWSNA is deceptive on its website. When parents look there and see out-of-context statements about racial equality by Steiner where he’s referring to conditions in the FAR distant future, they are being deceived aren’t they? When AWSNA puts out a statement that says Anthroposophy isn’t being taught to students – they’re deceiving parents. EACH Waldorf school relies on this fraudulent portrayal of Waldorf for it’s enrollment.

    “They lie to parents daily” Is this the same sort of thinking that says, “This teacher is a liar therefore all teacher’s are liars?” Has this sort of language got anything to do with truth and justice?

    Any parent can try this – ask ANY Waldorf teacher a difficult question and see if they are truthful with the answer or not. It’s very easy to prove. What is Eurythmy? That’s a good one…

    “There are valid criticisms to be made of Steiner schools but they need to be made fairly and impartially.”

    AWSNA has a large role in the fraud. In Europe, there are different associations behaving just as fraudulently.

    The fish rots from the head down…

  97. ‘What is Eurythmy? That’s a good one…’

    Yes — a very good one.

    ‘In Europe, there are different associations behaving just as fraudulently.’

    One of these associations hired the person this thread is about… but they don’t want to admit it openly, they don’t want to admit to any connections to him, it seems. Nor do they want to respond to any of the questions about his role in their organisation. Or respond to questions about his activities elsewhere. (Making me conclude they know — of course they do — and actually approve.)

  98. @Jan – you asked me – long ago: ‘Do you regret that your own children visited a Waldorf school?’

    Well, they didn’t only visit. I did not only visit.

    The experience did one of them very little harm because he came out in time to catch up without undue effort. It was much harder for my other child. It’s nonsense to suggest it didn’t make a difference – of course it did. I shudder to think what would have happened if they’d stayed. And I know far more about education now, having experienced a variety of settings. This experience enables me if nothing else to name a spade correctly.

    Simply: some schools are not very good – but this was far worse. It was not only not very good, the entire system was deceitful.

  99. Wow, what a comments and that all thanks to mr. WiremuShane

    @Alicia
    I do appreciate your reactions on my comment. But, be aware of the fact there are a lot of judgments in it. We have different views and therefore we have different priorities.
    What you are calling “principal” I may find less important and vice versa.
    Finally I think it all comes down to the image of man you have ( and also may be what kind of society you want).
    I read some of the reactions back in this thread and saw this comment of myself which is a clear statement about my position:

    https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-13615

    Later on I will react more on the other recent comments.
    General: many critics, but also many anthroposophists, live with a caricature of anthroposophy.
    For people who really want to know what anthroposophy is I recommend the book of Arthur Zajonc “Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry”. To me it is the best anthroposophical book I have read in years.

  100. @Diana
    You said: “Pete, I think Steiner was just having a moment or two of finding some of his own followers very irritating – wishing, perhaps, that they would not be instantly “in your face” with some new recruit, but just act normal. This isn’t surprising, I don’t think it’s unusual for a guru to find his own followers a PITA at times.”

    It there a better example of “hineinterpretieren” of a critic. Much pleasure with your own caricature of Steiner, Diana.

    When Pete’s children aren’t threatened well, and with this people are acting against the law, he can take legal action. But I am sick of criminalizing the opinion of your discussion partner. It means you cannot stand alone in the discussion, you need the state to silence your opponent. When we are doing this we are on the road to fascism. What is next: burn Steiner books?

  101. Jan — you don’t think there’s judgment in what you write? No jumping to conclusions?

    I’ll have to get back to this — don’t have time to look properly now… but I remember I used the word principal… for headmaster. Of course waldorf schools don’t have headmasters so who do you pin down for the deceit? Who do you hold responsible for untruths? Anyone in the college of teachers? They all should know better. But they’re not formally responsible for anything, I suppose.

    What does Zajonc have to do with anything? He’s an intelligent man who, as far as I know, isn’t running bad schools or deceiving parents. I have no beef with him; I don’t think anyone else has either. At least not in the context of waldorf education. If you just mention him because you want to ‘educate’ Diana, Pete, Melanie or myself about anthropsophy — well, you might think about what that says about the judgments you make.

    I enjoy reading and listening to Zajonc. I’m afraid none of it changes my opinion of waldorf education and its deficits.

  102. We don’t burn books in the ethereal kiosk, Jan. Nor do I condone it — at no time, in no places, in no circumstances. Never ever. Don’t be silly. What’s with you? Why on earth do you think Diana wants to burn Steiner books? She has a substantial collection at home and apparently feels no desire to burn them.

  103. FFS, people are calling for accountable schools and for honesty. And you somehow — in your wild imagination? — interpret this as fascism and calls for book-burning? Don’t you see how crazy this is? Don’t you see how unfair it is?

  104. I tell you who are the worst ‘book-burners’ in the context of waldorf — the waldorf teachers and proponents who see it fit to deny children access to books. (And to learning and knowlede, for that matter.)

    Sorry, got to go now — will return later (properly and not on this damn phone for people with tiny fingers & and loads of parience) and hope that someone else weighs in in the meantime.

  105. Jan:
    “Is there a better example of “hineinterpretieren” of a critic. Much pleasure with your own caricature of Steiner, Diana.”

    This may be a matter of language differences, Jan. I definitely did not caricature Steiner or say anything at all unflattering about Steiner. I suggested that maybe sometimes his own followers annoyed him. This is a characteristic of an ordinary human being and does not reflect poorly on Steiner in any way.

    I think you didn’t follow the argument. I was basically disagreeing with Pete regarding the Steiner quote about giving the newbie anthroposophist a break. I was suggesting to Pete that (while I agree Steiner certainly intended Waldorf education to bring anthroposophy to people) this particular quote was just a moment of disgruntlement on Steiner’s part – wishing anthros would not pounce on the new guy … curb their enthusiasm … not a reflection of a conspiracy.

    “When Pete’s children aren’t threatened well, and with this people are acting against the law, he can take legal action.”

    Not threatened well? Freudian slip there? I guess you meant not “treated” well.

    “But I am sick of criminalizing the opinion of your discussion partner. It means you cannot stand alone in the discussion, you need the state to silence your opponent. When we are doing this we are on the road to fascism.”

    You are tilting at windmills. No one has criminalized your opinion or tried to silence you in this discussion. The discussion about the people who belong in jail is about people who have harmed children, not about people writing on blogs. You make yourself look foolish repeating hysterical nonsense when it’s been clarified for you repeatedly now.

  106. The book-burning charge makes me chuckle.

    Alicia is right, I own many volumes of Steiner’s works which I have paid good money to anthroposophical publishers (and local Waldorf schools) to own. I lend them out and urge others very publicly to read them. I urge Waldorf parents, current and prospective, to read them, and other parties with an interest in education and religion. I believe Steiner’s books should be far more widely read than they are. I oppose book burning.

    Ironically, it is anthroposophists who frequently damage – literally – Steiner’s writings, by reprinting redacted versions that have had key text removed – usually parts that are controversial in some way that anthroposophists don’t want to defend, rather pretend he never said it. Even this would be acceptable if a full explanation were provided, perhaps in an introduction, or at least in footnotes, but to simply change what the man wrote and republish it without explanation is reprehensible, and far closer in sympathy to book burning than most critics would ever come.

  107. Every day many many children go to Steiner/Waldorf schools. That is why discussions like these are meaningful and valuable. Not only because of the children. Also young, creative pedagogues might be seduced to waste their energy on a system of thought and practice which is a dead-end street.

    That is why fewer anthroposophical schools would increase the diversity in schools.

    Steiner schools address real issues in the western school system, have a very efficient brand, and doesn’t refrain from questionable marketing strategies. Which means that other alternative pedagogical traditions (which are more in a real dialogue with the rest of the ordinary world) lose means for development.

  108. @ Alicia, Diana
    I haven’t much time either so I will come back to it also.
    I wanted to point to consequences of certain standpoints.
    The standpoint : Forbid by law, by the state, what the other is doing or saying..

    Why Zajonc?. Because of the caricatures of anthroposophy I met here.
    Zajonc shows what anthroposophy is in reality.

    @Melanie.
    I want to thank you for your answer.
    I understand your position better now.

  109. >Forbid by law, by the state, what the other is doing or saying..

    Exactly. There are many laws, in every country, that protect children from harm. If you are harming children, it is very possible you are breaking some law, and the state should forbid you from doing or saying it. Yes. And, as Alicia has pointed out, the state also regulates education in a variety of ways. The state does indeed allow, and forbid, various things in education, which may not be criminal, but are simply regulations and oversight reflecting the state’s interest in not only protecting children from bodily and other types of harm but also in ensuring they receive an adequate education, enabling them to function self-sustainingly in society.

    So although the way you state it is intended to be hyperbolic and inflammatory, indeed the state sometimes forbids by law what another is doing or saying, where children’s interests are ivolved.

    Certain types of fraudulent advertising are also forbidden by law (though these laws, and whether any punishment is consequent, vary widely by locale). The state there too forbids by law what another person is doing or saying, and sometimes exacts penalties.

    Whether “all Waldorf schools,” as Pete would have it, are doing things that mean we should want them all to be shut, by law, we could debate. I don’t think so, personally. Certainly I do think the state should play a greater role in regulating Waldorf; again the laws vary geographically a great deal, but in the US, for instance, the charter Waldorfs should part be closed, because their existence violates the separation of church and state which is enshrined in our constitution. In my opinion they are illegal.

    Implying that someone wants to forbid YOU – by law – from posting your opinions on the internet is simply goofy, off-topic, self-pitying, and unserious. You are obviously quite willfully refusing to even acknowledge the replies to you on this point.

  110. Ulf: “Which means that other alternative pedagogical traditions (which are more in a real dialogue with the rest of the ordinary world) lose means for development.”

    Good point.

  111. Weird typo: “the charter Waldorfs should part be closed”

    should be: “the charter Waldorfs should be closed”

  112. I would like to reprint Pete’s post in which he replied to Jan asking him if he thought Waldorf schools should be prohibited. Perhaps we could re-set the discussion at this point, ‘cus it made a lot of sense and Jan derailed it in a ridiculous way. Pete wrote:

    ““Do you think Waldorf schools should be prohibited?”

    I don’t think they’re even “schools”. I think they’re really something else that is made to resemble a school. Traditional schools educate children. Waldorf’s stated purpose is not the education of children. Steiner said Waldorf’s purpose is the indoctrination of children and their parents into Anthroposophy. Their disdain for intellect makes Waldorf people the absolute WORST people to be running a school. Should they be prohibited from public funding? ABSOLUTELY! Should they continue to exist in the way they are today? Absolutely NOT! Can Waldorf fix itself? NOPE! Why not? There’s nobody in Waldorf that can be TRUSTED to fix Waldorf. The only solution for Waldorf is to come to terms with what it is doing to children – and that coming to terms must come from outside of Waldorf… Some higher authority (than Steiner) must tell them to stop. I’m hoping that authority will be the LAW!

  113. Also, I’m going to use Jan’s provocation about “book burning” as a good excuse to write a post on the critics list telling new and prospective Waldorf parents how they can, and should, read a lot of Steiner. I had forgotten about the Steiner books archive (re-reading the earlier part of this thread reminded me).

    So much is out there, and far from burning it I would like to see it far more widely disseminated, and Waldorf parents directed to it much more systematically and explicitly. I would like to see every Waldorf school web site prominently feature a list of key Steiner titles, and not just those that obstensibly pertain to education, but those that introduce Steiner’s larger spiritual mission.

    Book burning my eye …

  114. It’s very important to re-read Pete’s original reply, actually, for all its nuances. Pete may come on like a ton of bricks, but he has very reasoned arguments despite the strong language.

    Here is a breakdown of his reply, Jan; perhaps this will help you.

    Pete refuses to answer flat out should Waldorf schools be prohibited. He breaks it down in a well-thought-out manner. His first statement is about public funding – there, he says, the legal question is clearcut: NO to public funding. (See my notes above about church/state separation in the US; this is going to vary in Europe and elsewhere.)

    Next, Pete asks should the schools be allowed to continue to exist in the way they are today. Again the answer is unequivocal: NO. This, too, is not a statement that “Waldorf schools should be prohibited.” It is a statement that something is wrong in the present system, that something needs to change, and something fundamental, and probably the state will play a role in changing them. Remember, he has a lawsuit pending, and so does an organization called PLANS.

    Next he asks, “Can Waldorf fix itself” and again answers in the negative. Implicit here is a notion that state intervention is NOT called for just because we disagree with someone; implicit is the idea that probably, usually, schools should regulate themselves to the degree possible, and it is only when they have clearly failed that we start asking, well, who is going to fix it then, and the answer is quite reasonably, the state intervenes at this point. This is true in essentially every society; it is not a radical notion, and it is certainly not fascism.

    He then calls clearly and eloquently for “the law” to intervene to stop Waldorf doing what he thinks it is doing to children, namely, hurting them. It is not specified in exactly what way, but of course that is a huge question, with probably a lot of varied, local answers.

    In short, Jan, he refused to take a whack at your straw man (“should Waldorf schools be prohibited”), and instead answered intelligently, teasing actual issues out of your overheated rhetoric. You should try the same.

  115. Jan — do you think we’re dumb? That we have no experience of anthros irl and that we haven’t read what anthros write online? If you think Zajonc — an educated man, who can express himself, and who’s not even got anything to do w waldorf and does not have to spout gibberish in its defence — is in any way representative… I suggest you don’t know much. If waldorf schools hired people like Zajonc I think we’d have much less reason to criticize the academic level. But they hire people w no fucking education at all!

  116. I tell you — I’d like to see more Zajoncs in anthroposophy. People who aren’t spiritual — or believe they’re — because they’re ignorant. Unfortunately, you have a whole bunch of people who are barely literate, who are scientifically ignorant and who treat anthroposophy as a belief system (in other words, akin to a traditional religion). Those folks are way more common. The other guys, those with more independent minds and a capacity to use it, are the exception. Denying this would be to fool yourself. Which is pleasant but not useful.

  117. Thank you for bringing the topic back on track a bit, Diana. Or at least, bringing it back to the comment that seems to have, er, instigated some of the bonkers stuff about forbidding people and burning books.

    The book burning is really very telling — if anything, it is critics who tell people to read Steiner (while waldorf proponents are more likely to try to convince people it’s not at all necessary). In fact, I’d be more than happy to see more Steiner in bookshops and public libraries. And I’m more than happy to refer people to his work available online — over and over again. I also often recommend other anthroposophical sources — far from wanting to see them banned or burned, I want to see them read, discussed and, when necessary, subjected to critical argumentation. I very much support anthroposophists who publish Steiner — I think it’s great.

  118. I think anyone who reads my posts sees that I link to Steiner’s own words frequently. If there’s ANYTHING I’d like parents to do MORE of in preparation for Waldorf, it’s to READ STEINER. He is his own worst enemy as far as I’m concerned. His own statements about how to treat children reveal what Waldorf teachers are doing to children today. I think MORE reading is necessary, not less. To be honest, it took me YEARS to gain an understanding of what I read of Steiner. I think prospective parents should immerse themselves in Steiner’s writings. Don’t be angry because I’ve pre-selected the ones I believe they need to see.

  119. “Not threatened well? Freudian slip there? I guess you meant not “treated” well.”

    That gave me a chuckle when I read it! :)

  120. @Jan – my position now has very little to do with my own children. I didn’t understand until a while later the influence of anthroposophy on Steiner ed and the potential consequences of this influence – indeed I thought at the time we’d maybe found a dud and there might be better Steiner schools elsewhere. We didn’t part on bad terms with the school, and my concerns are not personal – there are no individuals towards whom we feel a personal grievance although we disagree with their position. My children are robust, clever and as privileged as any offspring of educated parents who can take a risk on an odd school and help with extras when it doesn’t turn out well.

    But Ulf is absolutely right, and he makes a good point.

    My son went to a democratic school which has a great many Steiner refugees. This is apparently quite common, and parents say ‘This is what I was looking for! Why did I waste all that time/money, put our family through such misery,’ and so on. This always makes me smile, because the important difference as far as I’m concerned is that Steiner ed is not about the children – it’s about adults; their needs, their egos, their fantasies. The democratic school was not my school, my community – it was my son’s. This is true for our other more conventional schools which I’m fond of for their own particular strengths.

    In the end I didn’t trust the staff (and certainly some of the parents) at the Steiner school to behave in a way that would be considered entirely sane – I’m not joking. There was very little education happening – it was about something else. We did tell them, in our exit interview, what we thought, so it should come as no surprise. Of course if we had known better about anthroposophy, if it had been honestly represented to us at the beginning, if we had taken seriously what we did find out instead of thinking it was some sort of harmless hippy add-on, we would never have sent our children to a Steiner school.

  121. I’d like to ask Jan to point to any comment here that even peripherally indicate that he or other followers on anthroposophy should not, unlike other people, have a right to their opinion or a right to express it. I’m baffled by Jan’s comments on this (or rather his assertions that this is what we want) because I honestly don’t believe anyone would want that. Pete would obviously not gain a thing from it, and has more to gain from anthroposophists babbling their hearts out. Personally, I don’t think it’s about gains or losses, but about a basic freedom for everyone, but, please Jan, think through the consequences of your suggestions. Would Pete want something that would completely defeat his purpose? It’s ridiculous!

  122. You guys are spot-on.

    The last thing we would want to see would be Steiner books burned. Quelle disastre. I sometimes feel a conflict about spending money on them, and thus supporting anthroposophy, but the interests of education – in the true sense – win out: I want people to read and study these books and understand them. It seems to me anthroposophists want the opposite: more often than not, parents are discouraged from delving too deeply into Steiner, or are spoonfed some of his more palatable, cliched statements about love and light and creativity. Parents are plainly discouraged from obtaining a clear understanding of the nature and structure of the system Steiner devised. The only way to get that is to read a couple of the books closely and attentively. Please do not burn any of them. I feel at least as passionate about that as Jan does.

  123. I don’t feel conflicted about supporting these anthroposophical publishers through buying the books. If they can’t stay in the business, nobody else is going to bother. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve support from anthros and critics alike. And even if I didn’t see the books as splendid sources for all of us (in the context of waldorf), I still think publishing Steiner’s works makes total sense. He deserves to be in print, i m o.

  124. ‘Parents are plainly discouraged from obtaining a clear understanding of the nature and structure of the system Steiner devised. The only way to get that is to read a couple of the books closely and attentively.’

    yes, yes – and we thought of ourselves as pretty bright. We were as daft as anyone else. Don’t burn anthroposophical books – demand that they are read, and that parents have got the message.

    When I see the future Frome Steiner Academy locking its tweets, deleting comments on its blog (although you can see how many have been posted) and calling its designing philosophy ‘anthroposophy’, as if it is a little ashamed of it, or as if anthroposophy doesn’t entirely inform Steiner teacher training courses, the pedagogy etc – then it could be suggested that the movement has not understood what it is to be honest, that it intends to carry on as before.

  125. They’d rather not mention it at all. It’s no coincidence that waldorf schools keep preferring concepts like ‘holistic’ — they’re vacuous enough to be filled with anything the audience might fancy.

  126. Excuse me, I’m behind in this conversation, seeing things I didn’t see before (I’ve read some parts of it on the phone — not ideal — sorry for all my weird writing errors… I’ve corrected a few of them that altered meaning of words, such as ‘spot’ to ‘spout’…).

    Jan wrote: ‘It there a better example of “hineinterpretieren” of a critic. Much pleasure with your own caricature of Steiner, Diana.’

    It is actually quite amusing that you didn’t see that what she wrote wasn’t a caricature. On the contrary — what she wrote is nothing more than saying that Steiner reacted in a normal manner, the way almost everybody would do, if people behaved in an annoying way. If anything, Diana’s interpretation of Steiner’s words show him as a reasonable person reacting in a healthy way. Is that a charicature? Even if we can’t know what led him to say what he said in that situation? (Sometimes his irritation at certain aspects of anthroposophists’ behaviour is quite palpable.) Of course, Diana explained it very well already (https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-13637).

    ‘But I am sick of criminalizing the opinion of your discussion partner.’
    ‘The standpoint : Forbid by law, by the state, what the other is doing or saying..’

    You need to read what people write with less prejudices about their intentions, Jan. Nobody wants to criminalize your opinions, and yet you keep repeating this idea over and over again. I think anybody who reads this thread can see that your fears are unfounded. It’s not about silencing you, Jan. We have been discussing, among other things, holding people accountable for things they actually do or have done. Not for expressing their beliefs and ideas in a blog comment thread or anywhere else. We’re talking about what we should require from education, for the sake of children’s future. We’re not suggesting you should be prohibited from believing in — and expressing your support for — a type of education we don’t think is particularly good.

    But, yes, what somebody is ‘doing’ is sometimes a subject of prohibition. It’s not ok to kill someone, it’s not ok to abuse someone, it’s not ok to deceive someone to get one’s hands on his/her money, and so forth. Some things people do or want to do are actually forbidden. Education is not a lawless land either. And children are protected by a number different laws and regulations — sometimes the aim is to protect them against their own parents, for good reasons. This is quite normal. The fact that you seem utterly incapable of seeing how reasonable this is suggests that you want to provoke — you’re not really that unreasonable. I can’t believe you would seriously think it would be ok for a school to use physical punishments of children and be allowed to go and and not be held accountable for the harm they inflict. (Mind you: to be over-explicit, this was an example. It had nothing to do with waldorf — it’s a general example. Could apply to any school. We could find many such examples of acts and practices that are not allowed.) I bet you don’t think that it’s always wrong to ‘Forbid by law, by the state, what the other is doing’… (I won’t address the ‘saying’ part… because whatever I say, you’ll be likely to misrepresent it as ‘ALICIA WANTS TO PUT ANTHROPOSOPHISTS IN PRISON FOR THEIR OPINIONS!’… but, really, there are some crimes in that fall mostly into the ‘saying’-category too, verbal threats for example even if the intention is merely to instill fear through a verbal expression, not a physical act. That’s not the same as expressing an opinion, though, and I hope you agree. Again, none of this has anything to to with waldorf.)

    What you’re saying — although I don’t think you’re actually wanting to say this — is basically that all laws and regulations should be abolished. As if you didn’t realize that some things people do or say can cause serious harm. I’m not sure if you get so worked up about it because you think that people suggest that anthros should be getting special treatment in some negative way or if you’re just doing your best to, well I said it already, provoke reactions with your statements which are detached from what anybody else has been saying (ie, you repeating endlessly that people want to forbid your opinion — even though that’s so obviously not the case). Why, if so? To derail the discussion? To make it unreadable and uninformative? To drown serious discussion in self-pitying nonsense?

    I agree with what Diana says here: https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/#comment-13643

    (It occurs to me I should perhaps not give this attention, because it just further contributes to obscuring the real topics here. But I mean, you know, you can’t let stuff like that — critics want anthroposophists in prison for their opinions!!!! — stand without correction either. So what to do?)

  127. @Alicia, Diana, Pete
    The question “What’s next: burn Steiner books?” was of course a rhetoric question in this context.
    I am really surprised that this was not clear.
    Indeed Diana was not unreasonable reacting on the quotation Pete brought up. But to say Steiner was just irritated is underestimating the depth of the problem. Shortly after the Weihnachtstagung Steiner hoped for a new atmosphere in the movement. But he feared that the impulse of the Weihnachtstagung was receipted insufficiently. This mainly has to do with taking anthroposophy to much as a dogma and a lack of social ability within the anthroposophical movement of that time.
    Generally speaking: of course I can understand some of the criticism on the anthroposophical subculture, but I am opposing it when people are identifying this anthroposophical subculture (of which Waldorf schools are a part) with anthroposophy. Therefore I have referred to Arthur Zajonc’s book, so people could see anthroposophy from a different side namely as a method for inquiry into a spiritual world, which is the core of anthroposophy.
    Alicia brought up some time ago the question “what is spiritual” , you can read it in this book.

    Diana, in defending Pete you forget that you agree with me that Pete is sometimes exaggerating.
    But I can leave that. I find it worse that Pete gives me the impression that he really is intolerant and does not respect freedom of speech and maybe is discriminating people on behalf of their conviction. But Pete, I hope I am wrong. You gave me the impression that you cannot accept what the American Waldorf organization is writing on their own website. Are they not using their right of freedom of speech? What would you do about it apart from criticizing their ideas in a free discussion?
    Another question: Suppose I am an American citizen. I want the best school for my children. I want a school that has as basis of their pedagogy a spiritual image of man, because my conviction is we are not just having a physical body, but we also have a soul and a spirit. I know a Waldorf school in my neighborhood which is just offering that. This is a good school commutating well with the parents and everybody knows that the image of man of the anthroposophy is the basis for its pedagogy. (PLEASE take the description of this case as it is, so please don’t say such a school does not exist or could not exist) I am an American citizen with equal civil rights as everybody else in an open and democratic society. Now please tell me if you want this situation in America to exist that there can be schools on the basis of this conviction, so that parents have the possibility to chose these schools for their children.

  128. Jan: If you’re prepared to pay for this school, as you would pay for any other religious school in the US, and as long as you were not breaking any of the laws in the state in question (I’m a Brit, so I’m winging this) there isn’t a reason why you couldn’t have your imaginary entirely transparent and candid Waldorf School. It might be quite a small school with a tiny intake, but you might not mind that.

    There are plenty of people who would describe themselves as an: ‘American citizen with equal civil rights as everybody else in an open and democratic society’ who would like their children taught all sorts of racist, sexist, homophobic ideas, and democratic societies do have to be mindful of the influence of various schools of thought – if you like – on the wider community. Not to mention on the children involved, who have very little choice in the matter. So while I’m not suggesting for a minute that you would condone anything so unpleasant, I hope you will not mind us querying your libertarian impulse.

    I understand there are large numbers of homeschoolers in the US, people are at liberty to teach their children more or less anything they like without the interference of the state or the irreligious or not religious enough or not religious in the right way. It’s hard to see how it could be otherwise without curtailing civil liberties, although other nations may not allow these freedoms, having their own ideas about the rights of the child, and they certainly have a point.

  129. Quick reply — I didn’t see it as a rhetorical question but as another rather provocative way of ascribing opinions to us that would lead us off on a tangential thread (defending our positions that should be clear to everyone already) and leave the actual topics to oblivion.

    As I’ve said I have nothing against Zajonc. But he’s in no way representative for the dogmatic zealots people will encounter in waldorf education. He’s surely representative for the 1% most intelligent anthroposophists. But people would be fooled if they thought they were getting that in waldorf. You’re presenting the ideal, not the reality. Mind you — I do think people should read Zajonc. But not to cure their criticism of waldorf education — because Zajonc can’t do that. His brains don’t magically rub off on the loons out there. He’s an ideal representative of anthroposophy for you, and I respect that. I can even sort of agree. But he’s a world apart from many if not most followers of anthroposophy. (I’ll have to read your comment more thoroughly later.)

  130. Melanie has answered Jan correctly regarding the legal situation of religious schools in the US: in short, they can’t be taxpayer funded. So yes Jan, you can certainly have your lovely little anthroposophical school and we can happily leave aside the question of whether the school is really so lovely … you have every right in the US to send your kids to a religious school but you don’t have a right to have the taxpayers pay for it. Religious schools are private and cannot receive tax funding. (More than a few exceptions have occurred, but they usually end up in litigation, and rightly so IMO.)

  131. Alicia: “I can’t believe you would seriously think it would be ok for a school to use physical punishments of children and be allowed to go and and not be held accountable for the harm they inflict.”

    A side note: sadly, in the US it is indeed okay legally in many locales for a school to inflict physical punishments on children. Not only is it legal, it happens frequently, and many parents are all in favor. Not surprisingly, it is most common in very religious areas (the greatest concentration in the southern “Bible belt”).

  132. Jan: “The question “What’s next: burn Steiner books?” was of course a rhetoric question in this context.”

    It clearly wasn’t. You were quite worked up. You weren’t being rhetorical; you really wanted us to somehow suddenly see that we were on some terribly slippery slope and if we would criticize Rudolf Steiner, we would soon be burning his books. Or you wanted readers to see that critics shouldn’t be listened to because we are wild-eyed extremists. I believe you invoked “fascism.”

  133. Jan: “This mainly has to do with taking anthroposophy to much as a dogma and a lack of social ability within the anthroposophical movement of that time.”

    Of THAT time?!

  134. Jan: “Diana, in defending Pete you forget that you agree with me that Pete is sometimes exaggerating.”

    I don’t think you get Pete’s point. I don’t think Pete is claiming he has evidence on every single Waldorf school in existence. What he does have is plenty of evidence not only of terrible treatment of his own children, but of tangible LINKS to the wider Waldorf culture in the US, via the teacher training, and via the official links between AWSNA and Highland Hall which amount to condoning severe misbehavior of which they are well aware. He’s got a lot of documentation of the “who knew what when” type, and it connects the things that happened at his school to higher anthroposophical officialdom.

  135. Adding to above: it’s like the Catholic church moving abusive priests from parish to parish. Once you figure out that the new parish KNEW all the details of the allegations against the priest at the old parish, and hired him anyway, you’ve got evidence of a conspiracy to protect the abusers within the system. Likewise, teachers who are known to be abusive who then move on to train other teachers are evidence of a wider web of wrongdoing, and of willingness at the highest level of the system to turn a blind eye when children are mistreated, as long as the perpetrators are good anthropops. This isn’t the same thing as having some kind of physical proof of things that happened at other schools, besides his own, but it’s certainly a strong suggestion that the problem is not at one school, or at random schools.

  136. In Sweden and in many european countries we don’t have that separation and thus fund religious schools. Or rather, fund schools run by religious or spiritual organizations. But, of course, these schools must meet the same criteria other schools have to — at least in theory — or they can’t be allowed to go on or receive state funding. If they don’t provide an education worth the name, why would tax payers contribute to it? (In sweden, the religious stuff must be extra-curricular and voluntary, if I understand it correctly. Maybe Ulf knows more. Apparently the anthro elements of waldorf are ignored — possibly out of ignorance.)

    The abuse was perhaps a bad example… But yet not — the law, whether it prohibits it or allows it, applies equal to all. Whether the child is beaten out of religious conviction or ordinary rage, doesn’t matter.

    And perhaps I sort of hoped Jan would concede, as do many americans (despite the legal situation), that it actually is reasonable to prohibit certain acts of others — such as physical abuse — even in educational settings. That freedom really can’t be unconditional and you have to draw a line where some people actually harm others. But maybe he doesn’t agree. Maybe it’s ‘fascist’ to think people should be prohibited from beating children. I don’t know anymore.

  137. @Diana
    Diana said:
    “Jan: “The question “What’s next: burn Steiner books?” was of course a rhetoric question in this context.” It clearly wasn’t. You were quite worked up. You weren’t being rhetorical; you really wanted us to somehow suddenly see that we were on some terribly slippery slope and if we would criticize Rudolf Steiner, we would soon be burning his books. Or you wanted readers to see that critics shouldn’t be listened to because we are wild-eyed extremists. I believe you invoked “fascism.””
    Mmm, I said “in this context” which means I don’t expect YOU ( = Diana, Alicia, Melanie, Pete,) will burn books, but indeed somewhere on the road to fascism it might happen that a climate is created in which people in rage will do such a thing, we have seen that before in history.
    You do not very much trust me eh, Diana? Yes I criticize the critics. Would you rather have a person, instead of me, who is saying “yes” and “amen” to all what you are saying here?
    @Alicia
    Why should I distract? From what? I have initiated the second half of this thread by my reaction on Mr. WiremuShane, and then my reaction on Pete, together with Falk
    Now something is happening here, or not?
    @Melanie
    Your reaction can make the reader clear why it is necessary that we discuss here what anthroposophy is. You are now playing the easy racism card to discredit anthroposophy. But anthroposophy cannot be racist because it is an inquiry method, see Zajonc (and there are more reasons why it is not racist which you, know because we have discussed them before) So on a school that is using this method and keeps away from dogma’s there is no more chance of racist teachings than in any other school.
    Another aspect is the fact that I have read that there is widespread racism on regular British schools. The background of this phenomenon cannot be anthroposophy.
    It would be interesting to do research after the opinions of pupils of 12-18 years of Waldorf schools and regular schools and see which group has more tolerance for foreigners and their culture, the group from regular schools or from Waldorf schools.

  138. Quite frankly, I believe Waldorf schools should be free to teach whatever they like. In actuality, that isn’t the case. They can ONLY teach Anthroposophy… but I give them MORE freedom than that. The ONLY requirement is that they be HONEST about what they are teaching and not deceive parents. THAT is the requirement they don’t dare comply with – BECAUSE they don’t want parents to know what they are teaching. If they were proud of what they teach, they wouldn’t hide it!

  139. … I’m throwing out a bizarre statement about Jan’s attitude towards the question. Of course for rhetorical purpose. I mean, why not. And why should we not pay for an education that teaches children nothing at all? Paying taxes is fun (some swedish politician is actually famous for some such demented statement), especially if the money is squandered on nothing.

  140. Oh, if I understand you right, Jan, we should never criticize anything or express ourselves negatively about other peope’s beliefs and ideologies? Because that could lead to book-burnings?

    If that were true, what about your own activities? Don’t you criticize our views? Which I find ok… but according to your perspective, it could just as well be the first step towards burning books.

    Anyway. I believe in critical scrutiny and discussion; I think there’s no better way to keep fascism and book-burnings at bay than to promote an open society where nothing is beyond criticism. Not even anthroposophy.

  141. By the way, I vehemently disagree with Pete on one thing: I don’t think parents’ rights trump children’s rights to a decent education. I strongly believe children have rights that are separate from parents’ rights and that society has a duty to protect certain basic rights of children. This does not, I suppose I must add, exclude the existance of waldorf schools. But it does imply a need for a minimum standard for education.

  142. It isn’t Pete seeking to suppress freedom of speech. It was Sune – was it not – threatening a mothers’ forum with Britain’s pernicious libel laws if they allowed posts critical of Steiner ed (or it seems, any explanation of what really informs the pedagogy) – while in the pay of the Swedish Waldorf Federation? Or harassing individual mothers by pursuing them across the web, discrediting their experiences, writing long web pages about former Steiner parents (which nobody reads unless critics link to them) and accusing those who write anonymously of being each other or someone else he doesn’t like.

    Likewise the SWSF head of communications asking Steiner parents to take on critics all over the web, which was a silly thing to do if it meant that more Steineristas read PLANS or mumsnet and later additions. It occurs to me that there will be similar strategies in preparation in the run-up to Steiner Free schools, and these PR flourishes will be similarly ridiculous. They are damned if they are honest, and if not it’s only a matter of time till they’re damned for not being honest. It’s not the critics who are the problem, it’s the product itself.

  143. ‘By the way, I vehemently disagree with Pete on one thing: I don’t think parents’ rights trump children’s rights to a decent education. I strongly believe children have rights that are separate from parents’ rights and that society has a duty to protect certain basic rights of children. This does not, I suppose I must add, exclude the existance of waldorf schools. But it does imply a need for a minimum standard for education.’

    I agree with this, however hard it might be to put into practice.

  144. ‘..somewhere on the road to fascism it might happen that a climate is created in which people in rage will do such a thing, we have seen that before in history…’

    Who burns books? Religions. Or any form of totalitarian regime. No one could be bothered to burn Steiner, he’s just not important enough. Salman Rushdie, yes. Now that was a threat. One novel, a work of fiction. No one will issue a fatwa against Jan.

  145. Jan — don’t you understand what I’ve been saying? In waldorf, you don’t find the minds of Zajonc. You’re more likely to find zealots with religious conviction — people who do not treat anthroposophy as a meditative path but as a set of dogma to be strictly applied. What you’re referring to is an ideal version of anthroposophy, the nicer, non-fanatical one of people who have brains to think independently. That has got precious little to do with actual reality in these schools. Maybe you can fool someone else, but we’ve actually experienced these schools and the kind of people — firm believers — who tend to work there; don’t forget that! We know that anthroposophy in waldorf is not Zajonc’s pretty little path; it’s more likely to be rigid, dogmatic, fanatical and frantically bound to Steiner’s ‘indications’. What the teachers do is certainly not the result of their independent spiritual paths; it’s a result of the study of doctrines. Zajonc is as typical of your average waldorf teacher as that german lady who channels, among other things, an imaginary penguin and publishes books on it.

  146. Melanie — yes and there was that Swsf newsletter too. I had a post about it here on the blog. Can’t find now but will try later. Something like ‘swsf threatens to sue critics…’.

  147. Jan: “So on a school that is using this method and keeps away from dogma’s there is no more chance of racist teachings than in any other school.”

    Since the school derives its pedagogy and its curriculum from that (racist) dogma, and the entire culture of the school derives from that (racist) dogma, I’d say there is a significantly higher chance of racist teachings there than in any other school.

  148. there’s a difference between racist teaching (which is illegal in many countries) and racism within the culture, and that certainly exists. Which is why ‘spiritual racism’ (Steiner’s hierarchy of the human soul through various reincarnations) is not something we should have floating around unexamined, and why we should not allow defensive (and frankly offensive) disclaimers from the Steiner movement to act as a excuse for NOT making that examination.

  149. Jan:

    ‘..somewhere on the road to fascism it might happen that a climate is created in which people in rage will do such a thing, we have seen that before in history…’

    If so, then judging from the rage I routinely seem to evoke in anthroposophists, critics have more to fear from anthroposophists than vice versa. It is anthroposophists, like Sune Nordwall, who routinely try to have critics silenced. Sune writes to web sites where critics are expressing themselves and tells them they should fear legal action if they allow criticism of Steiner or anthroposophy, or tries to get the adminstrator to remove critics or revoke their posting privileges. This is a lot closer to “book burning” than what critics do.

  150. @ Jan

    Of course you can oppose, control, limit, forbid and outlaw practices that threatens the freedom of others. It’s just basic democratic/liberal/libertarian thinking to ask “Whose
    freedom” when there are conflicts of interest. What you advocate doesn’t apply to the complexities of the world of real people, it is just lazy arm-chair idealism.

    Waldorf isn’t some kind of cute free-thinking David here, as opposed to ugly fascist Goliaths. On the contary it is a quite resourceful movement which every day limits the freedom of children, based on authoritarian ideas of what is best for them. No amount of Zajonc meditation will change that. Waldorf criticism can.

    Nevertheless, I’m glad that you express your views here, because I sometimes meet similar attitudes when discussing Waldorf with friends. So it is a good opportunity to think through these issues :)

  151. Jan: ‘… on a school that is using this [anthroposophical inquiry] method and keeps away from dogma’s …’

    You’re living in utopia. How many hundred years do we have to wait until anthroposophists stop running waldorf schools according to dogma? Well, until then, our criticism is certainly valid.

    ‘Why should I distract? From what?’

    Discussion on what waldorf schools actually look like? As Diana has pointed out, we’ve seen anthroposophists do that all the time, sometimes in pretty odd ways…

    She’s also absolutely right in her comment #13686 above. Critics are the ones who can really complain about attempts to silence our viewpoints.

    For people who follow the critics list, perhaps Jan does, too, I don’t know, the recent posts (over the last 24 hours or something) by Caryn are probably more typical of the mindset you’ll encounter in waldorf than Zajonc’s eloquent expositions. Mean-spirited, as Walden put it. Nasty towards differing views. Unintelligent. Rigid. Stuck-up.

  152. So busy am I that I’m repeating Diana (she’s also repeating me) one day we will have to read the whole thread. When we are in our dotage.

    Anyway I missed Jan’s earlier comment aimed at me:

    ‘Your reaction can make the reader clear why it is necessary that we discuss here what anthroposophy is. You are now playing the easy racism card to discredit anthroposophy.’

    Actually I just mentioned that there are a good many people in the US (and everywhere else, Americans are not unique) who have racist opinions (and sexist and homophobic ideas, and extreme religious ideas etc) and that particular comment wasn’t even aimed at Waldorf schools.

    Jan continues:

    ‘But anthroposophy cannot be racist because it is an inquiry method, see Zajonc (and there are more reasons why it is not racist which you, know because we have discussed them before) So on a school that is using this method and keeps away from dogma’s there is no more chance of racist teachings than in any other school.’

    I know – you tell me what you think and I disagree. You tell me again and I still disagree. You have your own idea what anthroposophy is and relate it to Waldorf schools – it’s like the Monty Python sketch featuring the notorious Ann Elk – it is your theory which is your theory and no one else’s. It is your theory. This is what it is. It’s yours.

    Jan adds:

    ‘Another aspect is the fact that I have read that there is widespread racism on regular British schools. The background of this phenomenon cannot be anthroposophy.
    It would be interesting to do research after the opinions of pupils of 12-18 years of Waldorf schools and regular schools and see which group has more tolerance for foreigners and their culture, the group from regular schools or from Waldorf schools.’

    Foreigners? Really? That’s a Sunism if ever there was one.

    Yes, there is racism in British schools and within British culture. That is why it is not a good idea to fund a school system with a pedagogy based on the supernatural impulses of Rudolf Steiner, whose doctrine (anthroposophy – his theory and no one else’s) is predicated on reincarnation through racial hierarchies with Aryans as the most highly evolved race. Or were you talking about a different Rudolf Steiner?

  153. @Melanie
    Melanie said:
    “Yes, there is racism in British schools and within British culture. That is why it is not a good idea to fund a school system with a pedagogy based on the supernatural impulses of Rudolf Steiner, whose doctrine (anthroposophy – his theory and no one else’s) is predicated on reincarnation through racial hierarchies with Aryans as the most highly evolved race. Or were you talking about a different Rudolf Steiner?”
    Still living with this caricature of Anthroposophy and Steiner?
    Racism is about denying rights to certain groups. Steiner never did that, he wanted the opposite.

    “Es ist eben durchaus nur möglich, daß das staatliche Leben wiederum gesundet, wenn es sich aufbaut auf dem demokratischen Prinzip der gleichen Menschen, das heißt, wenn es die Angelegenheiten umfasst, welche die Angelegenheiten eines jeden Mündiggewordenen sind.“
    From: „Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliedrung der sozialen Organismus“ vierter Vortrag Stuttgart 14 Februar 1921, 4e Auflage, p.89

    „Auf etwas fundamental anderem beruht das rechtsleben. Es beruht darauf daß in demokratische Weise alle diejenigen Maßnahmen getroffen werden, durch die jeder Mensch mit Bezug auf die Menschenrechte jedem anderen gleich ist.“
    From: „Betriebsräte und Sozialisierung“. fünfter Diskussionsabend , Stuttgart 24 Juni 1919:

    But what is it you are doing when you deny the equal rights of a group to public financing f their education?

  154. Now you made up your own definitioon of racism, Jan.

    In addition — equal rights to funding (some countries don’t tax-fund private schools at all!) also means equal duties. Waldorf schools would, of course, be under the same obligations to perform as other providers of education — how else would it be equal?

  155. To make it clearer Jan — what people are talking about is racist teachings — such as: racial hierarchies that ranks one race as more evolved than another — not discrimination. It would help if anthroposophists realized there’s a difference, and I’m pretty sure we’ve had this discussion with you before and that you know perfectly well in which sense Melanie used the word (I think she even explained the anthro racism a few comments up in this thread, making it clear she’s not referring to disctimination but to the contents of the teachings).

    I don’t know why you start to be silly abou unequal treatment — you must surely see that we’re asking that waldorf schools be held accountable just like any other school. That the same standards apply equally to all. That anthroposophical institutions be but to the exact same scrutiny as others. That anthroposophy’s tenets be discussed critically just as people discuss other beliefs critically. That the behaviours of anthroposophists are not to be exempted from the rules that apply to other people or exempted from criticism just because they’re anthroposophists.

    I don’t actually understand why it is so difficult for you to accept that people hold anthroposophists to the same standards as everybody else or why on earth this seems to outrage you and make you go on about fascism and unequality. It’s silly.

  156. ‘But what is it you are doing when you deny the equal rights of a group to public financing f their education?’

    I can’t deny anyone anything, I’m not in government. In fact even if I turned up in parliament (an MP for example) I would only have one voice in a sea of other voices. Only the Secretary of State for Education can deny people stuff with regard to education, and he is about to present the Steiner movement with millions of £s – if they can get the Somerset Gnome Academy through the local consultation process.

    I’m using my right to free speech in a democracy to express my opinion that Steiner schools should not receive public funding, and I have offered my reasons. To be honest the Coalition education policy is so insanely ideologically-driven that funding a vanity Steiner project to pacify Gove’s Rees-Mogg chums is the least of our problems.

    Anyway, no group has a right to have their education system funded by the taxpayer, otherwise we would be paying for all the elite private schools we Brits like so much – even if we still couldn’t use them ourselves. I’m not against all free schools, there are a couple of really interesting examples which I hope will inspire innovation, but I am very decidedly pro education.

    Spiritual racism is malign and potentially dangerous, but more to the point – funding a faux school system which delights in the anti-intellectual and employs poorly educated esotericists who make up their own science is just stupid.

    I’ve an instinct you would like to be the cleric issuing the fatwa, Jan, or why do I get such a strong whiff of medieval zealotry?

  157. Alicia comments:

    ‘…waldorf schools be held accountable just like any other school. That the same standards apply equally to all. That anthroposophical institutions be but to the exact same scrutiny as others. That anthroposophy’s tenets be discussed critically just as people discuss other beliefs critically. That the behaviours of anthroposophists are not to be exempted from the rules that apply to other people or exempted from criticism just because they’re anthroposophists.’

    This is absolutely the point. There needs to be a great deal more accountability with regard to Steiner Waldorf anyway, regardless of funding.

  158. Jan:
    “Racism is about denying rights to certain groups. Steiner never did that, he wanted the opposite.”

    No. Racism sometimes results in denying rights to certain groups, but racism per se just means holding beliefs about differing values or abilities of racial groups. Steiner was a classic racist in this sense.

    He certainly didn’t intend to deny anyone their rights – just the opposite, his program includes everyone. The Waldorf schools probably don’t usually “discriminate” in the sense of offering preferential admission to any particular racial group. If anything, they want to admit all races, because they believe they can help all races. They believe they can help everyone advance through sequential incarnations (Waldorf is sometimes described among insiders as offering “incarnational support” for children). If you are of a darker skin, “progress” will result in lighter skin in subsequent lifetimes. The darker-skinned children are certainly welcome in the classroom.

    This is unquestionably racist, but probably doesn’t usually involve discrimination in the sense the law defines it.

    Sometimes, there may be discrimination against *teachers* of different skin colors; there may be more room for overt discrimination in this regard than against children.

  159. My son, a Waldorf grad who sees the harm Waldorf does, believes parents should have NO right at all to choose the education for their children. He believes very intelligent people must intervene with children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents. Wonder where he got that from?

    “Racism is about denying rights to certain groups. Steiner never did that, he wanted the opposite.”

    Steiner declared Europe off-limits to the black race. If he WANTED the opposite, he should have SAID the opposite.

    “one can only understand history and all of social life, including today’s social life, if one pays attention to people’s racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual in the correct sense if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” (Rudolf Steiner, “Farbe und Menschenrassen”, lecture in Dornach March 3, 1923, in Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde, Dornach 1993, p. 52)

    Hello? Here are the main words above… TODAY SPIRITUAL ELEMENT ACTS THROUGH THE COLOR OF SKIN.

    “Recently I went into a bookstore in Basel and found an example of the latest publishing agenda: a Negro novel, just as the Negroes in general are entering into European civilization step by step! Everywhere Negro dances are being performed, Negro dances are being hopped. But we even have this Negro novel already. It is utterly boring, dreadfully boring, but people devour it. I am personally convinced that if we get more Negro novels, and give these Negro novels to pregnant women to read during the first phase of pregnancy, when as you know they can sometimes develop such cravings, if we give these Negro novels to pregnant women to read, then it won’t even be necessary for Negroes to come to Europe in order for mulattoes to appear. Simply through the spiritual effects of reading Negro novels, a multitude of children will be born in Europe that are completely gray, that have mulatto hair, that look like mulattoes!” (Rudolf Steiner,lecture in Dornach December 30, 1922, in Steiner, Über Gesundheit und Krankheit, Dornach 1994, p. 189)

    Wait, here’s one that’s REQUIRED reading for WALDORF teachers:

    “For peoples and races are but steps leading to pure humanity. A race or a nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type, the further they have worked their way from the physical and perishable to the supersensible and imperishable. The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation. Man must finally appear in harmonious perfection.” (Steiner, Knowledge of Higher Worlds p. 207)

  160. thank you all. I don’t know why Jan started to talk about discrimination — that was never the issue. Nobody claimed waldorf schools treat children unequally depending on race. (Certainly, there has been racist incidents.) And I’m sure this has been explained before: it’s not about discrimination. It’s about these schools not dealing with the existence of these teachings but rather ignoring them or pretending they’re somehow spiritually justified and good. Anyway, Diana’s explanation was good. Steiner’s words were what they were (Pete posted examples) and there’s no getting away from that. We can’t know if he would have said these things today (I think not) and we certainly know that anthroposophists can say, well, this stuff is just junk we can be without.

    (In the interest of avoiding any confusion (who knows) I meant to write ‘put’ not ‘but’:
    ‘That anthroposophical institutions be but to the exact same scrutiny as others.’)

  161. “Nobody claimed waldorf schools treat children unequally depending on race.”

    I’ll make that claim… that Waldorf teachers learn about the different “attributes” assigned to each race (according to Steiner) exactly for the purpose of treating children in accordance with their race. Steiner gave children all sorts of silly attributes aside from race. Waldorf teachers learn that “small-headed” children may lean toward intellectual challenges while “large-headed” children tend to be more “dreamy”. In the same way, Waldorf teachers learn about the “boiling blood” of black children and what that means. Waldorf teachers have different expectations for different races. That isn’t to suggest, of course, that a black child can’t (as my good friend Dottie might say) “overcome their blood” and do well in math.

    Another example, of course, is the temperaments. Temperaments are, in part, based on heredity – and therefore, or race.
    “The temperament is the meeting of the spiritual aspect of oneself, which one refers to as ‘I’, and the contributions of the father and mother. The temperament is the result of the blending of these two streams, the spirit and heredity.”
    (From “Waldorf Education – A Family Guide” – p. 60 The Role of Temperament in Understanding the Child by Rene Querido)

    And so, our dear departed friend, Rene Querido had this to say about the temperaments – just to get an idea about how much of this sort of nonsense plays into a Waldorf teacher’s day:

    “If you put on a play, you should cast the characters according to the temperaments of your students. You might, for example, ask your cholerics to play Julius Caesar, and you might cast your sanguines as the messengers, since they would enjoy running in and out with the news. The melancholics love philosophical roles. … The phlegmatics, on the other hand, like the parts where they can sit and think, removed from the central action of the play.” (From “Waldorf Education – A Family Guide” – p. 65-66 The Role of Temperament in Understanding the Child by Rene Querido)

    So, if your child is a phlegmatic, no leading roles in the plays. No other reason… Phlegmatic – sit on the sidelines.

    Now, of course, they aren’t about to talk openly about how they treat the children of the different races differently, but I think it’s naive to believe that if decisions about a child’s Waldorf experience are made based on something as silly as the child’s temperament – that NO decisions will be made about the child based on the child’s race.

  162. In an earlier post, I said: “Steiner declared Europe off-limits to the black race. If he WANTED the opposite, he should have SAID the opposite.”

    Here’s the quote I was referring to:

    “We here in Europe call ourselves the white race. If we go over to Asia, we have mostly the yellow race. And if we go over to Africa, there we have the black race. Those are also the original races. Everything else living in these regions is based on migration. Thus when we ask which race belongs to which part of the earth, we must say: the yellow race, the Mongols, the Mongolian race belongs in Asia, the white race or the Caucasian race belongs in Europe, and the black race or the Negro race belongs in Africa. The Negro race does not belong in Europe, and it is of course quite absurd that this race is now playing such a large role in Europe.” From Steiner’s 1923 lecture in Dornach on
    “Color and the Races of Humankind”, (pp. 52-53) – German version: Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde (Dornach 1993), p. 53. The original reads: “Die Negerrasse gehört nicht zu Europa, und es ist natürlich nur ein Unfug, daß sie jetzt in Europa eine so große Rolle spielt.”

  163. You may be right about that, Pete, and it connects to something Diana wrote about them thinking they can ‘help’ children of all kinds (be it race or temperament) and, thus, there being no discrimination in, e g, enrollment. There may still be more subtle unequal treatment based upon various notions — derived from steiner’s work — about race or temperaments or big-headedness. Certainly, temperaments still play a huge role. But they are an integral part of waldorf.

  164. That said, actual discrimination is not necessary for the racist elements in steiner’s work to be defined as racist. The only thing needed is knowing what they contain; it’s plain and simple. Jan claimed something differently. Possibly because he may think the discrimination definition may play out better than the contents definition that was used by others in the thread.

  165. As a person, Steiner might have been a “kind” racist, sincerely wanting to help the poor inferior races to a better future. Amazing that Jan who is afraid that criticizing his writings might lead to book-burning and fascism isn’t just a bit worried here?

    However, I have two questions. The swedish waldorf school federations reports on their website from a meeting with the school authorities. They don’t seem to be that worried about the new demands for computer education in the early school years because the amount of direct contact with computers isn’t specified. No, the Big Problem is history teaching. They want to teach about “the historical periods”. Why would that be a problem? Unless “Historical Periods” is another name for the “Cultural Periods” which is another name for the “Root Race Story”. Does anyone know what else it could mean? Which is so important that they ask parents to talk to politicians about it?

    The other question is, how important is this myth for anthroposophist? Is it considered spiritual science fact or symbolical fiction? I would think that it is impossible to let go of it, it is the fundamental story which gives meaning to everything else in anthroposophy. but I know too few anthroposophists to be able to tell how this works in practice.

  166. Quick reply to Pete, Alicia et al. … I think Pete’s basically right. I don’t think they discriminate in terms of admissions. How they treat children is a different question. I think personally there are many Waldorf teachers who really don’t work with any of Steiner’s notions about the races, but it’s a separate question from admissions.

    Also, I was focused on what makes Steiner a racist. Jan had that mixed up with discrimination, and I wanted to clarify that Steiner didn’t believe in discriminating against anyone, strictly speaking. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a racist. And it doesn’t mean some Waldorf teachers don’t *apply* Steiner’s racist teachings in a discriminatory way. It’s just that that isn’t necessary for us to be very clear that Steiner was a racist. If you teach that there are higher and lower races, and that when a person “progresses” spiritually, they reincarnate with lighter skin, that is a racist teaching. Those teachings would be racist even if Steiner had never started a school system.

  167. Sorry, I found the answer to my first question about “historical” periods” by re-reading the waldorf school site more carefully. It was actually worse than i remembered. They talk directly about the “cultural periods” which they “of course” will go on teaching as usual. Obviously they are not satisfied even with that, but calls for political action for even more freedom. I bet the authorities have no clue how closely the “cultural periods” is connected with ideas about the superiority of the white race. I think it is incredibly foolish to publicly make this a political issue, They might have misled the school authorities, but if someone outside the Green Party (which have close ties to them) takes a closer look at this they might lose their incredibly generous privileged status among swedish schools …

  168. It’s tricky. I can’t remember they ever spoke about races, but the thing is I may not have reacted if they did. I just don’t know. I was a child, and it was so many years ago — it’s a different thing now, lots of things you could say then you can’t say now. And maybe them speaking about Atlantis wouldn’t have been so different from all the other wacky things they taught us.

    (For example, kids still played ‘nigger’ on the school yard — it was a game with a tennis ball and had nothing to do with people from africa — and nobody said a thing about it. Nobody thought about it. Well, I suppose somebody did, because today it’s out of the question. They renamed it. To what, I don’t know.)

    History was basically ancient mythology. It was bible stuff. It was agriculture, old times, local whatever. It was norse myth. Vikings. It was the greeks and the romans — their myths. There were the saints and the fairytales.

    I found this magazine a while ago, and thought I’d blog about it. It has a chapter on history curriculum in waldorf, it starts at p 17. Do read it. It’s important. http://issuu.com/nzmanufacturer/docs/rudolf_steiner_education_vol._13.2_nov__2011

    From Sweden (or rather Norway, it’s a translation) we have Dan Lindholm’s book, ‘Glimtar från livet i waldorfskolan’. This is mostly interesting for Ulf. It’s got a chapter on history in waldorf. There’s Manu (who led a select few people from Atlantis), the moral character of peoples’, the ‘incarnated folk-soul’ of the nordic peoples, and so forth.

  169. ‘They don’t seem to be that worried about the new demands for computer education in the early school years because the amount of direct contact with computers isn’t specified.’

    Haha! the amount isn’t specified so they can make it ‘zero’!

    ‘The other question is, how important is this myth for anthroposophist? Is it considered spiritual science fact or symbolical fiction? I would think that it is impossible to let go of it, it is the fundamental story which gives meaning to everything else in anthroposophy. but I know too few anthroposophists to be able to tell how this works in practice.’

    There are clearly those who see it in a more metaphorical manner rather than as literal truth. But then there are those for whom it is historical fact, albeit an historical fact gleaned by Steiner as he was gazing clairvoyantly. They treat these ‘facts’ in such a way that Jan would probably say they aren’t representative for anthroposophy… they’re dogmatists, they aren’t doing it right, and so forth… because anthroposophy is a path of inquiry and not a bunch of facts to learn… well, well. It’s my impression that this way of absorbing these revealed facts — without questioning them — is far more common than anything else. Now, this applies perhaps even more to anthroposophists who become teachers because — this is simply how it is — it’s a way of making use of your belief system in a professional setting and there may not be many other options.

  170. @ Pete
    I know these quotations. Without a sound definition of racism they do not impress me.
    To come with these quotations without a definition is form of populism. Manipulating people.
    Sorry, but I find it rather cheap. N.B. I gave already 3 quotations about equality/equal rights.
    What is left of “Pete’s open challenge” ? Be honest: nothing!

    @ Alicia, Diana, Pete
    I wasn’t defining racism but was naming an important aspect of it.
    At least Alicia could know that I always use the definition of Albert Memmi to define racism.
    As said many times before, according to this definition the content of Steiners racial thoughts are not racism.
    Memmi elaborates a theory about the mechanisms of racism in his book “Racism”
    (University of Minnesota Press, 2000; Originally published as Le Racisme, Gallimard, 1982. )
    Reviewing this book Joe Lockard (http://bad.eserver.org/reviews/2000/2000-2-14-8.35PM.html) comments: “Summarizing his points, Memmi writes “Differences can exist or not exist. Differences are not in themselves good or bad. One is not racist or anti-racist in pointing out or denying differences, but one is racist in using them “against someone to one’s own advantage.” In a definition, racism according to Memmi is the Generalized and final assigning of values to real and imaginary differences, to the accusers benefit and at his victim’s expense, in order to justify the former’s own privilege or aggression.
    Memmi’s definition is seen in the scholarly world as a leading one. All elements summed up in this definition must be there to speak of racism according to Memmi.

    Of course you cannot construct a hierarchy of races, and of course Steiner did not made such a hierarchy, this a merely a projection of the critics. Steiner connected certain qualities to “races” ok, so what? This is not immediately racism, see Memmi.
    Also many other theories and definition have the aspect of justifying privileges or aggression.
    I think we have to see the “theories” of Steiner about “races” as anthropological theories. Here a scholar or a scientist should have the freedom to say what he or she thinks is true. When he or she found facts about a certain group, he or she has the right to publish them although these facts might be painful for one or another group, here freedom is on its place. Things are as they are, like it or not. This is something different as developing an ideology that harms the position of certain groups or justifies aggression against certain groups. So totally in the line with Memmi I can not call it racism when there is just a theory about races, in which certain qualities are connected with the “race”and even when is said that in a certain quality one race has more possibilities than an other. AS LONG AS THERE POSITION IN SOCIETY IS EQUAL c.q AS LONG AS THEY HAVE EQUAL RIGHT and that is what Steiner wanted.

  171. ‘I wasn’t defining racism but was naming an important aspect of it.’

    It isn’t a necessary aspect of it. Most importantly, it was not the aspect we were talking about. (Although both Diana and Pete have explained why they think that aspect may be present too.)

    ‘At least Alicia could know that I always use the definition of Albert Memmi to define racism.’

    And you know that I don’t use your version of Memmi’s racism, which you think should include discrimination (Peter Staudenmaier claims that you and other anthroposophists have misunderstood a few things — that Memmi talks about ‘charitable racism’ and that it’s applicable to Steiner; there’s probably more do dig for here); thank you, though, for actually acknowledging we’ve been around this bush before.

    It makes little sense for you to object to what we’ve said with the implicit help of a definition of racism as discrimination when you know that we didn’t classify Steiner’s teachings as racism using a definition that includes discrimination. Right? I’m not talking about discrimination when I write the word racism. I’d appreciate it if you remembered that. If I’m talking about discrimination, I will use that word. Or write racial discrimination or something.

    I am not of the opinion that racism must comprise discrimination, negative treatment or something like that. I’m talking about, eg, a doctrine that holds one race higher than another. No matter if it has consequences in real life politics, outside the theory, i e in practice, or not. If you’re representing Memmi correctly here — and I’m sorry, I now doubt it: ‘In a definition, racism according to Memmi is the Generalized and final assigning of values to real and imaginary differences, to the accusers benefit and at his victim’s expense, in order to justify the former’s own privilege or aggression.’

    … it’s absolutely silly to say that there must be a purpose amounting to ‘privilige or aggression’ in order for a teaching to be racist. Damn it, don’t you see how bat-shit crazy that is? If this is what Memmi thought, then I can’t accept his definition, and I’m sure lots of researchers can’t either. In fact, I’ll post your Memmi racist definition on critics. Just to get more opinions. Because something doesn’t add up.

    ‘Of course you cannot construct a hierarchy of races, and of course Steiner did not made such a hierarchy, this a merely a projection of the critics. Steiner connected certain qualities to “races” ok, so what?’

    And some were more evolved than others. So what? That is hierarchial. One is more evolved, one is above the other. That’s a hierarchy. There’s no way around that. You can dismiss this teaching of Steiner’s as nonsense — that’s fine. But denying it exists is silly.

    ‘I think we have to see the “theories” of Steiner about “races” as anthropological theories.’

    I would have some, limited, acceptance for seeing them as mythological theories. Outdated ones, but — yes — myth. There’s some sense to such an interpretation. A limited sense, but still. I’d see how people of Steiner’s time might find such mythologies justified even if we don’t.

    ‘Here a scholar or a scientist should have the freedom to say what he or she thinks is true.’

    Sure. But if you’re a scholar or scientist who presents the idea that the human races came into being on the old Atlantis, wandered out of Atlantis (led by Manu) and that, now, some are more evolved than others, then you will also have to expect that other scientists (and people in general) ask you for your proof. Nobody says you can’t say what you feel is true. But to be taken seriously in an academic context, you need more than just speaking your mind. Otherwise you’re just like anybody else who is saying what he thinks. And even ooutside an academic context people may reasonable ask you — why? How come you believe this? How did you draw this conclusion?

    ‘So totally in the line with Memmi I can not call it racism when there is just a theory about races, in which certain qualities are connected with the “race”and even when is said that in a certain quality one race has more possibilities than an other. AS LONG AS THERE POSITION IN SOCIETY IS EQUAL c.q AS LONG AS THEY HAVE EQUAL RIGHT and that is what Steiner wanted.’

    Ok Jan. Just know that when I say certain teachings of Steiner’s — for example, when he holds one race as more evolved than another — are racist, I’m NOT INFERRING DISCRIMINATION.

    By the way — do you have any reference to Steiner saying that, e g, black people and white people should have equal rights? Did he actually ever say that? I’m not saying he didn’t think that. I’m just saying I don’t know he ever said it.

    But I know other anthroposophists have been saying the black race is childish, black people are on the level of children, so white people must be their guardians, their teachers, their guides. That’s paternalistic racism. And, if put in effect, it does lead to unequal treatment. And you don’t confer equal rights to children and adults. Children have less rights.

  172. No, I’m just pissed-off. I don’t really give a damn. After so much time and energy spent, I’m actually too pissed-off that you can’t even pay attention to it when I say and have said numerous times:

    I’m NOT talking about discrimination. Stop pretending I am. Stop objecting to racism according to a definition I’m not using.

    You surely know that Memmi’s definition isn’t the one and only. Whether you’ve got it correctly or you haven’t. You know that discrimination is not an integral part of racism and that it’s not included in many conceptions of racism.

    Most of all: you KNOW I wasn’t talking about discrimination.

    I: there are racist elements in Steiner’s teachings.

    You: no! there aren’t!

    I: yes there are! he talks about races with different racial characteristics, some more evolved than others.

    You: booh hooh! That’s not discrimination! Then it can’t be racism!

    I: I’m not taling about racial discrimination.

    You: there’s no racism in Steiner!!

    I: yes, there are such elements!

    You: booh hooh! he’s not advocating discrimination!

    And it never fucking stops.

    I’ll leave it to Diana, Pete and Melanie (or somebody else), if they can stand this, to try once more — or a trillion times more — to explain why there is racism as well as possibly even implicit (or explicit advocacy of) discrimination and unequal treatment in anthroposophical doctrines. Just go ahead.

  173. Jan already knows Steiner’s racism FITS within Memmi’s definition because I’ve pointed this out to him before (but he just dropped it). Declaring a continent off limits to black people is racial discrimination. Duh!

    There’s no benefit to being obtuse when trying to advance a point. You either have a point to make or you don’t. You think Steiner wasn’t racist? Where’s the evidence? Continually not seeing the other person’s point is not advancing the discussion Jan.

  174. I can understand that those of you who have been through this before might be a bit … tired. To me, the discussion and Pete’s challenges have been very clarifying. Especially the idea that the goal of a future race-less state of humanity somehow constitutes a denial or a qualification of his detailed and conscious racist thinking. Both ideas are perfectly compatible in a “white man’s burden” variety of racism.

    Funny that he didn’t speak out against the presence and colonial oppression by europeans in Africa at his time. I mean if all races should stay in their allotted places? Or is that hidden somewhere in the impenetrable jungle of all his written and recorded words, where lesser souls like me soon get lost, bored and drowsy?

    And thanks for the link, Alicia. I wasn’t quite sure the Atlantis/Root Race stuff was used in real pedagogical practice. I think they got it all wrong, however! As any enlightened person knows, Olof Rudbeck the elder, showed already in the late seventeenth cantury that Atlantis was in fact located in Sweden and that all the world’s languages, culture and wisdom stems from the swedish race. This is impossible to deny because his great book “Atlantican” which proves this without a doubt, is so huge that noone has ever read it without falling asleep before reaching the end.

  175. What also really pisses me off is that Jan once again implicitly assumes that he or his ‘scientists’ would be silenced. That, somehow, despite having discussed this at length in this vey thread, I would be pro-censorship. This silly martyrdom for no reason. Nobody says people can’t say what they want or express their thoughts and beliefs. But this right, Jan, does not confer a duty on others to listen or take your word for truth. It simply doesn’t, but being through this again and again I have a feeling that that is what Jan requires on behalf of himself and Steiner and those ‘scientists’ and waldorf proponents and who knows who else. The implication is: if you don’t, you’re infringing on their freedom. Other people just have duties, right? People believe the ‘right’ things have rights and privileges. Perhaps it’s critics who should consistently nag about Jan infringing on our freedom to speak our minds — he neither seems to listen nor to accept what we’re saying. Were we Atlantis & race researchers, surely, such disrespect would mean we’re being prohibited from telling truths! In the world of moronic interpretations…

    (I know it can be useful, Ulf. Sorry about the outbursts. I tend to forget, sometimes, that not everyone has been through this mad game before… Which is a bad thing because so many people read these discussions without saying anything and they, too, may get something out of it…)

  176. @Pete K
    Pete wrote: “Jan already knows Steiner’s racism FITS within Memmi’s definition because I’ve pointed this out to him before (but he just dropped it). Declaring a continent off limits to black people is racial discrimination. Duh!”
    When Steiner said Blacks should not come to Europe, I do not agree with him.
    This however is not Steiners “ideology”. When it is true he really said that it is an exception.
    But why not react on my quotations about equality, eh Pete?

  177. How about reacting to Pete’s pointing out that Steiner’s statements about “equality” tend to be about conditions in the very far distant future (cosmic eons)? He wasn’t recommending racial equality NOW. He was saying that over many cosmic eons, race would become less important. Millions of years in the future. Not comforting to parents enrolling children in these schools NOW.

  178. “When Steiner said Blacks should not come to Europe, I do not agree with him.”

    So what? He said it. He’s the one who started Waldorf. YOUR agreement or disagreement matters not at all.

    “This however is not Steiners “ideology”. When it is true he really said that it is an exception.”

    It absolutely IS his ideology. Have you read Steiner’s views on colonialism? On blood? Seriously, this is NOT something out of context for Steiner. This is Anthroposophy 101. Steiner’s racism is right in line with Memmi’s definition of racism… so you can stop using that as an excuse.

  179. coming to this late, as if on cue when Frome Steiner Academy is in the final stages of consultation, with approximately £15 million pounds of tax payers money about to be handed to them, a Steiner thread appears on Mumsnet.

    Most of us here already know, Mumsnet was threatened with libel by Sune Nordwall in cooperation with the Steiner Waldorf movement. Sune and members of the SWSF demanded that Mumsnet delete posts and whole threads discussing any negative experiences of Steiner schools.

    Mumsnet felt they had no choice but to ask parents not to discuss Steiner anymore. So they stopped. The problem is that every few months or so more new parents appear wanting to talk about what has happened to them and their children.

    Parents have also discussed the research of Peter Staudenmaier, Sune and the SWSF don’t want parents to read Peter and so any mention of him in the past has resulted in the comments being deleted. If Mumsnet don’t delete Sune working on behalf of the Steiner Waldorf movement then has to resort to posting screeds of nonsense in an attempt to discredit Peter’s work.

    To anyone that may not know Sune is posting under the name Tizian, this is what the Steiner Waldorf movement are paying him to do. They need the money.

    http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/local_cambridge/1336892-cambridge-steiner-school

  180. Jan:
    “When Steiner said Blacks should not come to Europe, I do not agree with him.”

    “This however is not Steiners “ideology”. When it is true he really said that it is an exception.”

    I’m trying to understand your point … What does the “when it is true” part pertain to? You’re saying Steiner said that *sometimes* blacks should not come to Europe? That there are circumstances in which “Blacks should not come to Europe,” but they’re sort of an exception to the rule? There are times when it is true? Most of the time it’s ok for blacks to come to Europe – just sometimes not, rare exceptions “when it is true”? Do you agree with this formulation? Or if you don’t agree with it yourself, are you asserting that it is not racist?

  181. Lovelyhorse: not only threads to be deleted — at the empty threat of legal action — but lots of members banned too (speaking of suppressing people’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions, Jan! what do you think?). I think Sune once claimed he was banned as well, but apparently he’s there posting again. I was banned twice. Anyway, I think it’s better to let him dig the movement’s grave. Which is what he appears to be doing on mumsnet. Sadly, he doesn’t tell people who he is and what his job is. That alone might be an eye-opener for some…

  182. @Diana
    I’m trying to understand your point …”
    I was referring to Pete’s
    “Declaring a continent off limits to black people is racial discrimination. Duh!”
    Steiner said once a sentence you could interpret like Pete does.
    I have to search for the literally English text.
    One of that “loose standing” statements, that does not comply with Steiner’s “doctrine”.

    @ Pete
    Remember my questions? You did not answer them!
    Still no reaction on the quotations about equality/equal rights either.

    @ Alicia
    I am not doing a strange thing here. I Just do not agree with you.
    I do not mix up discrimination with racism, I know these concepts very well, in fact I teach them
    I just took a widely accepted definition of racism, but there are dozens of other definitions that imply the same. So I am not talking nonsense here.

  183. Good, Jan. But I’m *not* talking about discrimination. And I want that to be clear. When I define certain parts of Steiner’s teachings — eg, the root races and some races being more evolved than others — as racist, I don’t talk about discrimination. And when you reply to me as though I were — you reply as though I’ve claimed something I haven’t claimed. You just have to understand that *I* am talking about racism in the sense that doesn’t presuppose discrimination.

  184. “Remember my questions? You did not answer them!”

    Really? I thought I’d answered all your questions. Please point me to anything you feel I haven’t answered. I’m happy to answer your questions Jan… probably a lot happier than you are with my answers.

    “Still no reaction on the quotations about equality/equal rights either.”

    Are those the ones you posted in German? I don’t read German. Do you have an English version? Are they the same “equality” quotes AWSNA posts? In that case, they’re nonsense. They talk about equality in a few thousand years, not NOW.

    Here’s what I’ve written about them:
    http://smrtlernins.com/2010/11/16/ask-a-smrt-homeschooler-about-the-waldorf-method/#comments

    “(We) must cast aside the division into races. (We) must seek to
    unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions
    and differences between various groups of people.”

    – The Universal Human, Lecture 1″

    The quote AWSNA uses from Steiner – above is out of context BTW. The entire lecture can be found here: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/UniHuman/19091204p02.html

    Here’s the whole three sentences around AWSNA’s quote:

    “Therefore, in its fundamental nature, the anthroposophical movement, which is to prepare the sixth period, must cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions and differences between various groups of people. The old point of view of race has a physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.”

    Steiner is talking about casting aside the divisions of races and treating humans as individuals IN THE NEXT EPOCH, NOT this one. So, in 1000 years, Waldorf schools will stop teaching children in accordance with their race. But for now, they will continue to deceive us – even using Steiner’s own words out of context – in order to bring children to Anthroposophy.

    Here are the next few paragraphs after AWSNA’s quote – from Steiner:

    “That is why it is absolutely essential to understand that our anthroposophical movement is a spiritual one. It looks to the spirit and overcomes the effects of physical differences through the force of being a spiritual movement. Of course, any movement has its childhood illnesses, so to speak. Consequently, in the beginning of the theosophical movement the earth was divided into seven periods of time, one for each of the seven root races, and each of these root races was divided into seven sub-races. These seven periods were said to repeat in a cycle so that one could always speak of seven races and seven sub-races. However, we must get beyond the illnesses of childhood and understand clearly that the concept of race has ceased to have any meaning in our time.

    Humanity is becoming evermore individual, and this has further implications for human individuality. It is important that this individuality develop in the right way. The anthroposophical movement is to help people become individualities, or personalities, in the right sense. How can it accomplish this? Here we must look to the most striking new quality of the human soul that is being prepared. People often ask why we do not remember our former incarnations. I have often answered this question, which is like saying that because a four-year-old child cannot do arithmetic, human beings cannot do arithmetic. When the child reaches ten, he or she will be able to multiply with ease. It is the same with the soul. If it cannot remember our former incarnations today, the time will come when it will be able to do so. Then it will possess the same capacity initiates have.

    This new development is happening today. There are numerous souls nowadays who are so far advanced that they are close to the moment of remembering their former incarnations, or at least the last one. A number of people are at the threshold of comprehensive memory, embracing life between birth and death as well as previous incarnations. Many people will remember their present incarnation when they are reborn in their next life. It is simply a question of how they remember. The anthroposophical movement is to help and guide people to remember in the right way.”

  185. Trying to see how far the racism discussion has advanced.

    1. Jan says Steiner was wrong in denying “Negroes” the right to be in Europe. I take that as an admission that STEINER’s views were racist even in Jan’s interpretation of Memmi.

    2. Jan’s own views are uncomfortably vague concerning differences between races:

    “I think we have to see the “theories” of Steiner about “races” as anthropological theories. Here a scholar or a scientist should have the freedom to say what he or she thinks is true. When he or she found facts about a certain group, he or she has the right to publish them although these facts might be painful for one or another group, here freedom is on its place. Things are as they are, like it or not. This is something different as developing an ideology that harms the position of certain groups or justifies aggression against certain groups. So totally in the line with Memmi I can not call it racism when there is just a theory about races, in which certain qualities are connected with the “race”and even when is said that in a certain quality one race has more possibilities than an other.”

    I read Jan’s text here as a defence of the “fact” that the white/european/aryan race is a more advanced race.

    3. So “Negroes” are less advanced than europeans, but they should be allowed in Europe?

  186. Vague and confused is the best I can suggest for Jan’s views here. He seems to be saying that Steiner’s statements about race were 1) “one off” in terms of the rest of Steiner’s doctrine (but this is flatly not the case, the racial doctrines are not an aberration, they are structural) and 2) maybe Steiner was right to believe this-or-that about different races, and we must allow researchers to put forth theories about race even if they tell us things that maybe aren’t so flattering about particular races.

    This is all very, very old, and very familiar to critics. Many anthroposophists try this tack. They often have just this same air that Jan adopts of anxiety and resentment.The racial doctrines are a tiny, insignificant part of Steiner’s work overall, perhaps an aberration, and anyway, what’s so bad about pointing out racial differences?

    One thing that’s wrong with pointing out racial differences is that by and large they do not exist. It’s pretty well accepted scientifically that “differences between races” are generally no larger, often much smaller, than differences between individuals. The main differences that exist between the peoples of the planet are superficial, e.g., skin color, or cultural. They don’t break down along racial lines and most certainly not along “spiritual” lines.

  187. Thanks Diana and Jan and all others who have contributed to this discussion, which has been very clarifying for me because I have never been through an open debate about this before. I feel I know enough now to let go of this subject.

    And I guess most swedish parents with kids in Waldorf schools would be horrified to learn about both Rudolf’s and Jan’s views on race and “race science”, no matter what you would call them. But that is another issue.

    PS However I can’t resist mentioning that almost a century before Steiner, the swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg who was on intimate speaking terms with the angels, had a completely different view on race. He wrote that the “African race” was “in greater enlightenment than others on this earth”. Which is a far more original variety of race thinking than Steiner’s. And, more important, it can’t be used to excuse colonial or post-colonial oppression.

    PPS “Johnny Appleseed” who might be more familiar to North Americans, was a follower of Swedenborg.

  188. Some passages, even entire chapters, have been purged from some swedish steiner editions. So the risk is, even if parents looked it up (looked at certain sources but chose the swedish editions), they wouldn’t know. They would think you were making it up!

  189. @Ulf
    “I read Jan’s text here as a defence of the “fact” that the white/european/aryan race is a more advanced race”.
    This is not how it was meant. I don”t believe in superior “races” nor in more advanced “races” at all.

  190. @Pete
    The questions I meant: (pasted from above)
    1. But Pete, I hope I am wrong. You gave me the impression that you cannot accept what the American Waldorf organization is writing on their own website. Are they not using their right of freedom of speech? What would you do about it apart from criticizing their ideas in a free discussion?

    2. Another question: Suppose I am an American citizen. I want the best school for my children. I want a school that has as basis of their pedagogy a spiritual image of man, because my conviction is we are not just having a physical body, but we also have a soul and a spirit. I know a Waldorf school in my neighborhood which is just offering that. This is a good school commutating well with the parents and everybody knows that the image of man of the anthroposophy is the basis for its pedagogy. (PLEASE take the description of this case as it is, so please don’t say such a school does not exist or could not exist) I am an American citizen with equal civil rights as everybody else in an open and democratic society. Now please tell me if you want this situation in America to exist that there can be schools on the basis of this conviction, so that parents have the possibility to chose these schools for their children.

  191. @Pete
    Here are the quotations again which I mentioned before in this thread, in german, but the source is also mentioned.
    “Es ist eben durchaus nur möglich, daß das staatliche Leben wiederum gesundet, wenn es sich aufbaut auf dem demokratischen Prinzip der gleichen Menschen, das heißt, wenn es die Angelegenheiten umfasst, welche die Angelegenheiten eines jeden Mündiggewordenen sind.“
    From: „Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliedrung der sozialen Organismus“ vierter Vortrag Stuttgart 14 Februar 1921, 4e Auflage, p.89

    „Auf etwas fundamental anderem beruht das rechtsleben. Es beruht darauf daß in demokratische Weise alle diejenigen Maßnahmen getroffen werden, durch die jeder Mensch mit Bezug auf die Menschenrechte jedem anderen gleich ist.“

    from: „Betriebsräte und Sozialisierung“. 67 fünfter Diskussionsabend Stuttgart 24 Juni 1919:
    The second quotation I have tried to translate myself: ( I am not a professional translator)
    The rights sphere is based on something fundamentally different. It is based on the fact that all measures are taken in a democratic way, and that by these measures everybody is equal to everybody else as regards the human rights.

  192. “Are they not using their right of freedom of speech?”

    I’m sorry. You don’t seem to understand what “freedom of speech” entails. It doesn’t mean people are free to say anything they like. We have laws to protect people from those who speak too freely. We have laws against false advertising, giving false testimony, making false accusations, committing fraud, defamation, libel and so forth. Free speech does not mean what you think it means.

    “Now please tell me if you want this situation in America to exist that there can be schools on the basis of this conviction, so that parents have the possibility to chose these schools for their children.”

    I think Waldorf schools should exist like other types of specialized instruction schools… Sunday schools, Bible schools, art schools and so forth. They should NOT be a replacement for or compete with general education. They should be available to supplement a child’s education with Anthroposophy – if indeed that’s what the parents want for their child.

  193. I can see by your translation that these are descriptions of Stener’s threefold social order. This is an economic observation and has nothing to do with the spiritual standing of races, I don’t have time right now, but I’ll try to find English versions of these.

  194. @Diana
    “This is all very, very old, and very familiar to critics”
    Are you really that old?
    Diana said
    “Vague and confused is the best I can suggest for Jan’s views here. He seems to be saying that Steiner’s statements about race were 1) “one off” in terms of the rest of Steiner’s doctrine (but this is flatly not the case, the racial doctrines are not an aberration, they are structural) and 2) maybe Steiner was right to believe this-or-that about different races, and we must allow researchers to put forth theories about race even if they tell us things that
    maybe aren’t so flattering about particular races”.

    If you don’t want to understand everything becomes vague.
    I think it is not so vague.
    1. Because of Memmi’s definition, and many other definitions I conclude Steiner did not develop a racist race-doctrine.
    2. Some statements of Steiner can be interpreted as racist. The that are separate statements, not in accordance with his “doctrine”. Can you still follow me?. It is not so difficult I should say.
    You may disagree but it is not vague.
    Diana said:
    “They often have just this same air that Jan adopts of anxiety and resentment. The racial doctrines are a tiny, insignificant part of Steiner’s work overall, perhaps an aberration, and anyway, what’s so bad about pointing out racial differences? “
    I never said that. But nice stereotyping.
    Let’s try if I can to the same:
    Critics have that superior air. They are the ones who know it all better. Judging the others. out of their old traditional, conservative or even ractionary thinking.

  195. @Pete
    “I can see by your translation that these are descriptions of Stener’s threefold social order. This is an economic observation and has nothing to do with the spiritual standing of races, I don’t have time right now, but I’ll try to find English versions of these.”

    Then please find the translation first before judging.

  196. >Are you really that old?

    Yes

    Diana said:
    “They often have just this same air that Jan adopts of anxiety and resentment. The racial doctrines are a tiny, insignificant part of Steiner’s work overall, perhaps an aberration, and anyway, what’s so bad about pointing out racial differences? “

    >I never said that. But nice stereotyping.

    You said, in reference to the “blacks in Europe” question, that this was “one of that ‘loose standing’ statements, that does not comply with Steiner’s “doctrine”. Unless I am mistaken, this means you think such statements – weird stuff like “blacks don’t belong in Europe” – are a tiny, insignificant part of Steiner’s work overall, perhaps an aberration. Is that incorrect? That is how I understood “loose standing” to characterize that statement. It isn’t quite right in English, but I’m pretty sure I got your drift.

    You also wrote:
    “I think we have to see the ‘theories’ of Steiner about ‘races’ as anthropological theories. Here a scholar or a scientist should have the freedom to say what he or she thinks is true. When he or she found facts about a certain group, he or she has the right to publish them although these facts might be painful for one or another group, here freedom is on its place. Things are as they are, like it or not. This is something different as developing an ideology that harms the position of certain groups or justifies aggression against certain groups. So totally in the line with Memmi I can not call it racism when there is just a theory about races, in which certain qualities are connected with the ‘race’and even when is said that in a certain quality one race has more possibilities than an other.”

    I think it’s fair to summarize that as “And anyway, what’s so bad about pointing out racial differences?” You are pretty sure that if scholars or scientists look into the matter, they are going to end up pointing out differences, possibly even suggesting “in a certain quality one race has more possibilities than an other.”

    We usually get to this point in discussing race with anthroposophists. They are often defending what Steiner said about the different races because they think what he said was TRUE. Perhaps not true in every specific – they’ll grant you science moves on and maybe Steiner got some details a little off – but they cling to a treasured belief that if we look at race, we’ll find … something. Surely some scrap of a suggestion that some races are better than other races at SOMETHING. Even if this isn’t said explicitly, even if it’s just “Oh, let’s be sure the scientists and scholars are free to investigate this and go on making up ‘theories about races.'”

  197. Hello Jan! No I have no idea if you are a teacher or not. But I think your arguments are clever enough to be taken as a a valid defense of anthroposophical thinking on these issues. Which is also relevant for Waldorf schools. Although I am more worried about the delay of teaching reading skills than about Steiner’s racism. And much more worried about the views on knowledge and learning.

    I find your idea about anthroposophy as some kind of open and spiritual inquiry very attractive – although nothing like that was ever practiced at the Waldorf school I know best. Mindless imitation would be a better description. And the race issues shows how horribly wrong Steiner’s spiritual science inquiry can go.

    I am quite conscious of the fact that you didn’t write that some races are more “advanced” than others. You hinted at the possibility that a researcher might find that one race had more “possibilities” than another. STEINER is unfortunately very clear on this point. There is a hierarchy among races. And this hierarchy isn’t about some petty matter like colour. It’s about THE most fundamental dimension of the entire anthroposophical universe, the karmic journey through incarnations AND RACES towards higher and higher spiritual development.

    YOU are uncomfortably vague here. I’m happy that you personally, as a general principle, don’t believe in racial hierarchies. But are you prepared to say that Steiner got it wrong about this too?

  198. “Then please find the translation first before judging.”
    Well, I did a babblefish translation… even from that, it’s obvious that Steiner is talking about equal RIGHTS… not spiritual equality (the area where he felt other races are inferior). So, what you are providing as evidence is unrelated to his spiritual/racist theory.

    Let’s talk about that for a minute… because Steiner’s racist theory is absolutely the foundation of Anthroposophy. Steiner taught that humans developed here on earth with the help of various spiritual forces – spirits of form, Lucifer, Ahriman… a push here, a tug there… and the result was humans. Some humans accepted these influences while others resisted – resulting in different groups at different stages of human development – quite unintentionally living on Earth at the same time. Those developmental differentiations are visible precisely through the color of each individual’s skin. One race is more pure, more developed and the race of the future. Other races are childlike or destined to die out.

    Anthroposophy is all about the development of the individual through various incarnations in different situations. If, for some reason, an individual does something that requires a karmic consequence, that individual may very well find themselves incarnating into a less-perfect, more savage racial form – probably a black person.

    This progression of the individual through the races is the foundation of Anthroposophy. Racism is as basic to Anthroposophy as reincarnation is… in fact, they’re connected.

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