steve’s faq

Steve Sagarin, waldorf teacher and blogger, has written an FAQ on waldorf critics. You’ll find it here.

Q. Why do they spend so much time and effort reading Steiner’s works–the only people who read nearly as much are anthroposophists themselves–only to criticize and debunk them?
A. I don’t know. This puzzles me, too. I think maybe, secretly, they love anthroposophy and even Waldorf education.

Read the rest of it, and discuss. If you like. Here or there.

No, personally I don’t actually love waldorf education. Remember, I had nine years of it, and, no, didn’t love it. Really didn’t. I can find a lot of interesting things about the subject and about anthroposophy, but that’s surely something else than loving the experience of this kind of education.

And — another, general observation. You can actually find a person, a movement, a phenomenon, et c, interesting without harbouring any feelings of love towards it. It is quite possible, and obviously not even unusual.

53 thoughts on “steve’s faq

  1. ‘Why do they spend so much time and effort reading Steiner’s works?’

    thank goodness they do. It’s much harder to lie to the well-inforned.

  2. Q. But this doesn’t sound like what I read in Steiner or what I see when I visit a Waldorf school; isn’t this based on experience of small samples and selectively taking quotations out of context?
    A. Yes.

    This is EXACTLY why I prepared my blog with reviews of actual parents (not critics). They represent hundreds of criticisms of dozens and dozens of schools (I have over 80 schools represented already).

    Regarding the taking quotations out of context, it is the Anthroposophists who do this to make them seem as if they aren’t racist. Anyone can read the full context to verify this and they tend to fall silent when this is pointed out to them.

  3. If there is something critics insist on — and rarely anthros — it is that people should read, read and read some more. In fact, if there’s a quote (by it’s nature taken from a context; quoting all 350 volumes or even just one entire lecture when discussing something is simply not doable), I’d *never* recommend *not* reading the rest. Of course I realize people won’t always do it. But at least they have the opportunity to inform themselves about what Steiner really said.

    Pro-waldorf folks, in contrast, try to pretend the context waldorf education exists in, ie anthroposophy, is either irrelevant or nothing to bother about. Talk about taking out of context — on a larger scale!

  4. Really — what do you see when you visit waldorf school websites? Only positive endorsements, sometimes quite out of context. Preferably by celebrities. Misrepresented research. Empty phrases that mean little. Words that can mean anything. Promises without substantiation. Steiner taken out of context and misrepresented. Anthroposophy ignored or pushed aside.

    I could go on. It’s quite interesting that individual viewpoints are only to be used to market waldorf. If it’s criticism, it’s just one individual. May be so — but then be fair. The same rules apply to the claims they make.

  5. There’s a reason why critics ALWAYS link to the sources of their citations. Anthroposophists rarely even mention where the quote was taken from – and almost never post a link to the lecture. Does this make sense to normal people – that critics are somehow the ones taking quotes out of context?

  6. “Pro-waldorf folks, in contrast, try to pretend the context waldorf education exists in, ie anthroposophy, is either irrelevant or nothing to bother about. ”

    Yes, kinda like – “we teach all this weird stuff in teacher training, but we don’t expect teachers to actually *apply* it.” Yeah right!

  7. This teacher also seems to hold out hope for some critics regaining their trust in waldorf and returning to the fold. Any likelihood or examples of that?
    My guess is no, but I am continually surprised by this whole debate.

  8. Well, critics are certainly doing more to reform Waldorf than Waldorf people are. The problem is Steve is convinced his notions are correct. That the odd stories are anomalies. Let’s take my “bad teacher” example. A bad teacher at Highland Hall taught my kid racism as science. Is that single teacher an anomaly? No… Highland Hall supported this lesson when I confronted them about it. OK… so is Highland Hall an anomaly? No… Highland Hall is accredited by AWSNA and is the teacher training center for Southern California. Many of AWSNA’s members actually teach new Waldorf teachers right at Highland Hall – and right alongside Highland Hall’s problematic teachers – who are ALSO teaching new Waldorf teachers. So, where’s the anomaly? It isn’t the odd teacher… it isn’t the odd school… the problems (including the teaching of racism as science) go right to the very TOP levels of Waldorf – where teachers who teach Steiner’s dumb ideas like racism are embraced, and not held accountable.

  9. I’ve got a whole ‘nother reply coming for him – if I didn’t also have to work …

    Yeah, I always really dig the “Critics are secretly in love with anthroposophy” angle. Just say yeah, that’s right, and they tend to go away really confused. Of course, the other guy, the fellow who said he was abused in Catholic schools and so the whole “If you criticize it, it must be because you must really love it” retort looks really, really shabby, that’s an even better answer. Either way, the “critics are secretly in love with us” is a seriously lame reply to criticism.

  10. We’re all in love with what Waldorf *could* have been… and what many people like Steve believe it somehow *really* is (in some twisted fantasy)… despite evidence to the contrary. Maybe the difference is that critics somehow see the goal as somehow attainable whereas the Waldorf supporters believe it to have been already attained. Why would someone like Steve consider working to reform Waldorf? He already believes it’s perfect – except for one or two anomalies here and there.

  11. It’s very lame.

    I’ll happily admit to a slight fondness of some things anthro and Steiner. But that is despite the criticism I have. I would seriously object to the criticism being an effect of it. It’s simply lame.

    Helen — I suspect the answer is no. Most critics are parents and most of them have tried many things before they became critics. They know reform isn’t happening no matter how much they’d try. Usually, critics are not the kind of parents who said, oh well, shrugged their shoulders and left. They probably appreciated waldorf — or what they thought it was — more… or at least enough to make an effort to understand it and what went wrong. Again, this is what Diana already said. But it’s unlikely that parents who have gone through all that would return. They knew what they’d want, they know it won’t happen… and they know more about anthroposophy and what waldorf is, too. And how and why it fails. So if that’s what Steve (even unconsciously) thinks, then he’s being quite mistaken.

  12. Good point, Pete. That’s another thing critics know — that waldorf proponents think they’ve basically attained it, with a few minor things here and there. While critics are likely to see the flaws as systematic, and to know they’re very difficult to do anything about (partly due to the mindset and the attitudes in waldorf).

  13. His comments about people changing their mind and going back are odd. I assumed he must mean you, because you’re the only critic I know of – other than perhaps myself – who, as you say, retains any fondness for anything to do with anthroposophy. He is overplaying that a bit, though – surely he realizes you are not “going back,” since you are long out of school and don’t have any children of your own to send to a Waldorf school.

    I recall once, quite some time ago, that a woman came on the survivors list who had had all sorts of problems with a Waldorf school, poured out all their troubles etc. A couple of years later I noticed she was posting on the SJU Waldorf list and had apparently re-enrolled her children in another Waldorf school. (Made me a bit uncomfortable that she still had access to the survivors archives; I think we deleted her account. Gee, I hope we did.)

    And it’s also not uncommon for a family to try more than one Waldorf school, in the belief that any strange problems encountered are “local” or “unusual” or “anomalies.” It often takes bitter, bitter experience to get over that mistaken impression. Perhaps this is the sort of thing he’s thinking of, but I really don’t believe he doesn’t know better. He seems to be trying to imply that some critics’ disagreements with the schools are just little spats, little love quarrels, and maybe we don’t even really mean it. Or that these are disagreements over relatively unimportant matters, soon to be worked out with the individual school the critic is complaining about? Surely he knows better than this.

  14. To the point, Diana.

    As for any fondness, however, it’s not so much retained as developed. I despised all of it. Rudi too. Hope he’s nodded off already, so he won’t hear that. At least I find him entertaining now ;-)

  15. “I assumed he must mean you, because you’re the only critic I know of – other than perhaps myself – who, as you say, retains any fondness for anything to do with anthroposophy. ”

    Maybe he means Mellett?

    As I’m reading the reviews I’m collecting, I’m finding patterns that point to systemic problems in certain areas of Waldorf. When you see where the problems are, you can often see *why* those problems exist. For example, one of the most commonly reported problem areas are “administrative problems”. Who are typically the “administrators” in Waldorf schools? Anybody and everybody apparently. Waldorf school complaints indicate many Waldorf schools lack any single accountable person.

  16. Administration, yes. That’s a big one. So big, in fact, that some people, who still believe waldorf has something to offer, occasionally seem to acknowledge that perhaps administration is something of a problem. (Although rarely admitting that the model itself might be dysfunctional.)

    Mellett, yes. Although he comes to mind more as a joker and trouble-maker than a critic…

  17. Well, I just had a look at Steve’s blog. He’s like an old man chasing kids off his front lawn at this point. Did her *really* think he’s going to blog about critics and not get a response from them?

  18. Pete – I stole your comment from that blog and brought it over here:

    ‘Waldorfmommy wrote: “I really am curious where critics would place non-anthro Waldorf parents like me who have come to a different conclusion? Not only is my intellectual assessment different but my recurring daily experience varies profoundly as well. What is the verdict? Stupid? Brain-washed? Unable to parse sentences? Not paying attention due to state of bliss? Part of an indescribably small minority? What is it?”

    I wouldn’t say “stupid” – perhaps a little “brain-washed”… but mostly “not paying attention due to state of bliss” – and in that regard I think you’re probably part of the *majority* of Waldorf parents, not a minority.

    “Intellectual assessment” is hard to gauge, and is subjective. Few “intellectuals” would approve of education that avoids academics and instead favors mythology and “science” derived from clairvoyance. Again and again, parents relate stories of once being drawn into Waldorf – hook, line and sinker, only after many years to discover to their horror _______ (fill in the blank). Some go through Waldorf without discovering anything objectionable. Great for them… but very sad for their children.

    Don’t get me wrong… even Waldorf grads can come away feeling they received something very special. How does one understand they have been fed nonsense when they have built their view of the world around such nonsense? For the Waldorf students who swallowed the nonsense, the nonsense becomes reality… (thus we have 2nd and 3rd generation Waldorf students). And Steiner gave us some wonderful nonsense to embrace… as good as or better than Christianity – and certainly more believable. All one needs to do is take the bait… and that’s what Waldorf schools provide.’

  19. OK, let’s see if he follows up and posts this on his own blog:

    Steve conjectured:
    If Rudolf Steiner…
    1. believed strongly in and spoke and wrote about human freedom;
    Well, he didn’t – really. He spoke about “human freedom” being tied to Christ. Humans can only be “free” if they follow Steiner. Here, have a look at this:
    “For Steiner human freedom is itself intimately connected with the life of Christ, because it is the strength that we can derive from the slowly maturing higher-self in us, the archetype of which was historically made manifest in the Christ event, that makes our ongoing struggle against adversity possible — allowing us to develop a creative inner freedom that cannot be ‘given’ to us, even by an omnipotent deity, but must be earned by our confronting the lessons of adversity. Inner freedom, he tells us, can only be developed through knowledge, and from the experiences arising out of life’s constant struggle (we must always distinguish clearly between ‘liberty’ as something given to us from without, and creative ‘freedom’ as something coming entirely from within ourselves). ”

    2. believed in non-sectarian education;
    3. We all know he didn’t. Here’s Rudolf Steiner talking to teachers: http://digitalseance.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/faculty_meetings_1_2.pdf
    “The anthroposophical instruction, that is, the independent religious instruction, can be given by the class teachers. However, we should wait until September 23 to begin that.” – p4
    He called Anthroposophy “independent religious instruction”. On p6 is a teacher asking about it: “A teacher: Many parents have been unable to decide whether they should send their children to the independent religious instruction or the Lutheran or Catholic. Many of them wrote both in the questionnaire, since they want their children confirmed for family reasons.
    Dr. Steiner: Here we must be firm. It’s either the one or the other. We will need to speak about this question more at a later time.”
    – p7 “A teacher: How should we handle the question of books for religious
    instruction?” – p17 Steiner says “We now need to speak a little bit about the independent religious instruction. You need to tell the children that if they want the independent religious instruction, they must choose it. Thus, the independent religious instruction will simply be a third class alongside the other two… Those who are to have the independent religious instruction can certainly be put together according to grades, for instance, the lower four and the upper four grades. Any one of us could give that instruction. How many children want that instruction?
    A teacher: Up to now, there are sixty, fifty-six of whom are children of anthroposophists. The numbers will certainly change since many people wanted to have both.” “We can leave those children who are not taking any religious instruction alone, but we can certainly inquire as to why they should not have any. We should attempt to determine that in each case. In doing so, we may be able to bring one or another to take instruction in the family religion or possibly to come to the anthroposophic instruction. We should certainly do something there, since we do not want to just allow children to grow up without any religious instruction at all.”
    – pp 17-18 – in case anyone is wondering if “independent religious instruction” means Anthroposophy… Steiner insists it must be done by Waldorf teachers.
    “A teacher: Should the class teacher give the independent religious
    instruction?
    Dr. Steiner: Certainly, one of us can take it over, but it does not
    need to be the children’s own class teacher. We would not want
    someone unknown to us to do it. We should remain within the
    circle of our faculty.”

    4. in overcoming distinctions of race and in the highest ethics;
    5. Again, we know Steiner didn’t believe in overcoming distinctions of race. He pointed out the distinctions of race time and time again (even to the first Waldorf teachers – and his racist texts are still required reading in teacher training), and maintained that a spiritual racial hierarchy exists. As for his ethics – we know he instructed teachers to lie to parents and the public… so for Steiner, the ends always justified the means.
    6.
    7. in re-humanizing a dehumanizing thrall to scientism and technological optimism;
    Um… Science doesn’t require humanizing… when you “humanize” science, it becomes something else… “psuedo-science” and “spiritual science” are terms for that.

    5. in teaching according to human development, even as this changes from time to time and place to place;
    A better idea would be to teach according to an individual’s development (since you claim to value individual freedoms). Waldorf teachers go by Steiner’s wives-tale-like ideas about “the changing of teeth” and “seven year cycles” instead of really looking at the development and readiness of the individual child. They insist on keeping every kid dumb until Steiner said they’re ready to move on. There’s no looking at an individual child and thinking “this child is asking intellectual questions… maybe we should challenge his/her intellect?”

    6. in re-attaching human beings to what Huston Smith calls “the perennial philosophy;”
    You assume there’s some value in this. It’s a notion based on belief in religion. Not everyone would agree – but indeed, it’s part of the focus of Waldorf education.

    7. and if anthroposophy is not a religion;
    8. Read the passages above… Steiner believed it was a pretty good substitute for religious instruction… what does *that* tell you?
    9.
    10. and if Waldorf schools and Waldorf teachers are doing their best to implement an education according to these principles;
    Which ones? The ones you ascribed to Steiner that he didn’t actually have? Or the compilation of religious beliefs you call a “philosophy” and believe humans should reattach themselves to?

    then the critics are not so much wrong—although I believe they’re frequently and fundamentally wrong about many things—as they are looking through the wrong end of the binoculars, or looking at a funhouse mirror. They perceive—and then represent—a diminished and distorted view of Waldorf education and anthroposophy.

    Critics don’t use binoculars, we use microscopes. And the fun-house mirrors you detect are Steiner enthusiasts distorting Steiner’s own words and what has been happening in Waldorf education for 100 years. In the last 10 years, with the internet, word has gotten out. Waldorf representatives have blocked critical discussion and content in some places by amassing forces (Wikipedia)… or through legal threats (mumsnet.com) – and yet, critical mass has finally overtaken Waldorf. People know better than to accept an “elevator speech” when it comes to Waldorf education. They know there’s more to it… they’ve heard about the problems despite Waldorf’s efforts to suppress criticism on the internet. If it’s only a handful of critics who have accomplished this, they sure must be doing a good job!

  20. I find it a bit difficult to discuss on Steve’s site… for several reasons.

    You’re right — the internet really is the big change. Eventually, waldorf proponents will have to come to terms with people saying what they think. Or they will look like morons.

  21. Well, since Waldorf folks don’t believe in evolution, it might not occur to them that they have only two choices – adaptation or extinction. Their efforts at adaptation, so far, amount to camouflage… but now that the world knows what to look for, that camouflage isn’t working for them. Yet, it’s part of their organism now… they will always try to use camouflage first, just in case it may work… but I suspect some (like Steve) realize they’re exposed now… and hiding in plain sight isn’t an option anymore. The internet has provided the critical mass required to change or destroy Waldorf… the choice is Waldorf’s.

  22. I think they’re hoping to replace the dire prospects of either adaptation or extinction with reincarnation!

    But I think it’s becoming more and more apparent that old tactics don’t work very well.

  23. They are being called out every time they post somewhere. Blissninny statements are less tolerated in public forums. Every time a blissninny makes a comment, they risk someone coming right behind them and posting a link to PLANS or some other critical website. When a Waldorf representative makes a statement about how Steiner wasn’t a racist, they fully expect the very next post to refute it. Thus, we see far fewer statements like this lately. Even Sune doesn’t seem to be out commenting like he used to (I wonder how he’s earning his SWSF paycheck these days?). On Mothering.com, we see parents who question Waldorf bombarded with blissninny comments – but then quietly given the links to critical sites… The word is out…

  24. I haven’t followed the discussions on web forums a lot lately, but from what I’ve seen I think you’re right. Unfortunately I don’t even feel like reading most of that blissninny stuff anymore — don’t want to try to do anything about it anyway. Others do, that’s good.

    I have wondered what Sune is up to, actually. He claimed he’d stopped working for the waldorf federation, but didn’t say what he’s doing instead (perhaps he’d like to enlighten us?). There is some activity around the issue of the waldorf teacher training in Sweden. And I saw one german article he’d provided information to (see my post). Surprisingly accurate.

    Occasionally he tweets, but not so frequently anymore.

    Perhaps he works in silence behind the scenes, as it were. I don’t know.

    Were some of the other familiar faces not around recently on some US article/blog/whatever? I have vague memories.

  25. Well, voices that have stepped up lately are Harlan Gilbert – who has been providing the ‘voice of reason’ over on Mothering.com. He has shown up on a couple of blogs pretending to be a ‘parent’ (apparent to me ;) ) until he was outed. Here: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=1604426 he’s joined by Daniel Hindes and even Dottie… but each only posts once and gives no response. Swindell doesn’t seem to be engaging anyone either. He made one comment here: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Academics-pen-open-letter-warning-pseudoscience/story-16152637-detail/story.html and then disappeared.

    This is common. Here: http://smrtlernins.com/2010/11/16/ask-a-smrt-homeschooler-about-the-waldorf-method/#comments Joan Jaeckel drops in for a single post – just to provide the links to the Waldorf materials (including out-of-context quoting of Steiner). These “drive-by” posts are evidence of no willingness to discuss the issues on the part of Waldorf. They just want to link to their apologia and hopefully confuse readers. Here: http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2012/04/el-rio-charter-school.html Joan Jaeckel replied only once on her own blog (thinking Steve Hale might be a prospective Waldorf parent).

    I think we’re going to see more and more of this ‘giving up’ type of posting by Waldorf representatives. Wherever they cannot control the discussion, the goal is to move the reader to their own biased sites… or better yet, get parents to visit a Waldorf school and “see for themselves”. Waldorf teachers just can’t express that special sense of *knowing more than can be known about your children* over the internet too well. That miracle is best experienced in person.

  26. ‘He has shown up on a couple of blogs pretending to be a ‘parent’…’

    Oh no, not that tactic again. It’s so embarrassing. It’s beyond embarrassing.

    One of the things that irritate me, the advice: don’t listen to critics (who have visited waldorf schools!), instead visit (while having little knowledge beforehand) some open day with pre-arrangement and appropriate activities, and all that. Which is all good, but I constantly have the feeling that they wish for people do do this — and fall for all the superficial stuff — instead of looking for information and without knowing anything much. That’s the point of it. Experiencing something pretty, not knowing what the pretty is behind all the pretty.

    Thanks for the links. There he is, btw, Swindell, saying: ‘Go and visit the Exeter Steiner school or the South Devon Steiner school near Totnes and ask staff and parents: find out for yourself!’

    That’s his idea of finding out for yourself. Of course, some critics did find out for themselves the way he recommends, though it might have taken a while. And not become clear before actually reading some things too…

  27. And that’s what we see with so many glowing articles… reporters who have visited a Waldorf school and have been impressed by the dog and pony show they put on. When challenged, none of the “reporters” have had any real experience with Waldorf – yet they’re quick to say “Waldorf must be doing something right”… Why? Because the only customers there are “satisfied” ones? Big surprise!

  28. I often just want to shake my head in disbelief when I read such things.

    Also, it’s complete nonsense, and if journalism, it’s sloppy journalism. By nonsense I mean, it’s not even something that’s worth pointing out. It would be more useful if they defined what exactly waldorf’s doing right, except the seduction part, which they’re clearly accomplished at.

    I don’t think anybody ever said they’re doing *everything* wrong, but I’m not sure that tells us anything much about waldorf either.

  29. I don’t hold the journalists too responsible… they visit the school for an hour and come away with an impression – and a ton of Waldorf PR materials. They do their due diligence and verify what they’ve experienced with Wikipedia – and submit their story. Like most parents, it never really occurs to them that these people would lie about everything from their rates of success, to their reasons for doing things, to the very presence of Anthroposophy in the classroom. I laugh when I hear reporters repeat the Waldorf “buzz” words right in their articles… “Welcome to our Waldorf school… have some Kool-aid.”

  30. But still. The buzz words, the nonsense and the absence of content. It’s like you have to be happy when they even mention that perhaps it’s not *only* good to delay reading. Or something.

  31. Thank you, Diana. I had not noted that.

    Yes, it’s a bit slow… haven’t posted in a while (and don’t want to now, as the you-know-who is there and I’m too fed up with it) but it’s quite annoying, that slowness… (And not knowing whether one’s comment will turn up or not, even though mine always did — I think. I don’t remember.)

  32. Yeah, it is very irritating …he said I was paranoid to think he was trying to control the discussion that way … maybe. You really can’t have a coherent discussion when comments are held for 72 hours. I’m not going to let the discussion of corporal punishment drop even if it drags on all summer. I simply could not believe the nonsensical remark about how “in the US a teacher would be fired and sued” if she hit a student!! Is it pleasant with your head down there under the sand?!!! It simply reeks of the whole Waldorf disengagement with the world, “We’re special, we have no problems, why are you in here making all this noise in our sacred place?”

  33. I fear that not even a waldorf teacher in Sweden might be fired for that — yet corporal punishment is illegal here. In all schools, everywhere, at all times. So there should be no question about it.

    That’s just an assumption though. I don’t claim there was a problem with physical punishments in the waldorf school I went to — there wasn’t. But I think a waldorf teacher might get away with more because of the social environment and the expectation on loyalty between collegues (and even from parents). I’ve heard about physical punishments (also severe cases) in swedish waldorf schools by people I find believable. And the events were silenced or ignored, except (of course) by the victim.

    But yes — there’s a disengagement with the world, and it’s quite evident. (I think the same disengagement showed in the thread about reading, where it was argued that kids won’t be harmed by absence of books and computers at school — they have all these things at home anyway…)

    I’m not sure what he’s trying to do, but delaying posting replies is frustrating to readers and participants. That’s the problem with moderating comments, you’ve got to be present a lot, even if just to let the comments through. (Not my thing… I’ve always felt pretty frustrated myself at times when I’ve had to moderate.)

  34. Our Waldorf school did not disallow physical punishments, at least at the time our family was there. That, despite the fact that it was indeed illegal. We had spankings, slaps, children slammed against the wall, children picked up by the neck,and children’s mouths washed out with soap (the latter two I witnessed; others I heard about from discussions with other parents).

  35. ‘And the events were silenced or ignored, except (of course) by the victim.’

    That said, the victims who of course were children had to just shut up and stop complaining. I was trying to clumsily say that they of course could not ignore what had happened to them, even if others could.

    In case anyone wonders — there’s discussion in two threads on Steve’s blog, one is the Steve’s faq and the other thread is a post (‘a glance at discipline methods’) inspired by a comment on the faq thread. I guess there’s no worldwide waldorf warning system helping waldorf schools and pro-waldorf bloggers avoid exposing themselves to unmentionable perils…

  36. Diana — ouch. There were teachers who were really mean and quite frustrated and didn’t like children and did all kinds of weird things, but I never saw anything like that. I was a child of course and don’t remember everything and probably didn’t always pay attention to what happened to other kids. I can’t imagine my main teacher ever having been violent to a child though. Some of the others I’m less sure about.

  37. Only reading.
    Finding out about waldorf schools has been like watching a horror film sometimes. It would be nice if it was only make-believe though.
    Also my favourite films have happy endings, not sure if this one does.

  38. There’s precedent in Steiner too… in Faculty Meetings he arrives and displays irritation that he’s already heard about “who got a slap” and such. Not that he had a problem with the slapping, it was the GOSSIP he was complaining about.

    Highland Hall, naturally, is no stranger to corporal punishment. And sometimes it wasn’t quite as obvious as hitting. Running laps was something they were big on. Northridge on hot days can reach 110 degrees. Spending a day in the garden on such days was used as punishment (it was 106 degrees on the day they called me to tell me my daughter would be spending all day in the garden for behavioral problems. I told them they would do no such thing, of course). Humiliation was their favorite, however. 5th graders being forced to clean toilets as punishment? Seriously?
    And don’t get me started on when they DO NOTHING when they see a child punishing themselves (I’m talking about starving, cutting and stuff like that). Kids who don’t fit in may grow up believing there’s something wrong with them.

  39. When I first wondered about waldorf/steiner schools over 20 years ago, there was no easy way to
    find out about them, other than to read one of Steiner’s books, which was beyond my capacity
    and probably most other people who wondered.
    So they just kept on doing what they do with apparently no criticism in my part of the world.
    It was only through googling Rudolf Steiner this year I first read the word anthroposophy and from there went on to read criticisms.
    So I think the critics on the internet are doing something incredibly useful and I have only admiration for their refusal to give up the necessary fight.
    My meagre contribution is to try to alert people locally to anthroposophy and hope they will be interested enough to find out more. What you do find out is scarcely believable sometimes and as Alicia has said before, the very implausibility of some scenarios can make criticsm difficult to communicate.
    Thank goodness for the critics who are sufficiently articulate and knowledgeable to be able to carry on their work.
    It is sad that in many instances there have to have been disastrous experiences for families in order for this to occurr.

  40. It is indeed very different today. 15 minutes of googling and you’ll come up with things that, at the very least, suggest further investigation is merited before making a choice. Of course, many parents won’t be swayed, but some will, and those were never the kind of parents who’d be happy with waldorf anyway. Back then you had to go to the library and read Steiner. And what other waldorf parents or students had to say, in terms of criticism, would remain unknown and virtually unknowable.

    (In my case, I doubt it would have changed much, at least not if the situation in education were the same today as it was then, with few choices available.)

    Pete: ‘Kids who don’t fit in may grow up believing there’s something wrong with them.’

    Absolutely. Constant feeling of my childhood.

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