are waldorf and christianity compatible?? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-01-2004, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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 ;-)
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Old 11-01-2004, 08:53 PM
 
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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.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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Old 11-01-2004, 10:52 PM
 
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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
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Old 11-01-2004, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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what daily morning verses are spoken??

thanks for your help!
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:35 AM
 
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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.

Judy mom to Dash (9), Corbin (7) and Will (3) :
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:16 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 01:09 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:09 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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Old 11-02-2004, 05:06 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 05:46 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 06:35 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:20 PM
 
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Yes, I'm familiar with the group of rabid anti-Waldorf fanatics. It's all lies!
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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Old 11-03-2004, 11:19 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-03-2004, 06:17 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:06 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-04-2004, 12:26 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-04-2004, 12:31 AM
 
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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.
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Old 01-21-2005, 03:45 AM
 
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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

"For me, You have created the skies scattered with stars...and all the beautiful things on earth." ~St. Maximilian Kolbe
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Old 01-21-2005, 03:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by The Hidden Life
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.LeeAnn
I always feel that there is a need to define a difference between waldorf schools and anthroposophy. From my experience as a student, parent and waldorf school employee, anthroposophy as "doctrine" isn't part of the curriculum. Many teachers are interested in anthroposophy, but the degree of interest varies a lot and you can't assume that every teacher is a devotee.

That said, the anthroposophical point of view is complex. Human beings reincarnate repeatedly. In between lives in the physical world they spend time experiencing various kinds of stuff in the spiritual worlds. As the time approaches for another life on earth, a preparatory process is experienced, which I won't try to describe, mostly because it is a long time since I studied this stuff and I don't want to misrepresent anything.

So basically, for anthroposophists the spirit is eternal and exists prior to conception. When the individual actually links themselves to the new physical body may vary, but I suspect it is usually well before birth and probably before conception: the individual has an interest and a connection with their parents that exists before they actually start to incarnate.

I am not saying that any of this is fact, just trying to lay out the ideas presented by Steiner.

Cheers,
Deborah
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Old 01-21-2005, 10:22 PM
 
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Thank you for your reply, Deborah. This does indeed sound like what my friend believed as well. She was explaining to me why she didn't think abortion was immoral: because the child's soul could simply pluck itself out of the (aborted) fetal body and choose to enter a new fetal body at a time "when the parents were more ready" to welcome a baby. Obviously, this is quite at odds with what Catholics believe, but it helps to understand where others are coming from.

Thank you again,
LeeAnn

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Old 01-21-2005, 10:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by The Hidden Life
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
Not all Christians believe that the soul is bestowed at conception.

Also, the Waldorf teacher that told the story about the little souls waiting in heaven with their gaurdian angel is Catholic. I don't think she believes in reincarnation but I know that she believes in gaurdian angels. As to her feelings about abortion, I couldn't say as it was never a topic of discussion. We generally stuck to talking about the children.
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Old 01-21-2005, 10:55 PM
 
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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.
I had read that Hitler did not close down the Waldorf schools, in fact, they stayed open longer than most other types of schools, because Rudolf Hess, head of the SS, was a Waldorf alum and his children attended them. They closed down because of lack of resources in the Reich.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:05 PM
 
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I had read that Hitler did not close down the Waldorf schools, in fact, they stayed open longer than most other types of schools, because Rudolf Hess, head of the SS, was a Waldorf alum and his children attended them. They closed down because of lack of resources in the Reich.

Sorry, Hess wasn't SS Head, but Deputy Furher. I watched the Holocaust PBS show and so, was in mind of Himmler.

Here's why Hess was the "protector of Anthroposophy" in the Reich until 1941:

I. Steiner's racial hierarchy

Steiner's mature system, which he called Anthroposophy, involves a complex scheme of racial evolution borrowed from Blavatskyís Theosophy. According to this scheme, the currently predominant ìroot raceî is the Aryan race, and within the Aryan race the currently predominant ethnic group is the Nordic-Germanic sub-race.

ìThe ancestors of the Atlanteans lived in a region which has disappeared,
the main part of which lay south of contemporary Asia. In theosophical
writings they are called the Lemurians. After they had passed through
various stages of development the greatest part of them declined. These
became stunted men, whose descendants still inhabit certain parts of the
earth today as so-called savage tribes. Only a small part of Lemurian
humanity was capable of further development. From this part the Atlanteans were formed.
Later, something similar again took place. The greatest part of the
Atlantean population declined, and from a small portion are descended the
so-called Aryans who comprise present-day civilized humanity. According to
the nomenclature of the science of the spirit, the Lemurians, Atlanteans and
Aryans are root races of mankind. If one imagines that two such root races
preceded the Lemurians and that two will succeed the Aryans in the future,
one obtains a total of seven. One always arises from another in the manner
just indicated with respect to the Lemurians, Atlanteans, and Aryans. Each
root race has physical and mental characteristics which are quite different
from those of the preceding one. While, for example, the Atlanteans
especially developed memory and everything connected with it, at the present time it is the task of the Aryans to develop the faculty of thought and all that belongs to it.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:16 PM
 
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From what I had heard, Waldorf schools at first were allowed to stay open but when it became clear that they were not what the Reich had expected the Waldorf schools were closed.

Also, I thought most of this racial stuff was from when Steiner was younger and that he had changed much of his thinking in these regards in his older years. I'll have to leave this to Deborah though. She is much more versed in the history of Waldorf and Steiner than I am.

Most of the teachers I have talked to seem to be able to see Steiner as a man and a philospher, warts and all. I am sure that it is different from school to school, teacher to teacher.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
From what I had heard, Waldorf schools at first were allowed to stay open but when it became clear that they were not what the Reich had expected the Waldorf schools were closed.

Also, I thought most of this racial stuff was from when Steiner was younger and that he had changed much of his thinking in these regards in his older years.
From what I heard, that is spin put out by Steinerists. Also, the passage is said to be his "mature" vision of anthroposophy.

I guess, I find it disappointing that other liberals are unwilling to look at this. It's kinda frightening, actually, as a woman of color.

From all I've read, it's pretty clear the Aryan basis of his thinking, despite his apologists. I love the vision that parents, who are like me, liberal, late 20th century-raised have for the education of their children. I just wish they didn't feel like they had to put this old horse out to pull it and trust in themselves to do it without Steiner. Let's face it, our generation has a vision that is really good and we don't need Anthroposophy to prop us up. You're instincts are right on, don't waste them defending this man.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bahesmama
From what I heard, that is spin put out by Steinerists. Also, the passage is said to be his "mature" vision of anthroposophy.

I guess, I find it disappointing that other liberals are unwilling to look at this. It's kinda frightening, actually, as a woman of color.

From all I've read, it's pretty clear the Aryan basis of his thinking, despite his apologists. I love the vision that parents, who are like me, liberal, late 20th century-raised have for the education of their children. I just wish they didn't feel like they had to put this old horse out to pull it and trust in themselves to do it without Steiner. Let's face it, our generation has a vision that is really good and we don't need Anthroposophy to prop us up. You're instincts are right on, don't waste them defending this man.
Well at this point in time, with the limited time I have, I can only go by the children and adults that I have met who were educated in the Waldorf schools. In all cases, they have been very deep thinking individuals who were very accepting of all peoples irregardless of class, race, religion, or whatever qualifiers you wish to put out there. It is the results that I have seen in individuals as well as the results I have seen in my own children that have convinced me that Waldorf is the best for our family. Steiner was a man of his times as were Jefferson and many others. It does not excuse their warts but their warts don't nullify the good that they did.
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Old 01-22-2005, 12:11 AM
 
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Steiner was a man of his times as were Jefferson and many others. It does not excuse their warts but their warts don't nullify the good that they did.
Well, what can I say to that? I find it rather chilling. To me the holocaust and the evil caused by Aryanism is perhaps too personal a thing. My ancestors were eliminated in the name of an Aryan Manifest Destiny of this continent. I guess, I don't have the internal space to breeze it aside as easily as some.

I guess, I'm just shocked by your response.
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Old 01-22-2005, 12:14 AM
 
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In all cases, they have been very deep thinking individuals who were very accepting of all peoples irregardless of class, race, religion, or whatever qualifiers you wish to put out there.
I must ask also why they can't question Steiner? I question Jefferson. And I wouldn't send my daughter to a school that uncritically taught his curriculum.
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