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A Critical Review of Waldorf Resources

post #1 of 165
Thread Starter 
Sometimes when we look at Waldorf resources, what we don't see is often as important as what we do see. As some "Support-Only" threads are posting links to Waldorf resources, and the content of those resources cannot be challenged there in an open discussion, the validity of such resources can be examined in this thread for accuracy, misleading statements and omissions. Also, as some websites link to other websites (as with the example below) as time permits, the links can certainly be examined for their validity as well. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

In this recently posted link to a Waldorf school in South Africa, http://www.imhoffwaldorf.org/default.asp we see a very nice and colorful website of Waldorf kids playing and Waldorf crafts displayed. What we don't see is any mention of Anthroposophy - at all. Considering Anthroposophy is the basis of Waldorf education, this apparent omission seems rather blatant.

Without knowing that Waldorf schools are steeped in Anthroposophy, one is hardly going to be tempted to choose one of the seemingly unrelated links buried deep within the web pages. It's dishonest - plain and simple.

Pete
post #2 of 165
I clicked on the link; the very next thing I clicked on was the FAQ link at the top left. Included was a pretty detailed outline of Steiner and Anthroposophy along with a mention about religion, plus a write-up on the religious festivals (impressive, given most schools don’t mention anything about the religion). Now, all of that took maybe 15 seconds (no exaggeration) so I’ll have to ask what the issue is here?
post #3 of 165
Pete> would you give up already... tired of seeing your threads.. could you just go rock the boat somewhere else???? please?
post #4 of 165
I don't know Pete or his posts, but what's the big idea? I mean, if someone's asking a question about some aspect of Waldorf and he has some critical feedback, that's one thing, but this is pretty trollish.

This comes from a mama with plenty of her own reservations about waldorf... but this ain't the place
post #5 of 165
ahh, perhaps it would be trollish if i didnt know pete's posts. Take a look for yourself. Maybe i'm wrong but It appears to me that what pete is so good at is bringing up all the points to be critical of and then doing just that.
post #6 of 165
Thread Starter 
Thanks - but I'll keep the thread going anyway as I think it is important to look at how Waldorf resources describe Waldorf and Steiner.

Thanks Alanoe, I tried every sub-page but must have missed the FAQ. I'll go back and take a look.

Pete
post #7 of 165
Thread Starter 
So, I guess this is what Alanoe is referring to:

" Rudolf Steiner (1864-1925) was an Austrian philosopher, scientist and humanitarian who has profoundly influenced Western culture."

This is an exaggeration at best. Steiner was not a scientist - and he didn't profoundly influence Western culture. But leaving that for the moment...

"He worked with scientists, artists, doctors, ministers of religion, teachers and industrialists to help transform our civilisation. "

I'd be interested in hearing what scientists Steiner worked with. I'm guessing they are talking about Goethe's writings.

"His work is best known through Waldorf Education, BioDynamics, Anthroposophical Medicine and Architecture. His scientific investigations of the spiritual world led to the development of Anthroposophy, The Wisdom of Man."

And as far as I can tell, this is the only mention of Anthroposophy. Again, I could be proven wrong, but there is still nothing that connects Anthroposophy to Waldorf education in what I've read here. Am I still missing something?

Pete
post #8 of 165
Thread Starter 
One more thing - I didn't notice the link originally, but apparently an arsonist burnt several buildings in this school to the ground. Very sad.

Pete
post #9 of 165
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraess
Pete> would you give up already... tired of seeing your threads.. could you just go rock the boat somewhere else???? please?
I've been intimidated by lots of people for many years - simply for speaking out honestly about Waldorf's problems. I'm quite accustomed to rude comments like the one above. If you want to avoid reading what I have to say - you might start by skipping my threads entirely.

In the mean time, I've made assertions that Waldorf isn't being up-front with information about its connection to Anthroposophy. If I am going to support this assertion, examining Waldorf resources and websites is absolutely necessary. I'm sorry it rubs some people the wrong way when someone like me puts a lot of energy into taking a critical look at Waldorf. That's about all the apology I'm prepared to give for saying what I feel is important.

Pete
post #10 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
So, I guess this is what Alanoe is referring to:

" Rudolf Steiner (1864-1925) was an Austrian philosopher, scientist and humanitarian who has profoundly influenced Western culture."

This is an exaggeration at best. Steiner was not a scientist - and he didn't profoundly influence Western culture. But leaving that for the moment...

"He worked with scientists, artists, doctors, ministers of religion, teachers and industrialists to help transform our civilisation. "

I'd be interested in hearing what scientists Steiner worked with. I'm guessing they are talking about Goethe's writings.

"His work is best known through Waldorf Education, BioDynamics, Anthroposophical Medicine and Architecture. His scientific investigations of the spiritual world led to the development of Anthroposophy, The Wisdom of Man."

And as far as I can tell, this is the only mention of Anthroposophy. Again, I could be proven wrong, but there is still nothing that connects Anthroposophy to Waldorf education in what I've read here. Am I still missing something?

Pete


Just scroll down and you'll see the connection -- it's very similiar to what Linda wrote about Waldorf Ed.:

[/QUOTE]Rudolf Steiner & Education

Rudolf Steiner (1864-1925) was an Austrian philosopher, scientist and humanitarian who has profoundly influenced Western culture. He worked with scientists, artists, doctors, ministers of religion, teachers and industrialists to help transform our civilisation. His work is best known through Waldorf Education, BioDynamics, Anthroposophical Medicine and Architecture. His scientific investigations of the spiritual world led to the development of Anthroposophy, The Wisdom of Man.

His background in history and civilisations coupled with his observation in life gave the world the gift of Waldorf Education. It is a deeply insightful application of learning based on the Study of Humanity that helps develop consciousness of self and the surrounding world. Steiner';s perception that although external conditions in our time are changing as never before, the essential nature of humanity remains; in particular, the stages of human development through childhood follow a natural pattern unaffected by short term social change.

The task of educators remains to prepare children for an unpredictable future by nurturing healthy development from the inside, to provide the right nourishment at each stage of physical, emotional and spiritual growth. This kind of education had its origin in the first school established by Rudolf Steiner for the children of workers at the Waldorf cigarette factory in Stuttgart in 1919. He developed a flexible curriculum that has evolved with time and has been adapted to local conditions in the various countries where Waldorf schools are found."[QUOTE/]

I think they did a fine job showing the connection.

Serena
post #11 of 165
Can someone explain to me exactly what is Anthroposophy? I am seriously researching all education options right now and had checked out Waldorf on the advice of some lists and am very interested in EVERYONE's opinions on it, good and bad. Thank you for your honest information.
post #12 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyGirlTwinsAPMama
Can someone explain to me exactly what is Anthroposophy? Thank you for your honest information.
Hi,

Anthroposophy or spiritual science is the esoteric Christian philosophy that underlies Waldorf education. It’s very similar to Theosophy, even Scientology in some ways (belief in reincarnation, and advancing though levels of esoteric knowledge, for example). And Rosicrucianism is perhaps the closest as far as similar Christian spiritual-religious belief systems go.

Anthroposophists though consider it Steiner’s direct (clairvoyant) spiritual revelation and not a belief system at all. It’s a deceptively clever argument, as it allows teachers to dismiss claims that the Waldorf curriculum is Anthroposophical (or even Christian for that matter) – the idea here being that the curriculum content is ‘pure spiritual revelation’, and that Anthroposophy is simply the ‘means’ by which Steiner clairvoyantly channeled this pure spiritual information.

Regardless, that’s an irresponsible and deceptive way to go about the business of establishing public educational centers. The bottom-line is Waldorf simply wouldn’t exist if not for Anthroposophy, which is what Pete appears to be pointing out. Teachers selling Waldorf without providing a thoroughly detailed description of Anthroposophy and all it entails, would be similar to someone selling you a beautiful car without a motor.
post #13 of 165
What is so sad about this deception is that the waldorf schools and teachers are, in so many ways, so beautiful. Technically, no one is deceiving parents because any parent can do her own reasearch and consult her own gut and intuition. However, I think this information should be volunteered, and instead my experience was one of being put off, lots of guarded double-talk and weird energy.

THere is so much to offer in Waldorf, I think - I wish parents were more freely given the whole picture.
post #14 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by benjalo
What is so sad about this deception is that the waldorf schools and teachers are, in so many ways, so beautiful. Technically, no one is deceiving parents...
I disagree. Not just technically but in reality, they are deceiving people: very consciously in fact. They consciously and by choice withhold and do not tell parents these things.

I’ve stated here a few times that teachers are not racists, or abusers. I agree that many if not most are decent human beings. The problem – as with all fundamentalist, dogmatic religious, spiritual and philosophical thought – is Steiner’s Anthroposophy itself. I can’t say it doesn’t belong in schools, because teachers should be free to believe as they wish. But it’s certainly and without a doubt the reason for all the many problems in Waldorf communities.
post #15 of 165
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benjalo
What is so sad about this deception is that the waldorf schools and teachers are, in so many ways, so beautiful. Technically, no one is deceiving parents because any parent can do her own reasearch and consult her own gut and intuition. However, I think this information should be volunteered, and instead my experience was one of being put off, lots of guarded double-talk and weird energy.

THere is so much to offer in Waldorf, I think - I wish parents were more freely given the whole picture.
I very much agree. And there are many GREAT Waldorf teachers who are hampered by the deception. Waldorf COULD be beautiful - why not try to do what we can to make that happen? Imagine that "weird energy" and where it goes when parents aren't around. It goes to the children. Better to surround children with people who have nothing to hide and can be honest and straightforward about their beliefs and how they apply them. Putting children around deceptive people is not healthy, IMO.

Pete
post #16 of 165
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alanoe
I disagree. Not just technically but in reality, they are deceiving people: very consciously in fact. They consciously and by choice withhold and do not tell parents these things.
Yes, I agree with this too (and I guess when I agreed above, I wasn't agreeing to the part about teachers technically not deceiving parents). This is, of course, my complaint.
Quote:
I’ve stated here a few times that teachers are not racists, or abusers. I agree that many if not most are decent human beings. The problem – as with all fundamentalist, dogmatic religious, spiritual and philosophical thought – is Steiner’s Anthroposophy itself. I can’t say it doesn’t belong in schools, because teachers should be free to believe as they wish. But it’s certainly and without a doubt the reason for all the many problems in Waldorf communities.
I don't agree with this. Anthroposophy itself is not the problem, because many people really like Anthroposophy and want their kids immersed in it. The problems come from not divulging the presence and application of Anthroposophy in the schools and the extent to which it is part of the curriculum and the teacher training, etc. Nobody would really care if there were Anthroposophy schools - they have a valid right to exist. People care when they are disguised as something else - and that's why it's important (in this thread) to examine exactly how they are being disguised in promotional materials.

Pete
post #17 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
I don't agree with this. Anthroposophy itself is not the problem, because many people really like Anthroposophy and want their kids immersed in it. The problems come from not divulging the presence and application of Anthroposophy in the schools and the extent to which it is part of the curriculum and the teacher training, etc. People care when they are disguised as something else - and that's why it's important (in this thread) to examine exactly how they are being disguised in promotional materials.
I suppose it’s worth looking at. But really, there’s not a lot to it. Teachers hide and don’t reveal the anthroposophical connection in any sort of in-depth manner. And that’s typical of most every school. Also, when speaking with parents, teachers promote Steiner as a scientist; yet within their own circle he’s recognized as a spiritual clairvoyant and occult master. Parents need to be aware of that, is all.

And it has everything to do with Anthroposophy. Steiner’s ‘secret’ mystical society creates secretive followers. All very spiritual, sacred and hush-hush. Plus there are the enrollment concerns: best not to reveal too much in that regard. It’s honestly not much more complicated than that. Human nature, etc.
post #18 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
Imagine that "weird energy" and where it goes when parents aren't around. It goes to the children.
exactly


and alanoe, you're right - it is active deception. What I was trying to say is that any parent can get the information if s/he is willing to do the work. Of course the teachers should not be secretive.

What is it about this spiritual aspect that needs to remain hidden? I mean, when Waldorf teachers receive their training, what is the reason they are given for not sharing all this with parents?
post #19 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by benjalo
What is it about this spiritual aspect that needs to remain hidden? I mean, when Waldorf teachers receive their training, what is the reason they are given for not sharing all this with parents?
Teachers are not specifically told or taught to be secretive. But an occult-sacred, spiritual-reverential atmosphere is specifically cultivated in teacher training. The students are made to understand they’re learning something profound and mysterious, and it’s certainly implied and even made explicitly clear that one doesn’t strive to openly share all of that with the ‘uninitiated’ so to speak.

This is where that ‘we teachers know what’s best’ attitude is developed and cultivated. And it’s really more a ‘we Anthroposophists know things others don’t’ dynamic. It’s all fine while teachers are together in training, but once they’re all out in the real world, they bump into parents who of course expect simple and down-to-earth honesty and openness. But again, teachers have been prepared and trained to ‘secretively’ tip-toe around the Anthroposophical facts. And that’s really where that initial lack of candidness originates, which can further lead to serious and intentional deception on the part of the hard-line Anthroposophical teachers in particular.
post #20 of 165
Here's what's available at my local Waldorf School and I suspect that
many if not all of these resources are available at most Waldorf Schools:

(WE = Waldorf Education A = Anthroposophy)

1. Open House days or evenings where WE is discussed & questions
can be answered.
2. Parent/teacher meetings alone or in groups as parents of a class
3. School brochure or website with links to information about Anthroposophy
4. Parent study groups on various WE/A related subjects
5. Foundation year program studying anthroposophy
6. Parent e-mail list with opportunities to ask questions, find resources
7. School library and bookstore with WE and A. related books available
8. School newsletter where local A. Branch calendar & activities are listed
9. Conferences on WE/A by well-known WE teachers, A speakers, etc.
10. Plays, festivals, fundraising events open to the public where materials
books, etc. are available about WE/A.
11. Waldorf or A related subscription lists or boards (See Deborah's resources
again)
12. Local A branch library or the larger A lending library.
13. Many bookstores now carry Steiner books. Amazon (and other services)
has many used A - related books.

There are 30 books and 6000 lectures -- most is available in English
translated from the original German.

There are surely more examples, this is what I came up with in five minutes of thought.

As Deborah (Nana) has been listing in the Resources section on the board,
there is a massive amount of material available for anyone who wants to
understand WE/A more in depth. There is no effort to hide this information.
Just google "anthroposophy" and see.

That said, I think that one area of improvement in the Waldorf Teacher
training could be finding how to help Waldorf teachers explain what they do and why they do it in ways that are both clear and accurate and understandable for parents. I think the perception of defensiveness and arrogance arise when a teacher is asked a question and feels unprepared or simply falls back on "well that's how we do it" or worse, "Steiner said so".

I would also like to see Waldorf teachers have materials available that
show how much of what we consider to be essential Waldorf (limiting
exposure to media, computers, knitting as a good small motor activity -- even for boys, etc. -- is finding increasing public acceptance as research or experiencences schools or parents make support these fundamental principles. I look for these articles all the time; Know News is a good resource, too. http://www.knownews.net/?k=100

Serena
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