It’s one thing that waldorf schools don’t teach anthroposophy. (I believe they should. I believe people who spend their childhood and youth in a waldorf school has a right to know sufficiently about the beliefs system behind it so as to be able to identify it.) It’s there, of course, but it isn’t taught. It’s everywhere. But is it entirely true that the anthroposophical movement does not take any active steps towards recruitment of young people? It’s not. The Anthroposophical Society has what is called the Youth Section, its international headquarters situated in Dornach. Another activity targeting young people just out of waldorf high school is the Youth Initiative Program (YIP), an international ‘education’ with its base at Järna, the Swedish village dominated by anthroposophy. YIP wants to ‘to create a positive social change in the world. – A course in how to bring your own initiative into being.’ What it actually manages to do is unclear. The curriculum seems fluffier than the worst waldorf schools. (It could be summarized as ‘fluff about and feel like you’re doing something tremendously important’. Sorry, but that’s my impression.) YIP doesn’t conceal its commitment to anthroposophy, though it doesn’t flaunt it either. If you browse around on their website, you will find a subsection of it devoted to anthroposophy. But even without this, it’s a blatantly anthroposophical projects. I think it’s worth noting what they say about anthroposophy though.
It is one of the unique traits of our period in history that, just at the point when the human species has created very serious challenges to the future of humanity, the same humanity has uncovered very powerful cognitive frameworks and practical approaches such as, but not limited to, Anthroposophy, that have the power to move humanity to a new, more profound level of evolution. YIP, by its very nature and striving, seeks to connect to these diverse streams of genuine efforts in humanity.
Note, in particular: ‘the power to move humanity to a new, more profound level of evolution’. Through anthroposophy. (Don’t imagine for even a second that they really accord equal importance to other worldviews or brands of spirituality… or to rationalism or science for that matter.) The text concludes thusly:
YIP and its organizing team consider themselves Anthroposophically inspired.
I’d be very surprised if the majority of YIP’s participants weren’t former waldorf students, as the channels which they use to attract their students are waldorf related.
In YIP’s international network, we find WeStrive, IDEM and Goetheanum’s Youth Section (mentioned above). The Connect Conference is an event organized regularly, and will take place in Järna next year. The Youth Section reports in a recent newsletter:
At the end of June 2011 the Connect Conference for high school students from all around the world will take place at the Kulturcentrum Järna, the home of the Youth Initiative Program, for the first time in Connect history. Connect invites youth who are at the end of their school career to come together in a conference setting to celebrate the end of school and to create a base for life decisions. Connect informs and gives insights into the challenges we meet at the moment we leave the provided school framework and head into our own lives, where each of us becomes the designers of the content and form we want our lives to have.
Connect 2011 specifically invites classes from Waldorf schools, or groups of young people from the same hometown to join this conference.
Kulturcentrum Järna — ‘Centre of culture Järna’ — was formerly known as the Rudolf Steiner Seminar. (Notice how the name Rudolf Steiner has been ditched probably as it has been perceived as being bad for business. Wouldn’t be appropriate to recruit school children for some activity explicitly associated with the name Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf schools aren’t supposed to be about Rudolf Steiner, even when named after him, or to attract children to live the rest of their lives in his and anthroposophy’s name.) Connect has its own website too, and a post on September 24, 2010, recounts the presentations the organization made in Swedish schools (which means waldorf schools, obviously); I read:
I only know that if I start talking about one asspekt [sic!] of Connect the others will line up like a chain of pearls. Connect from the cultural aspect, the potential that lies in meeting peers from different countries that in this occasion have gone through 12 years of the same education and have more things in common than they would ever imagine.
Well, of course, they all have gone through waldorf education. That’s the common denominator. So, no wonder… She spoke about
Connect from a networking perspective, to become part of the Connect network that already exists in the world, and to create a future network of friends and colleagues from all over the world. Connect as a possibility to find out about more initiatives and organisations that serve as vessels for youth needs and world needs …
What kind of networks, initiatives and organization serving ‘as vessels for youth needs’ (oh yikes…)? Why this reluctance to talk about what it really is? What the goals are? Worryingly, the report claims that
[t]he response, as always, is astonishingly positive. There is initial interest flaming up, there is light in their eyes, when they understand what I am speaking about, there is smiles and YES, and I can see so much potential …
Mission accomplished. I mean spiritual mission of course.
Please feel free to add information in the comments about other anthroposophical projects that actively target and recruit young people, in waldorf schools, et cetera. I’d be curious to read more about other ‘initiatives’ operating in the same vein or with the same goals or connections. (I noted earlier that anthroposophists have impulses for just about everything. They aren’t hungry, they have a food impulse. Oh, ok, I’m joking. But still. Another word is ‘initiative’. They don’t have that many projects, but they have initiatives. Based upon impulses, presumably.)