the recent bbc program

in which anthroposophist and prominent, highly experienced Steiner principal Trevor Mepham states that ‘I wouldn’t say that he [Rudolf Steiner] believed in it.’ What’s Mepham referring to? Reincarnation. The reporter poses some very good questions about, among other things, the role of anthroposophy to Mepham, who tries his best to weasel out of answering them, too. The program was aired in the UK last monday. (It’s also available, for viewers in Britain, on BBC’s website.) Watch this now, it may not be left up on youtube for very long:

208 thoughts on “the recent bbc program

  1. They have knitted their own paradigm, and are trying to trap gnomes in it.

    By the way, I forgot to say: the reporter was good, but so, too, was Daisy. It’s interesting to see how a young and more inexperienced steiner teacher is not making a fool or herself and the movement, while Mepham, the seasoned steinerist, manages to drown in his own twaddle.

  2. Perhaps Mepham didn’t know his interviewer was so well informed until it was too late.
    Daisy was wrong though about the extent of Steiner’s race doctrines. But how would she know unless she read her way through everything (Including work unavailable in English)? And who can blame her for not doing so.

  3. She didn’t try to pretend they weren’t there. And that is certainly great progress, compared to Mepham’s weasel tactics. I assume that some of the old guard are imagining that what has always work will continue to work. But it’s one thing to face a single parent who might pose a few confused questions, and to face a reporter who has read up on the subject — and knows what questions to ask. I’m thinking more, now, about her extremely valid questions about the role of anthroposophy, which Mepham didn’t even want to mention by name.

  4. Unfortunately this was a local regional broadcast, but within the catchment area are many susceptible to pastel colours of Steiner, so it may have done some good.

  5. Pete, I must admit that the schadenfreude I feel over Sune’s distress of desperation is at least an order of magnitude greater than any I have ever felt at your expense. So I’ve already piled up 3 comments in the queue of Andy’s blog on the “Forbidden Colored Lecture.”

    It’s 9 PM here in LA now, so that means that Andy and then later Alicia are probably close to waking up now for their new day. Should be fun to see all the comments they make by the time we wake up tomorrow for our new California day.

  6. Hello Alicia,

    Many thanks for this posting on the BBC’s Regional Programme. I reckon several aspects of our exchanges may help us.

    Hi there Matthew,

    I believe we have not met. Thanks for connecting with such practical advice..

    :-)

    On reflection, I reckon a skeptic’s response may have been:

    Hi David. Why is that adult education class or any other relevant in this context?

    ——————————-

    Hi All,

    I aim to raise further themes from this thread with our adult education class on Tuesday.

    Greetings,

    David

  7. David: what kind of adult education class is that? I googled your name and found a steiner school study group — is that it? If so, I think it’s very good that you’re trying to raise problematic issues, such as those criticized in the BBC program, with the group.

    Sune: ‘For some comments on the nonsense in the program, rooted in the writings of Staudenmaier et al, stated by someone in the program about reincarnation being “related to race” and going from “schwartz” to “weiss”, see http://waldorfanswers.org/OnSalonArticle.html

    It appears that you haven’t read Steiner, Sune! What a pity!

    We don’t have to obsess about the race issue, unless you want to, though. There was enough nonsense without it. For example, the nonsense coming from Mepham’s mouth. Let’s talk about that. Whatever race teachings are contained in Steiner’s work, Mepham was standing there making up nonsense about both reincarnation and about the foundation for waldorf education, refusing to answer direct questions in an honest way. Here’s the thing: if the members of the higher echelons of the waldorf education hierarchy didn’t behave like that, but instead presented their ideas openly and honestly, many problems would cease to exist. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any, but a lot of them actually derive directly from the dishonesty.

  8. Hi Alicia,

    I’m just tracking these remarks. Many thanks for responding in a critical way, rather than with criticism alone. I reckon this distinction really can made a difference. Somehow, this more engaged perspective seems quite authentic to me.

    I reckon there have been pointers in other threads. Not aiming for secrecy. As a (t)rusty lawyer, you may safely conclude that the class is open and has been advertised locally.

    Following recent conversations locally, a recognised web entry has recently been made. Thanks for testing this very new internet presence.

    While this location on the web was arranged with my willing agreement, I was not consulted about the entry’s content. As you may guess Alicia, I remain an Internet skeptic at heart.

    You may note that I conventionally use the expression “adult education class”. From my personal perspective, this usage is quite deliberate. Firstly, it respects values of equality and open enquiry. Secondly, outcomes from this collaborative work are being shared among the group as reflection and review. Thirdly, fruits of this activity are being discussed among Early Years colleagues as other adult educators.

    Sorry for the brief interruption in real time. My neighbour wanted access to my drive and we fell into conversation. The demands and opportunities of everyday life!

    For myself, there is another, if anything more important step. As those engaging locally are aware, I aim to take up innovative research into aspects of the “social question”, Alicia, I reckon this intriguing expression may also be found through a search of Google. So there is the added concern with my effectiveness and openness as an adult educator. To this end, I am preparing to pursue a Doctoral project with educational researchers at a local University. At this early stage, I aim to evaluate my activities in adult education and their effectiveness.

    As you may guess, this has been an amazing experience, especially as I understand from these academic contacts and hard copy literature that conventional educational research has been severely criticised. Dissenting voices have been raised both by practitioners (teachers) and policy makers (administrators and politicians). Both schools of thought are agreed in their understanding that that research base may be viewed as unhelpful to say the least. Of course, you will appreciate that aspects of this ongoing debate may be looked up through a relatively standard Boolean Search of the Internet.

    It may surprise you to learn of my discovery that the notion of adult education is quite fiercely contested in academic circles. For this reason, I am needing to exercise care and judgement in approaching a difficult literature. As a balancing

    Apologies for the interruption. A telep-+++++++++++one conversation and the cat jumped onto the keyboard.

    aspect, the Programme Team, while they know little about Waldorf Education, reckon that the expressions of agreement alone demonstrate that Waldorf is an interesting research area. Interview soon. Scary.

    Sorry Alicia. Apologies for this long email. It just seemed relevant to give some specific context to your question.

    Greetings

    David

  9. Alicia,

    Checking the above as the cat is safely on the table. Of course, I meant “expressions of disagreement” in my above piece of writing. Everyday life once again, I’m afraid.

    Apologies for any confusion.

    David

  10. Sune’s entire adult life has been devoted to discrediting anyone who points out what Anthroposophy is or what Anthroposophists do. What a rewarding life… lying about who you are in order to convince people of something that isn’t true (Steiner had a similar life). And he has the balls to call someone *else* a con man.

  11. Hi Pete,

    Thanks.

    Do I need to respond to the above mesage?

    You wrote:

    “(Steiner had a similar life).”

    Were you thinking of anything specific here?

    Thanks,

    David

  12. Oh heck. This will teach me to type immediately on returning from the library.

    Clearly, I meant “message”

    Now to tackle household tasks before a attending a choral concert this evening.

    Greetings

    David

  13. “Sune’s entire adult life has been devoted to discrediting anyone who points out what Anthroposophy is or what Anthroposophists do. What a rewarding life…lying about who you are in order to convince people of something that isn’t true (Steiner had a similar life)”

    And is your life not a mirror image of all this, down to ‘lying’ and other failures of character?

  14. And it’s interesting to see how Andy Lewis has been very quickly driven to rant mode when Staudenmaier’s propriety is questioned. How cultic is that? And not much evidence of rationalism or scepticism there (unsurprisingly). As I’ve said, too little self-criticism.

  15. Hi,

    Slightly off-message, perhaps.

    Just noticing the “Kiosk’s” public Twitter feed.

    Clearly, the General Anthroposophical Society is a public organisation. As a quick definition, it also serves to express Members’ strivings in life. For these (to me logical) reasons, certain matters may seem contradictory.

    On Tuesday, I’m hoping to pick up these questions briefly. We had hoped to discuss the Goetheanum but we had a lively conversation on other matters instead.

  16. Hi Ted,

    Thanks for responding. You wrote:

    “And is your life not a mirror image of all this, down to “lying” and other failures of character?”

    Is this meant to refer to me?

    Please clarify.

    Thanks,

    David

  17. Mathew said:

    “David, Ted is responding to Peter.”

    Known as Pete K. Sorry that wasn’t clear – I’m bad at labelling things when I think the context is clear (partly because I’m a bad typist).

  18. that head teacher is lying steiner did believe in reincarnation he himself described his various incarnations one of them being thomas aquinas no less,besides how can you be an anthroposophical steiner school and not be it at the same time?is this anthroschizophrenia or what,why dont they admit,they cant wipe out the racist ridiculous doctrines,its not just an alternative education,i find many of the elements of the education very positive like that young teacher but she will come to experience that you cant separate the ideology from the education and she will eventually have to make a painful choice

  19. Pete said,

    “down to “TRUSTING” and other failures of character?”
    There… fixed it for ya…”

    You’re just projecting your wishes onto yourself, Pete. Look at your performance on quacks at the moment, full of unnecessary sarcasm directed at pointless issues, such as list moderation, that presumably fuels your empty sense that you’re winning at something – that’s not a good character trait.

  20. Helen said:

    “that head teacher is lying”

    Seems so, or deeply confused.

    “he himself [Steiner] described his various incarnations”

    No, he didn’t. As far as I’ve ever heard, he only described them in a private letter (or even a note, I believe) to Ita Wegman, in the last year of his life, never in public.

    “but she [the young teacher] will come to experience that you cant separate the ideology from the education and she will eventually have to make a painful choice”

    That’s Daisy. She’s already been addressing those and other issues on this list and critics. I think she’s more aware of things than you perhaps give her credit for.

  21. Ted said to Helene:

    No, he didn’t. As far as I’ve ever heard, he only described them in a private letter (or even a note, I believe) to Ita Wegman, in the last year of his life, never in public.

    Ted, I must correct your mistaken notion about Steiner never revealing a past life of his in public. Actually, he did so, and did so in a very public way in 1910, and such revelation continues unabated today since Anthroposophists love to perform his Mystery Dramas.

    It involves the figure that Helene herself brought up, namely Saint Thomas Aquinas.

    You see, Ted, Rudolf Steiner took pains to emphasize that all the characters in the 4 Mystery Plays are based on real life people. The character of Benedictus is Rudolf Steiner and in the 2nd play, “Die Pruefung der Seele,” translated as: “The Ordeal of the Soul” (also, “The Soul’s Probation”), Benedictus reveals his immediate past life as the great figure of a religious order (clearly the Dominicans) who died 50 years before the scenes in the play that were set in 1325 AD. Thomas Aquinas died in 1274.

    Of course Rudolf Steiner never named himself in a public lecture as Aquinas, but to any anthroposophist watching these plays, there is no doubt that Steiner revealed his immediate past life as Saint Thomas Aquinas through the artistic medium of drama.

  22. Interesting. I wonder if that’s true, Tom. I’ve read several lectures where he refers to those mystery dramas but I’ve not seen him name names. As for the anthros that ‘know this’ – well I guess I’m out of that loop too.

  23. “You’re just projecting your wishes onto yourself, Pete. Look at your performance on quacks at the moment, full of unnecessary sarcasm directed at pointless issues, such as list moderation, that presumably fuels your empty sense that you’re winning at something – that’s not a good character trait.”

    Ted, even your fellow Anthros are begging you to STFU… seriously, you think I’M projecting?

  24. Tom, you necrophiliac soul-rapist you… http://uncletaz.com/wc/wcthreads/mellett.html

    “Steiner never commented publicly on the past lives of himself, or on the past lives of other living persons, it being a real soul rape.

    Doing it publicly the way you and Tom do – now on a dead person – is not far from the rape of publicly discussing the possible former lives of living persons.

    Sune Nordwall
    Stockholm, Sweden”

  25. “Ted, even your fellow Anthros are begging you to STFU… seriously, you think I’M projecting?.”

    Frank? He always says that – he’s just grumpy. You, OTOH, have been asked to STFU by no less than his  quackness, Mr Lewis (who also asked you if you understood how the Internet worked – did you notice that?What a charming man! He could take sarcasm lessons from you, I think (oh, probably has!)). 

    (This conversation’s really motoring now isn’t it? See, I can do (not very good) sarcasm too).

  26. “Oh, and cosmic timing. I just got a tweet from Conner Habib about his new movie.”

    Hope that’s not still in the porn genre, Tom. I didn’t read the story but there was something about a syphallis epidemic in the industry in last week’s news.

  27. On quacks, Andy has just censored my post (about list management). As a record of my reply, since he’ll most likely remove that too soon, I’m re-posting here (sorry Alicia, I know it’s a bit of an imposition. Perhaps you’ll humour me).

    “It was in reply to your accusation, Andy. But if you want to (unconvincingly) claim that you’re being objective here – and censoring the replies to prove it! – feel free (it’s your blog after all).”

  28. Andy Lewis reminds me a bit of (a smaller, English version of) Peter Staudenmaier. They both wish to re-construct the world in the  image of their idea of a better one. They both include (their) ideas of the rational, the sceptical and the critical as tools to do so. But when you engage with them you find they have failed to direct their tools onto themselves – the most important task of all (they ‘let their wolves onto others’ sheep’ as EA MacKenzie terms it) – and so never notice the unredeemed parts of their own character, that mean that their image of the new world could not be of general validity.

  29. “Hopefully, he’ll get around to deleting your other comments too. ;)”

    Makes sense, you’d say that, Pete.

  30. David: ‘I reckon there have been pointers in other threads. Not aiming for secrecy. As a (t)rusty lawyer, you may safely conclude that the class is open and has been advertised locally.’

    It has been advertised on the internet, which has global reach (I’m in Sweden, not local!). Yes, you did mention some kind of education in other threads and then here. I assumed you used your own name when commenting. I also assumed that your course was somehow related to Steiner schools. Google immediately came up with a search result.

    ‘especially as I understand from these academic contacts and hard copy literature that conventional educational research has been severely criticised.’

    That is what happens, and should happen, in academic research.

    David wrote re a tweet of mine (https://twitter.com/zzzooey/status/272378741613813760 followed by link here https://twitter.com/zzzooey/status/272378925093629953):

    ‘Clearly, the General Anthroposophical Society is a public organisation. As a quick definition, it also serves to express Members’ strivings in life. For these (to me logical) reasons, certain matters may seem contradictory.’

    Actually, I simply found the story quite entertaining; the general secretary of the belgian anthro society had gone from karate to eurythmy. Not everything I post on twitter (or here) is supposed to have HUGE and serious meaning. Often it’s just for fun.

    Ted to Helene:

    ‘“but she [the young teacher] will come to experience that you cant separate the ideology from the education and she will eventually have to make a painful choice”

    That’s Daisy. She’s already been addressing those and other issues on this list and critics. I think she’s more aware of things than you perhaps give her credit for.’

    Daisy is, I think, more aware than most new Steiner teachers.

    Tom: interesting about the mystery dramas. In particular as this was discussed on another thread recently (karma and evil, wasn’t it?).

    Just as a general note: it always surprises me that people who are touchy (?) about getting their comments deleted don’t start their own blogs! It’s the easiest way to keep your own comments from deletion ;-)

  31. “it always surprises me that people who are touchy (?) about getting their comments deleted don’t start their own blogs!”

    Perhaps. OTOH, as a person who is supposedly shining the light of rational, critical, scepticism on corners of the world that he believes need such attention, and ‘repairing impaired thinking’, the person in question ought to have a certain duty to truth (which he implicitly admits in his criticism of ‘quacks’ as guilty of ‘carelessness with the truth.’). He describes himself as a ‘critical thinker… spotting common errors of thinking and argument, such as post hoc thinking, magical thinking, selective thinking and appeals to authority’ (the appeals to authority vice he has already fallen into with his attempt to puff Staudenmaier as a ‘professor’). Suppressing criticism of his own failure of neutrality is hypocrisy, and not an impressive advertisement for his commitment to these values or his character (the latter he would probably say was irrelevant, a (practical) fallacy of its own). I think he would want to see himself as a progressive individual that supports virtues such as democracy and freedom of thought. Suppressing dissent, as he’s done, is the classic authoritarian’s response to criticism. As I say, he’s fooling himself on his commitment to the values that he says motivates his project.

  32. I think there’s a conflict between allowing pretty much anything and readability and usefulness of the threads. This said in general (I have not actually followed everything over on quackometer, which means I’ve probably missed some recent comments). I mean, you might want to limit commenting to useful contributions, to keep the discussion on track and on topic. That way, I suspect, the thread ends up being coherent, informative and useful. I don’t run things that way (as you can tell by the general anarchy here…), frankly because I’m too lazy, and allowing everything* is the lazy path (and quite often the more fun path). I’m not sure it’s the best path towards meaningful debate though. Or towards providing meaningful information and argumentation that change people’s minds about Steiner education. If that’s what one wants. Again, I’ve given up and am too lazy. I don’t care as much (at all) about changing public opinion or informing people.

    Let’s face it, though, Andy Lewis can certainly be a good skeptic and critic, and allow *on-topic* criticism of his arguments, without necessarily wanting to be flooded with (often less relevant) rants by all sorts of fanatics, who want an outlet for personal hang-ups on certain people or topics, which are not the point of the discussion at hand. I’m talking in general now.

    (*with a few exceptions)

  33. LOL! Perhaps Sune has bitten off more than he can chew! (Does Mr. Dog have any advice for him?) Here is a link to the comment section on the BBC video now up on YouTube.
    http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=WpOXitdxzk4

    Not only is he fencing with Nick Nakorn, he’s run into a woman named Julie who is not about to put up with his misogynistic harassment. He has one compadre there named Mercuryrules whose name I recognize from blogs past. I see Harlan’s on there, too.

  34. “Maddox award for standing up for science: Haters gonna hate.”

    https://mobile.twitter.com/lecanardnoir/status/272713224170897410

    Andy Lewis recently tweeted this on the subject of patient advocacy of myalgic encephalomyelitis (and Melanie endorsed it) .  The tweet thread referred to one ‘noodlemaz”s blog, where the awarding of the Maddox prize to controversial ME researcher Simon Wessely, for ‘for Standing up for Science’,  had been discussed.

    http://noodlemaz.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/john-maddox-prize-2012/

    The blog contains dozens of entries, almost entirely from patients or advocates decrying the award of this prize to Wessely (the awarding of which noodlemaz defends, instead boasting of the record number of entries to her blog the controversy has generated). These are the people Lewis is calling ‘haters’. 

    One story, of a young woman called Sophia Wilson , described by her mother, is particularly poignant (she lived, and died at just 22, from the disease, just up the road from me in Eastleigh). She apparently developed her symptoms after returning from a trip to Africa. Her physical condition soon deteriorated but her GP diagnosed her as suffering from a psychological illness. Over time, as her condition, deteriorated the mother, who resisted the diagnosis,  was judged unfit to look after her daughter. The resistance from the mother eventually caused her daughter to be forcibly removed to a locked room in mental hospital. The mother took the case to tribunal and got her daughter released two weeks later. After this the young woman’s health deteriorated further and within three years she was dead. As the mother says:

    “On Friday 25th she died.  I did not cry.  I gave thanks that I had been able to keep my word that she would never be locked-up in a mental hospital again.  All my grieving had been done during the previous 6 years and especially during the last 9 weeks, when I used to walk the streets with tears streaming down my face, knowing that there was nothing that I could do to help or comfort Sophia.”

    http://www.investinme.org/Article-050%20Sophia%20Wilson%2001.htm

    This is the testimony of one of Lewis’ ‘haters’. As I’ve said, Lewis’, in his project,  is no force for medical justice, progress or compassion; rather it is his personal crusade, defined in opposition to his own inadequate conception of ‘science’. As for his self designation as a humanist – the lack of humanity, of compassion, in that tweet says all one needs to know about that.

    Rather than supporting Lewis’ self conception of a defender of freedom,  I perceive him as an enemy of freedom, someone who wishes to restrict people’s right to have the kind of medical care they wish. His tightening campaign of censorship against dissent on his blog (only two paragraphs are allowed, at his discretion, to some commenters) confirms that his project is directed at increasing *his* kind of freedom, with little concern for the wider concept.

  35. Ted, your comment was held for moderation (due to the number of links). However, I was not sure if I was going to release it at all. It’s very much off topic.

    It is my firm impression that what Andy fights against is fraud and deception: how people, when they’re faced with very difficult situations, become the prey of vendours of useless methods and ‘medicines’ and not only lose their health and even lives to their futile ‘cures’ but also their money. It’s an appalling business and those who sell this despicable quackery should be ashamed of themselves. Not Andy.

    And that is the final word. I will not have you post crap about Andy because he won’t allow you to post it on his blog. No more of that, please, or I will not hesitate to delete.

  36. Fair enough (though I disagree with your assessment of this case). I’ve also posted to quacks – where I suppose it will not materialise. Sorry for posting off topic. This will be my last.

  37. It was crap, what’s more, it was utterly off-topic crap, and I will not tolerate it. And that goes for you, too, Victor Morrow. (I’m not, by the way, impressed by your ‘efforts’ over on youtube. Although it oddly entertains me to see that the Steiner movement digs its own grave.)

    If either one of you wants to post stuff like that, I suggest you get your own blogs.

    If Andy chooses not to host your rants, or to to allow them derail important debates, then it is in his right to do so. And my blog is not the place to continue these rants against him (or, for that matter, against Peter Staudenmaier). I appreciate them both and value their contributions highly.

  38. I did not need to read that entire report to get the picture. I have extensive experience with this sort of thing. It is a tragic story, but plainly not for the reasons the mother thinks. It astounds me that some people read it and don’t understand that the problems were psychiatric. I know what I’m talking about on this one. The only conceivable thing that could have helped that young woman would be to get away from her mother permanently – which I suppose is what she ultimately achieved.

    “I then heard about a carbon monoxide detector. I bought one and sited it near the ventilator shaft in the bathroom. It registered positive ++. I informed the council and the gas board who sent a man around to see it. He flashed a torch around in the shaft and said that it was fine. He did not seem to understand the seriousness of it and treated me as if I were invisible. From that point onwards any sort of chemical, such as soap, powder, perfume, detergent, cleaning liquids, car fumes, etc. sent Sophia into further decline. She was also badly affected by electromagnetic fields, which also included human beings. The block of flats was filled with TVs, radios, etc. She had also the multiple symptoms of ME including severe pain. She became even more ill, if that were possible. She also felt the building swaying in the wind which, in turn, escalated her symptoms. I had not realised that architects build in a “sway factor” to tall buildings in order for them to remain stable.”

  39. Ted: “the appeals to authority vice he has already fallen into with his attempt to puff Staudenmaier as a ‘professor’”

    Staudenmaier is a professor.

  40. Oh, it’s that obvious a case. I didn’t even know that stuff. Sadly there are those who peddle that nonsense, and inevitably somebody else ends up suffering.

    I’m not sure why some anthros make themselves look even more silly by writing ‘professor’ about someone who is a professor. It just looks stupid. I saw Sune promote his idea that Peter’s degree is some how a fraud or not real once again the other day. I’d say either he’s completely dishonest or completely clueless. Or perhaps both.

  41. ” I saw Sune promote his idea that Peter’s degree is some how a fraud or not real once again the other day. ”

    Sune’s projecting again. Steiner’s degree is the one that is close to fraudulent. As I recall, Steiner had trouble producing a dissertation and recycled something else he had written. I don’t remember the details but I can look it up this evening. There’s a shadow over Steiner’s degree, not Peter’s.

  42. Peter S. doesn’t really like it when people argue over his credentials. But I don’t think anthroposophists should get away with lying about it. Ted, above, tries to insinuate that he is *not* a professor (calling this “puffing”). The fact is he is a professor.

    http://www.marquette.edu/history/NewsHistoryStaudenmaier.shtml

    http://www.marquette.edu/history/fac.shtml#

    His CV is linked there too. I won’t link to it to avoid the comment getting hung up owing to too many links.

  43. I don’t think Steiner’s degree was fraudulent. A more pertinent issue might be that after his early youth, he did not use the advanced degree he earned. His academic efforts weren’t particularly successful, so he turned to a path of lesser resistance and easier accolades, becoming a spiritual guru. This is not in itself somehow damning or unadmirable. It’s not an uncommon thing, for a person to earn a degree in a field they then do not pursue. Life just takes us other places sometimes.

    All of that is really moot. Regarding “appeals to authority,” that’s all Steiner ever did, was appeal to authority. The “truths” he supposedly channeled are all to be taken on authority – his, or that of nebulous “higher powers.” Virtually nothing he said, in thousands of lectures, holds credibility unless you take it on authority. Very little of it is even worth considering, other than for its anthropological (not anthroposophical) interest.

    (Yes, yes, we know … you’re supposed to be able to replicate or confirm Steiner’s findings yourself, after you spend a few decades “doing the exercises” … but most anthroposophists don’t seem to get around to that. Even Sune claims it took him many years to grasp the basics of anthroposophy.)

    To me, earning a degree the old-fashioned way – through books and learnin’ – seems more of an accomplishment, and it’s open to anyone who can read and write, no advanced spiritual adeptitude required. (I think I just made up the word “adeptitude,” but it seems to work …)

  44. he slipped through pretty easily (as far as I remember, I may be mistaken, he lacked the prerequisite academic credentials necessary for getting a phd through in philosophy), but perhaps that was not uncommon back then.

    But yes he wanted an academic career, and I suspect that if he could have had one he would not have gone for the spiritual stuff. Or, rather, he wouldn’t have done so in the way he did. But he had to make a living.

    As for Peter, I kind of understand him not wanting arguments around his credentials; these nitwits, sorry, aren’t worth taking seriously anyway. Anybody who wonders what is true, can easily check it out. But yes, anthroposophists get away with lots of crap. What’s worst is perhaps not the lone fanatics on the internet, but that established anthroposophical institutions, like the Anthro Society in Sweden, reproducing the inaccurate ‘information’ uncritically. For example, on the Anthro Society’s website I think you can still read something about Peter and forgery. The only reason they get away with this is that Peter is who he is. Someone else would go after them for it.

    .

  45. Hello Alicia, Hello Diane,

    Just passing through briefly.

    My reference to Rudolf Steiner’s doctoral thesis is in: “The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and Truth and Knowledge” First Edition Pub. 1963 Rudolf Steiner Publications Inc. West Nyack, NY.

    On page 11 of the Introduction by Hugo S. Bergman PhD., it is stated that this thesis was published in 1892.

    In this edition, “Truth and Knowledge” starts with the Preface on page 295. Including the Index, my copy of this edition runs to 411 pages.

    My understanding is that Rudolf Steiner obtained his doctorate at the University of Rostock.

    According to the frontispiece, this book contains a translation by Rita Stebbing and was edited with notes by Paul M. Allen.

    The book does not give an ISBN reference.

    I hope these details help.

    David.

  46. Ok, not sure how you think they might help, as the information is easily available pretty much all over the place and everyone who discusses these things knows how to find it, if they don’t already know these things. The basic facts of Steiner’s dissertation — that it was written, that Steiner got his degree in Rostock (a uni where he hadn’t studied) in the early 1890s, that Steiner somewhat reworked it and published it as Truth and Knowledge, that it has been translated, that there are different editions of it, that they even might have different ISBN numbers — were not disputed. We were talking about whether one can reasonably say he got his degree through fraud or not. Diana and I don’t think so, Pete is, apparently, open to the possibility. What happened and how he got it is dealt with in dept in various books (Steiner bios for example), and in previous discussions, too, I’m sure. To me it’s pretty clear that he got his degree in a somewhat unconventional way, but that does not equal fraud.

    The published version is vailable in German, online, look for GA 3. Here’s the English version, Truth and Knowledge:
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA003/English/GC1981/GA003_index.html

  47. Hello Alicia,

    Hello Alicia, Skepticism is good. Peter and I haven’t met.

    As an undergraduate, I obtained my degree in accordance with the then Statutes of the University as an External Student of the University of London. At the time, this was far from unusual. Indeed, my understanding of the University’s history is that it began its activities through awarding External Degrees. While this has been recognised by subsequent institutions, foir me this did not require attendance at a University of London college.

    From this, I deduce that such questions are matters of fact. From the University of London’s web pages, you may discover that the University’s International Programmes still afford this possibility.

    You wrote:

    “… he got his degree in a somewhat unconventional way …”

    For me, this is possibly a matter of evidence.

    You wrote:

    ” … Pete is, apparently, open to the possibility … ”

    I suppose for me the question is “why?”

    Many thanks for the review of editions and ISBN numbers. My (limited) experience of academic practices suggests that conventions and correct referencing are key. This is because integrity of sources is fundamental for academic debates and enquiry. My reference was specific and a library source. Having access to both versions, I can now check this.

    Greetings

    David

  48. ” To me it’s pretty clear that he got his degree in a somewhat unconventional way, but that does not equal fraud. ”

    I didn’t exactly say it *was* fraudulent… (like Ted) I ‘implied’ it – in order to suggest that Sune is projecting Steiner’s academic shortcomings onto Peter… (I really think he is).

  49. Hello Pete,

    Many thanks for the explanation. Helpful.

    You wrote:

    ” … Steiner’s academic shortcomings … ”

    I have tested this approach in professional life over many years and found that it was recognised by others. Could you please perhaps clarify this comment for me?

    Hello Diana,

    You wrote:

    ” … appeals to authority …”

    My understanding is that Steiner expected others to test and verify his results. For me, that is ther distinctive element of his suggested methodology.

    Freetings,

    David

    Thanks.

    David

  50. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/archive/publications/ThinkersPdf/steinere.pdf

    “Rudolf Steiner’s reforming ideas still have an exceptionally strong, practical impact today in many spheres, especially in education, medicine, agriculture and the pictorial arts. On the other hand, his theoretical scientific and philosophical writings have so far met with little interest and still less acceptance in academic circles. When his thinking does attract attention it becomes the subject of passionate controversy. Uncritical identification by his followers contrasts with polemic and sweeping criticism by the representatives of academic research. There seems to be no golden mean in the appraisal of Steiner’s conceptual world.”

  51. Hi Pete,

    You write (unesco published):

    “There seems to be no golden mean .. ”

    From my reading and memory, this dinension has to be discovered, striven for and experienced, for example as an architectural or geometric dimension. There are probably quite helpful resources on Google Scholar about this. Clearly as individual enquirers, we can form our own insights and (interim?) conclusions as life goes on.

    At Cirencester, I was truly amazed at the developments in philosophy and methodology that had occurred since my undergraduate days during the 1960’s. I can only imagine what has occurred since the 1920’s. While I reckon this is great and helpful for my understanding, it also creates problems by complicating logical links with Steiiner’s oeuvre. Personally, I reckon this is quite a problem, as the responsibility for then becomes mine.

    But this may not be the real point. Striving in professional life to address current or practical concerns, my perspective becomes visible and may then be evaluated with the contributions of others. For example in references for postgraduate study. If these are not acceptable, then I am unable to pursue my hoped-for studies/research etc.

    It seems to me that skeptical debate is essential for academic developments. I suppose that difficulties can arise when knowledge communities may become schlerotic. In this connection, I can refer for example to: “The Sociology of Intellectual Change – A Global Theory of Intellectual Change” by Randall Collins published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Cambridge Massachussets 2000 ISBN 0 674 00187 7

    Having navigated these waters for some years, I reckon recent investigations of practice may offer much promise. For me, trailblazers in this field would include Michael Polanyi and David Bohm for example. To put this another way. Much recent development in philosophy strives to avoid self-reference. In my view, the seminal significance of Steiner’s contribution to philosophy is that he grappled with the need to discover a methodology that offered fresh evidence. Whether by design or not, I would suggest that this work had been extended by others’ endeavours.

    My limited reading as a non-philosopher suggests that individual practitioners’ works are generally open to criticism. As a lay person, I am more concerned with matters of application.

    Greetings,

    David

  52. This comment comes too late in the chain but I want to point out the nasty way in which the interviewer in the bbc program asks her questions to Trevor Mepham. She has clearly already made up her mind about how things really are and is not interested in listening to his answers unless they conform with her opinion. When they don’t she interrupts him in the typical way reporters do these days, when you are expected to give an account of complex matters in 30 seconds at the most – because that is what the attention span of the normal listener is capable of. I don’t know why any serious person pays any heed to what is said in the media today about serious questions.

  53. “From my reading and memory, this dinension has to be discovered, striven for and experienced, for example as an architectural or geometric dimension.”

    You’re confused. He’s not talking about the “golden ratio”.

    “In my view, the seminal significance of Steiner’s contribution to philosophy is that he grappled with the need to discover a methodology that offered fresh evidence. ”

    How fresh could it be? He pulled it all out of his ass? Does Steiner’s ass keep things fresh?

  54. Hi Pete,

    Thanks.

    Above, you quoted:

    “There seems to be no golden mean in the appraisal of Steiner’s conceptual world.”

    Empirically, I reckon the robust character of this exchange demonstrates both the unesco writer’s assessment and my own evaluation.

    I suggest that a Boolean Search of the Internet may reveal clear epistemological links between notions of “golden mean” and “golden ratio”. This may prove helpful.

    Referring to the suggestions of staleness in your last sentence, I reckon it is for interested enquirers to pursue such questions through their own investigations and the relevant literatures. Reflecting further upon these matters and speaking personally, I would hesitate behore suggesting that the work of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin or Benjamin Franklin was stale.

    Clearly, these are personal views, derived from my own investigations. Do you feel able to share elements of your own background and expertise in these areas?

    I would then feel able to engage in a more meaningful exchange of views.

    Thanks,

    David

  55. Whew – how long is this going to go on. Reading it is sapping my will to live (which was not “robust” at the moment anyway).

  56. Diana — I don’t know. I’d be happy to stop it, quite frankly, although I’ve been undecided about it so far.

    I do find it interesting that David is not a troll; he is, in fact, holding study groups for steiner school parents. Unless someone else hasn’t used his identity. Because, really, if this were a troll by Tarjei (or Tom), darn, it would be a brilliant troll. Destructive, but genial.

    Pete — ‘I didn’t exactly say it *was* fraudulent… (like Ted) I ‘implied’ it – in order to suggest that Sune is projecting Steiner’s academic shortcomings onto Peter… (I really think he is).’

    Oh sorry. I was confused. I think you may be right. I suspect there’s another side to this, as well: many anthroposophists seem genuinely unfamiliar with how the academic world works. I’ve seen a lot of that lately. I don’t think Sune is an exception, although he’s driven by more than ignorance.

    David — ‘My (limited) experience of academic practices suggests that conventions and correct referencing are key.’

    A discussion thread on a blog is not an academic paper, however.

    ‘I would then feel able to engage in a more meaningful exchange of views.’

    Actually, I do wonder about the possibility for that to happen. Ever.

  57. Bo Dahlin:
    “I don’t know why any serious person pays any heed to what is said in the media today about serious questions.”

    Okay then! I’m sure from now on you’ll decline all media interviews, and stop trying to get press for your school and your movement. No more inviting reporters to Maypole dances or Michaelmas celebrations or holiday faires, and no more asking local papers to announce your open houses or your information sessions. Right? ‘Cus serious persons shouldn’t pay any attention to such notices.

    Thanks for updating us on your changed policies. We can assume we’ll see no more puff pieces on Waldorf in the media then and since you disdain the media you’ll be stopping your copious use of them for advertising and PR purposes.

  58. “he is, in fact, holding study groups for steiner school parents. ”

    Would be interesting to be a fly on the wall there. No, wait, I’ve been there and done that … I suspect David’s “study groups” wouldn’t be far from the norm as Steiner study groups go. In my experience these groups either start with, or in short order *induce*, psychological instability or confused mental processes in key individuals.

  59. I do find it interesting that David is not a troll; he is, in fact, holding study groups for steiner school parents. Unless someone else hasn’t used his identity. Because, really, if this were a troll by Tarjei (or Tom), darn, it would be a brilliant troll. Destructive, but genial.

    LOL! I was just going to ask Pete if he thought David was my supreme troll and that I cover my LA IP address by having my previous troll, Ted, post my messages in the UK.

    OTOH, what if David is actually a sophisticated software program of Artificial Intelligence developed by MI-6 in the UK and being tested here to work out the kinks so that the program will always pass the Turing Test?

    But why do you say destructive? Unless of course “genial” is the ultimate Luciferic cover for Ahriman’s destructiveness.

    If that’s the case, then . . . Mwah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!!

    OTOH, David may actually be an Artificial Intelligence program being tested by MI-6 and they are still working out the kinks in getting the program to pass the Turing Test.

  60. Greetings Bo Dahlin!

    Have you seen the YouTube discussion (76 comments) mainly about the forbidden Steiner lecture from which the diagram of the 3 figures: Negro-Asian-Caucasian, is shown at the 5:00 mark of the video?

    http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=WpOXitdxzk4

    Your fellow countryman Sune Nordwall is gamely trying to defend Steiner’s racial categorizations, but he’s getting his arse handed to him by a lady named Julie who had initially attracted Sune’s ardor because the word “depravity” had appeared in her profile. She is deftly using Roger Rawlings’ English translation of the forbidden lecture against poor Sune. Bo, you really should go help him out. Reinforcements from Sweden are just what he needs.

    (Alas! I just checked there and it looks like Sune and his Brit pal Mercury Rules have beaten quite a hasty retreat. Hey Pete, you don’t suppose they fled because you suddenly showed up there?)

    Oh, Alicia, didn’t you say that the FCL (Forbidden Colored Lecture) of March 3, 1923, GA 349, was also deleted from the Swedish edition?

    Tom

  61. Tom, true, it was deleted. There’s a post on the blog called ‘Det förbjudna föredraget’ (I’m too lazy to search).

    ‘LOL! I was just going to ask Pete if he thought David was my supreme troll and that I cover my LA IP address by having my previous troll, Ted, post my messages in the UK.’

    We’re digging a dungeon in the back garden of the kiosk, under the shed behind the champagne bottle waste dump. All trolls will end up there!

    Destructive because, actually, the discussions go completely off topic and stray into nonsense. Not that that doesn’t happen anyway, but posting nonsense certainly ‘helps’.

    Diana: ‘Would be interesting to be a fly on the wall there. No, wait, I’ve been there and done that … I suspect David’s “study groups” wouldn’t be far from the norm as Steiner study groups go. In my experience these groups either start with, or in short order *induce*, psychological instability or confused mental processes in key individuals.’

    Oh, I thought some parents might think twice after going to such an event. I can’t believe that steiner study groups came with this level of confusion in my old waldorf school, but maybe they did.

    ‘Thanks for updating us on your changed policies. We can assume we’ll see no more puff pieces on Waldorf in the media then and since you disdain the media you’ll be stopping your copious use of them for advertising and PR purposes.’

    Exactly. When someone FINALLY asks the questions that should have been asked repeatedly for decades then it’s not so much fun anymore. Never mind that this movement’s websites, facebook and twitter accounts et c are used daily to promote any media coverage that is in its favour. I e, the kind of work that asks no critical questions whatsoever but takes the fluff talk by waldorf proponents for fact.

    I think this is very simple. Trevor Mepham is the spokesperson for that school and previously for other schools; he’s a prominent person in the steiner movement in the uk. If his movement asks for tax money (not to say to educate other people’s children), he must expect to answer questions and he must expect media scrutiny (which, largely, the movement has been spoilt enough not to recieve). He SHOULD know the answer to questions such as whether Steiner believed in reincarnation (and what role this has in waldorf education) regardless of the beliefs of the reporter — of which we know nothing, except that she was brave enough to ask the questions that thousands of reporters have been too cowardly or too ignorant to ask.

    Better for the movement to get used to scrutiny now than to whine over it. It’s not going away. The privileged position — being exempt from scrutiny and criticism — should exist no more.

  62. Hi Alicia. Hi Diana. Hi All.

    Thanks for sharing your views. Looking back, you may discover that i have been quite firm about serving those connected with the School through adult education. My apologies if that was not clear – not a study group as announced on the Internet. Apologies, not my fault. Anyway, i am re-stating these aspects now. Scrolling back, you may also rediscover my open and public, personal commitment (for which i am accountable) to certain values of humanity in pursuing this workand serving others.

    Clearly, as you already know, you are absolutely entitled to your views. i hope that, by now, you can appreciate that these are neither my affair nor my responsibility. Great! All just as it should be in my view.

    To help. Our work is documented including a very wide range of themes raised by parents at their initiative. My voice has been that of an advisor and supporter of their initiative. All good in my view.. The work has now been shared within the School and comments have been received. I have already referred to my projected research with a local university, aiming for a skeptical evaluation of this work. You will appreciate my striving for clarity as local people may be among those reading this message.

    I reckon that these claims to not know are both circumscribed and specific.

    Briefly turning to other matters before concluding this message.

    As a mental health peer advocate serving distressed people in acute settings, I am greatly surprised to read such powerful evidence of continuing stigma and apparent ignorance. My “optimistic” reading of these remarks suggests that there is still a major educational task in this area. Perhaps circumstances differ in the USA.

    Scrolling back, you will note that I have not commented upon organisational matters or key personalities involved with Waldorf Education in the UK. Please correct me if that is an inaccurate statement. In general, I hope that my circumscribed comments have referred to matters within my experience and knowledge. This was certainly my intention..

    Alicia, you write:

    “The privileged position – being exempt from scrutiny and criticism – should exist no more.”

    I hope that by now you may realise that I agree.

    What are you really up to?

    Greetings,

    David

  63. David: ‘not a study group as announced on the Internet.’

    You may want to bring that up with the school — the study group is, indeed, announced on the school website. (Which belongs to the internet.) Otherwise I wouldn’t have found it! (I’m not that clairvoyant.)

    You have no duty to explain it or what you do. There’s nothing wrong in holding Steiner study groups for parents; in fact, I think it’s great that schools do that. I have no negative view of that, per se.

    ‘What are you really up to?’

    In this context, blogging on themes that are sometimes related to anthroposophy, Steiner or waldorf, sometimes not.

  64. “I suggest that a Boolean Search of the Internet may reveal clear epistemological links between notions of “golden mean” and “golden ratio”. This may prove helpful.”

    Not for me… maybe for you. In this author’s case, he’s not talking about *the* golden mean – even though he used those words. I’ll say it again, what he said has nothing to do with the golden mean or golden ratio. It’s really obvious to the English speakers… please don’t give me suggestions to look up that you think might “help” me understand your confusion.

  65. “She has clearly already made up her mind about how things really are and is not interested in listening to his answers unless they conform with her opinion.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong here. He DIDN’T ANSWER the questions – that’s why she had to keep pressing him. He kept putting up smokescreens – trying to hide the truth. Did Steiner believe in reincarnation? The first word out of his mouth should have been “YES”… Instead, he started in with the bullshit! A good reporter wouldn’t allow that to happen and indeed this reporter didn’t. She did an EXCELLENT job of showing what a dishonest person Trevor Mepham is.

  66. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for connecting.

    You wrote “confusion”.

    What do you mean? I understood a figurative reference.there and don’t feel confused. Please explain this.

    By the way, I haven’t renounced the right to express an (un)informed opinion on matters (selected by me) both waldorf and non-waldorf. Clearly that has been an integralpart of my professional life. Making, using and declaring, judgement over many years. In my view an interesting discipline. How is it with you?

    Thanks,

    David

  67. Hi Pete,

    Regarding the second item.

    You wrote:

    “She ….. is.”

    Who were these remarks addressed to?

    I’ll stand back for now.

    Thanks,

    David

  68. Hi Alicia,

    Above, you wrote:

    “blogging”

    Taken as a response to my direct question as a newcomer in 2012, i was greatly helped.

    In response, I searched the Ethereal Kiosk archive for November 2010.

    As a result, I found various testimonies and comments.

    While others may have their views, I must also reflect upon whether my own expressions of difference are constructive or helpful.

    As yet, I have not reached a firm conclusion on this question. Thank you for not having moderated my rambling contributions from the blog before today.

    Clearly, I will need to consider my position as a contributor. In the short-term, I aim to establish a web presence as part of my applied research activity. While it has been suggested that this may be within the school context, I reckon that parents are finding their “voice” and that my plans for other activities locally would need a separate presence.

    Somehow, I reckon this may promote transparency and articulate varying perspectives. Anyway, such questions are premature in our local situation.

    Greetings,

    David

  69. This is a response to Bo Dahlin’s comment.

    While anthroposophists may disagree, even among themselves, over what Steiner believed and its relevance to the education of children, I think we can agree that Steiner education is a controversial topic. It’s right that the controversy is examined, aired in public and debated. It’s especially topical right now in the UK with the opening of new Steiner schools funded by the tax payer.

    Part of the controversy is a perceived fundamental dishonesty on the part of the Steiner movement. They do themselves no favours by running Steiner study groups and employing anthroposophical doctors while at the same time claiming that they don’t promote anthroposophy. It’s little wonder people are suspicious.

    I found Peter Staudenmaier’s comments on the BBC report especially thoughtful and well balanced: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25414

    It is true that the interview segments shown were likely only a small fraction of the footage that was shot. It is also possible that Trevor Mepham may not have been told in advance what the questions were going to be and therefore didn’t have time to prepare more thoughtful (and accurate) answers. There is the “right of reply” convention in journalism. I hope they use it and engage constructively in the debate.

  70. Pete and Mark — I agree with your comments on the BBC program in reply to what Bo Dahlin wrote. There’s absolutely no reason for Trevor Mepham not being able to reply to a simple question about central tenets of anthroposophy — yet he appears to be (wilfully) unable to do so. A familiar pattern of obfuscation. Questions about central ideas such as karma, reincarnation, temperaments, child development according to anthroposophy should be answered honestly and without dawdling.

    David — it’s very much off topic. I believe you need to get better acquainted with how the internet and basic phenomena on the internet work.

  71. “You wrote “confusion”.

    What do you mean? I understood a figurative reference.there and don’t feel confused. Please explain this.”

    No, as I already explained, you misunderstood the reference… so obviously, you don’t feel confused. Don’t let misunderstanding something keep you from forming your opinions… and pushing them in public… who knows… you could become the next Sune Nordwall. I’m not going to entertain your questions anymore David. You don’t seem to understand what I’m writing. I don’t think it’s me because, well… people actually PAY me to write stuff for them. I think it’s intentional, personally… people aren’t generally this obtuse and you seem to relish the attention.

  72. “They do themselves no favours by running Steiner study groups and employing anthroposophical doctors while at the same time claiming that they don’t promote anthroposophy.”

    On the other hand, many parents want to learn more about the underlying philosophy merely because they’re curious. Usually these reading groups are put together by parents and are rather informal get-togethers and discussions. Its not like someone is dispatched out from the Goetheneaum or something. I’ve never been to one (little interest and much less time) but if such things were expressly kept off campus people would say there was an attempt to quash discussion and knowledge within the entire community. The anthro doctors thing is a surprise to me. Schools in the US don’t have school doctors. People go to the doctors in their employer-sponsored health plan.

  73. Bell, that is pretty full of unsupported generalizations. Some US schools definitely have affiliated anthroposophic doctors, or sometimes, anthro doctors to which parents are routinely referred (and you may get a lot of pressure to use them and not to use some other, scary, evil, “mainstream” doc who might do horrible things like urge you to vaccinate your children).

    “Its not like someone is dispatched out from the Goetheneaum or something.” A Steiner study group associated with a Steiner school is very unlikely to run in a totally casual, “parents just getting together ‘cus they’re interested” fashion. A parent group might *try* that but in my experience and as I have heard from numerous others, there is likely to be faculty control exerted, and this would often come from the zealous anthros who, in turn, dominate the faculty. This may not characterize all Waldorf schools everywhere, but it is a very firm pattern.

    So the picture you’re painting is not exactly right. The person may not be literally “dispatched from the Goetheanum,” but at many if not most Steiner schools, the people in charge at least consider themselves to be spiritually if not literally dispatched from the Goetheanum. (If the Goetheanum would dispatch ’em, they’d be thrilled, ain’t for lack of trying.)

  74. I really can’t let these attempts at minimizing the role of anthroposophy in the Waldorf schools pass without correction.

    “many parents want to learn more about the underlying philosophy merely because they’re curious. Usually these reading groups are put together by parents and are rather informal get-togethers and discussions”

    You’re trying to make it sound like critics are upset with some people because they’re curious. This is minimizing. Of course, parents want to learn about the philosophy because they’re curious. That’s why a study group gets organized. The purpose of the study group is not just friendly casual information dispensing, however. The purposes are 1) to find out if, among the parent body, there are any potential converts to anthroposophy, or at least, a parent group that is sympathetic enough to be willing to basically take orders from the zealous anthroposophists on the faculty, even if they don’t – actually it’s preferable if they don’t – actually believe or understand much about anthroposophy on a deep level themselves; and 2) to make sure that any parents who are seriously interested in studying anthroposophy receive guidance from spiritually advanced anthroposophists. You can’t have parents studying anthroposophy on their own, you have to have anthroposophical purity. Someone who does indeed view themselves as spiritually “dispatched from the Goetheanum” usually sets themselves up to enforce orthodoxy in interpretation of the texts studied. (Not infrequently, this zealous defender of anthropurity is actually a new parent themselves. It doesn’t have to be senior faculty.)

    As to whether they’re “informal” get-togethers? Depends what you mean. Usually everyone wore blue jeans? Yeah. Cookies were served? Yeah. In my experience of Steiner study groups, no one wore ceremonial robes and no virgins were sacrificed on the altar of Saint Michael, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty serious endeavor.

  75. ‘As to whether they’re “informal” get-togethers? Depends what you mean. Usually everyone wore blue jeans? Yeah. Cookies were served? Yeah. In my experience of Steiner study groups, no one wore ceremonial robes and no virgins were sacrificed on the altar of Saint Michael, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty serious endeavor.’

    LOL.

  76. Ok. As much as you feel that I am over generalizing surely you must accept the same possible criticism for yourself. No one related to a Waldorf school has ever done anything other than respect the fact that personal health decisions are just that: personal and made by me. Moreover, vaccination decisions are usually made long before a parent selects a kindergarten for their child. Someone could recommend an anthro doctor to me right now but I am not sure how that would change decisions I made for myself years ago. I am pro-vax, as are the majority of parents at our school (at least as measured by the vax rate). Its important to consider that anti-vax parents might self-select into Waldorf schools and that any causal connection is likely to work in that direction as much as the other way around. (Especially because the first vax decisions are made way before school enrollment.)

    As for the reading groups, I happen to personally know someone who organizes one. This person is a highly competent parent, not an anthro, and the meetings are generally short and informal because most parents are busy professionals. I could go but I am not interested in spending my time that way. However, I have heard from people who try to attend that they read what interests them in relation to what the group feels like discussing. They go because they find some personal value in it…reading and discussing ideas with people they otherwise share carpooling responsibilities and go to birthday parties with. I know these people. You’ve got to give them a little credit for having a mind of their own and having little time and tolerance for getting pushed around by some anthro purist, should such a person actually be a member of the group. If that did happen, many would stop going, the group would fall apart, and that doesn’t seem to be happening. And, as far as I know, no one keeps tabs on who goes either. In my view, the relative esteem with which parents are held bears little relation to how “anthro purist” they might be. Power and influence also seem to be unrelated to whether a person has attended or is even willing to attend such a group.

    If these study groups are such a problem then what is the appropriate form for parent interest to take? (Assuming that people feel it is ok for the schools to allow a group to meet in their facility?) Hell, have critics design a curriculum. If you did, I’d make time to attend! :)

  77. Actually, at my school there was an anthroposophical school doctor and you had to visit that doctor. You could visit another doctor in your spare time, sure.

    Frankly, I don’t believe that what you describe is typical. I’ve even seen contracts parents have to abide by that say that a parent is obligated to send the child to the doctor chosen by the school if the school tells them to do so. It is not uncommon that anthroposophical doctors are involved in the decision about whether a child is ready for school or not. Anthroposophical doctors may also be consulted — with or against the parents will — to advise on methods (e g, curative eurythmy) to be used in case of pedagogical difficulties. I’ve seen schools that have parents sign up for homeopathic and anthroposophical medicines handed out by the school. I have seen forms parents are required to fill in about the health of the child, and this in various invasive ways. This would not happen if medical decisions were irrelevant and made only by the parent outside the school. Besides, you’re forgetting that childhood vaccination is more than the vaccines given to the baby. (The vax rate at your school has me curious though — normally, the vax rates for waldorf schools are very low.)

    Those are merely a few examples.

    Of course, it’s great that parents want to learn more about anthroposophy. I doubt that a non-anthro would be in charge of Steiner study groups, although I obviously can’t say anything about the individual case, even if it sounds unlikely. I do, however, know that many people who subscribe to anthroposophical beliefs and take a significant interest in anthroposophy and spirituality, do not want to call themselves anthroposophists. For whatever reason. But I suppose the level of anthro purism in these groups can vary significantly; of course, even anthro purists (were they to hold such groups!) know that it’s no good idea to scare people away… at least not too quickly ;-)

    But, overall, whoever runs these groups, I do think it’s far prefarable that parents attend such groups and/or read Steiner, than that they take no interest in the beliefs the education they’ve chosen is founded upon.

  78. “Frankly, I don’t believe that what you describe is typical. I’ve even seen contracts parents have to abide by that say that a parent is obligated to send the child to the doctor chosen by the school if the school tells them to do so.”

    I don’t know what is typical worldwide. Obviously healthcare in the US is a particular beast. Most people can’t afford to go to a doctor that isn’t covered by their health plan, if they are lucky enough to have a health plan at all. Its simply too expensive to pay for medical care “out-of-pocket.” For this reason, I would say that if an anthro doctor is not listed on their medical plan they probably don’t go, even if its recommended. In the American health care context, a school doctor in the sense of European countries isn’t feasible.

    “I doubt that a non-anthro would be in charge of Steiner study groups, although I obviously can’t say anything about the individual case, even if it sounds unlikely.”

    This person really is “in charge.” Obviously, people with more interest and experience in anthroposophy are attracted to such groups so there are probably some knowledgeable anthros who attend regularly. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the group is not at least partially made up of such people. Not having gone myself I really can’t characterize it further. Generally, though, it is informal and directed by the interests of the people who show up.

    “The vax rate at your school has me curious though — normally, the vax rates for waldorf schools are very low.”

    Generally, I think it is true that they are lower than the average. Being pro-vax myself that is why I took the time to look. I might have chosen against the school if we were in the 25% range or whatever is going on in those really low rate schools. We’re still lower than is officially recommended but this can also be found at public schools in the area as well. My opinion is that most of this comes from the self-selection issue and that most parents are anti-vax for reasons having nothing to do with anthro ideas. They fell into that frame of thinking before choosing a school for their kids. The anti-vax thing is a problem for a certain element of American parents. I wish it would change because I feel as if they are free riding on herd immunity.

  79. ‘I don’t know what is typical worldwide. Obviously healthcare in the US is a particular beast. Most people can’t afford to go to a doctor that isn’t covered by their health plan, if they are lucky enough to have a health plan at all.’

    As far as waldorf students go, I think we can forget that particular problem. Their parents are well off to pay — a LOT of money — for their children’s education. I don’t believe that affluent parents who have the option to choose waldorf school would forsake medical attention of the most ‘appropriate’ kind — as advised by the school — except in very few cases.

    ‘In the American health care context, a school doctor in the sense of European countries isn’t feasible.’

    I would believe that if you were talking about american public schools, rather than private schools. I know Diana (and perhaps Pete?) will have something to add to this. But some of the examples I gave are, I’m sure, familiar in the US context as well. I’ll let them comment on that.

    ‘Generally, I think it is true that they are lower than the average.’

    Very much so, and not a little lower, a lot lower. They regularly end up getting media attention because of this.

    ‘My opinion is that most of this comes from the self-selection issue and that most parents are anti-vax for reasons having nothing to do with anthro ideas. They fell into that frame of thinking before choosing a school for their kids. ‘

    I agree that for non-anthro parents it’s for partly or wholly different reasons than the anthroposophical. It’s more of a general life-style thing, no particular beliefs about the child’s incarnation process influencing the decision, for example. They’re into alternative, supposedly more ‘healthy’, ‘natural’ living. What comes first — school choice or vaccine choice, it probably varies, perhaps a more general life-style choice precedes both these decisions. Some parents choose to have the infant vaccines, then stop once they get into the waldorf life-style.

    ‘I wish it would change because I feel as if they are free riding on herd immunity.’

    I agree. From an anthroposophical viewpoint, though, that’s uninteresting, as they (and anthroposophical doctors) believes the diseases are beneficial for children and for humanity.

  80. ‘Generally, though, it is informal and directed by the interests of the people who show up.’

    How do you know? Since you admit you haven’t gone yourself.

    Do you really think people are not going to defer to the ‘probably some knowledgeable anthros
    who attend regularly’?

  81. “How do you know? Since you admit you haven’t gone yourself.”

    I know the parent who runs it and have talked to parents who have gone so I feel confident that I have the overall structure, if not the content that has been covered, correct. Truly, please don’t make me go in order to discuss this with more credibility! :) My intention in (regrettably) saying anything at all was to ask how this issue of parent interest should be handled at all if its somehow inappropriate for community members to get together on campus and read Steiner? It can’t be had both ways—A) not such allowing such activities risks criticism that this stuff is hidden from parents and B) facilitating it risks criticism that this is indoctrination and recruitment. I think the best thing to do is assume adults are adults, let them read and discuss what they want because most people won’t spend their time doing things they don’t find valuable in some way.

  82. Oh, I have no problem with the existence of these study groups at the schools. Given its importance to Steiner pedagogy, it’s definitely a good thing that parents would want to educate themselves in anthroposophy. I imagine the dynamics of these groups at particular schools varies quite a bit.

    In addition to the weekly study group, our local school is currently running a special series of talks on the “significance of the festivals”. These talks are being given by the chair of the college of teachers. I hope they’re taking an anthroposophical approach – Steiner had a lot to say about the festivals after all. A couple of years ago there was a weekend class on anthroposophical medicine (although it wasn’t advertised as such).

    Hosting, organising and promoting these events is not a problem in itself. The problem lies when schools, when adopting their public PR-friendly persona, claim not to be promoting anthroposophy. Why do they do this? “Because Steiner told them to” is one answer. I’m interested in hearing other points of view too.

    The school doctor seems to be quite an important presence in most UK Steiner schools. Alicia’s observations on their role agree with my own.

    Bell makes a good point in that most childhood vaccinations occur before kindergarten age and that the anti-vax attitude among Steiner parents is probably to a large extent self selecting. Having said, that there is a vaccine for HPV offered to teenage girls in the UK that is normally administered in schools. The only school in their county not to offer it is: the Hereford Steiner Academy. (See http://goodgrieflinus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/steiner-update.html )

  83. I’ll be back later with a more detail reply. About this:

    “Bell makes a good point in that most childhood vaccinations occur before kindergarten age and that the anti-vax attitude among Steiner parents is probably to a large extent self selecting.”

    Not really, because it is only vaccination decisions for the first child that are made before the family has become associated with the Waldorf school. Decisions about the younger children in the family can easily be influenced by the school. (A common pattern in anti-vax circles in general is terrible regret about vaccinating an older child, following exposure to antivaccination propaganda after the supposed “damage” of the vaccine has already been done, leading to refusal of vaccines for younger children.)

    Families are often influenced to believe that if their older children have been “damaged” by vaccines, a Waldorf education will be “curative,” i.e., will somehow help undo the spiritual damage caused by vaccines. Eurythmy is supposed to fix a lot of things …

    I am amused to find that Bell has not attended any study groups, though he (she?) is certain what goes on at them. I’d also be interested to hear the length of time the study group he/she is describing has been going on. It all sounds so wonderful, but doesn’t it always, at first? Check back with those same families in a year or two. Most of them will have left, and a handful will have eye-popping stories to tell you.

  84. “Hosting, organising and promoting these events is not a problem in itself. The problem lies when schools, when adopting their public PR-friendly persona, claim not to be promoting anthroposophy.”

    Well, I guess the issue is then in getting to some consensus about what it means to “promote anthroposophy.” In terms of promoting anthroposophy to children, I don’t think that is happening. I suppose a reasonable argument can be made about it being promoted to parents but then how do you distinguish providing people with information they need/will find useful and “promoting”? People generally take up things that already work with whatever else they believe or have got going on. Otherwise, they just ignore it because people are busy and why start doing something new unless it fulfills a purpose or desire that was already there? So, take me. Encountering Steiner and his works has had little effect on what I think or do. I see the same doctor. I’ll vaccinate the next baby. I watch TV. The kids watch TV, although now I have more backbone for setting limits. Some of this strikes me like the nanny-state argument. Just because some people might fall head over heels for something “bad,” we’ve got to keep it away from everyone. Why not just let adults decide things for themselves? Those people were probably going to go there anyway. I would say that keeping me away from these ideas would have had a negative effect on me. I would know less about the ideas underlying this educational approach and have a less clear idea of what I think education should look like.

    I agree that the public funding of Steiner schools poses some challenges around this issue that are more easily resolved in the private-pay situation. So, why not just make recommendations about what kind of activities should or should not be allowed in state funded schools vis a vis parents? Rather than reading groups, why not a yearly panel discussion with people from a variety of sectors with something to say on the issue? If I were in a position to go to a state-funded Steiner, I would surely attend such an event.

  85. [Steiner school influence on later siblings]

    Only having one child, I had missed that line of argument Diana. Thank you for pointing it out!

    Another possibility of course is that parents who come to a Steiner school already having anti-vax prejudices will be happy and reassured to have found additional (anthroposophical) justification for those beliefs.

  86. “Decisions about the younger children in the family can easily be influenced by the school.”

    Agreed. This is possible. However, that assumes that vax/anti-vax ideas are somewhat malleable for a significant % of people after having vaccinated once already. If you just get the people with bad experiences to change then it probably doesn’t influence the overall too much unless these people have large families. In my own case, encountering people who don’t vax, and hearing their reasons for it, has actually made me firm in commitment to vax again. (Although I am open to considering the modified schedules that some doctors recommend. I’d have to investigate it more tho.) Unless a school is in a specifically anthro community (ie other important anthro institutions) I would say its more reasonable to say the low vax rate at Steiner schools is due to self-selection effects.

  87. ‘then how do you distinguish providing people with information they need/will find useful and “promoting”? ‘

    This is really not nearly so complicated as all the handwringing would suggest. It’s simple: just be honest. “Promote” all you like – critics would actually generally be happier if more overt “promoting” of anthroposophy were going on, and less stealth. JUST TELL PEOPLE what you are doing. Then you do not have to split hairs over where, oh where, is that supposedly terribly subtle line between “informing” and “promoting.” The school is based on anthroposophy. If you are sure everyone is clear on this, then you are free to promote, inform, etc., as you wish. All of these subtleties about what you can and can’t say or do, and all the bad feelings, just fall away. If everyone understands the school is based on anthroposophy – in the same manner that a Catholic school is based on Catholicism, or a Jewish school is based on Judaism, etc. – we can also be done with the strenuous and ridiculous denials that anthroposophy ever reaches the children. If you think anthroposophy is good, true, and right, then why in the world would you be somehow shielding the children from it? The parents who are on board with it ought to logically WANT their children to be taught anthroposophy. Similarly nobody would be disputing or trying to justify what is going on at the study group for parents. If you try to picture Catholic school parents having these silly circular arguments, or lying to a reporter (if, say, the reporter asked if Jesus believed in feeding the poor and the principal said no, Jesus didn’t believe in feeding the poor …) perhaps you can grok some of the ridiculousness here.

  88. “I have heard from people who try to attend that they read what interests them in relation to what the group feels like discussing. They go because they find some personal value in it…reading and discussing ideas with people they otherwise share carpooling responsibilities and go to birthday parties with. I know these people. You’ve got to give them a little credit for having a mind of their own and having little time and tolerance for getting pushed around by some anthro purist, should such a person actually be a member of the group. If that did happen, many would stop going, the group would fall apart, and that doesn’t seem to be happening.”

    Give it time.

  89. I wrote: “it is only vaccination decisions for the first child that are made before the family has become associated with the Waldorf school”

    Furthermore, many schools run parent-tot groups, or even offer infant care “information,” so they may indeed be promoting antivax propaganda to parents in the community whose children are too young to attend school.

  90. Bah.

    In the US the following immunizations are all done (sometimes in multiple doses) before 12 months: HepB, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles/mumps/rubella, influenza B, varicella. Parents have to be making decisions about this during their pre-natal care or before they even get pregnant. The hot-button MMR vaccine is supposed to happen at 12 months. This says to me that the parents’ decision regarding vaccination has to have been made before they have a chance to get persuaded in a parent-tot program. I’ll grant you that things could be different for subsequent children but again that assumes that parental beliefs on this issue are malleable. Some parents probably do change their minds like you say but that probably wouldn’t explain the school-wide rate. The best explanation is that anti-vax parents self-select into the school and the school itself probably does not cause anti-vaccination.

  91. Diana makes this interesting ‘ought’ statement, -‘The parents who are on board with it ought to logically WANT their children to be taught anthroposophy.’

    “It ain’t necessarily so!
    The point of Steiner education is to help children grow into genuinely free-thinking individuals – not individuals who will simply follow in their parent’s footsteps.

    If you send your child to a catholic school it is most likely because you want them to become catholics. Not so with the Steiner school. You send them there because you want them to be able to think for themselves.

    Anthroposophy is not a proselytising movement.

    From Diana’s choice of words I infer she thinks it ‘ought’ to be!

  92. ” I suppose a reasonable argument can be made about it being promoted to parents but then how do you distinguish providing people with information they need/will find useful and “promoting”?”

    You know who who would find the information really useful? PROSPECTIVE parents! But, as Diana pointed out, Waldorf schools – almost every single one – hide and disguise the presence of Anthroposophy in the classroom from prospective parents. Letting them in on the secret *after* they have enrolled is dishonest. Waldorf would lose a LOT of critics if they acted with honesty and integrity… but that would be against Steiner’s orders wouldn’t it?

  93. “how do you distinguish providing people with information they need/will find useful and “promoting”?”

    What I’m trying to say is that if you just get honest about anthroposophy as the basis and purpose of the school, you can really stop worrying about distinguishing “promoting” from “informing.” You are free to promote. Promote is not worse than inform. Why *wouldn’t* you promote anthroposophy? You’re anthroposophists.

  94. The interesting “ought” statement refers to “ought” in the logical sense, not a moral sense. I’m saying it *follows* that if you believe in anthroposophy there is no real reason to shield children from it, or to go to extreme and unsustainable lengths pretending to their parents that you’re shielding them from it.

  95. “If you send your child to a catholic school it is most likely because you want them to become catholics. Not so with the Steiner school. You send them there because you want them to be able to think for themselves.”

    Right – from the parents’ point of view. You’ve described why *parents* send their kids there, based on what they think is going on in the school. That’s the point. They need to be *told* that it is analogous to the Catholic school because they don’t *know* that. Instead they’re told it’s a school to send your children to so that the will be able to think for themselves. They need to be told it’s an anthroposophical school.

  96. My son went to Quaker schools post-Waldorf, and they certainly never worried about whether they were “promoting” Quakerism versus “informing” parents about Quakerism. They absolutely aimed to promote Quakerism. They were Quaker schools. Quaker schools promote Quakerism.

  97. “anthroposophy as the basis and purpose of the school”

    While many would agree that the anthroposophy is the basis of the school, a great many would disagree that anthroposophy is the purpose of the school. Just like Quakerism was the basis, but not the purpose of the other school. The purpose of both schools would be to educate children in the most straightforward sense using either anthroposophy or Quakerism as a basis from which to do it. In the case of the steiner schools fellowship they outright say “Our schools endeavour to work ‘out of anthroposophy'” and then go on to provide links to the rsarchive. Thats already quite a bit of specific information for prospective parents to work with and probably enough for some people to say, “oh hell no!”

    If this isn’t good enough, why not propose what I suggested for state-funded schools above. Push for a requirement that the state-funded schools have to hold an annual panel discussion/conference/symposium on Steiner education with educators and scholars from within and without the system. The criticism is that the DofE didn’t do their due diligence in vetting this education, right? Well why not allow parents to continuously evaluate that by providing them with a range of experts and have them discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this education with each other and the parents. This is otherwise known as the “marketplace of ideas” approach. Eventually the most salient benefits and drawbacks will get their proper hearing.

  98. “While many would agree that the anthroposophy is the basis of the school, a great many would disagree that anthroposophy is the purpose of the school.”

    *Spreading* Anthroposophy is the purpose of Waldorf schools. Spreading Anthroposophy is the purpose of eurythmy – it’s the purpose of art classes – it’s the purpose of science classes… Waldorf schools don’t have any intention of educating children in the best way possible – they are interested in doing exactly what they are doing – forever.

  99. ‘While many would agree that the anthroposophy is the basis of the school, a great many would disagree that anthroposophy is the purpose of the school.’

    Sigh. You’re really not taking my point. Now you want to fuss over “basis” versus “purpose.” It is all solved much more easily than this. Just be honest about anthroposophy in the school. Cease all efforts to minimize the role of anthroposophy in Waldorf education, and its influence over the children, and quit pretending it’s not a religion. To your amazement you would no longer find yourself in foolish debates about difference between the “basis” of the school and the “purpose” of the school. Would you like to debate the meaning of the word “is” next?

    Just like Quakerism was the basis, but not the purpose of the other school. The purpose of both schools would be to educate children in the most straightforward sense using either anthroposophy or Quakerism as a basis from which to do it’

    If we can even start from an agreement that the role of anthroposophy in Steiner schools is analogous to the role of Quakerism in Quaker schools, we’re getting somewhere. Nevertheless, your tortured attempt to admit the basic analogy but then tease out some substantive differences between them is doomed. Sorry, “purpose” and “basis” are pretty closely related – you aren’t going to end up saying anything substantive about the schools by drawing a petty distinction between its “basis” and its “purpose.”

    When one says that an institution is religious, one means generally that both the “basis” and the “purpose” of the school are religious. This is exactly true in Quaker schools and in Waldorf schools. It isn’t that no one working in a religious institution ever does anything for any purpose other than religious. Math class is for teaching math, math class isn’t really a good setting for inculcating either anthroposophy or Quakerism, so it will tend to mainly be about getting kids proficient in math. The multiplication tables are the same for religious people and the rest of us, and religious people, in general, want their kids to learn the multiplication tables, just like the rest of us.

    So what? A trite argument. Avoids the facts about the nature and character of the school and the education children receive there.

    ‘In the case of the steiner schools fellowship they outright say “Our schools endeavour to work ‘out of anthroposophy’” and then go on to provide links to the rsarchive. Thats already quite a bit of specific information for prospective parents to work with and probably enough for some people to say, “oh hell no!” ‘

    No question that post-Internet more information is much more readily available, and keeping information about Steiner out of parents’ heads is increasingly a lost cause. Nevertheless, even if they provide a link to the Steiner archive somewhere, the schools usually do much to counter parents’ natural inclination to seek and find information. If you provide a link to Steiner material on your website, but you also strenuously insist, at open houses and information sessions and in parent interviews, that parents really don’t need to know any of this because “Anthroposophy isn’t taught,” or “Anthroposophy isn’t in the classroom” or “It’s just that some of our teachers study Steiner,” you are working at cross-purposes.

    ‘If this isn’t good enough, why not propose what I suggested for state-funded schools above. Push for a requirement that the state-funded schools have to hold an annual panel discussion/conference/symposium on Steiner education with educators and scholars from within and without the system. The criticism is that the DofE didn’t do their due diligence in vetting this education, right? Well why not allow parents to continuously evaluate that by providing them with a range of experts and have them discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this education with each other and the parents. This is otherwise known as the “marketplace of ideas” approach. Eventually the most salient benefits and drawbacks will get their proper hearing.’

    This is a fine idea but I wish you the very best of luck in getting such a thing to happen. Do you have any theories about why nothing remotely resembling this proposal actually happens?

    For years, critics have been all about putting information about the benefits and drawbacks of this education – information from objective sources, not internal to the schools – in front of current and prospective parents. Do you understand that this suggestion is basically considered villainy? If you try such a thing you will quickly find you are considered to be allied with the powers of darkness.

  100. “Do you understand that this suggestion is basically considered villainy?”

    Could be. But with the state-funding, it really doesn’t matter what SWSF might think. There is a responsibility to be open and transparent about what is happening in state-funded schools and it is not unreasonable for taxpayers to ask for it. On the other hand, the government does play a role in making sure that an institution as sensitive as a school is not subject to mobbing. (I’m not pointing fingers.) The best way to combat that is to create a forum where questions and concerns can be discussed in a collegial and professional setting and relying on expert opinions. Then, let parents decide. School choice is a rather new innovation falling in line with our consumer society. I think I remember someone writing here that they have more choices for toothpaste than in schooling their children. This shouldn’t be. But it probably does mean that we need to develop new ways to support this new level of choice that is being directly placed in the hands of citizens. I see this as a problem about our political institutions being up to the task or not.

  101. Well, we largely agree then, on the need for a mechanism for accountability re: the state funding.

    I am not sure I agree that we ought to have as many choices for schools as we have for toothpaste. I’m not sure there’s such a direct comparison. This situation is a bit different between the US and the UK (and elswhere), but it is similar in that the whole consumer mentality, where “choice” is considered a tremendous good, but often ends up meaning “more things being marketed to you just because someone sees a way to make a profit,” and conflicts with notions about the role of education for the greater public good. Not everything should be about having thousands of choices. For one thing, the choices are often spurious. There aren’t really so many different ways to do toothpaste, the main differences are in the packaging, or trivial things like flavor. These things don’t matter, you buy them on a whim because one of them has a prettier smiling face in the adverts or because you like spearmint better than peppermint, and it’s silly to demand the same kind of superficial “choice” in education.

    There is a reason we have state education in the first place. There are common goals and the common good at stake. There may not really be thousands of substantively different ways to do it right. I would like to see teachers having a great deal of personal leeway in teaching materials, style, approach, etc., yet I am suspicious that all of the whining for “more choices” is usually a way for people to push narrow interests and agendas. What our children actually need is not really so wildly varying. The state should ensure basic standards for all and should do it without allowing all manner of vested interests (financial, religious, etc.) to use public education as an arena to promote interests that aren’t always healthy for children. (Like anthroposophy.)

  102. A simpler way to say this: Parents need to wise up, in reality nobody in Waldorf (or other special sects that pursue funding for public schools) is interested in the PARENTS’ choice. They are pursuing their OWN interests and trying to SELL it to you as a question of “your choice.” They want you to think nasty critics want to take away your choice, but in framing public education as a consumer issue they are doing neither you nor your children any favors. Follow the money. They want funding, that’s all. Their reasons aren’t necessarily your reasons. It is naive to think Steiner schools or their verbose spokespeople are interested in “parents’ choice in education.”

    Public education, which is supposed to be for everyone, should not be open to influence by special interests including religious.

    Really you should be insulted by a comparison between choosing a child’s school and shopping for toothpaste.

  103. I am not sure how this is possible but I agree with almost all of your 4:02 post but less with the 4:07 one. Oh, well. I did like this bit: “Really you should be insulted by a comparison between choosing a child’s school and shopping for toothpaste.” Indeed I am.

    I agree that education has a larger public purpose and that both countries, UK and US, are not treating the art of education with due seriousness. The problem is that change for this kind of thing is glacial. Your kids will be grown if you wait for consensus on how education needs to be changed to meet the 21st century. Parents need a faster path to forms of education that are innovative with respect to: divergent thinking, environmental consciousness, mind-body connections, and cross-disciplinary integration. I’d rather see the innovation happening across all schools, equally for all children, but there are reasons why this doesn’t happen. Parent choice is the shortcut for diverse market-driven societies like the US and the UK, even though its a far from perfect way of going about it imo. I think the best case scenario is for all the fragmentation to eventually collapse in on itself because the art of education starts looking remarkably similar across different approaches. That is at least what I am hoping will happen. I do see that it is a risky proposition though.

  104. “Parents need a faster path to forms of education that are innovative with respect to: divergent thinking, environmental consciousness, mind-body connections, and cross-disciplinary integration.”

    Please don’t tell me you’re under the impression your kids are going to get something “innovative” in Waldorf in regards to any of these areas.

    (I would be wary of any school claiming to be “innovative” in regards to “mind-body connections.” I would prefer that the school view my child’s mind-body connection as his business, not theirs.)

  105. Hee hee. Admittedly, “innovative” and “mind-body connections” put together like that is definitely awkward and even a bit strange. So, no, I am not ripping that from any marketing materials thank goodness!! I was thinking along the lines of multiple intelligences and educational approaches that don’t always reinforce mind-body dualism. Again, glacial pace on these fronts when you take the educational landscape as a whole.

  106. Zounds, Diana! Once again your superb perspicacity in matters Waldorfian has inspired an astonishing conceptual breakthrough in the realm of spiritual-scientific research into the dynamics at work in the robust interactivity of the Waldorf Critics and the Waldorf Defenders.

    Indeed your insight has moved me to construct an hypothesis that I hope will be tested forthwith with the help of the erudite and unflappable doyen of British adult education in anthroposophy, none other than the esteemed and inestimable David Clark.

    Please allow me now to reconstruct as tersely and simply as possible the circumstances that led to this notional leap forward to a movement that portends to be a signal advancement in the progressive evolution of mankind, which of course is synonymous with anthroposophy itself.

    I copy here the sentences that inspired me, Diana, most especially your use of the single word “minimizing.”

    I really can’t let these attempts at minimizing the role of anthroposophy in the Waldorf schools pass without correction. . . . You’re trying to make it sound like critics are upset with some people because they’re curious. This is minimizing.

    You see, Diana, I so admire your level-headed insights into the machinations of Waldorf Defenders against Waldorf Critics, be the former hapless, clueless, well-meaning, simply deluded or even complexly deluded, that I had to take stock of the certitude and correctness of your evaluation of the also the equally equable Bell Paynter.

    And as I read the second “minimizing,” immediately there emerged from the periphery of my own etheric brain, the following sentence: “Indeed if Bell Paynter is minimizing, then what about the egregious maximizing of one Pete Karaiskos?”

    I then recalled Pete’s counterpart, the egregiously minimizing figure of Sune Nordwall.

    Then I realized the need to quantify these observations lest we fall into the confusing verbal toggling of, e.g., referring to you, Diana, as a “minimal maximizer” and Sune as a “maximal minimizer.” So therefore I conjured up an integer scale of (minus)10 through 10 with zero being the fulcrum and +/- 10 representing the extrema.

    Bell Paynter might score at -3; you, Diana at +3; Sune at -9; and Pete at +9, etc. (Mayhaps David Clark the only one at 0.) Of course when we add these numbers up, there is terrific canceling out and the net sum is zero. All maximizers cancel out all minimizers.

    Now you might think that my hypothesis concerns the economic concept of the “zero sum game,” but it doesn’t, because that concept is far too static. Instead I put forth the far more dynamic concept of the principle in physics known as the Conservation of Angular Momentum. (CAM)

    Simple illustration is the classic Bell-47 helicopter, (the ones you see on M*A*S*H that evoke the form of a dragonfly.) whose rotor blades are spinning anticlockwise. CAM demands that the body of the helicopter would be spinning in a clockwise rotation. What prevents that rotation of course is the little propeller sitting at the end of the tail, which blows in such a direction as to keep the body from spinning.

    And so, David Clark, I would like to hear your studied evaluation of my novel idea that the very dynamics which we witness here at the Kiosk, the principle of the Conservation of Waldorf Defenders Minimizing and Waldorf Critics Maximizing, is actually the dynamics of a balance in human evolution that must exist in order to carry forward that same human evolution, just as the CAM principle allows helicopter to fly.

    David, a thousand years ago, we were destiny Knights of the Holy Grail (well, OK, the damsels in love with them). Now we are reincarnated as the hapless Knights of the Loony Bonkerhood, an order oddly vaticinated in the late 20th Century by that famous and fatidic British consortium known as the Monty Python.

    In the immortal words of Oat Wille, then: Onward through the fog!!!

    Thomasius the Desuetudinous

  107. Diana: ‘This is really not nearly so complicated as all the handwringing would suggest. It’s simple: just be honest. “Promote” all you like – critics would actually generally be happier if more overt “promoting” of anthroposophy were going on, and less stealth. JUST TELL PEOPLE what you are doing. Then you do not have to split hairs over where, oh where, is that supposedly terribly subtle line between “informing” and “promoting.” The school is based on anthroposophy. If you are sure everyone is clear on this, then you are free to promote, inform, etc., as you wish. All of these subtleties about what you can and can’t say or do, and all the bad feelings, just fall away.’

    To the point.

    Tom H-S: ‘If you send your child to a catholic school it is most likely because you want them to become catholics. Not so with the Steiner school. You send them there because you want them to be able to think for themselves.’

    I did not notice much of that intention personally. It was more about making all children fit the same show — and specifically not think for themselves, have their own ideas, have interests and inclinations that clash with waldorf education ideals, and so on and so forth. It’s interesting, though, that a movement which claims to have the individual’s ‘thinking for themselves’ as highest goals seems to produce so many students who either can’t think for themselves or who are, like me, aware of having the experience that their thinking for themselves was considered a negative feature of their personality. What a grand failure.

    Unless… unless we posit that, in anthroposophy and waldorf, ‘thinking’ and even more ‘independent thinking’ means something other than the rest of us would assume, hearing the words along and not knowing the context. Let’s remember some of the things Steiner actually said about thinking. And free, independent thinking. It was only possible given the right circumstances, the correct personal development… as defined by anthroposophy. The rest of us are, so to speak, in the claws of dark forces and unconscious of the spiritual ‘realities’. We’re not free. We are not using our thinking, not in the right way.

    When steiner schools desire kids to ‘think’ — what do they actually want? The same goes for those other catch-words — feeling and willing.

    All I’d like to say, really, although I didn’t put it succinctly — you can’t talk about this either without considering the anthroposophical context and the anthroposophical interpretation of these central concepts.

    Diana: ‘Parents need to wise up, in reality nobody in Waldorf (or other special sects that pursue funding for public schools) is interested in the PARENTS’ choice. They are pursuing their OWN interests and trying to SELL it to you as a question of “your choice.” They want you to think nasty critics want to take away your choice, but in framing public education as a consumer issue they are doing neither you nor your children any favors. Follow the money. They want funding, that’s all. Their reasons aren’t necessarily your reasons. It is naive to think Steiner schools or their verbose spokespeople are interested in “parents’ choice in education.”’

    Again, very well put. It describes very neatly what’s been going on in Sweden — when they demanded state funding of waldorf teacher training. (Which is the next step after demanding state funding for the schools. And, yes, they will lie about anthroposophy. They will pretend it doesn’t exist, or, if that is impossible, that it is an irrelevant factor in any case.)

    Tom Mellett: please, was that at all on topic? I know I allow for a considerable amount of off-topic and joking around and everything, and I’d be happy for the blog comments to remain open for such fun. But long comments that seem to stray completely from the topic can actually be destructive to the discussion. I don’t want to have to start screening comments, although with what’s been going on lately I realize I might have to take that step. But that, too, will be destructive to the natural flow of a lively discussion.

  108. Alicia says, ‘I did not notice much of that intention personally. It was more about making all children fit the same show — and specifically not think for themselves, have their own ideas, have interests and inclinations that clash with waldorf education ideals, and so on and so forth.’

    Unfortunately you seem to have experienced an awful lot of the worst kind of Steiner teacher – the fundamentalist fanatic who may be sunk in the cult like mentality which is the shadow side of anthroposophy. Speaking anecdotally nearly all the ex-pupils I know are free-thinking – only one of them has signed up to the anthroposophy in any shape or form. Just today I was with a young man who has a first class degree in Physics from Imperial college and is now working in the trading arm of a major energy company. Not a hint of belief in Steiner, just an amused skepticism. He didn’t feel he was indoctrinated in any way.

    There are bad Steiner teachers the same as there are bad teachers in any school and sadly you seem to have encountered a lot of them.

    ‘ Let’s remember some of the things Steiner actually said about thinking. And free, independent thinking. It was only possible given the right circumstances, the correct personal development… as defined by anthroposophy. The rest of us are, so to speak, in the claws of dark forces and unconscious of the spiritual ‘realities’. We’re not free. We are not using our thinking, not in the right way. ‘

    When Steiner spoke of people not using their thinking in the right way he meant people who just accept the conventional/ socially acceptable points of view on any topic and didn’t question and think things through for themselves. He didn’t mean, “People who are thinking properly agree with me!”. Yes he was frequently pompous and thought he was right. He frequently tried to balance that by saying that he didn’t want anyone to take what he said as gospel and I think he meant it.
    He was trying to unfold an extremely comprehensive and complex world-view. The problem lies with the people who are like sheep and follow unthinkingly. Those within anthroposophy who don’t use their thinking and moral sense properly.

    Alicia, along with canineosophy, and all the larks in the kiosk, and the beautiful evocative photographs, part of what makes your blog so interesting is that you do question, you do think things out for your self and you don’t just accept the ‘received wisdom’. This attracts many other free-thinking individuals. Being free in one’s thinking isn’t to do with the opinions one eventually arrives at. It is to do with how one gets there.

  109. OK, Alicia, I do apologize for upsetting you with my long and, yes, off topic posting. However, I did not post it gratuitously. There was a method to my madness. I was hoping that I could calibrate my insanity to resonate with the inanity of David Clark, in order to keep him from filling the Kiosk with pap and drivel. I now see now that my mission was a resounding success.

    David has left the Kiosk!
    https://zooey.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/walk-3/#comment-21140

  110. Oh, Alicia, you may delete my comment in toto as it has fulfilled its purpose and is no longer necessary to clutter up the discussion here. I have a copy in case human evolution ever demands it in the future.

  111. Tom H-S: I’ll return to your comment and read it properly, but I can say this much: my (main) teacher was most likely one of the best and definitely one of the least fundamentalist. Yet, not even a good teacher can do much about a curriculum that has described exactly how children should develop and what is appropriate at a certain age.

    Tom Mellett: no worries. I just want this discussion to stay underailed, so to speak.

  112. So, to continue.

    ‘Speaking anecdotally nearly all the ex-pupils I know are free-thinking …’

    That is not necessarily thanks to the school. Although it might be — in a way contrary to what waldorf proponents might realize. When an environment is too restrictive, too stifling, children rebel. That is what happens with waldorf kids, in my experience. They don’t accept the too small shoes waldorf is trying to squeeze their feet into. No children would. Or you would have to use excessive force — more than the waldorf movement can conjure up, lest they’d entirely lose their reputation — to keep them in line. So they fail. The children learn early on to laugh at silly anthroposophists and their silly hang-ups. This is not a credit to silly anthroposophists, who try to stop this lack of reverence, but who don’t have the skills and force to demand respect, which really is what is needed to make children obedient on a deeper level. But I’m quite convinced that waldorf schools do not produce free-thinking individuals because true free thinking is their goal — if they do it at all (which I actually doubt they do in any significant sense) it is because restricting children causes children to rebel.

    Another factor, which should not be neglected, is the children’s home environement. A home environment which provides what the school denies the children (literature, culture, knowledge) must certainly have consequences for the child’s ability to think. Many waldorf families, being relatively well-off, can provide exactly this environment. Again — the effects of this are not thanks to the school.

    I know that this will all look like excuses. But when I think back on my own school and when I read about waldorf schools today — with their narrowness, their restrictiveness, their desire to isolate the kids, their dogmatic views on children’s development and close-minded beliefs in what children can (and mostly cannot) do — I doubt that I am far from the truth when I say that if waldorf students think freely, it’s not thanks to waldorf (and its true intentions, behind the appealing fluff talk) but despite of it.

    ‘Not a hint of belief in Steiner, just an amused skepticism. He didn’t feel he was indoctrinated in any way.’

    They never do, but often they have very little knowledge about how much of the pedagogy, the methods, the traditions and the beliefs behind it all are anthroposophical — they actually rarely see the extent of the influence. For the record, I don’t see myself as ‘indoctrinated’ either.

    As a side note: It’s worth noting that not even true believers of any religion or cult will see themselves as indoctrinated. The indoctrination would be rather a failure if the indoctrinated recognized it themselves.

    ‘When Steiner spoke of people not using their thinking in the right way he meant people who just accept the conventional/ socially acceptable points of view on any topic and didn’t question and think things through for themselves.’

    I would actually dispute that this is the only think he taught about the faculty of thinking. He does talk about it a lot — and this description clearly doesn’t cover his views. This is a version that would appeal to the mainstream. I’m not saying he might not occasionally have talked about thinking in this way (after all, it would be reasonable: the ideas he espoused were not conventional, you would have to ‘question’ many generally held truths and beliefs to accept what he says), but I would also say that this is not all there is — and it isn’t the most anthroposophically significant aspect of thinking.

    Actually — I would like to hear what Diana has to say about this!

    ‘The problem lies with the people who are like sheep and follow unthinkingly. Those within anthroposophy who don’t use their thinking and moral sense properly.’

    True. But unfortunately I suspect he contributed to this problem himself. Perhaps sometimes naively, but nonetheless.

    ‘Being free in one’s thinking isn’t to do with the opinions one eventually arrives at. It is to do with how one gets there.’

    I agree. The question would be — is anthroposophy a helpful vehicle? Not only in theory, but in practice? Does it help people arrive at free, independent thinking?

  113. ‘Not a hint of belief in Steiner, just an amused skepticism. He didn’t feel he was indoctrinated in any way.’

    Yes, I think Waldorf graduates almost always come out telling you they know very little about Rudolf Steiner. I’m afraid they may be right, but the statement does not connote exactly what they think it does. If asked to explain what Rudolf Steiner taught, they might have very little to say. But that is because *what they were not taught* was not “what Steiner taught,” but that Steiner taught it. (That sounds convoluted, but I think that’s the most accurate way to state it.)

    What Steiner taught permeates much of the curriculum – but *without Steiner’s name attached to it*.

    To attach this to a couple of concrete examples: they might believe that Darwin’s evolution is “just a theory” and that theories that students in mainstream schools recognize as unscientific are equally valid. They won’t have been told what Rudolf Steiner’s views on evolution were – they’ll just have been taught to “be open to” unscientific opinions about evolution.

    They won’t have been taught literally that ancient Atlantis is a real place. They’ll just have been exposed to a teacher who spoke of it lovingly and drew pretty pictures of it *as if it were a real place* and required them to copy those pictures into their Main Lesson Books and never mentioned that it is myth, not a place for which there is historical evidence, and shushed them when they asked, “But is it real?” They will never have attended a lecture about Rudolf Steiner’s teachings on Atlantis and would not be able to tell you what Steiner’s views on Atlantis may have been.

    Those are just a couple of really concrete examples to get across the process I’m talking about. I’m not trying to make some huge case against Waldorf based on whether a third grader believes, even for a brief period, that Atlantis was real … just trying to illustrate a general process that goes on for all the years a student is in Waldorf.

    So again, I think the actual situation is that veterans of many years of Waldorf education come out knowing a lot of what Steiner taught, but not that Steiner taught it.

    This is a pretty successful gig for Waldorf, as it produces graduates like Tom speaks of, who shrug and speak a bit dismissively when asked what they know about Rudolf Steiner.

  114. And most of the things — the facts and the half-facts and the fantasy facts, all thrown in the same pot — you actually forget. All sorts of things get stored — and not even completely — in your mental archives dulled by semi-consciousness of what’s really there. Especially with fairytales and fairytale facts and myths permeating the education — something I sort of appreciate, in a way, so that’s not the issue, I think fiction is great — it’s really a very peculiar collection of lessons learned and usually forgotten as far as conscious awareness is concerned.

    ‘What Steiner taught permeates much of the curriculum – but *without Steiner’s name attached to it*.’

    Important point.

  115. “I would actually dispute that this is the only think he taught about the faculty of thinking. He does talk about it a lot — and this description clearly doesn’t cover his views. This is a version that would appeal to the mainstream. I’m not saying he might not occasionally have talked about thinking in this way (after all, it would be reasonable: the ideas he espoused were not conventional, you would have to ‘question’ many generally held truths and beliefs to accept what he says), but I would also say that this is not all there is — and it isn’t the most anthroposophically significant aspect of thinking.”

    I am not sure exactly what you mean by this.

    If it is the distinction between ‘living thinking’ and ‘dead thinking’, I believe that is covered by what I said.

  116. In my experience listening to anthroposophists debate each other, the difference between “living thinking” and “dead thinking” is usually just a shorthand for “I disagree” or “You’re wrong.” And when an anthroposophist accuses a non-anthroposophist of “dead thinking,” they usually just mean “you don’t believe in anthroposophy” or “you won’t take my [anthroposophical] beliefs as a starting point for discussion.”

  117. “And most of the things — the facts and the half-facts and the fantasy facts, all thrown in the same pot — you actually forget. All sorts of things get stored — and not even completely — in your mental archives dulled by semi-consciousness of what’s really there. Especially with fairytales and fairytale facts and myths permeating the education —”

    Yeah. I think the issue is not whether a person comes out believing a particular fact or half-fact or fantasy-fact – these days the google button can clear up most factoids for you in a millisecond. I suspect if we could scientifically test it, we might not find any higher proportion of Waldorf graduates versus non-Waldorf graduates believing (to continue the Atlantis example) that “ancient Atlantis was a real place.” ‘Cus, yeah, if they do, someone will call them on it, and the facts about this myth are easy to come by from your nearest smartphone.

    The issue is more about a worldview that is transmitted. More than transmitted, it is deeply engrained at a young age, an age where fantasy works much better to transmit beliefs and values than teaching of facts can ever do. It is these things engrained at a very young age that work in the deepest and which the “engrainee” comes out years later not even aware were engrained. Having no comparison to other types of educational experiences, the long-time Waldorf students has no way to know that others have had different types of worldviews engrained.

    I’m talking, in a broad way, about the whole “as above, so below” fundamental philosophy of esoteric religions, and all the (to my mind) basically reactionary and dangerous dogmas that come with it, like “man as pinnacle of creation” and a belief in spiritual essences and correspondences, which fosters belief in fundamentally unscientific and unhistoric theories such as spiritual racism or the “karma” of individuals or races or nations.

  118. Whenever I encounter an anthroposophist who is talking about ‘living thinking’ I ask them to give me an example and of course they never can, because a s soon as any thought is formed it becomes ‘dead’. The ‘living’ bit refers to the process.

    Alicia says, first quoting me, ‘‘Speaking anecdotally nearly all the ex-pupils I know are free-thinking …’

    That is not necessarily thanks to the school.” You could be right. It is extremely difficult, except in the most trite and obvious way, to determine the exact effect of any form of teaching on any given child, in any school anywhere.

    What Diana says could be said about any form of education.

    “The issue is more about a worldview that is transmitted. More than transmitted, it is deeply engrained at a young age, an age where fantasy works much better to transmit beliefs and values than teaching of facts can ever do.”
    It is the sort of criticism which feminists make about the male-supremacist world that girls find they are born into. It is the sort of criticism that left-wing ideologists make of everyone who does not accept the Marxist view of the world. It is the sort of criticism that Muslims and Christian fundamentalists make of the public education system.

    Most people when they are old enough and if they are genuinely willing to think about themselves and the world they are in, begin to be able to see what they got from their parents, from their peers, from their schools, from the social sphere they grew up in, from the culture of the society in which they were born, etc. I see no difference with Steiner pupils.

    It seems as if Diana thinks someone educated in a Steiner school has the mark of Cain on them, ” It is these things engrained at a very young age that work in the deepest and which the “engrainee” comes out years later not even aware were engrained.”
    The sort of argument put forwards by Diana has been used in the old soviet states to show that people where politically unsound.
    Why did the Katyn massacre take place? Because Stalin could not accept that people educated in the way the Polish officer class were could be anything but enemies no matter what their current allegiances were, no matter what they did to prove their loyalty to the regime

  119. ” It is these things engrained at a very young age that work in the deepest and which the “engrainee” comes out years later not even aware were engrained.”

    What sort of evidence would count for or against a statement like this?

  120. I have been lurking here for quite a while — ever since Diana and Alicia were kind enough to respond to some questions I had regarding whether or not to continue attending Waldorf with my three year old daughter. (My previous entries had the name ‘Wordgirl’ attached. In the weeks since I first posed the question I’ve spent more than my share of late evenings combing through sources — primary and secondary — as well as becoming acquainted with a number of critics sites — and through those have heard the voices from both sides. It has really been tremendously valuable as a resource to have a site like this one, Alicia, where I feel you really do provide a forum for everyone’s voices to be heard. What I’m finding so interesting is that the more I look around — the more I see Waldorf/Steiner everywhere — right down to the expensive face lotion I was buying at Whole Foods — (Dr. Hauschka) and yet this discussion — the discussion about the transparency or lack thereof in Waldorf education as far as its anthroposophical roots are concerned — is nowhere within view — and I live in a very vibrant, intellectual city that prides itself on its scholar’s heart.

    RIght after I enquired here with all of you our teacher called the home. She left a voicemail on the weekend — asking me to play the part of an angel in the kindergarten lantern festival. My heart fluttered and I felt so… so… but, wait a moment. This is what we’ve been talking of isn’t it? How strange that at the moment when I really began to separate from the school in my heart and mind — that I would receive that call.

    I still read some passages from anthroposophical literature and so much of it seems like this beautiful fairytale (and, I should also state, much that seems outlandish and foreign to me) that I wish I could believe in — suffused with the earth and love and kindness and connectedness — because who, after all, wouldn’t wish our lives to be filled with these things? Ultimately though, I believe that we become meaningful members of our society through the amazing gift of knowledge — creating in children a thirst for inquiry and a critical mind that allows them to navigate the complexity of the world we live in…but too a foundation in the amazing width and breadth of creativity through all time and cultures, a reverence for one another and the world we live in — and in my mind we show that reverence through allowing the child to develop to his/her own full intellectual capacity. I’m just not certain that I believe, despite its beautiful and alluring packaging, that a Waldorf education will provide that for my child.

    I visited a purist Montessori days after I first wrote here — and it was as one of your commenters wrote — that leaving Waldorf they felt as if they had awoken — rubbed their eyes and the mist had cleared — and there I was in this buzzing place of intellectual vigor — so frowned upon by our teacher with her tight-lipped smile and folded hands.

    Thank you for this discussion forum Alicia. I keep coming back here and frequenting various threads trying to untangle for myself why it was that I was nearly ready to leap wholeheartedly into this community, and the strange mixed emotions I feel in leaving.

    Best,

    Pam

    I’ve been grieving it in such a strange way — not for my daughter

  121. Tom: “What Diana says could be said about any form of education.”

    Quoting me:

    “The issue is more about a worldview that is transmitted. More than transmitted, it is deeply engrained at a young age, an age where fantasy works much better to transmit beliefs and values than teaching of facts can ever do.”

    Of course, it can be said of any form of education that at some point, young people often do and probably should question it – examine and either accept or reject its premises. This is made a bit more difficult if there has been deception about the basis of their education – that’s an unusual situation, and probably makes such a process more complex than otherwise.

    But no, what I said about Waldorf is definitely not “said about any form of education.” Waldorf is a specifically fantasy-based pedagogy in the early years. No other pedagogy instructs primarily through fantasy and imagination in the early years and explicitly excludes reason, critical thought, and intellectual stimulation for as long as possible. Waldorf is unique in this, and the pedagogy is a work of genius in this regard. If you want children to take in something very, very deeply, so deeply that it is virtually impossible to question it, you will do it through fantasy, and sensory stimulation, and appeals to the imagination – song and dance, stories and poetry, music and puppetry and pageantry and spectacle. They are absolutely right that this is how children learn best. No other pedagogy comes close to this. The question is just what they are inculcating. The answer is anthroposophy.

    The mark of Cain? The Katyn massacre? I don’t know what these comments are about. They seem extreme, and unrelated to what I said.

  122. “Because Stalin could not accept that people educated in the way the Polish officer class were could be anything but enemies ”

    Seriously what is this comment about? You think I think Waldorf children are my “enemies”?

  123. Oh wait, I get it. You’ve been talking to Tom Mellett – he thinks I’m a Nazi, and you’ve upped the ante – I’m actually Joseph Stalin.

  124. “What sort of evidence would count for or against a statement like this?

    I don’t know, but maybe you could ask Rudolf Steiner, or the nearest Waldorf teacher, because what I’m describing is the basis of Waldorf pedagogy. They know this works, that’s why they do it, it’s outlined in numerous Steiner texts. Try “Kingdom of Childhood,” for instance.

  125. Pam: “ur teacher called the home. She left a voicemail on the weekend — asking me to play the part of an angel in the kindergarten lantern festival. My heart fluttered”

    It is really so strange, that is a REALLY familiar scenario to me, I actually recall EXACTLY that happening at our school with a family that was on the verge of leaving. I swear they must actually teach these strategies to Waldorf teachers.

    Good luck to you Pam, I know just what you’re talking about in the grieving part.

  126. I mean literally asking the mother to play an angel at the next festival.

    Also, I hate to say so but assuming that is you in your picture, to get asked to play an angel, it helps to be fair skinned and pretty in the Western European sort of way.

  127. Pam – a remarkable comment.

    ‘and in my mind we show that reverence through allowing the child to develop to his/her own full intellectual capacity’

    ‘Reverence’ isn’t a word I tend to use but if I replace it with ‘respect’ I entirely agree.

  128. … and it can be challenging when they do, especially if you’ve equipped them with a love of myth and legend AND critical thinking and you live in a house where everyone debates over meals … then you secretly wish you’d been more autocratic or had more natural gravitas. But no…

  129. Diana, I wasn’t accusing you of being Stalin. I was trying to point out that people who do not accept the autonomy of the individual, who think that everyone is ‘formed’ by their education, the class they were born into, their gender, etc are treating others in an inhumane way.

    When I meet a Muslim, a Plymouth Brethren, an extreme conservative republican, a Tridentine catholic, or anyone else I try to meet them as an individual not merely as a ‘product of their education’. The same way I try to meet you through the medium of the internet.

  130. Tom, that’s simply off the wall. I’m criticizing the education, not the people receiving the education. I’ve written nothing to suggest I don’t respect an individual’s autonomy.

  131. I think you’re accusing me of blaming the victim? that’s the best I can make out of this strange accusation. I don’t blame victims of indoctrination for their indoctrination, honest.

  132. I don’t think you are blaming the victim, The problem seems to be that you see Steiner pupils (and maybe others for all I know) as hapless victims. It seems as if you are saying, ‘if you were educated in this way you are not responsible for your own thought processes. You seem to think that people cannot free themselves from how they were educated or how they were brought up. To use your own words again –

    ” It is these things engrained at a very young age that work in the deepest AND WHICH THE ENGRAINEE COMES OUT YEARS LATER NOT EVEN AWARE WERE ENGRAINED”.(My capitals)

    This does not sound like respecting someone’s autonomy. It sounds more like, ‘these thoughts and attitudes were implanted in you – they do not come out of you own free-thinking and choice’.

  133. In fact, Tom, thoughts and ideas that are implanted in children don’t really come out of free thinking and choice.

    Sorry, but this is a very familiar ploy with Steiner defenders and smacks of desperation, turn the tables. Sune Nordwall once accused me of hating Waldorf children.

    The reasoning is backwards. By your logic it is not possible to point to indoctrination at all, lest we offend those who were indoctrinated.

  134. Tom:

    ‘If it is the distinction between ‘living thinking’ and ‘dead thinking’, I believe that is covered by what I said.’

    No, it was thinking as such, but I guess it’s related. I mean, the ‘materialistic’ thinking most of us are engage in — even when we think clever thoughts — is spiritually detrimental. So what actually counts as spiritually beneficial modes of thinking excludes a lot of thinking that is of use for much human activity — including children’s learning.

    Logic, cold, dead, materialistic — not to say critical — thinking has made us come far. But waldorf teachers will not encourage it.

    Of course, as far as real life goes, Diana’s interpretation of what living vs dead thinking means is most likely spot on.

    Diana:

    ‘The issue is more about a worldview that is transmitted.’

    And all that is not transmitted. All the knowledge, all the other ways of thinking and seeing. Everything that is kept from the children or that the teachers try to make the children avoid. Often unsuccessully, but that doesn’t change the intention.

    Tom:

    ‘Most people when they are old enough and if they are genuinely willing to think about themselves and the world they are in, begin to be able to see what they got from their parents, from their peers, from their schools, from the social sphere they grew up in, from the culture of the society in which they were born, etc. I see no difference with Steiner pupils.’

    I definitely do. Steiner school students are generally incapable of even detecting the slightest influence on their education by anthroposophy. They’ve got to — like I did, but that is rare — start investigating their own experience in the light of the ideas behind the education. Ideas that have never been made explicit to them.

    As Diana points out: ‘This is made a bit more difficult if there has been deception about the basis of their education – that’s an unusual situation, and probably makes such a process more complex than otherwise.’

    Tom:

    ‘It seems as if Diana thinks someone educated in a Steiner school has the mark of Cain on them …’

    To a certain extent, there’s something to that. You are forever apart, in a way you can’t get rid of, or even deal with. And this even if that environment was forced upon you invountarily.

    ‘To me this sort of thinking does not respect the autonomy of the individual.’

    I’m going to sound awfully harsh now, so I beg you for forgiveness in advance: in my opinion, it is the waldorf movement and the waldorf schools that do not respect the autonomy of the individual.

    Tom to Diana:

    ‘The problem seems to be that you see Steiner pupils (and maybe others for all I know) as hapless victims. It seems as if you are saying, ‘if you were educated in this way you are not responsible for your own thought processes.’

    They are. But it might be more difficult for them, especially when it comes to seeing their education and the influence it has had on them and their lives in an independent way. They are less able to evaluate what they’ve been through. Especially since there’s been deception around it — nobody ever spoke clearly about what their education meant, about the things they’ve gone through and why things were done the way they were. Nobody spoke about the beliefs that made the waldorf school what it was, so how should children know? Even when they grow up, and most of what they’ve gone through and have learnt had disappeared in the fog of old, hazy and evasive memories.

  135. Pam — It is so fascinating that you were picked to play the angel right when you were deciding whether to stay or leave. It never occurred to me that they may ‘deal’ with parents in such an odd way. Spiritually flattering, but of course I’ve experienced things more from the child’s perspective. (Intersting that Diana has seen similar things happen.) It shouldn’t surprise me, though. I suppose they don’t see it as manipulative, but it is. Another aspect is perhaps that if parents bond emotionally with the school — if they feel there’s a mutual need of each other — they’re less likely to leave. And that they tend to accomplish very well.

    ‘I still read some passages from anthroposophical literature and so much of it seems like this beautiful fairytale (and, I should also state, much that seems outlandish and foreign to me) that I wish I could believe in — suffused with the earth and love and kindness and connectedness — because who, after all, wouldn’t wish our lives to be filled with these things? Ultimately though, I believe that we become meaningful members of our society through the amazing gift of knowledge — creating in children a thirst for inquiry and a critical mind that allows them to navigate the complexity of the world we live in…but too a foundation in the amazing width and breadth of creativity through all time and cultures, a reverence for one another and the world we live in — and in my mind we show that reverence through allowing the child to develop to his/her own full intellectual capacity.’

    I agree with you (and your conclusion, re waldorf education, which I forgot to quote, and there’s no harm in reading anthroposophical literature. Or anything else. Personally, I wouldn’t adopt it as a worldview, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things in it or, even, in what anthroposophists do. I suppose the problem with waldorf schools is not just anthroposophy itself, but that anthroposophy, when put into practice by people who truly believe in it, tends to prevent those other values you mention ‘thirst for inquiry and a critical mind’ and, perhaps because the teachers are often uneducated (educated in anthroposophy perhaps, but otherwise lacking), they can’t provide an environment where knowledge (not just their favourite fantasies) is truly cherished. But if there are aspects of waldorf that appeal to you — which obviously there are! –, be inspired by them. I think that would be my approach — take whatever I like, leave the rest. The problem with signing up for the package deal that is the waldorf school is that you get other people’s choices in values and spirituality, often not even knowing exactly what they are (how much anthroposophy — usually more than they admit — and what parts of it, for example), since schools and teachers are reluctant to be clear and open about it.

    Thanks for coming back and sharing your thoughts about your choice and experience!

  136. “Intersting that Diana has seen similar things happen”

    I saw LITERALLY THIS happen, not just similar. An invitation to play an angel at the next faire, offered to a mother who they knew was “on the fence” about whether to keep the child at the school. It is definitely a ploy. It’s called “love bombing.”

    Even I am occasionally chilled at the cultish things these people do.

  137. Oh, I read sloppily — probably thinking it can’t literally be exactly the same thing! Maybe it’s in the waldorf manual, section ‘how to deal with undecided but desirable parents’. Phone and ask the mother to play an angel. Wonder what’s in the ‘how to get rid of undesirable parents without fuss’… No, joking aside, these could very well be things that are spoken about, ideas that are transmitted from waldorf teacher to waldorf teacher, within schools, in teacher training, and so forth. They don’t even need to talk about explicitly as if the goal is to keep a parent who perhaps really doesn’t want it — I presume they can coat arrangements like these in words that make them sound healty and beneficial (even for the possibly unwilling parent) when they talk amongst each other. I’m sure they don’t see it as a brain-washing technique, but as ‘doing good’.

    It’s very cultish, indeed.

  138. Alicia says, ‘ They are less able to evaluate what they’ve been through’. I wonder how you can know this, except for yourself?

    Diana says, quoting me, ‘

    ‘ “What sort of evidence would count for or against a statement like this?

    I don’t know, but maybe you could ask Rudolf Steiner, or the nearest Waldorf teacher, because what I’m describing is the basis of Waldorf pedagogy. They know this works, that’s why they do it, it’s outlined in numerous Steiner texts. Try “Kingdom of Childhood,” for instance.’

    But it was Diana’s statement I was asking about, not Rudolf Steiner’s. It is not Steiner who speaks about things being engrained in the child. He talks about educating in such a way that the child becomes free in their thinking.

  139. Free to believe `spiritual truths,` Tom.

    Diana`s statement WAS rudolf steiners statement, tom, thats the point. I was pointing out that their pedagogy is effective and works exactly the way they say it does. If ou want corroboration for THAT you have merely to pick up the nearest steiner volume of wisdom for teachers.

  140. Diana, LOL, good you said so, I suspected an impostor.

    This is me, too,by the way, from the phone. All apps and logins were ruined yesterday… I’m going to have to sort it out.

  141. Diana says, ‘I was pointing out that their pedagogy is effective and works exactly the way they say it does.’

    Are you saying, “Yes, Steiner education is effective, it does make people free in their thinking, it does create morally autonomous people who are strong in their will?”
    Because THAT is what he claimed it would do – definitely not make anthroposophists, not even make people who would reject materialism – but people who would choose Materialism, for example, out of their own thinking, and not merely because it is the accepted world-view of the chattering classes. Or not choose it, as the case maybe.

  142. Free in thinking, strong in will — in such a manner that they don’t become ‘cold thinkers’, in such a manner that they don’t reject the spiritual, in such a manner that, in one way or another, they have had an acceptance for a certain way of looking at the world (as opposed to a competing one, of which there are many) engrained in them. Ideally. That it doesn’t always work is something else.

    ‘Because THAT is what he claimed it would do – definitely not make anthroposophists, not even make people who would reject materialism – but people who would choose Materialism, for example, out of their own thinking, and not merely because it is the accepted world-view of the chattering classes.’

    Actually, I think this must be in error or mistaken. If your thinking (and willing and feeling) has developed correctly, as it should be (according to his ideals of appropriate development), you will not choose materialism. I’m pretty sure — though unfortunately I don’t have the time to search for this right now — that he says the waldorf school’s goal or intention is to combat such thinking or such choices — it is there to attempt making sure fewer people are becoming materialists, or making the choice of having a materialistic worldview, if you will (as this — clearly, according to him — is detrimental to the evolution of humanity). And look at what he says about vaccines — not getting the childhood diseases causes premature hardening (equals risk for developing materialism). However, the right education — the waldorf school — can counterbalance this bad effect of vaccination. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a lot on materialism and thinking in the pedagogicial works, you might not even need to go to anthroposophy to interpret just exactly what he means by ‘thinking’. (But I have read interesting things about it there. Damn, not having time…)

  143. A couple of points, Tom. First, your reasoning is a bit strained here. I’m sure we don’t really disagree that the point of a Steiner education is to inculcate spiritual values. This isn’t controversial; it’s even in most of the brochures, even if anthroposophy isn’t mentioned specifically, or dwelt upon. I’m sure you do not really intend to argue otherwise.

    Is it *possible* for a student to come out of many years of Waldorf education as a materialist? Of course, and I’m sure Steiner wouldn’t advise that this student be somehow considered a failure, or punished or expelled. The situation would of course be karmic. Materialism is a very deep-rooted thing. Some people *need* to be materialists for a lifetime (usually of course in order to definitively learn how mistaken materialism is; it’s a danged clever system, you’ve got to admit!) Moreover, our *age* is thought to be materialistic, and thus, many people are materialists just because it’s the karma of the age or the karma of their race or nation or whatever. Those people, too, can benefit from a spiritual education, if you take a longer-term perspective … as Waldorf teachers are surely expected to do.

    Karma works out over many lifetimes. The fruits of a Waldorf education are not necessarily intended to be apparent or completed in one lifetime. Believing otherwise would itself be a grave materialistic error. Some great future spiritual leaders are materialists today, no?

    Waldorf education is about the further evolution of humanity, on a cosmic scale. The course of evolution of the cosmos is a descent from spirituality into materialism and then a slow “respiritualization” of the cosmos. Waldorf is aiming to educate people who will play leadership roles in this, over the cosmic eons. — not necessarily next week.

    In sum, of course some students are victim to the dreaded “materialism,” but assuredly the point of the education is spiritual.

    Diana (who is very happy to have been relieved of the civic duty to sit on a murder trial in Philadelphia; I’m sure that’s karmic eh)

  144. “However, the right education — the waldorf school — can counterbalance this bad effect of vaccination.”

    Yes, that’s a good example. The school will tend to be philosophically opposed to vaccination, but that doesn’t mean some students won’t get vaccinated. The school may or may not actively discourage vaccination. Their aim is to combat its effects. They view that sort of thing as their mission. A spiritual education is thought to counteract the spiritual damage caused by vaccination. Some anthroposophists will even accept vaccination as physically necessary while spiritually damaging. The education has to be seen as a very long-term mission. Plenty of “materialists” will pass through the school. One of the main purposes of the education is “curative” and “healing.” They realize they can’t make an anthroposophist of everyone; in some senses they aim mainly to put a balm or salve on the wounds caused by materialism all around them.

    Finally, it would be plainly absurd to imagine that the school could simply turn out anthroposophists in great numbers. They understand full well that most students will not ever turn into anthroposophists. It’s just not realistic; most people don’t like anthroposophy. But they couldn’t run schools if they limited enrollment to anthroposophist families, or families who proactively sought an anthroposophical education for their children. They need to enroll many families simply as fee payers. The bulk of the student body supports the mission just by paying tuition and by contributing labor to the school.

  145. Ah, that wasn’t “finally” – left one thing out. As we have discussed here before – and we have recently had a long thread discussing “group karma” and how individuals’ karma interact with one another – karma means that some students find their way to the Waldorf school in order to support someone else’s karma. For instance, if there are several children from one family in the school, it may be the karma of one child in particular who is specifically connected to the school. (The siblings are just there because they’re siblings.) Or a child is at the Waldorf school because of some karmic connection he or she has to another child or teacher there. *That* person needs this child to be there, for some purpose or to pursue some interaction, sometimes a conflict, sometimes a friendship, etc.

    So there’s lots of “extra” children, karmically speaking, at the Waldorf school. It wouldn’t be surprising if many of them are “materialists” or otherwise unable to fully benefit from the supposed spiritual benefits on offer. Not all *the children are intended* to benefit; it’s no big crisis if some of them come out materialists despite all the spiritual lessons they’ve been offered. They weren’t “ready”; their brother or sister or parent was the intended recipient, or they had karmic “business” with some other child, or even teacher, who does ostensibly benefit.

    Alicia knows what I mean ‘cus I’m pretty sure she was considered karmically an “extra” child at her Waldorf school. It didn’t matter how she was treated ‘cus she was there for other people’s spiritual purposes, not her own.

  146. Actually, I think this must be in error or mistaken. If your thinking (and willing and feeling) has developed correctly, as it should be (according to his ideals of appropriate development), you will not choose materialism.

    Alicia, this is where you are mistaken. Materialism is one of the 12 world views in Steiner’s “philosophical zodiac” that you can read about in “Human and Cosmic Thought”

    Lecture 3 of 4, given January 22, 1914 in Berlin , GA 151
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA151/English/RSP1961/19140122p01.html

    All 12 of those views are equally valid and there is no preference for or stigma against any one of the 12.

    It may be of great interest for you to see your own “philosophical birth chart” which is based on your birth data, just as it is for mundane astrology.

    As a rough outline, let me look at your sun position and compare it with mne.

    Since your early December birthday makes you tropically a Sagittarius, the sidereal constellation behind your sun at birth would be in Scorpio. That corresponds with the world view of Dynamism, which lies between Realism and Monadism.

    (Go back to lecture 2 to read about Dynamism as the world view that seeks to find the forces at work behind external phenomena. Also go ahead to lecture 4 to see him do Nietzsche’s chart.)

    It’s clear to me that you are always seeking for the forces behind these wild and crazy Waldorf-Steiner phenomena and by doing so, you make great progress toward the next sign of Realism. (next life probably.)

    As a contrast, my tropical sun sign is Cancer but my sidereal is Gemini which means I champion Mathematism, the application of mathematical thinking to the adjacent world view of Materialism, whose sidereal sun sign is Cancer! I will be progressing through Rationalism and then on to Idealism, which directly opposite Realism.

    If you like, I can get you in touch with a few Astrosophers I know who could cast your philosophical chart according to this nifty little 4-lecture cycle from 1914.

  147. No, you’ve misunderstood the lecture. The point is that all these world views are *possible*. Steiner definitely does not consider them all equally valid.

    Some quotes:

    “A man is not a Sensationalist, Materialist, Spiritist or Pneumatist because this or that world-outlook is — and can be seen to be — correct, but because his soul is so conditioned that it is predominantly influenced by the respective mental-zodiacal-sign … Broadmindedness is all too seldom sought. Anyone really in earnest about truth would have to be able to represent the twelve shades of world-outlook in his soul. He would have to know in terms of his own experience what it means to be a Gnostic, a Logician, a Voluntarist, an Empiricist, a Mystic, a Transcendentalist, an Occultist. All this must be gone through experimentally by anyone who wants to penetrate into the secrets of the universe according to the ideas of Spiritual Science …
    the task confronting Spiritual Science: the task of acting as peacemaker among the various world-outlooks. The way to peace is to realize that the world-outlooks conjointly, in their reciprocal action on one another, can be in a certain sense explained, but that they cannot lead into the inner nature of truth if they remain one-sided. One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth.”

    There’s surely no proposition here that materialism is “equally valid” to the others.

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA151/English/RSP1961/19140122p01.html

  148. Very quickly — it’s pretty clear that Steiner doesn’t talk about materialism as something desirable. Clearly, there’s a preference. And it’s all over his work.

  149. Diana, I salute you. Do you actually realize how much more well-read, accomplished and competent an anthroposophist you are than I am now — or could ever hope to be (in this lifetime anyway)?

    If I could, I would nominate you for the Vorstand.

  150. Funny you should bring up self-fright. Why, I gave myself a fright just the other day. And in the place where I would have least expected it. I was gazing longingly into the mirror as usual, but suddenly Narcissus wasn’t there any more. It was Dorian Gray! Alas, even the Double gets old!

  151. Lady Diana, you have labored for so long, so patiently and assiduously in the fairly fetid bio-dynamic vineyards, as it were, of anthroposophy on the Internet and yet have failed so far to garner the proper recognition, praise and gratitude from the entire worldwide Anthroposophical Society for your noble efforts.

    As you know, I am a secret agent of the DMP (Dornach Mystery Police), so it will come as no surprise to you that I have robust and secure back-channel access, as it were, to the “powers-that-be” at the Goetheanum. In my latest report to them on your most recent activities at the Ethereal Kiosk, filed in the LAA section that I supervise, I am recommending you for a special, unique and heretofore never-even-created — let alone bestowed — award.

    It will be a small token of the Goetheanum’s recognition of your lifelong devotion to anthroposophy as it was karmically framed or structured for you by your upbringing in Christian Science. (Just as my childhood Roman Catholicism structured my adult approach to anthroposophy.)

    And the award was inspired for me both by our discussion here about materialism and the philosophical zodiac and by a simmering contemporary controversy in both astrology and astronomy. I refer to the squeezing in of a 13th constellation of the Zodiac called Opiuchus, which is Greek for “serpent-bearer”, more obvious in its Latin name, “Serpentarius.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiuchus

    (I must interrupt here and call Alicia’s attention to the calendar dates of the Zodiac signs which would be in effect if Serpentarius were put in as the 13th sign. Look at this chart, Alicia. You see that your birthday falls right in the middle of the new sign of Serpentarius. Does that not fit you more than Sagittarius?)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13-sign_zodiac#13-sign_astrology

    So Diana, you are astute and savvy enough to see what’s coming as your award. Yes, I have created a 13th sign just for you. It will be known as the 13th world view named in honor of Lady Diana for her pioneering indefatigable, meticulous, methodical, utterly disciplined and comprehensive contributions to anthroposophy in our 3rd millennium.

    I don’t know where it will fit in with all the other 12 world views yet, but we can discuss that issue in the future. For now, I simply bestow the award.

    Lady Diana Winters, the 13th world view in “Human and Cosmic Thought” is hereby dedicated to you as pioneer, and it shall be called . . . .

    . . . . Perfectionism . . . .

  152. All right, Tom,
    I should never have brought up the Christian Science thing, as it is largely misunderstood and quoted against me all over the place. If I was going to mention it I should have explained a lot more about what Christian Science is, since very few people know, and anthros take this information to mean I don’t like anthroposophy because it’s like Christian Science. It’s not (it’s actually worse).

    According to Steve Hale the real Lady, later Princess, Diana was a “Michael figure,” and since we are soon to have a new heir to the British throne who (if it’s a girl) may also find herself with the name Diana attached, I’m well assured it’s a name with terrific karma. (Others say not because it is not actually a “regnal” name, i.e. there was never a queen named Diana.) I’m hoping they don’t name her Diana (if it’s a her) because it leads to a huge spike in popularity of the name, that is, in another couple of years we will have an overflow of newborn girls named Diana.

    The perfectionism thing is a mistaken idea you have about me. I am not a perfectionist; I’m a big fuck-up, a lot of the time. I suspect you get this from (aside perhaps from astrology?) my attempts to remind people of netiquette on the critics list, and that is mainly because I cannot read disorganized or poorly formatted posts, my middle aged eyes and brain can’t handle it anymore.

  153. I’ll be back a little later but: *I* want to hear about the christian science thing. I think it’s very interesting. If Tom is being stupid about it, Tom deserves to get his comments deleted.

    Diana is a beautiful name (the swedish pronounciation is very beautiful actually, I think more so than the english!). I didn’t know there was a new heir to the british throne on the way (I’m totally ignorant) but earlier this year, we had one here, and do you know what they named her? Estelle. Like George Costanza’s mother.

  154. Alicia, I have a base to play to (which includes Steve Hale) so I appreciate your patience and forbearance.

    But I am quite curious if you think you might be more Serpentarian than Sagittarian. However, I realize that your need to do a lot more research before you can answer.

  155. I have read the lectures Diane refers to above many times, being of particular interest to someone with a degree in philosophy. I agree that in the passage quoted he does not actually say the different world views ‘have equal validity’.
    If you read all the lectures on human and cosmic thought carefully then your quoted sentence,

    ‘ One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth.”

    comes closest to expressing the tenor of the whole series.. The truth value of all the different world outlooks must be experienced. He does not say one is ‘more true’ than the others.

  156. But then, on a million other occasions, he goes on to exclaim that ‘this is the truth!’ Ok, that can be charming. I don’t think it’s even wrong. One might equally well say, however, that when he occassionally expresses the kind of thought you just quoted, he was paying lip-service to openness. I don’t know. But you can’t have it both ways, as far as I see it — materialism can’t both be considered horribly spiritually damaging to the individual and an equally valid choice. Diana might have a better explanation.

  157. I think it’s pretty clear, he says all these other world views should be experienced, and each is “true” as far as it goes, each is a point of view, just that. None is wrong as far as it goes, but each is limited, and all are subsumed under the grand truth of anthroposophy. That’s what anthroposophy IS (to its adherents) – it reconciles and subsumes smaller truths (small “t”) into the real Truth (capital “T”). That kinda sums up the point of Waldorf education, too. Of course they’re going to teach some things that are “true” (small “t”) but aren’t Truth (capital “T”), but over the course of the education the student should be imbibing the larger anthroposophic vision, that is, Truth.

  158. Another way to look at it might be, you can look at the world through a series of different lenses, each of which shows you the world in a slightly different hue or color (of “Sensationalism,” or “Spiritism” or “Materialism” etc.). But if you ultimately take off all the glasses and look on the world straight, that would be equivalent to anthroposophy.

    Or to use the language of the text, the different world views all have “truth-value. That is not a particularly subtle back-handed way of saying none of them are completely “true.”

  159. Alicia says, ‘materialism can’t both be considered horribly spiritually damaging to the individual and an equally valid choice’.

    I don’t think Steiner ever says Materialism is horribly damaging to the individual. He does say that getting stuck in any single point of view is damaging – ( including spiritism(anthroposophy!). Seeing things from only one point of view is what leads to fanaticism of whatever hue.

    Diana says. ‘Another way to look at it might be, you can look at the world through a series of different lenses, each of which shows you the world in a slightly different hue or color (of “Sensationalism,” or “Spiritism” or “Materialism” etc.). But if you ultimately take off all the glasses and look on the world straight, that would be equivalent to anthroposophy.’

    Steiner never said anything like this. He did not even say there was any kind of synthesis of views. The analogy to different lenses has been used by other writers, but it has it’s limitation, viz, some people assume there is something that could be seen without the use of any lens. Diana seems to think that that would be Steiner’s position.
    But it isn’t.
    He did think that each point of view has it’s validity, that from each we can see the truth (not a partial truth – the truth).
    There is no synthesis , there is no ‘seeing without a lens’. Anthroposphy belongs in Spiritism , spiritism is one of the twelve points of view. Materialism is an equally valid point of view.

    What is really wonderful is that a human being is just such a being who can see the world and everything in it from ecxh of the twelve points of view and understand that from that point of view what they are seeing is true.

  160. Hi Diana,

    I’m glad to see you expanding your understanding of this lecture cycle so that you can now begin appreciate the two different levels that Steiner operates from here. On one level, all 12 world views are equally valid as I initially claimed, but on the other level, they are not. So my failure was not misunderstanding the lecture as you claimed, but rather not clarifying the clear contradiction between the two levels.

    Where all 12 (Zodiac) world views are equally valid is from the perspective of the 23rd world view, which Steiner calls Anthropomorphism (quite interesting that he does not call it Anthroposophy).

    He covers this at the end of Lecture 3, where he develops the 12 Zodiac world views, then the 7 “soul-moods” representing the 7 planets, followed by the 3 “tones” of each mood (Theism , Intuitionism, Naturalism).

    Adding them up he gets 12 + 7 + 3 = 22.

    So then the ultimate, or “uber-meta-world-view,” as it were, is Anthropomorphism, which sees the truth content in every one of the 12 + 7 + 3 = 22 other views.

    (Curiously when I first read this lecture 30 years ago, I wondered why he didn’t multiply the numbers to get the possible combinations of signs, planets and tones which would be 12 x 7 x 3 = 252, but then I’m much more a Mathematist than Steiner ever was.)

    Now the level you had correctly identified was that of a person stubbornly holding on to one single world view to the exclusion or even denial and/or denigration of the other world views. The point is that there is nothing inherently wrong about materialism. It has its own uniquely valid truth content that contributes to the whole like any other sign, however, it is the one-sidedness or exclusive belief in the validity of the one view that is the problem, as you and Alicia correctly pointed out.

    Also, none of us, not even Steiner can avoid one-sidedness in our world views. Why? Because we are born with a very specific birth chart, where a planet is in a specific sign. On the philosophical zodiac, a person has a soul mood or planet in a given world view. So he or she will naturally favor that view until adulthood when things start to transform. (See his analysis of Nietzche’s chart in Lecture 4.)

    Finally, I got a real insight into the specific issue of materialism here, because that is always the pejorative accusation leveled against you and other critics by the Anthros and Waldis. How many of them have snidely and arrogantly dismissed you critics as coming from a materialistic perspective?

    Ironically, I actually see their accusations against you as evidence that they, the Anthros and the Waldi defenders themselves are projecting on to you their own inability or refusal to find the truth value of materialism for themselves. They strike me as envious, even jealous of you Critics because you naturally live out the truth of materialism, which the Anthros are unwilling to accept.

    (Of course, from your side, only you can determine just how one-sided your materialism is or not.)

    In lecture 2, Steiner himself implies that materialism is the most stubborn and one-sided of all 12 world views to espouse, since it sits at the apex or North Pole, as it were, of the Northern hemisphere (or High Noon on the clock face)

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA151/English/RSP1961/19140121p01.html

    Here I must add that there are adherents of all the world-outlooks above the horizontal stroke; for the most part they are stubborn fold who, owing to some fundamental element in themselves, take this or that world-outlook and abide by it, going no further. All the beliefs listed below the line have adherents who are more easily accessible to the knowledge that individual world-outlooks each have one special standpoint only, and they more easily reach the point where they pass from one world-outlook to another.

  161. I agree, Tom H-S with what you wrote above. The goal is to develop enough flexibility in your habits of thinking that you can really move between these styles or worldviews and, moreover, have enough self-awareness to know which one you’re probably “in” when you are approaching a particular issue in the way that you are. Steiner seems to be pretty clear on this to me.

  162. Your even handed playing off of both sides against the other seems to have slipped a little, Tom (temporally , we assume) in favour of the contra side.

    Your:

    “Finally, I got a real insight into the specific issue of materialism here, because that is always the pejorative accusation leveled against you and other critics by the Anthros and Waldis. How many of them have snidely and arrogantly dismissed you critics as coming from a materialistic perspective.

    Ironically, I actually see their accusations against you as evidence that they, the Anthros and the Waldi defenders themselves are projecting on to you their own inability or refusal to find the truth value of materialism for themselves.”

    seems like evidence of your own projection (so easy to accuse, so hard to verify, huh?), since there’s been very little snidery or arrogance from this side but a fair deal from yours. But, as war is over, and in the spirit of Christmas, I forgive you!

    “They strike me as envious, even jealous of you Critics because you naturally live out the truth of materialism, which the Anthros are unwilling to accept.”

    Come on Tom! We’re both trained in physics, the uber science of the material – do you really think that I don’t ‘live out the truth of materialism’! The difference is that I recognise when it actually becomes *materialism*, the claim to explain regions of experience that it can’t – do you?

  163. Brother Ted,

    May I give you some helpful big-brotherly anthroposophical advice for your further occult development. You really need to go off and practice the famous “church steeple” exercise from Guidance in Esoteric Training. and then report back here when you have mastered it.

    You will find it on this page at the RS Archive.

    General Demands Which Every Aspirant For Occult Development Must Put To Himself (Subsidiary Exercises)

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GuidEsot;lines=227-582

    =========================================
    In the fifth month, efforts should be made to develop the feeling of
    confronting every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The
    esoteric pupil must break entirely with the attitude which, in the
    face of something just heard or seen, exclaims: `I never heard that,
    or I never saw that, before; I don’t believe it — it’s an illusion.’
    At every moment he must be ready to encounter and accept absolutely
    new experiences.

    What he has hitherto recognized as being in accordance with natural
    law, or what he has regarded as possible, should present no obstacle
    to the acceptance of a new truth. Although radically expressed, it is
    absolutely correct that if anyone were to come to the esoteric pupil
    and say, ‘Since last night the steeple of such and such a church has
    been tilted right over’, the esotericist should leave a loophole open
    for the contingency of his becoming convinced that his previous
    knowledge of natural law could somehow be augmented by such an
    apparently unprecedented fact.

    ==========================================

    You can see my specific application of it in this posting from 5 years ago on the now defunct Anthroposophy Yahoo group. Notice there that I made my “church steeple” focus Steiner’s racism.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy/message/14886

    For your specific “church steeple,” I would advise a focus on Herr Doktor Professor Peter Staudenmaier at that Jesuit University called Marquette in Milwaukee.

    Brother Tom

  164. Tom,

    Great: that post has most of your favourite interests in it: racism, sex, operation mind-fuck (I mean the steeple exercise). Now w.r.t. Herr Professor thingy: what exactly did you have in mind for my mental stretching exercises here (ps: the thought of the atheist Doktor at Catholic Central Jesuitdom is already pretty limbering, don’t you think?).

  165. Ted: “The difference is that I recognise when it actually becomes *materialism*, the claim to explain regions of experience that it can’t – do you?”

    The difference between what and what, or who? What are you talking about? Ted, it would be interesting if you would point to/quote somewhere where a critic has claimed to “explain some region of experience” by materialism, that you feel materialism inadequately explains. Perhaps you have examples of this – I’m curious because Tom (Mellett) was talking to me here and so I feel perhaps I’m implicated as an example of someone who “uses materialism” to explain something that it doesn’t explain. Do you have an example of where I’ve done that? Just wondering, as I’m usually not prone to trying to explain very much about the world – it seems to me that anthroposophists in general are about a thousand times more prone than I am to claim to be able to explain, well, the world. Critics spend a lot of time basically saying, “No, anthroposophy doesn’t really explain that” viz various completely outrageous theories of Steiner’s, and a good bit less time making claims for “materialism,” although you aren’t alone in apparently perceiving critics are running around being materialists all over the place. I just don’t really see it happening myself. I’ve been accused of some sort of radical materialism about a thousand times myself, yet don’t know what I do or say that creates that impression, other than scoffing at Rudolf Steiner, and one hardly needs to be a materialist to find Steiner less than credible.

  166. On the other hand please note I’m not claiming NOT to be a materialist. I’m happy to wear the label, if only to try to reclaim it from the scarlet letter status the term has among anthroposophists. I do usually raise my hand and say “Yeah me” if anthroposophists start hysterically accusing people of materialism left and right, just to say basically YEAH SO WHAT, but I don’t feel nearly the commitment to “materialism” as some kind of fervent worldview that anthroposophists apparently perceive. That’s just a way to demonize ideological opponents. Steiner himself is much more level-headed in his assessment of materialists than other anthroposophists.

  167. Diana: “The difference between what and what, or who? What are you talking about?”

    My expression was perhaps unclear- it assumed the context of Tom’s Steiner quote. When Steiner talked of ‘materialism’ in that quote he was referring to the idea that using material explanations of material phenomena is perfectly sound (such as take place in physics, for instance); it goes wrong when such explanations are attempted for non material phenomena (my *materialism*). And I was thinking mostly of Pete K, as the.’who’. Whether you or someone else is being a ‘materialist’ in a particular context begs the question of what the term means. This was never resolved on critics, you may remember, in spite of what I now think of as an unnecessarily bonkers discussion I attempted to have with Peter Staudenmaier on it over two years ago. I think the discussion I had with Pete laid out clearly what it meant and showed that what he had said exemplified it; but he just skittered away and said ‘no’. It seems that, rather like being an anthroposophist, no one is a materialist.

  168. Church steeples or expanding Earth! I hope you gents got my FB post and had a look at the Neal Adams video! I’m emailing anyone and everyone I know to take a look at it. Who ever thought this little exercise might ever be so pertinent! Neil Adams is a New Yorker, know anyone there who might like to help him spread this theory?

  169. “It seems that, rather like being an anthroposophist, no one is a materialist.”

    I don’t think it’s that no one wants to admit to being a materialist. I think there’s an objection to using the term as a catch-all pejorative, or using the term with only a shallow notion of what it means. Anthroposophists often use it to score points in arguments, or to mean “someone I don’t agree with,” not only in reference to outsiders but among themselves. They have a tendency to mindlessly attribute any and all opposition to anthroposophy to “materialism,” when in reality, most people who are critical of anthroposophy are not at all materialists.

    How many stupid conversations have I had with anthroposophists (I’m pretty sure I’ve had this exact conversation with you) where the anthro says basically Oh well, why should I talk to you, there is no point in considering anything you say – you can’t understand anthroposophy at all because you don’t even believe in a spiritual reality. Often enough, the existence or lack thereof of a spiritual reality is totally irrelevant to the criticisms under discussion. Cries of “Materialist!” are a ready defense against thinking of any sort – living or dead – in anthroposophy.

  170. “How many stupid conversations have I had with anthroposophists (I’m pretty sure I’ve had this exact conversation with you) where the anthro says basically Oh well, why should I talk to you, there is no point in considering anything you say – you can’t understand anthroposophy at all because you don’t even believe in a spiritual reality.”

    Not really my position on ‘materialism’, which is an epistemological one ( if you’d been interested enough, you could have seen an example of it in my exchange with Pete K here). In contra-distinction to your claim concerning me, my claim concerning you and others is that you refuse to say what ‘materialism’ means.

     I’m pretty sure I’ve never had that conversation with you.

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