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are waldorf and christianity compatible??

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
I am wondering this because I called our local school and I'm inquiring about their school for dd. I got a feeling that it's esoteric (sp?) and not compatible with christianity, but I would like your opinion.

thanks ;-)
post #2 of 44
My opinion: it depends on your brand of Christianity, and the branch of the Waldorf school.

The Episcopal church we went to had a few Waldorf families. It's a fairly liberal congregation.

Our local Waldorf school does not have a reputation for being particularly "out there", at least relative to stories about other Waldorf schools I have heard about. This school has the emphasis on art and nature and seasonal ritual that one would expect from a Waldorf school.

Again, my opinion, Waldorf schools can blend in fine with a Christian home, depending on how you expect your Christianity to "look".

I wouldn't expect a fundamentalist Christian family to be comfortable in a Waldorf school at all. The emphasis on nature and fairy tales might be misconstrued as a substitution for God.
post #3 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by loving-my-babies
I am wondering this because I called our local school and I'm inquiring about their school for dd. I got a feeling that it's esoteric (sp?) and not compatible with christianity, but I would like your opinion.
If you go into it realizing it's perhaps not consistent with your relgious beliefs, and you accept that these differences will come up from time to time, I would say you could find it combatible.

However, if, on the other hand, the daily morning verses spoken in the grades bothers you, then you shouldn't even pursue it.

The best thing is to discuss it with the school. The teachers or administration, if they have any experience, have had to deal with the religion conflict before, and they might have useful insight for you.

David
post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 
what daily morning verses are spoken??

thanks for your help!
post #5 of 44
Morning Verse
Grades 1 - 4
by Rudolf Steiner

The sun with loving light
Brightens for me this day;
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs.
In sunlight shining clear
I reverence, O God,
The source of human strength
Which Thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my heart
May love to work and learn.
From Thee come light and strength
To Thee stream love and thanks.

Speaking as an ex fundamentalist Christian, a current Waldorf parent, and a current student in a Waldorf teacher training program, I think most fundamentalist/conservative Christians would have a hard time with the spirituality presented throughout Waldorf education. Anthroposophy, the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner on which Waldorf education is based, is an esoteric belief system that includes many concepts that fundamentalist Christians would be uncomfortable with. There are Christians at our local Waldorf school and in my teacher training program, but I they seem to lean more toward the liberal part of the spectrum of Christianity.
post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DashsMama
Morning Verse Grades 1 - 4
Yes, that's one. There's another for grades 5-8, plus subject teachers tend to have a characteristic way to mark the start of their class -- often a verse, or song, or movement exercise.
post #7 of 44
It works for this Christian family! In fact, it is usually the Jewish families that have the hardest time with the early grades, until 3rd grade when it is all Old Testement and Jewish Holidays.

If you recognize that Waldorf is not a Christian school but rather a spiritual school (recognizing the soul) developed by a Christian then you should do okay. They don't really teach Christianity per se, but they do celebrate many Chistian holidays.

In K-1st Grade, it is primarily fairy tales from all over. Aesops Fables may also be covered in 1st or 2nd grade.

2nd grade is Saints and Folk Hero Tales. Many saint holidays are celebrated such as Santa Lucia. St. Christopher is given the same reverential treatment that Paul Bunyon is given in that there is something to learn from their 'lives' and stories. There are also usually hero tales from other areas such as Asia and the Middle East.

3rd grade, is the Old Testement and Jewish Holidays.

4th grade, is Norse Tales.

5th grade is Greek Mythology.

6th grade is Roman Mythology.

At some point they also study world religions such as Islam and Buddhism.

The point is not to teach Christianity or any other religion, but to gain respect and to learn from all. To see their similiarities and their humanity.
post #8 of 44
Waldorf schools are supposed to recognize and celebrate ALL religions, so that they should not be incompatible with any religion. Ours in particular is this way because it is a public charter Waldorf school, so it has to be extra careful. In kindergarten the birthday celebrations tell stories about the birthday child coming down with their guardian and joining us on Earch (essentially it's talking about reincarnation), and there are some subtle spiritual elements. But it's kept very open and culturally and religiously diverse. They celebrate Day of the Dead today, for example. They recognize different cultures and religions just like any good Waldorf school should.
post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 
thanks everyone. Based on what you have all said and what I have read, these two are not compatible. thanks a lot for your answers!
post #10 of 44
Older grade morning verse:

I look into the world in which the sun is shining,
In which the stars are sparkling,
In which the stones repose.
The living plants are growing,
The feeling animals live,
The soul with spirit power gives strength unto my limbs.
I look into the soul that lives within myself,
The spirit of God it weaves,
In sunlight and in soul-light
In cosmic space without,
In depths of soul within,
To thee oh spirit of God, I want to turn myself,
To ask that strength and blessing,
For learning and for working,
May ever grow within me.


It's been almost 25 years since I recited that with my class and it's still instantly retrievable from the mental file cabinet.

Can you say, "TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN"?? Yikes, that is awkward-sounding.
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by loving-my-babies
thanks everyone. Based on what you have all said and what I have read, these two are not compatible. thanks a lot for your answers!

Curious as to what brand of Christian your family is.

In regards to the birthday verse, we don't view it as reincarnation but rather it is the gaurdian angel waiting with the child in heaven before it is born. My children have told me about waiting in heaven for their birth and how their birth order was decided. They came up with it on their own.
post #12 of 44
The waldorf school emerged from the occult groups raging in Europe during the late 19th early 20th century. Some have even posited that Hitler drew his racial theories against Jews directly from Madame Blavatsy's writing. Just something to think about! There is a website somewhere about the occultic background of waldorf. Does anyone know the link?

Also read the book The Occult Roots of Nazism.
post #13 of 44
Yes, I'm familiar with the group of rabid anti-Waldorf fanatics. It's all lies!
post #14 of 44
Thread Starter 
that's the thing, I know people that are all for waldorf, and then some that are against it.. I am not sure who to believe
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by loving-my-babies
that's the thing, I know people that are all for waldorf, and then some that are against it.. I am not sure who to believe
I'd suggest not believing either group of people.

Standard open houses will give you some insight (but these are quasi-staged events), but talking with teachers, staff, and parents is the best way to learn about the school and how it fits your wishes, in my opinion.

If your child is young, and the school has a parent/child group, that's a perfect place to learn about the school without having to enroll first.
post #16 of 44
Yes, I completely agree. As a Waldorf alum, I have a few problems with the education I recieved. But from talking to folks who have attended many different Waldorf schools, I know that this is primarily a function of both the particular school I went to and the main lesson teacher I was unfortunate enough to have. There are some generalities you can make about Wladorf education, but I'd urge you to visit the particular school you are considering and talk to the parents and let that be the basis of your decision - not a bunch of opinions on some website - this included.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Lori
Yes, I'm familiar with the group of rabid anti-Waldorf fanatics. It's all lies!
: You're saying Anthroposophy does not draw directly from Theosophy? This is historical fact. I really don't have any opinion, pro or con, about the Waldorf Schools, but I've had a lifelong interest in the history of occultism, particularly 19th century European schools.

To answer the OP: is Anthroposophy compatible with Christianity? Yes, if your version of Christianity permits occultic philosophy. If not, then no.

There *are* Christian occultists out there.
post #18 of 44
The first time I heard the word "occult" used, I thought it meant "cult." A cult is particular system of religous worship. I've heard it called a false religion as well. It could be a person or group devoted to a person, fad or religion. I thought of people who sign their houses away or do what some fanatic tells them to do.

Occult orginally meant 'outside of the churches teachings.' You could interchange the word Occult with "essoteric". Essoteric means the teaching that the church refuses to believe. For example the church at one point denounced that the holy spirit resided within the body (this was a known fact for many many years) and then they took it out. An essoteric christian would believe that this teaching is still true. Therefore, they believe teachings that the "church" (the Catholic church) does not endorse, even if they did 1000 years ago. Waldorf does have Catholic families too, but since we are not a religion, nor are we teaching it these families seem to be happy.

So, I really want to bring the point that Waldorf education does not bring Anthroposophy to the children and in fact, many Waldorf teachers are not anthroposophists.

The first commandment(so to speak, they never actually call it a commandment) of the Waldorf teacher is, that it is not our job to brain wash any child into ANY religous or spiritual thought (or into anything else). It is rather the job to keep the human mind open to exploring all possiblities in thier search for the possiblity of God, if they so desire it It is the ultimate goal of education to free the human will.

As for Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner was asked to be a part of it and did participate for a while but then found that their beliefs did not completely coincide with his so he left. His ideas did not stem from Theosophy, they were his own and he was invited by them to participate. Also, Hitler closed down all Waldorf Schools when he was in power because they taught children to think for themselves which was completely against what he wanted.

So their is Occultic background with Waldorf. It is that Anthroposophists feel that the Catholic church (years ago) Changed in religion what they felt would be in their best interest. But I would like to say again that none of this is taught to the children. The important thing about Waldorf education is that the curriculum provides excellent education and helps them become the wonderful people that the have the potential to be. Even the teachers are different religions. They believe in the method of teaching and may or not be anthroposophists.

At our school we do have open houses. We go, we open the doors to our community with parents and teachers available to anwer questions of interested parents. It is in no way a false show. Why would we want to lure someone in on false pretense just for them to find out the truth later and want to leave???? We are merily saying, here is what we have and we love it. If you want to be a part of it we will welcome you.

Many of my personal family are fundamentalist Christian. Because we do not pray to Jesus at school (actually we don't pray but God is mentioned in some verses), because we do not teach the children that they are sinful and because we do not teach them to fear God..........they do not like our school. I keep telling them that we are not a religious school so we are not teaching them religion at all but only acknowledging that there is a higher being and that is your choice as to how you express that. They feel teaching openess to any religion than theirs is evil. (Please note I am not accussing anyone here of this, I am only saying that there are people in my own family that feel this way). So, if you agree with that line of thought then, this type of school is not for you.

I'm sorry to be so long, but I know what Waldorf is and what it isn't and it is so sad to me that some people that liked the Waldorf method are turned off by things they hear from people who really don't understand it. Its okay if not everyone wants their children to be in Waldorf school but I hate to hear things that are just plain false.
post #19 of 44
DashsMama:

Are you in Waldorf teacher training? If so where? I would love to hear how it is going for you.. Uh, oh, off topic.......sorry.
post #20 of 44

A little OT - angels & children's souls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
Curious as to what brand of Christian your family is.

In regards to the birthday verse, we don't view it as reincarnation but rather it is the gaurdian angel waiting with the child in heaven before it is born. My children have told me about waiting in heaven for their birth and how their birth order was decided. They came up with it on their own.
Hi, I have been interested in Waldorf for years. In summary, I love the products (toys, some of the art, books, etc.), but I would probably never find a Waldorf school that I would feel comfortable because of the spiritual/philosophical aspect of it. We are a Catholic family, not the liberal kind, but not the rejecting-Vatican II-kind either. And yes, we'd never be able to afford it in a million years unless our state were to start charter schools....

Anyway, my question for Rhonwyn was about your statement above, about "the guardian angel waiting with the child in heaven before it is born." Would this mean that anthroposophists would believe that the soul (the divine spark, the life force or whatever better term there is, not just the physical functioning of the body) isn't present in a in-utero baby until just before birth? I am curious, because I had a friend once tell me this was her belief and I'm wondering if it came from anthroposophism.

Obviously, as a Catholic, I couldn't agree with this idea, since Christians believe that the immortal soul is bestowed at the moment of conception, not at or just before birth. So this is the kind of thing that has led me to believe that Waldorf schools are not compatible with my religion.

I do enjoy many Waldorf "things" though and it is a good tonic to our materialistic and media-saturated society.

LeeAnn
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