history and clairvoyance

Roger Rawlings has found a quote about the teaching of history in waldorf schools.

‘This is from the description of a Waldorf  teacher’s guide, published by the Rudolf Steiner College Press. The subject is history. The subtext is clairvoyance. “The History curriculum for fifth and sixth grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision and, with it, the awakening of independent ego awareness and materialism. The teacher is guided to a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics, and shows how the ancient world points the way to the future.” TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).’

Here’s the link.

203 thoughts on “history and clairvoyance

  1. this is the teaching of mythology, basically. Part of it would fit better in religion, but then taught in a different way. Some of it works as fairytales. But in waldorf, it’s history. More to the point, it’s the anthroposophical conception of history of spiritual evolution that is taught. Not history in the usual sense, that is. (We were taught precious little actual history, it was myth, myth, myth. Which is no replacement for real history, although naturally the history of how human beliefs and myths have developed and what they’ve been can be a part of historical study. But then that’s not really Steiner’s version of it either. And although that version is enjoyable, it’s not history for children in schools.)

  2. yeah I know, the page changes and it’s not so easy to follow. I wish he’d use a blog format with a proper rss-feed. Maybe it’s difficult to incorporate on the website though. Thanks for posting the link to the book/publisher.

    This isn’t something new for people who know about waldorf history teaching — but it’s splendid to see them be so direct about it. You’ll find similar stuff in some books on waldorf education that I have, but unfortunately I can’t look it up at the moment.

  3. fascinatingly, you do old testament christian myth — creation, noah, et c — in third grade (2nd grade is saints and stuff — francis, e g). Then it’s ancient greek and roman mythology and norse mythology in the years after.

  4. In contrast, historian Stephen Greenblatt has just published: ‘The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began’, reviewed here by Ian Thomson in the Independent:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-swerve-how-the-renaissance-began-by-stephen-greenblatt-2362956.html

    Greenblatt celebrates the discovery of ‘On the Nature of Things’ by the Latin poet Lucretius:

    “Thanks to the poem’s reappearance, European civilisation was made to “swerve” away from the religiosity of the Christian Middle Ages into a worldview that we recognise as our irreligious own. Souls do not exist, according to Lucretius; there is no afterlife: live, then, for the present moment. From this godless materialism it was a short step, argues Greenblatt, to the “devastating disbelief” expressed in Diderot, Hume and other Enlightenment figures”

    Ian Thomson suggests Greenblatt exaggerates the importance of Lucretius, but it’s all highly interesting.

    Personally I think teaching history as ‘a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision and, with it, the awakening of independent ego awareness and materialism.’ is one possible (if eccentric) way of looking at things, but highly misleading if that’s the only way. When I see, in addition:

    ‘The teacher is guided to a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics, and shows how the ancient world points the way to the future.” I see how confusing things could become. After all, Greenblatt describes how the ancient world certainly could point the way to the future, in a far more positive way than by encouraging a retreat into a fog filled with archangels and nature spirits.

    Ofsted take note: give these schools money and you will need to sit in on a few history classes. Although you may mistake them for infant theology.

  5. My children were taught lots of mythology too, in ordinary schools. We are very keen on it in this house (not hard to guess!) and we are all the richer for it. But I don’t know about my offsprings’ spiritual life, whatever that means, it’s entirely their own business.

  6. speaking of which, I just found this prospective waldorf teacher in my rss-feed.

    fpdorchak.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/paul-helfrich-ph-d-interview-a-new-world-view/

    ‘My interest in Integral Psychology led me to earn a Level III Spiral Dynamics certification (2003)and Integral Certificate from Fielding Graduate University (2007). I’ve authored essays, presented workshops, and lectured nationally on the Seth Material, the channeling phenomenon, and Integral Psychology. I’m currently working on my Waldorf Teacher certification through the Waldorf Institute of Southern California.’

    Why not add a few modern myths too…

  7. Roger is too good, I can’t keep up with his site. Here he is today on sciences:

    “The physics and chemistry teachers at Waldorf schools face “a formidable task” because they must be true to Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, but these are at odds with the findings of modern science. Steiner himself disparaged scientists and modern science, including physics and chemistry. [See “Steiner’s ‘Science’”.] Thus, science teachers at Waldorf schools confront a daily dilemma. If they teach their sciences straight, they violate Steiner’s doctrines. But if they are faithful to Steiner, they must violate the established truths of their sciences. How they resolve this dilemma varies from school to school. The main point for us to grasp is that the dilemma exists. Waldorf teachers must bend modern scientific knowledge to one degree or another, since they cannot “morally be present in the school” unless they are devoted followers of Rudolf Steiner. Therefore, “morally,” they must misrepresent the truth about physical reality; they must be false to science in order to be true to Steiner. Inevitably, the education of their students suffers as a result. To the degree that scientific truths are shaded to conform to Anthroposophical doctrines, students are taught Anthroposophy, not science.”

    Links refer to other parts of his site of course and can be found here: http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/news-2

  8. Thanks for the heads-up. I don’t know how bad it is — I was very behind in science when I transferred to another non-waldorf school (but I was still only between 6th/7th grade, I gather the problems might be worse a few years later) — but this is why students must be tested, to ensure that they’re learning and that schools achieve some basic level and quality (at least).

  9. “I’m currently working on my Waldorf Teacher certification through the Waldorf Institute of Southern California.’

    That’s Highland Hall, BTW. I just can’t wait to see a nice blend of the Seth material with Steiner… I’d love to be a fly on the wall. Who knows, maybe person will channel Steiner at some point. We need answers!!!

  10. If they’d finally manage to channel Steiner, what a relief. I’m the only one he has to talk to at the moment, and, as you know, he’s talkative. Says he doesn’t want to talk with them anymore though ;-)

    Yep, the Seth stuff would be a smashing addition.

  11. ‘Waldorf teachers must bend modern scientific knowledge to one degree or another, since they cannot “morally be present in the school” unless they are devoted followers of Rudolf Steiner.’

    This is absurd. Steiner fully accepted the findings of the science of his day. He studied the science of his day very seriously. Steiner felt he had to ‘get inside the dragon’s skin’. But he wanted to say that science cannot explain everything, that there are realms of human experience that can’t be explained scientifically. There are many people who would agree with this, some of them scientists..

    Most Steiner schools employ science teachers who they think will be good at teaching science, for the simple reason that in most Steiner schools the students still sit public exams.

    There are some crazies teaching in Steiner schools and of course there are some poor science teachers. But it was not and is not so at my children’s school. In the last few years ex-students I know personally have gained PhD in science (High Energy Physics, Biochemistry). From my daughter’s class alone came a doctor and a psychiatrist.. My friend’s son has just got a first class degree in Physics. I find it hard to believe that it is the only Steiner school teaching science well.

    It seems to me that just as most children learn that fiction is not the same as fact, they also learn that mythology is not history and that woo is not science; unless they can’t think for themselves. I know of no evidence that would suggest that Steiner pupils are less good at thinking for themselves than students who attend any other kind of ideology driven school (for example a faith school or english public school).

  12. Pete K — a match made in heaven… the perfect wedding between nonsense and delusion.

    falk — ‘Steiner fully accepted the findings of the science of his day.’

    Well, he did, but he also made up his own scientific findings. In any case, he may have accepted the findings of the science of his day (not everything — he wasn’t so eager for some things, I don’t remember now, the germ theory?), but do present day waldorf teachers hold Steiner higher than the science of their (our) day? Scientific knowledge has progressed since. And I suspect — fear — that they feel too much reverence for Steiner to be critical of his knowledge (which may well, even if not always, have been up-to-date when he lived).

    ‘But he wanted to say that science cannot explain everything, that there are realms of human experience that can’t be explained scientifically. There are many people who would agree with this, some of them scientists..’

    I agree. Not knowing what of the stuff we (or I) don’t understand that is explainable, in theory, and what can never be explained. We can’t know now what the gaps of scientific knowledge will be in the future.

    ‘Most Steiner schools employ science teachers who they think will be good at teaching science, for the simple reason that in most Steiner schools the students still sit public exams.’

    Unfortunately, many of them opt out — don’t they? I know too little about the UK situation though. But in Sweden there are (or have not been) any such science exams that the waldorf schools have been required to participate in. To my knowledge.

    I have a hunch that in countries where waldorf schools prepare the students for public and obligatory exams — in particular exams that determine the students ability to graduate and go to uni –, the situation is somewhat better.

    I didn’t have any science education at all. Well, we had a block teaching period with physics — we draw fire, water, et c, ie, the for elements. It’s all I can remember. It was totally inadequate. We had biology with an arts teacher — we painted butterflies and copied a poem.

    ‘It seems to me that just as most children learn that fiction is not the same as fact, they also learn that mythology is not history and that woo is not science;’

    That’s true — they do. And lots of learning takes place outside school. One must not forget that many waldorf children come from privileged homes where there’s literature and education and so forth (I’m not sure this is so much the case anymore in Sweden — waldorf schools are not so popular anymore when there are other publicly funded options). Which is why waldorf schools don’t fail more spectacularly than they do.

    I read one new inspection report from the national school inspection today. It said that in one particular waldorf school (in Gothenburg) only 26,7% of the students met the national goals in all subjects. Compared to 76,7% for all schools nation-wide. That’s really bad.

    And I suspect some faith schools are probably worse than waldorf schools, so yes… I wouldn’t expect the bretheren or the pentecostals or the muslims to foster lots of critical thinking re their own religion in their schools. And since they cater only to a small group of people with the same beliefs, it makes these schools even worse — they’re possibly more secluded.

  13. Falk wrote:

    ‘I know of no evidence that would suggest that Steiner pupils are less good at thinking for themselves than students who attend any other kind of ideology driven school (for example a faith school or english public school)’

    I think except in extreme cases (as Alicia mentions above) it’s to do with individuals – some children are better than others at thinking for themselves wherever they are, depending on family, personality, circumstance.

    British public schools do have an ideology in some ways not so different to Waldorf: they consider they are superior to other schools. Plus in both cases the parents pay money to keep their children away from the hoi polloi. But the team sports are far better at Wellington and Eton and their pedagogy is not informed by the wild fantasies of a dead occultist. This is a significant difference and is reflected in the fees.

  14. Science and Steiner’s mysticism are mutually exclusive; his belief in all things supernatural means he could not possibly believe in the science of his day – even if he claimed he did. Furthermore, self delusion is no excuse. Perhaps Steiner was not deluded? Why then, he was dishonest. There is one further possibility, he was intellectually incapable of rational thought.

  15. I’ve been doing a little bit of research on science teaching in Steiner schools. It’s hard to find out what’s actually in going on in the classroom, so it would be interesting to hear of more personal experiences. Most of what I’ve learned has been from “The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum”, the book by Richter and Rawson that is used as the basis for the curriculum in most UK Steiner schools. I’m generally a bit UK-centric in what follows.

    falk: “[Steiner] wanted to say that science cannot explain everything, that there are realms of human experience that can’t be explained scientifically. There are many people who would agree with this, some of them scientists.”

    Undoubtedly. Steiner schools would claim that they teach children to be critical thinkers, to not believe everything they’re told but rather to find out for themselves. “Science starts with observation of the world” is a good advert for the Goethean approach favoured by Steiner. As with everything else, this sounds superficially attractive. Unfortunately, science teaching in Steiner schools doesn’t really seem to get going properly until Upper School (ages 14-16) which is when Steiner decreed that students are capable of rational thought. Before then, it often stops at the observation stage, with Alicia’s butterfly paintings etc. (Many Steiner schools don’t have an Upper School, so the science teaching might never get beyond this.)

    falk: “…in most Steiner schools the students still sit public exams.”

    Sadly, in science the picture is very patchy. Of the 12 UK Steiner schools with classes to the age of 16, only 5 schools offer science GCSEs to a level equivalent to the National Curriculum (i.e. science+additional science or biology, chemistry & physics individually). Without extra coaching, I claim that less than that wouldn’t be adequate preparation for A-levels and University entrance.

    Much more disturbing is the curriculum airtime Richter & Rawson recommend giving to homeopathy, the out-dated “Victorian ethics” of Darwinian evolution, the inadequacies of germ theory & the idea of the heart as a pump and the value of childhood disease. None of which will be surprising to anybody who has read their Steiner. I would be very happy to hear that this does not filter through to the classroom.

  16. ‘I know of no evidence that would suggest that Steiner pupils are less good at thinking for themselves than students who attend any other kind of ideology driven school (for example a faith school or english public school)’

    Falk, the evidence is that Anthroposophy continues to thrive and that the teachers, parents and children associated with Steiner schools often believe in all sorts of irrational mumbo-jumbo and are unwilling to apply rational skepticism to their belief system; they lack the quality of self criticism and will not engage positively with those who disagree with them. Certain types of social discourse -particularly what one might call cultural analysis – seem a closed book to their supporters. Have a look at some of the ‘arguments’ put forward in support of Steiner and they mostly amount to attacks on the value of rationality (ie, communication). So are Steiner pupils less good at thinking? If one assumes rationality to be of no value, maybe not.

  17. or,

    “The muscular system and the digestive metabolic system stand out as the primary biological basis for our “will”.”

    from: http://waldorfanswers.org/heart.htm

    It would be good if some biologists could explain many more of the extraordinary claims that Steiner’s ‘science’ has made. Sune, please reference some peer-reviewed scientific evidence for the two claims made above. If you can’t I’ll assume that, as a believer in science, you will change your opinion and agree with me that Steiner’s ‘science’ is not scientific.

  18. I understand your wish for me to reference what I write with peer-reviewed scientific evidence. Approaching the statements from such a perspective regrettably so far is uncommon and such evidence only refers to details of it so far, like what is described at http://waldorfanswers.org/Heartnotes.htm

    To understand this, one needs to understand the roots of and relation between the two different types of approaches to research in the physicalistic and the more Aristotelean-anthroposophical tradition.

    For a possible description of the the roots of “natural science”, and of “spiritual science” as it comes to expression in anthroposophy, as two special cases of the more general concept “Science” from the perspective of the Philosophy or Science, see http://thebee.se/SCIENCE/Science.htm

    Without such a more general perspective on the concept “Science”, it stands out as difficult to sort things out.and decide ti what extent anthroposophy, as developed by Steiner, can be called or described as scientifically based.

    The very short overview of the concept does not go into such issues as how to come to or develop “knowledge” in the two traditions, developing it in going back and forth between observations of of individual instances of events or phenomena and more general concepts.

    Present day natural science generally follows the hypothetical-deductive method by assuming that you don’t know basically anything about what you want to investigate beyond what is “known” and demands that you only take small steps in terms of formulating hypothesis’ that you then use some form of experimental setup to check if it can be confirmed (of falsified since Popper) to enlarge the field of what is “known” by incorporating what with some certainty seems to be confirmed in a number of experiments into it.

    The “Spiritual scientific tradition” does not use this method, but at least in the beginning takes much larger and broader steps in a slower and different way from observations to more general concepts, where Steiner termed the steps beyond the basic sorting out of concepts regarding “empirical phenomena”, “scientific phenomena” and “Ur-phenomena” in the Goethean sense “Imagination”, “inspiration” and “intuition”.

    While the first tradition is based on a mistrust of human observation as filled with actual and potential errors, and works to develop knowledge by using instrumental observations external to man as starting point, the second tradition incorporates “man” in the research process by working to make human observations as objective as possible, as a basis for the thoughts developed out of the observations, which in turn necessitates that you develop them in an as objective way as possible, which means letting them grow and develop over time.

    This just as some short hints about the process.. I’ve commented some more on it in some comments on the article by Sven-Ove Hansson from 1991 on the issue “Is Anthroposophy Science” – http://thebee.se/comments/Hansson-commented.htm

    But these are just some short comments on this, as far as I’m aware of (I have not followed it for long) very little explored field from a Philosophy of Science perspective, even if there are some basic works on it.

  19. Sune: ‘Approaching the statements from such a perspective regrettably so far is uncommon’

    … which means it’s not the established scientific perspective. Although it’s up to the individual to pursue this, I can’t help but think it’s not exactly relevant to children’s science lessons.

    Imagination, inspiration and intuition are good things — even though we might conclude that Steiner’s use of these words differs from ordinary language — but I don’t see why there’s a need to insist on the scientific quality of these processes/methods.

    ‘While the first tradition is based on a mistrust of human observation as filled with actual and potential errors…’

    Well, human observation is error prone. It comes with the territory of being human.

  20. Btw, thanks Nick and Mark for commenting!

    On the topic of sciencyness I’ll repost a comment I posted on a Swedish blog yesterday. It adds nothing riveting anyway, so you might disregard it. It’s in Swedish anyway.

  21. Mark H wrote: “I’ve been doing a little bit of research on science teaching in Steiner schools. It’s hard to find out what’s actually in going on in the classroom, so it would be interesting to hear of more personal experiences. ”

    OK… Highland Hall Waldorf School – which is also the campus for the Waldorf Institute of Southern California (Waldorf teacher training center) – taught my son that *the blood of people in Europe is more evolved than the blood of people in Africa and Asia.* When I questioned them about the racist implications of this lesson – in detail over several meetings – they DEFENDED the lesson (I have documented this of course). To this day, they CONTINUE to defend the lesson. Why? Because they truly believe it isn’t racist to imply white people are “more evolved” than other races. This is PURE Anthroposophy – and it is being taught to children in Waldorf schools TODAY! Again, Highland Hall hosts the WALDORF TEACHER TRAINING CENTER. Waldorf teachers are taught that Steiner’s racism represents “science”. Do they mention this in “Why Waldorf Works?”

  22. Pete K,
    that’s utterly shocking but, on the other hand, also what one might expect. The trajedy is that most fans of Anthroposophy I have met do not recognise their own racism. I’ve noticed this in the Green movement too – all the blood and soil and sense of place of super-localism.

  23. I wrote:

    ‘but I don’t see why there’s a need to insist on the scientific quality of these processes/methods.’

    By which I mean, the use of them as a basis for arriving at scientific knowledge, scientifically valid results. If it means disregarding standard scientific procedures.

  24. Alicia, thank you, you’re very welcome; more thanks to you for maintaining this blog – I don’t know how you manage to produce so much interesting work.

  25. It’s the same old anthroposophical clap trap. Because we are not devotees of this cult, how could we the “unenlightened” have an inkling of what sune is talking about? I use this attitude as a kind barometer that reads the ‘shit’ level of a statement (please excuse the profanity). My initial idea was to tell sune to turn down the ‘shit’ knob on his stereo/radio.

  26. Thanks Nick. Unfortunately, racism taught to my kids as science is only the tip of the iceberg of the problems I’ve had with Highland Hall. I’m occasionally contacted by parents (usually fathers) who are experiencing the same types of behavior I have experienced at Highland Hall – with regard to an intention to separate them from their own kids. While I don’t think this is exclusive to WISC graduates, so far, there has been a connection to Highland Hall in each case I’ve encountered – even when the problematic school is across the country. It may just be that people find me through my connection to Highland Hall, but I think a detailed investigation of Highland Hall and WISC, their training facility, would be a worthwhile task for critics and advocates of Waldorf alike. If they are producing unWaldorf-like graduates, somebody needs to step in. If they are promoting, as Steiner did, the separation of parent from child (as they did specifically in my case) – then there are laws against this and they should be held accountable… in my view.

  27. All of the talk about science etc and how and what they teach is pretty irrelevant when talking about Steiner schools. Their mode of education is for education of the soul for reincarnation rather than education of the child for adult life. While this is intrinsic within anthroposophy, and there really is no way around it, they won’t care whatsoever about either the accuracy of their science teaching, whether children read and write at an appropriate age or not, whether they catch measles and die, or whether they are able to function as adults in the real world.

  28. I find the comments by MarkH most interesting for he has based what he says on research he has carried out. Otherwise many of the comments here are based on assumptions and speculations.

    For example, Nick says, ‘Science and Steiner’s mysticism are mutually exclusive; his belief in all things supernatural means he could not possibly believe in the science of his day..’ There is no logical contradiction between believing, for example, the Darwinian view of the development of the human being and also believing that this evolutionary development was intended or set in motion by spiritual beings. It is not logically impossible to believe that the structure of matter is as physicists say it is and to believe that it is so willed by the gods.

    Esther Fidler says, ‘ Their mode of education is for education of the soul for reincarnation rather than education of the child for adult life.’ This does not match the aims of Waldorf education as set out by Steiner, which were precisely to prepare children for adult life.

    Sune’s grammar is so bad it is hard to understand precisely what he is trying to say but it does seem to me he is at least suggesting that there may be room for imagination, intuition and inspiration in science. This does not seem to to be so remarkable. How could Einstein have taken the tremendous leap from Newton’s theory of gravity without imagination and inspiration? He had no large Hadron Collider to help him. It was all done by thinking about observations made by the human eye and all confirmed (or potentially disproved) by such observations. Similarly with Planck and the quantum theory.

    Pete K seems to be facing a particularly difficult situation with malign racist teachings going on at Highland Hall. All I can say is that I have never met a Steiner teacher in England who subscribed to such pernicious rubbish.

  29. Falk: “There is no logical contradiction between believing, for example, the Darwinian view of the development of the human being and also believing that this evolutionary development was intended or set in motion by spiritual beings.”

    Yes there is. If you don’t see the contradiction, you have not understood how science works.

  30. Studying how Darwinian evolution is thought to actually work will usually clear up this misperception. I don’t know if it’s utterly impossible to logically believe both, but I do suspect that most people who claim this have either never read, or failed to understand, a basic account of Darwin’s theories. One hint: he wasn’t terribly preoccupied with “the development of the human.” Humans aren’t central. The Darwinian perspective conflicts irreconcilably with any notion that humans are at the center of some cosmic plan. Claiming you believe both means you are giving lip service to one or the other; Waldorf teachers do it to soothe parents who are having concerns about the science curriculum. What they generally believe has NOTHING to do with Darwin.

  31. Nick’s last comment implies many presuppositions about ‘how science works’. There have been and are many successful scientists who have held religious or ‘mystical’ beliefs and found them no hindrance to being able to do their work.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_thinkers_in_science

    Diane’s comment contains an unsupported statement about ‘what Waldorf teachers believe’, and an unprovable assertion,’Claiming you believe both means you are giving lip service to one or the other.’

  32. Perhaps a significant thing to remember is that evolution tells us how life (incl humans) evolved. Not how life initially appeared.

    ‘This does not match the aims of Waldorf education as set out by Steiner, which were precisely to prepare children for adult life.’

    And to assist their spiritual development.

    ‘it does seem to me he is at least suggesting that there may be room for imagination, intuition and inspiration in science. This does not seem to to be so remarkable.’

    No. It’s just that to be scientifically valid, it can’t stop there.

  33. it’s an anthroposophical version of Intelligent Design then? We need to make that very clear to the Secretary of State.

    Yes, that’s an important point, Diana – ‘Humans aren’t central’.

    As for ‘believing that this evolutionary development was intended or set in motion by spiritual beings.” you know, we can’t rule anything out. Even Richard Dawkins admits, in this article in the Daily Nation:

    “It’s highly plausible that in the universe there are God-like creatures.”

    He raises his hand, just in case a reader thinks he’s gone around a religious bend. “It’s very important to understand that these gods came into being by an explicable scientific progression of incremental evolution.”

    Could they be immortal? The professor shrugs.

    “Probably not.” He smiles and adds, “But I wouldn’t want to be too dogmatic about that.”

    http://www.nation.co.ke/News/The+worlds+most+influential+biologist+/-/1056/1245800/-/item/4/-/gns15y/-/index.html

    I like to imagine Archangels evolving, perhaps from large bat-like dinosaurs.

  34. ‘it’s an anthroposophical version of Intelligent Design then? We need to make that very clear to the Secretary of State. ‘
    What Thetis says here is true. But is that so unusual? Isn’t it true, for example, in catholic schools? They will teach evolution in the science lesson and intelligent design in the religion lesson.
    And yes, Archangels do evolve in Steiner’s cosmology.
    ‘And to assist their spiritual development.’
    You will find that also in the English National Curriculum.

  35. At Highland Hall, my son’s work was discounted because he DIDN’T consider intelligent design as a possibility. He was accused of “limiting” his thinking by not entertaining the possibility that God (or for that matter, the “flying spaghetti monster”) started things in motion (same racist science teacher BTW).

    Falk wrote: “Pete K seems to be facing a particularly difficult situation with malign racist teachings going on at Highland Hall. All I can say is that I have never met a Steiner teacher in England who subscribed to such pernicious rubbish.”

    Falk’s personal experience notwithstanding… all I can say is that EVERY Steiner teacher I’ve ever met subscribes to EXACTLY that pernicious rubbish. That “pernicious rubbish” is TAUGHT to them at Waldorf teacher training. Why? It’s BASIC Anthroposophy. It’s what they’re in teacher training for. Remember, this wasn’t one teacher teaching a bad lesson plan… the ENTIRE SCHOOL supported the lesson plan when I questioned it. It is BASIC to Waldorf… and part of what they teach children… again, Falk’s personal experience notwithstanding.

  36. yes, but Steiner schools don’t teach anthroposophy to the children, apparently. Or perhaps that’s not true? Perhaps everything they teach is informed by anthroposophy? Including ‘science’ – or in reality – not really science (unless it’s essential to teach to the exam) but their version of intelligent design. And perhaps Steiner schools should be honest with the children, about anthroposophy?

    Don’t you owe them that? Do you think it’s right to lie to children?

  37. Pete – missed your comment.

    It’s extraordinary – the course materials of every Steiner Waldorf teacher training course, the bonkers books, the disturbingly confident self-declared experts.. all bear out what you say.

  38. My friend went to a steiner school and then went onto study biochemistry and marine biology at university. Whilst there she won the gold medal for science 2 years in row so I think we can safely assume that her grounding in science from a steiner school was good, solid and “correct”

  39. “there may be room for imagination, intuition and inspiration in science.”

    Just pausing here to note that these three terms are special concepts in anthroposophy. I’m quite sure we all agree there is room for imagination, intuition and inspiration in science. But there is little room for the anthroposophical Imagination, Intuition, and Inspiration in science. (Which I presume is what Falk is referring to, without cluing in his readers as to his esoteric meaning.)

  40. Falk:

    “Diane’s comment contains an unsupported statement about ‘what Waldorf teachers believe’,”

    Yes, that needs correction. I refer to Waldorf teachers who believe the things they were taught in their training; Waldorf teachers who are anthroposophists, in other words. These are the people that the Waldorf schools seek to hire. Definitely there are Waldorf teachers who buck their training or deviate from anthroposophy; they often don’t last long.

    Overall your comment would amount to backing off your earlier claims. If the claim is just that the teachers don’t actually believe what they’ve been taught in their training, that’s an interesting assertion in itself, and seems to be an acknowledgment that outside the cult, no one wants their kids taught this stuff, so now let’s pretend they’re not teaching it after all.

    This is a familiar confused, two-pronged defense from an anthroposophist: 1) What Steiner taught is good, right, true, scientifically valid etc. 2) And anyway, the teachers don’t teach what Steiner taught.

    There are indeed Waldorf teachers who quietly teach Darwinian evolution. If zealous anthropops are running the school, however, they have to fear for their jobs. And prospective parents will have to do some digging to figure out what is going on at the school. This is a bit unreasonable; much more reasonable would be for the school to advertise their religious teachings openly, so that parents do not have to “research” which teachers might be true-blue anthropops and which ones, if any, think for themselves.

    I always say to prospective Waldorf parents, it’s a shame to be investigating a school for your kids and have to ask how many teachers DON’T agree with the philosophy and the principles, and DON’T follow their training. Why not pick a school where you agree with the philosophy, so that it’s a good thing if the teachers are following the philosophy?

    “and an unprovable assertion,’Claiming you believe both means you are giving lip service to one or the other.’”

    No, that’s not an unprovable assertion. The two systems of thought are explicitly opposed. There is nothing for me to prove to you there. Read some Steiner, and then read some Darwin. A person who claims they adhere firmly to both, at the same time, either doesn’t understand them or is lying, or fooling themselves.

  41. “My friend went to a steiner school and then went onto study biochemistry and marine biology at university. Whilst there she won the gold medal for science 2 years in row so I think we can safely assume that her grounding in science from a steiner school was good, solid and “correct””

    Science relies on reproducible phenomenon… ;)

  42. Steiner accepted the processes of natural selection and survival of the fittest in Darwin’s theory, he added his own revelations as regards the fundamental purposes of evolution.
    There were aspects of Darwin that he disagreed with, for example that we are descended from apes but as yet this latter remains an unproven aspect of Darwin’s corpus.
    Diana speaks as if it as a matter of slavish adherence to Darwin or Steiner. Darwin’s theory remains a theory. Either more facts will accumulate showing it to be the best fit theory or facts will show that it is inadequate, either in total(unlikely)or in specific areas. (Likely)
    Fortunately I live in a country where I don’t have to slavishly adhere to any ideology, whether it be Steinerism, , free-market capitalism, socialism, or any other ‘ism’ (excepting Canineism of course) I can think for my self. I can see that Steiner got somethings wrong. I can understand and appreciate the contribution of medical science to human well-being. But I can also understand that people find things healing that are not accounted for by medical science. So far I live in a country were people can still make the choice.

  43. Falk:

    “Steiner accepted the processes of natural selection and survival of the fittest in Darwin’s theory, he added his own revelations as regards the fundamental purposes of evolution.”

    Another way to put that is that Steiner did not understand Darwin’s theory. It’s also incorrect on the factual level. Steiner actively rejected and ridiculed much of Darwin, he did not by any means “accept” Darwin’s description of these processes.

    “There were aspects of Darwin that he disagreed with, for example that we are descended from apes”

    Again, a misunderstanding. We aren’t actually descended from apes. These comments suggest you have no more than a very vague understanding of Darwinism probably drawn from superficial accounts in popular sources.

    “but as yet this latter remains an unproven aspect of Darwin’s corpus. Diana speaks as if it as a matter of slavish adherence to Darwin or Steiner. Darwin’s theory remains a theory.”

    This is a standard line from opponents of Darwinism: “it’s just a theory.” It usually indicates the speaker does not even know what a theory is. Those who have had poor science education have a mistaken notion that calling something a “theory” is a good way of dismissing it, or suggests that there are other theories out there that are equally plausible or that also have persuasive evidence backing them up. Regarding Darwinism, that is not the case.

    In schools, children should be taught the theory that the evidence backs up, and taught *why* the evidence backs it up. Other theories that are far less plausible, or even laughable, or that have been discredited can be taught if it is clear that the evidence does not back them up. It is very widely reported from Steiner schools that kids are encouraged to believe that other theories, like “intelligent design,” are equally respectable. Scientifically, they are not. To present nonsense like Steiner’s as a “revelation” equal in importance scientifically to Darwin is preposterous and inexcusable in an educational establishment. Should never happen.

    Now why do I suspect you’ll just try to tell me they DON’T teach the other stuff?

  44. “But I can also understand that people find things healing that are not accounted for by medical science. So far I live in a country were people can still make the choice.”

    Huh? Do you hear someone suggesting people not be allowed to find things healing that are not accounted for by medical science? We’re talking about what is taught in schools; not what people are “allowed” to find healing. Fear mongering is not helpful.

  45. Falk: “Darwin’s theory remains a theory. Either more facts will accumulate showing it to be the best fit theory or facts will show that it is inadequate..”

    Please Falk, read some science and read some history of science – the evidence is clear.

    I think there is a categorical confusion in your assumptions about what a scientist might believe and what is and isn’t compatible in scientific thinking. Even though some scientists (a small percentage compared to the general population) are religious believers, they would be the first to tell you that any suggestion that divine or supernatural agencies might intervene to change the material world as it is now would invalidate any experiment ever devised.

    The methods of science are thus utterly incompatible with a belief in the supernatural. This personal problem is solved by religious scientists by a simple act of self-criticism and mental discipline; they pretend they are non-believers when doing science or decide that God (or insert supernatural force here) does not intervene in scientific experiment. If one says to them, “well, that’s cheating isn’t it?” they tend to agree and say something like “yes, but it’s how I live with my irrational belief.” It is highly unusual for a scientist to deny the incompatibility itself.

    A good example of that is to be found in an interview between Richard Dawkins and George Coyne in which Coyne , in Part 1 of the interview, starts by talking about the limits to science and takes, approximately, the position you (Falk) have taken thus far. But though he says he is not ‘schizophrenic’ (sic. in Part two) about it, he does, by the time we get to the end of part 2 and start of part 3, begin to entirely separate science from religion. And, though Coyne is at pains to say his religion and his science are coherent, he spends a huge amount of time being specific about how the Catholic Church and its members go about separating out the science from the belief. Coyne is also roundly dismissive of “intelligent design” (Parts 3 and 4) and says that God has to be kept out of science (part 4, about 5 and a half minutes in). http://richarddawkins.net/videos/3410-richard-dawkins-interviews-father-george-coyne

  46. Wikipedia describes Lucretius, who did not think he had a soul, but that Thetis praises, and who maybe not completely lacks similarities with him, though hopefully not, like him, committing suicide in her middle age.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucretius

    He was “driven mad by a love potion, and wrote his poetry in between fits of insanity, eventually committing suicide in middle age”.

  47. Good evening, Sune. (There’s something off with the blog’s anti-spam system today — your comment is the second being designated ‘spam’ for no obvious reason.)

    That’s a rather odd comment, I must say. Driven mad by a love potion? Lovely poetry though.

    Edit: Speaking of your other link (signature), Sune, and Thetis utter madness:
    https://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/utterly-mad/

  48. Sune – those stories about Lucretius aren’t true, they were invented later by those who wanted his work and his ideas to disappear. Wiki is not the best source – obviously edited by monks. Little buggers. No one knows anything for certain about Lucretius.

  49. It’s a thought though – the monks were like zealots on wiki, making up stories about long dead subversive ancients and repeating them until everyone believes it must be the truth. And it still matters, about Lucretius.

  50. It’s true — nothing is known for certain about Lucretius. Lucretius was a favourite of mine when I took latin in school.

    This could apply to anthroposophists:
    Subdola cum ridet placidi pellacia ponti.

    (I don’t like the english translation; the swedish is much more poetic.)

  51. Nick says, ‘they would be the first to tell you that any suggestion that divine or supernatural agencies might intervene to change the material world as it is now would invalidate any experiment ever devised.’ But what I believe is that the spirtitual beings created the universe we live in just this way, so that we have consistency in our perceptions and when we exercise our will it has real consequences. I do not believe in a God who would destroy or interfere with the fundamental laws of the universe.
    I have read science, history of science and philosophy of science, Popper was my special study at university. All scientific knowledge consists of best-fit theories waiting to be overturned by conflicting evidence – witness the neutrino hoohah this last week. When science departs from this model it becomes dogma – as happened in the Soviet Union in Stalin’s era. Orthodoxy suffocates creative scientists.
    I do not belittle Darwin by saying, ‘Darwin’s theory remains a theory.’ He was an honourable man and a good scientist. He would have understood what I meant.

  52. A ‘theory’ is as far as you can get. That’s the step after ‘hypothesis’. So it’s certainly not a belittlement of Darwin to say that his theory was a theory. That is what it was. Often people use the word ‘theory’ in weird ways though, saying things like ‘oh, it’s just a theory’.

    Hello Sune — why do you think it matters? Perhaps Thetis is the reincarnation of Lucretius. Would it make a difference? You know what I think, though? You talking about yourself instead of obsessing about other people — and trivial things pertaining to them as persons — would be far more interesting.

    Also, I’m not sure about the strength of your argumentation(s).

  53. “Also, I’m not sure about the strength of your argumentation(s).”

    Actually… I’m not sure we shouldn’t examine those more closely. I’m a little foggy on this… but as I remember it, Sune began his lawsuit threats on Mumsnet when I started publicly taking apart his website’s “myths”.

    I’m curious about this “Ed. comment” on your website: http://www.waldorfanswers.com/ARacistMyth.htm
    “In regard to present humanity … it no longer makes sense to speak simply of the development of the races. In the true sense of the word this development of the races applies only to the Atlantean epoch [Tertiary and Quaternary time in Steiner’s view. Ed. comment.]… External physiognomies then differed so greatly that one could actually speak of different forms … In our own epoch the concept of race will gradually disappear along with all the differences that are relics of earlier times. Thus everything that exists today in connection with the [different] races are relics of the differentiation that took place in Atlantean [Tertiary and Quaternary] times. We can still speak of races but only in the sense that the real concept of races is losing its validity.”

    When did Steiner describe the Atlantean epoch in terms of “Tertiary and Quaternary”? You have added this information in as if it’s scientific validation for his comments… have you any evidence that this is what Steiner was referring to? Maybe something on Wikipedia perhaps?

  54. At least Steiner thought Lucretius had ‘perfect artistic form’:

    ‘This view of life found numerous followers in later antiquity,
    especially among Roman gentlemen of cultural aspiration. The Roman
    poet, T. Lucretius Carus (95 – 52 B.C.), has expressed it in perfect
    artistic form in his poem, De Rerum Natura.’

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA018/English/AP1973/GA018_p01c02.html

    That’s not so bad!

    No wonder Thetis is so talented, if she’s Lucretius’s reincarnation! ‘Perfect artistic form’. Oh yes!

  55. Sune:

    “You’re the probably main anti-Steiner zealot in the UK, Thetis, whose argumentation really is weak in comparison with your fanaticism in pursuing it. Why do you refuse to reveal your so far occult identity, ”

    Speaking of poor argumentation, that’s what’s known as an ad hominem argument, Sune.

  56. well, I don’t read links to sites written by trolls any more than I read the tabloids or ‘Hello’ Magazine, and I think for spiteful screeds to mean anything to anyone else the subject needs to be at least ‘c’ list. I am nobody important, avatar or not.

    But both Pete and wiremuhaua are examining Sune’s many extraordinary pages. Their creator best attend to some housework.

  57. Roger is quite capable of commenting himself but since he wrote this rather appropriate piece over on his site – where it gets archived and harder to find, I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote it here. Roger grew up with anthroposophists, I encountered them later. He knows his anthropops better than I do, but I recognise this description, I think we all do:

    “What is “the anthroposophical personality”? To generalize: There is a layer of sweetness. Anthroposophists believe in angels and fairies and living spirits in the heavens and earth. But there is also smugness, a sense of superiority — Anthroposophists think they know more than anyone else about almost everything (and what they don’t know isn’t worth knowing). There are traces of pseudo-intellectualism: Anthroposophy is a complex system; adherents read brain-jarring tomes by Rudolf Steiner and others, and they develop intricate rationalizations to support what they read. There is inflexibility. Anthroposophy is The Truth, and anyone who assails it is probably demonic, while anyone who leaves the fold is beneath notice, having chosen The False. There is a countercultural inclination, a certain rebelliousness: Authorities are distrusted while the inviolable authority of the Self is affirmed. Overall, the Anthroposophical personality is defined by delusion. Believing that the heart is truer than the brain, Anthroposophists think that what they feel must be true. Believing in clairvoyance or “higher consciousness,” Anthroposophists think that what they sense must be true. And thus rationality withers. Believing only what they wish to believe, Anthroposophists cut themselves off more and more from reality, they become more and more remote, and more and more defensive (because, despite their determined efforts, a shadow of doubt haunts the Anthroposophical night). ”

    On this thread there’s been an admission that Steiner schools teach a form of intelligent design. That’s born out by personal experience, I might add, although that addition is anecdotal.

    Evolution is not just a theory, it’s a fact. ‘There is no longer a doubt in any serious mind’, says Dawkins – who Nick rightly asks Falk to watch (above), although Dawkins is far from alone, just more famous than most biologists (and a very good communicator).

    Steiner Waldorf teachers who have convinced themselves this isn’t the case, that evolution is ‘just a theory’, are like naughty children sticking their tongues out at ‘authority’. They’re missing a trick though; looking sulkily through the glass at the best party there is. Why fill children’s heads with twaddle when reality is so much more interesting? Why waste your lives chasing phantoms? Anthroposophists have (at least in my opinion) absolutely no reason for smugness – and a very great many reasons for humility.

  58. Thetis,
    Roger’s discription reminds me very much of how the ‘old colonial’ types of my childhood used to justify The Empire of their youth; particularly the idea of the natural superiority of the white northern European. As many of you know, it is that intrinsic tribalism and racism that drives my particular opposition to Steiner – more, I think, than Steiner’s abandonment of rationality; the two attitudes are of course intimately connected.

  59. Sorry for being so absent. I notice that Diana had already written about the theory-stuff — I had missed her comment.

    Falk:
    ‘‘And to assist their spiritual development.’
    You will find that also in the English National Curriculum.’

    Perhaps — but not in the same way. Not spiritual in the way anthroposophy conceives of it.

    Lindsey:
    ‘My friend went to a steiner school and then went onto study biochemistry and marine biology at university. Whilst there she won the gold medal for science 2 years in row so I think we can safely assume that her grounding in science from a steiner school was good, solid and “correct”’

    Ok. Nobody has claimed that no steiner students ever go on to study science. What we’re saying is that science teaching in steiner schools is not good or good enough.

    Lots of people are able to make up for deficits in their education. This applies in particular to students in Steiner schools — they come from relatively privileged home environments, educated homes, parents who can afford private tutoring, and so forth. There’s a social and probably genetic inheritance.

    Diana:
    ‘There are indeed Waldorf teachers who quietly teach Darwinian evolution. If zealous anthropops are running the school, however, they have to fear for their jobs. And prospective parents will have to do some digging to figure out what is going on at the school.’

    In Sweden, they don’t really have a choice but to teach evolution. In theory at least. What they do in reality is another matter.

    falk:
    ‘But what I believe is that the spirtitual beings created the universe we live in just this way, so that we have consistency in our perceptions and when we exercise our will it has real consequences.’

    Which is fine. But perhaps not a belief that is reasonable to include in science education in compulsory education.

    Pete: I notice that Sune still isn’t answering that question ;-) How about it, Sune?

    Thetis:
    ‘Why waste your lives chasing phantoms?’

    I can’t possibly tell mr Dog that some of those bunnies are phantoms… He would either be devastated or totally distrust me for all time to come.

  60. “Pete: I notice that Sune still isn’t answering that question ;-) How about it, Sune? ”

    Maybe he’s taking the advice attributed to one of our American Presidents – Abe Lincoln – who, it is claimed, said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”?

  61. Someone else we know of claimed he had to remain silent too, yet he managed to produce a collective works of massive proportions. Funny that…

  62. we all chase phantoms in our dreams.. but we don’t all twitch and yap. That takes superior spiritual powers.

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”
    well, he’s done that too. But lol.

  63. Not patrony, Thetis. I hanker after truth.
    Peter Geach (Professor of Philosophy at Leeds in the last century), when accused of hair-splitting, said, “Truth may lie half a hair’s breadth away.”

  64. If I had any evidence to disprove evolution I would put it out there, but it is not my need to disprove it. I just think evolution serves a spiritual purpose and for that idea there can be no question of proof or disproof.

  65. “I just think evolution serves a spiritual purpose and for that idea there can be no question of proof or disproof.”

    I can’t, for the life of me, see the need for evolution to serve a spiritual “purpose”. Where did this spiritual *purpose* come from? And what is it exactly… If you don’t mind my asking?

  66. Pete – that’s a great question, and not the first time mankind has asked it ;)

    Falk – if you hanker after truth, you don’t need to mind that evolution is a fact. There’s enough complexity within evolutionary theory to occupy you, though the world isn’t flat, and evolution is true. You can even have your archangels, but if they’re real they’re not supernatural, they’re not spiritual – they’re part of the natural world. Admitting to religion frees you from the demands of veracity.

    Finding the truth: painstakingly accumulating evidence. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Yes it’s an explanation – it’s the only plausible explanation – unless you have an alternative which is as compelling and you can take the scientific community with you.

    But what you’re really hankering after is something to substantiate spiritual science. Or whatever anthroposophy is this evening.

    It’s religious. Outside the scope of biology. Time to be honest with the children..

  67. Mankind, yes. But mankind is daft, says mr D. Caninekind is not. The spiritual purpose was to bring forth the yorkshire terrier.

    This fact is beyond dispute. According to mr D. Whom I always trust.

    (Sorry. It’s too late in the night here…)

  68. “The spiritual purpose was to bring forth the yorkshire terrier.”

    Ah, but that took the hand of man… (no ruffense intended).

  69. Diana writes:

    “Sune:

    “You’re the probably main anti-Steiner zealot in the UK, Thetis, whose argumentation really is weak in comparison with your fanaticism in pursuing it. Why do you refuse to reveal your so far occult identity, ”

    Speaking of poor argumentation, that’s what’s known as an ad hominem argument, Sune.”

    You’re wrong and miss the point. I don’t say or argue that Thetis’ argumentation is weak and not reliable because she is a fanatical anti-Steiner zealot, which would be an ad hominem argument in the proper sense.

    My argument is that Thetis, who argues against anthroposophy based on its alleged “occult”/secret nature (basically nothing of anthroposophy is occult in the sense non public/non published), refuses to reveal her so far secret/occult identity, in spite of being repeatedly asked about it.

    She’s the main public anti-Steiner crusader in the UK, yet insists on keeping her identity secret/occult.

    Normally you criticize people if they do that, and insist that people in discussions reveal their personal, secular identity. In this case you don’t but defend her secretive attitude.

    Some years ago, I used a pseudonym when I started to participate at Mumsnet, purely to try to get at least a short respite before I knew that the you WC-companeros would join in and jump on me in the discussion.

    Thetis has not described such a reason for not standing for what she writes as a person with her name, when asked about it. That’s contradictory in relation to her own insistence on openness from others, and irresponsible.

  70. “Normally you criticize people if they do that, and insist that people in discussions reveal their personal, secular identity”

    I do? Where do I do that?

    You’ve misunderstood this for many, many years now. I have explained it probably nine hundred times. I’ll try again.

    There are many legitimate reasons a person might not want to comment on Steiner/Waldorf using their own name on the internet. I have no beef with this whatsoever. Most often, it is out of simple concern for their family’s privacy. There is utterly no moral requirement that because a family has had a difficult time in a Steiner school and wishes to discuss it or to warn other families in the hopes of helping them to avoid similar bad experiences for their children, that they must put their own name or their children’s name up on the world wide web.

    There is in fact a HUGE parental responsibility to protect our children’s privacy. Until they are grown it is our responsibility to be extremely cautious about what information about our children is published online. There are all kinds of potential ramifications from publishing even seemingly innocuous information about our children, in terms of their future schooling, employment, and personal lives. Even things that in no way reflect badly on them – such as having had a bad school experience somewhere – can potentially be turned against them, even inadvertently, many years later. Stuff lives forever on the internet and is very easy to misinterpret or get confused, for instance through mistaken identity (as I know, for instance, that the numerous Diana Winters on the internet confuse the hell out of you personally, Sune).

    The ONLY objection I have to anonymity in these discussions is if the person creates multiple identities telling the same (or different) stories about Waldorf experiences. That is unethical because it could be seen as artificially magnifying the problem. If I tell the same story one place calling myself Diana Winters and then some place else calling myself Diana Ross, it appears there are two children who have this particular sad experience in Waldorf, where in reality there is just the one.

    That is the ethical issue. I know that ethical issues are very difficult for you to wrap your mind around. That is understandable after decades of immersion in anthroposophy, which has its own morality.

    Sune dearest … who is the only person we actually know who uses dozens of aliases online, sometimes even pretending to be the opposite gender and to be in very different life circumstances than the truth? You. You and your multiple web sites. Appearing in a forum with young mothers and calling yourself “Eva,” and then giving them links to your web sites without telling them they’re your web sites!

    THis is an ENTIRELY separate issue from asking a school system to be forthright about its practices and its philosophical basis. I think the only person on the planet who is actually mixed up about this issue is you. If you’d take a little break from stalking Waldorf critics around the internet obsessing over their real names – which just looks worse and worse as they are predominantly female and they get younger and younger, in relation to you – and just give some thought to what you are actually doing with your life, maybe you’d see this, too.

  71. And, Sune, in your case it’s futile — we all know immediately it’s you! You’re not exactly anonymous, whichever names you use!

    Let me ask you one thing, Sune: did it matter to you to find out who I was? It was not so exciting when you actually knew, was it, as it was when you were still trying to find out? It didn’t change my arguments, either, did it?

    Because, after all, it’s what someone says, not what their name is, that matters. If it matters at all.

  72. “And, Sune, in your case it’s futile — we all know immediately it’s you! You’re not exactly anonymous, whichever names you use”

    That is what makes his antics so hilarious.The instantly identifiable style, using enough aliases to fill a telephone directory.

    I’ve actually TRIED to help this man become more anonymous, by giving him basic tips on English grammar and syntax – telling him literally how to word certain common phrases correctly in English – which would actually HELP him not be so immediately identifiable. But I guess he thinks these are tricks, so he ignores them.

    It’s delightfully entertaining if you’re somewhat removed from the immediate issues … not so funny for the immediate objects of his obsessive attention.

  73. He knew — he must have known — we watched that thread. Yet he called himself Eva. In retrospect, it’s actually hilarious. How did you come up with the idea, Sune?

    ‘It’s delightfully entertaining if you’re somewhat removed from the immediate issues … not so funny for the immediate objects of his obsessive attention.’

    True. I learnt to deal with it, I think, or at least not to care so much. But by then he’d stopped obsessing about me ;-) Right, Sune?

    I also wish to say that Thetis is on the spot:

    ‘yep, but man’s hand was created to bring forth the yorkshire terrier. Get with the programme, Pete!’

    You have to rise to a higher perspective. This is the cosmic significance of the hand.

  74. Sune,

    as you well know, if critics of Anthroposophic organisations use the word ‘occult’ in reference to Steiner’s output it is to describe his belief in the supernatural. The fact that the word ‘occult’ also has a tertiary definition (which is almost never used – indeed in 55 years I have never heard it used in that way) meaning ‘secret’ is no excuse for using the word to describe Thetis’ writing or her personality. Clearly, the vast majority of people who read your tweet without former knowledge of her writing would assume she believed in the the supernatural. Furthermore, Thetis’ writing has never had even the slightest hint of paranoia; indeed it is generally well thought and robust.

    Diana has explained why it is not always sensible to write under one’s own name and, whether you agree with that or not, you could at least respect it (I’m assuming MycroftII is you – are you not being more than somewhat hypocritical); or do you believe that no person believing in Anthroposophy could possibly be unpleasant to those who do not? I know you are smart enough to understand all of this and it’s a great shame that you should feel it reasonable to stoop to such blatant misrepresentation and insult – your attacks are ad hominem because they do not address any of the issues under discussion; whether or not it is wise to teach children an occult version of history and, by extension, science.

  75. Right, it’s a strange manner of using the word occult. Especially when used by someone who follows an occult guru! Of course, not long ago, Sune thought Thetis was an occult guru ;-)

    And, correct, Thetis is possibly among the least paranoid — Sune on the other hand…

    Anyway, if we go with the unorthodox uses of the word occult, someone who is occult is Sune. After all these years, not much is known about him. He’s obsessed with other people — consequently, the only things we get to know about him are indirect, they’re what he inadvertently displays when he obsesses about others.

    Again, I’ve said it before, it would be far more interesting if he were to talk about himself. And also talk about what he finds in anthroposophy, for example.

    With other people he’s always going on the personal level, with himself, it’s always impersonal. It’s: here I am, presenting the ‘facts’. It’s very mechanical, like the heart. As a pump. It’s got none of that other occultish heart stuff.

  76. thank you Nick, we’ll have to have a chat about which bits of my writing you DON’T think are robust. Over a half of ale ;)

    I don’t believe in the supernatural, perhaps I should make that clear?

    The use of avatars is very common on the internet. It certainly doesn’t imply some kind of malign intent or paranoia. In fact people get used to avatars and respond to them just as if their owners were using their real names. Certain forums advise posters not to use their own names if they’re discussing personal issues or giving away information about their families, people have a right to privacy. In this case I’m not relying on anecdote or (except in rare cases) citing personal experience, so that is not my reason.

    It would make no difference if I wrote as Thetis or under my own name, except that I’d prefer my children not to be involved – one of them is still quite young. This is respected by anyone decent, including journalists and skeptics who know me, or know who I am.

    Having said that: the best thing to do about harassment of this kind (as above) is to ignore it. Certainly not to engage with it in the ethereal kiosk.

  77. ‘(basically nothing of anthroposophy is occult in the sense non public/non published)’

    Can I come along to some first class lessons?

    That aside, it’s definitely occult, even though the written sources are (mainly) available. The person who hasn’t walked the right path, is not thought to understand (or be able to understand) this knowledge. Even if s/he reads the words. Initiations, thresholds, and what nots. I must go cook me some dinner now…

  78. Sune, perhaps you overlooked this question that is directed to you… From Oct 5th:

    When did Steiner describe the Atlantean epoch in terms of “Tertiary and Quaternary”? You have added this information in as if it’s scientific validation for his comments… have you any evidence that this is what Steiner was referring to? Maybe something on Wikipedia perhaps?

    I’m sure you would like to straighten this out now – before it becomes common knowledge throughout the internet that you’ve made it all up.

    Thanks in advance.

  79. Re:

    ‘When did Steiner describe the Atlantean epoch in terms of “Tertiary and Quaternary”?’

    You’re very occult about your sources, Sune!

  80. “Pete: did he really make it up?”

    That’s up to him to tell isn’t it? He must have a Steiner source for that info – otherwise it would be fraudulent to put it out there as if it is something Steiner said. Sune doesn’t say “I think Steiner was talking about … ” he writes as if he’s *explaining* what Steiner wrote… so where did the explanation come from? I haven’t found any Steiner writing that describes this – and these terms were definitely used in Steiner’s time… so where did this twisted version of Steiner’s Atlantis theory come from? I’m thinking it’s up to Sune to confirm that he didn’t just pull it out of his own ass! WHERE IS THE SOURCE FOR THIS INFORMATION SUNE? And, if this “information” is pulled out of his ass, what confidence can readers of his website put on ANY of the “information” and “explanations” contained therein?

  81. this is part II of an ethics tutorial for Sune Nordwall …

    (part I consisted of explaining to Sune that it is wrong to use multiple aliases and make up different identities with different stories to go with them; this is wrong because it creates a false impression that many people agree with you, when in fact it it is just one person saying the same thing over and over)

    but I forgot part II, so here it is:

    it is also wrong to create identities for the purpose of referring people to your own web sites, without revealing that they are your own web sites.

    why is this wrong, Sune? In the rest of the world (outside anthroposophy), this is what’s known as a “conflict of interest.” If you refer someone to a source of information without revealing your connection to that source, or revealing that you are in fact the origin of the information, this is wrong because people need the information about your personal connection to the source to be able to interpret the information in context. being personally connected to the source is a form of “bias.” there is nothing wrong with having a personal bias; we all have personal biases. a bias may be financial, or ideological, or religious, or personal in some other way.

    the ethical solution is called “disclosure.” you reveal rather than hide your bias, if you want to be taken seriously. when people find out that you have a bias that you did not reveal, they take you less seriously than they might have otherwise. so it is not only ethical, but actually in your interests to reveal your biases, i.e., to be honest in your self-presentation.

    and aside from ethics, you make a right fool of yourself advertising your own web site while pretending to be a mum named Eva.

    any questions?

    you know, Sune, I truly don’t aim to steer you wrong. I am a publishing professional, and I have to advise authors on various points of this nature on a regular basis. if you googled around regarding “publication ethics,” you would find that I am giving you sound advice. what you do on the world wide web is publishing – you publish your opinions about anthroposophy. there is an ethical way to do it and a scummy way.

    you don’t have to take my word for it. anthroposophists who want to HELP rather than hurt anthroposophy’s public image could learn a few things from googling “publication ethics” and reviewing a few of these points.

  82. ‘Sune doesn’t say “I think Steiner was talking about … ”’

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sune put it like that. It would be very different if he did, actually.

  83. ‘so it is not only ethical, but actually in your interests to reveal your biases, i.e., to be honest in your self-presentation.’

    Exactly. If you hadn’t presented yourself as Eva, Sune, no waldorf critic could have come there to say: this is not Eva, this is Sune. He wrote all those websites he’s referring you to. And it was inevitable that this would happen…

    ‘anthroposophists who want to HELP rather than hurt anthroposophy’s public image could learn a few things from googling “publication ethics” and reviewing a few of these points.’

    Maybe they think that advice is materialistic. Can’t trust the opinions of the rest of the world.

  84. yes, this is very important, It’s the intent to deceive (on an industrial scale) that matters. To whip up support for yourself by citing yourself. Not playing a part as whimsy, but to create the idea that more traffic is happening – to lie about the numbers…

  85. Fraud is what Waldorf is founded on… and what drives Waldorf today. Sune “The Voice of Waldorf” Nordwall exemplifies Waldorf’s underhandedness. He’s a liability to Waldorf and a boon to critics of Waldorf… AND he gets paid for this. The brash dishonesty displayed by Sune and his ilk (Waldorf teachers and fanatics) is what will bring down Waldorf. With the internet came a huge PR problem for Waldorf. Established 50-year-old schools like Highland Hall are literally half empty… (wait, I don’t want to sound too pessimistic…… half FULL). Exposure of Waldorf – especially the teaching of Steiner’s racist beliefs – will make it more and more difficult for Waldorf schools to get political support, corporate support, or support from celebrities and individuals. Who wants their donations connected to a school system that’s hiding a racist-agenda? Certainly not corporations… or politicians. My clairvoyance tells me Waldorf is history!

  86. >Maybe they think that advice is materialistic. Can’t trust the opinions of the rest of the world.

    I know he thinks I’m not trustworthy, he’s pretty sure I aim to deceive, and he is not self-aware enough to understand the nature of “projection.”

    Anthroposophy does have its own morality. More importantly, though, they are simply unaware, because they don’t inform themselves. Sune probably doesn’t have any context for understanding my advice. He lives in his own world and I doubt he would ever take seriously anything I say, though it would be easy enough to confirm what I am saying with a few minutes of research.

    Sune: it’s true. In the real world, if you publish something, and then you run around advertising your work using various aliases, and not acknowledging that you are actually the author of those works, when people find out, you lose credibility. If you did something like this in the academic world – which you so greatly disdain – you would seriously damage your career, you would risk academic discipline. Meanwhile ironically you think it’s Peter Staudenmaier who is guilty of academic crimes!

  87. @Nick,
    Thanks for your comment, Nick. I use the term “occult” in a polemical way in what you describe as a tertiary sense, in my description of Thetis, as you notice. For just a short intro to the paranoid nature of her postings, and her other writings below the surface, without discussing it further here:

    http://www.thebee.se/comments/ThetisUtterlyMad-again.html

    @Pete,
    I’m sorry about your daughter, It would take some time to dig out the reference you ask for, and discuss it. I’ll try to do it at a site I’m planning about anthroposophy.

    @Diana,
    I know you like to “teach” me things.

    http://thebee.se/comments/postings/SN-010818-on-vaccination.htm#Significance

    Mumsnet is not an academic publication, as little as most other public discussion forums on the net. It’s a british afternoon pub.

  88. ‘It’s a british afternoon pub.’

    One can have a good or bad reputation in a pub too, dear Sune!

    ‘It would take some time to dig out the reference you ask for, and discuss it.’

    Just dig it out. That would be a start.

    The Thetis-mad stuff is quite bonkers. I’m not quite sure what you think it tells us. Anyway, can’t I be occult? I’d like to be occult.

  89. Though I would be absolutely thrilled to watch you enter a ‘british afternoon pub’ in reality and present yourself as Eva. I’m not kidding. I would.

  90. This said, I once did something anonymously. One day, maybe (maybe not), I’ll break it to you what it was, Sune.

    /desperate for an occult reputation

  91. mumsnet is the most important forum for parents in the UK. Regularly read by journalists, policy makers and advertisers. That’s why it matters, and why bad PR on mumsnet is so devastating for brands. That isn’t why mothers initially wrote about their Steiner experiences (I wasn’t there, and I’m not northernrefugee or barking and so on) they wanted to share these experiences with others and find support. Pretending to be a mother in that context was a really shitty thing to do, threatening to sue the forum when caught out even worse. Immoral and inexcusable. Standing on that dung heap and crowing is a masterpiece of self-deception.

    If he behaved as badly in a British afternoon pub the farm labourers, who are the ones generally in there at such a time, would pick Sune up by the coat tails and throw him in a hedge.

  92. True. The ethereal kiosk is much more open re gender confusions. If Sune wears pearls, I might even let him in! (To the more occult corners.)

  93. …and it’s quite irresistible.

    But not ‘anonymously’ on a mum forum. The place is not appropriately decadent. I felt out of place myself… ;-)

  94. Sune Wrote: “I’m sorry about your daughter”

    I didn’t ask you about my daughter… but since you mention it… why not stop deceiving parents so more children like my daughter don’t continue to suffer at the hands of thoughtless Anthroposophists pretending to be teachers? Children like my daughter suffer EXACTLY because of your dishonesty on the internet. So save your apologies while you’re doing the same dishonest nonsense to other people’s daughters (and sons). BTW, if dishonesty took a 50 year old school like Highland Hall down… it can (and will) take them ALL down.

    “It would take some time to dig out the reference you ask for, and discuss it. I’ll try to do it at a site I’m planning about anthroposophy.”

    That doesn’t fly Sune. If you can’t support the claim you make on your website (and you can’t) then take it down – or state clearly that you made it up. Why lie about it? I’ll ask you to defend this every time you pop your head up in public. It’s a lie and you know it… and pretending you’re developing a new website around lies doesn’t help your case. Show us TODAY where Steiner used these terms… The Steiner library is on-line… just do a search and find it? How hard could that be… IF it exists?

    BTW, thank you for your help in exposing Waldorf for the dishonest people they are. Without your obvious dishonesty on the web, some of the more subtle dishonesty displayed by other Waldorf people might have slipped by. unnoticed. Your internet presence has helped Waldorf Critics immensely! I’m being very serious here. Thanks!

  95. Almost the entire GA is online in German — it really shouldn’t be impossible to find, Sune. It seems to be quite specific information.

  96. ‘thank you for your help in exposing Waldorf for the dishonest people they are. Without your obvious dishonesty on the web, some of the more subtle dishonesty displayed by other Waldorf people might have slipped by. unnoticed. ‘

    It’s absolutely true, I was alerted to something really disturbing about a school movement I just thought wasn’t very good by reading Sune’s comments on mumsnet. He was effectively barging into the room shouting ‘Cult! Cult! Cult!’

    Meanwhile, over at UK Anthroposophy Mike Collins has skilfully dissected the Steiner movement and will write more – if Steiner schools get Free Schools funding there will be a great deal of press attention. I’m quite happy to admit he doesn’t rely on me – I’m a modest bystander. Slavering over my tweets is a distraction for Sune and his friends at the SWSF – the real action is elsewhere.

    Love the cartoon.

  97. ‘if Steiner schools get Free Schools funding there will be a great deal of press attention.’

    Only if the UK is very different from Sweden, I’m afraid. One thing differs though — the fact that over in the UK, dedicated people do something about it. That’s not been the case here. So maybe there will be a difference. But funding itself has done nothing for attention on these schools. Funding of free schools in general has deprived them of a customer base, though. Parents who aren’t anthros have lots of choices…

  98. Media doesn’t give a shit, because waldorf schools look nice. And it’s all about ‘creativity’ and people who work in the media like to think of themselves as proponents of ‘creativity’.

    I’m pessimistic.

    Not even waldorf schools with atrocious academic results get any attention at all.

  99. No, Sune, it’s not about mumsnet, it’s about your web sites. Promoting your web sites and not acknowledging yourself as the author of them is unethical; it has nothing to do with where you promote them. Academic settings are no different than other settings. You have a conflict of interest that you are not revealing when you call yourself “Eva” (or anything other than Sune Nordwall) while promoting web sites created by Sune Nordwall. I don’t think this is difficult to understand.

  100. Alicia – it’s because the free schools project as it exists in England is already under scrutiny – it’s highly political. And there is active and vocal opposition. So the situation is different even to that of 2008 when Hereford gained funding. It’s the economic situation of today too: when so much is being cut, how to justify spending money on a middle-class niche school which answers to a shadowy organisation in Dornach? It’s only a story when it’s a story. It’s beginning to grow legs.

  101. “I don’t think this is difficult to understand.”

    For those of us who live in an ethical world, it’s easy to spot someone who is behaving unethically. For people who have been immersed in unethical behavior, unethical behavior may seem quite normal to them. It’s really what Waldorf is surviving on… the fact that the world is ethical and generally doesn’t expect an entire group of people to be SO unethical.

    I’m reminded of the great movie “The Invention of Lying” – where the main character lives in a world where nobody has discovered lying. By lying to the masses, he becomes a demi-Dog… All it takes is a trusting society.

    For Waldorf, the word is out! That trust has been shattered!

  102. I think it’s simple to justify the free school system in general — it gives choice to people who could otherwise not afford it, people who pay a whole lot of taxes too. I don’t see a problem — as long as the *quality* of education in these schools is ensured. I don’t see a reason why schools necessarily need be operated by public entities, be it the state or the municipality. If private entities do as good a job or a better job — then it’s a sound decision to support them, when it comes to an activity, like education, that is otherwise publicly financed. To me, that’s the part of the UK debate I frankly cannot understand. Sure, free schools are criticized here too, occasionally. But everyone still thinks waldorfs are splendid — *despite* evidence to the contrary. Hardly anybody questions the expemptions waldorfs enjoy, for example. Were it any other kind of school, perhaps it would be different.

    Particularly in the current economic situation it should be a paramount concern to give the resources to those schools that do the best job. No matter who runs them. Anything else, it seems to me, is financially irresponsible lunacy. This, obviously, is not a reason for or against support of waldorf — not at all. I’m just slightly baffled at some of the anti-free-school stuff that seems to so prevalent. It was a horrible society when the only school you could ‘choose’ was the local state/municipal school closest to your home — then choice is only for the very rich. That’s what Sweden looked like when I grew up, and I wouldn’t want that back for anything in the world. And schools were pretty shit back then too; some people went as far as to send their children to waldorf just so that the local school could be avoided. They didn’t have to perform, they didn’t have to care. Their client base was ensured anyway.

    Ok. I will stop ranting. So maybe there is a debate, maybe there was in Sweden too. That debate will effectively stop when people have gotten used to having choice, because *then* people don’t want their choice to be taken away. Then even the die-hard socialists send their kids to free schools.

  103. ‘as long as the *quality* of education in these schools is ensured.’ that’s true!

    It is highly political, and the present debate has little to do with Waldorf (which most people haven’t even heard of). We have a particular situation within education here to do with class, income, expectation. Your position as well as the opposite is represented in the press and at local level.

    But the British government’s main thrust is for the improvement of standards, it’s quite regressive in tone imo – uniforms, discipline… I’d like more to be heard from students (children) and more attention given to research – of a high standard. Waldorf doesn’t make any sense within Gove’s ideal world, and I suspect any Steiner free school will have to pull up its socks and wear a tie, if you get my drift.

  104. It seems to me that they’re prepared to give the free schools too much freedom as well — and too little control. Those are issues where I completely understand the criticism and the debate. Society needs to require things, results, performance from all types of schools, regardless. State schools too, obviously.

  105. thing is nobody knows what will actually happen, they’re making it up as they go along re free schools. Also there’s a new shadow education minister today, and if there’s a change in government in 3-4 years we don’t yet know if free schools will be required to adapt, become more accountable if they haven’t been, or even subsumed into existing community schools if numbers or standards are low. No one knows.

  106. To be honest, I’ve forgotten what the post was about to begin with, LOL. But I enjoy the development. (Even my own derailings, although I guess it’s quite unnecessary to derail perfectly sane debates with thoughts about Sune as Eva.)

    ‘I’m reminded of the great movie “The Invention of Lying” – where the main character lives in a world where nobody has discovered lying. By lying to the masses, he becomes a demi-Dog… All it takes is a trusting society.’

    That’s a fascinating idea. I didn’t know of that movie, but it seems quite interesting.

  107. ‘One thing differs though — the fact that over in the UK, dedicated people do something about it.’

    Actually, this is a big part of the point. In the UK, there are even journalists who are taking an interest in waldorf education. This is simply not the case here. I’m also exaggerating this a tiny bit because I want people (not you obviously, but other swedes) to get that if they want change to happen, they will have to act. Because I won’t. I often have this feeling that people might think that because I have a blog, and because I write about these things as regularly as I do, I’m actively pursuing something, that I’m actually trying to influence people — be it journos or politicians or whoever. I’m not. If other folks think something has to be done, they have to do it. Themselves. If people want the media to take an interest in this, they will have to make sure that this happens. I do things for my own enjoyment only, not for this or that cause, no matter how good it is (the vaccination thing I did this summer was both enjoyable and for a good cause, though). I won’t do anything to change education, because it means very little to me. If people want proper waldorf criticism that gets into the right channels (or whatever) they will have to move their own asses. And I think it is both wanted and needed, but nobody will do it.

    It’s much better, for changing things, to be angry than to be conflicted about it.

  108. Two major disappointments today:

    1. Nobody is calling me occult.

    2. Sune doesn’t comment as Eva.

    Other than that, my eyes are simply too tired to read anything more. Which means I don’t really know what else to do except write.

    So what shall I write now? Is there anything more to say?

    Except perhaps to note that since ‘mumsnet is the most important forum for parents in the UK’ it was pretty odd that Eva, ooops Sune, ended up there. And myself (though that wasn’t quite as strange). I have never (I think… no, definitely not) joined a similar Swedish forum. I think most of these places are reality based. And what a reality!! Not mine.

    Sune to Diana:

    ‘I know you like to “teach” me things.’

    It wouldn’t hurt you to learn! She’s taught you multitudes of linguistic tricks that would make it much easier for you to pass as Eva — and avoid detection by people like us — on forums in the future. It really is true. (Of course, the ethics lessons are more important — and in some ways, perhaps it’s good that you have an inner guardian that prevents you from taking the other (language) advice seriously before you have absorbed the contents of the more important lessons! Maybe there is some higher wisdom, after all!)

    Diana:

    ‘there is nothing wrong with having a personal bias; we all have personal biases. a bias may be financial, or ideological, or religious, or personal in some other way.’

    Exactly. It’s also perfectly silly to pretend not to have one.

    It’s not just about the work — whether ‘free’ or ’employed’ — it’s about a strong, well, emotional attachment. If a certain teaching provides you with a meaning of life, or some such thing, you have a personal bias. And that is perfectly alright. And, declared or undeclared, it kind of shows through with Sune. (Pretty quickly.) Which makes it pretty silly to try to pretend that one (yes, you, Sune) is presenting the neutral viewpoint — or, at least in this case, the most fact-based one.

  109. ha ha! You were as out of place as a cat in the ethereal kiosk!

    mumsnet seems to cast a long shadow, perhaps because its founders have so many links with others in the media. In the end it’s about votes and product placement.

    Not odd that ‘Eva’ ended up there, predictable. I think it may have been what they call in the media a ‘watershed moment’. At dinner parties in Notting Hill the mention of a Steiner School began to produce not appreciation, but raised eyebrows. ‘Don’t you know about anthroposophy? It’s like Scientology for vegans. Those people are AMISH! Defo a cult imo. I’d stick with Bedales.’

  110. THANK you!!! Thank you!! I’m occult! *dances around*

    I wouldn’t even know these things about swedish ‘parenting’ forums. I’m not sure Sune would either (would you?). The steiner threads were fun though. It’s a pity someone kept reporting comments and that some comments and threads disappeared…

  111. I found this interesting quote from Max Planck, seems to be relevant to the discussion.

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

    Max Planck, The Nature of Matter, speech at Florence, Italy, 1944

    While checking it out I found this interesting page,

    http://doesgodexist.multiply.com/journal/item/603

  112. I can’t help noticing that Tilda Swinton has quite a resemblance to Alicia’s new gravatar.
    Do you have a secret life you are not telling us about, Alicia?

  113. YES! I’m very very occult! Although if I want to be truly occult I probably shouldn’t advertise it as loudly ;-)

    Tilda Swinton is such an icon of style — I was totally nuts about her in my teens, she acted in these utterly cool Derek Jarman movies, oh… Also in Orlando, which wasn’t Jarman’s I think (such a long time ago). She was very cool in Orlando. Any resemblence to her is splendid. (I was kind of shocked, well not shocked, but still…, a few years ago, discovering her attachment to waldorf.)

    Planck: ‘We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.’

    I think he had an experience that this must be true, like many people. I don’t think that, in reality, we ‘must’ assume what he thought we must assume according to the quote. I’m not at all sure it’s more reasonable to assume this than to assume the opposite.

    If an intelligent mind is behind the world — the force that holds matter — then something must be behind the mind. Is that another mind? Infinite regress.

  114. I agree, it’s all very interesting. I also don’t think we must assume there is a conscious and intelligent mind whatever conclusions Planck has reached – but it’s hard for us to accept that there’s nothing, our brains are not wired for the void. We certainly can’t rule out the possibility. But the man-made gods, and the archangels and spiritual hierarchies, all that seems unlikely if the greater conscious mind is more intelligent than we are.

    I’d rather have Alicia then Tilda any day, far better sense of humour. Although my father-in-law had dinner with Tilda once and thought she was charming. Now what will Sune make of that revelation??

  115. Thank you both!!

    Of course, Dog is behind it all — wagging his tail, and the world comes into being. The answer has been revealed, no need to speculate. Although, if you would speculate anyway, He will only lick you gently on your noses as punishment.

    ‘But the man-made gods, and the archangels and spiritual hierarchies, all that seems unlikely if the greater conscious mind is more intelligent than we are.’

    Many of these inventions — not to speak religious beliefs and traditions, some of them both ugly and nasty — seem quite unlikely to originate in a higher consciousness. Intelligent people can do better. And they’re still just people.

  116. Well, there could be worse creation myths…..’ Dog Wagged His Tail and the World Came Into Being, … but how then to explain cats? This would be like the problem of evil. The philosophically minded non-divine dogs would say, ‘but how could a benevolent Dog allow cats to cause suffering to innocent dogs?’

  117. This is the question dogs have been battling since the beginning of time, actually. Some have come to doubt in Dog because they can’t accept that He created cats. Some brave dogs try to figure out evil through close contact with it. None of them have found an answer. Dog works in mysterious ways, they say. Maybe evil is there to make us progress as dogs? And then they take a walk, looking for cats to bark and growl at.

  118. Sune,
    thanks for the link to your screen-shots of some of Thetis’s tweets. I can’t see that any of them represent a paranoid personality; they are simply tweets concerning doubts about supernatural claims.

  119. Again, thanks for your comment Nick,

    It was just a very short hint at the objectively unfounded paranoia below the surface of her writings and comments, indicated by her repeated way of linking to Staudenmaier’s first writings as description of anthroposophy, as intellectual con artist and now as Janus faced combination of intellectual con artist and actual historian as one of the central pillars, driving force and motivation behind what she writes.

    When he, last year I think, again was faced with the con story with which he introduced his writings as solo author about Steiner and anthroposophy, he – again – answered with one of his earlier con stories; that he was not referring to any specific lecture with his introduction to his first solo article on anthroposophy. This is contradicted by his repeated efforts at first to identify a lecture in a series in 1910, that corresponds to his first introduction about it, when he was faced with its untruthfulness, realizing that the first lecture in the series clearly did not do it as he described it in his article, and failing to find a lecture in the series that did this, in spite of repeated efforts to do it.

    For a short introduction to this, see http://thebee.se/comments/PS/Staudenmaier.html

    For a more detailed description of his many stories on this, see http://americans4waldorf.org/MrStaudenmaier2.html and onwards. It’s so tiring to read his many repeated con stories on this to this day, that are necessary to try to save his reputation as serious historian. His only way to get out of them would be to retract his first story. But he can’t do that, as it would constitute an admission that he just made it up out of his speculative imagination as “opening device” to his article to hit his readers of Jewish origin and/or faith in the stomach with it, and completely deprive him of his credibility as serious author on anthroposophy. He’s stuck in a leghold traps by his first story.

    People of Jewish origin and faith have played a central role in founding and development of the antroposophical and Waldorf movements from the beginning and continue to do it to this day. In contrast to them, Staudenmaier displays some of the worst qualities without foundation attributed to people of Jewish faith and/or religion in general by anti-Semites, in addition to being a superficial amateur on the concept “race” in its different senses as used by Steiner judging by what I have seen so far, at least up to his publication of “Race and Redemption. Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy” some years ago.

    http://thebee.se/comments/PS/OnPS2004Paper.html

    This is really sad.

    The other sad side of it is that I haven’t seen any anthroposophist sort out the concepts involved either in a clarifying way much beyond what I have done at http://www.waldorfanswers.org/ThreeConcepts.htm something that its roots in the weak development of anthroposophy for different reasons since Steiner’s illness, and death in 1925.

    For more on the subject, see http://www.waldorfanswers.org/AAntisemitismMyth.htm

  120. Sune — has it ever occurred to you that you might have misunderstood something, and thus been obsessing about this for 10-15 years for no good reason at all? (I’m not going to repeat any of this — but I have seen Peter’s explanations re that lecture, and I don’t think I have to tell you who is making more sense, do I? The whole thing is actually trivial. Going on about it for a decade — now, *that* is obsessive!)

    ‘People of Jewish origin and faith’

    Origin, yes. Faith, fewer.

    ‘The other sad side of it is that I haven’t seen any anthroposophist sort out’

    There are many things about which one can dispair at the inability of anthroposophists to sort them out.

    The problem, I say this again, Sune, is that you’re totally focused on what Peter did or does, what Thetis does, and so forth. You say very few things about anthroposophy or your relationshop to it. Why not? If anthroposophy is going to be interesting to anyone but the closest mourners lining the sides of its grave (soon?), people actually need to say interesting things about it — what is absolutely irrelevant, however, is constant nagging about historians and critics. If you want anthroposophy to be this great thing, and for people to recognize it as this great thing — you need to start making it this great thing. Then it won’t matter so much anymore whether Steiner, a hundred years ago or so, said some things that sound rather dumb in the year 2011.

  121. Sune wrote:

    “The other sad side of it is that I haven’t seen any anthroposophist sort out the concepts involved either in a clarifying way much beyond what I have done at http://www.waldorfanswers.org/ThreeConcepts.htm something that its roots in the weak development of anthroposophy for different reasons since Steiner’s illness, and death in 1925.”

    and the pointed us to a link that reminded us he hasn’t answered:

    “From a present perspective, what is referred to, in the esoteric tradition and mythology, as “Atlantis” can be understood to refer to all of the development of humanity as physical beings, parts of which are reflected in the fossil record from the Cenozoic period, that is, the Tertiary and Quaternary up to the end of the Pleistocene, ending some 8,000 years B.C.

    This picture of the development of the earth was also indicated by Steiner during conferences with teachers at the first Waldorf school, founded in 1919. ”

    So – apparently, Sune believes Steiner sorted out the Atlantis mystery for Waldorf teachers… explaining the Cenozoic, Tertiary and Quaternary periods to them. If so, it should be contained in the lecture series to Waldorf teachers. Sune, could you please link to the page where Steiner describes these periods of time and relates them to Atlantis? You just finished telling us he did exactly that.

    “His only way to get out of them would be to retract his first story. But he can’t do that, as it would constitute an admission that he just made it up out of his speculative imagination as “opening device” to his article ”

    I think you may be faced with the same “only way out” here Sune… Your imagination got the better of you and you put words in Steiner’s mouth. Admitting it now is better than dragging it out for years – wouldn’t you agree? ;)

  122. hmm.. whoops..

    Through the fog, is Sune most upset by ‘Anthroposophy and Ecofascism’? Peter responded, in The Art of Avoiding History:

    “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism follows the standard procedure of providing historical background, quoting abundantly from anthroposophist sources, citing some of the critical literature on anthroposophy, and offering my own interpretations of the material while noting alternative interpretations. Readers familiar with these sources will easily recognize that my article, despite its polemical tone, is notably restrained in its argument.”
    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/Art_of_Avoiding_History.htm

    Readers upset by Peter’s polemical work should avoid Christopher Hitchens, especially if their nerves are fragile.

  123. I may have to eat my own words… Steiner does indeed mention these periods in Faculty Meetings. p26 – but look at the CONTEXT! A desperate teacher is trying to align “conventional” science with spiritual science. Steiner basically says – “fake it”! Take what science says and add human beings…

    A teacher: It is difficult to find the connections before the Ice Age.
    How are we to bring what conventional science says into alignment
    with what spiritual science says?
    Dr. Steiner: You can find points of connection in the cycles. In the
    Quaternary Period you will find the first and second mammals, and
    you simply need to add to that what is valid concerning human
    beings. You can certainly bring that into alignment. You can create a
    parallel between the Quaternary Period and Atlantis, and easily
    bring the Tertiary Period into parallel, but not pedantically, with
    what I have described as the Lemurian Period. That is how you can
    bring in the Tertiary Period. There, you have the older amphibians
    and reptiles. The human being was at that time only jelly-like in
    external form. Humans had an amphibian-like form.

    Following this, is a discussion about the scientific reality of… DRAGONS!

    A teacher: But there are still the fire breathers.
    Dr. Steiner: Yes, those beasts, they did breathe fire, the Archaeopteryx,
    for example.
    A teacher: You mean that animals whose bones we see today in
    museums still breathed fire?
    Dr. Steiner: Yes, all of the dinosaurs belong to the end of the Tertiary
    Period. Those found in the Jura are actually their descendants.
    What I am referring to are the dinosaurs from the
    beginning of the Tertiary Period. The Jurassic formations are later,
    and everything is all mixed together. We should treat nothing
    pedantically. The Secondary Period lies before the Tertiary and the
    Jurassic belongs there as does the Archaeopteryx. However, that
    would actually be the Secondary Period. We may not pedantically
    connect one with the other.

    So, I guess I have to apologize to Sune – he did indeed follow Steiner down this rabbit hole rather than inventing his own rabbit hole. Sune, do you believe in dragons?

  124. ‘We should treat nothing pedantically.’

    Well, better not be too pedantic about facts. Or references.

    This must be where Sune got it from — was it? It’s interesting he couldn’t locate it for such long time. Perhaps didn’t want to.

  125. Yep! Of COURSE he didn’t want to locate it for us. It’s clear Steiner is instructing Waldorf teachers on how to slip Anthroposophy into their classrooms and disguise it as SCIENCE. That’s most certainly why Sune doesn’t cough up the source. It confirms my long-standing claim that Waldorf teachers are trained to do this… even TODAY! The fact that it is happening today – Waldorf teachers disguising Steiner’s racist beliefs as science and teaching them to students – is a grim reminder of how little things have changed since Steiner’s faculty meetings with Waldorf teachers. To learn what is being taught in Waldorf, people only need read what Steiner taught to Waldorf teachers.

  126. Also, as a side note, we never learned anything about dinosaurs. But dragons featured frequently. A pity, because dinosaurs are interesting in their own right.

  127. that this dude, Michael, kills them (not very nice). And sometimes there were princesses too, I think.* Not sure about the plot(s) actually. They’re good to have around if you need to light a fire. (Although that’s wisdom I came to without the help of teachers, of course. They weren’t that inclined towards practicalities.) Michael will regret the killing when he finds a cat to barbecue, says mr D. There’s something to that, I suppose.

    *Edit: not in the same story.

  128. If you’re going to hang around with dinosaurs, on the other hand, you might as well get yourself an ahrimanic, electric stove. *That* I didn’t learn at school, but knowing it has helped me in real life. Although I never really learned to cook. Well, I digress…

  129. ‘They’re good to have around if you need to light a fire.’

    There are a fair few assumptions in there. Hilariously. In the same way, it’s good to have an elephant around if you want to pull your jeep off a tree … but I digress too. Even more extremely.

  130. But, you see, this why dragons are better than elephants — dragons are as strong as elephants, but in addition they can help you with the cooking. Ask an elephant to help fry a cat — he couldn’t even if he wanted to.

  131. If you’re onto Faculty Meetings… keep reading… it sounds almost like a teacher uprising… The teachers are hard-pressed for something scientific to teach.

    Dr. Steiner: Conventional geology really concerns only the uppermost
    strata. Those strata that go to the center of the Earth have
    nothing to do with geology. (Pete notes: HUH?)
    A teacher: Can we teach the children about those strata? We certainly
    need to mention the uppermost strata.
    Dr. Steiner: Yes, focus upon those strata.

    A teacher: I am having trouble with the law of conservation of
    energy in thermodynamics.
    Dr. Steiner: Why are you having difficulties? You must endeavor
    to gradually bring these things into what Goethe called “archetypal
    phenomena.” That is, to treat them only as phenomena.

    Dr. Steiner:… Today, people create such laws about things that are actually phenomena. It
    is simply nonsense that people call something like the law of gravity,
    a law. Such things are phenomena, not laws. You will find that
    you can keep such so-called laws entirely out of physics by transforming
    them into phenomena and grouping them as primary and secondary phenomena.

    A teacher: Then we would have to approach the subject without
    basing it upon the law of gravity.

    A teacher: Then we shouldn’t speak about gravity at all?
    Dr. Steiner: It would be wonderful if you could stop speaking about
    gravity. You can certainly achieve speaking of it only as a phenomenon.
    The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.

    A teacher: Is that true also for electrical forces?
    Dr. Steiner: Today, you can certainly speak about electricity without
    speaking about forces. You can remain strictly within the
    realm of phenomena. You can come as far as the theory of ions
    and electrons without speaking of anything other than phenomena.
    Pedagogically, that would be very important to do.

    A teacher: It is very difficult to get along without forces when we
    discuss the systems of measurement, the CGS system (centimeter,
    gram, second), which we have to teach in the upper grades.
    Dr. Steiner: What does that have to do with forces? If you compute
    the exchange of one for the other, you can do it.
    A teacher: Then, perhaps, we would have to replace the word
    “force” with something else.

    Sorry for the long post… beginning on p30, Steiner starts “explaining” the planetary movements to the teachers. It’s a side-splitting read…

  132. Wow! Firebreathing dragons – where was I at that lectures on that during my teacher training degree?
    When we were taught about teaching science we were taught (in primary schools, bear in mind) to let the children discover what happens for themselves and then to explain the science behind what happens. They need to see the truth happen, that things fall, or that electricity needs a circuit, before understanding the next level. How can I show them through archaeological findings that dinosaurs breathed fire? Do tell, as I can’t wait for that lesson to take place.
    and yes, I’m with (the furtive, secretive) Thetis here, I think a Steiner science blog would be great!

  133. ‘this is exactly why we need this kind of education – ‘Ask an elephant to help fry a cat’ – most people couldn’t even imagine such an eventuality.’

    You see! There is a place in the world for waldorf education! And for canine inspiration ;-)

    Actually — the faculty meetings are a great read. I have a collection of quotes from them that I’ve thought of posting some time (some are pretty funny — I know I’ve posted the Temptation hair tonic passage before). Steiner is quite scathing of the waldorf teachers at times.

    ‘I think this deserves a new post? Fascinating.’

    Yes. I like stuff like this: ‘The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.’

    ‘Wow! Firebreathing dragons – where was I at that lectures on that during my teacher training degree?’

    You took the wrong kind of teacher training. I mean, really, if you want to become a serious and good teacher, waldorf teacher training might not be the thing. If you want to read the funniest things (about dragons, et c), then waldorf is totally right. No doubt about it. I would choose waldorf teacher training any day — if I had to make the choice — but, of course, I have no intentions of ever teaching anything to children ;-)

    ‘How can I show them through archaeological findings that dinosaurs breathed fire?’

    No, you’d have to tell them a tale and have them draw a picture. That’s the first step towards learning to meditate over the dragon nature. (You see how I can do that; it’s clearly thanks to my waldorf education!) And there you have it: spiritual fire-breathing dragon science!

  134. Steiner realized the scientific community wouldn’t accept his gobbledygook regarding the movements of the planets. He realized if he published it, he would be called “crazy”. Putting it safely into the heads of Waldorf teachers to spread to their children was FAR easier than suffering the criticism of the scientific community. Avoiding the scrutiny of the the scientists, Steiner remained unquestioned by his followers… well… OK… questioned but perhaps unchallenged…

    I can’t help but think – Dog bless these first Waldorf teachers – who put these honest questions to Steiner – and for the transcriber who took notes. At least we have a record of the gobbledygook Waldorf teachers teach today. Parents reading this should remember that “Faculty Meetings” by any of it’s disguised names is REQUIRED reading for ALL Waldorf teacher trainees.

    Here’s another excerpt:

    A teacher: Can we derive the spiral movements of the Sun and the
    Earth from astronomically known facts?
    Dr. Steiner: Why not? Just as you can teach people today about the
    Copernican theory. The whole thing is based upon the joke
    made concerning the three Copernican laws, when they teach
    only the first two and leave out the third. If you bring into consideration
    the third, then you will come to what I have spoken of,
    namely, that you will have a simple spiral around the Sun. Copernicus
    did that. You need only look at his third law. You need only
    take his book, De Revolutionibus Corporum Coelestium (On the
    orbits of heavenly bodies) and actually look at the three laws
    instead of only the first two. People take only the first two, but
    they do not coincide with the movements we actually see. Then
    people add to it Bessel’s so-called corrective functions. People
    don’t see the stars as Copernicus described them. You need to turn
    the telescope, but people turn it according to Bessel’s functions. If
    you exclude those functions, you will get what is right.
    Today, you can’t do that, though, because you would be called
    crazy. It is really child’s play to learn it and to call what is taught
    today nonsense. You need only to throw out Bessel’s functions and
    take Copernicus’s third law into account.
    A teacher: Couldn’t that be published?
    Dr. Steiner: Johannes Schlaf began that by taking a point on Jupiter
    that did not coincide with the course of the Copernican system.
    19 People attacked him and said he was crazy.
    There is nothing anyone can do against such brute

  135. Funny that Steiner should talk about Copernicus, I studied that book as part of the history element of my BEd, and the effects that his revelations had upon society at the time. I don’t recal anything about planetary movements spiralling however…..Copernicus had it pretty sussed, however his great ‘revelation’, and that for which he got into bother, was that in which he pointed out that we were not at the centre of the universe.
    Not sure in which part Steiner found his claptrap, but it definately wasn’t the book that I read.

  136. It’s very hard to know how different translations of Copernicus and Steiner differentiate between words like spiral, orbit or spin – perhaps one might say eliptically epicyclic from a modern perspective. Translating technical text requires very specific skills so I would not be surprised if many wrong ends of various sticks were grabbed from Copernicus through to the translations of Steiner’s views of Copernicus; this is not in any way to support Steiner but to point to the difficulty of understanding the language as well as the ideas.

  137. “It’s so tiring to read his many repeated con stories on this to this day, that are necessary to try to save his reputation as serious historian. ”

    Is that so? Can you point to evidence that Peter Staudenmaier is having a problem with his reputation as a serious historian? Evidence that someone other than you believes this? It’s called a delusion, Sune.

  138. Alicia to Sune:

    If you want anthroposophy to be this great thing, and for people to recognize it as this great thing — you need to start making it this great thing.”

    Sune, this is the best advice you’ve been given yet. Say thanks to Alicia.

    Would it not make more sense to put anthroposophy across as something positive? Would that not do more for its image and more for its substance than pursuing its critics around the internet?
    Anthroposophy should get its house in order, and you could help, first by just behaving appropriately. If anthroposophists act like nice, normal people, it would do a lot more for anthroposophy’s reputation than crazed paranoid crusades online.

  139. Diana wrote: “Would it not make more sense to put anthroposophy across as something positive?”

    I’m afraid even Steiner wasn’t *that* optimistic. Steiner always believed in occult ways of doing things… and convinced his followers that they could get away with hiding the true nature of Anthroposophy from the rest of the world… even while Anthroposophy is supposed to essentially *convert* the world. Steiner instructs Waldorf teachers to keep the business of the school private… even from parents who have their children their. He instructs them only to discuss with parents matters specifically involving their own children. He tells them to disguise the prayers they say… to avoid discussing demonic possession with outsiders… Steiner set Anthroposophy up to be occult (a cult) right from the start, I’m afraid.

  140. In the end, anthroposophists bear the responsibility for the state of anthroposophy. Not Peter S. Whatever he does or writes.

    You can obsess about it for ten more years, Sune, but that won’t make any difference whatsoever for the survival of anthroposophy. Sometimes I get the impression you care less about that than about individual critics though. Oddly.

  141. Re the Copernicus stuff, I can’t say I know (or completely understand), but there are many possibilities for confusion as Nick points out. In addition to the various translations, Steiner is speaking from his memory (he could be babbling about something he might have known and understood once, but this is, I think, pretty spontaneous) and then there’s the person transcribing it… and the person interpreting the transcript… And last: book editions and translations (done by people who may not understand what neither Copernicus nor Steiner are talking about)…

  142. Speaking of development, in Germany, (at least some) anthroposophists don’t go crazy over Helmut Zander. They can even invite him to their events.
    http://www.anthroposophie-nrw.de/content/veranstaltungen/einzelansicht/article/thementag-anthroposophie-rudolf-steiner-heute.html

    What I’m thinking is — those are the *kinds* of things to do, if you want to appear less cult-like. Persevering (for a decade!!) with crazy rants over banalities is just not very productive, unless, of course, you want to be perceived of as a nutty cult.

  143. Well, now that Frome has got funding, I’m sure that Sune will be working very hard to ensure that it certainly doesn’t appear as a nutty cult…….won’t you Sune?
    Pffft.

  144. Maybe send off a few links to some important education people. That could never hurt, Sune.

    Maybe you listen to that small piece of advice?

    ROFL.

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