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Waldorf > Returned:What should Waldorf schools tell prospective parents?
orangewallflower's Avatar orangewallflower 02:40 PM 04-15-2008
In these threads I have read a lot of stories about poeple who enrolled their kids in a Waldorf school, and then when they found out more about Waldorf they wound up either miserable or pulling their kids out or both. A debate here and on many other websites is that many (most?) Waldorf schools don't tell parents enough, particularly about the anthroposophical foundation of Waldorf schools and how the anthroposophical worldview effects teaching and methodology. Often times when these stories are told happy Waldorf parents will come on and say something like "Wouldn't you do you own research before enrolling your kids?" "Is it the school's responsibility to educate parents on every facet of anthroposophy and Waldorf education to prospective parents?" My answer is no, but they do need to do more to prevent families likely to be unhappy from enrolling in the first place.

While my kids were happily enrolled as preschoolers in a Waldorf school I had the time and ability to figure out that Waldorf grade school would absolutely not be for our family. I have also gone to several open houses where I think that parents are not given enough information about those things that might come to bother them after enrolling their children.

If you respond to this post, please bear in mind that I am talking about what the schools should communicate to prospective parents to help them make a good decision for their family. I believe that everyone would be happier if a checklist of information was given to weed out families likely to be unhappy and need to pull out, and I think that it might attract other families who don't know much about Waldorf. Some of the things on our list may in reality be disclosed by many schools, and I don't think we need to get trapped in a circular debate about that. If we put something on our list that schools do routinely disclose, no harm done!

Here are a couple on my part to get us started.

1. Waldorf grade schools are teacher led. Students rarely choose a project- usually the whole grade is doing the same thing at the same time with the teacher leading the activity.

2. The scientific method is not taught in the Waldorf grade school.

3. Much of what students put in their lesson books is copied from the board.

4. Waldorf teachers are trained to identify the basic temperament of each student. This is the basis for how they deal with problems and issues that arise.

5. Teaching critical thinking is believed to be appropriate at the high school level but not before then.

LindaCl's Avatar LindaCl 04:34 PM 04-15-2008
These are related to themes that I've seen families leave over.

1. There are limited resources and expertise the school can offer to students with developmental and/or learning challenges requiring special or intensive individual services.

2. Related to this, the degree to which schools perform assessments on struggling students suffering learning challenges should probably be addressed, if there are any assessments given, if so why and how and at what ages.

3. Parents should be aware that the academic workload will be much, much heavier as the years go by, that though there are no academic pressures on students in kindergarten, the pressure gradually increases in the early years, more steeply again around middle school and all through high school.
LindaCl's Avatar LindaCl 04:43 PM 04-15-2008
Here's another important one I think, not because I know of any families leaving because of it, but because it's come up a lot here at mothering.

4. Schools need to give a fuller explanation to religious elements in the education. The educational system is nonsectarian and nondenominational but it is not purely secular either. Today we can't presume "nonsectarian", "secular", "religious", and "spiritual" mean exactly the same things to everybody hearing it.
pippilongstocking's Avatar pippilongstocking 05:15 PM 04-15-2008
My input

1, To explain the meanings of each festival and how important they are in relation to the child, school, parents & community.

2, To explain the reasons for the fundraising events.

3, To explain how important parental involvement within the whole community is and what may be expected of them as their child/ren progresses through school.
orangewallflower's Avatar orangewallflower 06:24 PM 04-15-2008
Linda said:

4. Schools need to give a fuller explanation to religious elements in the education. The educational system is nonsectarian and nondenominational but it is not purely secular either. Today we can't presume "nonsectarian", "secular", "religious", and "spiritual" mean exactly the same things to everybody hearing it.

Absolutely! There is such confusion over the words "non-sectarian" and "secular." Non-sectarian means it doesn't have a particular sect (some of us who view anthroposophy as a religion that is indeed practiced in the Waldorf classroom- if not overtly "taught"- even disagree with this descriptor) and "secular" which means non- religious. I think that Waldorf schools are less secular than many self described parochial students because the anthroposophical worldview is infused in just about everything that happens: what is taught at what age, what games are allowed at recess, what sort of movement class is offered... At a Catholic school a math class isn't going to look different from a math class at a public school, or any differences that exist are not religiously informed. At a Waldorf school even math is taught in an anthroposophical way.
Deborah's Avatar Deborah 08:11 PM 04-15-2008
That is an interesting thought--math being taught in an anthroposophical way. I'll have to talk to my daughter about it. She attended one waldorf school from nursery through 7th grade and another from 10th through 12th. So she got a lot of everything taught in an anthroposophical way. The reason I thought of math is twofold. First, she is really good at math and one of her profs asked her to consider it as a major. Second, she became an engineer, so she developed good practical skills with math. Way back when she was in college she commented that she felt that waldorf had given her a very good foundation for math because she had been taught to think things through rather than just memorize the methods.

I think the approach involving thinking things through begins with the very early lessons, where children consider the differences between 1 and all other numbers, for example. As it happens, I had two geometry classes and a couple of science classes with Hermann von Barravalle, who taught at the first waldorf school in Stuttgart and was responsible for developing the math curriculum. He was a great teacher and I can still remember (over 40 years later) his explanations about the nature of parabolas, hyperbolas and ellipses.

But yes, parents should be told that a worldview penetrates the entire curriculum. In my view it is a worldview which enriches what is taught, but I can see that some people would find it repulsive. There is really nothing wonderful about conic sections, as I discovered when I returned to public school. There, in my geometry textbook, was a picture of a cone with three slices through it and the heading "conic sections." There, that settles that. All that beautiful infinity, art, mathematics and beauty that Barravalle had brought before us, sorted out in one dry drawing and killed dead. Whew! I'm so glad children are being saved...

Sorry, end rant. I will ask my daughter about the anthroposophy in math classes and how it affected her. Interesting question.
orangewallflower's Avatar orangewallflower 08:47 PM 04-15-2008
This is off-topic, but unless your daughter is a Waldorf trained teacher, would she be aware of the anthroposophical basis of what she was taught? I thought that students were never made aware of this, and indeed never even hear the words "anthroposophy" or "Steiner" in the classroom. I think that we need a Waldorf teacher to answer the question.
Deborah's Avatar Deborah 11:40 PM 04-15-2008
Well, she is now 40 years old and has had many years of anthroposophical study and life experience between waldorf and today. I don't think she would have a problem spotting some of the ways her math classes were affected by anthroposophy, if they were. Over the years we have had many interesting discussions about waldorf education and her experiences in the classroom. She has served on two waldorf school boards, has taken some courses in early childhood development (from an anthroposophical point of view) and so on.

It would be lovely if a waldorf teacher chimed in here, but it may not happen. We don't have very many waldorf teachers participating in this forum.
LindaCl's Avatar LindaCl 02:25 PM 04-16-2008
Sorry if this is digressing-if so maybe we could start another thread?

unless your daughter is a Waldorf trained teacher, would she be aware of the anthroposophical basis of what she was taught? I thought that students were never made aware of this, and indeed never even hear the words "anthroposophy" or "Steiner" in the classroom. I think that we need a Waldorf teacher to answer the question.
I think it's important to make the general point that there isn't a higher standard of expertise required for making an affirmative claim than a negative claim here. In other words, if one must be a trained teacher to claim "math lessons do not have an anthroposophical basis" then one must also be a trained teacher to claim the opposite. Orangewallflower, you probably assumed that Deborah's daughter was still a child and if so I can kind of get where you're coming from there.
orangewallflower's Avatar orangewallflower 07:10 PM 04-16-2008
Hi Linda,
I was just confused because I didn't know that her daughter had adult experience with anthroposophy. From what I know of Waldorf and how anthroposphy informs the curriculum, a student wouldn't have any basis for answering the question. Deborah's response was clarifying, and I would certainly be interested to hear what her daughter has to say. It would be nice to start a new thread on the topic if there is interest.

canndw's Avatar canndw 11:09 PM 04-16-2008
I've also heard the stories about parents feeling that anthroposophy is hidden, and I've looked hard at the school I'm involved with, since (1) we don't really do "anthroposophy 101" for new parents, but (2) we have not had parents leave over hidden anthroposophy.

I guess we make it clear that our school is different for reasons other than "wooden toys" and "nonacademic kindergarten" and "teacher stays with class across grades", and that (along with the quality of the program) provides enough information for parents to make a reasonably informed decision to enroll or not.

We do have a six hour "anthroposophy 101" type workshop for parents and others (all faculty and staff) who want to become more deeply involved in the school, mostly to make clear how our school functions without a principal and to show why our teachers care about not-typically-academic topics like fundraising, landscaping, and other nonteaching subjects.

bethcw's Avatar bethcw 04:25 PM 04-18-2008
As a prospective parent, just learning about Waldorf, and having already enrolled my daughter in Kindergarten in Sept. 08, I am REALLY interested in the original topic of this thread!

......more PLEASE

DashsMama's Avatar DashsMama 12:17 AM 04-19-2008
Here's an example of math being taught in an Anthroposophical way...

In first grade addition, multiplication, division and subtraction are often taught using Math Gnomes. These are actual little dolls that the teacher uses like puppets to talk and interact with the children to teach the 4 concepts. They each have a temperment and color that corresponds to one of the 4 humors. I'm trying to remember what corresponds with what...I had to ask my son. BTW, his teacher doesn't use dolls, she just tells stories about them. Here's what I could piece together after picking his brain, and combing my memory...

Annie Add = sanguin, yellow - happy because she's always finding things

Sammy Subtract = melancholic, blue, - sad because he's always losing things

Michael Multiply = choleric, red, - fast, takes short cuts, likes to put things in order (equal groups)

Dara Divide = phlegmatic, green - (couldn't come up with an example why division is phlegmatic)

I've seen the math gnomes demonstrated and they can be charming. I've heard the children become quite fond of them and can make an emotional attachment to mathmatics through them.
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 04:20 PM 04-21-2008
some choices about children will be informed by their skin colour and race roots
ditto medeival temperaments

astral forces
communication with spirit worlds
will all be taken into account

there will be non intervention in bullying
force right handedness in left handed kids
Deborah's Avatar Deborah 01:07 AM 04-22-2008
My daughter is out of town on vacation and I wanted to provide something on the mathematics question raised above, so I went to the Waldorf Online Library and did a focus search for articles on arithmetic and mathematics. All of these articles are available for free download. Here is the list:

Keyword Search:

General Title Author

Search Results = 18
Viewing Records 1 through 18

The House of Arithmetic
Resource Type: Article
Author: Stephen Eberhart

Waldorf Science Newsletter Volume 10, #20
Resource Type: Article
Author: Mitchell. Pietering

From Beauty to Truth in Mathematics
Resource Type: Article
Author: Ron Jarman

Star Polygons
Resource Type: Article
Author: Ernst Muller

Waldorf Science Newsletter, Vol. 12, #22 Spring 2006
Resource Type: Article
Editor(s): David Mitchell, Bob Amis

Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 8, #16 - Spring 2002
Resource Type: Article
Editor(s): David Mitchell, John Petering

Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 9, #17 - Fall 2002
Resource Type: Article
Editor(s): David Mitchell, John Petering

Waldorf Science Newsletter, Volume 10, #18 - Spring 2003
Resource Type: Article
Editor(s): David Mitchell, John Petering

Waldorf High School Senior Survey
Resource Type: Article
Editor: Douglas Gerwin

Mathematics in the Classroom: Mine Shaft and Skylight
Resource Type: Article
Author: Amos Franceschelli

Finding Truth in Art, Beauty in Science
Resource Type: Article
Author: Eileen Hutchins

The Geometry of the Pentagram
Resource Type: Article
Author: A.R. Sheen

The Rhythms of the Year
Resource Type: Article
Author: Eileen Hutchins

The Proportions of the Great Pyramids at Gizeh
Resource Type: Article
Author: Hermann von Baravalle

The Teaching of Mathematics
Resource Type: Article
Author: Hans Gebert

The Teaching of Mathematics - part 2
Resource Type: Article
Author: Hans Gebert

The Movement That Everyone Tries to Forget
Resource Type: Article
Author: John Davy

Science in the Middle School
Resource Type: Article
Author: Lawrence Edwards
Lousli's Avatar Lousli 10:14 PM 04-22-2008
I attended a Waldorf school for just one year as a child and I had fond memories of it. When I looked into the option for my daughter for kindergarten, I realized that it was not a good fit for our family. The way that things were done a certain way but not explained to me bothered me quite a bit (like children eating certain grains on certain days of the week and needed to be kept very warm are two examples that pop into my mind). If you're going to tell me that my 5 year old must wear a jacket outdoors during recess even if she gets warm and chooses to take it off, I want to know why. It wasn't until I researched it further that I found out that is was part of the philosophy).

If every aspect of how my children are taught and related to and thought about by the teacher has a basis in a religion/spirituality/philosophy then I feel as the parent that I should be fully informed of what that philosophy is. If I decided to put my child in a Catholic school, for example, it is often because my family is Catholic and I agree with their teachings. If this is not the case, at least there is no secret about the aspects of the curriculum that are spiritual in nature and most likely the head of school would be pretty forthcoming about what religious expectations there are.

It didn't feel to me that the Waldorf school was open and encouraging of people truly understanding the anthroposophical philosophy. It made me uncomfortable. I have also heard/read a number of references to Steiner being racist, and I'd certainly like to hear about why people say this and if it is true, whether Waldorf acknowledges it and how they address it.
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 02:18 PM 04-23-2008
Hi Lousli
I agree with you wholeheartedly. I only found out by accident well after we had been at the school, that anthroposophic belief informed many uncomfortable and strange choices about my kids.
Steiner believed that man evolved from root races,on the legendary island of Atlantis, ( before humans were spiritual beings on the moon) the most spiritually advanced race being the aryan. In some schools , the Atlantis myth is taught.
Anthroposophical belief states that the primitive races should have died out through natural evolution, but an interference from Arhiman and Lucifer during the evolutionary period, disrupted this, which is why more "primitive" races are still around.
Steiner preached that the goal and task of man during the post Atlatean era, was to spread occult science or anthroposophy, to as many people as possible, and for spiritual science to enable people to lead the "evil" races towards reincarnation as "higher" races.
Many anthroposophists don't believe this talk of higher and more spiritually advanced races as "racist", because the belief is that we will all be reincarnated, and could some day come back as another race. That our skin is just a mantle to carry our soul and spirit.
It obviously doesn't manifest itself in the schools , except occasionally quite subtley.
One of my kids was singled out for having darker roots, I realised.
Our kids were taught multiplication with a story about a mean old goblin called Goldfinger I think, who lent money he kept in piles on shelves.

I wouldn't have thought many teachers have read much of this, although I know of two who weree trained at Emerson College, here in Uk, and both said they were told to keep anthroposophy from parents, and also talked about the racial hierarchy writings.
I would have thought most Steiner waldorf initiates would know nothing of it.

It's published in new books- From Comets to Cocaine is one , and on the Rudolf Steiner archive I think the lecture is called Theory of the Rosocrution, and another called he Occult significance of blood.
Oriole's Avatar Oriole 03:26 PM 04-23-2008
I am extremely interested in Waldorf philosophy on many levels... This is what jumps out at me from other posters:

Originally Posted by Lousli View Post
If you're going to tell me that my 5 year old must wear a jacket outdoors during recess even if she gets warm and chooses to take it off, I want to know why. It wasn't until I researched it further that I found out that is was part of the philosophy).
I agree with this 100%. I'd have a very big problem with this, since I trust my body to let me know how to dress outside. And... I get VERY cranky when it's too hot.

Originally Posted by bluetrain View Post
Steiner believed that man evolved from root races,on the legendary island of Atlantis, ( before humans were spiritual beings on the moon) the most spiritually advanced race being the aryan. In some schools , the Atlantis myth is taught.
Our kids were taught multiplication with a story about a mean old goblin called Goldfinger I think, who lent money he kept in piles on shelves.

I wouldn't have thought many teachers have read much of this, although I know of two who weree trained at Emerson College, here in Uk, and both said they were told to keep anthroposophy from parents, and also talked about the racial hierarchy writings.
The Goblin story wouldn't bother me. On the other hand, the Atlantis myth presented as twisted reality to my child, or my child's teachers would have bothered me very much.

Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post

There are limited resources and expertise the school can offer to students with developmental and/or learning challenges requiring special or intensive individual services.
I think this should be clear in some way, since I've heard this has caused much friction in Waldorf environment. In fact, the very first time I heard of Waldorf was because of the incident related to a child with special needs that Waldorf did not want to address...


I do believe that Waldorf needs to get some confidence in itself, it has many wonderful points, even if it is not for everyone. And habitual blaming it all on the parents who didn't inform themselves is not going to solve the issue. I'm sure it would still attract people, it would be on a lesser level, but the school would have much less conflict with the ones that do choose it. Just my 2 cents...

Deborah's Avatar Deborah 03:54 PM 04-23-2008
Steiner believed that man evolved from root races,on the legendary island of Atlantis, ( before humans were spiritual beings on the moon) the most spiritually advanced race being the aryan. In some schools , the Atlantis myth is taught.
Which schools teach the Atlantis myth? Do they teach it as fact or as part of Greek mythology?

In addition, you've got almost everything wrong in the bit I quoted. If anyone is interested in what Steiner actually says about prehistory I strongly recommend reading some of his actual material (and not just carefully chosen excerpts).

bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 04:03 PM 04-23-2008
A good 2 cents tho' Oriole.

My dh has jewish blood, and the Goldfinger got him a bit at the time, well surprised him I suppose, but not nearly as much as later when he read things by Steiner about race and anti semetic stuff. Even if it was from that pre war stance, it's still around and published.

The learning disabilities question has raised many hackles. A couple of people have been turned away with comments like "We don't have children like that here"
At a camphill community, someone said to me "We believe these people are as they are for different reasons than you".
Reading Steiner's beliefs about disability , and incarnation problems, you can see where the friction arises.

Yes, there are many good things in the ideas surrounding Steiner, which must attract parents and teachers alike. The natural environment, the craft, out doors, music, drama. But as soon as belief systems are rigidly imposed, over- riding common sense, human choice and creativity, love and individual growth, it can be disasterous.

They certainly need to address the whole anthroposophical core of the curriculum, openly.
There must be many teachers who feel more than ambivelant.
And some, who follow Steiner's constructions rigidly.
How can parents tell which of his beliefs will be put into practice?
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 04:29 PM 04-23-2008
The school which teaches the atlantis Myth is Brighton school in Uk.

Yes , you're right, I got the title of the lecture wrong
it's called Theosopy of the Rosicrucian and is here at the Rudolf Steiner archive

The Occult Significance of Blood is here

Which other parts were wrong please?

Here's some of Steiner's actual material which deborah recommends.....and this is the least racial really..

"All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations, and what is done of a spiritual nature causes the bringing forth of a good race. Just as mankind has brought forth that which has retrogressed in the animals, plants and minerals, so will a portion split off and represent the evil part of humanity. And in the body which meanwhile will have grown soft the inner badness of the soul will express itself externally. Just as older conditions which have degenerated to the ape species seem grotesque to us today, so do materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, and will people the earth as evil races. It will lie entirely with humanity as to whether a soul will remain in the bad race or will ascend by spiritual culture to a good race. "

"The aim of the Sixth epoch of humanity will be to popularise occult truth in the widest circles; that is the mission of that epoch"

"So you see, the Spiritual Movement has a quite definite goal, namely, to mould future humanity in advance"

"So a certain group of people must join together in order to prepare the future. But this union is not to be conceived of geographically. All ideas of locality have then lost their meaning because it is no longer a question of racial relationships. The point will be for people over the whole earth to find each other spiritually, in order to fashion the future in, a positive way."

"Look at the colours to be found in Asia, from the Negroes to the yellow races. Hence you have bodies that are sheaths for every possible level of soul, from the completely passive Negro soul entirely given up the outer world of physical existence, to the other levels of passive souls in every possible part of Asia. Various characteristics of the evolution of the Asiatic and African peoples will now be comprehensible to you: they present various combinations of surrender to the environment and the external manifestation of ego-feeling. So fundamentally we have two groups of people representing combinations: those on European soil, forming the root stock of the white population […] On the other hand there are those peoples in Asia with passive, self-effacing natures in whom just this passivity expresses itself in the highest degree. This makes the people dreamy, and the etheric body penetrates very deeply into the physical body. That is the fundamental difference between the European and the Asiatic peoples." (Steiner, The Being of Man and His Future Evolution, pp. 120-121)

But it was for the sake of bringing down the spiritual impulse that
Christ became flesh in a human body. And the characteristic of the mission
of white humanity in general is to carry down the spirit, to impregnate the
flesh with the spirit. Man has his white skin that the spirit may work in
the skin when it descends to the physical plane. The task of our fifth
culture-epoch, prepared through the preceding four epochs, is to make the
outer physical body a shrine for the spirit. We must acquaint ourselves with
those cultural impluses which show the tendency to bring the spirit into the
flesh, into everyday matters. When we quite recognise this, then we shall
also be clear that where the spirit has still to work as spirit, where in a
certain way it has to stay behind in its development -- because in our time
it should descend into the flesh -- where it stays behind, takes a demonic
character and does not completely permeate the flesh, there the white skin
does not appear. Atavistic forces are present which do not let the spirit
come into complete harmony with the flesh.....

...This makes it
inevitable that the transition from the fifth culture epoch to the sixth
will will bring about a violent struggle of the white and yellow races in
the most varied domains. What precedes these struggles will occupy
world-history up to the decisive events of the great contests between the
white world and the coloured world. Future events are reflected in manifold ways
in the events that precede. We are standing in fact, viewed in the light of
spiritual science, before something colossal that must necessarily come about in
the future."

(Rudolf Steiner, "The Christ-Impulse as Bearer of the Union of the Spiritual and the Bodily" pp. 6-7)
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 04:42 PM 04-23-2008
Gosh deborah, you've really got me at it now!
Reading steiner himself on the subject!

"We must keep in mind that no matter how highly developed an individuality is, if it descends into an unsuitable body because it cannot find a suitable one, this individuality cannot express his or her soul-spiritual faculties because it lacks the necessary physical instruments." (Steiner, The Universal Human, p. 33)
"A human soul can develop itself in such a way that it incarnates in a particular race within a given incarnation. If it acquires certain capacities in this incarnation, then in a later incarnation it can incarnate in a different race." (Rudolf Steiner, Christus und die menschliche Seele, p. 92)

"We carry within us the consciousness of a unified nature and essence that lies within all people. But what is the relationship of this unified nature and essence to the myriad forms and physiognomies that we encounter in the various races? This question arises for us especially when we consider how different the natural abilities, how different the talents of the individual races are [wie verschieden veranlagt, wie verschieden begabt die einzelnen Menschenrassen sind]. The one race stands at the level of what we call the highest civilization, while the other stands at what appears to be the most primitive, subordinate level of civilization. This may make it seem odd to us that the human being, who after all has a unified nature, can appear in such a different and imperfect form. People often feel that it is an injustice of nature that some are doomed to an existence in a race that stands far below, while others are raised up to an apparently perfect race. [...] And when we examine the issue more closely, we see that human souls proceed through the different races. In this way the variety of races becomes sensible and reasonable. Thus we see that one is not condemned to live only in a primitive race while another stands at the highly developed stages of racial existence. Each of us passes through the different racial stages, and the passage signifies a progressive development for the individual soul. One who appears today as a member of the European race went through different races in earlier times, and will in later times proceed through races other than ours. The races appear to us as steps in a teaching process, and this variety takes on coherence and purpose."

(pp. 132-3, from his lecture on "Basic Concepts of Theosophy: The Races of Mankind")

"Each person proceeds through race after race. Those that are young souls incarnate in the races that have remained behind on earlier racial levels. In this way, the races and souls that live around us take on a physical and spiritual structure. Everything makes sense, everything becomes clear and explicable. We are moving closer and closer to the solution of this puzzle and we can realize that in the future we will have other epochs to go through, we will have other paths to follow than the ones made by race. We must be clear about the difference between soul development and racial development. Our own souls once lived within the Atlantean race, and they then developed themselves upward to a higher race. That gives us an image of the evolution of humankind up until our time. In this way we can comprehend how to justify the principle, the core principle of universal brotherhood without regard to race, color, status, and so forth. I will explain this thought in particular later. Today I simply wanted to show how the same essence appears in different forms, and in fact in a much more correct sense than natural science would have us believe. Our souls march from one level to the next, which is to say from one race to the next, and we come to know the meaning of humanity when we examine these races."

(ibid. pp. 153-4)
"If we want to understand this, we must carefully distinguish between race development and soul development. The two must not be confused. A human soul can develop itself in such a way that it incarnates in a particular race within a given incarnation. If it acquires certain capacities in this incarnation, then in a later incarnation it can incarnate in a different race."

(Steiner, Christus und die menschliche Seele, p. 92)

"That is the reason why there were fewer and fewer descendants in the subordinate races and more and more descendants in the higher races. Thus the lowest strata of the European population gradually died out. This is a very definite process which we must understand. The souls evolve further, the bodies die away. We must therefore carefully distinguish between soul development and race development. The souls then appear in bodies that descend from higher races."

(ibid. p. 93)

"Now there were some beings in that Atlantean period very low on the human ladder and they eventually became the backward races. [While other bodies, in contrast, continued up the ladder:] When they had belonged to highly developed individuals these bodies were pure and good. Exalted spiritual beings then descended into such bodies; and so it frequently happened during the Atlantean epoch that beings who would not otherwise have been able to incarnate on earth made use of such advanced bodies in order to descend among men."
Deborah's Avatar Deborah 04:44 PM 04-23-2008
Yes, I do recommend reading Steiner. Reading entire books so you get the context.

Thanks Bluetrain, for the name of the school. You didn't answer the question about Greek mythology, however.

My experience:
As a student--no anthroposophy in the curriculum
As a sibling of two students--no anthroposophy in the curriculum
As a parent--no anthroposophy in the curriculum
As a staff person--no anthroposophy in the curriculum
As a grandparent--no anthroposophy in the curriculum

No racism either.

Schools I've been connected to: Highland Hall (Los Angeles area), Toronto Waldorf School (Canada), Chicago Waldorf School, Orchard Valley School (Vermont)

Schools I
Oriole's Avatar Oriole 05:04 PM 04-23-2008
Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
Yes, I do recommend reading Steiner. Reading entire books so you get the context.
I'm not sure in what context would the quotes posted above would be ok?..
I admitedly have not read Steiner himself. However, if the quotes posted above do belong to him, I hope the schools admit to the fact that their philosophy was developed by a rasist philosopher...

I'm glad to hear that it is not practiced teaching, one way or the other, I much appreciate when mistakes are admited and renounced in the open, rather than hushed up, and made look like as if they don't exist...

I can imagine it would matter to a good number of parents, whether it is practiced or not. That's what informed choice means - you know about the problem that existed (in the past?) and still choose the school, because it was morally responsible to admit its mistakes. *shurg*

Am I wrong?
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 05:09 PM 04-23-2008
Well, I'd have to find out which lesson the atlantis myth was taught in for you deborah. I'll get back to you on that.

The things about anthroposophy not being taught that you mention, doesn't seem to me to be wholly relevent, because most people know that anthroposophy isn't TAUGHT as such . It's a belief system at the core of the curriculum, directing reasons for many things, the choices made, the decisions etc. Anthroposophy is not a subject at the school. It INFORMS and permeates the life of the school, in so many ways.

I'm not sure I would call much of Steiner's race beliefs "racism" as we see it today. It's belief about race, which is subtley different . Not overt racism, or race hatred. But racist thought if that makes sense. Thought that some races are superior to others,or a backward race or whatever, though, is racist I suppose. I don't know.

Gosh that's alot of reading you're recommending there!

Personally I think the passages say enough on their own about the basic tenets of Steiner's race belief, but that's my opinion and others obviously can draw their own from reading Steiner.

Here's a bit more.

"People who listen to the great leaders of humankind, and preserve their soul with its eternal essence, reincarnate in an advanced race; in the same way he who ignores the great teacher, who rejects the great leader of humankind, will always reincarnate in the same race, because he was only able to develop the one form. This is the deeper meaning of Ahasver, who must always reappear in the same form because he rejected the hand of the greatest leader, Christ. Thus each person has the opportunity to become caught up in the essence of one incarnation, to push away the leader of humankind, or instead to undergo the transformation into higher races, toward ever higher perfection. Races would never become decadent, never decline, if there weren't souls that are unable to move up and unwilling to move up to a higher racial form. Look at the races that have survived from earlier eras: they only exist because some souls could not climb higher."

(Steiner, Das Hereinwirken geistiger Wesenheiten in den Menschen, p. 174)

"All of you were once Atlanteans, and these Atlantean bodies looked very different, as I have already described. The same soul that was once in an Atlantean body somewhere is now in your body. But not all bodies have been prepared, in the way yours have been, by a small number of colonists who long ago migrated from the West to the East. Those who remained behind, who bound themselves up with their race, they degenerated, while the advanced ones founded new civilizations. The last stragglers on the way to the east, the Mongols, still retain something of the culture of the Atlanteans. In the same way, the bodies of those people who do not develop themselves in a progressive fashion will continue into the next era and will constitute the Chinese of the future. There will once again be decadent peoples. After all, the souls that inhabit Chinese bodies are those that will once again have to incarnate in such races, because they had too strong an attraction to that race. The souls that are today within you will later incarnate in bodies that come from people who work in the way I have indicated, and who beget the bodies of the future, just as the first colonists from Atlantis once did. And those who cling to the ordinary, who do not want to join with the movement toward the future, they will become fused with their race. There are people who want to stick to the familiar, who want nothing to do with progress; they refuse to listen to those who lead the way beyond the race to newer and newer forms of humanity."
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 05:25 PM 04-23-2008
Oriole, I think perhaps many Steiner waldorf teachers and parents are protected from these central truths of steiners work. Although they are very central- his main themes are reincarnation and saving humanity from evil and materialsism , ready for a time whn spiritual beings willl manifest themselves in the future, and people trained in occult science willl be able to communicate spiritually.
The fact that evolving from a lower race to a higher one, is included in this vision of the future , is irrelevant to some, or not even known.
It is easy to follow the main tenets of belief, and not involve the race isue.

Why, as you say, the main anthroposophical players, don't stand up in public nd denounce this odious material is open to question, and one can only draw one's own conclusions?

Some anthroposohists go round in circles trying to justify and translate the obvious in a different way.
Also, Steiner did contradict himself the whole time, so there will,always be a quote which says the opposite! -like race means nothing, love is all, and then it's all ok.

I think that not mentioning anthroposophy to prospective parents is the biggest crime in my book. The school ours went to made a conscious efort to dirct away from this aspect, and nothing was mentioned about souls, reincarnation, spirit worlds atall. Or in their prospectus.

It wasn't until I read things at the bookshop near the school, and in magazines in the cafe there , that I saw the word anthroposphy.

I much later read a piece by two steiner trained teachers, who said they were told in their training, not to mention anthroposophy to parents, to hide it, and talk about the creative side.

There are websites devoted to deflecting attention from the real anthroposophical beliefs. they never really get to grips with saying anything solid about it.

Deborah is absolutely right when she says to read Steiner himself.
It's the only way to understand his true beliefs.
But wow- what an EFFORT!
NoliMum's Avatar NoliMum 05:37 PM 04-23-2008
Well, I think they should be more clear on the spiritual beliefs they were built upon.

As an agnostic, I do not want my daughter to attend a schools whose principals are based on a particular religion or spiritual belief, no matter how appealing those principals might be to me, eg, the nature, wood, fairies, wool, etc.

It would deeply disturb me if I sent her to a Montessori school and she was taught Montessori's religion as truth. But I guess that is more to the point of- I wish they would have non athroposophical Waldorf schools for those of us who don't believe in Steiner's world-view/ philosophy, but do agree with his ideas for education.

Or if she were sent to any secular school and taught any religion as truth, really, that would definitely bother me. Especially if they covered it up, as though they had to get around the parents to reach the child with their truth.

Smacks of Christian evangelicalism to me. I remember while attending a somewhat cultish church in my youth, the pastors quoted to us from the Bible about Christ separating sons from fathers, and implying that if we grew apart from our parents for the sake of Christ, we were taking the spiritually "right" path. I am reminded of this now, with Waldorf: we won't tell the parents because they might disagree, and then we wouldn't be able to convert their children.

Even if they don't TEACH anthroposophy, they still view the children in an anthroposophical manner, and treat them accordingly.

Likewise, I would not want my daughter to be viewed as a soul who needs "saving," as she would be viewed at a Christian school.

Nota bene: I have never experienced Waldorf first hand. These are just my concerns after having read experiences of other parents of Waldorf students.
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 05:37 PM 04-23-2008
HI deborah
The Atlantis myth was taught as a class 5 aaancient India lesson. There's a report about it here

"Brighton Steiner teaches Atlantis myth
Anthroposophists believe in Atlantis, it isn’t a myth or a legend for them. Anthroposophists believe it to have actually existed. Atlantis is where - according to Rudolf Steiner, inventor of Anthroposophy - us humans first evolved. Animals came later of course, descending from humans, and white Aryans sit atop a spiritually arranged ‘league table’ of races and cultures. All of this and more was proclaimed to be true by Steiner and is taken to be true by his followers.

So it was interesting to see in Brighton Steiner School’s October 2007 newsletter that the Atlantis myth is being taught to little children there. Here is the report from the school’s newsletter:

Lower School News

Class 5 Ancient India Main Lesson

For the first 4 weeks of term Class 5 have been exploring the lands, culture and stories of ancient India. We started in Atlantis, a continent covered with mist, where the people rarely see the sun. Here we heard of Manu, a wise and kind man who, with the help of a fish, saved some of his people before Atlantis sank beneath the waves.

As Manu’s boat arrived in India, all his people saw a rainbow for the first time. India was strange and new to them. It has only 3 seasons and the people told many fanciful tales of great heroes and heroines.

Class 5 have heard some of these tales and also some stories about the many great and colourful gods, whom the people of India still worship today."

Perhaps it should have been Greek, it was after all from Plato's Tinneous myth , used as an allegory, not historical fact!
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 05:40 PM 04-23-2008
Noli Mum, I couldn't agree more with you about having steiner schools without the religion/spiritual beliefs.
We chose the school for all the things it purported to be, creative, music, craft, languages, time to lrearn etc.
In fact, even without the obscure and weird spiritual stuff, it was so BORING the kids nearly died.
bluetrain's Avatar bluetrain 05:43 PM 04-23-2008
Don't know what happend there, it posted before I was ready!

All the relentless copying from the board, the teacher's word as sacrosanct.they weren't allowed to ask questions, or paint anything differet. Or even use colours thta they had chosen themselves.
the relentless chanting and clapping, ok for a bit when you're 5, but not 12!
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