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Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism

December 16th, 2010 · 286 Comments

This is the third part of a series of guest posts on the curious Steiner Waldorf cult

The first part was The true nature of Steiner (Waldorf) education. Mystical barmpottery at taxpayers’ expense. Part 1

Part 2 was The Steiner Waldorf cult uses bait and switch to get state funding. Part 2



This post deals with the most contentious and serious aspect of Steiner schools, racism. It makes, in my view, a convincing argument that Steiner’s undoubtedly racist views remain a problem today. They can’t be dismissed simply by saying that Steiner was a child of his times.

This post was written by an ex-Steiner school parent, known on the web as @ThetisMercurio.

The essay supplies yet more reasons to think that Steiner schools are all based on pseudo science: Steiner’s Spiritual Science. It is important that we understand these schools because funding of these schools is imminent, through Michael Gove’s Free Schools policy.

Extracts from works by Olav Hammer and Peter Staudenmaier are included with the permission of the authors.

A Spiritual Elite

Our first two posts introduced Anthroposophy and our concerns about the state funding of Steiner Waldorf schools through the Free Schools policy. Anthroposophy, the belief system developed by Rudolf Steiner, undeniably underpins the pedagogy which informs teaching practice in Steiner schools. This is reflected in the course materials and recommended texts for Steiner trainee teachers, wherever these have been obtained.

What must be stressed is that an adherence to Anthroposophy and aspects of this pedagogy can lead teachers to make decisions about individual children based on race and disability, which many people would consider to be outright discrimination.
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Ceiling, First Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner. Spirit worlds.

This discrimination may be undeclared and subtle but we believe it is, when rightly understood, within the comprehension and scope of the Equality Act 2010 as interpreted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Does the ideological drive towards Free Schools justify a breach in the rights of children not to be exposed to such potentially damaging practice?

In this post I write about the history of Anthroposophy, and how Steiner’s privileged status amongst adherents has obscured understanding of Steiner Waldorf education. Although I’ll focus on Steiner’s race doctrines, it’s important to understand that an anthroposophical belief in karma and reincarnation must have an impact on children with learning disabilities. Some of the most distressing personal accounts on parent forums have described an encounter with this particular aspect of Steiner’s dogma. Liz Ditz, a writer on education and learning disabilities, has the same concern with regard to Waldorf Charters in the US:

“Waldorf/Steiner [is] particularly pernicious for children with educational special needs such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. Because of the underlying beliefs in karma and reincarnation, teachers at Waldorf/Steiner tend to believe that such educational challenges are part of a child’s destiny to “work out”. The Waldorf/Steiner attitude does not satisfy US laws relative to educating students.”

Roger Rawlings indicates Steiner’s thinking on disability on Waldorf Watch and the UK site EASE online has an account of ‘karma in the classroom’ by a parent with a Steiner training. Swedish blogger Alicia Hamberg describes the University of Aberdeen’s programme on Rudolf Steiner’s curative pedagogy, which draws directly on Steiner’s clairvoyantly acquired ideas. This area demands greater investigation before English Steiner schools can be assumed to satisfy discrimination legislation regarding children with disabilities.

There is a determined lack of interest and comprehension about the nature of Anthroposophy amongst those responsible for overseeing the inspection of Steiner schools (Ofsted, which delegates to the SIS) and also amongst those who will make the decision to fund particular schools. It may appear too difficult. The structure of an esoteric belief system, with gradually imparted ‘knowledge’: impenetrable texts, study groups, a tradition of communicating certain information orally (a great deal isn’t written down) and a distrust of critical thinking, means that Steiner teachers themselves can be confused about the nature or real life implications of Steiner’s dogma, as well as largely ignorant of the Waldorf movement’s history. But there is an undeclared hierarchy of anthroposophical knowledge and influence within a Steiner school’s college of teachers; decisions about individual children are often steered by collegiate anthroposophical impulse. Obfuscation is deliberate: when explaining Anthroposophy, as far as the movement is concerned the answer depends on who is asking.

We can’t afford to be ignorant or to accept Steiner schools on their own terms. The history of Anthroposophy and thereby Steiner Waldorf education is essential reading. That history contains a warning, and we ignore this at our own risk.

Lessons on Spin from the New Schools Network

In November 2009, a meeting was held in London between representatives of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and English Steiner Schools, including Emma Craigie, Rachel Wolf of the New Schools Network  and Sam Freedman, Tory special advisor for education. It was called: ‘Moving forward, a special pre-election seminar about possible developments in the state funding opportunity for Steiner schools’.

A transcript of this seminar appeared online in March 2010 on both UK Anthroposophy and Liberal Conspiracy. I can reiterate that the transcript is a genuine account of a public meeting. No one present has to the best of our knowledge complained that this is not the case. Since there appears to be no attempt to dissuade from pursuing Free Schools funding the Steiner schools and initiatives mentioned in our second post (in fact many more than three of these schools are well advanced) I believe it is important to revisit this seminar.

The NSN is already under scrutiny. After an intervention by Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan, it has been the recipient of regulatory advice from the Charity Commission regarding its responsibilities as an independent charity. The clarity of NSN funding arrangements has also been questioned. I suggest that if Rachel Wolf is expected to advise parents on the best way to educate their children, she cannot afford, in the case of 18 or more potential Steiner Free Schools, to ignore these two salient problems in the path of state funded Steiner education:

   1) Accounts from parents who are or who have been unhappy with the Steiner schooling system and those who have had negative experiences associated with the schools.

and

   2) The writings of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy

I agree with those at the seminar that the latter will be the greater problem. In fact, I assert that it’s an insurmountable one, or at least that it should be. This can’t be cured by good PR or by changing a name. Should the success of the Free Schools policy need to be bolstered by protecting Steiner Waldorf’s reputation from disenchanted parents, students and teachers, it will mean a concerted effort to ensure their voices are not heard or their stories are discredited. Such a tactic would be unsustainable, to put it mildly.

In the seminar, it was mentioned that there are racist aspects to Steiner’s writings. This accusation is far from new and it seems it was no surprise to those present. If Sam Freedman is aware of a potential threat to the reputation of the state from the funding of Steiner schools with an adherence to ‘Steiner says’, (an adherence which troubled the writers of the 2005 Woods report) he should be concerned that since the closure of the University of Plymouth Steiner BA there are no publicly accountable Steiner Waldorf teacher training courses in the UK. It’s unclear where the teachers are going to come from, especially since it appears there will be no requirement for Free Schools teachers to be formally trained. British Steiner Waldorf training will be essentially ‘in-house’ (perhaps at the Steiner Academy Hereford).

The issue of whether racism exists as an active agent within Anthroposophy was not addressed seriously at the pre-election meeting, although anthroposophical distinctions regarding both race and disability have human consequences and political implications.

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Steiner’s drawing of the “evolution of humankind” through the various stages – Hyperborea, Lemuria, Atlantis — from lower to higher forms (fish to reptiles to mammals etc), with the top three categories marked “apes,” then (American) “Indians,” then at the very top “Aryans.” Steiner’s 1907 lecture refers to both apes and Indians as “decadent side branches” of evolution.
Rudolf Steiner, 1907. Menschheitsentwickelung und Christus-Erkenntnis (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1981)

Pervasive racial assumptions run throughout Rudolf Steiner’s work. Anthroposophy itself is : “built around a racial view of human nature arranged in a hierarchical framework,” and Steiner’s doctrine awards a higher or lower place in the spiritual evolution of mankind for certain races, with their attendant characteristics. If Freedman believes the schools can simply not teach what Steiner said, he shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Anthroposophy, and of its role within Steiner schools. Anthroposophy is not taught to the children: it informs the pedagogy. It is taught to the teachers. But since it is an esoteric religion, with hidden knowledge, that teaching is often opaque. In addition, Anthroposophy is not a tradition in which critical thinking is prized, indeed the intellectual is suspect; Steiner’s spiritual science has its own, privileged internal logic and route to acuity. As Olav Hammer, a Professor of the history of religions, comments in his accessible book ‘Claiming Knowledge’:

“..anthroposophy has an overtly formulated epistemology, which claims rational status for its visionary means of attaining knowledge.”

Hammer explains:

“For the anthroposophist, spiritual science is as inexorably logical as the natural sciences. The path towards attaining knowledge of the higher worlds, including insights into the exact mechanisms of reincarnation, lie open to those who practice the methods of Geisteswissenschaft [spiritual science] to the full. It is not only part of Steiner’s experience, but also potentially part of the experience of every individual. A carefully outlined series of meditative exercises describes how one can attain knowledge of the spiritual truths.”

and the system is itself insulated from critique:

“Steiner frees himself from the need for empirical investigation by claiming the ability to clairvoyantly access the Akashic record. In the Akashic record, Steiner found innumerable specific details on the workings of the cosmos and the human being, all presented as empirical facts.”

Hammer notes that Steiner’s method of spiritual science may appear democratic but is in reality autocratic. The only truly authentic insights are Steiner’s.

For those who believe they are developing clairvoyant faculties in pursuit of Anthroposophy’s Higher Worlds; Steiner’s racist doctrines, existing within an anthroposophical structure of reincarnation and karma, can be seen as essentially benevolent and redemptive. Though adherence (and awareness) certainly differs amongst teachers, it is impossible to remove Anthroposophy from the Steiner school pedagogy, from the required reading on the teacher training courses, from the mission of the schools. It would be entirely naive to imagine anthroposophical allegiances and beliefs in Steiner Free Schools could be policed by the DfE, especially as British courses disappear from public view or teachers are trained in other countries. Nor can the public be shielded from evidence of Anthroposophy’s precise nature and history.

Anthroposophy, and consequently the Steiner Waldorf movement, resist external critical analysis. The occult has until fairly recently been largely ignored by serious academics, and those who have explored Theosophy and other esoteric movements have been generally sympathetic to the possibility of supernatural agency. But, as we’ve seen with Olav Hammer as example, this has changed. There is now extensive academic research into the foundations of Anthroposophy and the development of Steiner Waldorf schools, enabling a non-arcane understanding of anthroposophical texts. Much of this is of course in German, including Helmut Zander’s 2007 two volume study, ‘Anthroposophie in Deutschland’.

Zander describes the ad hoc nature of the first Waldorf school, as Steiner borrowed much from already existing educational reform movements as well as from traditional models, and added his own spiritual insights. The results could only in some areas be thought of as progressive: the schools were co-educational and did not focus on exams. But from the beginning, the Waldorf system was teacher-led, not child-led and had strong authoritarian tendencies.

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Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925 – Spiritual Insights

Most importantly, Zander contextualizes Steiner as a historical figure, without needing to pass judgements on the accuracy of his supernatural claims. He focuses on the political landscape in which Steiner existed in real, not occult terms. And he demonstrates the significant role of Steiner’s race theories within his work, noting how anthroposophical race doctrine frequently involves implicit or explicit value judgements. Even though Zander encourages dialogue with anthroposophists who can tolerate some kind of external analysis, an extreme voice still demanded Zander’s university revoke his degree, on the grounds that he couldn’t determine the validity of any of Steiner’s claims without himself attaining ‘knowledge of the higher worlds’. Crazy as this sounds, it’s the singular manifestation of a familiar anthroposophical motif, a demand that Anthroposophy be understood – and respected, exclusively on its own terms.

Rudolf Steiner and race: the path toward the universal human

One of the most authoritative writers about Anthroposophy in English is American historian Peter Staudenmaier. His recent PhD in modern history, written at Cornell, concerns Anthroposophy in Germany and Italy from 1900 to 1945. A fluent German speaker, Staudenmaier had access to Steiner’s untranslated work as well as to original archive material. He stresses that Steiner’s prolific output can be internally contradictory, enabling supporters to claim that anthroposophical race doctrine is incidental or misunderstood. But nevertheless, there’s a dominant and explicable theme, owing much to Steiner’s occult interpretation of German nationalism. Steiner’s attitude to Jewishness is an example of insular preoccupations:

“The nature of Steiner’s hostility to Jewishness was thus both ordinary and anomalous; it incorporated the common misconceptions of the era and simultaneously transcended these within the peculiar framework of “occult science”. It was not so much hatred or fear of Jews that animated Steiner’s mature antisemitism, but ignorance of contemporary Jewish life, of modern Jewish culture and history, as well as a myopic commitment to German spiritual superiority. What Steiner did know about Judaism, moreover, was generally refracted through a Christian and Germanocentric lens.” Peter Staudenmaier ‘Rudolf Steiner and the Jewish Question’ Leo Baeck Inst. Yearbook 2005

Steiner’s claims to ‘spiritual science’ to an extent reflect an earlier association with zoologist and social Darwinist Ernst Haeckel. (Richard Dawkins comments in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ that Haeckel was “perhaps Darwin’s most devoted disciple in Germany” and while praising Haeckel’s draughtsmanship adds: “the devotion was not reciprocated”.).

Staudenmaier suggests a mutable concept of evolution may have mediated Steiner’s shift from ‘secular to sacred’, but that it was a conversion to Mme Blavatsky’s occult movement, Theosophy, that most inspired Steiner’s racial theories:
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Madame Blavatsky: Theosophist and medium.

“Steiner’s doctrine of racial evolution is more than a biological appendage to his spiritual cosmology. For Anthroposophy as for Theosophy, evolution is the link between the human and the divine, it is a process supervised by higher powers and a vehicle for the soul’s elevation and purification. [ ] The guiding thread throughout Steiner’s race mythology is the motif of a small, racially advanced group progressing into the next era while the great mass of backward populations declines. In the current era, the dominant race is the Aryan race, which evolved out of a small number of specially advanced colonists from Atlantis. In Steiner’s words: “Ever since the Atlantean Race began slowly to disappear, the great Aryan Race has been the dominant one on earth.”

There is a crucial difference for Steiner 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.”
Rudolf Steiner, Christus und die menschliche Seele [Christ and the human soul] (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1997), 92

Staudenmaier elucidates: 

“As the incarnating souls ‘became steadily better and better’, Steiner explained, ‘the souls eventually passed over into higher races, such that souls which had earlier been incarnated in completely subordinate races developed themselves upwards onto a higher level and were able to incarnate later into the physical descendants of the leading population of Europe’. Steiner further contended that the very existence of different racial groups on the Earth at the same time was a cosmic mistake, a detour from the proper route of humankind’s development. This claim was tied to Steiner’s vision of the eventual emergence of a ‘Universal Human’, the goal of his teleological conception of evolution. While pointing toward the ultimate disappearance of race as a meaningful factor in human existence, Steiner’s theory of the Universal Human is built around a contrast with ‘lower types of people,’ which constitute the necessary counterpart to the ‘uniform, perfect, beautiful type of human being,’ the cosmic goal that underlies ‘the meaning of our whole earthly evolution’.”

Though potentially spiritually ‘enlightened’ to the initiate, Steiner’s views on race remain reprehensible:

“The white population, then, represent normal human beings who continue to progress, while Asians and Africans are abnormal peoples who were not as capable of evolving. Statements like these can be found throughout Steiner’s works, and may reflect the prejudices prevalent among educated Europeans of his era. Perhaps the most instructive instances are Steiner’s various statements about black people. [ ] Addressing the first generation of Waldorf teachers in 1923, Steiner responded to a question about teaching French with the following remarks:

“The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe, but it works, in an even worse way, back on France. It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting."

Peter Staudenmaier, Race and redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s  Anthroposophy  : Nova Religio 2008

race types

Rudolf Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993)

The three central racial types from Steiner’s 1923 lecture on “Color and the Races of Humankind” -black, yellow, and white, showing the primary traits of each racial type: for blacks an “instinctual life,” for yellow people an “emotional life,” and for whites a “thinking life”, Each has correspondingly also developed a particular part of the brain: for blacks the “rear brain,” for yellow people the “middle brain” and for whites the”fore-brain”.

All must have disclaimers

Returning to the seminar in London discussing Free Schools funding for Steiner Waldorf:  Should Steiner schools engineer a more multi-cultural image? This strategy would cause embarrassment to a government facing the understandable fury of non-white Steiner parents who come across Steiner’s race doctrines – unless Rachel Wolf persuades Cornell to revoke Dr Staudenmaier’s PhD (with assistance from dedicated anthroposophical defenders). Waldorf’s biggest problem, acknowledged after the departure of Freedman and Wolf, is undoubtedly the teachers:

“It was felt that there may be some difficulty in making a blanket rebuttal of all Anthroposophy because many people throughout the Steiner schools system, especially teachers, strongly support many aspects of that belief system. If teachers were asked to make a blanket rebuttal of Anthroposophy, many of them may not do this.” 

They cannot do this. For many, Anthroposophy is the point. Rudolf Steiner is considered by his followers to be irreproachable, a spiritual master blessed with clairvoyant powers. Pull the thread of the race doctrines out of the design, there is a corresponding pressure on Steiner’s doctrine of reincarnation and karma. The Steiner Waldorf pedagogy itself rests on anthroposophical dogma. Although a reappraisal of doctrine is not without precedent within religious movements, it would be especially problematic for Anthroposophy, as an esoteric belief system. Knowing this, the easiest way to protect the movement is to be pragmatic and to issue disclaimers. But these disclaimers bear analysis, since many anthroposophists still defend Steiner’s racial and ethnic teachings; believing them, as Staudenmaier explains, to be “humanitarian, tolerant, and enlightened.”

Here is the (current) disclaimer on racism from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF).

Is it true that some of Rudolf Steiners writings and lectures contained statements that could be interpreted as racist?

Yes. Even though Steiner’s ideas are based on a profound respect for the equality, individuality and shared humanity of all people, regardless of race or ethnic origin, his works do contain a small number of quotations that are discriminatory. The SWSF rejects these statements and all racism. However, it should be noted that other great thinkers of his time including Darwin, Schweitzer, Gandhi and Carl Jung also spoke of race in a way that offends modern sensibilities. This does not render them or their work ‘racist’.

It is ironic that Steiner schools sometimes have to defend themselves against these accusations. Our schools thrive on every continent, in every culture and within a wide range of ethnic contexts. For example, during the period of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the only school catering for mixed races was a Steiner Waldorf school & today there are schools following Steiner philosophy of education in diverse cultures & communities, including: Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil or Hawaii, over 60 countries in all. It should be noted that all the Steiner schools in the UK actively are opposed to all forms of discrimination against any person or group of people on the grounds of race, gender, faith, disability, age and sexual orientation and are committed to promoting equality of opportunity and reflecting the diversity of the children, staff and parents served by their school.

Further clarification about this can be found on the Statements page of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education website (by clicking the ‘Waldorf schools against discrimination’ link).

The first word is unusual, though the disclaimer’s tone betrays the movement’s haughty antipathy to external analysis – and frankly it’s simply untrue. There are a very large number of Steiner’s pronouncements which could not only be interpreted as racist, they are racist. Saying they are not racist costs the SWSF nothing and will not make them disappear. (To be candid, many of Steiner’s statements clearly discriminate between races in both an unpleasant and prosaic manner, the ‘spiritual’ is no excuse.)

But the statement reveals a significant misunderstanding of racism. It is historically naive to imagine that being represented in diverse cultures and communities can define a worldview. Catholic schools are similarly represented, this doesn’t alter the nature of Catholic teachings; Anthroposophy’s racial doctrines do not magically change because there are Steiner Waldorf schools in Kenya. The disclaimer also ignores the fact that South African Waldorf schools were founded by Max Stibbe (the Waldorf school in Pretoria is still named after him), a vocal supporter of apartheid. Peter Staudenmaier comments:

“[Stibbe] was also the editor of the Dutch Waldorf journal Ostara, as well as the founding editor of an even more influential Waldorf journal, Vrije Opvoedkunst, in 1933. Vrije Opvoedkunst is where Stibbe published his racist articles in the 1960s, which formed the basis for the "racial ethnography" courses in Dutch Waldorf schools well into the 1990s.”

Nor can the recent promotion of a non-white titular Vice Principal (at the state funded 315 pupil (£5.2 million) Hereford Steiner Academy cancel out Steiner’s racial doctrines.

In addition, under “What is Anthroposophy?’ the SWSF states:

“Like many inspiring thinkers from the past, Ghandi and Darwin being other examples, Rudolf Steiner provides us with important insights which continue to be relevant today, as well as statements which conflict with our contemporary understanding of inclusivity and equality.”

It’s extraordinary that in a description of Anthroposophy by the Steiner Waldorf movement’s umbrella organisation in the UK, there’s no mention of karma, reincarnation, higher worlds, spiritual science etc, or the fact that anthroposophists believe Steiner was clairvoyant. Zoologists do not believe Darwin was clairvoyant – nor did Darwin teach an occult racial doctrine. Steiner’s unique status amongst his followers means that he cannot be excused as simply ‘a man of his time’. Even so, such racial ideas were rejected by many of Steiner’s contemporaries.

From a historical perspective, racial remarks should not be assessed according to whether they offend modern sensibilities. What makes a particular text racist is its content, what it actually says about race.

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The 2nd Goetheanum, designed by Steiner – world centre for Anthroposophy – Dornach, Switzerland

The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education) disclaimer document ‘Waldorf schools against discrimination’, linked to by the SWSF, states:

“Anthroposophy, upon which Waldorf education is founded, stands firmly against all forms of racism and nationalism. Throughout Steiner’s work there is a consistent anti-racist sentiment and he frequently described racist views as being anachronistic and antithetical to basic human values and dignity. The Waldorf schools are aware, however, that occasional phrases in Rudolf Steiner’s complete works are not in concordance with this fundamental direction and have a discriminatory effect.”

This is extraordinarily mendacious, and only sustainable if no one else – specifically no politician – reads any Steiner. The ‘discriminatory effect’ is reflected in the actions and decisions of teachers in the classroom, behaving in accordance with anthroposophical dogma which they may not even believe is racist. It should not be confused with an accusation that Steiner Waldorf schools openly discriminate on grounds of race, for example at point of entry, which they do not. Whether Steiner’s teachings themselves are ‘discriminatory’ makes little sense in an early twentieth century context – what matters is that they are racist. A confusion between discrimination and racism further highlights the worrying anthroposophist misunderstanding of racism.

This ECSWE disclaimer is cited by the Rudolf Steiner school South Devon. This is one of three English Steiner schools nearing funding, with the support of the Tory MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston. The school also seeks to distance itself from “any racism stated or implied in any of Rudolf Steiner’s speeches and writings (dating from the mid -1880s to his death in 1925)” It’s alarming to find this on a school website bearing the name of the seer in question. But the disclaimer doesn’t acknowledge any statements by Steiner, much less examine their racial content. There’s no explanation of why this statement needs to be there.

On the same ECSWE site there’s a link to a document called: ‘Overcoming Racism through Anthroposophy: Rudolf Steiner and Questions of Race’. This is an audacious title. Peter Staudenmaier responds (hyperlinks mine):

“Far from a denunciation of any and all racist statements made by Steiner, it is a defense of Steiner’s racial teachings. It also claims that Steiner opposed antisemitism throughout his life, that he was deeply opposed to any philosophy of racial or ethnic superiority, and so forth. The document is co-authored by Detlef Hardorp and Lorenzo Ravagli, among others, who have very vocally and quite explicitly defended a range of Steiner’s racist arguments. This remains the mainstream position for both the Waldorf movement and the broader anthroposophist movement today.

In my view, a perfunctory ‘denunciation’ of ‘any and all racist statements made by Steiner’ — even if we could find such a denunciation from some anthroposophist body or other — would miss the point. If anthroposophists want to face up the racist components in their ideological legacy, they need to analyze and understand what Steiner taught about race, not pre-emptorily denounce it, and they need to figure out how to revise the overall conceptual structure of anthroposophy, which in its current form is built to a significant extent around racial premises. Simply waving away the problem with a vague gesture of disassociation accomplishes nothing toward that end, indeed it actively hinders the steps that could lead toward that end.”

A 1998 report by Dutch anthroposophists concluded there were no ‘racist teachings’ in Rudolf Steiner’s work. Peter Staudenmaier believes that an attempt by anthroposophists to come to terms with Steiner’s race doctrines, the “Frankfurt Memorandum” 2008, is flawed partly by using that Dutch report as its inspiration.

Significantly, former Waldorf teacher Tom Mellett notes parallels between the Steiner movement’s denunciation of Steiner’s racism and statements made by the Catholic church regarding priestly sex abuse.

Race in the classroom

Anthroposophy impacts on real children. Ray Pereira noticed the racist overtones in his child’s ‘Steiner stream’ in an Australian school:

“Mr Pereira, who is from Sri Lanka, said his concerns about Steiner’s racist beliefs were realised when his children were not allowed to use black or brown crayons because they were “not pure”. He said Steiner teachers at the state-run school recommended they not immunise their children because it would lead to the `‘bestialisation of humans”.”

Two years ago, at an established English Steiner school now applying for Free Schools funding; a British couple were alarmed when their 12 year old daughter (who’d been at the school for a year) told them a German teacher had read out the word ‘nigger’ from a book of poems, a standard text in Steiner schools. The mother reports that the teacher did not agree with the children that this is a racist word, indeed it was her daughter who was punished for refusing to back down. As a foster parent for many years and a mentor for Kids’ Company, the mother concerned is used to dealing with challenging situations but the school’s response to this incident (amongst others) shocked her. The staff seemed not to take the family’s concerns seriously and delayed taking action. Looking online for information on Steiner schools’ policies regarding racism, the mother discovered that in the book ‘How to Know Higher Worlds’, by Rudolf Steiner, (an edition last published 2008, Anthroposophic Press) a book on which one of the school trustees was basing workshops, there is an account of ‘reincarnation through the races’: 

“Peoples and races are after all, merely different developmental stages in our evolution toward a pure humanity. The more perfectly that individual members of that race or people express the pure, ideal human type – the more they have worked their way through from the physical and mortal to the super sensible and immortal realm – the “higher” this race or nation is.”

In a formal meeting with the school, the father, who is black, calmly read aloud a quote from Steiner which stated that: ‘the black man is the child of the races’. There was no response from those present, presumably the trustees convinced themselves it was outside the remit of the discussion. The couple were shown the school’s discrimination document. But they report that when they asked the school’s Education Coordinator if he believed in Steiner’s doctrine of the reincarnation of the soul through racial hierarchies, he reddened with anger and refused to answer.

This critical Steiner mother notes an obvious inconsistency. In reply to a trustee’s defence that individuals chose which bits of Steiner to believe:

“I asked her, how they could do that when Steiner received his knowledge clairvoyantly – if it all came from the spirit world surely it was all true? I also said I didn’t believe that’s where he got his knowledge, unless the spirit world itself is racist.”

The child involved is now at school elsewhere. Her family arranged for a racism awareness day to be conducted at the Steiner school; this is required of every educational setting.

 

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A Steiner Waldorf classroom (from here)

In response to Waldorf supporters’ claims that their teachers are simply not capable of racism and that Steiner schools are both enlightened and benign, Peter Staudenmaier writes:   

“Many forms of racist belief are not intentionally sinister, but are instead embedded in high-minded, benevolent, and compassionate orientations toward the world. It is this type of racist thought, whose historical heritage extends through the White Man’s Burden and many forms of paternalistic racial ideology, that may find a welcome home in some Waldorf schools and other anthroposophical contexts, where it can perpetuate its ideas about race under the banner of spiritual growth and wisdom. This kind of racist thinking spreads more readily precisely because it is not tied to consciously sinister intentions. Seeing through this kind of racism – which, furthermore, often has more widespread and more insidious effects on the real lives of real people than the intentionally sinister variety does – means paying attention to the background beliefs that animate a project like Waldorf, whether among its founding generation or today.”

Staudenmaier is a historian, not primarily a critic of Steiner Waldorf education. But a knowledge of the history of the anthroposophical movement is essential if we are to make any sense of the difficulties the schools face today:

“I would be pleased if my research provided an opportunity for Waldorf admirers to ponder this contentious history and take its lessons seriously. What is worrisome about the Waldorf movement’s continued failure to address anthroposophy’s racial legacy is not that Waldorf schools in the twenty-first century will start churning out little Hitler youths; what is worrisome is that Waldorf advocates and sympathizers may unknowingly help prepare the ideological groundwork for another unforeseen shift in the broader cultural terrain, in which notions of racial and ethnic superiority and inferiority could once again take on a spiritual significance that lends itself all too easily to practical implementation in a changed social and political context. For this reason among others, I strongly encourage those involved in Waldorf endeavors to take another look at the history of their movement and the doctrines at its core.”

There is a reprise of these themes in an insightful article by novelist Hari Kunzru.

If those concerned with Steiner Waldorf education read nothing else, they should read Peter Staudenmaier’s article “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism”. It is a compelling account of Anthroposophy’s history; essential reading, too important to ignore.

Like Peter Staudenmaier, I have an interest in progressive forms of education. Steiner Waldorf education, far from being progressive or democratic, is dogmatic, autocratic and anti-intellectual. The persuasive lobby for state funded Steiner schools in my opinion misrepresents Anthroposophy, there are no exceptional applications. It is this lack of honesty that causes most concern. Steiner schools have failed a particular responsibility to their clients, not shared by Church of England or Catholic schools, to explain at the beginning what is for most parents an unfamiliar world-view.

Most seriously, mindful of Steiner’s dogma of karma and the reincarnation of the human soul through the races: If genuine equalities impact assessments were conducted on these schools, in my view it is inconceivable that the implications for children from black and ethnic minorities, and those with learning difficulties, would permit the funding of Steiner education.

steiner3-7
German children 1930s. Image from Black News Tribune

Postscript

Download a pdf file of Anthroposophy’s racial doctrines: explanation and examples by Dr Peter Staudenmaier.

Follow-up

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Tags: Education · racism · Steiner · Waldorf

286 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tweets that mention Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism -- Topsy.com // Dec 16, 2010 at 09:34

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr*T and Lovely Horse, Lovely Horse. Lovely Horse said: DC's Improbable Science: Steiner Waldorf schools and the problem of racism http://bit.ly/dKyN64 #Anthroposophy [...]

  • 2 Thetis // Dec 16, 2010 at 14:38

    For those who would like to read more, the last couple of quotes from Peter Staudenmaier are from a postscript on Waldorf education at the end of his article ‘The Art of Avoiding History':

    http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/the-art-of-avoiding-history-2/

  • 3 zooey // Dec 16, 2010 at 16:45

    A tremendously well written and well researched post on an important topic! I just wanted to jump in quickly to say this, but I’ll probably have more to add later. Good work!

  • 4 5raphs // Dec 16, 2010 at 17:34

    A great piece which leaves me feeling chilled; it’s morally reprehensible to allow state funding to go through when it’s so clear there is little understanding of this pedagogy and apparently an alarming insouciance about the consequences of practicing it in the classroom. Government representatives know there are racist elements and yet are apparently ready to ignore them, let teachers who are solely trained in this pedagogy loose on our children, it is quite frankly, beyond belief.

  • 5 MarkH // Dec 16, 2010 at 21:15

    A fascinating look at the history and wider context of some of the more insidious aspects of Anthroposophy.

    As to their practical application in the modern day Steiner classroom, the implication that some (or all?) Steiner schools may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 is a serious one. I am not a lawyer, but feel that this is going to need to be addressed before any Free School applications are granted.

  • 6 the waldorf (steiner) movement’s double bind « zooey // Dec 16, 2010 at 22:12

    [...] has written an immensely important guest post on DC’s Improbable Science. This time, it’s about the issues related to the racial [...]

  • 7 Tweets that mention Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism -- Topsy.com // Dec 17, 2010 at 00:52

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Sutton, Val Rogers and Thetis, Thetis. Thetis said: RT @HGJohn: More revealing stuff on Steiner schools: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853and this lot are looking to set up state funded fre … [...]

  • 8 SWSF // Dec 17, 2010 at 09:39

    The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) works to support and promote Steiner education in the UK. Both the SWSF and its member schools are unequivocal in their condemnation of racism and in their commitment to the universal principles embodied in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and protected by the Equality Act October 2010.
    The SWSF refutes categorically any statement, suggestion, implication or inference that any of its member schools would tolerate racism in any shape or form or that Steiner education is racist.
    The SWSF supports and endorses the statement on racism that can be read on the web-site of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education: http://www.steinerwaldorfeurope.org/index.php

    The SWSF welcomes the opportunity for innovation, diversity and accessibility provided by the new Free School’s legislation and supports those member schools who are applying for Free School status.
    The opportunity for children from all cultural, ethnic and religious backgounds to benefit from Steiner education as a consequence of Free School status is to be applauded.

    Our web site is the first stop for anyone who wants a balanced view of Steiner education. It provides extensive information on the education, its background, the curriculum, books and DVD’s, in addition to current news and press articles and a comprehensive range of links to relevant and related organisations. http://steinerwaldorf.org.uk

  • 9 Graham // Dec 17, 2010 at 11:58

    Thanks once again to Thetis for a devastating expose of Steiner education. It is simply incredible to read this and then reflect on the way Steiner schools are percieved and represent themselves as a benign alternative to mainstream education.

    The comparison with the way the catholic church has covered up for child sex abuse is chilling- this is still a very live issue in Ireland and will be for a generation.

    In discussions with Steiner apologists, who are probably not racist themselves, the defense frequently given is “it’s not as bad as state schools or church schools”- an extraordinary avoidance of the issue and abnegation of responsibility. Hopefully these posts will help bring the discussion into the open and make it harder for people to avoid the truth about these schools.

  • 10 James Cranch // Dec 17, 2010 at 13:15

    SWSF,

    Many thanks for the kind offer of information providing a balanced view of Steiner education.

    Is there an organisation I can approach if I seek information which is not balanced but which is, in fact, biased in favour of Steiner education? Please let me know if you have any recommendations.

  • 11 maimuna // Dec 17, 2010 at 14:23

    SWSF
    Why then do you recommend and Steiner Press keep churning out books with the same racist bollocks in ? How to Know Higher Worlds was printed in 2008., books with the reincarnation through races theory are being read by teachers while training. You can’t have it both ways,you either put out statements on every school website and in every parents handbook saying every teacher and the SWSF does not believe in reincarnation through the races take out all those parts and never print them again in any Steiner book or you carry on as you are reprinting and training people in this rubbish and take the flack that will come your way.
    Believe me if you printed information on the school website you would have no non-white families in your schools.
    Unfortunately knowing that the theory is a central part of Anthroposophy means that you wouldn”t have Anthroposophy without it and even if a statement was out there saying schools did not follow this belief would anyone believe them ? I wouldn’t.
    The problem is Anthroposophists don’t believe the theory is racist they just think thats a path we all go through and really don’t see how offensive it is.
    I’m still livid that we were tricked into signing up to a school that has teachers that would look at my childs skin colour as an issue,that sees myself and my husband as at totally different levels…

  • 12 Thetis // Dec 17, 2010 at 19:13

    thanks to all for comments.

    I see that whoever is posting on behalf of the SWSF recklessly reaffirms the Steiner Movement’s position towards Steiner’s race theories exactly as explained in this post, without any hint of shame or understanding. This does not suggest a positive future for those who may be obliged to support Steiner Waldorf schools within their learning communities. But it’s not clear if this is a formal statement, or if any individual within the movement is genuinely in a position to speak for anyone else. This is in the nature of an esoteric society with an inner circle etc.

    The SWSF are realistically in no position to judge what happens in individual Steiner schools. And who will train the teachers – if they’re trained at all? Who will monitor the courses, check the reading lists, attend the private meetings? Sit in on Thursday evenings when the children are discussed?

    maimuna is absolutely right: ‘Anthroposophists don’t believe the theory is racist’. This will be a problem for any government choosing to fund any individual Steiner school. No PR will be good enough to hide it. Peter Staudenmaier comments on the Waldorf Critics list, where there’s an ongoing discussion of Steiner Waldorf:

    “That is indeed the heart of the matter. Much of the Waldorf leadership and the anthroposophical leadership are severely uninformed about what racism is, about its history, about its current forms, about how it functions, and consequently they don’t realize that significant constituent elements in anthroposophical thought are racist. They thus continue to defend these elements, all the while believing that they have somehow unequivocally condemned racism in all of its manifestations. It is a remarkable instance of self-delusion.

    This remains the mainstream position for both the Waldorf movement and the broader anthroposophist movement today. The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship is in effect declaring publicly that they find nothing objectionable in Steiner’s race doctrines and that they have no intention of reviewing, revising, or rejecting these doctrines. I look forward to the day this position changes.”

    continues: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16327

  • 13 5raphs // Dec 17, 2010 at 19:31

    Snort @James Cranch.
    SWSF- have you actually read and taken on board the main points of this article? or do you intend to reiterate the same old platitudes?
    To be frank with you, I don’t believe anyone who has read Steiner, taken on board his world view, his “truths’ and “laws”, the reading list and curriculum content of the teacher training courses, the history of the movement and the lack of, let’s say, “disclosure” about anthroposophy would believe a word you spun about these things….let’s also remember there is a history of tales of dishonesty and hounding of those disenchanted with the movement.

    Rene Querido, highly respected, much quoted and revered Steiner teacher (at Michael Hall school, Sussex and others worldwide) author of numerous books about Steiner education mentions race and ethnic background here

    “In learning to understand a child, it is important to consider–in addition to hereditary factors, which include race, ethnic background, and the biological strands supplied by father and mother–what the
    soul has brought with it out of supersensible realms. If we deepen this line of thought, we shall take into account not only the prenatal
    “gesture” but also the spiritual origins as they manifested themselves in previous incarnations. In other words, just as we have applied certain questions regarding our own spiritual origins, we should without jumping to quick conclusions also consider to which spiritual streams our students belonged.”
    The Esoteric Background of Waldorf Education: The Cosmic Christ Impulse. RSteiner Press 1995
    How would this work do you suppose in a UK Steiner school? How would “race and ethnic background” help “understand” a child? Let alone children’s previous incarnations from the supersensible world. How many parents who read your site, have children at your schools, have an inkling of this hokum being used on their children?

    It may well be uncomfortable, but it is time to stop the veil of self deception which seems to float around anthroposophist’s public personas. If it isn’t self deception it is apparently either misunderstanding, stupidity or dishonesty…
    Reading Querido’s introduction, one understands anthroposophic “impulses” such as education are concerned with enabling evolution to continue in a “healthy” way; anthroposophical understanding of evolution is a spiritual ascension of the soul through races; even if some races are decadent, there is the opportunity to reincarnate in a “higher” race; many anthroposophists apparently don’t see this as racist. Let’s hope someone puts them in the picture, and soon.

  • 14 Andreas Lichte // Dec 17, 2010 at 21:45

    Rudolf Steiner’s books are racist

    confirms „BPjM“, Germany’s Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons.

    The “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) examined 2 books by Rudolf Steiner for “racist content” and decided that the content of the books IS racist.

    To understand the BPjM´s importance and function here’s its self-portrayal:

    http://www.bundespruefstelle.de/bmfsfj/generator/bpjm/information-in-english.html

    “General information about the BPjM (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons)

    We are an official administrative authority of the German government called “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”). Our task is to protect children and adolescents in Germany from any media that might contain harmful or dangerous contents. This work is authorized by the “Youth Protection Law” (Jugendschutzgesetz – JuSchG).

    Media monitored by us are, among others: videos, DVDs, computer games, audio records and CDs, print media and internet sites.

    Objects are considered harmful or dangerous to minors if they tend to endanger their process of developing a socially responsible and self-reliant personality. In general, this applies to objects that contain indecent, extremely violent, crime-inducing, anti-Semitic or otherwise racist material. (…)” see the BPjM-homepage for the rest.

    The 2 books examined by the BPjM are:

    – „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“

    English title: „Spiritual-Scientific Knowledge of the Human Being“

    – „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen im Zusammenhang mit der germanisch-nordischen Mythologie“

    English title: „The Mission of Individual Volk-Souls in Connection with Germanic-Nordic Mythology“

    The 2 decisions differ from one another only with regard to which particular statements by Rudolf Steiner the BPjM considered to be racist. As stated in the respective decisions on i) „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“ and ii) „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen“, decisions page 6:

    „Der Inhalt des Buches ist nach Ansicht des 12er-Gremiums in Teilen als zum Rassenhass anreizend bzw. als Rassen diskriminierend anzusehen.”

    „The content of the book [by Rudolf Steiner] is, in the opinion of the board of 12 representatives, considered in part as an incitement to racial hatred, respectively as discriminating on grounds of race.“

    This is followed by a definition. I only translate the most important part:

    „Ein Medium reizt mithin zum Rassenhass an, d.h. stellt Rassenhass als nachahmenswert dar, wenn darin Menschen wegen ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu einer anderen Rasse, Nation, Glaubensgemeinschaft o.ä. als minderwertig und verächtlich dargestellt oder diskriminiert werden (Ukrow, Jugendschutzrecht, Rn. 284).”

    “A medium incites racial hatred, that is, depicts racial hatred as worthy of imitation, if human beings are represented as being inferior or contemptible or are discriminated against, due to their affiliation to another race, nation, religious community or the like.”

    This definition is followed by those of Rudolf Steiner’s statements that were considered by the BPjM as racist. I translate only statements concerning BLACK PEOPLE directly.

    from “Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde”

    page 6f:

    „Die Menschen, welche ihr Ich-Gefühl zu gering ausgebildet hatten, wanderten nach dem Osten, und die übriggebliebenen Reste von diesen Menschen sind die nachherige Negerbevölkerung Afrikas geworden.”

    “The people who had underdeveloped their sense of »I« [that is: the »ego«], migrated to the east, and the surviving remnants of these people later became the negro population of Africa.”

    page 7:

    „Diejenigen Menschen aber, die ihre Ich-Wesenheit zu schwach entwickelt hatten, die den Sonneneinwirkungen zu sehr ausgesetzt waren, sie waren wie Pflanzen: sie setzten unter ihrer Haut zuviel kohlenstoffartige Bestandteile ab und wurden schwarz. Daher sind die Neger schwarz.”

    “But the people, who underdeveloped their »I«-being [that is: their »ego«], who were exposed too much to the effects of the sun, they were like plants: they deposited under their skin too many carbon-like elements and became black. This is why the negro is black.”

    „…, von der ganz passiven Negerseele angefangen, die völlig der Umgebung, der äußeren Physis hingegeben ist, …”

    “…, beginning with the completely passive soul of the negro, which is in complete abandon to [that is: devoted to] the environment, to the exterior physique, …”

    page 8:

    „Aber das sind die, welche so ihr Ich verleugnet haben, dass sie schwarz davon wurden, weil die äußeren Kräfte, die von der Sonne auf die Erde kommen, sie eben schwarz machten.”

    “But they are the ones, who so denied their »I« that it turned them black, because the exterior forces that come from the sun to the earth simply turned them black.”

    from „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen”

    page 6:

    „Der afrikanische Punkt entspricht denjenigen Kräften der Erde, welche den Menschen die ersten Kindheitsmerkmale aufdrücken, …”

    „The African Point corresponds to those forces of the Earth, which imprint on people the first features of childhood…”

    These are examples of racist statements made in only 2 of Steiner’s books. Be aware of the fact that Steiner wrote 354 books. To what do they add up? To an esoteric evolutionary theory, in which there is no place for people who aren’t white. Coloured people will become extinct – Steiner’s program in short:

    „Die weiße Rasse ist die zukünftige, ist die am Geiste schaffende Rasse”

    “The white race is the race of the future, the race that works creatively on the spirit.”

  • 15 MarkH // Dec 17, 2010 at 21:45

    The Steiner school I looked at as a prospective parent has its policies on equal opportunities and special educational needs, that you’d expect to see for any school, on its website. Everything reads as it should, presumably to satisfy the requirements of OFSTED/SIS inspection.

    The SWSF has stated its position on the matter of race.

    This would be enough to satisfy most parents and indeed politicians. Those that come across articles such as this and go on to read what Steiner actually wrote will have questions and doubts raised that a PR campaign alone will likely not satisfy.

    May I ask the person apparently posting on behalf of the SWSF if it took up the free PR training offered by the NSN at their meeting last year? And if so, what did that training consist of? I asked the NSN the same questions but have had no reply.

    As Thetis points out, it’s not just about race. Steiner’s teachings on karma and its link with illness and learning disabilities and the classification of children’s personality types based on other aspects of their physical appearance, are equally problematic. How far is the SWSF willing to go in renouncing these ideas?

    The horror stories based on the application of these ideas in the classroom are easy to dismiss. I’d be the first to say that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. However, their sheer number and consistency was enough to make me want to investigate further. I urge any other prospective Steiner parent to do the same.

  • 16 Andreas Lichte // Dec 17, 2010 at 21:46

    Here are ALL of Rudolf Steiner’s statements of his book „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“ that were considered by the BPjM as racist:

    [Ed. This long comment, entirely in German, has been converted to a file which you can download]

  • 17 glipona // Dec 17, 2010 at 23:13

    I was alarmed to find this while doing research for my teacher training course at a Waldorf school (It is racist): “There is yet another extremely important consideration. Civilized people use their sense of smell for foods and other external things, but it doesn’t inform them of much else. In contrast, primitive tribes in Africa can smell out their enemies at far range, just as a dog can detect a scent. They are warned of their foes by smell. Thus, the intelligence that is found in such great measure in the dog is also found to a certain degree among primitive people. The member of a primitive tribe in Africa can tell long before he has seen his adversary that he is approaching; he distinguishes him from other people with his nose. Imagine how delicate one’s sense of discernment in the nose must be if one can know that an enemy is nearby by means of it. Also, Africans know how to utter a certain warning sound that Europeans cannot make at all. It is a clicking sound, somewhat like the cracking of a whip.
    It can be said that the more civilized a man becomes, the more diminished is the importance of his sense of smell. We can use this sense as an indicator of whether we are dealing with a less ‘civilized’ species like the canine family — and they are an uncivilized species—or one more civilized.” p. 84 From Comets to Cocaine: Answers to Questions By Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Press 2000 London

  • 18 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 18, 2010 at 02:10

    @SWSF

    Sir Jeremy Smith, I presume?
    . . . . Sir Jeremy Smith, I presume?
    . .. . . . . . Sir Jeremy Smith, I presume?

    Are you there, sir? Must I then make like HM Stanley in 1873 and search throughout the Internet jungle to find you, sir?

    Sir Jeremy Smith, may we then assume that you are still the Communications Director for the SWSF? At least you were at the time we last heard from you on any Waldorf critical blog, which was on February 9, 2009, almost two full years ago.

    Do you recall your comment on this blog
    http://counterknowledge.com/2009/01/origin-of-the-specious-race-lies-and-stereotypes-in-steiner%E2%80%99s-anthroposophy/
    Title:
    Origin of the Specious: Race, lies and stereotypes in Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy
    Now quoting Jeremy Smith from the beginning of his comment of Feb. 7, 2009

    ——————————————-
    ”A colleague has drawn my attention to this blog and the recent exchanges on Rudolf Steiner and Steiner schools. I’m the communications officer for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF), the membership organization for Steiner schools in the UK and Ireland.

    It’s good to see some familiar Waldorf Critics people posting their usual stories here, though as is their normal practice, using a variety of different aliases. I don’t propose to get into a discussion of what Steiner did or didn’t say or the context in which he said it, because this truly would be to enter into a dialogue of the deaf.”
    ——————————–

    And from the end of his comment:

    ——————————
    “Since it is my policy not to feed the trolls or further inflame the condition of those poor unfortunates with marked symptoms of OCD, I will not be making any additional postings on this blog. However, if anyone has a genuine concern about a UK or Irish Steiner school that they have been unable to resolve, please contact me via the SWSF office and I will do my best to help.”
    Kind regards,
    Jeremy Smith
    ————————–

    Dearest Jeremy,

    Do you appreciate the irony of the fact that a posting here is signed merely as “SWSF” while in that comment from two years ago, you chided Waldorf critics for not signing their real name?

    Also, sir, does the fact that you posted here as “SWSF” indicate a change in your judgments about the mental, psychical and/or spiritual conditions of the Critics who contribute here?

    I mean specifically, do you consider all critics here to be still deaf to dialogue? And even more importantly, do you still stand by your bold and sweeping psychiatric diagnosis of these aforementioned critics as suffering from the psychological affliction know as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

    Or perhaps we are engaging in some form of “mirror neuron ping-pong?” where you project on us and we project on you?

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, California

  • 19 Richard House // Dec 18, 2010 at 03:13

    Hello folks; I’m hoping that this blog will welcome an open, unprejudiced conversation about this issue. It seems to me that it is located firmly within the Kuhnian ‘paradigm war’ between the forces of ‘modernity’, on the one hand, and what I’ve come to call ‘trans-modernity’, on the other. Any paradigm is necessarily and unavoidably founded in unprovable metaphysical assumptions that ‘empiricist science’ itself is incapable of legislating between. And any worldview that embraces ‘the invisible’ (e.g. Steiner) or ‘the mysterious’ (e.g. Merleau-Ponty) is liable to be lambasted by those wedded to positivistic science and naive verificationism, not least because it fundamentally rocks the latters’ foundational assumptions about what constitutes ‘reality'; and this in turn generates considerable levels of anxiety, which then manifests in all manner of different ways.

    Here is an article I wrote some years ago, refuting the allegation of racism made against Rudolf Steiner, which open-minded readers might like to read and consider. A major issue here has to be the notion of ‘racism’ itself, and what, precisely, it might mean. It’s just not good enough (and is actually singularly unscientific) to accept as an unproblematic given a ‘politically correct’ definition of ‘racism’ that entails all manner of unarticulated presuppositions which themselves surely need to be where the conversation begins. Anyway, here is the article.

    Originally published in New View magazine, 31 (Spring), 2004, pp. 51–3
    http://www.newview.org.uk

    A Refutation of the Allegation of Racism against Rudolf Steiner

    By Richard House

    It is commonplace in developed Western culture for the slightest whiff of ‘racism’ to be unconditionally condemned – an understandable balance-restoring tendency, perhaps, when viewed in the context of the Western world’s own disreputable history in these matters. However, an equally interesting and quite new cultural phenomenon, at least in Britain, is the increasing challenge being mounted to what some see as an overbearingly stifling ‘political correctness’ on questions of race. I maintain that Rudolf Steiner’s uniquely panoramic contributions on these questions can shed a great deal of light on to these commonly fraught debates – not least because, in Steiner’s view of ‘the universal human being’, we are presented with a quite new way of thinking about these questions that takes us well beyond the uncritical – and singularly non-illuminating – dichotomous thinking that swings simplistically between ‘racist’ and ‘anti-racist’ belief systems. In what follows, the comparatively recent charge of ‘racism’ that was levelled at Rudolf Steiner in the 1990s is used as a vehicle for bringing some much-needed illumination to what is, in mainstream culture, an issue that typically generates far more heat than light.

    Some Background

    In the 1990s a series of attacks were made on Rudolf Steiner, coming out of The Netherlands. This became something of a cause celebre in Holland, and as a result, a detailed survey of all Steiner’s literary corpus (over 6,000 lectures in all, with Steiner’s Collected Works amounting to 360 volumes) was undertaken. The resulting Commission examined and evaluated 245 quotations from the 89,000 pages of Steiner’s Collected Works. The study was carried out under a mandate of the Anthroposophical Society in The Netherlands, by a commission chaired by the lawyer Dr Th. A. van Baarda. The Commission’s final report, Anthroposophy and the Question of Race’, comprises some 720 pages, and is the result of nearly four years of work. It examined all passages about the subject of race in Rudolf Steiner’s collected works in their context, and it issued an interim announcement on 4th February 1998 that there was no ground for accusations of racism in the work of Rudolf Steiner.

    The following is a direct quotation from the Commission’s final report:

    There is no question of a racial doctrine being involved in the work of Rudolf Steiner. Nor does his work contain any statements which have been made with the intention of insulting people or groups on account of race… Suggestions that racism is inherent in anthroposophy… has been shown to be categorically incorrect. Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical portrayal of man is based on the equality of all individuals and not on an alleged superiority of one race over another one. Nevertheless, the collected work of Rudolf Steiner does contain some statements which according to current criteria are of a discriminatory [nature] or could be found to be discriminatory. (My added emphasis)

    As to Steiner (Waldorf) education, the Commission concluded – in agreement with the prior judgement of Dutch Government Education Inspectors (Onderwijsinspectie) – that racism does not exist there.

    In its report, the Committee made the point that Steiner appeared to have been subjected to ‘selective indignation’. Clearly, too, the fact that the comments identified are from ‘live’ lectures, noted contemporaneously, rather than from specifically written books as such, is an important consideration. It is certainly arguable that a small number of quotations are, indeed, somewhat problematic, even when taken in context; yet it is crucial to emphasise the great changes in sensibility about these issues that have occurred since 1920 and earlier. The Commission’s report goes on to indicate the ‘racism’ (according to present-day standards) in the work of Darwin, Schweitzer, and Gandhi! (not to mention Carl Jung, Martin Heidegger and many great cultural thinkers)… Moreover, in the evolution of language many words have developed a different meaning in the course of time, and the originally intended content of a statement made by Steiner in the early 1900s (and in a different language to our own) may change if it is repeated verbatim. If a dated choice of words is simply repeated, the result may indeed be – quite unfairly – to cast Steiner in an unfavourable light.

    At this point it is useful to consider the words of Steiner himself, who said:

    [one of the aims of the] anthroposophical movement…[is to] cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations and to bridge the divisions and differences between people and various groups of people…[we]…must get beyond the illnesses of childhood and understand clearly that the concept of race has ceased to have any meaning in our time.

    A more clear and unambiguous statement of ‘post-racist’ thinking could hardly be imagined.

    Moreover, the Commission regretted that in the debate about racism, Rudolf Steiner’s progressive views about society are always conveniently left out of the discussion. In short, in regard to races, Steiner was of the opinion that racial differences are no longer of our time. In his participation in the debates after the First World War about the structure of society, Steiner argued not only for cultural diversity but also for the equality of all peoples and races as a universal principle. Moreover, he did this at a time when equality before the law was not at all self-evident, not even amongst white peoples.

    Rudolf Steiner’s concept of man, then, is based upon the equality of all individuals, and not on some supposed superiority of one race over another. Anthroposophy is diametrically opposed to ‘social Darwinism’, in which the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ leads to the domination of the strongest race. In Steiner’s view of society, the central idea is a cosmopolitan striving for one humanity without distinctions as to races and peoples.

    By its very nature, Anthroposophy cannot possibly be racist, for it simply does not encompass any theory of mutation and selection with regard to human races. The question of which race is ‘stronger’ or ‘superior’ is therefore irrelevant. There is clearly no inherent relationship between Anthroposophy and any ideologies based on racism, fascism or anti-Semitism. Steiner, for example, emphatically condemned the annihilation of the Indians by the white man; and in 1935 the Anthroposophical Society in Germany was banned by the Nazis.

    In conclusion

    I would like to ask you all carefully to consider the following: Just how many of us would be prepared to have virtually every public word we utter today written down and published (amounting to 360 volumes in all!) – and without having the opportunity to edit most of the resulting texts; and then, 80-100 years later, for every single word that we have uttered now to be judged and assessed according to the ethical standards and mores prevailing in the year 2100!… I would guess that not one of us would be prepared to see this as in any way fair or appropriate; yet this is in effect precisely what Rudolf Steiner is being subjected to in these absurd attacks. There’s surely not a human being who has ever lived who, if every word they had ever uttered were subjected to a searching gaze similar to that to which Steiner’s have been subjected, wouldn’t come out looking dubious, if a few statements were selectively and manipulatively highlighted, and divorced from the original living context in which they were made…. And this is of course precisely what has been done to Steiner’s words in the making of these pernicious accusations.

    Racism is also a very tricky subject, especially in an age where political correctness has arguably run out of control. At certain times in history and in certain cultures, racist views have actually been the taken-for-granted cultural norm – and, often as not, in very ‘respectable’ sections of society. Some of the greatest minds and individuals of the past century or so have been similarly accused of racism – notably, Carl Jung, Martin Heidegger (arguably the world’s greatest 20th century philosopher); and perhaps in a few cases there may have been some limited truth to the accusations. But I don’t think it has ever been seriously suggested by even the strongest critics that it is valid to reject a body of thought generated by or from one person’s cultural contribution merely because they have had one or two views which subsequent (presumably more enlightened) societies have regarded as morally questionable. I believe, in short, that it is important to bring some ‘historically relative’ meta-understanding to the views held by people in earlier times, countries and cultures, and to understand, and even have some compassion for, the specific historical contexts in which they arose.

    I hope this clarifies the circumstances surrounding this question, and the highly misleading and grossly unfair accusations that have been levelled against Rudolf Steiner. It remains for those who persist in clinging to these baseless allegations to examine their own motivations for so doing, and for others to judge the possible motivations driving any such persistence. Above all, I urge anyone harbouring the slightest doubts to actually visit a Steiner school or Kindergarten and to judge for themselves, rather than basing their view on prejudicial second-hand hear-say: for ultimately it is a direct experience of our learning environments that is the best antidote to the absurd claims that our education – or the ideas that underpin it – are ‘racist’ or discriminatory.

    Endnotes

    Summary of the final report from the Commission
    “Rudolf Steiner recognized as opponent of anti-Semitism and nationalism, Zeist/Driebergen, Netherlands, April 1, 2000: On Saturday, April 1, 2000, the Commission on Anthroposophy and the Question of Race made its final report to the Council of the Anthroposophical Society in The Netherlands. In this final report the Commission reiterates its prior conclusion of the interim report of February, 1998 – namely, that the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) contains neither racial doctrine nor statements made for the purpose of insulting persons or groups of people because of their race, and which could therefore be called racist. In the opinion of the Commission, the collected works of Rudolf Steiner do contain a number of statements that, by today’s standards, are of a discriminatory nature or could be experienced as discriminatory. Certain words or phrases, even if Steiner used them in a descriptive way, are emotionally charged today, and may, by current standards, be experienced as discriminatory.

    The Commission found that the debate in The Netherlands about the question whether Anthroposophy embodies racism and racial discrimination has been conducted on the basis of grossly incomplete information; and that this incompleteness has led to a distorted picture. It found that any suggestion that racism is an inherent part of Anthroposophy was proven to be categorically wrong. The investigation shows that, beginning in the year 1900, Steiner clearly spoke and wrote against the dangers of anti-Semitism, including in the periodical of a then existing German association against anti-Semitism existing at that time.”

    It should be noted that the Commission did criticise the way in which the anthroposophical movement has dealt with allegations of racism. The Council of the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands had no coordinated strategy to defend itself against such allegations made, which then probably had a ‘greater harmful effect’ than would have been the case had there been an energetic defence against them.

    Richard House, Ph.D. is Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy and Counselling, Department of Psychology, Roehampton University. A counsellor since 1990 and a trained Steiner Kindergarten and class teacher, his books include Therapy Beyond Modernity (Karnac, 2003), Implausible Professions (co-editor Nick Totton, PCCS Books, 1997/2011), Against and For CBT (co-editor Del Loewenthal, PCCS, 2008) and Childhood, Well-being and a Therapeutic Ethos (co-editor Del Loewenthal, Karnac, 2009). Richard is a co-founder of The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Open EYE early-years campaign. With author Sue Palmer, he co-orchestrated the two press Open Letters on ‘toxic childhood’ and ‘play’ in 2006 and 2007, precipitating a global media debate about the state of childhood in modern technological culture.

    Last updated Jan 2004

  • 20 Thebee // Dec 18, 2010 at 08:28

    For some comments on the unfounded insinuations by ThetisMercurio that Waldorf education and schools are racist and promote racism, beyond thoughtless individual teachers at times, see http://twitter.com/MycroftII/status/15908551260119041

  • 21 Andreas Lichte // Dec 18, 2010 at 11:15

    @ SWSF – Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship

    I would like to propose to the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) to contact the “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) to discuss the topic “racist Rudolf Steiner” with a German federal authority.

    See for the decision of the BPjM on Rudolf Steiners racism:

    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853#comment-8595

    I advise you that the BPjM is not going to consider any Anthroposophical propaganda as it was uttered in comments by Anthroposophy defenders “Richard House” and “Thebee”.

  • 22 lovelyhorse // Dec 18, 2010 at 11:21

    A brilliant and important piece of research.

    A new document titled ‘Steiner Free Schools FAQ’ is worth attention. It is dated 09/11/2010 and written by newly appointed advisor of the SWSF Emma Craigie (née Rees-Mogg) in liaison with the Department of Education:

    Steiner Free Schools: Frequently Asked Questions

    Please note that we are in a period of policy development, the answers below represent our best understanding at this point.

    1.What is a Free School?

    An independent state funded school.

    2. What is the difference between a Free School and an Academy?

    Once established a Free School is an Academy. The term Free School refers to how the school is set up.

    3. Will all teachers in Free Schools require QTS?

    No. All teachers will need to be graduates with Steiner training. We hope to
    develop a Steiner route to QTS for new teachers in the future. Instructors who are
    not graduates can also be employed. Schools decide their own pay scales.

    4. Testing
    a.Which subjects are to be tested?

    i.English and Maths at 11.

    ii.There will also be a requirement for 16 year olds to take 5 GCSEs.

    b.Will tests be based on the national curriculum or the Steiner curriculum?

    i.Exact nature of the 11 year old assessment not yet known.

    c. What about the six year old reading test?

    We understand that Steiner schools will be able to be exempted from this.

    2.Curriculum – will we able to deliver the Steiner Curriculum?

    a.Yes.

    3. Principal/Head of School
    a.Is this still a requirement?

    Yes

    b. What role must this person play?

    They are legally accountable to the Board
    of Governors.

    c. Is there some flexibility to enable us to continue to operate along collegiate
    lines?

    Yes. There is a requirement that the school has strong and effective leadership, but how that is delivered is up to individual schools.

    4.Staffing Structure – collegiate working – can we stick with this?

    a.Yes.

    5.Money
    a.Where does the money come from?

    Central government.

    b.Capital and Income. How much funding is on offer towards the costs of the
    free school? Is the funding determined on a per pupil basis e.g. £6k per
    pupil?

    Per pupil funding will be on the same basis as other state schools in the area. As Academies Free Schools will receive approximately 10% on top of the per pupil funding, which is money that the local authority retains for the schools which it runs. Funding for rent will be on top of this.

    c.How long does the contract last? When can they change the funding/educational/pedagogical requirements?

    We expect contracts to be for 7 years.

    d.Would there be capital funding for building upgrades?

    Free Schools can bid for capital funding. Cost effective projects are most likely to be successful.

    6.Can future governments change this policy?

    Future governments can indeed change policies. They cannot break contracts.
    Currently the policy which allows groups of private individuals to start Free Schools
    is not supported by the Labour Party. However the continued existence of
    Academies has cross party support.

    7.Approval
    Who approves the application to become a free school?

    The Secretary of State for Education.

    8.How much influence does the Local Authority have re approval?

    The LEA will be consulted on their view but have no veto. Obtaining their support is nonetheless desirable.

    9.Admissions – what control will schools have over their admissions?

    Oversubscribed schools will need to abide by the Schools Admissions Code. This gives
    priority to children with a Statement of Special Needs, followed by Looked After
    children. Schools can then decide and usually give priority to siblings followed by
    proximity to school. At Hereford it has been agreed that being on the school register
    can have a higher priority than proximity, which means that the places of
    kindergarten children who are already at the school are not threatened by children
    age rising 5 (which is the age at which the admissions code starts) moving closer to
    the school. Teachers children can have places even when the school is full.

    10.How will the Ofsted (SIS) inspection change?

    We understand that there is a recognition on the part of the government that the
    inspection regime will need to be adapted to take account of the diversity of
    curriculum which the new policy allows.

    11.If we become a free school, what happens to the existing building/assets? Can the
    charity still own them and rent them out to the free school?

    Yes.

    12.How can we become a Free School?

    The application form can be downloaded from the Department of Education website.
    Guidance on how to complete your application is available from the New Schools
    Network.

    For more information please see
    http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools
    and http://newschoolsnetwork.org/

    Emma Craigie 09.11.2010

    http://www.webcitation.org/5uklCHTP0

    Why are the Rees-Mogg’s so keen that Gove gives Steiner schools tax payers money?

    http://www.webcitation.org/5uwVEk6Qr

  • 23 Thetis // Dec 18, 2010 at 11:38

    re Thebee:

    I refer readers back to our post 2 on this blog: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3595

    “In the New Schools Network document cited in our previous post, Free School hopefuls are advised how to advertise their projects: “Post something on mumsnet, netmums, or facebook.” If the NSN had done their homework, they would know that mumsnet Steiner threads have been so controversial (and incomprehensible to those not involved) that in 2008 parents were asked by mumsnet’s co-founder Justine Roberts not to post about Steiner education at all. Indeed the forum was threatened with legal action by Sune Nordwall, (also known as Thebee, Tizian, Excalibur, Mycroft etc) a Swedish anthroposophist; since discovered to be in the employment of the Swedish Waldorf School Federation. Blogger Alicia Hamberg aka zooey quotes (in translation):

    “In England, the attacks on [waldorf] pedagogy have led to parents withdrawing their children from the waldorf schools. The [Swedish Waldorf School] Federation has employed Sune on a part-time basis to monitor the debate.”

    We do not suggest on this blog that the Swedish Waldorf School Federation are responsible for or complicit in Nordwall’s activities on mumsnet or elsewhere, although as Alicia Hamberg points out, they have not sought to distance themselves from his behaviour. What is notable though is that representatives of Waldorf education in Sweden were concerned to monitor a UK debate held not in the press but in the relative obscurity of the supposedly safe, supportive world of mothers‘ chatrooms. The Steiner Waldorf movement understands the importance of a positive profile on the UK’s most influential meeting place for parents; the very people who form their customer base. But their tactics are counterintuitive. In anthro-speak everywhere, critics, the majority of whom are parents who have had children in Steiner schools, become attackers.”

    Thebee: would you like to explain why you threatened mumsnet with libel if they did not delete mother’s posts which were negative about Steiner Waldorf education?

  • 24 Dr Aust // Dec 18, 2010 at 14:16

    Just as an aside, since a lot of info relating to Steiner is likely to be in German:

    If you dial up a webpage that is in in German using Google’s Chrome browser, it will auto-translate the HTML into English. The translation is not usually brilliant, but for anyone who knows German a bit it is usually a good starting basis for a proper translation.

  • 25 R Smith // Dec 18, 2010 at 20:47

    Richard House,

    Good that you can join this open forum – though both anthroposophists and those questioning their beliefs come with strong views – so the discussion could not be called unprejudiced.

    I’m not sure why you are bringing Kuhn’s paradigm wars to this debate – I would suggest that the article here is nuanced and describes the complexity of the issues rather than being reductionist or simplistic as you infer.

    However, I do agree with you that world views (magical or esoteric) proclaiming invisible forces are often lambasted. I would say rightly so. Anthroposophy may be fluid in parts, secret at times and often contradictory, but what strikes me is how deterministic the causal threads running though it are (eg that one’s place on the spiritual racial hierarchy is defined by experiences in previous lives). Not very post-modern but more akin to science at its worst (when scientists, or more commonly policy makers, misuse evidence and won’t incorporate emerging alternative analyses).

    Science and the social sciences have to a great extent moved on from the paradigm wars. In education in particular mixed methods are seen to provide a fuller picture of reality with constructivist narratives and perceptions having a place alongside randomised trials in making a real difference to children’s educational experiences. Rather than being post-modern Anthroposophy just sets itself away from any empirical analysis by claiming some special status as a ‘spiritual science’ – deterministic but not at all scientific.

    As for a response to your article, the main post here deals with much of it. I will make three points:
    1. We clearly have different views about whether Steiner’s overarching view is racist. Yes he proclaims a belief in all humanity, but unfortunately he clearly and repeatedly discusses a racial hierarchy. Just because Steiner suggests that it’s the same soul passing though different races does not excuse it in any way. It results in people from different races being viewed differently and potentially treated differently. This means its both racist and discriminatory in my view.

    2. Anthroposophists who are also teachers can’t help but treat children from different races (hair and skin colour etc) differently. They think they are helping to guide the soul through to the next life. While their thoughts and actions may be ‘invisible’ to anyone looking around a school, they come to the surface in the direct experiences of children as described by Thetis.

    3. The current disclaimers are inadequate. Until all Anthroposophical organisations state categorically that Steiner was wrong in his beliefs about this hierarchy (whilst also admitting he had no clairvoyant powers, since nobody does) most people who look at this issue will continue to see that Anthroposophy is inherently racist.

  • 26 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 18, 2010 at 23:00

    Peter Staudenmaier has recently posted on the Waldorf Critics Yahoo Group, the 16 Steiner quotes singled out in the Dutch
    anthroposophist report, “Anthroposophy and the Question of Race,” as prosecutable under Dutch discrimination law.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16334

  • 27 PeteK // Dec 18, 2010 at 23:27

    I have had ongoing issues with Highland Hall Waldorf school in Northridge, California. They taught my child that white people are \more evolved\ than blacks and Asians. When I questioned this with teachers at the school, they defended the idea – one claiming it was \out of Africa\ theory. The class was Physiology.

    Highland Hall teaches Steiner’s racist ideas as part of their curriculum. I have talked extensively with them about this to no avail. Additionally, Highland Hall is the host for WISC – the Waldorf teacher training institute. Waldorf teacher training materials included required reading of Steiner’s most racist ideas. Why?

    Please see my blog regarding racism being taught covertly at Highland Hall Waldorf school.

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4

  • 28 Thetis // Dec 19, 2010 at 00:35

    Thanks Tom – and that Dutch report constitutes an avoidance of responsibility within Anthroposophy for Steiner’s race doctrines, as linked to within the article & here:
    http://www.egoisten.de/autoren/staudenmaier/frankfurt_memo/frankfurt_memo.html

    Dr House – to help readers follow the debate, I feel I should point out that you are mentioned in our first post here: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3528

    With respect, I do feel you need to go back and read this post again, since I can’t believe you could have read it properly and still have chosen to post your article here. You are simply reiterating in your own words everything I have just written about apologists for Steiner, whether or not you would refer to yourself as an anthroposophist.

    I’m concerned, in the circumstances, that you appear to be involved with the training of Steiner Waldorf teachers:
    http://londonwaldorftrust.co.uk/index.php?id=1#c1

    especially since in your introduction to these courses you do not explain the central role of karma and reincarnation within Anthroposophy. It would surely be better from the outset if students understood the world-view informing the education system they’re entering.

    Your (in my view) incomprehension about the nature of racism frankly shocks me. That you should choose to come here and air it publicly is in my opinion further cause for alarm about the movement you’re endorsing.

  • 29 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 19, 2010 at 01:15

    Greetings Richard,

    Thank you for posting your article from 2004. I thought it was so well thought out and well-written that I decided to repost it on the Waldorf Critics Yahoo Group where it will receive a much more comprehensive deconstruction than will be accomplished here, especially by the outside historian of anthroposophy, Peter Staudenmaier, to whom Thetis makes many links in her above article. (Though I see now that R. House has just made an excellent commentary on your article.)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16373

    As an American Anthroposophist for the last 34 years, a retired Waldorf teacher (math, physics in HS) and with a fluency in German, I have more than the average knowledge of these issues we are discussing. I say this not to brag, but to obviate the need for you to “re-invent the wheel” for me in whatever we discuss.

    For a first foray into our discussion, Richard, may I comment upon the grandiose irony of you preaching against the way critics deliberately take Steiner’s words out of context, and then watching you proceed to do just that with a Steiner quote! (I would make a snarky “pot-kettle” remark here, but that itself might be construed as racist! ;-))

    Instead, I shall take a tidbit out of your article above and suggest that you season it with cardamom and nutmeg as you may be forced to eat such words:

    RICHARD: “ . . . if a few statements were selectively and manipulatively highlighted, and divorced from the original living context in which they were made…. And this is of course precisely what has been done to Steiner’s words in the making of these pernicious accusations.”

    TOM: Now I again quote you, Richard, as you selectively and manipulatively quote Steiner:
    ————————————-
    RICHARD: “At this point it is useful to consider the words of Steiner himself, who said:

    [one of the aims of the] anthroposophical movement…[is to] cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations and to bridge the divisions and differences between people and various groups of people…[we]…must get beyond the illnesses of childhood and understand clearly that the concept of race has ceased to have any meaning in our time.
    ———————————–

    The above quote is taken from a lecture that Rudolf Steiner gave on Dec. 4, 1909 in Munich.
    The 12-lecture cycle is called: “The Universal Human” (GA #117)
    Lecture 1 is entitled: “Individuality and the Group-Soul”

    The entire lecture can be read here at the magnificent Rudolf Steiner Online Archive
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/UniHuman/19091204p02.html

    Now, Richard, I shall fill in the two major ellipses that you have in the selectively and manipulatively truncated quote above. (The words of your quote I put in all caps.)
    ———————————

    RUDOLF STEINER: “Therefore, in its fundamental nature,

    THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT,

    which is to prepare the sixth period,

    MUST CAST ASIDE THE DIVISION INTO RACES. IT MUST SEEK TO UNITE PEOPLE OF ALL RACES AND NATIONS, AND TO BRIDGE THE DIVISIONS AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VARIOUS GROUPS OF PEOPLE.

    The old point of view of race has a physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.

    That is why it is absolutely essential to understand that our anthroposophical movement is a spiritual one. It looks to the spirit and overcomes the effects of physical differences through the force of being a spiritual movement. Of course, any movement has its childhood illnesses, so to speak. Consequently, in the beginning of the theosophical movement, the earth was divided into 7 periods of time, one for each of the 7 Root Races, and each of these Root Races was divided into 7 Sub-Races. These 7 periods were said to repeat in a cycle so that one could always speak of 7 Races and 7 Sub-Races.

    HOWEVER, WE MUST GET BEYOND THE ILLNESSES OF CHILDHOOD AND UNDERSTAND CLEARLY THAT THE CONCEPT OF RACE HAS CEASED TO HAVE ANY MEANING IN OUR TIME.”

    —————————————–

    Here I list 3 topics of discussion about the above bowdlerized sentences:

    [1] What is the 6th period, and what does it mean to prepare for this 6th period?

    [2] Notice how the OLD viewpoint of race — based on the obvious characteristics of the PHYSICAL body— upgrades into the NEW viewpoint of race will be based upon SPIRITUAL characteristics, whatever they mean. So what do they mean?

    [3] Although Rudolf Steiner speaks of the past earthly evolution cycles of 7 Root Races, each with 7 Sub-Races, etc., as “childhood illnesses,” nonetheless, the context of the entire lecture here is all about how we need to prepare for the FUTURE 6th period, also known as the 6th Sub-Race in Theosophical terminology, more commonly called the “Sixth Epoch” by Anthroposophists today.

    And finally, please indulge me for a little Waldorf humor as I recite a kindergarten verse for us adult children in honor of the above Root Races and Sub-Races:

    “As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kits. Kits, Cats, Sacks, Wives, how many were going to St. Ives?”

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

  • 30 maimuna // Dec 19, 2010 at 14:25

    Richard House,
    I’m always very wary of someone who speaks of political correctness as having gone mad…
    I love the way Anthro fans come on blogs and never answer a single question that anyone asks.
    They never have a comeback for stories concerning racism at schools now ( Pete K’s kids were actually taught this racist stuff at school,and so were other families )
    They just ignore it and stick out stuff they have prepared a while ago thinking it will somehow convince people that everything is ok really.
    They can’t discuss it as they don’t understand that Steiner’s writings are deeply deeply offensive.Once they start discussing their offensive views can’t be hidden.
    At the racism awareness course set up by my husband and myself there was a question that asked what ethnicity the teachers were.Some of them ticked every box on the list ( about 20 ) saying they had reincarnated through all the races on the list,guess what colour they were ? White.
    Which means they consider themselves to be at the top of the pile,to have reached where they are supposed to be.
    Richard do you get that ? Going through the races to culminate racially by being born white…
    That is teachers in 2008 saying that. My child went to that school,my child is not white. How are those teachers seeing her ?
    Not racist eh ?
    You say

    How dare you ? You are telling me what happened to my child and other families is not real ? That the racism we see is imagined ?
    The defenders of Steiner’s racism act as most abuseres do, deny and belittle the abused persons complaints. It reminds me of the Catholic church and the denial of sexual abusers and the protection of them.
    It happens when a religious movement is as they believe helping humanity-nothing can stand in their way.

    We are always hearing how people should visit a Steiner school and make up their own mind. We all keep telling you this is the problem.
    Richard ,if my husband and I were told on the open day that some of the teachers believed they had reincarnated from Black to white do you think we would have enrolled our child ? If we were told that the wet on wet paintings were not in fact a one off lesson in water colour techniques but an exercise in helping the child’s soul do you think we would have enrolled our child ?
    If we saw the ‘Red Indian’ section in the library do you think we would have enrolled her ?
    If we had seen the German book saying ‘The boy had so much chocolate on his face he looked like a nigger’ ( that was read out in her class ) do you think we would have enrolled her ?
    Richard ,the problem is that Steiner schools lie to prospective parents which is why I have to keep coming and saying the same thing on blogs.
    My motive is to tell the truth so that other families will not have to go through what we went through because you and the SWSF and the school prospectus’s will not tell the truth.
    If you did tell the truth I wouldn’t have to be here.
    To prospective parents I would say ,remember that the BNP say they are not racist too. You won’t find anything out from visiting a Steiner school as after all they don’t even admit to being a there to help the children reincarnate properly.
    Research and read Steiner,there is an online library.
    Maura.

  • 31 maimuna // Dec 19, 2010 at 14:53

    Richard,
    Sorry your lovely quote didn’t come out here is what I was answering
    ‘It remains for those who persist in clinging to these baseless allegations to examine their own motivations for so doing …’
    I then said ‘How dare you…’etc
    Maura/Maimuna

  • 32 Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner’s books are “an incitement to racial hatred”, says BPjM | Ruhrbarone // Dec 19, 2010 at 18:14

    [...] the UK a discussion is going on about Rudolf Steiner’s racism, see: “Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism“. Therefore Ruhrbarone publish a short English summary of the BPjM’s decision on Rudolf Steiner. [...]

  • 33 Andreas Lichte // Dec 19, 2010 at 19:19

    @ ThetisMercurio

    I spread the word, spread your word, see:

    http://www.ruhrbarone.de/waldorf-schools-rudolf-steiner’s-books-are-“an-incitement-to-racial-hatred”-says-bpjm/

    “Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner’s books are “an incitement to racial hatred”, says BPjM

    In the UK a discussion is going on about Rudolf Steiner’s racism, see: “Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism“. Therefore Ruhrbarone publish a short English summary of the BPjM’s decision on Rudolf Steiner. (…)”

    “Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism“ is linked to your article.

    Could you please give a short summary of your article as an – English – comment to “Ruhrbarone” ?

  • 34 Thetis // Dec 19, 2010 at 20:01

    Thank you Andreas!

    @Richard House:

    I sincerely hope you reflect on Maimuna’s comments.

    DC’s blog may not be the best place to continue this discussion in depth and at length, but you are invited to choose a forum to do so with historian Peter Staudenmaier, who as you can see from my article has researched and explored the history of Anthroposophy. This response to your comment here was posted on the Waldorf Critics list, where (as I’ve mentioned before) there’s an ongoing discussion of Steiner Waldorf education:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16380

    Anyone who’d like to is invited to join in that discussion.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/

    Or of course they should feel free to comment here.

  • 35 rudolf steiner in scandinavia, 1908 « zooey // Dec 19, 2010 at 23:33

    [...] ThetisMercurio’s post, there’s a photograph of Rudolf Steiner together with a little girl; it’s a section of [...]

  • 36 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 19, 2010 at 23:42

    Greetings, Maura,

    I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for a response from Richard or any other defender here. On any critical Internet forums, their behavior is always the classic “hit and run” technique — drop an old dogmatic brick (like Richard’s 6 year old article) down the well and hope it makes a big enough splash to distract everyone, giving them enough time and cover to go back into hiding.

    So in the absence of actual dialogue and engagement, I started to imagine what it might have been like for you if the Waldorf school you became part of had been up front about the anthroposophy informing the curriculum and especially about the racial attitudes inherent in anthroposophy.

    So, Maura, imagine if there had been a person at the Waldorf school you visited, a person who was a liaison between the school and the anthroposophical society, a person who — as an expert in anthroposophy — would answer all your difficult questions with direct straight answers, who would leave no doubt in your mind where everything stood.

    Now such a person does exist, and he lives in the UK, in West Midlands. He is an expert in anthroposophy and he would be refreshingly candid and direct with you. (Of course, no Waldorf school would have anything to do with him, so the real fantasy part of my scenario is his being a liaison. )

    The expert is Terry Boardman and his website is here:
    http://www.monju.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

    However, I came across a dialogue he was having with Dan Dugan ten years ago.
    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/archives/WCA0004.1.html

    Dan had said that, although Terry did not hate other races, nonetheless he was still to be termed “racist” because he, with his anthroposophical expertise, was patronizing other races. Here is Terry’s candid and telling reply: (now imagine yourself in place of Dan)

    “If you’re going to distinguish different kinds of racism, Dan, then you ought to say so, so we know what you’re talking about. Obviously, all kinds of racism are to be rejected. What you have to show if you are to substantiate my expression of “another kind of racism” as you put it is that I am *in fact* patronising *other races*. Don’t you see your own illogicality here Dan? You say I may not hate *other races* but that I patronise *other races*. That obviously implies I patronise them from a basis of emotional attachment to my own race. But I have no such attachment.

    You say that I patronise *all races* because I say they are one-sided, and that therefore I express a racist point of view. This is political correctness taken to the point of utter absurdity. I maintain that it is nothing but common sense to say that the individual races are one-sided, just as one can say that an individual nation expresses something one-sided. One does not have to be in a “superior” position vis-a-vis a race in order to characterise it; it is merely necessary to be unattached to it. The superiority trip is in your head, not mine. . . .

    I patronise nobody. I regard my own race (white Caucasian) with the same evenhandedness as I regard all other races. I have been a keen student of history since I was 8, so I know and deeply respect the contributions made to humanity by all races *in their different ways*. I resent and utterly reject your fundamentally IGNORANT (I raise my voice) accusations of racism in my case. They are ignorant of me as a person, ignorant of the way I see the world, ignorant of the reality of other races and cultures and ignorant of history.”
    ————————————

    I’m sure you would have been shocked to your foundations Maura, but at least you might have been grateful for the candor — something you didn’t and would not receive as a parent asking pesky questions to the Waldorf faculty.

    Now suppose you had asked about the 4 temperaments as well as Steiner’s racial categories. Well, Terry might have answered you with a survey of the 20 “racial temperaments.” ( 4 temperaments times 5 races = 20 racial temperaments) He might answer you as he answered Dan in another section of the 2000 archive.

    “As for the temperaments, there is also my own observation of life, of course, and I see that – painting with a broad brush for what it’s worth – black African culture has a sanguine mercurial quality, south Asian culture has a phlegmatic venusian quality, north Asian culture has a choleric martial quality, native American culture has a melancholic Saturnine quality, and Indo-European culture has a choleric jovial quality. The fact that within these broad temperamental groupings, one will of course find individuals whose temperament seems different does not in itself contradict the general tenor of each temperament. Individual destiny – the degree to which each person is more, or less, closely identified with his/her racial temperament – also plays in, along with a person’s horoscopical configuration. The human soul life and temperament is a complex picture, but certain basic undertones can be discerned nevertheless.”

    I imagine such transparency might have saved you a lot of time, money and heartache. Alas, you were thoroughly obfuscated.

    Tom

  • 37 Thebee // Dec 19, 2010 at 23:50

    I/II

    Hi Thetis,

    I see that you’re on the go. Much can be said about your article, but I’ll try to be somewhat short.

    You rely heavily on Staudenmaier’s writings, and you twice in your article recommend your readers to read his “Anthroposophy and ecofascism” from 2000.

    Like most who read it, I was shocked at first. That was probly intended as he had aquired a B.A. in German literature when he wrote it. It was his academic basis at the time for his claim of “historical scholarship”, and he seems to have learnt some tricks of the trade if you want to write effectively when you make up stories.

    Then – unlike probably most who read it, and your article here – I started to check up on and compare what he wrote with the sources he referred to.

    As you know http://thebee.se/comments/PS/Staudenmaier.html tells what I found and how he responded to it …

    http://thebee.se/comments/PS/OnPS2004Paper.html shows some more examples of his writings during his graduate studies, at the end of which he seems to have allowed or himself implemented that his first many untruths from around 2000 be published on the net, again.

    The latter shows the superficiality of what he writes in the article I discuss, and his way of not telling anything about what he probably knows that contradicts him. His easily demonstrated untruths at the beginning of his career, using them to argue that “anthroposophists” need to take an honest look at Steiner, using his own repeatedly untruthful writings to do this reveals the hypocricy of his argumentation.

    He ikes to play mind games with people.

    That he republishes his repeatedly untruthful articles from around 2000 at the end of his graduate studies, one at the beginning of last year, where you try to use his now PhD title as implicit “argument” that his writings from long before and outside of his actual dissertation are the result of “historical scholarship”, shows the Janus nature of his writings, in addition to the hypocricy of his argumentation at the beginning of his career as author on anthroposophy.

  • 38 Thebee // Dec 19, 2010 at 23:52

    II/II

    Steiner can be very problematic to understand. The main part of the remains of his words are more or less correct and complete transcripts of lectures he held. He really disliked that people repeatedly insisted on taking down what he said at specific times, to specific people in specific contexts and then distribute it to people all around as if it was his final words on what he discussed in his lectures.

    What he had to say that he considered to be essential, independently of specific people in an audience, at a specific time and place, he wrote down and published as articles, essays and books. Most of it can be found online on the net today, listed at http://www.rsarchive.org/Books/index.php?ys=1

    His basic written work, that describes how he viewed and understood our origin and development as humanity, Outline of Esoteric (or occult) Science, does not with one word mention the theosophical, not anthroposophical terms and concepts “root race” or “sub race” of “root races”.

    To understand what the theosophical terms “root race” and “sub races” refer to, in contrast to what was considered to be the main anthropological “races” at the time in his view, you need to do some thinking and analysis of his works.

    http://waldorfanswers.org/ThreeConcepts.htm tries to sort this out in a very preliminary was as an introduction to the subject of “race” in Steiner’s work.

    If you don’t understand what he referrred to at different times when he used the word “race”, you’re lost, and any discussion on the subject becomes more or less meaningless.

    To this belongs among other things understanding that what he referred to as the “Atlantean” period in human evolution very probably has several layers. The main level probably needs to be understood to refer to Cenozoic time. Another level, in other instances, probably refers to a late interglacial or interstadial period.

    Also, evolution needs to be understood as best reflected with a log scale.This means that the “middle” Atlantean time, its fourth main period, developed around the transition from Tertiary to Quaternary time, and that is the time that can be understood to be the time when the Elohim of the Torah blew “life spirit” into the human being in the form we existed at the time, making us into humans in the essential sense.

    Quaternary time constitutes the second half of “Atlantis”/Atlantean time, characterized by the repeated Ice ages. And when Steiner comments on “lower” and “higher” races at the time, you need to understand something about the human forms, some “higher”, some “lower” that developed during Quaternary time, and with the Neanderthals being one of the “lower” races at the end of the “Atlantean” time

    This just as a short introduction to the subject. Very little work has been done on it yet. For different reasons, most of those engaged in anthroposophy and activities based on anthroposophy, like Waldorf education and schools have been humanists. And they have related to human evolution as described from a lofty spiritual perspective by Steiner, mainly as pictures, without relating it to paleontological findings, as they haven’t quite seen how to do it, and developing a resigned attitude to it.

    That is not inevitable.

    Also you need to see that we are as individuals, as spiritual beings at our core, is becoming ever more loosely related to external appearance.

    It makes the discussion you engage in in your article, and your implied insinuations about Steiner Waldorf schools as developing foci of racism below the surface more or less.meaningless.

    As you very probably also know, independent empirical research in Germany some years ago showed that pupils at Steiner Waldorf schools are least hostile to foreigners and express least extremist right wing attitudes of all pupils in Germany.

    http://bit.ly/b1vmln

    This contradicts your I think superficial, primarily ideologically based scare mongering as rationalist, humanist, satirical… in your article.

    This does not mean that I think a rationalist form of humanism is completely unjustified. It has contributed extensively to an understanding of important aspects of what we are and how the world works. But it misses some essential points about what we are as humans, and how the world works.

    But Steiner Waldorf schools are not racist and do not produce racist pupils. You bark up the wrong tree on this.

    Greetings,

    Sune

  • 39 PeteK // Dec 20, 2010 at 04:02

    TheBee,

    http://www.openwaldorf.com/readingroom.html

    If Waldorf schools aren’t racist, why are Waldorf teacher trainees REQUIRED to read books like “Knowledge of Higher Worlds” which contains the following:

    “For peoples and races are but steps leading to pure humanity. A race or a nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type, the further they have worked their way from the physical and perishable to the supersensible and imperishable. The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation. Man must finally appear in harmonious perfection.” (Steiner, Knowledge of Higher Worlds p. 207)

    And of course the foundation of Waldorf teacher training – Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner (now known as “Discussions with Teachers”):

    “The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul. The soul acquires nothing more than the possibility of clichés. Those who enthusiastically speak French transfer that to other languages. The French are also ruining what maintains their dead language, namely, their blood. The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe, but it works, in an even worse way, back on France. It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” (FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 558-559.)

    But maybe you were a good Waldorf child, Mr. Bee… From the same book:

    Critical thinking is especially hazardous. Good children “have a respect that
    forbids them, even in the deepest recess of their heart, to harbour any thoughts
    of criticism or opposition.” [KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT,
    p. 10.]

    This is what Waldorf teachers are TAUGHT in Waldorf teacher training. What else are Waldorf teachers asked to read, Mr. Bee?

    How about this… again from Faculty Meetings:

    “For the seventh, eighth, and ninth grade independent religious instruction we could move into a freer form and give a theoretical explanation about such things as life before birth and after death. We could give them examples. We could show them how to look at the major cultural connections and about the mission of the human being on Earth. You need only look at Goethe and Jean Paul [i.e., Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, a German author] to see it. You can show everywhere that their capacities come from a life before birth.” (FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 184.)

    So Waldorf teachers are told to teach reincarnation… Agreed?

    And of course, they should learn their science, right?

    “With the students, we should at least try to…make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside.” (FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 607.)

    “It is not that the planets move around the Sun, but these three, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, follow the Sun, and these three, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, precede it.” (FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER., pp. 30-31.)

    And my person favorite, demonic possession:

    Dr. Steiner: “That little girl L.. in the first grade must have something very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [the highest element of one’s spiritual being]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the [1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.”

    A teacher: “How is that possible?”

    Dr. Steiner: “Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in…. They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences….

    “I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.

    “Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short time between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world.” (Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Anthroposophical Press, 1998, pp. 649-650.)

    But getting back to Steiner’s racist views… rather than your “new” ideas about what Steiner believed, how about if we get it right from Steiner:

    “Thus we see that through these abnormal Spirits of Form there are five potential centres of influence where these reflected planetary forces are concentrated and produce in reflect what we know as the five main races of the Earth. Let us now look more closely into the centre which, in Lecture Four, we situated in the interior of Africa. If we state that the Negro race was born of the cooperation between the normal Spirits of Form and the abnormal Spirits of Form centred in Mercury, then from an occult standpoint we are perfectly correct in describing the Negro race as the “Mercury race”. Let us now continue along the line joining the centres or focal points from which the individual races spread outward. We then come to Asia which is the seat of the “Venus race” or the Malayan race. We then move northward across the wide expanse of Asia and we find the Mongolian race which is formed by the Mars forces. Then we cross over into Europe and find the Europeans who in their original racial character are “Jupiter men”. If we cross the ocean to America which is the centre where civilizations or races die, we find there dark “Saturn’s race”, the original Red Indian race. The American Indian race is the “Saturn race”. Thus if you look into the matter more closely from an occult standpoint you will become aware of the five centres where the planetary forces are concentrated and are manifested in the external world. With a progressively more definite and concrete conception of this racial distribution you will develop an inner understanding of the racial characteristics peculiar to the peoples spread over the Earth, an understanding of this unique cooperation of the normal and abnormal Spirits of Form.

    “It is valid for the epoch when, at a definite moment of time in the old Atlantean evolution, the peoples began to migrate from a centre in Atlantis and sought the particular centre where they could receive the training appropriate to their race.

    “Now how do we look upon a member of the Ethiopian race, of the Mercury race? We see him as one who was originally chosen, who was predestined by the Elohim to express the quintessence of the all-human. But from the Mercury Centre the potent influences of the abnormal Spirits of Form intervened and modified the form of man to such an extent that the Ethiopian race arose. And such was the case with each individual race.

    “Now how do these Race Spirits work in and upon man? They work in a very unique way; they permeate his vital energies, they penetrate even down into his physical body. Now you know that the four fundamental members of man find their impress and are reflected in corresponding parts of the physical body: the ‘I’ finds its impress in the blood, the astral body in the nervous system, the etheric or life body in the glandular system. Only the physical body is self-sufficient; it is a reflection of its own inner being which for the man of the present is subject to its own fixed laws. Now those spiritual Beings who are stirring in man and determine his racial character cannot at first work directly into his higher vehicles. They are active first of all in these reflections of the higher vehicles in the physical body. They cannot as yet enter directly into the physical body, but they are active in the three other members, in the blood which is the reflection of the ‘I'; in the nervous system, the reflection of the astral body; and in the glandular system which is the reflection of the etheric body. The Race Spirits, the abnormal Spirits of Form, are active in these three systems, which are part of man’s organic system, but are reflections of the higher vehicles. Thus the physical body of man is determined from within. These various spiritual Beings invade those members of the physical body which are the preliminary drafts, the suggestions of the higher vehicles. Now where, for instance, does Mercury make his influence felt? Under Mercury, I include all the abnormal Spirits of Form to be found in Mercury. He makes his influence felt by cooperating with others, especially in the glandular system. He is active in the glandular (or lymphatic) system where are manifested the forces born of that preponderance of the Mercury forces which are present in the Ethiopian race. Everything which gives the Ethiopian race its distinctive character sterns from the ferment of the Mercury forces in the glandular system of this people. What transforms the undifferentiated universal human form into the distinctive Ethiopian typewith his black pigmentation and woolly or frizzy hair is the consequence of their activity.

    “The Semitic people are an example of a modification of collective humanity. Jahve or Jehovah shuts Himself off from the other Elohim and invests this people with a special character by cooperating with the Mars Spirits, in order to bring about a special modification of his people. You will now understand the peculiar character of the Semitic people and its mission. In a profound occult sense the Biblical writer was able to claim that Jahve or Jehovah had made this people his own. If you add to this the fact that Jahve cooperated with the Mars Spirits who worked principally in the blood, you will understand why racial continuity through the blood-stream was of particular importance to the Semitic Hebrew people and why Jahve describes Himself as the God who is present in the blood of the generations, in the blood of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When he declared himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He proclaimed that He was present in the blood-stream of the Patriarchs. Whatsoever works in the blood, whatsoever must be determined through the blood – the cooperation with the Mars Spirits – that is one of the mysteries which give us a deep insight into the wise guidance of all mankind. The blood of mankind is thus subject to a twofold influence; two races emerge, the Mongolian race and the Semitic race. This points to the existence of an important polarity in mankind and we must emphasize the immense importance of this polarity if we wish to plumb the depths of the Folk Souls.

    “Consequently the various peoples may assume the most diverse forms. According as the eye or the ear or one of the other senses predominates, so will the different peoples respond in this or that way to the particularnational tendency within the racial character. In consequence of this they are faced with quite specific tasks. The particular task of the Caucasian race is to find the way to the spirit through the senses, for this race is orientated chiefly towards the sense-world. Here is disclosed something that introduces us to the deeper secrets of occultism; it shows how, in those peoples who are subject to the Venus forces, the initial steps in development, even in occult development, must be concentrated on the respiratory system. Amongst the peoples living more in the Western Hemisphere, on the other hand, the initial steps must start from an enrichment and a spiritualization of the life of the senses. This is experienced by those peoples inhabiting countries more towards the West in their stages of higher cognition, in Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition, in so far as the Jupiter Spirit originally modified the character.

    “Finally, the abnormal Spirits of Form who have their centre in Saturn work indirectly via all the other systems into the glandular system. In the Saturn race, therefore, in everything to which we must ascribe the Saturn character, we must expect to find the combination of the forces leading to the twilight of mankind, forces which set the seal upon its development and sow the seeds of its ultimate decline. This action and its effect upon the glandular system can be seen in the American Indian race and was the cause of its ultimate extinction. The Saturn influence finally works via all the other systems into the glandular system which secretes the hardest parts of man. This slow decline is characterized by a kind of ossification which is clearly reflected in the external form. If you look at the pictures of the old American Indians the process of ossification described above is evident in the decline of this race. In a race such as this everything pertaining to the forces of theSaturn evolution has become realized in a special manner; then Saturn withdrew into itself, abandoned man to his bony system and thus hastened his decline.” (Rudolf Steiner, The Mission of Single Folk Souls in Relation to Germanic-Nordic Mythology -Lecture 6 -The five main races of Mankind)

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/

  • 40 Thebee // Dec 20, 2010 at 09:50

    I/II

    ” .. why are Waldorf teacher trainees REQUIRED to read books like “Knowledge of Higher Worlds” which contains the following:

    “For peoples and races are but steps leading to pure humanity. A race or a nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type, the further they have worked their way from the physical and perishable to the supersensible and imperishable. The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation. Man must finally appear in harmonious perfection.” (Steiner, Knowledge of Higher Worlds p. 207)”

    The chapters of the book are articles published at a time around 1904/1905, when he also commented on Blavatsky’s “Secret Doctrine” with “At he Gates of Spiricual Science, a series of lectures in popular form, http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GateSpiSci/GateSS_index.html

    They cover much of what Steiner later describes in “Esoteric Science” – an outline” but somewhat more in concrete terms.

    “At the Gates …” does not discuss the anthropological “races”. It discusses the among other things theosophical concepts “root races” and “sub races of root races”.

    The former (the anthropopological “races”) refers to the human forms that started to develop during the second half of “Atlantean” time, that is, Quarternary.

    The latter, theosophical concept “root races” refers to the stages of our develoment as humanity, at first only in mainly spiritual form, during the development of our present solar system, starting before the formation of Saturn as a physical planet as Steiner saw it.

    While this of course stands out as provocative to say the least to the down the earth consciousness we develop in normal busy day-to-day life, I think it is possible to understand what it refers to.

    Only with the “Lemurian” epoch”, after the separation between what has developed as our present Sun and what we now have as the Earth, does the discussion by Steiner refer to our development as humans, even if at first not recognizable as such in our present form, from pre-Kambrium and onwards.

    “Lemurian” time in the broad sense I think needs to be understood as refering to the development from pre-Kambrium up to the end of Cretaceous. It takes some effort and time to penetrate the pictures to the physical reality behind the pictures described in “Esoteric Science, an Outline” – http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA013/English/AP1972/GA013_index.html

    The main physical reality behind the concept “Atlantean time” (in my view) needs to be understood as what took place during Cenozoic time – Tertiary and Quaternary – up to the end of the Pleistocene, ending some 8,000 years B.C.

    http://waldorfanswers.org/ThreeConcepts.htm tries to describe this in a very short outline.

  • 41 krazykraut // Dec 20, 2010 at 11:08

    Here is my favourite Steiner quote:
    “Was ist die Hirnmasse? Die Hirnmasse ist einfach zu Ende geführte Darmmasse. Verfrühte Gehirnabscheidung geht durch den Darm. Der Darminhalt ist seinen Prozessen nach durchaus verwandt dem Hirninhalt. Wenn ich grotesk rede, würde ich sagen, ein fortgeschrittener Dunghaufen ist das im Gehirn sich Ausbreitende; aber es ist sachlich durchaus richtig. Der Dung ist es, der durch den eigenen organischen Prozess in die Edelmasse des Gehirns umgesetzt wird und da zur Grundlage für die Ich-Entwickelung wird”

    translated: “What is the brain? The brain is fecal matter brought to an end. Premature brain deposit goes through the bowels. The bowel content is in its processes in deed related to the brain. Speaking grotesquely, I would say an advanced heap of dung is what spreads in the brain; but as a matter of fact it is correct. The dung is what is converted by an organic process to the noble matter of the brain, where it is the basis for the Self-development”

    This man wasn’t just a racist, he was a complete nut

    We have a whole slurr of such quotes (in german) at esowatch: http://www.esowatch.com/ge/index.php?title=Steiner_Zitate
    There you can also find the complete reference, and look it up on athro sites- we are not making this up

    If I find the time, I might do some more translations. Reading Steiner is the best way to find out how whack he was.

  • 42 Thetis // Dec 20, 2010 at 11:22

    Sune – Thebee: I’ll ask you once again – would you like to explain why you threatened mumsnet with libel if they did not delete mother’s posts which were negative about Steiner Waldorf education?

  • 43 David Colquhoun // Dec 20, 2010 at 12:13

    @Thebee

    It is my understanding that you are paid by the Steiner movement to burnish their image. That being the case, there seems to be every reason to be sceptical about your protestations. Paid propagandists are not to be believed.

    I’m inclined to agree with the comment by Krazykraut (#41) “This man wasn’t just a racist, he was a complete nut”. His brand of rambling made-up mysticism is hardly a suitable basis for education.

    But it barely matters now what Steiner did or didn’t write. What matters is what happens in Steiner schools here and now. How do you respond to the information given by Maimuna (comment #30, above)? That describes horrifyingly racist teaching in a UK school, very recently, in the sort of school that you are paid to promote.

  • 44 zooey // Dec 20, 2010 at 15:17

    David — ‘Paid propagandists are not to be believed.’

    To TheBee’s defence, it has to be said that he was not to be believed back when he was not paid either. He has devoted his life to anthroposophy. It’s his mission to see to that Steiner’s reputation is never tainted — Steiner was, to him, a god on earth, he could do or say no wrong.

    Anyway, my chief criticism isn’t what Steiner said, but what anthroposophists say today and what happens in the schools today. It’s worrying that anthroposophists don’t take Steiner’s statements about race seriously, but instead try to minimize them, ignore them or blame the critics for them. The basic problem isn’t Steiner’s racism at all, except in the (hopefully rare) cases when it seeps into the schools. The problem is that, even when Steiner’s more wicked ideas are disregarded, there’s not much speaking for waldorf as a pedagogy. If certain methods Steiner proposed had been found effective over the 100 years that have gone by since the first waldorf school was founded — well, then, it would be reasonable to use these methods when applicable, regardless of Steiner’s errors in other fields. But in absence of anything concrete speaking for Steiner’s ideas on education, it seems his other — non-racial — ideas are about as silly, unreasonable (and sometimes even as vile) as his ideas about race. That’s the biggest problem. Waldorf isn’t good education, and ignoring this means people continue to waste children’s lives on meaningless or potenially harmful crap.

  • 45 Thebee // Dec 20, 2010 at 16:02

    First the second part of my answer to Pete:

    II/II

    The historical context of the comments in “How to attain …” indicates that what Steiner very loosely refers to as a development from “lower” to “higher” “national” and “racial” forms in the quote you give are these two senses of the term “race”, not the anthropological “races”. I think the reference to the development of especially the human forms from beginning of Quaternary up to the end of Pleistocene, in Theosophy referred to as “sub races of Atlantis” is properly described as a development from lower to higher “races”.

    I still haven’t seen a reference by Steiner to what started to develop mainly during Quaternary as what later has been refered to as the five main races of humanity, as distinguished between by Blumenbach at the end of the 18th century. Steiner does not refer to them as “lower” and “higher” races, just different in a number of ways, in contrast to how they were referred to in discussions by others at the beginning of the 20th century.

    The quote you give from “The Mission of Single Folk Souls in Relation to Germanic-Nordic Mythology”, a lecture series held by Steiner in Oslo in 1910, probably is just too much for people to digest here in this discussion, but understandable if you take enough time to do it.

    As for Steiner’s suggestions to teachers at the first Steiner Waldorf school about what to teach, and in what grade, much of it of course is not done that way at most schools.

    As for the comment by Steiner: “an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars”, this of course does not refer to what it seems to say to a first look, Great Britain swimming in water.

    The comment was made at approximately the time – only few years later – when Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of continental drift to explain the similarities in flora and fauna at different continents, far apart – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continental_drift

    The comment by Steiner indicates an underlying thought that the tectonic plates when they were formed far in the past have a relation to each other and that the pattern of this relation reflects the relation beween the stars depicted as the “star pictures” of the Zodiac. This again of course falls far outside what normally is thought today. I’m not aware of efforts to more in full penetrate this. One fragment of it however is indicated in “Rhythmusforschung und Technik. Der umstülpbare Würfel. Die polysomatische Gestaltung” from the 1970s i think (http://amzn.to/h1ut9l)

    It describes the efforts by the author, a Paul Schatz, to investigate what happens when you turn the Platonic bodies, and especially the cube, inside out in an ordered way, which of course is nothing basically anyone thinks of, except of course one or other former Waldorf pupil … But it led to a discovery of a complex movement of parts of the cube during this transformation, that do not change form and volume during this process, and that can be reproduced by a machine, the Turbula, to mix substances otherwise difficult to mix. This machine was used to mix components that are used to make teflon.

    The possible relation between the tectonic plates at the time of their first formation, as indicated by Steiner in his comment on the British Isles, is depicted in a decription of the dodecahedron.

    As for the girl “L” that you mention as a chock to probably most: as far as I know, she was taken well care of and worked as a garden worker when in adult life.

    And as for the relation between what we are as humans and any external characteristics we have as gender or “race, or age, if you close yor eyes and observe your consciousness, this is what we are at our core, and it is basically similar in all humans independently of what we look like from the outside, our external size, color and shape, gender or “race”. This probably is well understood by most people and is that out of which most people relate to each other.

    A more or less clear or mixed “race” is just one of the many temporary external characteristics we may have. We understand this as an immediate intuition and it is this inner being of us as humans that is related to in Steiner Waldorf education, when understood as such.

    I haven’t read “Teaching from the inside out” by Jack Petrach (http://amzn.to/eVDQgW), but it seems to describe what it can mean to teach from this central perspective in Waldorf education, our changing and developing relation to each other and the world from childhood and onwards, in a general way during the period, and as individuals, more or less, and increasingly varying the general themes in this pattern.

    Greetings,

    Sune

  • 46 PeteK // Dec 20, 2010 at 16:13

    Mr Bee wrote:

    “The main physical reality behind the concept “Atlantean time” (in my view) needs to be understood as what took place during Cenozoic time – Tertiary and Quaternary – up to the end of the Pleistocene, ending some 8,000 years B.C.”

    Yes indeed, that is YOUR VIEW… it wasn’t Steiner’s (I’ve read both Knowledge of Higher Words AND Esoteric Science – as well as dozens of other Steiner books). He was a “scientist” after all… according to Waldorf. Scientists knew words like Cenozoic and Tertiary and Quaternary and Pleistocene back in Steiner’s time. If he meant those periods of time, he would have mentioned them somewhere. He didn’t because he didn’t. You invented this Mr. Bee… as an explanation for Steiner’s weirdness… without ANY support whatsoever in Steiner’s works. Steiner the “scientist” could have expressed man’s development through these periods of time (if he believed it) – very precisely. He wasn’t exactly at a loss for word – was he?

    Mr. Bee continues: “While this of course stands out as provocative to say the least to the down the earth consciousness we develop in normal busy day-to-day life, I think it is possible to understand what it refers to.”

    Yes – it is a lesson about Steiner’s racist views. Anyone can see that – very plainly. Why do teachers need to know this – if not to relate and apply what Steiner believed about the races to THEIR STUDENTS?

    Waldorf teachers are taught Steiner’s racism for racist reasons – to separate and judge children by their race (among other things like head size and temperament). That’s IT! No connection to the scientific view of the early development of humans – this is the invention of Mr. Bee alone – without support from anything in Steiner’s works!

    PK
    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=4

    Your representation of the

  • 47 PeteK // Dec 20, 2010 at 17:05

    Mr. Bee,

    Is there any scientific basis for Steiner’s anti-Semitism?

    “Today all aspects of the Jews are dominated by racial qualities. Above all they marry among themselves. They see the racial qualities, not the spiritual. And this is what must be said in reply to the question: has the Jewish people fulfilled its mission within the evolution of human knowledge? It has fulfilled it; for in earlier times one single people was needed to bring about a certain monotheism. But today spiritual insight itself is necessary. Therefore this mission has been fulfilled. And therefore this Jewish mission as such, as a Jewish mission, is no longer necessary in evolution; instead the only proper thing would be for the Jews to blend in with the other peoples and disappear into the other peoples.” (Steiner, Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker p. 190)

    “[Jesus felt]: All the forces of soul which I believed had been bestowed upon me lead only to the realisation that in the evolution of the Jewish people there is no longer the capacity to reach the heights of Divine revelations.” (Steiner, 1913, The Fifth Gospel. (1913) Trans. C. Davy & D.S. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968. p. 67)

    “…the Jahve forces from the moon sphere meet and cooperate with the Mars spirits and thus a special kind of modification arises, namely, the Semitic race. Here is the occult explanation for the origin of the Semites. The Semitic people are an example of a modification of collective humanity. Jahve or Jehovah shuts himself off from the other Elohim and invests this people with a special character by cooperating with the Mars spirits, in order to bring about a special modification of his people. You will now understand the peculiar character of the Semitic people and its mission.”(Steiner, The Mission of Folk Souls p. 105)

  • 48 Andreas Lichte // Dec 20, 2010 at 17:12

    @ ThetisMercurio – Ruhrbarone comment #1:

    http://www.ruhrbarone.de/waldorf-schools-rudolf-steiner’s-books-are-“an-incitement-to-racial-hatred”-says-bpjm/comment-page-1/#comment-68328

    thanks for your comment !

    You write: “I examine the epistemology and history of Anthroposophy, with reference to historians Olav Hammer, Helmut Zander and Peter Staudenmaier.”

    Dr. Helmut Zander was asked by the “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) to give his expertise. This is what he said about Rudolf Steiner’s racism, quote from the decision of the BPjM:

    “Der Bundesprüfstelle wurde zudem von einem Wissenschaftler der Berliner Humboldt-Universität, Dr. Helmut Zander, dessen Abhandlung „Anthroposophische Rassentheorie – Der Geist auf dem Weg durch die Rassengeschichte“ übersandt. Darin kommt der Autor zu der Schlussfolgerung, dass Steiners Theorie aus heutiger Sicht das Prädikat „rassistisch“ zu Recht trage, aufgrund der Abwertung von Rassen und Völkern und der Überhöhung der weißen Rasse.”

    my translation:

    “Furthermore, Dr. Helmut Zander, a scientist at the Humboldt-Universität Berlin submitted to the Bundesprüfstelle [BPjM] his treatise “Anthroposophische Rassentheorie – Der Geist auf dem Weg durch die Rassengeschichte” ["Anthroposophical Race Theory – The Path of the Spirit through Racial History"; my translation]. In this, Zander comes to the conclusion that Steiner’s theory is, from a present-day standpoint, justifiably be judged ‘racist’ given that it defames certain ‘races’ and peoples and glorifies the white ‘race’.”

    So no need to discuss any further with Anthroposophists: Rudolf Steiner is a racist for sure.

    Moreover Dr. Helmut Zander in his book „Anthroposophie in Deutschland“ explains that Rudolf Steiner’s racism is ever-present in the WHOLE of his teachings.

    „Anthroposophie in Deutschland“, quote:

    „Steiner ordnete die Rassen einer Fortschrittsgeschichte zu, in der beispielsweise heutige Indianer als »degenerierte Menschenrasse« im »Hinsterben« (GA 105, 106, 107 [1908]) oder schwarze Afrikaner als defiziente Spezies der Menschen- und Bewusstseinsentwicklung, als »degenerierte«, »zurückgebliebene« Rasse (ebd., 106) erschienen. Umgekehrt habe die weisse Rasse »das Persönlichkeitsgefühl am stärksten ausgebildet« (GA 107, 288 [1909]). Dies sind nur Kernsätze einer Rassentheorie, die Steiner 1904 erstmals formulierte, um sie 1910 in einem komplexen System und in zunehmender Abgrenzung zu theosophischen Positionen auszufalten. Mit seinem Ausstieg aus der Theosophie hat er diese Vorstellungen keinesfalls über Bord geworfen, sondern sie 1923 nochmals in Vortragen vor Arbeitern des Goetheanum in vergröberter, »popularisierter« Form wiederholt, aber ohne Revision im inhaltlichen Bestand. Die weisse war nun »die zukünftige, die am Geiste schaffende Rasse« (GA 349, 67 [1923]). (…)

    Steiner formulierte mit seinem theosophischen Sozialdarwinismus eine Ethnologie, in der die Rede von »degenerierten«, »zurückgebliebenen« oder »zukünftigen« Rassen keine »Unfälle«, sondern das Ergebnis einer konsequent durchgedachten Evolutionslehre waren. Ich sehe im Gegensatz zu vielen Anthroposophen keine Möglichkeit, diese Konsequenz zu bestreiten.“ (Helmut Zander, “Anthroposophie in Deutschland”, Göttingen 2007, p. 631, 636)

    Could you please try to translate this CRUCIAL passage of „Anthroposophie in Deutschland“?

    I contacted Helmut Zander, but he told me that there isn’t yet an authorized translation.

  • 49 PeteK // Dec 20, 2010 at 17:34

    Mr. Bee, while both re-inventing Steiner’s meanings and explaining why we cannot understand what Steiner meant by reading his words, wrote:

    “Quaternary time constitutes the second half of “Atlantis”/Atlantean time, characterized by the repeated Ice ages. And when Steiner comments on “lower” and “higher” races at the time, you need to understand something about the human forms, some “higher”, some “lower” that developed during Quaternary time, and with the Neanderthals being one of the “lower” races at the end of the “Atlantean” time”

    Steiner, on the other hand, was very explicit about what he meant when he wrote:

    “The 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.” (Steiner, Cosmic Memory pp. 45-46)

    No mention of Neanderthals, Mr. Bee. By the way, the word Neanderthal originated in Germany in 1860 where the first one was discovered. If Steiner was talking about Neanderthals, why didn’t he say so? He didn’t because he wasn’t. So who did Steiner consider “savages” and lower human forms? He explains here:

    “But all such questions are illuminated as soon as we recognize the nature of the spiritual essence which lies at the back of our blood. Who can deny that this question is closely linked to that of race, which at the present time is once more coming markedly to the front? Yet this question of race is one that we can never understand until we understand the mysteries of the blood and of the results accruing from the mingling of the blood of different races. And finally, there is yet one other question, the importance of which is becoming more and more acute as we endeavor to extricate ourselves from the hitherto aimless methods of dealing with it, and seek to approach it in its more comprehensive bearings. This problem is that of colonisation, which crops up wherever civilised races come into contact with the uncivilised: namely – To what extent are uncivilised peoples capable of becoming civilised? How can a Negro or an utterly barbaric savage become civilised? And in what way ought we to deal with them? And here we have to consider not only the feelings due to a vague morality, but we are also confronted by great, serious, and vital problems of existence itself. Those who are not aware of the conditions governing a people – whether it be on the up- or down-grade of its evolution, and whether the one or the other is a matter conditioned by its blood – such people as these will, indeed, be unlikely to hit on the right mode of introducing civilisation to an alien race. These are all matters which arise as soon as the Blood Question is touched upon.” (Steiner, The Occult Significance of Blood p. 13)

    Steiner was a racist – by any definition of the term. Please stop re-inventing Steiner for the public Mr. Bee… it’s obvious he wasn’t who you claim he was.

    PK
    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2009/11/pete-k-declares-war-on-racism-at_06.html

  • 50 Thetis // Dec 20, 2010 at 20:23

    Thebee/Sune – I agree with PeteK that you don’t understand Steiner’s race doctrines. You’re like a Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty for your version of Rudolf Steiner – his words mean what you want them to mean. And you link to your own sites for verification.

    You genuinely may not realise this, but your comments explicitly endorse Steiner’s teachings about “higher” and “lower” races: this is an open justification of anthroposophical racism. The problem is you appear to think that paternalistic forms of racism are OK – as an anthroposophist you support an esoteric version of the familiar White Man’s Burden. This fundamental error amongst anthroposophists is one reason why Waldorf schools are so clueless about the nature of racism, as it is experienced by real families like Maimuna’s. And why, in my opinion, Steiner Waldorf schools should certainly not be awarded public money.

    Your claim that German Waldorf schools have a low incidence of xenophobic attitudes ignores a reality I’ve noticed in Steiner Waldorf schools in Britain too: there are few non-white children in these schools. The German study you mention examined a variety of settings, including non-Waldorf schools, and showed that schools with “the highest proportion of non-German students” had the highest rates of xenophobic attitudes – this finding held across all settings. Thus it’s the fact that there is an extraordinarily small percentage of ‘foreign’ students at German Waldorf schools, which are overwhelmingly white – in sharp contrast to public schools in Germany, that leads to the report’s statistic re Waldorf schools.

    The German report therefore produces no evidence, when controlling for other confounding factors, that Steiner Waldorf schools “are least hostile to foreigners and express least extremist right wing attitudes of all pupils in Germany.”

    Just to be clear: it’s because real children are involved that we shouldn’t simply indulge the delusions of esotericists, or the ideological follies of naive politicians. Zooey is right too – Steiner schools are not very good. There’s nothing here that justifies the risks.

  • 51 maimuna // Dec 20, 2010 at 22:31

    Sune,
    Interesting that you don’t deny that you are paid by the Steiner movement.
    As usual you say how tolerant and anti racist Steiner students are.
    You saying that does not mean it is true.You would like people to think its true. Its not true.
    The level of ignorance was staggering at our school. A boy told my daughter that ‘All Black people are niggers’ he had no punishment at all.Another child was given 100 lines for throwing a piece of cake.It shows what the teacher’s think is offensive and the boy of course was then given the message that racist insults were ok so of course he carried on.
    Another boy screamed “Nigger!” in the playground.No punishment. I would say the kids at our school were very ignorant ,most of the class thought our daughter was adopted as I’m blond with blue eyes,and the school is just outside of London where there are thousands and thousands of mixed race kids,I was so shocked that they didn’t realise she could be mine ! There were 5 Black kids out of 400.
    Her teacher once asked me if it was ok to describe some children from The Children’s Crusade as Black ?! He taught the kids a gospel song not by showing a Black Gospel choir on youtube but by singing it himself and showing the kids how ‘they'( Black people) would dance to Gospel ! Poor buggers how could they be comfortable with non white people if they were never exposed to Black culture in a normal way or disciplined when they use racist language. My daughter used to warn them if they went round calling people niggers and taking the piss out of street slang they would be given a severe beating when they entered certain areas,she had some fantastic friends there and is still in touch with a number of them but she has never come across that level of racism in any other school.
    What seems rather charming and old fashioned is actually very unhelpful when these kids leave school and enter the real world.No recorded music,only old fashioned singing and acoustic music.After we left they had an African music night to raise money,the teacher taught them the songs- in state schools they would get an actual African band in so the kids actually learn something !
    Of course you will say that we were unfortunate that its a one off.How could it be any other way with the SWSF, and most Steiner teachers not thinking Anthroposophy is racist,it would be impossible for Steiner students not to be a bit warped unless they are lucky enough to mix with other races outside school or educate themselves via the internet ( both options are rather unlikely in my view )
    That statement about Steiner kids being anti racist annoys me as much as the one about Steiner schools being creative.When we read that we believed it,you don’t expect a school to lie.Steiner schools are the opposite of creative,don’t use black lines,careful how you decorate your book that checked design is not appropriate,your layering is wrong ! Its taken me a year to get our daughter to loosen up and be creative again…
    Tom re your post I just wanted to say here that I knew nothing about the temperaments or racism in Steiner so I wouldn’t have had any questions about those things when I visited the school. If the school had dealt with the racism our daughter had suffered then I may never have found out about those things. I only found out because I innocently Googled Steiner school racism policy and all hell broke loose. I’m so grateful that I did find out about the racism in Anthroposophy as my child could still be there being looked at in a certain way and having her ‘soul fixed’ based on her skin colour,hair texture and the way she walked.
    But then again of course the school wouldn’t have dealt with the racist incidences from a teacher and two children would they? It was only a matter of time before something happened.In fact the very first thing was ‘The Age of Discovery- a Route Around Africa’ Africans eat snakes and blood and don’t wear much was what my daughter was taught,she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.And that the Zulu people are from East Africa not South. When I questioned a different teacher about this as it was on display in the hall he said “Well you’re always going to offend someone these days aren’t you ?” Urrghh…
    Maimuna / Maura

  • 52 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 20, 2010 at 22:44

    Here is the translation of the passage Andreas Lichte requested in Comment #48:

    ——————–

    Helmut Zander’s
    Anthroposophy in Germany excerpts
    translated by Tom Mellett

    —————————

    “Steiner arranged the races into a progressive history where, for example, today’s [American] Indians are a “degenerate race of people” in the process of “dying out.” (GA 105, 106, 107 [1908]),

    or black Africans are a species of people who are deficient in their development of both consciousness and [civilized] humanity — they emerged as a “degenerate” or “retarded” race. (ibid., 106)

    Conversely, the white race was “the most skilled in developing a sense of individuality.” (GA 107, 288 [1909]).

    These are just the highlights of a race theory that Steiner first formulated in 1904 and then by 1910 had structured it into a complex system that would increasingly define itself apart from theosophical positions.

    But even after he phased out theosophy, he still never did throw these ideas overboard, but once again reiterated them in 1923 while lecturing to the workers at the Goetheanum in a coarse, “popularized” form but without any revision in the essential content. The white race was now “the future race, the race that is spiritually creative.” (GA 349, 67 [1923]). (…)

    Along with his Theosophical “Social Darwinism,” Steiner formulated an ethnology in which the vocabulary of “degenerate”, or “retarded”, or “future races” was not spoken “inadvertently”, but rather as the result of a systematic and sophisticated theory of evolution. Unlike many anthroposophists, I see no way to dispute this conclusion.”

    (Helmut Zander, Anthroposophy in Germany, Göttingen 2007, p. 631, 636)

  • 53 PeteK // Dec 20, 2010 at 22:56

    Thank you Thetis. Speaking of statistical controls – here’s an interesting statistic (please follow my Ahrimanic math):

    It was reported at Highland Hall at a very rare “open” board meeting (I think there has only been one) that Highland Hall lost 25% of their students EACH year. That included the graduating class… so with a student body of approximately 400 students, that’s a turnover of 100 students – minus the graduating class each year (25 or so students) – leaves 75 students EACH YEAR who leave or whose parents pull them out.

    Looking at it a different way – for every class of 25 students who graduate each year, (25% of 25 students = 6 students per year x 12 years – 1st grade through 12th) 72 students PER GRADUATING CLASS were removed (had their educations interrupted) at Highland Hall.

    Those students, who presumably finish school elsewhere, are never considered when Waldorf talks of “Waldorf students”. Those students are not statistically represented in Waldorf inquiries (other than what I presented here).

    Assuming Highland Hall (a seasoned and celebrated 50-year-old Waldorf school) is fairly typical of Waldorf schools everywhere, 3/4 of students who enter Waldorf don’t continue on to finish Waldorf. Highland Hall keeps their money, by the way. In my opinion, full disclosure of what Waldorf is would end this. But since, like all Waldorf schools, Highland Hall isn’t child-centered, it’s a win-win for them to attract ANY family. Getting even one or two years of tuition from unsuspecting families helps fuel their system. They can afford to provide free tuition to Anthroposophical families (like mine). Why disclose what’s behind Waldorf? Isn’t it up to the parents to determine if they are lying?

    PK
    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

  • 54 lovelyhorse // Dec 21, 2010 at 11:51

    Maimuna said:

    “Tom re your post I just wanted to say here that I knew nothing about the temperaments or racism in Steiner so I wouldn’t have had any questions about those things when I visited the school”.

    This is a crucial point, how can prospective parents, inspectors and policy makers be aware of the belief that the soul reincarnates through a racial hierarchy or that a child’s physiognomy is a manifestation of their karma if they dont know these beliefs exist?

    and if they don’t know that these beliefs exist how can anyone outside the movement be expected to ask the right questions?

  • 55 lovelyhorse // Dec 21, 2010 at 18:06

    If Gove decided to investigate further, he must first understand the difference between a specialist in Anthroposophy and a specialist in being an Anthroposophist.

  • 56 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 21, 2010 at 22:22

    Hi LovelyHorse!

    You just gave me a great idea. I don’t know if you have these adverts on your tellies in the UK, but in the USA, not only must we endure advertisements for regular products like cars, food, clothing, etc., we also must endure commercials for drugs, be they Viagra, anti-depressants, heart medicines or sleeping pills.

    Now when the drug commercial starts, you, as viewer, are of course regaled with the usual and warm, fuzzy and emotionally-appealing positive propaganda for the drug.

    But because of federal regulations in the USA, negative side effects must also appear in the ad and usually, in the last 10 seconds of a 60 second spot, you will hear a hurried male voice-over, telling the worst things to expect about the drug.

    Now just imagine if a few enterprising video experts out there would take some of the dozens of Waldorf school promotional videos which appear on YouTube as well as on WS homepages, and provide at least a voice-over which would express all the negative things about Waldorf that you as parents never knew existed.

    Here is my initial attempt at writing a voice over text. Please feel free to improve mine and/or write your own:

    FAST-TALKING MALE VOICE SPEAKS OVER SWEET WALDORF VIDEO IMAGERY:
    (most effective if spoken on only one breath!!!)

    Waldorf education is informed by the doctrine of anthroposophy, a system of belief developed by Rudolf Steiner which interprets your child as a spiritual being who has had many lifetimes before this one and thus carries karmic baggage into the classroom whereupon the teacher will evaluate your child on the basis of his or her karmic deficiencies as expressed in gender, race, temperament, head size, and handedness and may not intervene if your child is bullied because past life karma with the bullier is being worked out. The pedagogy is not child-centered but teacher-centered.’ Therefore teachers are obliged not to answer any difficult questions you as parents may have. If you wish to understand the pedagogy, please read the collected words of Rudolf Steiner and become an anthroposophist. Otherwise accept your destiny as a Waldorf parent and don’t bother the teachers. They know your child best.

  • 57 Peter Staudenmaier // Dec 22, 2010 at 17:49

    Hello all,

    I’d like to thank Thetis for the informative and illuminating post on the problem of racism in anthroposophy and Steiner education, in addition to the previous incisive posts from Thetis and Lovelyhorse, and thanks as well to DC for hosting the forum. Public discussion of these issues is often hampered by anthroposophical uneasiness with external inquiry; from Steiner onward there has been a lengthy tradition of anthroposophist hostility toward scholarly analysis, and particularly to historical research, from outside of the anthroposophical milieu. That is one important reason why many of Steiner’s followers react so strongly against my work and the work of other non-anthroposophist historians of anthroposophy such as Helmut Zander. They believe that we hold some sort of special grudge against their movement.

    For those interested in exploring these issues further, there are a variety of resources available. A general overview of anthroposophy, with a focus on the UK, can be found in Geoffrey Ahern’s book Sun at Midnight: The Rudolf Steiner Movement and Gnosis in the West (Cambridge: Clarke, 2009). I am critical of several significant aspects of Ahern’s book, but it is accessible and provides important information. For parents considering Steiner education, I would particularly recommend Heiner Ullrich’s book Rudolf Steiner (London: Continuum, 2008). Ullrich is a professor of educational studies and an expert on the history of pedagogical reform movements, as well as a prominent figure in alternative education circles in Germany. He has published many works on anthroposophy and Steiner schools, including some of the best critical studies of Waldorf pedagogy available. Most of his work is in German, but the 2008 book provides a good overview in English of his research, and it is mostly focused on Steiner / Waldorf education. Though I have various disagreements with Ullrich’s arguments, I recommend the book highly to everybody looking for perceptive scholarship on Waldorf schooling and anthroposophy. It provides a detailed examination of Steiner, anthroposophy, and Waldorf pedagogy from a simultaneously sympathetic and critical perspective. For those looking for an internal Steiner school viewpoint, the best recent book is Ida Oberman, The Waldorf Movement in Education from European Cradle to American Crucible, 1919-2008 (Lewiston: Mellen, 2008).

    Aside from anthroposophist statements, there is relatively little literature available in English on Steiner’s racial teachings. The best sources are in German. I recommend above all Georg Schmid, “Die Anthroposophie und die Rassenlehre Rudolf Steiners zwischen Universalismus, Eurozentrik und Germanophilie” in Joachim Müller, ed., Anthroposophie und Christentum: Eine kritisch-konstruktive Auseinandersetzung (Freiburg: Paulus, 1995), 138-94; Helmut Zander, “Sozialdarwinistische Rassentheorien aus dem okkulten Untergrund des Kaiserreichs” in Uwe Puschner, Walter Schmitz, and Justus Ulbricht, eds., Handbuch zur ‘Völkischen Bewegung’ 1871-1918 (Munich: Saur, 1996), 224-51; Zander, “Anthroposophische Rassentheorie: Der Geist auf dem Weg durch die Rassengeschichte” in Stefanie von Schnurbein and Justus Ulbricht, eds., Völkische Religion und Krisen der Moderne: Entwürfe “arteigener” Glaubenssysteme seit der Jahrhundertwende (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2001), 292-341; Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland: Theosophische Weltanschauung und gesellschaftliche Praxis 1884–1945 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007), 624-37; Zander, “Rudolf Steiners Rassenlehre: Plädoyer, über die Regeln der Deutung von Steiners Werk zu reden” in Uwe Puschner and Ulrich Großmann, eds., Völkisch und national: Zur Aktualität alter Denkmuster im 21. Jahrhundert (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2009), 145-55; Jana Husmann-Kastein, “Rassisierte Lichtgestalten – dunkle Krisen. Christus, Karma und Erlösung bei Rudolf Steiner” in Sven Glawion, Elahe Haschemi Yekani, and Jana Husmann-Kastein, eds., Erlöser: Figurationen männlicher Hegemonie (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2007), 83-95.

    German historian Helmut Zander’s work is especially helpful for readers trying to make sense of anthroposophical doctrines and practices. His forthcoming biography of Steiner is due to appear in German early next year. For those who do not read German, I am happy to provide a copy of my review of Zander’s work, published in English earlier this year in Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism. I am also happy to provide copies of my own articles on Steiner’s racial and ethnic teachings; the two most pertinent are “Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 11 (2008), 4-36, and “Rudolf Steiner and the Jewish Question” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 50 (2005), 127-47. Please feel free to contact me at pstauden [at] hotmail [dot] com (pstauden@hotmail.com). In addition, I am as always more than willing to discuss any of these issues with Steiner’s admirers and followers, very much including my anthroposophist detractors, in any forum they prefer. Those interested in current debates may follow the discussions here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages

    Like other forms of esoteric racial thought, Steiner’s race doctrines are complex and internally contradictory, and they contain both racist and non-racist components. They are not peripheral to anthroposophy as a whole, but are central to anthroposophical cosmology and to anthroposophist conceptions of evolutionary progress and the relation between the physical and the spiritual. Steiner’s teachings about karma and reincarnation and the advance of the soul through successive stages of maturation are structured around a basic contrast between “higher” and “lower” racial and ethnic forms, “progressing” and “declining” racial and ethnic groups. These categories were fundamental to anthroposophy as Steiner taught it, and they remain largely unchallenged within anthroposophy today.

    For historians like Zander and myself, critical analysis of anthroposophy’s racial doctrines is not part of some special grudge against Steiner and his followers or a vendetta against occult belief systems or a covert political struggle against anthroposophy or an academic conspiracy to promote materialism, atheism, and secularism. From a historical perspective, anthroposophy is simply an object of study, like any other worldview or movement, and can be assessed according to the same criteria used to appraise all other historical phenomena. For scholars, Steiner was a historical figure, not an Initiate or a herald of timeless truths or an oracle of cosmic wisdom or a supernatural spiritual force momentarily embodied in human form. That is why it is important to examine what Steiner actually taught about race, within its historical context, regardless of whether this causes indignation among anthroposophists today.

    Some of Steiner’s own racial writings are available in English, and interested readers can consult these works to determine for themselves whether they include racist content. The task is not as easy as it is for German readers, however, since a number of English translations of Steiner’s published works have been surreptitiously cleansed of openly racist and antisemitic material. Among many others, four of Steiner’s major statements on race have never been published in English: his fundamental 1905 lecture “Basic Concepts of Theosophy: The Races of Humankind”; his 1915 lecture “The Christ-Impulse as Bearer of the Union of the Spiritual and the Bodily”; his 1923 lecture “Color and the Races of Humankind”; and his 1924 lecture “The Essence of Jewry”. Of the works that are available in English, the most relevant are Steiner’s books Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and Man (Steiner Books 1990), The Universal Human (Anthroposophic Press 1990), The Apocalypse of St. John (Anthroposophic Press 1993), Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (Anthroposophic Press 1996), The Occult Significance of Blood (Rudolf Steiner Press 1997), Universe, Earth and Man (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls in Relation to Teutonic Mythology (Rudolf Steiner Press 2005), and his 1909 lecture “The Manifestation of the Ego in the Different Races of Men” in Rudolf Steiner, The Being of Man and His Future Evolution (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981).

    In my view, the chief reason why these historical issues matter to Steiner education today is this: Far from confronting the problem of anthroposophical racism straightforwardly, spokespeople for Steiner / Waldorf schooling continue to deny that there is any problem to begin with, flatly ignoring the content of Steiner’s works on race. This makes it effectively impossible for Steiner’s admirers to come to terms with the legacy of his racial teachings.

    In closing, I would like to make clear that I do not consider esoteric and occult worldviews objectionable or troubling in themselves, although various critics of occultism have raised very important concerns on a wide range of topics. The real difficulties arise when these worldviews are put into practice and implemented in concrete practical endeavors, like agriculture or health care or the education of children. Schools based on an esoteric belief system have a special obligation to delineate their underlying ideology clearly and plainly, without obfuscation and euphemism, and to explain how they apply occult ideas in practice. In the case of anthroposophy, this includes engaging openly and candidly with Steiner’s racial doctrines. I encourage admirers of Steiner education to begin this long overdue task.

    Peter Staudenmaier

  • 58 Thetis // Dec 22, 2010 at 21:18

    Thanks Peter – especially for providing sources for parents considering Steiner Waldorf education or with children in these schools.

    I also believe that anthroposophists, Steiner Waldorf supporters and politicians must be candid about anthroposophy and the training of Waldorf teachers, since the welfare of children is at stake. These children are more important than an ideology of ‘parent choice’, especially when so many parents have no real idea about the nature of Steiner Waldorf education.

    I hope these posts go some way towards creating greater understanding, and caution.

  • 59 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 23, 2010 at 20:17

    Doctor Staudenmaier, I presume?
    . . . . Doctor Staudenmaier, I presume?
    . . . . . . Doctor Staudenmaier, I presume?

    OMG! Is my mike live? They all heard that? Oh God, I am so embarrassed! Ladies and gentlemen of the DC Improb! I deeply apologize for my childish antics here. I’ve always loved to play the Stanley-Livingstone game since childhood and, well, you can see how I first played it here with Jeremy Smith way up scroll in Comment #18.

    OK, we’re back on live. Ahem.

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the DC Improb! Let’s hear a great round of applause for the excellent comment #57 of Herr Doktor Peter Staudenmaier. . . . Oh. You want to sing? Sorry, I forgot I’m in the UK now.

    OK, go ahead: “For he’s a jolly good fellow . . . For he’s a jolly good fellow . . . For he’s a jolly good felll-lowww . . . which nobody can deny!”

    Now given that I have already made a voice-over for the Waldorf videos in Comment #56, I thought that I should follow suit here and publish a rebuttal to Herr Doktor S.’s contribution, which by some sort of time-warping prestidigitation was actually published on this blog BEFORE Peter wrote in. (No magic really. It’s just that the issues are . . . timeless)

    Please Scroll up to Comment #37 and may I now introduce to you all to the pride of the other SWSF, that is, the “Swedish Waldorf School Federation” and the founding father of AAAAHAPS (The Anthroposophical Association for Adamant Ad Hominem Attacks on Peter Staudenmaier) —

    Here he is, direct from Sweden, no, not Julian Assange, rather, the one and only indefatigable buzzing Bee himself, now winner of 8 Adhommy Awards for Comment #37 alone —- Suuuuuu-nayyyyy Nordwall!!!

    And finally, ladies and gentlemen of the DC Improb, please read this message reposted by Herr Doktor Peter Staudenmaier, which he sent to the hive of Sune Nordwall in 2005, where Peter attempts to educate Sune on the differences between polemical writing and historical scholarship as well as correcting several of The Bee’s mistaken stings.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16424

  • 60 Jan Luiten // Dec 27, 2010 at 10:13

    My name is Jan Luiten. I am a Dutchman a teacher (not a waldorf teacher) and a political scientist. I would like to comment on
    @Peter Staudenmaier
    Staudenmaier writes:

    “For historians like Zander and myself, critical analysis of anthroposophy’s racial doctrines is not part of some special grudge against Steiner and his followers or a vendetta against occult belief systems or a covert political struggle against anthroposophy or an academic conspiracy to promote materialism, atheism, and secularism. From a historical perspective, anthroposophy is simply an object of study, like any other worldview or movement, and can be assessed according to the same criteria used to appraise all other historical phenomena. For scholars, Steiner was a historical figure, not an Initiate or a herald of timeless truths or an oracle of cosmic wisdom or a supernatural spiritual force momentarily embodied in human form. That is why it is important to examine what Steiner actually taught about race, within its historical context, regardless of whether this causes indignation among anthroposophists today.”

    I appreciate Peter Staudenmaier is bringing Steiner and the anthroposophy in the academic discussion. Doing so however also means that there should be room for discussion. First I want to put clear that I am not a “Steiner-follower”. When you study the mechanisms of discrimination and racism the concepts “prejudice” and “stereotype” are playing an important role. Is it not a stereotype to classify a whole group of very different people as “Steiner-followers”? The use of stereotypes forms one of the first steps in the direction of discrimination and racism. Speaking of “Steiner-followers” disregards the fact that are individual thinkers among the anthroposophists who have emancipated themselves from the group-culture. An anthroposophist should not be a person who uncritically believes all Steiner has said, but an individual who attaches value to the anthroposophical methodology.
    To put things clear: I myself am an advocate of the multicultural society and I do not believe in the superiority of any “race”. I have worked a lot with members of the Turkish and Maroccan community in Amsterdam who are confronted with discrimination. They told me that whatever they are doing to accept Dutch values they are always encountering prejudices. When you tell on an internet-forum you are an anthroposophist you also immediately meet prejudices no matter what your opinions really are.

    Should Steiner coûte que coûte be right? Off course not. If he is saying that black people do not belong in Europe I strongly object. But I simply doubt the basis for the judgment Steiner is a racist.
    Certainly, Steiner has developed a theory about races. Core question however is:” is the theory of races of Rudolf Steiner a racist theory or not?” Like Staudenmaier (http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/anthroposophy-and-ecofascism-2/) I distinguish race-theories that are racist and race-theories that aren’t racist. Although there are statements of Steiner that can be experienced as grieving or offending my standpoint is that this is not enough to make the theory of Steiner a racist one. My point of view is based on the theory of a prominent scholar on racism: Albert Memmi. Memmi elaborates a theory about the mechanisms of racism in his book “Racism”
    (University of Minnesota Press, 2000; Originally published as Le Racisme, Gallimard, 1982. )
    Reviewing this book Joe Lockard (http://bad.eserver.org/reviews/2000/2000-2-14-8.35PM.html) comments: “Summarizing his points, Memmi writes \Differences can exist or not exist. Differences are not in themselves good or bad. One is not racist or anti-racist in pointing out or denying differences, but one is racist in using them “against someone to one’s own advantage.\ In a definition, racism according to Memmi is the Generalized and final assigning of values to real and imaginary differences, to the accusers benefit and at his victim’s expense, in order to justify the former’s own privilege or aggression.
    In Steiners theory we will not find that he is calling for , or legimates, privileges in favor of one group above another or advocates aggression against certain groups. . I agree with Staudenmaier (http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/anthroposophy-and-ecofascism-2/) that there are other scholars with other definitions, but there are also scholars who think in the line of Memmi. This means there is no consensus in the academic world. Therefore it is rather prematurely to come to a definite judgment in this case.
    We have also to connect the above said with Steiners political ideas. In his view all groups in society should have equal rights. There are no discriminating factors (race, gender, believe etc) that could legimate privileges (Steiner, Towards social renewal).

  • 61 David Colquhoun // Dec 27, 2010 at 11:41

    I’m impressed by the scholarly contributions that many people have made to this discussion, but I take a rather simpler point of view. My main objection to Steiner is that he seems to have been a rather potty mystic. Anthroposophy, gnomes, “biodynamic” farming and so on are simply preposterous made-up junk.

    It’s interesting to compare him with a far more substantial thinker, Francis Galton. His ideas on race and eugenics seem quite dreadful now, but he was genuinely a child of his time. He was trying to interpret the nature of things as they appeared at the time, and, like so many scientists of the time, his conclusions now seem very wrong. But they were a rational attempt to get at the truth on the basis of the very limited knowledge of genetics that existed when he was alive. There was no lunatic astrology involved. It doesn’t seem very profitable to discuss in 2010 whether or not Francis Galton was a “racist”.

    Science, being a more or less rational process, has long since moved on from the ideas of Francis Galton, but the Steiner movement, being a mystical belief system, seems often to propagate the barmy beliefs of Steiner. They are still required reading for students. Students of genetics would never be required to read the works of Galton, other than as a sort of historical aberration, but Steiner teachers are still required to read Steiner as though it were some sort of bible,

    What matters is what happens now, and it is is quite clear that what happens now is often quite bad. I happen to live quite near to a Steiner school, and because of that my son was endangered by the low vaccination rate in the area that results from the irrational beliefs of Steiner parents. These parents sustain a shop that sells homeopathic pills and has visits from an “anthroposophical doctor” and such like threats to public health. The comment (#51) from @maimuna shows only too clearly that Steiner’s nastier ideas are alive and well in Steiner schools right now.

    This seems to me to illustrate the difference between science and mysticism. Francis Galton is consigned to history books, but Steiner is alive and well in the warped minds of his followers. There is nothing illegal about believing in astrology and karma, but it is hardly a suitable basis for education in 2010 and certainly not the sort of thing that should get support from taxpayers.

  • 62 Andreas Lichte // Dec 27, 2010 at 12:09

    @ David Colquhoun

    I completely agree with you, quote: “My main objection to Steiner is that he seems to have been a rather potty mystic. Anthroposophy, gnomes, “biodynamic” farming and so on are simply preposterous made-up junk.”

    Or as “krazykraut” put it:

    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853#comment-8641

    “(…) This man [Steiner] wasn’t just a racist, he was a complete nut (…)”

    “Scholars” – like historians – have to avoid the topic of Steiner’s insanity since they would have immediately to stop working on Steiner: the only competent expert would be a psychiatrist.

  • 63 Andreas Lichte // Dec 27, 2010 at 12:21

    @ David Colquhoun

    I also agree on this:

    “… the Steiner movement, being a mystical belief system, seems often to propagate the barmy beliefs of Steiner. They are still required reading for students.”

    I did a Waldorf teacher training myself. You find a rough translation of my report here:

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/andreas_lichte.html

    “Wondrous Waldorf Pedagogy or Atlantis as State of Consciousness”

    It was madness. I’ll copy only the passage directly related to Steiner’s racism, quote (“L.” is “Lichte”):

    “How to teach geography is the subject offered by lecturer Vormann. His goal is to slowly lift the veil for a higher holism behind the outward impressions. He takes a week to accomplish the task introducing two continents: “Geographical polarities. Central and Eastern Asia in comparison to Northern America.” First more or less the regular school like comparison between the Yangtse and the Colorado River. Then it is down to the real subject matter “Mankind and landscape”. Asian architecture – the pagoda – makes the lecturer conclude the Asian is turning towards the sky – tien. The typical architecture of Northern America being the step pyramid. L. dares to ask: “What about Indians of Nothern American – the pueblo architecture? Or the tent of the nomading peoples of the prairies?” “They are irrelevant to the greater oversight, the Indians already were a perishing race,” the lecturer responds. “A perishing race, what do you mean by that, that the Indians were driven out of their land by the whites?” “No, the Indians already had been a perishing race, they did lack in what it takes to develop into higher cultures.” None of the other participants utters a word. L. is enraged, he remember his trip to the American West: “Don’t you think it is unfair putting the blame on the Indians considering what they’ve been through?!” “Why are you getting so upset, after all the ancient Egyptians also been a perishing race.” L. is struggling for words: “You may refer to the ancient Egyptians as a perishing race but I really do not feel like telling a hitch hiking Indian that he is a member of a perishing race!”
    “Mr. Vormann is annoyed about so much lack of respect.”Let us continue with the lesson, this question cannot be sufficiently resolved now!” Are we over and done with this issue? L. does not hear a word from he lecturer … – but from the seminary’s administration, three weeks later.”

  • 64 Thebee // Dec 28, 2010 at 14:19

    Just as a reminder of the nature of the article “Anthroposophy and Ecofascicm” mentioned and linked to twice by Jan Luiten in his comment http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853#comment-8695 :

    http://thebee.se/comments/PS/Staudenmaier.html and for a clarification by Staudenmaier himself of how he has expressed his views on his own writings:

    http://americans4waldorf.org/MrStaudenmaier.html

    Will try to get back with some more comments on things I think need clarification and correction in Thetis article and some of the comments, after a break for Christmas.

    Sune

  • 65 Thetis // Dec 28, 2010 at 16:34

    Thebee – Sune (aka @MycroftII on twitter): though you’re welcome to express your opinions in these blog comments, I’d welcome a reply to my question, which I’m asking for the third time:

    Why exactly did you threaten mumsnet with libel if they did not delete posts from mothers which were negative about Steiner Waldorf education?

    To remind you, here is one of the many messages you sent mumsnet:

    “If I see her posting promotion of libel at Mumsnet once more, I won’t tell you about it, but ask Percy Bratt of Bratt and Feinsilber in Sweden to contact you in cooperation with the legal representatives of The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland (http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/index.html), about your negligent way of allowing libel to be published at Mumsnet and the one who is the most fervent publisher of it to continue to publish at Mumsnet.”

    I understand that you work for the Swedish Waldorf Schools Federation and that you’re employed to monitor criticism of Steiner Waldorf education in Britain.

    Why is the Swedish Waldorf Schools Federation so interested in the opinions of British parents?

    I also see that you publish pages on your websites designed to attack individuals who you perceive to be a threat to the Steiner Waldorf movement.

    I would be glad if someone from the SWSF would clarify whether or not you were operating, as you told mumsnet:

    “…in cooperation with the legal representatives of The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland (http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/index.html),”

    And to establish whether the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship of the UK were themselves prepared, through your activities, to issue what could be described as libel-related threats to mumsnet.

    I have no evidence that this was the case apart from your assertion and would be glad to hear that it is in fact untrue, and that you were exaggerating.

    I refer you back to my earlier comment here, as I don’t think you understand Steiner’s race theories: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853#comment-8649

    and would like to remind you, as Tom has done, that Peter Staudenmaier addressed your concerns with regard to his work, at length, in 2005 – he explains here:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16424

    Our concern on this blog is to emphasise the nature of Steiner Waldorf education and its unsuitability for public funding. Your issue seems to be largely a personal one, with Peter Staudenmaier or indeed with any individual who doesn’t agree with your perception of Rudolf Steiner. You are so clearly ridiculous, it seems unlikely that your comments here will achieve anything positive for you or for the movement you support.

  • 66 zooey // Dec 28, 2010 at 20:51

    In my view, the Swedish Waldorf School Federation has an obligation to answere these concerns about Sune. They have so far failed to do so. I’m taking the opportunity to remind them once again. http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/questions-the-swedish-waldorf-federation-should-address/

  • 67 5raphs // Dec 29, 2010 at 15:13

    @Jan Luiten

    By calling yourself and anthroposophist but picking and choosing Steiner’s cosmological doctrines, rules and laws you are in what Zooey calls a “double bind”. It’s back to the question- if Steiner culled his “knowledge” from clairvoyantly reading the “Akashic record” surely it’s all or nothing?
    No one here I’m sure, would deny anyone their personal version of anthroposophy- the question here is, should anthroposophists practice these beliefs on children, people with learning difficulties, the sick and consumers without being honestly open about it?
    Many people would disagree with your interpretation of Steiner’s “racist” statements, it seems more than naive to confuse ‘difference” with higher and lower spiritual attainment, “higher racial forms”, “highly developed stages of racial existence”, “advanced races”, “subordinate races”, “decadent races”, “backward races”, “different and imperfect form”, “lower peoples and races”, “mistakes” of evolution…the list is endless. Hardly describing simple “differences” between races.
    Do the anthroposophists who don’t answer straight questions about Steiner’s racial evolutionary beliefs believe the “soul” development and reincarnation is the all important factor? the body is an irrelevant cloak, but if you embrace anthroposophy you might be lucky enough to incarnate white next time? Try telling that to the black, Asian and jewish members of my family.

    @TheBee
    Are those your things in bin bags on the lawn? I think the locks of the waldorf federations might have been changed.

  • 68 PeteK // Dec 29, 2010 at 15:43

    Anthroposophists don’t “get” that Steiner’s Anthroposophy is racist. That much is plain to see. Any time one talks about “higher” and “lower” racial expressions of humans, that’s RACIST. It isn’t noticing the differences between the races that makes Steiner’s racial theory racist, it is the ranking of the races in racial hierarchies that clinches it. THERE IS NO QUESTION – STEINER WAS A RACIST!!!

    Steiner taught that a hierarchy of races exists and placed the white race above others. Waldorf teachers are taught to interact with children in accordance with their race. Waldorf teachers HAVE TO BE racist in order to do their job – ie helping the child incarnate in human form. They won’t admit that they are – but it is their job to observe and interact with each child in accordance with the child’s race. Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest.

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/

  • 69 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 29, 2010 at 17:37

    Pete K wrote
    Anthroposophists don’t “get” that Steiner’s Anthroposophy is racist.

    Whoa, Pete! You’re way over-generalizing here! What about all those anthroposophists who DO “get” that Steiner’s anthroposophy is racist — and they could care less about it and laugh off your protestations against it because they are well-ensconced within the Anthro- “establishment”?

    You see, the policy of “Don’t ask! Don’t tell” is not limited to sexual orientation, nor to the US military.

  • 70 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 29, 2010 at 21:53

    @5raphs
    You taunted Sune The Bee thusly:
    Are those your things in bin bags on the lawn? I think the locks of the waldorf federations might have been changed.

    Quite the contrary, my dear 5er! If anything, they might give him a raise! He is still doing a job well done for them — (although in time, they won’t need him anymore. However, he will never be fired; he’ll merely fade away like a good old soldier.)

    Let me describe the dynamic here by bringing an analogy which I hope may enable everyone to get a “forest overview” instead of nosing the bark of one single tree while simultaneously swatting at that pesky buzzing Bee.

    What happens after you suffer a wooden splinter and the sliver of its tip breaks off and lodges under your skin? Your body’s immune system goes right to work, dispatching those white blood cells (leukocytes) to rush to the site and surround the foreign body in order to isolate the invader and prevent the present mere irritation from becoming a more painful infection and otherwise damaging the whole organism.

    When this event happens to me, I am too squeamish about getting the safety pin or X-acto knife right away and digging out the subcutaneous sliver. I opt for enduring the dull but minimal chronic pain for 3 or 4 days until my immune system has done its job surrounding the sliver and eventually pushes it up so that I can easily and painlessly poke in the tip of the razor and flick it out and wash the wound.

    So now let me give the analogy. The body is the “Waldorf Federation Organism.” The immune system is the Public or Community Relations department in any Waldorf organism. Of course the splinter is a gaggle (horde?) of Waldorf Critics and the white blood cells are extreme Waldorf defenders like the Bee.

    So clearly we have a situation where the Waldorf Critics get “under the skin” of the Waldorf organism. Where is the site of the wound? Internet forums like here, Zooey’s, WC Yahoo, or once on mumsnet, etc. What happens? The Bee buzzes in and immediately draws the ire of all the Critics. What happens next? By attracting all that rage, he diverts the energy to himself and thus absorbs or at least contains most all of that rage (like any good leukocyte should!). What is the result? He manages to distract and then isolate the Critics, who then only rage all the more and thus become all the more distracted, absorbed and isolated by The Bee. (Can you say: “vicious cycle?”)

    Now you see, the Waldorf organism is just as squeamish as I am about topical surgery. They are not going to risk the pain and bloody complications of immediately cutting into the flesh all round the sliver to gouge it out. Ouchie!!! No, they sit back, endure the slight dull pain of irritation, and simply get on with their day as usual.

    (Can you say: “passive-aggressive behavior?” Now do you understand why you will never again on this thread hear from either SWSF, Jeremy Smith or Richard House? But only from The Bee?)

    A few days later, the sliver — along with the dead leukocytes whose corpses have now formed a little yellow pus — is pushed up, extracted and washed away. Maybe a slight scar for another few days which finally disappears as if nothing had ever happened in the first place. But remember, the immune system never forgets and has logged accordingly the identity of the last batch of Critic Pathogens so it can deal quicker and better with them next time.

    So, at what stage are we today, in the battle between Waldorf Critics and Defenders? In the middle phase. The sliver is still embedded and the leukocytes are still very much alive, though their days are numbered.

    My point is, 5raphs, that The Bee is still of great use to the SWSF (both of them! UK & Sweden). He is still a live leukocyte but someday he will not be needed anymore, but SWSF will not even have to jettison him. He will simply “die away” of his own accord, having given his life for the cause, and the long range result is that the larger Waldorf organism will resume its thriving in the world — and also having developed some new antibodies to strengthen against the criticism just expunged. (Can you say: “Being co-opted?”)

    I guess you’ll have to call me Cassandra now because what I have to prophesy for the future of the Waldorf Movement — using the above analogy — is not good news at all for the Critics. You can be satisfied that you do have the truth on your side — that Steiner is a racist, no question about it, I fully agree — but I also see that there’s not a damned thing you can do about stopping the Waldorf juggernaut in the world today. (Can you say: “Waldorf schools in Israel?”) Sorry.

    It may not be much comfort to you, but if you do want to keep tabs on the movement, forget the racism angle; instead —- FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!

    To Anthros, I sign off as:
    Father Tom, Judas Priest

    To Critics, I sign off as:
    Cassandra Thomasina

    PS Before I forget, 5raphs, thank you so much for elevating this discussion up to a good enough level where we can discuss such things as “double binds.” I see what you mean about Jan’s “double bind,” but are you aware of your own? Next post will delve into that.

  • 71 Thetis // Dec 29, 2010 at 22:48

    Tom – there isn’t much we can do about Waldorf schools in Israel, even if we wanted to. This post has a modest orbit. And of course where there are Waldorf schools there will be home-grown critics of Waldorf education, who point out the same things that have been said on blogs and forums and to the press all over the world. It is actually very simple. But parents in the countries concerned must defend their own education systems.

    Thebee is an easy target, partly thanks to you. Your analogy is clever and amusing. Thank you for your humour. It seems unlikely that he’s taken seriously anymore and even the New Schools Network may not now employ him as an advisor. Although frankly nothing would surprise me.

  • 72 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 30, 2010 at 01:19

    Hi Thetis,

    Since it is Christmastide and Anthroposophists are celebrating the 12 Holy Nights from Christmas Day, Dec. 25 (the birth of Jesus) through Epiphany of Jan. 6 (the birth of Christ), I thought it would be appropriate to offer a Christmas lecture excerpt from Steiner to acknowledge the holiday mood in this thread whose topic is racism in Steiner Waldorf schools. (Trust me; I can pull it off! ;-) )

    But first I want to acknowledge the work of Sune Nordwall, our indefatigable Bee, for providing the inspiration for this Steiner excerpt . (God Jul, Sune!)

    I am going to quote something Sune has written on his website here:
    http://www.waldorfanswers.com/ThreeConcepts.htm

    It is all about the concept of “Root Races” which was originally Theosophical terminology which Steiner used before he broke away to found anthroposophy in 1913. You see, what Mister Bee writes about Steiner’s use of “Root Races” is the truth — but it is not the whole truth. I liken Mr. Bee here to a sports writer who very accurately describes the physical layout and structure of a professional horse race track or raceway, but then would like his readers to believe that actual horse races never take place there! (If you don’t get what I’m saying, you will after you read the Steiner excerpt.)

    Sune Nordwall, The Bee, writes on his Waldorf Answers site:
    From an anthroposophical perspective, the theosophical concept “root race” is not a biological concept but rather refers to humanity during the successive stages in the common evolution of our solar system and of humanity. For these epochs, Steiner and anthroposophy use the geocentrically oriented term “Earth epochs”.

    I now proceed to quote Rudolf Steiner from a lecture he gave exactly 106 years ago, on this very date, December 30, 1904 (he being then deeply steeped in the Theosophical tradition.)

    Lecture Cycle: The Festivals and Their Meaning, I, Christmas
    Lecture title: “On The Three Magi”
    (Extract from a lecture)
    Berlin, December 30, 1904, GA B60

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Christmas/19041230p01.html

    (My additions are in brackets [. . . ] )

    =================================
    RUDOLF STEINER:

    “Who are the Magi? They represent the Initiates of the three preceding races or epochs of culture, the Initiates of mankind up to the time of the coming of Christ, the Bringer of the Love that is free of egoism — the resurrected Osiris. The Initiates — and so too the Three Magi — were endowed with Manas. They bring gold, frankincense and myrrh as their offerings.

    And why are their skins of three colours: white, yellow and black?

    One is European — his skin is white; [Melchior brings Gold]
    One is Indian — his skin is yellow; [Balthasar brings Frankincense]
    One is African — his skin is black. [Casper brings Myrrh]

    This indicates the connection with the so-called Root Races.
    ——————————————————————–
    The remaining survivors of the Lemurian race are black;
    ——————————————————————–
    those of the Atlantean race are yellow;
    ———————————————————————-
    and the representatives of the Fifth Root Race, the Post-Atlantean or Aryan race, are white. [5th RR also called Aryan Root Race]
    ———————————————————————-

    Thus the Three Kings or Magi are representatives of the Lemurians, the Atlanteans and the Aryans. They bring the three offerings.

    The [white] European (Melchior) brings gold, the symbol of wisdom, of intelligence which comes to expression paramountly in the Fifth Root Race.
    [Aryan Root Race = That means us in the here and now!]

    The offering of the Initiate representing the Fourth Root Race ([Yellow race] Balthasar) is frankincense, connected with what was intrinsically characteristic of the Atlanteans. They were united more directly with the Godhead, a union which took effect as a suggestive influence, a kind of universal hypnosis. This union with the Godhead is betokened by the offering. Feeling must be sublimated in order that God may fertilise it. This is expressed symbolically by the frankincense, which is the universal symbol for an offering that has something to do with Intuition.

    In the language of esotericism, myrrh is the symbol of dying, of death. What is the meaning of dying and of resurrection, as exemplified in the resurrected Osiris? I refer you here to words of Goethe: “So long as thou hast it not, this dying and becoming, thou’rt but a dull guest on the dark earth.” Jacob Boehme expresses the same thought in the words: “He who dies not ere he dies, perishes when he dies.”

    Myrrh is the symbol of the dying of the lower life and the resurrection of the higher life. It is offered by the Initiate representing the Third Root Race (Lemurian). [Black Kaspar]
    ============================

    TOM: So we see that the black race (Lemurian = 3rd RR) is childish — as a race — because they remained behind the longest. In short, they failed to “grow up” or mature as a race, still playing childish games during the 4th RR and on onto the 5th RR. Hence they are represented by Casper the Black Magus, bringing the gift of myrrh to the Jesus boy.

    Steiner then indicated that the Brown Race from Venus (the South East Asians, Malaysians, Pacific Islanders, et al.) were like the “adolescents” of races and the Mongols (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) from Mars the “young adults” of the races.

    Now these “Mongols,” who became our present Asians, are then stragglers from the 4th Root Race, called the Atlantean Root Race. You see, though, how they as races have grown up a bit more than the black race. So they are not *childish* but maybe more *juvenile* as races go. And among the Magi, they are represented by Balthasar bringing the gift of frankincense.

    Now we get to the 5th Root Race, or the Aryan Root Race, and we finally meet the grown up race, the properly mature race, i.e. the folks from planet Jupiter whose skin color is designated as white and who are classified as the Caucasian Race. But I prefer we not use pejorative terms like the “master race,” but rather something more paternalistic and compassionate like the *Great White Father* of the races, perhaps the *CEO* of the races, you know, the race in charge of human evolution, not leading by dominating and exploiting the other less mature races, but rather guiding these children toward their own proper karmic niches in future spiritual evolution.

    This white-skinned magus is Melchior, and he brings the gift of Gold to the Jesus boy.

    Gold, the metal of the sun, representing the true “Christed” individuality — the person ego is properly “seated.” Now recall what Steiner says about Black Casper’s gift of myrrh:

    “Myrrh is the symbol of the dying of the lower life and the resurrection of the
    higher life. It is offered by the Initiate representing the Third Root Race (Lemurian).”

    So even in the very gifts of the Magi themselves, we see the proper anthroposophical relationship between the white and black races. The racial “Gold Standard,” of course, is the White Race, whose “sunlight of the soul,” as it were, is meant to shine on the hyper-active libidinal and metabolic lower instinctual life of the Negro Race, as represented by Casper, who brings myrrh so that the Black Race can “overcome” (cue black Gospel chorus to sing WE — SHALL– OVER —COME!!!) their intense instinctual life (with accompanying “hubba-hubba” libido) in order to resurrect their higher life in the light provided by the gold = “Christ-heart forces” of the White Race.

    Tom
    ============================

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    God Jul och gott nytt år!
    Frohe Weihnachten und glückliches Neujahr!

  • 73 Thetis // Dec 30, 2010 at 08:56

    Yes – that certainly illustrates anthroposophical paternalistic racism.

  • 74 Andreas Lichte // Dec 30, 2010 at 09:40

    @ Hollywood Tomfortas, comment 70

    I disagree with your comment 70:

    The discussion on Rudolf Steiner’s racism has a strong effect on the public opinion on the Cult Anthroposophy:

    In Germany Anthroposophists organize professional workshops to train Anthroposophy defenders (would you please be so kind to give an English summary to the audience, Tom?):

    http://www.trigonal.net/artikel/2010/August/-au1.html

    “4.11.[2010]

    Professioneller Umgang mit den Rassismus-Vorwürfen gegen Rudolf Steiner

    Der Vorwurf, Rudolf Steiner sei ein Rassist gewesen, wird regelmäßig von Anthroposophie-Kritikern bemüht und wirft bei Eltern und Mitarbeitern an anthroposophischen Einrichtungen berechtigte Fragen auf.

    Im umfangreichen Werk Rudolf Steiners gibt es eine Reihe von Aussagen, in denen er sich in einer Weise uber Farbige und Juden äußert, die heute als diskriminierend und verletzend erlebt wird.

    Auch wenn Steiner den völkischen Antisemitismus immer glaubwürdig abgelehnt hat, finden sich bei ihm – damals durchaus weit verbreitete – antijudaistische Tendenzen, mit denen wir uns heute auseinandersetzen müssen.

    Das Seminar wendet sich an Verantwortliche in anthroposophischen Einrichtungen und Initiativen, die sich einen Überblick über das Thema sowie den aktuellen Diskussionsstand verschaffen möchten. Ziel ist es, die Teilnehmer in die Lage zu versetzen, gegenüber kritischen Fragen differenziert und souverän Stellung beziehen zu konnen.

    Schwerpunkte des Seminars

    · Historische Einordnung: Antisemitismus und Rassismus zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts

    · Materialien: Kritische Passagen bei Rudolf Steiner

    · Medienumfeld-Analyse: Steiner-Kritiker, Blogs etc.

    · Auseinandersetzung in den eigenen Reihen: „Frankfurter Memorandum“ und „Stuttgarter Erklärung“

    Donnerstag, 4. November, 10-17 Uhr, Professioneller Umgang mit den Rassismus-Vorwürfen gegen Rudolf Steiner. Ein Seminar der Medienstelle Anthroposophie. Referenten: Dr. Jens Heisterkamp, Historiker und Chefredakteur der Zeitschrift Info3, gehörte zu den Initiatoren des 2008 in Info3 veröffentlichten „Frankfurter Memorandums“, dessen Unterzeichner sich für eine kritische Aufarbeitung und Distanzierung von einzelnen diskriminierenden Aussagen Steiners aussprachen. Laura Krautkrämer, PR-Beraterin und -Redakteurin mit Schwerpunkten in den Bereichen Unternehmenskommunikation und Corporate Social Responsibility, ist seit Mai 2010 Leiterin der Medienstelle Anthroposophie. Kosten: 120,- (inkl. Pausengetranke und Mittagessen). Veranstaltungsort: „der hof“, Alt-Niederursel 51, 60439 Frankfurt am Main. Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung: Info3-Verlag, Liss Gehlen, Tel. 069 – 58 46 45, E-mail: liss.gehlen@info3.de.”

  • 75 Jan Luiten // Dec 30, 2010 at 11:01

    @5raphs
    Among all the reactions and comments here I found yours the most interesting.
    You are bringing things to the core and I like that.
    The core question is: what is anthroposophy?
    Let me explain first what anthroposophy is not : anthroposophy cannot be identified with the so called anthroposophical subculture. In sociology a subculture is a group of people with a culture which differentiates them from the larger dominant culture to which they belong. A subculture deviates in several points from the dominant culture.
    Further Anthroposophy is not a doctrine. There are results of the research of Steiner (mainly)and others . I think it is not correct to take these results as a doctrine (but indeed it is mostly functioning as a doctrine in the anthroposophical subculture). This “body of knowledge” is not unchangeable.
    It is possible to add new knowledge or to reject other knowledge.
    So you can not say it is a belief system too.
    What then is antyhroposophy?
    Anthroposphy is a methodology.
    A way to collect knowledge. All other aspects of anthroposophy are secondary. But now:
    What kind of relation should one have to the research results of Steiner when you do not simply want to belief them?
    I think the best thing to do here is to take it as a set of working hypotheses. Then you can test for yourself these working hypotheses in your own practice, and then reject them or keep them.
    What you cannot test remains in the status of working hypothesis.(This is something different from Zooeys “picking” and “choosing”.)

    @general
    I want to make clear that I am a critic of the anthroposophical subculture myself, but therefore I also claim the right to criticize some criticizers.
    I gave you argumentation (Memmi’s theory, Steiners political ideas) for my point of view. What I get back were a lot of sentiments. Sentiments in this case are not convincing and could be dangerous too. By doing so you are displaying what you are reproaching the anthroposophists: irrationality.

    I understand that the project here is about to stop state funding for Waldorf schools
    This is off course a very democratic endeavour. Has not the majority the right to oppress a minority?
    There is only one truth and you are possessing that truth. Off course you have the right to use the state to impose this truth on all of his citizens, haven’t you ?!!

  • 76 Thetis // Dec 30, 2010 at 11:48

    Jan – by all means offer yourself up to our Coalition government, Michael Gove’s ideology of parent choice through the Free Schools policy is the one you’re supporting. You’re a true Tory. But I should advise you that the policy is very unpopular and has not received widespread support amongst parents or those involved in education. Many learning communities are concerned that this policy benefits a few interested individuals at the expense of local schools, impacting on the prospects of the majority of children. Steiner Waldorf schools are a small part of this concern but since so many of these schools have applied for what are now very scarce resources, it is absolutely right that they are better understood.

    Of course I can’t use the state to impose anything, especially from DC’s blog. You’d have to be paranoid to think he has that kind of power! In a democracy we can at least express our opinions, and if we make a good case, we can expect others to agree. What is your case for Steiner Waldorf education? Especially as you state that the ‘anthroposophical subculture’, of which Waldorf education is a part, is so badly flawed?

    It is the children who would go to these schools, and the communities that would have to deal with the consequences of state funded Steiner education – just as DC describes – that concern us here. If the government funds Steiner education it will impact on the reputation of the government, and education policy is already in trouble. It seems a very great risk to take for very little return, especially when the beliefs underpinning Steiner pedagogy are, in the opinion of this blog, often dangerous.

  • 77 Thetis // Dec 30, 2010 at 13:39

    @Jan Luiten –

    You’ve expressed very much the same ideas elsewhere regarding anthroposophy and racism, for example in the comments after Peter Staudenmaier’s article ‘Anthroposophy and ecofacism’ on the Social Ecology site. Peter replied to you a few days ago, as you’ll be aware but others may like to read the exchange: http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/anthroposophy-and-ecofascism-2/

    And for anyone interested there is also an ongoing discussion on the German ruhrbarone blog Andreas linked to before:

    http://www.ruhrbarone.de/waldorf-schools-rudolf-steiner%E2%80%99s-books-are-%E2%80%9Can-incitement-to-racial-hatred%E2%80%9D-says-bpjm/

    In my view it’s positive that this is being discussed.

  • 78 5raphs // Dec 30, 2010 at 14:36

    @Jan Luiten

    Likewise, it’s interesting to discuss anthroposohy with an anthroposophist who is more open than most.

    As I see it, the concerns of this blog post are about the impact anthroposophic teachings have within education.

    Seeing the way Steiner waldorf teachers are trained, the books they have to read, the “understanding” they are expected to have, of the anthroposophical interpretation of evolution for instance, it seems to me, at any rate, that Steiner’s proclamations are to be taken as truth: that there is a spirit world, that reincarnation is a fact, that clairvoyance is a legitimate way of gaining knowledge etc etc.

    Reading Steiner, I’m always astounded to see how often he mentions ‘anthroposophical laws”, or makes sweeping statements about things being unequivocally facts and truths. He didn’t leave much room for discussion.

    Steiner waldorf teachers are expected, as far as I see, to use and believe these statements, and aren’t considered true Steiner teachers if they don’t take these beliefs on board.

    You can’t deny that anthroposophy sets out a complicated and structured system for explaining the world, from evolution, reincarnation, karma, spiritual hierarchies, to why we shouldn’t eat potatoes; there is hardly a subject on which Steiner didn’t theorise.

    With this in mind, I have to disagree that “doctrine” isn’t a good word for describing anthroposophy- it means after all, principles that are taught, a school of thought, a philosophy. The teachers are “learning” it, aren’t they? on their own path of enlightenment?

    In this instance, the semantics of anthroposophical definition is irrelevant, because what matters is how and why these (imo) crazy ideas are used with children, and the consequences that follow.

    Methodological procedure follows rules and is generally logical; Steiner’s work is probably one of the least logical collection of random ideas I have had the misfortune to read.

    You say anthroposophy is a way to collect knowledge; you need to define “knowledge” and what you really mean by ‘methodology’, because I think these particular rules and knowledge are purely subjective and existed only in Steiner’s bizarre mind, not absolutes from the Akashic record as he apparently often proclaimed.

    I note you haven’t commented about the uncomfortable Steiner quotes on race.

  • 79 Ramon DJV // Dec 30, 2010 at 17:54

    @ Hollywood TomFortas

    I agree with you that for keeping tabs on the movement, one should follow the money. But who’s got the guts to deal with bankers?

    In 1999 a Belgian Parlementary Commission investigating dangereous sects, pointed out that the anthroposophical movement has a network which bonds pedagogical, medical and economical interests. http://www.stelling.nl/simpos/antro3.htm

  • 80 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 30, 2010 at 18:18

    @Andreas #74
    Thank you for bringing that link. It’s important enough that I have translated the whole thing.

    (But before I do, just a note of Netiquette on this blog. Since you gave the link, Andreas, it was then unnecessary to post the whole article as a comment. Since the article was in German, it was a real imposition to force readers of this English blog to have to scroll past the German text.

    As it is, we are in trench warfare here, and Sune the Bee is already loading his mortars and cannons with gigantic pinatas filled with Steiner quotes which will explode at their zenith over the “No Man’s Land” region between the trenches, thus showering both sides with Steiner shrapnel. As soon as Sune launches, then Pete K. will retaliate here with his pinatas. We may need a Herakles (Hercules) to clean out this cyber-Augean stable!)

    Anyway, back to the text. I wonder if Jeremy Smith or whoever is running the PR section of SWSF will sponsor a comparable seminar.

    http://www.trigonal.net/artikel/2010/August/-au1.html

    (translated from the German by Tom Mellett)

    For Professionals: How to Manage the Racism Allegations against Rudolf Steiner

    The charge that Rudolf Steiner was a racist is made repeatedly by critics of anthroposophy, yet it does raise legitimate questions for parents and employees at anthroposophical institutions.

    In Rudolf Steiner’s comprehensive body of work, we do find a range of statements where he speaks about colored people and Jews in a way that is experienced today as discriminatory and offensive.

    Even though Steiner would always credibly reject nationalist anti-Semitism, nonetheless, we do find in him – at that time quite widespread — anti-Semitic tendencies that we are obliged to confront today.

    This seminar is aimed at managers of anthroposophical institutions and initiatives who would like to get an overview of the topic as well as the current level of discussion. The aim is to enable the participants to navigate the critical questions and to stand their ground with self-assurance.

    Focal Points of the Seminar

    • Historical Context: Anti-Semitism and racism at the beginning of the 20th Century

    • Materials: critical passages of Rudolf Steiner

    • Media analysis: Steiner critics, blogs, etc.

    • Addressing our own ranks: “Frankfurter Memorandum” and “Stuttgart Declaration”
    —————————–

    Thursday, November 4, 2010,

    A seminar of the “Media Relations Office Anthroposophy.”

    Speakers:
    Dr. Jens Heisterkamp,
    historian and editor-in-chief of the journal Info3. He was among the initiators of the 2008 Frankfurt Memorandum published in Info3 —
    whose signatories endorsed a critical reappraisal of and distancing from each and every discriminatory statement made by Steiner.

    Laura Krautkrämer,
    Public Relations consultant and editor, will focus on the areas of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility. Since May 2010, she has been Director of the “Media Relations Office Anthroposophy.”
    ===============

  • 81 maimuna // Dec 30, 2010 at 18:23

    Tom,
    Thanks for showing everyone the Three Kings Story from ‘The Festivals and their Meaning’. That was another horrible experience I had with our Steiner school. That book was recommended for parents to read,it was listed in one of the weekly news letters.
    I bought it and read that story and felt physically sick. How could that rubbish be in the story of the three kings ?
    Mmmm only a few racist phrases eh SWSF, there’s reams of this stuff ! Why recommend a book with a story like this in it ,schools and Steiner Press must think its ok after all it was printed in 1998,still churning it out while saying Anthroposophy is not racist in the same breath…
    Maimuna / Maura

  • 82 zooey // Dec 30, 2010 at 20:11

    Jan: ‘I think the best thing to do here is to take it as a set of working hypotheses. Then you can test for yourself these working hypotheses in your own practice, and then reject them or keep them.
    What you cannot test remains in the status of working hypothesis.(This is something different from Zooeys “picking” and “choosing”.)’

    Sure. I very much understand this approach. (Except, I wouldn’t call it hypothesis and testing… the science lingo is a bit misleading in this context.) It’s just that waldorf teachers are teachers. They work in a school. If they are to apply anthroposophical tenets to their teaching and interaction with the children, they need to answer the question of which tenets the agree with and which they do not. What they cannot be allowed to do, is act like there isn’t even a question. They cannot be allowed to pick and choose and not say what they pick and choose. But that’s what they want to do — and what I don’t agree with.

  • 83 ‘the incorporation of the “I” into the body’ (teachers conferences) « zooey // Dec 30, 2010 at 21:22

    [...] Oh, really? I wonder if it is that simple for waldorf education. It’s easy to speak of great tasks and universality and the inclusion of all human beings — another thing entirely to put this in practice. As long as the underlying issue is ignored — i e, the race doctrines of Steiner’s teachings — the big promises and lofty ideas seem futile and rather hypocritical and, most importantly, they are utterly deceptive. What about the ‘transformation’ into ‘meaningful practice’? What about basic honesty? That would work for a start. [...]

  • 84 Thetis // Dec 30, 2010 at 22:08

    Two very important comments from Maimuna and zooey.

    Thanks for translating Tom. They don’t appear to have moved on from the “Frankfurter Memorandum” and “Stuttgart Declaration”.

    ‘How to manage the racism allegations’ is a revealing, if unsurprising title.

  • 85 John Stumbles // Dec 31, 2010 at 02:39

    @ David Colquhoun

    I found your comment (#61) succinctly perceptive: a breath of fresh air in a heated debate that was giving me a headache (if you’ll pardon the purple prose).

    When I first came across Steiner education, in the form of a parent and toddler group that my wife found to take our then-2yo son to when we moved to this town, I think we were both struck by how ‘right’ it felt: the physical environment of natural materials and warm pastel and earth colours rather than plastics and bright primary colours; and the rhythm of the sessions, with periods of free play, a snack shared together, craft activities the parents would do with the children, and always some time outside in the garden. Later my son had a few months in a conventional playgroup, where he never really seemed happy, then went to the Steiner kindergarten, which he seemed much more at home in. This seemed so right for him we barely thought twice about staying on past the 5-yo watershed when some other parents moved their children into conventional education (in Steiner children start school between 6 and 7), and we enrolled him in the school proper. Which, by and large, we’ve been pretty pleased with, both for him and his younger brother.

    Some time during those early years I started to encounter Anthroposophy. I remember being suprised how a form of education that was so good in practice could have such barmy ideas behind it. Being old enough to have started realising that in the real world things are generally more complicated than they seem, I accepted the dichotomy as an amusing and pleasing reversal of the more depressing phenomenon that wonderful-sounding idealistic theories (yes I was a radical socialist once :-/) can turn out so dire in practice.

    So this is where I’m coming from regarding Steiner’s theories and Anthroposophy. I think we need to look not only at the educational theory but the practice – the schools and how the children fare in them – and it would be a loss to education in general if we were to disregard SWE because we rejected the theory behind it. And I know the detractors will be queuing up to tell of classes, even whole schools, where children’s education has been unsatisfactory. I know: our school has, over the years, had a couple of poor teachers who have failed their children, and disappointed and angered their parents. It happens. I know of one parent of a former pupil who is now a fervent critic of our school on internet fora. But there have also been many good teachers who have brought out great things from the children in their care; so much so that many parents make great sacrifices in money, time and effort to keep them there and keep the school alive and thriving.

    With regard to the racism issue: to the extent that Steiner teachers actually believe in, and are informed in their practice, by Steiner’s wacky theories, that is clearly a dreadful thing. But as Richard Wiseman points out in his excellent “Quirkology” people can profess racism and practice tolerance, and vice versa. So a Steiner training with its misguided racial theories won’t necessarily result in teachers bahaving in racist ways (and training people to be non-racist doesn’t necessarily make them behave tolerantly). Even so I’d wholeheartedly agree that any school, especially one receiving state funding, should be doing its best to train its staff in awareness of, and how to deal with, race, gender, sexuality, disability and such issues, and specifically to disavow anything in its founder’s ideas that conflict with a modern humanitarian sensibility.

    From what I understand from talking to some of our teachers, Steiner teachers vary in how pragmatic or dogmatic they are about Steiner’s ideas. I imagine the pragmatists have no trouble adopting his ideas to modern sensibilities and would be no more or less likely to behave in racist or other prejudicial ways than teachers in any other settings. I would guess that the horror stories the anti-Steiner-ites recount involve more dogmatic Steiner teachers (or schools). I would also guess – even be prepared to put money on it – that one could find comparable horror stories of racist and other discriminatory behaviour by teachers and schools in other, non-Steiner, sectors. I think it’s more a reflection of human nature than any innate evil in SWE (though as I say in my previous paragraph, any Steiner school that doesn’t already have active and effective measures to avoid and deal with discrimination should certainly adopt them; and should be clear that Steiner’s ideas on the subject are no longer considered valid).

    Thank you David for hosting this discussion on your blog. And I must extend (perhaps rather grudgingly :-)) thanks to Thetis and Lovelyhorse for their criticisms and the effort they’ve obviously gone to in presenting them – even though I find the polemical way they do so unhelpful to forming a balanced view. (Mind you, I don’t think many of the pro-Steiner faction do their cause any favours either. In fact much of the discussion I’ve waded through makes me want to do this: http://xkcd.com/438/ ;-))

  • 86 Hollywood Tomfortas // Dec 31, 2010 at 04:30

    Thetis wrote:

    They don’t appear to have moved on from the “Frankfurter Memorandum”

    Yes, one might have expected by now at least a followup codicil called the “Hamburger Memorandum.”

    (But since most of them are vegetarians, don’t hold your breath — unless of course, you are a Breatharian.)

  • 87 Thetis // Dec 31, 2010 at 10:20

    @Tom
    Holding my breath for that long would make me an ex-Breatharian.

  • 88 R Smith // Dec 31, 2010 at 13:57

    @John Stumbles
    Interesting that you have now joined the third post. You appear to be trying to make out that DC’s recogntion that the extent to ‘which the barmpottery rub[s] off on parents and children [is] …..variable’ is somehow a more ‘perceptive’ view than that of Thetis and Lovely Horse. Rereading their posts (admittedly long in order to make the argument) it’s quite clear that they have already stated, in line with DC, and indeed with much of what you say:
    – the extent to which teachers are practicing or influenced by anthroposophy is variable (and that the pragmatists will have no problem taking a non racist view)
    – that it is the effect on children in the schools that really matters
    – that some of the [superficial] elements of the education are attractive (natural materials etc).

    However it IS clear that Anthroposophy underpins so much of what happens to children, even though it is not directly taught to them.

    Trying to make out that Thetis and Lovely Horse are being polemical just because they are making a stand (coming to a conclusion which requires action), when their thinking is so nuanced, does your line of argument no favours.

    Your reasoning seems to suggest that all will be fine if we allow those running the schools to oversee training to ensure that Steiner’s racial ideas are expunged from the school.
    But these are anthroposophists, the very people most likely to believe in Steiner’s spiritual racial hierarchy and who don’t even see these doctrines as being racially discriminatory.

    So, it’s great that you agree that there are teachers (the non-pragmatists) who ARE likely to be influenced by Steiner’s race theories. I think we can all agree that this is a problem. It’s just a shame you have come to the conclusion that the voices of parents and children experiencing racism should be ignored because it appears to you that other children have a good experience.

  • 89 DW // Dec 31, 2010 at 14:08

    “So a Steiner training with its misguided racial theories won’t necessarily result in teachers bahaving in racist ways (and training people to be non-racist doesn’t necessarily make them behave tolerantly). Even so I’d wholeheartedly agree that any school, especially one receiving state funding, should be doing its best to train its staff in awareness of, and how to deal with, race, gender, sexuality, disability and such issues, and specifically to disavow anything in its founder’s ideas that conflict with a modern humanitarian sensibility.”

    John – if this is your argument, what exactly is your disagreement with the authors then?

    I think the point is many Waldorf supporters – and certainly official institutional spokespersons *don’t* disavow the “ideas that conflict with a modern humanitarian sensibility,” i.e., the racist doctrines.

  • 90 Thetis // Dec 31, 2010 at 17:09

    zooey has found some revealing info at the website of the Goetheanum’s pedagogical section. She links to above:
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/the-incorporation-of-the-%E2%80%9Ci%E2%80%9D-into-the-body-teachers-conferences/

    If there is any doubt about the anthroposophical basis of Steiner Waldorf ed., this clarification is helpful.

  • 91 tomdehavas // Dec 31, 2010 at 22:54

    I am qualified to comment on this because;
    1) I was Steiner educated from 4 to 16. I am not a well meaning parent that never experienced it, nor an academic reading about it for the first time.

    2) I chose to send my three daughters age 18, 15, 6 to state education.

    3) I am an atheist and follow mainstream scientific principles but my father and mother were deeply into Steiner.

    RACIST! I suspect that your objective is to try to stop the state funding of Steiner schools by trying to find any pretext you can. I would suggest that you actually look at what really happens in the schools not what you think happens. Hold onto reality or don’t call yourself a scientist call yourself a spin doctor. I have heard of teachers in the state system openly expressing racism during the 1960s and 70s when I was at school. I never even got a hint of it from teachers in my Steiner school and I have no doubt they would have been sacked instantly for expressing anything like it. My maths teacher was Indian married to a white English woman, my kindergarten teacher was dark but I don’t know where she was from and it never even crossed my mind to ask. I know one child in my class was racist and I asked my mother “Why does Quentin tease Marlene because she is black?” Not the absence of a comma. I had no concept that black was a reason to tease anybody and that never changed. My father Frederic de Havas lectured on Rudolf Steiner and was Jewish his sisters lived in Dornach and were high up in the movement. As for talking about disability discrimination. The care provided by the Steiner based Camp Hill movement for people with downs and autism meant they lived full lives I saw it. The idea of racial hierarchy was prevalent at the time Steiner was writing and it is not surprising therefore that it effected him, however his barmpot ideas about reincarnation meant that he could not value any one human being above another. In many ways he was far ahead of his time in being less racist than by far the majority. SO PLEASE TAKE YOUR FICTION OF THE RACIST STEINER SCHOOL AND PUT IT WHERE IT BELONGS. NON-SCIENCE.
    I am really looking forward to meeting you in open debate. Perhaps we could invite a barmpot along too, but please lay off the smear campaign and stick to the reality.

  • 92 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 02:53

    So tomdehavas, if you did not observe racism at the Steiner school you attended, it must not exist at any Steiner school? This is not a convincing argument, nor is the name dropping about “higher ups in the movement.”

  • 93 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 03:00

    \The idea of racial hierarchy was prevalent at the time Steiner was writing and it is not surprising therefore that it effected him,\

    Except that he was supposed to be clairvoyant. Why would he be affected by mistaken racial notions, then? There are two possibilities here, for believing anthroposophists: 1) His multiple offensive pronouncements about \higher and lower\ races, \outdated\ racial forms and the like, were all crap, which would make him, um, not clairvoyant; or 2) he was really clairvoyant … and therefore *right* in his multiple offensive racial pronouncements. Which? It does not seem possible to have this both ways, tomdehavas.

    \however his barmpot ideas about reincarnation meant that he could not\The idea of racial hierarchy was prevalent at the time Steiner was writing and it is not surprising therefore that it effected him,\

    Except that he was supposed to be clairvoyant. Why would he be affected by mistaken racial notions, then? There are two possibilities here, for believing anthroposophists: 1) His multiple offensive pronouncements about \higher and lower\ races, \outdated\ racial forms and the like, were all crap, which would make him, um, not clairvoyant; or 2) he was really clairvoyant … and therefore *right* in his multiple offensive racial pronouncements. Which? It does not seem possible to have this both ways, tomdehavas.

    \however his barmpot ideas about reincarnation meant that he could not value any one human being above another.\

    You’ll have to explain. How does this follow? value any one human being above another.\

    You’ll have to explain. How does this follow?

  • 94 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 03:02

    Sorry the above is garbled – I’ve had a lot of trouble getting posts through. I guess it makes some sense till about halfway through, then it’s full of wacky repeats. sorry!!

  • 95 Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 1, 2011 at 07:52

    Greetings, DW! Now that’s what I call a double bind! As you put it so well:
    For true Anthros, they either have to (1) reject the racism, which means rejecting Steiner’s clairvoyance (and thus anthroposophy!) or else (2) accept the racism as a true expression of Steiner’s clairvoyance (and thus salvage anthroposophy)

    Well, they easily escape the snares of this trap by opting for choice (2) and further justifying that choice by espousing the fundamental doctrine of anthroposophy — which Steiner called a “the science of karma,” — i.e., reincarnation, and as you will see, that — presto! — nullifies the racism!

    I’ll let Tom de Foras answer in his way, but the reason reincarnation means treating everyone as equal is due to the wider perspective that reincarnation provides.

    You see, to a true Anthro, racism is only a problem for those people who reject reincarnation and thus are stuck believing that this one life is “only this and nothing more. Quoth the raven: Nevermore!” In that case, then, clearly anthroposophy appears undeniably terribly racist to them, because once you’re black, you’re black for the rest of your life. You die black and that’s it. So of course you would see Steiner as terribly racist. But now watch the Anthro slip through the trap door and escape from the double bind that DW put them in.

    You see, if you believe in Steiner’s ideas about reincarnation, then you get a second chance, a 3rd chance, a 4th, . . . (not quite ad infinitum, since reincarnation ends in 5,883 years — I’ll do the math another time), so if you are black or brown or yellow in this life, you’ll get a chance to improve your racial “maturity” shall I say, by making the most out of your colored lifetime now, and then reincarnating in a better lighter racial family in the future.

    But wait, there’s more! You see it also cuts both ways. According to Steiner, when we develop our compassion and empathy to a high enough degree, the Caucasians in this life may willingly sacrifice their next life by re-incarnating in one of the lower darker-skinned races, the ones that are destined to die out anyway. (Can you say: White Man’s Burden?)

    Hopefully, this might help explain why Anthros will never renounce Steiner’s racism even if they acknowledge or admit it. What an Anthro might say to a “Critic of Color,” let’s say, could go like this:

    Look, I agree with you that Steiner is racist, but it’s not really a bad racism because of reincarnation. But since you reject reincarnation, then you can’t help but make the racism out to be much worse than it really is. And that makes it your problem, not mine. Actually, I do sympathize with your plight now as a person of color, but if you would just accept reincarnation, then you would see that your present plight is temporary. You see, while it is true that ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’, it is also true that the leopard will someday die and could very well come back as an unspotted lion.

  • 96 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 11:47

    Dear DW I must ask you to maintain logic in these discussions.

    My experience at my Steiner School was that Racism was absolutely out and certainly not an integral part of the institution. That is my empirical experience just as I experience that cups hold water. It does not therefore prove that all cups I have not tried do not hold water. i.e. perhaps every Steiner thing I had no contact with is racist, but given I had a lot of contact my empirical scientific conclusion is that cups do hold water and the Steiner institutions are not racist.

    Steiner was a nut as far as I’m concerned so “clairvoyant” no such thing! Give me a break. So I agree with “1) His multiple offensive pronouncements about \higher and lower\ races, \outdated\ racial forms and the like, were all crap”

    Don’t worry about the repeat I think I understood it.

    Dear Hollywood Tomfortas Anthros are unreasonable people as are the majority. They are quite capable of living lives with at least 16 (JOKE) totally contradictory beliefs without ever noticing the problem. So for this reason you can’t expect a little problem like a contradiction to bring them down. When reading the bible God kills every first child of the Egyptians but he was still the God of love. With Steiner even devoted Anthros pick and choose what they accept or don’t accept and I would say that my school experience was that the teachers never expressed or condoned racism or sexism, while the state system seperated girls and boys for needle work and metel work for example, Steiner schools did not. It was never even suggested that needlework was inherently feminine or metal work masculine unlike the mainstream. This lack of discrimination ran through everything, we didn’t even care who was smart and who was dumb because attention was never drawn to it. Every child was given the idea that they had a place in society.

    Just to finish off. What bothers me about you lot is that you persist in trying to work out what goes on in Steiner school classrooms based on the Steiner bookshelf which is not only huge but mostly not about education and does not effect the classroom. It is therefore neither here nor there what the teacher believes when they are teaching how to add numbers, for example. My experience is that good teachers and bad teachers are just that and we should look at what they teach. Newton himself believed in some pretty silly stuff outside of mathematics but it would have been a great shame to reject F=ma just because Newton believed in god. Look in the class rooms in all schools. Watch what happens. Having been a pupil in the Steiner class room I know what I found wrong with it and right with it and what I found wrong with and right with the teachers I faced.
    Personally I think most modern education, including Steiner, is a disaster in many ways. From the classes of 30 in which my children have struggled to learn to the segregation based on age rather than ability. To universities that have been being deliberately destroyed by subsequent governments since the 80s. What are we to be left with.

    I hated school not because it was Steiner school but because it was school for a host of reasons that could apply to any school. But I must say I had a diversity of teachers many of whom knew their craft well. A few were obviously Gesteinered as we said, but most were not.

    Finally on racism. My maths teacher who was indian and well known enough in the world of mining and explosives to have been made an “honorary white” so he could lecture in a South African University, was probably never asked how much Steiner claptrap he believed in, it certainly never effected his teaching or his exploding!

    I guess when they employed Dr Gor Sen at Wynstones they forgot they were meant to be racist.

    I was at Wynstones school from 1966 to 1978.

    Tom de Havas

    http://www.mydropintheocean.org

  • 97 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 11:54

    Sorry Correction:
    Replace \It does not therefore prove that all cups I have not tried do not hold water.\

    \It does not therefore prove that all cups I have not tried do hold water, they might all not.\

  • 98 Thetis // Jan 1, 2011 at 12:10

    @DW – thanks! It does bear repeating, so your repeats may be a conscious glitch by an exasperated gremlin in wordpress.

    @Tom – it’s exactly those concepts of ‘racial maturity’ and the possibility of ‘sacrificing’ a life as a non-Caucasian that are so chilling. That’s a shrewd description of the anthroposophists’ double bind and their ‘spiritual’ escape route, which when understood really should disqualify them from running schools.

  • 99 zooey // Jan 1, 2011 at 13:16

    If having been a steiner school student is a requirement to express an opinion on the racist elements of anthroposophy, then I’m qualified too, Tom de H.

    I can tell you on thing — I never experienced racism either. But I cannot speak for the non-white children who attended the school. (They were few, and the ones I know of chose to leave. Obviously I cannot say why.) But what should be the focus is the underlying philosophy. And the problem with anthroposophy is not just the racism issue but other issues too. Like the temperament doctrine and judging children based on physical appearances. These issues are related to the race doctrines. And you can never get away from the fact that karma and incarnation play a role in waldorf education.

    I’m afraid it seems you don’t know a thing about anthroposophy or its role in waldorf education. Despite having been a student in one steiner school. Unfortunately your manner of discussing is rather typical for lots of former waldorf students. Angry, ranting, uninformed, abusive.

  • 100 lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 14:22

    The Steiner Waldorf teacher training BA at the University of Plymouth is now in the process of closing, the last intake was September 2009. However the University still runs the International Masters Programme in Eurythmy and is looking at the possibility of integrating a Steiner Waldorf Education pathway within its BA Education Studies. The University library holds three of the books Peter mentions in message 57 that include the racial teachings of Rudolf Steiner:

    Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment

    Cosmic Memory

    The Apocalypse of St. John

    I would like to ask Tom de Havas, what do you think those books are doing there?

  • 101 Valerie Walsh // Jan 1, 2011 at 17:15

    “You can be satisfied that you do have the truth on your side — that Steiner is a racist, no question about it, I fully agree — but I also see that there’s not a damned thing you can do about stopping the Waldorf juggernaut in the world today. (Can you say: “Waldorf schools in Israel?”)”

    Dear Cassandra,

    I can honestly say I am not convinced in either case-could you please make the inquiry as to how knitting is being taught within the confines of the Waldorf Schools of Israel? Left to right or right to left?

    תודה רבה לכם, שה טובה

    Val

  • 102 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 17:18

    “But now watch the Anthro slip through the trap door and escape from the double bind that DW put them in.”

    Tom, you and I have had this discussion before. I’m afraid the “trap door” does not work, in fact it reveals that, well, you need a trap door, which attests to the fact that there is an inherent problem.

    I’ll try to make it simple: whether you believe in reincarnation or not *does not matter* in determining whether Steiner’s racial doctrines are racist. A belief in reincarnation is not relevant to the question at hand. The doctrines are racist if they express racist content; not if the believer in the doctrines believes in reincarnation or not.

    You see the reincarnation as a “loophole,” allowing the believer somehow to “escape” the charge of racism. I see exactly the opposite. I see the need for a so-called loophole or trap door as evidence you’d better take a closer look at the theory. If it were not racist, an escape, trap door etc. would not be necessary.

    The doctrine is racist owing to the existence of elements such as “higher and lower races,” “backward” races that Steiner taught were “left behind” in evolution, ideas about the “white race” being the most spiritually creative, statements about blacks “not belonging” in Europe, American Indians being “destined” to die out, Africans being “childlike” spiritually while Europeans are adult, and much more. Focus on that, on the doctrine, not on the loopholes believers construct for themselves in order to say to themselves, “I believe this stuff other people think is racist, but here’s why I’m not a racist after all.”

    The idea that one “escapes” one’s present race in a future lifetime, or goes up or down the racial ladder based on karma in successive lifetimes, or “sacrifices” something to incarnate in a “lower race,” – all these ideas provide an excuse to say this-or-that about specific races. It is the *statements* that are racist, and rationalizations about why it’s okay to believe such statemetns anyway are not a magic cure.

    Anthroposophists, like most racists, often have many other beliefs that they believe lets them off the hook for the racist charge. For instance, they believe – as do many people – that if you are a nice person you cannot be a racist. This is a false belief. The notion that “If I believe in reincarnation in different races, I can’t be racist,” functions the same way. It is a rationalization, and a failure to come to terms with the anthroposophical race doctrines’ content.

    Racism consists of offensive beliefs about races – not beliefs about individuals. Anthroposophists are often confused about this. An anthroposophist says, in effect, “You may be black, but I won’t hold it against you, since you may come back white next time.” This convoluted belief system allows the anthroposophist to believe him- or herself “not racist” because he or she has nothing against this individual black person – just crazy beliefs *about blacks*. Not about Joe or Jane, who may happen to be black, but about blacks. Beliefs *about blacks* such as lower or higher spirituality are racist – not beliefs about Joe or Jane. Beliefs such as skin color indicating something about a person’s spirituality are racist. Just because you also believe that Joe or Jane is a nice person – despite being black – does not magically make your beliefs about Joe or Jane’s skin color not racist. Get it?

  • 103 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 17:25

    First the rude manner I have adopted in replying to these posts is really in the spirit of the board. “Barmpots” etc.

    Thetis // Jan 1, 2011 at 12:10 Regarding your comment I can’t really respond since it describes nothing real.

    zooey // Jan 1, 2011 at 13:16 I was actually commenting on the lack of racist elements in the school where it counts. And yes I am white even if half Jewish, don’t ask a Jew about it?! I think I said my piece about my Indian math teacher By the way his kids were at the school and they were half cast. Also another child in my class was half indian she went through from 4 to 18 and now teaches at the school. (She is half cast)

    “I’m afraid it seems you don’t know a thing about anthroposophy or its role in waldorf education. Despite having been a student in one steiner school. Unfortunately your manner of discussing is rather typical for lots of former waldorf students. Angry, ranting, uninformed, abusive.”

    I’m afraid I did agree with you before that I was ignorant about athroposophy and I explained already why this proves I was not subject to indoctrination at the school which was one of the points raised.

    You say “Angry, ranting, uninformed, abusive.” I am angry because they have accused people of being racist who were not in order to play out their other agenda. Ranting yes but that I share with Thetis, but this does not validate or invalidate my points it is simply a matter of style or lack of it, abusive, was I, sorry. The people I have most abused have been anthroposophists by echoing the tone I found on this site. Anthroposophists have infuriated me at times, but despite the many bad things I could say about them, certian serious allagations presented here about waldorf education are false within my experience and therefore should not be included as considerations in a decision as to whether Steiner schools should or should not be funded by the state.

    It seems many people here are determined to focus on and intensely exaggerate the stupidest aspects of Anthroposophy making out that they are the main features of the Steiner school system. They just are not. Catholics think Jesus sits in a box at the end of the church or something, I don’t remember, but you ignore all that. Lets ban everybody from teaching that doesn’t accept evolution fully because I’m sure you will agree they are quite deranged not to, given the overwhelming evidence. I’m sorry if that sounds rude but its true.

    P.S. Which school were you at and what years Zooey?

    lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 14:22
    Regarding the books. The bible suggests you should stone members of your family who try to talk you out of belief in god, yet my mother, a believer does not accept this aspect of the doctrine. Anthroposophists are also free to choose what they accept or do not. People who drive VW cars don’t exterminate jews. To be frank when I was at school we mocked the Germans WWII and all that and that was odd because we had many of them in the Steiner system.

  • 104 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 17:28

    You guys are really keeping me busy. Best wishes to all and a Happy New Year.

  • 105 John Stumbles // Jan 1, 2011 at 17:38

    @DW #89
    “John – if this is your argument, what exactly is your disagreement with the authors then?”

    In a nutshell my difference is that I see the education that my, and other, children get at their Steiner school to be better than they’d get elsewhere. I don’t believe there’s any magic to it and I’m sure we could have schools giving as good, or better, education without the mystical cojones, but at present there aren’t any that I know of in our area.

  • 106 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 18:17

    Yes absolutely. John Stumbles. and
    1) Are they seeing racism at school?
    2) Are they getting Anthroposophy classes?
    Probably not.

  • 107 zooey // Jan 1, 2011 at 19:28

    Tom deH: ‘I am angry because they have accused people of being racist who were not in order to play out their other agenda.’

    You have not read their post apparently.

    ‘certian serious allagations presented here about waldorf education are false within my experience and therefore should not be included as considerations in a decision as to whether Steiner schools should or should not be funded by the state.’

    And your experience is what society should base its decisions upon? Why your experience? Why not Maimuna’s then?

    No, I think we should base such decisons not on particular case but on knowledge about what waldorf education is. You would have to leave personal experience and inform yourself about it first though. You would have to read what Steiner and other anthroposophists are saying about education. You would have to inform yourself about what waldorf teachers are trained to do.

    I agree the racism issue is just one part and that you cannot look only at that part. But nobody is holding such simplemindedness as an ideal anyway. It’s just that the racism discussion — and anthroposophists’ inability to deal with their movement’s past (and sometimes present) — is quite symptomatic for what’s so wrong in the first place.

    ‘1) Are they seeing racism at school?
    2) Are they getting Anthroposophy classes?’

    I sure hope you don’t imagine that these are claims Thetis and others are making? (That would, as I’ve already stated, tell us something rather interesting about your reading comprehension.)

  • 108 Andreas Lichte // Jan 1, 2011 at 19:31

    @ tomdehavas & John Stumbles

    Do you know that you keep an almost forgotten German tradition alive? You still use Germans’ favourite excuse:

    “But I did not know anything about it!”

    ["Aber ich hab' doch nichts davon gewusst!"]

    That’s a quote from my report on my Waldorf teacher training:

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/andreas_lichte.html

    I’m sure you won’t care that Waldorf teachers are brainwashed with Steiner. Why should you?

  • 109 John Stumbles // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:22

    @Andreas Lichte #107

    Getting close to Godwin’s Law here!

    Actually your phrase the “Germans’ favourite excuse” seems to me a bit racist (against German people). During the 1930s during the time Germany was under the Nazi dictatorship (and therefore their citizens had no means short of insurrection to overturn their rule) we in the still democratically controlled UK and other free countries collectively turned a blind eye to what was going on in Germany, to the point of appeasing Hitler at Munich. After the war of course we (rightly) prosecuted Germans who had had a part in the Nazi atrocities, but administered not even a slap on the wrist to those in our own countries who had aided and abbetted them, and who would, no doubt, have happily rounded up the communists, gipsies, Jews and ‘mental defectives’ here if our own country had fallen to the Nazis.

    Oh and when you say ‘brainwashed’ please tell me what you mean here. Don’t Steiner teachers voluntarily and willingly study whatever it is constitutes Steiner teacher training? Or is it a case of “studying what I agree with” is education, “studying what I disagree with” is brainwashing?

  • 110 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:37

    “But now watch the Anthro slip through the trap door and escape from the double bind that DW put them in.”

    Tom, you and I have had this discussion before. I’m afraid the “trap door” does not work, in fact it reveals that, well, you need a trap door, which attests to the fact that there is an inherent problem.

    I’ll try to make it simple: whether you believe in reincarnation or not *does not matter* in determining whether Steiner’s racial doctrines are racist. A belief in reincarnation is not relevant. The doctrines are racist if they express racist content, not if the believer in the doctrines believes in reincarnation or not.

    The doctrine is racist owing to the existence of elements such as “higher and lower races,” “backward” races that Steiner taught were “left behind” in evolution, ideas about the white race being the most “spiritually creative,” statements about blacks “not belonging” in Europe, American Indians being “destined” to die out, Africans having “boiling blood” and being spiritually “childlike” while Europeans are spiritually mature, and much more.

    Focus on that – on the doctrine, not on ingenious loopholes believers construct for themselves in order to say to themselves, “I believe this stuff other people think is racist, but here’s why I’m not a racist after all.”

    The idea that one “escapes” one’s present race in a future lifetime, or goes up or down the racial ladder based on karma in successive lifetimes, or “sacrifices” something to incarnate in a “lower race” – all these ideas provide an excuse to say this-or-that about specific races. It is the *statements* that are racist, and rationalizations about why it’s okay to believe such statements anyway do not change the content of the statements, or somehow absolve the believer of responsibility to assess their content.

    Anthroposophists have in common with racists of various stripes the fact that they often have other beliefs that they believe let them off the hook for the racist charge. For instance, they believe – as do many people – that if you are a nice person you cannot be a racist. This is a false belief. Or they may believe that if they don’t participate in discriminating against people of other races, they cannot be racist. (On the Waldorf critics list, one told us recently that he can’t be racist because he believed it was ok for a black man to run for president.) Very commonly, they believe that if they have friends of other races, they cannot be racist. Again false.

    The notion that “If I believe in reincarnation in different races, I can’t be racist,” functions the same way. It is a rationalization, and a failure to come to terms with anthroposophical race doctrines’ content.

    Racism consists of offensive beliefs about races – not beliefs about individuals. Anthroposophists are often confused about this. An anthroposophist says, in effect, “You may be black, but I won’t hold it against you, since you may come back white next time.” This convoluted belief system allows the anthroposophist to believe him- or herself “not racist” because he or she has nothing against this *individual* black person – just dodgy beliefs *about blacks*. Not about Joe or Jane, who may happen to be black, but about blacks. Beliefs *about blacks* such as lower or higher spirituality are racist – not beliefs about Joe or Jane. Believing that skin color indicates something about a person’s spirituality is racist. Just because you also believe that Joe or Jane is a nice person – despite being black – does not magically make your beliefs about Joe or Jane’s skin color not racist.

    If you believe that a person’s skin color says something about their spirituality, you are a racist, because that belief is racist, regardless of whether you’re also a nice guy and willing to not hold people’s skin color against them, willing to vote for them, willing to admit them to your school, or maybe you even believe you may have once had an undesirable skin color yourself in a previous lifetime. You may even believe you will be a different, undesirable (darker) skin color in a future lifetime. None of these beliefs or behaviors makes your beliefs about skin color magically not racist.

  • 111 Valerie Walsh // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:37

  • 112 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:41

    Tom de H, there are a number of problems with your own logic. You wrote:

    “My experience at my Steiner School was that Racism was absolutely out and certainly not an integral part of the institution. That is my empirical experience just as I experience that cups hold water. It does not therefore prove that all cups I have not tried do not hold water. i.e. perhaps every Steiner thing I had no contact with is racist, but given I had a lot of contact my empirical scientific conclusion is that cups do hold water and the Steiner institutions are not racist.”

    I am afraid this does not follow. Experience with one school that you experienced as “not racist” does not allow one to conclude that “Steiner institutions are not racist.” Sorry.

    You also wrote:

    “Finally on racism. My maths teacher who was indian and well known enough in the world of mining and explosives to have been made an “honorary white” so he could lecture in a South African University, was probably never asked how much Steiner claptrap he believed in, it certainly never effected his teaching or his exploding!”

    I suspect you may be more a product of your education that you realize. I cannot tell you how many conversations just like this one I have had with anthroposophists who make statements like yours above and have absolutely no notion that anything is wrong with it. Attempts to reason with this simply make the other person incredulous and unable to reply, in my experience, and as you have stated the same thing twice now, with no apparent awareness of its nonsensicalness, I wonder if you’ll be able to clarify. I’ll ask you to try: Why do you think that stating that you had a math teacher who was Indian, suggests that Steiner schools are not racist? What is the reasoning behind such a statement? Are you unaware that it is common for racists to state that they have friends (relatives, lovers, co-workers, teachers, etc.) of other races?

    I am not accusing you of racism, by the way. I am pointing out that your having had an Indian math teacher while attending a Steiner school has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether Steiner’s beliefs were racist or whether these beliefs play out in Steiner schools. (Yours or anyone else’s. They simply do not relate.)

    Your statement does, however, suggest you aren’t well educated about racism, which, in itself, is so common in discussing Steiner schools with their supporters that critics have to wonder whether Steiner devotees would recognize racism in the schools if they were staring straight at it. You don’t seem to be able to identify what one might look for in looking for racism.

    “I guess when they employed Dr Gor Sen at Wynstones they forgot they were meant to be racist.”

    Do you mean to state that if the school employed an Indian they could not have been racist? Surely you are able to examine this statement and its implications. I urge you to try.

    Your statement that he was an “honorary white” is baffling. Please elaborate.

  • 113 lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:43

    John, please acquaint yourself with your movements history before pinning your hopes on Godwin. From Peter Staudenmaier’s essay ‘The Art of Avoiding History':

    “What is worrisome about the Waldorf movement’s continued failure to address anthroposophy’s racial legacy is not that Waldorf schools in the twenty-first century will start churning out little Hitler youths; what is worrisome is that Waldorf advocates and sympathizers may unknowingly help prepare the ideological groundwork for another unforeseen shift in the broader cultural terrain, in which notions of racial and ethnic superiority and inferiority could once again take on a spiritual significance that lends itself all too easily to practical implementation in a changed social and political context. For this reason among others, I strongly encourage those involved in Waldorf endeavors to take another look at the history of their movement and the doctrines at its core”.

    http://www.social-ecology.org/2009/01/the-art-of-avoiding-history-2/

  • 114 DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:48

    “By the way his kids were at the school and they were half cast. Also another child in my class was half indian she went through from 4 to 18 and now teaches at the school. (She is half cast)”

    Say what? They were “half-caste”? ??

    Are you attempting to say that if there were any racism in Steiner’s doctrines or any racism at the school you are describing, these children could not have been enrolled at the school? Or that the teacher who was “half-caste” could not have taught at the school? Is that what you think?

    I suggest you inform yourself as to what the doctrines consist of. The doctrines are racist. That does not mean the doctrines state that “half-caste” Indians cannot attend or teach at Steiner schools.

  • 115 Andreas Lichte // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:48

    @ John Stumbles #109

    … you are getting more than close to “appeasing” Rudolf Steiner …

    You ask: “Oh and when you say ‘brainwashed’ please tell me what you mean here.”

    what about simply reading my report?

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/andreas_lichte.html

    “Wondrous Waldorf Pedagogy or Atlantis as State of Consciousness”

  • 116 John Stumbles // Jan 1, 2011 at 21:13

    @ R Smith #88

    “It’s just a shame you have come to the conclusion that the voices of parents and children experiencing racism should be ignored because it appears to you that other children have a good experience.”

    I haven’t come to that conclusion. I didn’t think my comment gave that impression but if it did, my bad. Racism in Steiner (or any other) schools is wrong and bad and any school where it happens should deal with it effectively, both in terms of addressing whatever incident has already occurred and doing whatever is necessary to ensure it is not likely to recur.

  • 117 John Stumbles // Jan 1, 2011 at 21:33

    @lovelyhorse #113

    Anthroposophy isn’t ‘my movement’.

    But for what it’s worth I’ve been talking to my 17yo ex-Steiner son and 3 of his friends who happen to be around today and they say they didn’t pick up anything of Steiner’s ideas on race that you and Thetis talk about. I did ask them in as neutral way as I could so they wouldn’t say what they might think I was ‘wanting’ to hear. In any case they’ve always been pretty candid about the bad as well as the good aspects of their experience at the school. So I don’t share your and Peter Staudenmaier’s worries about sowing the seeds of racism or fascism, at least in these young people.

  • 118 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 22:56

    DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:37 Look I was not saying that the text wasn’t racist but that few anthroposophists would accept that part of the text and that my experience at school is that racism was far less than in mainstream education at the time. I have cited my experience in other posts and barring dragging you to meet some of my half cast friends I don’t know what else I can do.

    Racism is condemed now because nationalism does its job. We restrict peoples movement across borders to ensure that Chinese people cannot take “our” jobs. They work for dirt, we pay rock bottom prices. You know what’s worse is we like it that way. Sorry deviation here. See http://www.mydropintheocean.org/society/principles/equality/discrimination-and-nationality

    Valerie Walsh // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:37
    Yah because some of the kids wore Lada hosen to school they were actualy nazis. Hay I’ve got another one! Steiner schools are actually just Nazis teaching racial supremacy. Oh but wait! My dad was a Jew!

    DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:41 I quote ‘I am afraid this does not follow. Experience with one school that you experienced as “not racist” does not allow one to conclude that “Steiner institutions are not racist.” Sorry.’ Really DW, and your extensive psychologic profiling does. Come on.

    Yes actually I am perfectly aware that many white racists state “Some of my best friends ar black” At my school we thought black and white were paint colours. That it was normal to have people around that had different skin colour, hair colour or eye colour, accents etc. But you know better don’t you. You were not there but you know.

    I quote ‘I am not accusing you of racism, by the way. I am pointing out that your having had an Indian math teacher while attending a Steiner school has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether Steiner’s beliefs were racist or whether these beliefs play out in Steiner schools. (Yours or anyone else’s. They simply do not relate.) Oh really! So now I understand that there was probably deeply hidden racism in the school its just it never ever showed. Yeah right and I believe in fairies. Pull the other one DW.

    I quote ‘Your statement does, however, suggest you aren’t well educated about racism, which, in itself, is so common in discussing Steiner schools with their supporters that critics have to wonder whether Steiner devotees would recognize racism in the schools if they were staring straight at it. You don’t seem to be able to identify what one might look for in looking for racism.’ No of course not I could never identify a racist, I haven’t been trained in it. Come on DW don’t give me this PC rubbish. Respect for all people was innate in my Steiner education.

    I Quote ‘“I guess when they employed Dr Gor Sen at Wynstones they forgot they were meant to be racist.”

    Do you mean to state that if the school employed an Indian they could not have been racist? Surely you are able to examine this statement and its implications. I urge you to try.’

    Oh let me think? They employed him so they could say their best friends were black. Perhaps you should just come out with it DW for you everybody is a racist because actually not noticing race is actually a subtle form of racism.

    Can I suggest rather than relying on the ancient texts of Anthroposophy which many Steiner teachers haven’t even read, you actually look for some empirical evidence of racism on the ground in Steiner schools. I am sure you would find some as you would in many schools but not the way you think.

    lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:43 In principle I agree with what you are saying. I think we should all look at the history of racism and all the other isms that have been excuses for nepotism and exploitation of the other, but this danger is not coming out of anthroposophy and is not in its education. It is rife in society as a whole with the concept of the “muslim terrorist”. I recall a Sunday Times Headline February 10, 2008 Minister warns of ‘inbred’ Muslims. It was on the front page. At the time they were trying to raise hate against the muslims. It was so Nazi it shoked me to the core. You people should wake up to the real world.

    DW // Jan 1, 2011 at 20:48 what I have been trying to make clear to you is that no racist doctrine was practices by any teacher I was aware of. I have never seen a wild elephant in the UK. Quite rightly you would point out to me that this does not prove there isn’t one. Likewise the presence of non-whites in school does not prove that there wasn’t racism. It just makes it more likely that there wasn’t.

    Again I repeat I fully accept that the racist pages of the books reproduced here are accurately reproduced. What i do not accept is the idea that anthroposophists in general accept what is on those pages and act in a discriminatory way as a result of that acceptance.

    FINALLY to repeat John Stumbles I fully support his statement:
    ‘Racism in Steiner (or any other) schools is wrong and bad and any school where it happens should deal with it effectively, both in terms of addressing whatever incident has already occurred and doing whatever is necessary to ensure it is not likely to recur.’

    Hay the Racist English Defence League are planning a big rally in Luton on 5th Feb there will probably be a riot. Perhaps all of you worried about the re-emergence of racism in Steiner schools might pop over to see how many kids are there from the Kings Langley Steiner School and get an idea what real racism is.

    While you kind people are devotedly fighting racism in the Steiner Schools the real racists are busy. Or is it that your afraid to really fight racism when it means sticking up for the Muslims in Luton.

    You tell me Steiner schools

  • 119 tomdehavas // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:01

    The biggest trouble with this and most sites is their inability to support proper point by point discussion groups. Sad how technology often goes backwards. Remember the old tree structured newsgroups.

    I’m let this group alone for a while now i have spent nearly 9 hours on it and its too long.

  • 120 John Stumbles // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:19

    @Andreas Lichte #115

    Ha ha!

    I talked about the appeasement of Hitler.

    You talk about ““appeasing” Rudolf Steiner …”

    Is it possible to understand that in any way other than that you’re comparing Steiner with Hitler?!

    What was I saying about Godwin’s law? ;-)

  • 121 PeteK // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:21

    Tomdehavas,

    Please read message #27. Highland Hall Waldorf School taught Steiner’s racist doctrine to my child. Period. No denial from them (other than they don’t think it was racist). They taught what I claim in message #27. So… clearly the TEACHING of racist ideas exists in Waldorf.

  • 122 lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:33

    @TomdeHavas comment 118: ‘Can I suggest rather than relying on the ancient texts of Anthroposophy which many Steiner teachers haven’t even read..’

    You may want to take a look at the University of Plymouth Steiner Waldorf teacher training BA current reading list: http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/plymreadinglists/

    Also former Steiner pupil Roger Rawlings has a page on teacher training: https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/teacher-training

  • 123 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:09

    Having been married to a second-generation Anthroposophist, Waldorf graduate and currently Waldorf teacher (whose mother and father were both Waldorf teachers)… I can say, categorically, that at least some Waldorf teachers use a child’s physical and racial traits when evaluating them. In my two-and-a-half decade experience with Waldorf, I can say I’ve met hundreds of Waldorf teachers who do this.

    Virtually ALL Waldorf teachers believe in assigning a temperament to each child. It is indeed, part of their training. Temperaments are based on physical, hereditary traits.

    “The temperament is the meeting of the spiritual aspect of oneself, which one refers to as ‘I’, and the contributions of the father and mother. The temperament is the result of the blending of these two streams, the spirit and heredity.” (From “Waldorf Education – A Family Guide” – p. 60 The Role of Temperament in Understanding the Child by Rene Querido)

    How do the temperaments find their way into everyday activities?

    “If you put on a play, you should cast the characters according to the temperaments of your students. You might, for example, ask your cholerics to play Julius Caesar, and you might cast your sanguines as the messengers, since they would enjoy running in and out with the news. The melancholics love philosophical roles. … The phlegmatics, on the other hand, like the parts where they can sit and think, removed from the central action of the play.”

    (From “Waldorf Education – A Family Guide” – p. 65-66 The Role of Temperament in Understanding the Child by Rene Querido)

    Another way that racism through the temperaments is expressed is through the “Greek Olympics” or “Pentathlon” games in the 5th grade. This event will usually involve children from neighboring schools competing in several events (it’s usually seven events in my area, so pentathlon loses its meaning). The children are not separated by school – but by temperaments. Each temperament represents a different city-state in Greece, e.g. Red=Sparta, etc. So, from a curriculum point of view, Waldorf schools see some benefit in having, for example, all the “superficial” children compete against each other. All the “lazy” children compete together, as do all the “self-pitying” children and the “destructive dictators.” They get their own colored uniforms or identifications – each associated with Steiner’s colors. Choleric children get red, for example.

    The children get to march around all day wearing a uniform that identifies them to their classmates perhaps as “lazy.” Remember this is based at least partly on heredity and body shape. If the identification wasn’t clear from the start, it is easy to see which children are lumped together at a glance. The obese children are all wearing blue. A child simply has to look at their uniform to see who they have been associated with. Often, classmates or siblings will tease children based on the color of their uniform. This can be distressing for some children. And for what? Why separate children by heredity and body shape in the first place?

    That teachers/schools would make such a division of children based on some perceived temperament and then have this decision displayed to all the children is, in my opinion, a cruel thing to do to children. To divide children in games using heredity and body shape as a criteria, especially in the way described above, is hurtful nonsense; it is Anthroposophy at its worst. It divides and harms children in a very ugly and thoughtless way. Frankly, if a teacher or school thinks my child is lazy, or superficial, or dictatorial, or self-pitying, they should pretty much keep it out of my child’s consciousness.

    I don’t think it is too much of a leap to discuss racism when referring to the above exercise.

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2009/11/pete-k-declares-war-on-racism-at_06.html

  • 124 Thetis // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:50

    Thanks to those who’ve made such incisive comments – especially at New Year. This is an important discussion – in the light of possible further state funding for Steiner schools in England – which was bound to cause distress to those unwilling to confront Steiner’s race theories, especially if they were unfamiliar with anthroposophy’s core doctrines.

    Having once chosen a Steiner school for my own children I can understand and appreciate why parents find them attractive. But it is the underlying esoteric religion, anthroposophy: its content and its influence on the school, which must be analysed. I don’t intend to repeat the content of our three posts in these comments.

    It’s my opinion that comments by John Stumbles and tomdehavas speak for themselves.

    The use of the phrase ‘half-caste’ is offensive.

    @Val – as I’ve written on another comments thread – you have a perfect right to comment here but I would prefer you to be honest about the fact that you are an anthroposophist, active on many forums and easily identifiable as such. I wouldn’t want you to knit your way into a corner.

    @Lovelyhorse_ – re your comment no. 100 – yes – why are those books in the library at the University of Plymouth?
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=3#comment-8811

    @PeteK – my best New Year wishes to you and your children.

  • 125 Valerie Walsh // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:54

    Perhaps you’d prefer I’d knit myself a badge, Thetis-sorry to again have to decline.

  • 126 Andreas Lichte // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:55

    @ John Stumbles #120

    quote Stumbles: “Ha ha!”

    What a fabulous laugh: did you attend the “Humor Epoche” in your Waldorf school?

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/andreas_lichte.html

  • 127 Andreas Lichte // Jan 2, 2011 at 01:06

    @ John Stumbles

    you may not have noticed this – “But I did not know anything about it!” – so I tell you:

    http://www.ruhrbarone.de/waldorf-schools-rudolf-steiner’s-books-are-“an-incitement-to-racial-hatred”-says-bpjm/

    “Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner’s books are “an incitement to racial hatred”, says BPjM

    (…) The “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) examined 2 books by Rudolf Steiner for “racist content” and decided that the content of the books is racist. (…)”

    ………………………………

    Another good laugh for you, isn’t it?

  • 128 John Stumbles // Jan 2, 2011 at 03:43

    @Andreas Lichte

    For the umpteenth time, I’m not defending Steiner’s antiquated theories. But, as Richard Dawkins points out in The God Delusion, the ideas of even radical, progressive liberals of Steiner’s time seem repugnantly reactionary and racist to us nowadays. (Not that I’m accusing Steiner of being a radical progressive liberal, before anyone tilts at *that* windmill.)

    Nor am I attempting to reconcile Steiner’s racist-to-our-sensibilities ideas with Anthroposophy’s insistence that his ideas are relevant today: I’ll leave that can of worms to the Anthroposophists. Of whom, for the umpteenth time, I’m not one.

    I am saying that in practice Steiner education, as far as I can see from my own experience as a parent and from what my kids and other ex-Steiner pupils say, does not seem to practice racism or turn out racists. It actually seems to turn out quite decent, considerate, socially well-adjusted people, who are probably less inclined to the sorts of inadequacies which seem to be behind racism.

    I want to put this whole moral panic into perspective:

    In this world, right now:

    1) Islamic radicals proclaim their aim of establishing religious law throughout the world – and seem to be getting well under way in UK jails. Honour killings and female genital mutilation are still not unheard of.

    2) fundamentalist Christians in the US, and now in the UK, are working to get creationism taught in the schools instead of, or as an “equal” to evolution. And far-right Christian extremists in the US harass and even murder medics providing abortions.

    3) the avowedly Jewish[1] state of Israel continues to treat the people it displaced from their lands in a way that doesn’t seem a million miles removed from the way the Nazis treated those in the Ghettoes in the territories it occupied.

    Muslim, Christian and Jewish schools already get state funding – as do other weird sky-fairy followers. I very much doubt that being educated – and indoctrinated – in one particular religion makes one more broad-minded and tolerant to others than being educated in a secular school.

    And of course the Scientologists are still at large, harassing critics such as the South Welsh councillor in the recent ‘stupid’ tweet incident, not to mention their doleful effect on many of their ‘converts’ and their families. In the US they run schools. In this country their ‘Narconon’ drugs-counselling front gets them access to our school children.

    Now that’s what I call a good laugh Andreas :-/

    Given that there are only so many hours in the day and cells in my brain I see more important things to do than rail at the rather quaint theoretical idiocy behind Steiner schools which, in practice, seem to be fairly benign.

    ———————————————————————–
    [1] I am using the term “Jewish” in its meaning of religion not ethnicity or culture. I am aware that people can consider themselves ethnically or culturally Jewish but are not religious, and vice versa.

  • 129 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 04:41

    @John Stumbles

    “I am saying that in practice Steiner education, as far as I can see from my own experience as a parent and from what my kids and other ex-Steiner pupils say, does not seem to practice racism or turn out racists. ”

    Not to invalidate your experience John, but my experience invalidates your experience. It is INDEED their intention to teach Steiner’s racist ideas to children – and that’s exactly what they did to mine.

    “It actually seems to turn out quite decent, considerate, socially well-adjusted people, who are probably less inclined to the sorts of inadequacies which seem to be behind racism.”

    Again, my experience invalidates yours. Waldorf, in my experience, does NOT turn out well-adjusted people… Many, many children who attend Waldorf come out NOT well-adjusted AT ALL.

    “Given that there are only so many hours in the day and cells in my brain I see more important things to do than rail at the rather quaint theoretical idiocy behind Steiner schools which, in practice, seem to be fairly benign.”

    Then you should feel free to attend to those things and leave those of us who find the teaching of racist ideology to our children repugnant rather than “benign” to debate how Waldorf teachers treat the subject in Waldorf schools TODAY.

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/12/steiner-quotes-specifically-race.html

  • 130 Jan Luiten // Jan 2, 2011 at 10:42

    May 2011 be a good year for you all.
    I want to thank Thetis, 5raphs and Zooey for their reaction on my comment.
    I will answer your questions but I start with Thetis.

    @Thetis
    I have to study the plans of Michael Gove more closely to give an sound opinion about it. The first impression however is : I have read things that are worse.
    I had never expected to be identified with the Tories. Do you think they would pay me well for such a service? Unfortunately I am positioned on the other side of the political spectrum not so far away from Peter Staudenmaier I think.
    “ Steiner Waldorf schools are a small part of this concern but since so many of these schools have applied for what are now very scarce resources, it is absolutely right that they are better understood.” OK, I understand your point.
    “Of course I can’t use the state to impose anything, especially from DC’s blog. You’d have to be paranoid to think he has that kind of power!” OK, but except for clarification you do have political goals. “What is your case for Steiner Waldorf education? Especially as you state that the ‘anthroposophical subculture’, of which Waldorf education is a part, is so badly flawed?”
    In the long run I think education as a whole (not only Steiner schools) should emancipate itself from the state. Civil servants cannot know what is the best for children ( and what is the best for children is also the best for the development of society), because the distance to them is too big and they are not working with them in practice.
    Teachers see the pupils, know the pupils and recognize their talents (at least this should be so , is the ideal) Upon this relationship the school system has to be build.
    So this sphere should mainly regulate itself. The next thing is important because here I have to explain a little bit the concept of social threefolding. This concept is widely misunderstood, as far I can see also by Peter Staudenmaier ( and indeed also by many anthroposophists). The German concept Dreigliederung is not easy to translate. It is not simply a division into the three parts: the economic sphere, the rights/poltical sphere and the sphere of the individual development -the latter also called the spiritual shere. The principal thought of social threefolding is that these spheres should be mainly autonomous and independent. But they cannot be so entirely. Why not? Because in education, in the schools, as part of the spiritual sphere, you need the rights sphere too. In a school we are in the “spiritual sphere”, which you can discern from the other spheres, but this sphere is not cut off from the other spheres. The spiritual sphere needs the rights sphere as it does the economic sphere. Schools have to obey the law. The state- rights sphere- can prescribe demands for buildings, the judicial status of the teachers etc. The state (with our money) has to finance education by guaranteeing every pupil a certain amount of money for hers of his school career. Mutatis mutandis the same is valid for economic life. The allocation of rights, the making of laws is the core business of the rights sphere. This should be in a democratic process. Because we speak of Gliederung and not of partition we can also have democracy within the schools and within the companies in the economic life. As far I can see Peter Staudenmaier has missed this point.
    Please note that I am not thinking in a fixed model here. We have to find solutions in practice as outcomes of negotiations in all levels.

  • 131 tomdehavas // Jan 2, 2011 at 11:38

    PeteK // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:21 OK I read your message 27 if that school is doing as you say it should be stamped on but my school did not do that and I think and hope it is an exception. After all you are talking about the US where racism is a lot deeper than here. It is here but not so deep.

    lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:33 You may note that at Wynstones many of the teachers were not Steiner traned and so had not read those texts.

    PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:09 I heard they did a Greek Olympics at Kings Langly but we never did this at Wynstones and we were never separated by temperaments which I agree is stupid but it isn’t racism so linking the two is stretching it.

  • 132 Thetis // Jan 2, 2011 at 12:47

    @Jan – thank you, and to you too.

    Of course I realise that you would not think of yourself as a Tory. And it is political, in the sense that the Free Schools policy is a Coalition policy – although this was part of the Conservative manifesto and is very much Michael Gove’s project. I wouldn’t support any political party funding Steiner schools, under any policy, including the diversity agenda in whose name the Hereford Steiner Academy was forced on an unwilling LEA under the previous administration. But it is not a question of imposing some monolithic education model on all families. That is a simplistic claim, and disregards the economic realities which partly make Free Schools so unpopular, and the desire of learning communities in England to safeguard local education. There is little opposition to the creation of new community schools where there’s a lack of provision – but the Free Schools policy has largely attracted a particular kind of ‘niche’ group, as expected. Personally I don’t support the creation of any new state funded faith schools, especially schools run by an esoteric religion which, in the nature of esoteric belief systems, is not openly presented. Anthroposophy has no place in education, its core beliefs are in our view frankly dangerous.

    You are of course at liberty to pursue your own version of anthroposophy, however bizarre or objectionable we may find it. We’re not here to rescue anthroposophy from itself, and this may not be the best venue to discuss social three-folding.

  • 133 John Stumbles // Jan 2, 2011 at 12:48

    #128

    Or to put it another way, we have 3 main world religions founded on genocide/ethnic cleansing, the use of biological warfare against civilian populations, murderous homophobia and worse being OK:
    http://stumbles.org.uk/John/religious_leader/

    Many followers believe that this text is literally true.
    Many insist it is as relevant today as it was then.
    They already have state-funded schools as well as a hold in many institutions in society today.

    Fretting about Steiner seems to me to be like worrying about whether the Boy Scouts are a bit militaristic when we have Blackshirts marching down our streets.

  • 134 John Stumbles // Jan 2, 2011 at 12:56

    @PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 04:41 #129

    “Not to invalidate your experience John, but my experience invalidates your experience.”

    I find that statement arrogant and condescending. I’m sure if I claimed that my experience invalidated yours you’d find that offensive, wouldn’t you?

    All I I think it shows is that there can be good and bad Steiner (or Waldorf) schools. It would seem that the one I have experience of does not have the issues the one your kids went to had.

    My experience doesn’t invalidate yours and yours doesn’t invalidate mine.

  • 135 DW // Jan 2, 2011 at 14:31

    Tomdehavas:

    “I have cited my experience in other posts and barring dragging you to meet some of my half cast friends I don’t know what else I can do.”

    Your “half-caste” friends were never the issue; you made them so without taking on board the argument. Aside from noting that the phrase is objectionable and suggests something kind of weird and insular about your social setting, I don’t have anything to say about your “half-caste” friends. They don’t shed light, one way or another, on the issue being discussed. Accusing me of being PC won’t change that.

    “So now I understand that there was probably deeply hidden racism in the school its just it never ever showed. Yeah right and I believe in fairies. Pull the other one DW.”

    I haven’t a clue whether there was deeply hidden racism in your school, although your statements about half-castes and Indians who were amazingly good at math and Indians as “honorary whites” aren’t particularly reassuring.

    “No of course not I could never identify a racist, I haven’t been trained in it. Come on DW don’t give me this PC rubbish. Respect for all people was innate in my Steiner education.”

    And we should accept that because there was an Indian math teacher at your school? You don’t understand that you’re demonstrating the problem, rather than providing evidence against it?

  • 136 DW // Jan 2, 2011 at 14:37

    John:

    “Fretting about Steiner seems to me to be like worrying about whether the Boy Scouts are a bit militaristic when we have Blackshirts marching down our streets.”

    That strikes me as quite apt and accurate. I happen to be in the camp that *does* think the “bit militaristic” thing is worth worrying over. You seem to be trying to have this both ways: your Steiner school is free of such problems, everything is fine; and yet, if problems are pointed out, the education of children is not something particularly important anyway, we should focus on other things.

  • 137 DW // Jan 2, 2011 at 14:42

    To reprise:

    “Fretting about Steiner seems to me to be like worrying about whether the Boy Scouts are a bit militaristic when we have Blackshirts marching down our streets.”

    Connect the dots.

  • 138 John Stumbles // Jan 2, 2011 at 14:48

    @PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 04:41 #129

    “Then you should feel free to attend to those things and leave those of us who find the teaching of racist ideology to our children repugnant rather than “benign” to debate how Waldorf teachers treat the subject in Waldorf schools TODAY.”

    I, too, would find the teaching of racist ideology to my children repugnant, IF it were happening, which it isn’t.

    It would be perverse of me to join your campaign against Steiner schools based on your account of what happened at a Waldorf school in the USA whenever it was your kids were there.

    I do choose to attend to what I regard as more important matters. I’d appreciate it if you and the other anti-Steinerites here would extend to me and other non-Anthro non-antis the courtesy of accepting that we may actually be intelligent, conscientious, free-thinking people who, through our own thinking and experiences, hold opinions that differ from yours.

  • 139 DW // Jan 2, 2011 at 15:06

    John:

    \I do choose to attend to what I regard as more important matters.\

    No one’s stopping you attending to your other, more important matters, yet you are here on this blog, see, making comments on this topic that generate replies on this topic.

    \I’d appreciate it if you and the other anti-Steinerites here would extend to me and other non-Anthro non-antis the courtesy of accepting that we may actually be intelligent, conscientious, free-thinking people who, through our own thinking and experiences, hold opinions that differ from yours.\

    This is just the usual dismissal. When defenders of Steiner come to the end of their ability to discuss issues and argue points, they end up just telling us everything we’re saying personally offends them.

  • 140 5raphs // Jan 2, 2011 at 15:42

    DW, Zooey, PK and Thetis have answered Tom de Havas, John Stumbles and valerie Walsh sublimely. It’s certainly disturbing that they cannot see how they illustrate much of what these posts set out.
    Tomdehavas, “half caste”, a word which hasn’t been in common usage for years because it is pejorative, means half pure, or from a lower “caste”, isn’t racist. Good grief. Shudders.

  • 141 Thetis // Jan 2, 2011 at 16:47

    @5Raphs thanks! @DW thank you – it needed to be said.

    @John Stumbles – you know nothing about anthroposophy. You do not want to know anything about anthroposophy. You are proud of your dismissal of anthroposophy, which appears to you to be some irrelevant nonsense. The fact that it is the basis of the education system you defend (at such length and across three posts, regardless of which they are) is a problem you are unwilling to face, even though you are keen to tell readers here that you’re a convenor of your local Skeptics in the Pub. This raises a few questions, as Graham Strouts points out: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3595#comment-8760

    As a Steiner school parent who wants to defend your child’s school I welcome your comments, it’s perfectly possible to have positive experiences at any school, including a Steiner school, nor does anyone want to hear that a child is unhappy. But you present yourself as more than that. You ask us to read a description of Steiner education which you’ve written on behalf of your school, though you don’t have much idea what you’re describing – in my assessment I would be for once in agreement with the Goetheanum:
    http://stumbles.org.uk/John/Steiner/

    I would like to draw your attention to the ‘Ethos and Aims of Alder Bridge School':
    http://www.alderbridge.w-berks.sch.uk/ethos.php

    I quote: “practice in the school is based on Anthroposophy, a philosophical inquiry resulting in a deeper understanding of the universe and of the human being.”

    What is anthroposophy, John? What is it doing there?

    Here are the links from Alder Bridge Steiner http://www.alderbridge.w-berks.sch.uk/links.phpWaldorf school:

    They include ‘Waldorf Answers’, a site compiled by Sune Nordwall, who is paid by the Swedish Waldorf Schools Fellowship to ‘monitor’ British parents critical of their children’s Steiner education. There is also ‘The Anthroposophical Network’, ‘Spirit working through Anthroposophy’ ‘The Anthros net’ etc etc. Why are these links on your school site? What are they doing there?

    What is anthroposophy, John? Don’t you think you should find out?

    The comments after this, the most serious of these three posts, are worth reading. Many of the writers here are German speakers, who are able to interpret Steiner’s work in the original language. There are former Waldorf teachers and parents who between them have a great deal of knowledge and experience. They don’t all agree, there is no block of ‘anti-Steinerites’. But the debate is worth having because it impacts on real children and real communities, even though it hasn’t touched you directly. I do not agree with you that our concern is misplaced. But to understand why, it’s necessary to read the posts here.

  • 142 Jan Luiten // Jan 2, 2011 at 17:26

    @5raphs 30 dec.
    …….’I have to disagree that “doctrine” isn’t a good word for describing anthroposophy- it means after all, principles that are taught, a school of thought, a philosophy. The teachers are “learning” it, aren’t they? on their own path of enlightenment?”
    It is not meant to be a belief system or a doctrine. But of course you can take it as a doctrine and consequently it becomes a doctrine for you. In doing so you (generally speaking not you personally) make dogmas out of hypotheses. There should be a lot more freedom in the relationship of anthroposophists towards Steiner. This relationship should be the same as e.g the relationship there is between Darwin as founder of the evolutionary biology and modern biologists. They honour him as a founder but does not have to accept every aspect of his theory. Surely they are not accused of racism just because Darwin had some “wrong” statements.
    This is also part of my answer in casu supposed racism in Steiners work. Steiner has developed these theses and is responsible for it. Anthroposophy however is bigger than even Steiner. Nevertheless I think it is not correct to state Steiner is a racist. To call an ideology racist, it has to include several elements: superiority of one “race” above another, the ‘inferior race’ should have less rights as the superior and the ‘superior race’ has the right of aggression against the “inferior” race or even to exterminate it. In the leading definition of racism expert Albert Memmi racism is: the generalized and final assigning of values to real and imaginary differences, to the accusers benefit and at his victim’s expense, in order to justify the former’s own privilege or aggression. All elements of the this definition should be there to classify an ideology as racist. As far as I can see Steiner has never proclaimed such actions (less privileges/rights or aggression) against any group neither in ideology nor in practice. Surely when you use another definition you may come to another result, but there is no consensus on this among scholars.
    What should Waldorf teachers believe to become a teacher in a Waldorf school?
    Nothing. They should only recognize the anthroposophical methodology as a fruitful one, and furthermore they should be free. I know that the practice is different in many cases.

  • 143 Valerie Walsh // Jan 2, 2011 at 17:46

    @ Jan

    If it would be (as you say) incorrect to state that Steiner was a racist based on the definition of racism by Albert Memmi would it be correct to state that Steiner was a racist using the definition of racism by Christian Delacampagn?

  • 144 Valerie Walsh // Jan 2, 2011 at 18:20

    Or better yet-Christian Delacampagne-sorry!

  • 145 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 18:32

    @John Stumbles

    “I, too, would find the teaching of racist ideology to my children repugnant, IF it were happening, which it isn’t.”

    Again, I invite you to invest your time in the things you feel passionate about. Apparently, refuting the racism that exists in Waldorf, via your personal experience, is one of the things you feel passionate about – at least passionate enough to spend your New Year’s Day pushing your agenda.

    “It would be perverse of me to join your campaign against Steiner schools based on your account of what happened at a Waldorf school in the USA whenever it was your kids were there.”

    Nobody has asked you to. I just pointed out that racism exists in Waldorf – via the same “proof” that you used to imply it doesn’t. I have additional proof, BTW, and have witnessed dozens of racist and anti-Semitic remarks from Waldorf teachers over the years.

    “I do choose to attend to what I regard as more important matters. I’d appreciate it if you and the other anti-Steinerites here would extend to me and other non-Anthro non-antis the courtesy of accepting that we may actually be intelligent, conscientious, free-thinking people who, through our own thinking and experiences, hold opinions that differ from yours.”

    Name-calling? Why lower yourself to this? I just said my experience differed from yours… and have documented it. Why am I an anti-Semite sir? Have I even mentioned Jews? Hold any opinions you care to… but I can see you require anything in reality to support them.

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/

  • 146 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 18:36

    The last line should have read:

    “… but I can’t see you require anything in reality to support them.”

    of course… ;)

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

  • 147 Thetis // Jan 2, 2011 at 18:41

    Pete – did you mis-read anti-Steinerite as anti-semite? ‘Anti-Steinerite’ is cumbersome as well as daft, I’d add.

  • 148 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 18:56

    @ TomDehavas

    “PeteK // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:21 OK I read your message 27 if that school is doing as you say it should be stamped on but my school did not do that and I think and hope it is an exception. ”

    If your school doesn’t have any teachers who use Steiner’s temperaments as indicators to divide, classify and evaluate children, then indeed it IS an exception.

    “After all you are talking about the US where racism is a lot deeper than here. It is here but not so deep.”

    Racism is “deeper” in the US than the UK? I didn’t know that… When did you Brits stop your racism? Oh… it was always superficial… OK. ;) Do you have history books there?

    “lovelyhorse // Jan 1, 2011 at 23:33 You may note that at Wynstones many of the teachers were not Steiner traned and so had not read those texts.”

    Perhaps… but what about the ones who were? How do they approach children?

    “PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 00:09 I heard they did a Greek Olympics at Kings Langly but we never did this at Wynstones and we were never separated by temperaments which I agree is stupid but it isn’t racism so linking the two is stretching it.”

    OK… let’s see if it’s racism – and how difficult it must be for teachers to separate what they are taught to look at – what Steiner said about body shape, the temperaments, and races.

    Remember, when we were kids, we used to play “which one does not belong?” One out of the following Steiner statements is NOT taken directly from Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner – REQUIRED reading for Waldorf teachers.

    “It is certainly a major deficiency that many educational systems pay no attention to such things as, for example, the external appearance of the children.”

    “A small head is connected with brooding and reflecting whereas large-headed children are more flighty.”

    “Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class.”

    “I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.

    “Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short time between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world.”

    “In those children with a physically oversized head, you will be able to find what I have just described as deficiencies, namely, lack of attention or a too-strongly developed phlegma.”

    “If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense if men do not arrive at a form of intelligence that is independent of blondness. Blond hair actually bestows intelligence…”

    “The phenomenon of left-handedness is clearly karmic, and, in connection with karma, it is one of karmic weakness.”

    “They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences.”

    “The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul. The soul acquires nothing more than the possibility of clichés. Those who enthusiastically speak French transfer that to other languages. The French are also ruining what maintains their dead language, namely, their blood. The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe, but it works, in an even worse way, back on France. It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.”

    OK… which one wasn’t directed SPECIFICALLY to Waldorf teachers? And after reading the rest, does it really matter?

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=4

  • 149 PeteK // Jan 2, 2011 at 19:01

    @Thetis
    “Pete – did you mis-read anti-Steinerite as anti-semite? ‘Anti-Steinerite’ is cumbersome as well as daft, I’d add.”

    OMG… Yes I did… My apologies to Mr. Stumbles for that.

    PK

  • 150 maimuna // Jan 3, 2011 at 04:20

    Tom D H ,
    “I am angry because they have accused people of being racist who were not in order to play out their other agenda.” post 103

    Wow I’ve only been away a couple days and I’ve arrived back to the usual arguments. Don’t tell me my child didn’t suffer racism at her Steiner school Tom !
    Please go back and read ALL my posts.There is proof that teachers at our school did believe in the reincarnation through races theory and that my daughter suffered racism and that the way they teach the kids makes it very likely that they they won’t fare well in a multicultural society.
    I know you have been pulled up on it but using the term mixed race and not half caste is normal these days,’coloured’ is not used either anymore in case you are wondering.
    I was on a blog a while ago at UKAnthroposophy and there was a guy like you outraged that I was suggesting there was racism at our school he told me that there absolutely no problem there as he knew the school. I replied to him giving an example of a Maths teacher that had taught at the school and had written articles denying the Holocaust. The guy knew this man and was very shocked.
    What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to have lessons in racism for it to be going on.
    I fight racism wherever I can ,my husband and I went with Hope Not Hate to give out anti BNP leaflets at election time in Barking and Dagenham. I also sent a petition around re the US Pastor that was due to speak at the EDL rally in February.

    I feel that I have to keep repeating myself on blogs etc so people know what they are getting themselves into if they choose Steiner. I really would rather be doing other things to be honest.
    People who are blindly trying to defend something often talk about ‘Having Black friends or Asian teachers etc’ The USA has a Black president ,does that mean there is no racism in America? Pete K’s children were actually taught the racist stuff in class because its in the teacher training not because they were in the US.There are many incidences in the UK too. By the way my husband says the racism in the US is different not worse as he could get further,quicker in his profession in the US as there are many Black owned companies.
    I think the SWSF and the schools deliberately put images of Black children in their literature so people that aren’t very aware think,’well of course they can’t be racist,they have Black children at the schools ‘ they aren’t racist in that overt way thats all.

    John Stumbles, imagine you are in a class of 30 Black parents, what do you think they would prefer ,a school that has no hidden philosophy,if its Catholic,Muslim,non denominational the beliefs would be known.
    You ask them if there kids will encounter racism.They would say that yes their kids most probably would, that they live in a racist society where racism is around them daily.
    Then ask them if they would choose those schools for their kids or if they would go for a school that has a philosophy that the teachers will learn about in their training that says that humans reincarnate from Black to white.
    I don’t know a single Black parent who would go for the second option.The problem is they don’t have a choice as the ideas are not in the prospectus.Surely its not hard to understand that there is a much greater risk that these teachers will be viewing non white children in a racist way.
    Of course there are good and kind teachers in Steiner schools but you really are missing the point …

  • 151 Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 3, 2011 at 07:45

    Hi to the Other Tom, Tom de Havas!

    I’m glad you’ve come on board here because you bring a much needed fresh dimension of cognitive dissonance to the discussion.

    (Hee hee, I would love to have been a fly on the wall when your parents found out that you were an atheist! I’m so enamored of this delicious dissonance that I will post later the Steiner quote that your father probably read to you. If he didn’t, he should have, but anyway I will play your father’s role and read it for the benefit of all atheist readers out there.)

    But beyond that personal issue, the cognitive dissonance that your own Waldorf experience has engendered in the Waldorf Critics here seems to fulfill a prediction that Rudolf Steiner made 101 years ago. I re-quote the good doctor from my up-screen Message #29:

    “Therefore, in its fundamental nature, the Anthroposophical Movement, which is to prepare the sixth period, must cast aside the division into races. it must seek to unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions and differences between various groups of people. The old point of view of race has a physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.”

    What you see in bold is what was censored from the Waldorf Schools’ Diversity Statement. Forgetting the significance of the 6th period or epoch for the moment, I want to focus on the second statement.

    Let me paraphrase Steiner here:
    The old point of view of race has a physical character, but the new point of view of race will have a more spiritual character.

    Steiner was naïve in many ways, but not so naïve as to preach that racism would ever go away. Quite the contrary, he boldly predicted a stupendous race war in the far future between the white race and the yellow race — during that “6th period.” And by the end of the 7th period, all races –even genders would blend and end, reincarnation would cease, but only the more morally spiritualized race we might call the “good guys” would move on to the next stage of upward evolution while the very immoral unspiritualized race of “bad guys” would “not make the cut” and be doomed to extinction.

    So I interpret Steiner saying here that racism will not abate at all, but simply change its criteria. (I almost said “spots” ;-). Thus, we move from a racism based on outer physical characteristics to a racism that is based on inner spiritual characteristics, but by “spiritual” — because the German word is “geistige” — we have to infer “mental, intellectual” characteristics as well as “moral, ethical” characteristics in understanding what Steiner means here by “spiritual.”

    (Can anyone say: “thought crime?”) So to me, it looks like this prediction of Steiner has come true in our day. Why, it seems evident right here on this very discussion thread! While the old-style racism based on skin color is obviously still around and will not go away easily, nonetheless, there is a new “kid on the racist block” that foments a more subtle racism now on the basis of the “color” of one’s convictions or belief system quite apart from the color of one’s skin.

  • 152 Jan Luiten // Jan 3, 2011 at 07:53

    @Thetis
    “You are of course at liberty to pursue your own version of anthroposophy, however bizarre or objectionable we may find it. We’re not here to rescue anthroposophy from itself, and this may not be the best venue to discuss social three-folding”.

    People here have to know that there is a non- sectarian, different kind of Anthroposophy too.
    Representatives are mostly anthroposophists who are/were active with social threefolding.

  • 153 Jan Luiten // Jan 3, 2011 at 08:03

    @Valerie Walsh
    I cannot find a definition of racism by him (but I will look further)
    My point is that there is no consensus among scholars.

  • 154 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 11:21

    @Jan – of course I appreciate there are debates between anthroposophists. But we are most concerned here with the training of Steiner Waldorf teachers and the pedagogy of these schools. This may not be the right place to discuss social-threefolding although that’s not to say that such a discussion wouldn’t be interesting elsewhere.

    I don’t see evidence that individuals or organisations today representing Steiner schools, or the schools themselves, are able to come to terms with Steiner’s race teachings, which are an integral part of anthroposophy. Until they do (and that will be a radical step, involving questioning the entire basis of their education system) they should most certainly not be awarded public money.

  • 155 5raphs // Jan 3, 2011 at 12:03

    @Jan Luiten

    ” is not meant to be a belief system or a doctrine. But of course you can take it as a doctrine and consequently it becomes a doctrine for you. In doing so you (generally speaking not you personally) make dogmas out of hypotheses.”
    I would say “making dogmas out of hypotheses” is precisely what Steiner himself does in his proclamations, which are then used by teachers as “Steiner said”…

    You may well believe there “should be more freedom in the relationship of anthroposophists towards Steiner” but that isn’t the concern of these articles as @Thetis has pointed out.

    I do not, by the way, agree with your definition of racist. If someone ascribes qualities which are “higher” or “lower” , giving superiority of one human being above another, that imo is racist.

    Is Christian Delacampagne the philosopher who got into deep water by saying some things which the press believed people thought, but were too politically correct to voice? What exactly is your point @Valerie Walsh? Wasn’t it you who said they’d rather hold a racist ideology than display the bigotry of the critics or words to that effect?

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_tomorrow/message/37313

  • 156 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 15:14

    @Jan

    Sorry, I picked him because I am aware of his definition and felt it was in keeping with the definition underlying the post we are all commenting on. But pick any scholar-is there any definition of racism that you feel could be correctly attributed to Steiner?

  • 157 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 15:25

    @Cassandra

    “For true Anthros, they either have to (1) reject the racism, which means rejecting Steiner’s clairvoyance (and thus anthroposophy!) or else (2) accept the racism as a true expression of Steiner’s clairvoyance (and thus salvage anthroposophy)”

    See! Whew-or alternatively ‘rip-it, rip-it’-I knew I wasn’t a true Antro ‘cuz I consider racism to be anti-conceptual and clairvoyance non-conceptual by their nature-thus not incompatible.

  • 158 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 15:58

    @5graphs

    “Is Christian Delacampagne the philosopher who got into deep water by saying some things which the press believed people thought, but were too politically correct to voice?”

    I believe he is one and the same. Have you seen the movie Bowling for Columbine? I thought Marilyn Manson was the best part, speaking of politically incorrect. And yeah, I’d still take door number one versus two, Monty.

  • 159 5raphs // Jan 3, 2011 at 16:30

    @valerie walsh

    Sometimes I find discussion with pro anthroposophy/Steiner people almost deliberately ambiguous… are you saying that Steiner’s racialism is what some people think but it’s too politically incorrect to voice?

    No- I like Michael Moore – I’ll try and watch it some time.

    Do you think people are wanting you to switch doors then? I don’t think so, these posts just discuss anthroposphy in Steiner education.

  • 160 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 16:55

    The quote from:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_tomorrow/message/37313

    says this:

    “I would rather hold a racist ideology, if there is such a thing, than display the bigotry evidenced daily on the Waldorf Critics list.”

    Val, you wrote that a couple of years ago. You express doubt as to whether such a thing as a racist ideology even exists. Have you figured it out yet?
    An astonishing quote.

  • 161 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 17:03

    I have faith that it exists-you apparently have knowledge that it does.

  • 162 John Stumbles // Jan 3, 2011 at 17:23

    @Thetis // Jan 2, 2011 at 16:47 #141

    Briefly, because we seem to be going round in circles and I have a living to go out and earn:

    I am aware that my kids’ Steiner school is based on Anthroposophical ideas and I know enough about Anthroposophy to know that it isn’t for me.

    I am genuinely indebted to you and Lovelyhorse for pointing out Rudolf Steiner’s ideas on race which are (like those of others of his age) obnoxious to our modern humanitarian sensibilities, and I appreciate the point you (and David) make that, unlike others of RS’ period, Steiner’s ideas are still being promoted in Steiner teacher training and other areas of Anthro today. I agree this is disquieting. However I have not noticed racist tendencies at our school, and I have specifically quizzed my older son and his ex-Steiner school friends about it and I don’t think it was an issue when they were there either, but I will keep an eye and ear out for it (as well as for other signs of anthro idiocy that you flag up such as the left-handedness question).

    There are many aspects of the way children are taught at our school which I like and which, for me, outweigh my disaffection for the anthro nonsense. I would of course much prefer a school based on rational principles which offered a similar quality of education but they don’t seem to exist, at least where I live.

    So anthroposophy being the basis of Steiner education isn’t “a problem [I am] unwilling to face”, it’s just not (from my experience, and in my opinion) the insuperable problem you evidently find it based on your experience and in your opinion.

    I understand that your experience is different from mine, and your opinions are different from mine. Personally I don’t have a problem with that: accepting each others’ differences of opinions and discussing them in a rational and civil way is what, for me, distinguishes freethinking from blind faith.

  • 163 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:07

    Ignoring your sophistry Val, I’m glad to hear that in the past 2 years you’ve decided that such a thing as a racist ideology does exist.

  • 164 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:13

    ‘I would of course much prefer a school based on rational principles..’

    @John Stumbles, you really are the Alan Partridge of Steiner Waldorf education.

  • 165 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:22

    ahhh-DW-I didn’t say that but I understand that’s what you heard.

  • 166 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:39

    Oh, you didn’t say that? So you haven’t changed your mind – you are still wondering whether racist ideologies exist in the world?

    I very much appreciate when you show up to add your viewpoint to such discussions, Val. Your comments are very informative for people who wonder what Waldorf is all about.

  • 167 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:45

    No, no, and no. Once again, you are welcome.

  • 168 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 18:50

    So you have “faith” there are racist ideologies out there, like some mysterious mystical butterfly that you’ve never seen in real life, and have no idea what one might look like, but you’ve heard tell, from fellow pilgrims?

    Do you expect normal people to listen to this crap and come away with a good impression of Waldorf? Your games and sophistries are very disrespectful of real people with real questions and concerns.

    Here’s a hint, if you ever come across an ideology that designates “higher and lower” races, or specifies, for instance, that skin color is a manifestation of spiritual progress (light skin being evidence of a freer, more creative spirit) – that one’s racist. Maybe that’ll help you know what to look for.

  • 169 Valerie Walsh // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:02

    I have faith that there is such a thing as a racist ideology, yes, thus I have no need to put either faith or racist ideology in quotes. I have no expectation for what normal people might listen to but do wonder if the normal are the same as the real, and if I am being designated as being outside either or both classifications by virtue of comparison. Thank you for the hint.

  • 170 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:11

    I wonder all those things as well.

  • 171 Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:26

    The French social philosopher, Alain de Benoist has written an excellent article called What is Racism? Its 38 page text in translation from the French is here:
    http://www.alaindebenoist.com/pdf/what_is_racism.pdf
    I excerpt from the first 2 pages with my bold emphases indicating phrases relevant to this discussion here.

    Fighting racism requires knowing what it is — not an easy task. Today the word “racism” has so many contradictory meanings that it takes on the aura of a myth and is, therefore, difficult to define. The following will attempt to define racist ideology, independently of any sociological considerations. . . .

    Because of a certain affinity, “racism” can be used as the correlate of a whole series of other terms: fascism, the extreme Right, anti-Semitism, sexism, etc. Today, the almost ritualistic recitation of these terms often implies that they are all synonyms and that any one falling into one of these categories automatically belongs to all of them. The end result is to reinforce the vagueness of the term and to discourage meaningful analysis.

    Used in the most diverse senses, the terms “racism” and “racist” become prepackaged formulas, generating stereotypes. Anti-racists tend to attack racists in much the same way as racists might go after anyone else. Paradoxically, while the signifier “racist” is vague, the signified is rigidly fixed. The charge of having a “racist temperament” follows the same reasoning for which racists are rightly reproached, i.e., vaguely attributing to an entire group traits found in some of its members which, as Pierre André Taguieff has pointed out, generates another problem: “There is no effective struggle against racism once one creates a false image of it, for then anti-racism becomes a mirror image of the racist myth. To treat in a racist way those whom one is accusing of racist conduct is part and parcel of current anti-racism, and one of its shortcomings. Above all, to fictionalize ‘the Other,’ even if he be racist, is to miss who ‘the Other’ really is, never coming to know him.”
    ——————–

    I was struck by the phrase “ritualistic recitation,” because it so aptly describes the state of Waldorf criticism — and Waldorf apologetics — which has been raging now on the Internet for 17 years since Dan Dugan inaugurated his Waldorf Critics mailing list in 1994. Over such a long time, the recitation of charges and counter-charges of racism has not changed at all, thus the recycling of the same charges over and over again with the requisite defenses, gains the predictable status of a ritual, a kind of kabuki theater, which is now so finely tuned that contributors on both sides just need to copy and paste their comments from previous blog and mailing list battles — or else leave links behind like Bee droppings.

    And the crux of the matter is expressed well by Benoist here:
    Anti-racists tend to attack racists in much the same way as racists might go after anyone else.

    This is for me an expression of the “rational racism” that I wrote about in #151, tersely summed up by Benoist:
    . . . attributing to an entire group traits found in some of its members.

    And since he implies bad traits above, I add: . . .and refusing to acknowledge the good traits in most of its members.

    Then Benoist quotes another French social critic, Pierre André Taguieff:
    To treat in a racist way those whom one is accusing of racist conduct is part and parcel of current anti-racism, and one of its shortcomings.

    So I ask you, Mr. PeteK, are you willing to admit the shortcomings of your approach? That you are behaving in exactly the same racist manner as all the Waldorfians you accuse of racism? (Oh, God! Not the pot and kettle again!) Are you willing to acknowledge and admit your own racist tendencies and conduct so that your own personal racism does not contaminate the actual racism existing in Waldorf schools — this allowing moderate critics and moderate defenders a sharper, more accurate, more realistic perception of the racism?

    I’m glad you are here to define the extremist boundaries on the critics’ side, just as Mr. Bee defines the extreme boundaries on the defenders’ side. (Ah, yes, a remake of “The Odd Couple” starring PeteK and Sune!) The problem is that — just like in politics — the extremists on the left and the extremists on the right are always impediments to the respective moderates of each party who deal with the present reality of the situation and not the imagined glories and horrors of the past.

    But not to worry, Pete, you have your important part to play in the Waldorf Kabuki Theater of the Dysfunctional and you play it well. Therefore I will not advise you to decrease the width of the brush with which you whitewash . . . whoops excuse me, I mean “black-wash” Waldorf. Ah, what better way to avenge the prohibition against black crayons in the Waldorf kindergartens! Yes, Blackwash the school!

    To honor your contributions, Pete, I now dedicate a song to you, with a few lyrical tweaks. Cue up the Rolling Stones’ hit from 1966: “Paint It Black!”

    I see a Waldorf school and I want to paint it black,
    No colors anymore I want them to turn black . . .

    [cut to ending]

    I wanna see it painted, painted black
    Black as night, black as coal
    I wanna see Steiner — blotted out from the school
    I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted
    Black!
    Yeah!
    Hmm,hmm,hmmmm,hm,hm,hmmm . . . .

  • 172 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:39

    Ironically Tom I think that is hopelessly oversimplified. The reality is the “anti-racists” who have written here, and typically on the critics list on yahoo, do NOT do the things this rant suggests. We actually don’t say racists are all alike, or attribute things to them as a group. We almost always really focus on the doctrines, and we are much more likely than defenders of anthroposophy to focus on specific doctrines, and differences among specific doctrines, than defenders of anthroposophy are.

    Defenders of the anthroposophic faith frequently *react* as if they’ve been attacked in such a way, but it’s in their minds. When you look back at the actual posts, you cannot find this stuff. It’s a fantasy – a paranoid fantasy of being attacked.

    We’re here to talk about the doctrines of Rudolf Steiner, and the role they may play in this form of education. It isn’t interesting or useful to say this person or that person is a racist, it isn’t the point and it won’t change anything. Whether the DOCTRINES are playing out in the schools is the important issue. When someone like Tom de H insists that he and his beloved Steiner school are under attack because we don’t necessarily believe there was no racism at his school just because he had an Indian math teacher, it does not actually mean he *was* accused of racism, or classed with other racists, or personally attacked, etc., just because he *imagined* this dire fate. Do you see that?

  • 173 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:41

    “Anti-racists tend to attack racists in much the same way as racists might go after anyone else.”

    In short this is mindless nonsense. Schoolyard level analysis – anthroposophists feel picked on if someone points out their guru was racist. So what?

  • 174 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 20:21

    @Tom – Steiner’s race doctrines have not altered, however certain individuals have or have not behaved.

    Pete has his opinion and he’s free to express it here. His experience was extreme and so is his reaction, readers are doubtless able to work this out for themselves.

    Concern about Steiner schools in the UK has grown since the Waldorf pedagogy has become better understood. This is fairly recent here, and the debate will enter the media more widely if more Steiner schools gain funding. Discussion will follow its own course as others relate their experiences, as they have on forums like mumsnet. I know that members of the Waldorf Critics list, who have been so supportive, will be more than happy that others are prepared to speak in their turn.

    It would be better, of course, if they didn’t have to.

  • 175 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 20:22

    I just wanted to point out to David Colquhoun that although this page links to parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part article, and part 2 links to part 1, parts 1 and 2 should ideally … well you get the idea … all the parts should link to the other parts to get the most visitors! Just a suggestion.

  • 176 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 20:33

    good suggestion :)

  • 177 tomdehavas // Jan 3, 2011 at 21:38

    ‘Fretting about Steiner seems to me to be like worrying about whether the Boy Scouts are a bit militaristic when we have Blackshirts marching down our streets.’ Yes and we do have blackshirts the English Defence Legue.

    Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:26 HERE HERE Thanks for this link on racism http://www.alaindebenoist.com/pdf/what_is_racism.pdf I quote from it ‘Deploying the adjective “racist” involves using a powerful epithet. It can be a smear designed to disqualify those at whom the term is addressed. To call someone a rac-
    ist, even if the charge is intellectually dishonest, can be a useful tactic,
    either in successfully paralyzing or in casting enough suspicion as to cur-
    tails credibility. Such an approach is commonplace in everyday controver-
    sies.’ Mmmmmmm

    DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 19:39 ‘Ironically Tom I think that is hopelessly oversimplified’ Really DW can you perhaps furnish us with your more complex definition of racism so that I can let you know whether I would think I was a racist by your criteria.

    BY the way to all. Yes due to a lack of care and attantion this thread is going around in circles as explained in one of my other posts.

  • 178 DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 21:53

    “Really DW can you perhaps furnish us with your more complex definition of racism so that I can let you know whether I would think I was a racist by your criteria.”

    Once again whether you, personally, are a racist is not of particular interest, and the notion that people here want to “smear” you personally is in your mind. The discussion is about Steiner’s doctrines and I think I’ve stated a couple of solid criteria a couple of times now: a theory that posits “higher and lower” races, posits that spirituality is reflected in skin color, or that certain races “stay behind” in evolution – spiritually – is racist. This is not a complete definition but it ought to do for our purposes. Would you dispute it? Or would you dispute that those elements are found in Steiner’s doctrines? Perhaps you would, if you haven’t read it.

  • 179 Jan Luiten // Jan 3, 2011 at 22:06

    @DW
    In the definition of racism expert Albert Memmi racism is: the generalized and final assigning of values to real and imaginary differences, to the accusers benefit and at his victim’s expense, in order to justify the former’s own privilege or aggression. All elements of the this definition should be there to classify an ideology as racist. As far as I can see Steiner has never proclaimed such actions (less privileges/rights or aggression) against any group neither in ideology nor in practice.

  • 180 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 22:36

    @Jan – in all honesty I think it’s you who is going round in circles. And me as I return the comments every so often to the original post, though eventually if it carries on I may not be here to do so. DW meanwhile is replying, staying on the point.

    You bring up Albert Memmi. He has a view on racism. We don’t agree that this is enough to offset Steiner’s race teachings and their relationship to the Steiner Waldorf pedagogy. It is the race doctrine that is racist. You query the word ‘doctrine’. We disagree. I return everyone to the original post.

    After a while you return. You bring up Albert Memmi…

  • 181 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 22:44

    @Jan – sorry – tomdehavas and not you thinks the comments are going round in circles. But I uphold my analysis of certain circularities anyway.

  • 182 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 22:59

    @tomdehavas

    it would reflect better on your persistent posting here if you replied to maimuna:

    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=4#comment-8898

  • 183 Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 3, 2011 at 23:31

    John in #162
    Briefly, because we seem to be going round in circles
    Tom de H in #177
    Yes due to a lack of care and attention this thread is going around in circles
    Thetis in #180
    Jan – in all honesty I think it’s you who is going round in circles.
    Thetis in #181
    Jan – sorry – tomdehavas and not you thinks the comments are going round in circles. But I uphold my analysis of certain circularities anyway.

    John, Tom, Jan, Thetis:
    Actually, it’s not due to any lack of care and attention; it’s the nature of this beast here to go in circles. Radii may differ in length and angular velocity be variable, but cycling round and round is what never ceases on all these so-called “discussions.”

    Back in 1964, psychiatrist Eric Berne came out with a book called “Games People Play” and founded Transactional Analysis. Stanley Karpman took Berne’s ideas and created the “Karpman Drama Triangle” — seen as an equilateral triangle with one point down labeled “V” for Victim; the upper vertices are labeled “P” for Persecutor and “R” for Rescuer. Though somewhat dated, it still aptly describes classic enabling and colluding dysfunctional dynamics operating in families, businesses and Internet forums like this as well.
    http://www.lynneforrest.com/html/the_faces_of_victim.html

    The goal of the game is to keep the game going, to make sure the status quo does not change, so that the game can continue at all costs. And the great insight of Berne and Karpman is that each one of us sooner or later plays all 3 roles: victim, bully, rescuer and we may switch from clockwise to anti-clockwise direction (there, see how Brit friendly I am!) but . . . round and round she goes, where she stops . . . well, she ain’t gonna stop! (We all see to that!)

    Actually, a better, more artistic picture is that we’re all trapped inside a Samuel Beckett play. I’m Vladimir, you’re Estragon, no, you be Lucky then he’ll be Pozzo, all of us “Waiting for Godot” who never comes, but it sure passes the time, doesn’t it? Plus recycling is good for the planet, n’est-ce-pas?

  • 184 Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 23:44

    I think of it more as Huis Clos – the play by Satre. Hell is other people. Or, for anthroposophists, hell is other anthroposophists.

  • 185 tomdehavas // Jan 4, 2011 at 00:10

    DW // Jan 3, 2011 at 21:53 You said ‘a theory that posits “higher and lower” races, posits that spirituality is reflected in skin color, or that certain races “stay behind” in evolution – spiritually – is racist.’ No I would not dispute it, its just that you called a 38 page definition ‘hopelessly oversimplified’ so I thought you had something new to add on the subject.

    Clearly than I am not racist in your eyes. Personally if I was a racist, In anybodies eyes it would concern me.

    Thetis // Jan 3, 2011 at 22:59 In accordance with your request and I apologise for my ommission.

    maimuna // Jan 3, 2011 at 04:20 I never said your child did not suffer racism at her Steiner school and I deeply sympathise with you, but please don’t tell me that my Steiner school practiced institutionalised racism.

    ‘I know you have been pulled up on it but using the term mixed race and not half caste is normal these days,’coloured’ is not used either anymore in case you are wondering.’ Look I know that they change the names every few years and read things into them but if you do or don’t respect a person that is what counts. There are many ways to say ‘Good Morning’ with respect and with disrespect. I prefer respect not names. By the way I am mixed race but not half cast though I wish I was. I am fed up with stupid equal oportunities forms that say things like (a) White (b) mixed race (c) etc etc. what am I meant to put. (z) Other!

    Regarding the Holocaust, in which about 17 million people were exterminated including two relatives of mine, I would have put him right. Needless to say my daughter in state school was able to put her hand up when her teacher said ‘I guess nobody here was effected by that’ Yet one of my Jewish relatives was the most racist person I ever heard of. Indeed some jews think only 6 million jews were exterminated and forget the other 11 million other people. that is Jewish racism.

    Just to say I was never tought anything about the differences between races. The only time anything about race came up was we were tought with wonder and admiration about the bushmen of the Kalahari and the only suggestion was perhaps that their culture was superior to ours by virtue of being closer to nature.

    Its not just that there are good and kind teachers, its that half the teachers in my school probably had no interest in reincarnation and those that did really would not have cared what order people incarnated in and certainly would not have mentioned it if they did believe it and would not have treated the children differently as a result of such a preconceaved idea. This is in my school in my time remember not necessarily any others and I apologise and feel deeply sorry to here of any child anywhere being subject to racism.

    I think in my school they looked at each child and might have said Oh fred is very deeply incarnated but bill isn’t but they would not have said Fred is more deeply incarnated because he is blacker or whiter than bill.

    Its a bit like there are some damn good black athleats out there but you wouldn’t expect a teacher to say ‘Umgabi’ go to the top of the sports class because your black but still he might not be surprised when he got there himself. This is predjudice perhaps but not racism. Even if we all know that most engineers are men we shold never turn down or accept a woman or a man on this basis but simply on their merrit.

    I think I know we are not all equal but the sooner we learn to celebrate our differences and work proudly together the sooner the world will be at peace. At the moment the Chinese workers slave for us imprisoned in their factories while we argue whether ALL Steiner schools are racist or not on mass.

  • 186 John Stumbles // Jan 4, 2011 at 00:59

    @Thetis #164

    Thank you. Your reply above (and at http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3528&cpage=1#comment-8932) have, in a way that I daresay you did not intend, helped me evaluate my judgement of my thinking on these issues.

    I will not trouble you again.

  • 187 Thetis // Jan 4, 2011 at 08:24

    @John Stumbles – believe me, we’ve trod a similar path re Steiner ed. All the best to you.

  • 188 Jan Luiten // Jan 4, 2011 at 11:41

    @tomdehavas 185
    Great comment, thank you

  • 189 Jan Luiten // Jan 4, 2011 at 12:32

    I think it is a very good case to have free schools in GB, and also, as a part of it, schools based on the anthoposophical methodology. Of course it should be clear for all that the teachers of these schools are using this methodology. There shouldn’t be a hidden agenda of propaganda for the anthroposophy. But, like I said before, the teachers should really be free not acting after a theory or a model. It must however be very clear what it is the teachers are standing for. So teachers have to explain publically, e.g. on school-websites, their ideals and personal beliefs. Schools on this basis will then be very different from each other because there isn’t a fixed schoolmodel. Schools on this basis can therefore also compete with each other and of course with other schools that are working on a different basis. In this competition the best schools will survive and evolve. Of course these schools should be accessible and payable to everybody with respect for everybody’s culture, belief, skin color, sex, gender, sexual preference etc. and with zero tolerance for discrimination or racism

  • 190 PeteK // Jan 4, 2011 at 15:09

    @Hollywood Tom – Message 171

    You said:”I was struck by the phrase “ritualistic recitation,” because it so aptly describes the state of Waldorf criticism — and Waldorf apologetics — which has been raging now on the Internet for 17 years since Dan Dugan inaugurated his Waldorf Critics mailing list in 1994. Over such a long time, the recitation of charges and counter-charges of racism has not changed at all, thus the recycling of the same charges over and over again with the requisite defenses, gains the predictable status of a ritual, a kind of kabuki theater, which is now so finely tuned that contributors on both sides just need to copy and paste their comments from previous blog and mailing list battles — or else leave links behind like Bee droppings.”

    Ah, but my friend, I am here to tell you things HAVE changed since 1994. I’m here to point out HIGHLAND HALL TAUGHT STEINER’S RACIST IDEAS TO MY SON. For those who say this doesn’t happen – I’m here to say – IT DOES. Now, you may choose to invalidate me by making comparisons to TheBee – but that doesn’t alter for one instant what ACTUALLY HAPPENED. And this is why I am here Tom – to show what is happening NOW – not in 1994 – but since.

    And speaking of which – we’ve seen lots of OFFICIAL apologies from Waldorf since 1994… (including Steiner quotes taken out of context) – which means SOMETHING must be getting through. ;)

    Here’s a more modern song for you Tom –

    “Time Is Running Out”

    I think I’m drowning
    Asphyxiated
    I wanna break this spell
    That you’ve created

    You’re something beautiful
    A contradiction
    I wanna play the game
    I want the friction

    You will be the death of me
    You will be the death of me

    Bury it
    I won’t let you bury it
    I won’t let you smother it
    I won’t let you murder it

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can’t push it underground
    You can’t stop it screaming out

    I wanted freedom
    Bound and restricted
    I tried to give you up
    But I’m addicted

    Now that you know I’m trapped sense of elation
    You’d never dream of
    Breaking this fixation

    You will squeeze the life out of me

    Bury it
    I won’t let you bury it
    I won’t let you smother it
    I won’t let you murder it

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can’t push it underground
    You can’t stop it screaming out
    How did it come to this?
    Oh

    You will suck the life out of me

    Bury it
    I won’t let you bury it
    I won’t let you smother it
    I won’t let you murder it

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can’t push it underground
    You can’t stop it screaming out
    How did it come to this?
    Oh

    http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/2010/10/working-with-highland-hall-open-letter.html

  • 191 DW // Jan 4, 2011 at 18:51

    Tom, you wrote to me:

    “You said ‘a theory that posits “higher and lower” races, posits that spirituality is reflected in skin color, or that certain races “stay behind” in evolution – spiritually – is racist.’ No I would not dispute it, its just that you called a 38 page definition ‘hopelessly oversimplified’ so I thought you had something new to add on the subject.”

    What I called hopelessly oversimplified was the weird thing the other Tom quoted, about (in kindergarten terms, which is about all it amounted to), if you call someone racist, you’re just a big old meanie, a “bounces off of me and sticks to you” thing dressed up in academic bafflegab. (Which effectively makes it impossible to point to racism anywhere, any time. Val also frequently attempts to introduce into the discussion the possibility that racism may not even exist, with her nonsense about having “faith” that such strange things may exist somewhere somehow, though not in her world, apparently … and [the other] Tom’s contribution seemed to me to work the same way. Not helpful.) (Anway I didn’t call the definition of racism oversimplified – I called the theory Tom quoted oversimplified.)

    “Clearly than I am not racist in your eyes. Personally if I was a racist, In anybodies eyes it would concern me.”

    Your insistence on making all this personal is getting a little old. I REALLY don’t care whether you’re a racist or not. I have no reason at all to think you are a racist, I don’t even know you though you seem like a decent fellow. I am not at all interested in either accusing or reassuring you. You are not the topic here.

  • 192 Hollywood Tomfortas // Jan 4, 2011 at 23:10

    Well, DW, now that you have filed this exacting bill of indictment (Comment #178) charging Rudolf Steiner with teaching a doctrine of racism, what would you see as the final outcome, or endgame of the process? Do you seek a jury trial, or merely statements from the anthroposophical powers that be, like the Vorstand at the Goetheanum or the Waldorf Associations in the US (AWSNA) and UK (SWSF) that acknowledge that Rudolf Steiner taught doctrines that were racist?

    Are you seeking reparations from the estate of Rudolf Steiner at the Goetheanum for the victims of his racism? Or perhaps forming a reconciliation tribunal or whatever they organized in South Africa after the end of apartheid? Any punishment? Conditions for atonement?

    What is it you want from these people?

    Perhaps I should give you a good opportunity here to express what you deem the best case scenario of what should happen if the Steiner movement ever plead guilty to your bill of indictment.

    Obviously, I cannot speak for anyone but myself here, but suppose I were able to speak for the Vorstand and AWSNA and SWSF and I were to admit to you — as I stand in the docket representing Rudolf Steiner’s movement — that indeed I fully acknowledge the charge that Rudolf Steiner was a racist and taught racist doctrine.

    He is guilty as charged. In fact, not only do I acknowledge all the particulars of the racism charges, I even go farther and admit that I — as an anthroposophist for the last 34 years — can categorically state that racism in anthroposophy is not just incidental to the doctrine; it is actually fundamental to the doctrine. Take away the racism, and you have no anthroposophy left.

    But I am only acting as spokesman here. What would you then like to see as the next step? What should follow from a full admission of guilt by all the “power-that-be” in anthroposophy that Rudolf Steiner was a racist and taught racist doctrine?

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

  • 193 John Stumbles // Jan 5, 2011 at 00:17

    @Thetis #187

    Sorry, I am going to bother you again, just for some information. Have you got, or can you point me to, a list of racist incidents in UK Steiner schools? Ideally with as much information as possible about them.

    (Worldwide would be fine too.)

    Thanks

    John S

  • 194 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 01:08

    @Tom – this is a fairly obscure new esoteric religion, which matters very much to its adherents but not at all to the rest of the world. It is historically interesting, but otherwise in the opinion of most people who come across it, it’s a philosophical dead-end. New religions develop and then die all the time. Some survive. Besides, there are so many other ideas worth pursuing.

    I can only suggest, if anyone asks, that these organisations withdraw from supporting the pursuit of public money for Steiner Waldorf schools. That would be the decent thing to do. The project of anthroposophy is the concern of its supporters, not its detractors.

    But I suspect we’re not close to this kind of declaration. So we hope that those responsible for funding Free Schools in our country do their research well on this one.

    The influence of anthroposophy on environmentalism, agriculture, social care, medicine are up for question elsewhere, and rightly so.

    In my post I write that ‘although a reappraisal of doctrine is not without precedent within religious movements, it would be especially problematic for Anthroposophy, as an esoteric belief system.’

  • 195 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 01:45

    @John Stumbles – hello, it’s no bother at all.

    If there were a list of this kind it wouldn’t be possible to give it out, for legal and personal reasons. Ray Perreira, who spoke in the Australian press and the British parents mentioned in my post were both unusually candid. So is PeteK.

    You may have read here that there’s a Waldorf Survivors’ list, which is not public. (I’m not a member). This may give you an idea how reluctant people are to speak openly about experiences (not by any means all to do with racism) which may have been traumatic. Leaving a Waldorf school community can be difficult for lots of reasons.

    My own experience was not traumatic, by the way. Nor did it involve racism.

  • 196 DW // Jan 5, 2011 at 02:58

    Tom Mellett, I don’t personally think all the melodrama about jury trials and indictments etc. is helpful. Who exactly would be indicted? In individual incidents, of course, legal proceedings might be helpful (and there have been a few such cases), but overall, individuals suing schools or particular teachers isn’t a great way forward, IMO.

    What is at issue is large numbers of people in the movement overall being finally willing to take a serious look at the situation without getting personally offended and threatened. From what I understand (I don’t read German), this is already happening much more in the German-speaking anthro world than in the English-speaking. I think eventually it will get underway in a much more energetic way in the UK and the US as well.

    The biggest obstacle I see is that anthroposophists are threatened that Steiner’s clairvoyance is at stake. If Steiner is declared wrong about any point of doctrine, the entire edifice is in question, because it is *all* based on his clairvoyant pronouncements. How many mistakes could he have made, especially in very serious matters, and retain credibility as a visionary and a seer etc.? There are ways around this, however. Plenty of religions – every religion, perhaps? – has to deal with the skeletons in the closets of its founders at some point. Any religious movement that wants to survive and mature *has* to make this leap, IMO. There is nothing particularly unusual or special about anthroposophy in this regard and the demands and pressures put on anthroposophy by outsiders are not extraordinary. If there is value in anthroposophy, it can only get *more* influential and successful in the world by taking care of these housekeeping matters. Endless denials, endless wretched antics, absurd and scandalous behavior by people like Sune Nordwall only delay the process. Someday the Sunes of anthroposophy will be deeply discredited and seen for what they are (dinosaurs).

    More importantly, though, if anthroposophists want to be taken seriously as a movement for social progress in the world, they simply need to set aside their self-serving and self-absorbed anxieties and grapple with the issues honestly. Statements from official Waldorf organizations and schools that the racial doctrines are considered incorrect and deleterious and are explicitly disavowed would be a start. (Not weasely statements about how some things, sometimes, that Steiner said can be misconstrued according to modern sensibilities blah blah … but actual statements that Steiner’s racial teachings were incorrect and dangerous.)

    After that I think a lot of soul searching would ensue, and it wouldn’t be an easy or quick process (as we can see from the fact that it’s taken about 15 years of steady pressure to get this far). How about, for instance, regional conferences of Waldorf educators to address the possible role Steiner’s views on different races may have played in the classroom?

    I don’t think this long time frame for dealing with is unusual or strange, historically, by the way – racial beliefs are deeply held by many people, not just anthroposophists, and historically people don’t let go of them easily.

    Frankly your own endless song-and-dance antics aren’t particularly helpful in this process, IMO.

  • 197 PeteK // Jan 5, 2011 at 03:04

    @ Hollywood Tom who said: “What is it you want from these people?”

    For me, Tom, that’s a loaded question, because I would like to be compensated for the impact of the horrible education my children received… and for the therapy they have had to have… stuff like that. But getting to the racism in particular – I would like FULL DISCLOSURE – very similar to what you wrote – on every Waldorf document… you know… right there next to where they say they don’t discriminate. That would be perfect! That way there is no “hidden” doctrine that parents have to discover on their own. It would be great if they disclosed a whole bunch of other stuff too, BTW.

  • 198 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 08:46

    @DW @PeteK too – hear hear.

    “If there is value in anthroposophy, it can only get *more* influential and successful in the world by taking care of these housekeeping matters. Endless denials, endless wretched antics, absurd and scandalous behavior by people like Sune Nordwall only delay the process.”

  • 199 tomdehavas // Jan 5, 2011 at 13:55

    DW // Jan 5, 2011 at 02:58

    ‘The biggest obstacle I see is that anthroposophists are threatened that Steiner’s clairvoyance is at stake. If Steiner is declared wrong about any point of doctrine, the entire edifice is in question, because it is *all* based on his clairvoyant pronouncements.’

    No it is not ALL based (a generalisation) in fact very little when I was at school was and what was was questioned all the time.

    Quote ‘Statements from official Waldorf organizations and schools that the racial doctrines are considered incorrect and deleterious and are explicitly disavowed would be a start.’ I agree but I don’t think it is as simple as that.

    Quote ‘How about, for instance, regional conferences of Waldorf educators to address the possible role Steiner’s views on different races may have played in the classroom?’ I love this suggestion and think it should happen now your talking DW.

  • 200 5raphs // Jan 5, 2011 at 16:18

    @John Stumbles

    I always thought this post from last year (which was on a discussion which they delete after a few months, hence the format here) was a good example of how Steiner’s ideas about race and reincarnation can fill the psyche of Steiner teachers :

    ” Well, i have heard of a lot of rascism in Steiner schools. I am half Indian, so quite olive skinned with very dark eyes. Ds takes after my dad and dh and is very white with blonde hair and very light blue eyes….

    It is a little unbelievable looking back. I was asked outright if he was adopted. I was told it was ‘ok’ if he was dhs child from a previous relationship. Then I was asked if there was any chance he was swapped at birth. When they finally accepted that I had somehow given birth to him (genetics, anyone?) they started to treat him like the messiah, calling him their ‘golden boy’.

    ……He (poster’s husband) was told that ds was a ‘black soul’ put on earth in the incarnation of a blonde haired, blue eyed boy for the purpose of spiritual deception. That I was dark as I had committed evil in a previous life and that evil was living on through my child who was born in order to deceive. I said earlier that in the last few weeks he was there he developed a nervous tick, he used to kind of roll his eyes back while opening them wide, over and over. Apparently, that is a very common sign of stress in very young children (he was just 5 at the time). The kindergarten teacher said that this was the evil showing itself and trying to take a physical form.”

    Here is the entire post- sorry it’s so hard to read:

    http://pastehtml.com/view/1cntj9m.txt

    The poster ten posts down here too- “Blu”

    http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/454805-steiner-waldorf-schools-requesting-info-from-those-in-the-know

    There is some revealing stuff here by “Beansavvi” who trained a a teacher and was a parent (this is a huge thread, and well worth reading all the way through if anyone has time/energy…)

    http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/368640/a-safe-healthy-haven-waldorf-questioners-concerns-thread/120

    There are many personal stories here , from the UK as well as world wide
    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles.html#FormerWal

  • 201 DW // Jan 5, 2011 at 16:50

    I wrote:

    “The biggest obstacle I see is that anthroposophists are threatened that Steiner’s clairvoyance is at stake. If Steiner is declared wrong about any point of doctrine, the entire edifice is in question, because it is *all* based on his clairvoyant pronouncements.’

    Tom deH:
    “No it is not ALL based (a generalisation) in fact very little when I was at school was and what was was questioned all the time.”

    #1. I was referring to anthroposophy – not to your education. Anthroposophy is ALL based on Steiner’s clairvoyant pronouncements. Sorry but this point is pretty simple.

    #2. If you refuse to learn anything about anthroposophy, then how would you be able to say one way or the other what parts of your education were based on it and what parts were maybe not?

    “Quote ‘Statements from official Waldorf organizations and schools that the racial doctrines are considered incorrect and deleterious and are explicitly disavowed would be a start.’ I agree but I don’t think it is as simple as that.”

    I did not suggest it would be simple. Did you read the whole post? What sense does it make to isolate one sentence out of several paragraphs describing a many-years process, and reply “It is not as simple as that”?

  • 202 tomdehavas // Jan 5, 2011 at 18:26

    5raphs // Jan 5, 2011 at 16:18 Nuts like that should be sacked.

    DW // Jan 5, 2011 at 16:50

    #1 Sorry I thought you were talking about Steiner education not anthroposophy.

    #2 Lets just say I refuse to read about anthroposophy but given my background I heard about it all the time hence my point previously.

    I did read your whole post, clearly in this context I felt it made sense to isolate one sentance but I may have been wrong to do so. Sorry.

  • 203 zooey // Jan 5, 2011 at 18:36

    ‘#1 Sorry I thought you were talking about Steiner education not anthroposophy.

    #2 Lets just say I refuse to read about anthroposophy but given my background I heard about it all the time hence my point previously.’

    No wonder you don’t understand what we’re talking about then. We’re talking about anthroposophy and its role in waldorf/steiner education. And you refuse to inform yourself about anthroposophy and its role in waldorf/steiner education! You’re acutally not discussing what we are discussing, which explains why engaging with you in this matter is a dead-end.

    ——–

    Also, I’d like to recommend readers of this blog to take a look at a comment written by an anthroposophist and directed towards someone s/he perceives to be a dissenter. It’s a chilling read, and hopefully not representative of anthroposophy as a whole. But still, it shows anthroposophy is not the nice and cosy little community some assume it is. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_now/message/1754

  • 204 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 19:03

    Two quotes from above, not even mentioning the threat of karmic retribution to be suffered by the apostate.

    “The schools, then, need students and, therefore, have to be appealing to that manipulated society gone astray. That is an economic problem, too.”

    “Then there is the external problem. Contrary to what some of the hereticals may
    think, we should thank the fact that Steiner spoke during a time when he could say certain things, when he could donate certain teachings. The very teachings that are being attacked, criticized, even by the very anthroposophists, were donated to humankind when it was possible and, therefore, we should protect them.

    There is nothing to reject. Nothing to repel. Nothing to justify.
    So far I haven’t noticed any of Steiner’s teachings that might be objectionable. This does not mean that they are all undisputable. There may be errors, of course. But the core teachings are sufficiently solid to provide all the material we need to work in the invisible to connect in the right way with the spiritual worlds.”

    I dispute the writer’s assertion that schools are independent from anthroposophical activities. That’s just sophistry.

    Truly medieval. Arrogant, vicious and mad.

  • 205 tomdehavas // Jan 5, 2011 at 20:38

    zooey // Jan 5, 2011 at 18:36
    I quote ‘No wonder you don’t understand what we’re talking about then. We’re talking about anthroposophy and its role in waldorf/steiner education. And you refuse to inform yourself about anthroposophy and its role in waldorf/steiner education! You’re acutally not discussing what we are discussing, which explains why engaging with you in this matter is a dead-end.’

    Dearest Zooey perhaps you might explain why the top of this page is entitled ‘Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism’ And it has the following intoduction ‘This post deals with the most contentious and serious aspect of Steiner schools, racism. It makes, in my view, a convincing argument that Steiner’s undoubtedly racist views remain a problem today. They can’t be dismissed simply by saying that Steiner was a child of his times. This post was written by an ex-Steiner school parent, known on the web as @ThetisMercurio.’

    QED

    Regarding the link I followed it and read what I found and I think we would both agree it is disturbing I quote ‘The internal one concerns anthroposophists who are taking heretic positions with regard to Steiner’s teachings, sometimes up to the point of rejecting some or
    all of his teachings, as a result of the absurd campaign opposing the new
    mysteries.’ What this says to all of us is that there are people out there who think Steiner was a god! Clearly my school was a school of heretics calling themselves a Steiner school.

    Interestingly enough my father Frederic de Havas had a major correspondence argument with another anthroposophist A. C. Harwood, after he did a damning review of his book “The Faithful Thinker,”. I believe my father’s argument was that anthroposophy should be open to question and debate. What follows is the abstract for my father’s article.

    RUDOLF STEINER AND EDUCATION — AN APPRECIATION OF HIS WORK ON THE CENTENARY OF HIS BIRTH Author: Frederic de Havas – [Rudolf Steiner was born in Austria in 1861 and on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, Hodder and Stoughton have published “The Faithful Thinker,” edited by A. C. Harwood (Australian price 31s. 9d.) To mark this occasion, the editors decided that, instead of carrying a standard book review, we would invite an authority on Steiner to contribute an extended review. Dr. Frederic de Havas is a distinguished educationist, who is principal of Salmon's Cross School, Holmbury St. Mary, Surrey, England, a Special School conducted on the principles of Rudolf Steiner. In the following article, he gives us a brief appreciation of Steiner's contribution to education. J.McL.]

    This is why I keep saying do not tar all anthroposophists with the same brush there were, and I hope still are many who would refuse to accept the idea that there can be any such thing as anthroposophical heresy. Sadly every movement attracts its far share of idiots.

  • 206 tomdehavas // Jan 5, 2011 at 21:01

    Correction the book was by Owen Barfield.

  • 207 zooey // Jan 5, 2011 at 21:06

    ‘Dearest Zooey perhaps you might explain why the top of this page is entitled ‘Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism’ And it has the following intoduction ‘This post deals with the most contentious and serious aspect of Steiner schools, racism. It makes, in my view, a convincing argument that Steiner’s undoubtedly racist views remain a problem today.’

    It seems to me you learnt to read and to use reason in a waldorf/steiner school. Or you’re just into the habit of spamming threads with irrelevant junk, in which case you obviously don’t need to even bother to find out what others are actually saying.

    You haven’t read what Thetis wrote, much less understood it. Maybe it would be a good idea for the rest of us to ignore you until you’ve recovered or acquired a capacity for reading and comprehension. Otherwise this discussion is pointless and futile. Unless you bother to read what Thetis wrote and unless you’re willing to find out what anthroposophy is about and why this is a concern, then, as far as I’m concerned, what you think is utterly irrelevant. It’s got nothing to do with what’s discussed here, and for my personal part, I won’t bother with your inanity anymore.

  • 208 zooey // Jan 5, 2011 at 21:11

    What I am saying is that I think you need to read the text. Because it’s quite apparent you look at the post title, make lots of inferences, and won’t try to understand why Thetis (and many of us) feel that Steiner’s teachings (a whole bunch of them, not limited to racism) are a problem. And you just kep saying you don’t care to find out what these teachings are or what they mean to Steiner education. How could you possibly think we take such crap seriously?

  • 209 tomdehavas // Jan 5, 2011 at 21:58

    zooey // Jan 5, 2011 at 21:06 Thank you for your views but actually I have read the entirety of all three Steiner pages on this website and they seem pretty clear.

    I learned to reason from doing physics, maths and programming, not from Steiner school as you suggest. How about you? I learned to understand faulty reasoning from anthroposophists. No I am not spamming threads it takes a considerable amount of time to reply to the points raised and I consider each one carefully.

    Ignoring those with opposing veiws would be just what the anthroposophist on the link you posted would do. Yes its always cosy to surround ones self with people one agrees with but it rarely leads to any truth.

    I have read what Thetis wrote and I have explained many times why it is not necessary to read about anthroposophy in order to dispute not what Thetis is saying about anthroposophy but the conclusions he draws from it, that no Steiner school should get state funding.

    Perhaps you should read some of my fathers work on the subject to see that not all anthroposophists are as you claim.

    Zooey generalisation again. NO actually you said ‘We’re talking about anthroposophy and its role in waldorf/steiner education’ I said that the page title suggested otherwise. In this case I only needed to look at the title to refute your claim. It does seem reasonable that if you told me this was a discussion about chickens but the title sais turkeys then I don’t need to read it all to refute the claim, right?

    I have accepted and agree with many of the criticisms you level at Steiner, anthroposophy and Steiner education but you keep trying to say the whole Steiner school movement is like it.

    Zooey I am sorry to have upset you and will not be offended if you don’t bother with me. The anthroposophists gave up on me years ago when I brought electric circuits into kindergarten. It must have really messed up the Karma!

  • 210 lovelyhorse // Jan 5, 2011 at 22:10

    @John Stumbles, I wish I could tell you what I have been told directly from a mother who witnessed racism in our local Steiner school, she did try and speak out at the time, sadly this resulted in her family being hounded out of the school and community and she is now too frightened to discuss it.

    You did mention you would also be interested to hear of incidents worldwide, the following court document details a case of racial discrimination regarding the New York Steiner Waldorf School in 2002:

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/charmainecomp.pdf

    I understand the teacher got a settlement and a gagging order.

  • 211 Jan Luiten // Jan 5, 2011 at 22:24

    @Zooey
    “…….unless you’re willing to find out what anthroposophy is about………
    Are you, Zooey, trying to understand what anthroposophy is about?
    The trying, of course, is good.
    But I am sorry to say that most people here, including – with all respect- you, really misunderstand anthroposophy. This does not have to be problematic. A lot of people don’t.
    But is there openness to really want to understand?
    I think the real anthroposophy would be an “inconvenient truth” for many critics.
    Consciously or unconsciously they rather deal with the sectarian caricature of it and tear that in pieces.

  • 212 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 23:15

    @Jan Luiten – I’d like to draw your attention to DC’s analysis of Rudolf Steiner: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=1606

    “the mystic barmpot, Rudolf Steiner, for whom nothing whatsoever seems to strain credulity”

    It was this perceptive analysis which first drew us here. It is still our analysis. And now, I feel sure, it is an analysis shared by the many skeptics, scientists, doctors, students, teachers, journalists and other trouble-makers who read this blog, most of whom had never heard of the mystic barmpot until anthroposophists and offspring of anthroposophists made these comment threads so spectacularly long.

    I can’t think of a single thing that anthroposophy doesn’t make worse. That’s quite an accomplishment.

  • 213 jdc // Jan 5, 2011 at 23:44

    I think the Anthroposophical/Waldorf-Steiner movement is absolutely fascinating. Sadly, the movement is fascinating for all the wrong reasons. Many of the ideas held are wrong-headed – and, sadly, some are also dangerous. The stance taken by Rudolph Steiner Schools on vaccination, for example, is worrying indeed.

  • 214 Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 23:54

    @jdc – I hadn’t noticed before how good the Open Waldorf page is about anthroposophical medicine/vaccination: http://www.openwaldorf.com/health.html

  • 215 zooey // Jan 6, 2011 at 00:29

    @Jan — Yes, I do, and I think I’ve not been entirely unsuccessful. It would be splendid to keep in mind, though, that the person I responded to has been very explicit: he’s not interested in familiarizing himself *at all* with Steiner’s texts. I think it’s fair to say he’s not intending to even try. You can believe I haven’t ‘understood’ Steiner (the way anthroposophists think Steiner should be understood, is my reply then), but you sure can’t tell me I refuse to engage with what Steiner wrote or said. Not unless you want to be wrong, at least.

    And, unfortunately, as long as anthroposophists who epitomize the sectarian caricature are running waldorf schools, well, then that’s going to be a huge problem for the movement. (And not a problem anyone can blame us dreaded critics for.) Those — the sectarians — are the people who will be receiving government money.

    I can’t say, though, that I’m not looking forward to the day when anthroposophic and waldorf organizations kick out the mad sectarians, or at least remove them from positions of power. Not that I think it will ever happen, but, yes, it’s for us to hope for it and anthroposophists to work on it.

  • 216 lovelyhorse // Jan 6, 2011 at 12:55

    Exeter Steiner school mention in a newsletter dated 12th of November 2010 that they are applying for Free School funding, in the same newsletter they advertise a talk being held:

    How to boost your immune system and
    the question of vaccinations.
    Talk by OLIVER COWMEADOW
    Thursday 9th December 7.30pm

    The newsletter explains that Oliver Cowmeadow will be discussing ‘how
    how we can boost our
    immune system naturally’ and that he has ‘studied the emotional side of healing with
    courses in psychotherapy, rebirthing, past life healing and counselling, which he has
    now integrated with his use of Oriental medicine’.

    further down the newsletter:

    Homoeopathy in School
    If you would like to see Kate for short sessions, or to book a
    longer, in depth appointment, please phone her at least the day
    before on 07971 xxxxxx

    http://www.webcitation.org/5vX1oXVOU

    As DC has said several times in the comments here, this attitude towards vaccination endangers the wider community.

    @Thetis, I agree the Open Waldorf site is great, their analysis on vaccination is worth quoting:

    “While there may not be an official position on immunization at Waldorf (Steiner), there does seem to be a strong cultural anti-immunization preference among thought-leaders in the Waldorf community. This preference can be traced back to Steiner himself, who believed that immunization interferes with karmic development and the cycles of reincarnation”.

    I noticed their link to Steiner’s series of lectures ‘Manifestations of Karma’ is broken, new link here:

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/ManfKarma/ManKar_index.html

  • 217 Thetis // Jan 6, 2011 at 14:35

    @lovelyhorse – in this Exeter Steiner school newsletter Oliver Cowmeadow’s talk is:

    ‘How to strengthen your immune system—is immunisation necessary?’
    http://www.webcitation.org/5vX25Pk4b

    It would be reassuring if Exeter Steiner school held a similar talk from a local (non-anthroposophical) GP in the near future.

  • 218 John Stumbles // Jan 6, 2011 at 15:16

    @lovelyhorse // Jan 5, 2011 at 22:10 #210

    “I understand the teacher got a settlement and a gagging order.”

    Do you mean it was settled out of court on the basis that neither side would discuss it publicly?

    I understand that’s not uncommon in employment cases, though it’s a pity the case didn’t get tested in public.

    I know the court documents heaped on the awfullness of it all with a shovel (down to the claims of $150 million dollars!) but it does sound as if the school responded badly to Ms Paulson’s initial criticisms and then reacted outrageously by sitting in on her class for what seems an unjustifiable number of times and then firing her. How extraordinary: one might think that in New York, that world melting pot of cities (and in possibly the most litigious country in the world) even dyed-in-the-wool Anthros might have more clue than that. Sounds like the sort of clueless behaviour Maura describes in her child’s school.

    “I wish I could tell you what I have been told directly from a mother who witnessed racism in our local Steiner school”

    I appreciate that if the mother doesn’t want to discuss it in public that you would respect her confidence. However could you please give at least an indication of what sort of behaviour you’re referring to here (without revealing identifiable specifics, of course). For example are we talking about indirect comments about coloured crayons, inappropriate current use of old texts containing racist language, prejudicial language or behaviour towards non-white children or staff, or what? And involving who – children to other children, one teacher to child(ren), many members of staff, etc?

    thanks

    JohnS

  • 219 lovelyhorse // Jan 6, 2011 at 16:06

    @John Stumbles

    ‘Do you mean it was settled out of court on the basis that neither side would discuss it publicly?’

    That is my understanding.

    Regarding what the mother witnessed, it was a teachers behaviour towards a child and the subsequent behaviour of other teachers and the wider school community.

  • 220 Thetis // Jan 6, 2011 at 16:29

    Re Andreas’ comment 74
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=5#comment-8735

    translated by Tom – comment 80
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=5#comment-8750

    And returning to the original post here: regarding the German ‘seminar to deal with Steiner’s racism’ held two months ago – Peter Staudenmaier comments:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16469

    “I’m glad to hear that anthroposophists like Jens Heisterkamp are finally trying to move the internal anthroposophical discussion away from apologists like Detlef Hardorp, but I’m afraid there is still quite a long way to go. Heisterkamp’s own arguments are often an unsteady sort of hybrid of head-in the-sand denial and sincere attempts at engaging with external analysis of anthroposophy. In any case, what would be genuinely helpful is not yet another PR seminar but an in-depth straightforward discussion among anthroposophists about Steiner’s racial teachings. Realizing that the real problem is not public relations but the core content of anthroposophy would be a good start in that direction.”

  • 221 maimuna // Jan 7, 2011 at 01:28

    Sorry to repeat myself but fans of Steiner will often ( always ??! ) say how there are some bad Steiner schools/teachers ,you just had bad luck ,an experience that could happen in any school.
    Yawn…
    Another specific,my daughter’s teacher read out from a Steiner book of verse ‘The boy had so much chocolate on his face that he looked like a nigger’ She then punished my daughter for complaining.
    The book is Bli Bla Blu by Alfred Blaur,printed in the late 80’s or early nineties,you can find it on Amazon.
    Still printing the same bollocks ,still reading it out in class. I also know of a family where there was physical violence against a Black child who was racially insulted at the same time by the child’s teacher.
    Many parents who I personally know that have left ( most not due to racism ) slide away and want to forget their experiences,some have had to move away from the community and some have ended up on the Waldorf Survivors Group like myself.
    I don’t know of any other schools which are not open about their beliefs.If the teachers are studying Anthroposophy then they are studying racist beliefs as a parent of a mixed race child I needed to know that BEFORE we enrolled our child,then I could make an informed decision. We weren’t given that choice.
    Maimuna

  • 222 John Stumbles // Jan 7, 2011 at 09:53

    @maimuna #221

    “I also know of a family where there was physical violence against a Black child who was racially insulted at the same time by the child’s teacher.”

    Was that at the same school as the incident with your daughter?

    More generally, from what you hear on the Waldorf Survivors Group, do you get an idea of how many racist (and other discriminatory) incidents have occurred? Whilst I understand people involved (on either side – parents or schools) may not wish to discuss details in public, it would be good if at least an anonymised summary of what’s alleged (and proven if possible) to have happened, and when and where.

  • 223 maimuna // Jan 7, 2011 at 10:11

    Its not about a few dodgy teachers. Why did my school use Bli Bla Blu ( the teacher said it was a standard Steiner book ) ?
    Why did the school recommend ‘The Festivals and their Meaning ?’
    Why did a Trustee recommend ‘How to know Higher Worlds ‘ ?
    Why did some teachers say they had been though all the races on an ethnicity list ?
    Why do training teachers study Anthroposophy throughout the world ?

    Because the schools are steeped in Anthroposophy,its what they are about although as they say in the brochures ‘they do not teach it to the children’
    To be honest if I had heard of no other racist incidents apart from ours it would still be outrageous that schools can have an outdated belief system underpinning them that needed to disappear when Steiner did.I don’t think counting the racist happenings around the world is the point really,I look at the BNP and know they shouldn’t be a legitimate party in the UK,reading about actual incidents when a member beats up a Black /Asian person does not make me surprised and it doesn’t make me think that they are then ‘definitely’ racist and it doesn’t make me think there may be a few ‘dodgy’ members in the BNP,its just bloody obvious their party is racist as they keep spouting racist ideology although of course they deny it at the same time as it is not popular to come out and say ‘yeah we’re racist get over it join us if you like us bugger off if you don’t !’ ( I wish our school brochure had said that )
    People discussing IF Steiner’s ideas are racist is unbelievable to myself ,my daughter and my husband.
    Saying that there are far worse things going on in the world is very childish in my mind,sorry if that sounds rude I can’t think how else to put it.
    As DW says its not about attacking anyone on here or saying they are racist themselves ,thats unimportant ,its about discussing and showing up a very outdated and offensive belief system.

  • 224 Thetis // Jan 7, 2011 at 12:36

    @John Stumbles –

    maimuna is right: the belief system which informs the schools is under scrutiny here. My post describes at length why that scrutiny is necessary, and states why disclaimers used by Steiner Waldorf schools are disingenuous – itself a cause for concern. I have deliberately avoided founding my post on anecdotal evidence, including only two accounts from parents who have experienced manifestations of anthroposophy’s race doctrines.

    Maimuna draws an excellent political analogy.

    There is not the diversity you might expect in modern Britain in Steiner Waldorf schools (one reason being that they’re often in rural areas where there is a predominantly white population). The same demographic is notable in the report Sune Nordwall (of Waldorf Answers) so often produces to prove that German Waldorf schools have a ‘low incidence of xenophobic attitudes’ – I replied to this in an earlier comment:
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=5#comment-8649

    At the ‘Way forward for Steiner schools’ seminar held in November 2009, which is important to read to get a full understanding of the post – http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/seminarnotes/

    “Rachel Wolf [of the New Schools Network] suggested that the Schools should therefore seek to get a “more mixed group of people interested from the beginning, because that is the best way that you [the Steiner schools] can appear like an equal, diverse and principled organisation, and you want that from day one if you possibly can, and you should start doing that now.”

    The importance of getting a more diverse intake of children was noted, given the likely effects of the negative PR currently circulating on the internet, coupled with images of classes filled with only white, middle-class children. It was acknowledged that such an image would be very damaging to the movement.”

    Of course, photos of black children presented in PR material is not the same as addressing Steiner’s doctrines on race. It is both cynical and reprehensible in my view to use children for this purpose, and to dismiss historical and textual analysis, fully evidenced, as ‘negative PR’. I don’t however believe Rachel Wolf was doing any more than listening to supporters of Steiner schools, and acting out of good-will and inexperience, albeit unwisely.

    It should be obvious that incidents involving children are sensitive, and that many families wish to protect their children from further distress. They often present their experiences anonymously because of this, as well as for legal reasons, which means I could quote them but wouldn’t be able to substantiate their stories. Like others here, I also don’t feel it’s right to exploit individuals to bolster a case, certainly not without permission. Ray Perreira has already spoken publicly.

    It is only necessary to understand racism, as maimuna suggests, to realise that however few traumatic incidents there are in Steiner Waldorf schools worldwide – and we hope these are not common – the fact that anthroposophy is an essentially racist doctrine, and that anthroposophy undoubtedly underpins the pedagogy and teacher training material of Steiner Waldorf schools, should disqualify these schools from state funding.

    The Norwegian book: ‘What they do not tell us – the Occult Foundation of the Steiner school’ (2010) mentioned in our second post here:
    http://www.detdeikkefortelleross.no/index.html

    contains many personal stories, but isn’t available in English at this time. Reviewers of the book admit that in this context these stories are credible and convincing:

    http://www.detdeikkefortelleross.no/Det%20de%20ikke%20forteller%20oss%20anmeldelser.htm

    (as DrAust comments – google chrome is a good translation tool).

    Those whose experiences have been discredited, who have not been supported by a school community or have met obfuscation or worse from teachers, trustees or other parents (many of whom are unaware of Steiner’s race doctrines), or who were told that their experience was just an isolated incident due to a rogue teacher who has ‘misunderstood Steiner’, may not be willing to give up their names.

    There should not need to be any other incidents for this to be addressed seriously by those responsible for funding. Nor does anyone have to have been at the ‘receiving end’ of these doctrines to be concerned that this has not yet been addressed seriously, and that it appears many Steiner schools have been led to expect they will gain funding in the immediate future.

  • 225 John Stumbles // Jan 8, 2011 at 01:05

    @PeteK #123

    (Picking up on an old thread here.)

    “Another way that racism through the temperaments is expressed is through the “Greek Olympics” or “Pentathlon” games in the 5th grade. This event will usually involve children from neighboring schools competing in several events…

    The children get to march around all day wearing a uniform that identifies them to their classmates perhaps as “lazy.” … A child simply has to look at their uniform to see who they have been associated with. Often, classmates or siblings will tease children based on the color of their uniform.”

    Here in the UK there is one Olympics, held at the Steiner School at Michael Hall in Forest Row in East Sussex. In these games children from schools all over the UK camp in the school’s (large) grounds and spend 3 days practicing running, jumping, discus, javelin, wrestling and poetry(!) and on the 4th day have a formal day’s games starting with a solemn procession with older children carrying torches and lighting an Olympic flame which burns throughout the games. The children are not set up to compete with each other as you say yours do (though of course they do informally compare themselves with each other) and they are all honoured with medals at the end of the games for qualities, whether sporting (e.g. fleetness of foot) or human (e.g. kindness to others).

    During the practice and the games the children are divided into houses as you describe (Sparta, Athens, Thebes etc). But there aren’t different coloured uniforms as you describe: there’s no visible differentiation between children in different houses. (For the practice days the children wear ordinary clothes – Tee-shirts, shorts, trainers etc.; and for the final day they wear white togas that we parents have knocked up out of old bed-sheets or whatever!). I don’t recall whether there was some scheme to allocation of children to houses; possibly there was but I wasn’t aware of it and neither was my older son when he was a participant. But – within our school party at least – there was no hint of teasing based on which ‘city’ children were in. And for them it was all a wonderful adventure: setting up camp, meeting children from other schools, discovering their athletic capabilities, eating slightly burned food and toasting marshmallows over an open fire. It’s one of the aspects of my sons’ Steiner education which, for me, greatly outweighs my distaste for the slightly nutty aspects of SWE.

  • 226 Jan Luiten // Jan 8, 2011 at 09:33

    @zooey // Jan 6, 2011 at 00:29
    Of course there can be no doubt about your engagement for what Steiner said or wrote.
    I think that because of this engagement you also possess considerable knowledge about Steiners texts and about the anthroposophical subculture. Still this is something different from understanding what Anthroposophy is.

  • 227 Jan Luiten // Jan 8, 2011 at 09:49

    Thetis // Jan 5, 2011 at 23:15
    “I can’t think of a single thing that anthroposophy doesn’t make worse. That’s quite an accomplishment”
    This statement is detrimental to your credibility as a critic of anthroposophy.
    All reasonableness is gone. You can’t see a single positive element anymore in all the work that has been done by anthroposphists. I think you are momentarily bowing deeply to the rule of King Prejudice and Queen Stereotypia.

  • 228 Jan Luiten // Jan 8, 2011 at 10:20

    @Maimouna
    Steiners racial theses are not the core of anthroposophy. The discussion whether these theses are racist is going on. Certainly you can classify some statements as discriminatory but is it sufficient to call this racism? Critics do believe “yes”, but there are others who say “no” also based on scholarly material.
    In the anthroposophical subculture e.g. schools you might find indeed people who take anthroposophy as a belief system. This means that you have to believe in Steiners theses as dogmas and that you are only a real anthroposophist when you are confessing all Steiner has said.
    This is not how it should be. Anthroposophists should have a free relationship to Steiner.
    Not believing anything. You should take it as working hypotheses that could be valid or not. You can judge the validity out of your own practice.
    Discrimination and racism in Steiner schools as well as in other school have to be condemned. But do you think that there are more cases of discrimination and racism in Steiner schools than in other schools? I doubt it.

  • 229 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 13:32

    @Thetis: you quote:

    “Rachel Wolf [of the New Schools Network] suggested that the Schools should therefore seek to get a “more mixed group of people interested from the beginning, because that is the best way that you [the Steiner schools] can appear like an equal, diverse and principled organisation, and you want that from day one if you possibly can, and you should start doing that now.”

    http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/seminarnotes/

    Rachel Wolf’s use of the words ‘can appear like’ is pretty jaw-dropping. What matters to the New Schools Network is the outward appearance of Steiner schools, not what they actually are. The brand image mustn’t reflect badly on the government.

    Steiner HQ is very aware of what will appeal to the British public:

    ‘The British by nature are pragmatic, and
    many people come to anthroposophy as a
    result of one of the practical activities
    rather than from reading the books’.

    http://www.goetheanum.org/fileadmin/wochenschrift/awe/W200610.pdf (page 8)

    Of course if they read the books, they would discover Steiner’s race doctrines.

    I also note from the seminar:

    “The only point that Sam Freedman (and Rachel Wolf) were particularly sure to press home was that of “basic levels of achievement”. They felt that the schools had to be accountable for ensuring that children were meeting basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy at all levels. This, it was acknowledged, may cause some conflict with the Steiner method of teaching.”

    What are these people doing? It beggars belief!

  • 230 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 13:44

    Ref: comment #227, #228

    Thetis and maimuna, and I, and Waldorf-critics here and there, were not Waldorf-critics to start with. All of us Waldorf-critics got into the conclusions we now hold as a consequence of real events, which we neither planed for, nor wished.

    I share Thetis’ standpoint, although I am nowhere near at expressing them as well as Thetis does.

    I share maimuna’s standpoint, too, although I did not personally experience racism, while a part of a Waldorf school in Sweden for a while. (A family revealed to me, however, what happened at the school prior to my presence there. What the mother told me is similar to what maimuna tells us.)

    However, I recognize all the descriptions by maimuna, presented here and at other occasions. The mechanism behind is the same in her family’s case and in my case, although the outer appearances were different.

  • 231 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 13:47

    The PR strategy was discussed in the afternoon session of the seminar:

    “It was suggested that an “antidote” website be set up to explain the criticisms that are levelled against the Steiner schools. It was also suggested the Steiner schools Fellowship take up the offer of free media training offered by the New Schools Network, although it was acknowledged that the Fellowship would require more than this, indeed they would need full-time “professional help”. A PR officer would be required to place positive stories in the media, and also to counter the stream of negative ones. It was considered important to get a PR strategy sorted out soon, especially if a large number of Steiner schools opt-in for state funding at an early stage. It was felt that the Steiner schools Fellowship should start cultivating good media relations as soon as possible.”

    http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/seminarnotes/

    They problem is not the PR. The problem is the product itself. It is the pedagogy of Steiner Waldorf education which is entirely underpinned by Anthroposophy.

    Anything else is in my opinion an attempt to deceive the British public.

  • 232 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 13:56

    @Jan Luiten Anthroposophy is in my opinion nothing more than a jumped up self-development programme for the parents and teachers.

    Anthroposophy is a hobby and should remain just as that. It has no place whatsoever in our schools.

  • 233 Thetis // Jan 8, 2011 at 14:30

    @lovelyhorse – as described here in the International Initiative forum of the Goetheanum (Steiner HQ):

    http://www.focusmeeting.org/index.php?id=1855

    “There is a new mood walking the earth. It rides on the back of a flaming golden horse from the future, bearing a shield of meteoric iron and a lance of pure light.”

    Yes.

  • 234 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 14:42

    Ref: #229

    lovelyhorse: “Rachel Wolf’s use of the words ‘can appear like’ is pretty jaw-dropping. What matters to the New Schools Network is the outward appearance of Steiner schools, not what they actually are.”

    That’s the point, all the time.
    There is a thread
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/
    where Zooey talks about the Swedish Waldorf School Federation’s .pdf document (Feb. 2009). This document reveals, among other things, that Sune the Bee was hired (by the Federation) to monitor the UK-debate, and that the Federation decided to appoint a PR agency. (I have the document as well, retrieved before the Federation removed it from the public view.)

    While a part of a Waldorf school in Sweden for a while, I witnessed over and over again the same attitude: saving the appearance. ANY teacher in Sweden, including Waldorf teachers, is obliged to follow school legislation. The college of teachers at the Waldorf school I have been part of for a while did not see it that way. The aim was making the appearance while obfuscating the real state of things. Following the legislation was viewed according to the words of Rachel Wolf in the citation of lovelyhorse: “can appear like”.

    I would like to point out that this attitude, “can appear like”, towards following the legislation, was more profound when comparing to other schools I have experience of.

    In particular, the “Company, Ltd” and the community comprehensives I have experience of, did not question a school’s duty to deliver education. They may not succeed well in executing this duty, but that is something rather different from the attitude TOWARDS THE DUTY AS SUCH which I have witnessed at the Waldorf school: “can appear like”.

  • 235 Thetis // Jan 8, 2011 at 15:05

    @alfa-omega – thank you – it’s much easier to write in your own language!

    Your observations are right to the point – and Sune Nordwall also indicated to mumsnet that he was operating:

    “…in cooperation with the legal representatives of The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland (http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/index.html),”

    more in this comment: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853&cpage=5#comment-8706

    I’m not aware of any Steiner ed PR campaign as described by Rachel Wolf etc firing up since the seminar was held, unless the responses on this comment thread from the ‘SWSF’ and Dr Richard House are it.

  • 236 maimuna // Jan 8, 2011 at 15:11

    John says ‘ … which, for me, greatly outweighs my distaste for the slightly nutty aspects of SWE.’

    I see the reincarnation through races from Black to white as racist ,not nutty.

    Jan’s quote ‘Steiners racial theses are not the core of anthroposophy.’
    Its good that Jan admits there is a racial theory,even if the theory wasn’t at the core it is there and teachers at our school believe they have been through all races as they are white,that’s because they study Anthroposophy.
    Some teachers may choose to not ‘believe’ that ‘part’ of Anthroposophy although if Steiner was clairvoyant I don’t see how they can pick and choose.If they don’t believe he is clairvoyant then that means he was lying and they are trusting the writings of a dishonest man.

    I believe there are bound to be more cases of discrimination in Steiner schools although there is a very small percentage of Black pupils in the schools as most Black families choose very academic schools if they decide on private education.Sometimes racism can be overt like in my daughters case but most racism is not name calling or beatings as my husband experienced in the 70’s a teacher can hold racist beliefs and this will effect their interactions, expectations etc of their pupils who are not white.
    When Thetis says ‘
    “I can’t think of a single thing that anthroposophy doesn’t make worse. That’s quite an accomplishment” I can really understand where that comes from.At our school my daughter made some lovely friends ,had a couple of very caring teachers and enjoyed gardening.These are things that can happen at any school devoid of Anthroposophy.A belief in a theory that wants us all to reach the pinnacle of blondness ,sees special needs in a certain way etc is detrimental for the school community and the wider community.
    If nothing had happened to my daughter and we hadn’t investigated Anthroposophy and teacher training we might well still be at the school ,because the school didn’t respond to our complaints in a normal way we felt something was wrong and I still remember to this day,in fact I will never ever forget it ,I sat at the computer and started reading about the Anthroposophy and the racism and I literally felt sick and burst into tears,I called my husband over and he said ” Right ,now I get it that makes sense ” He saw that a link between the teachings of Steiner and the theory some of the teachers believed had effected their dealing with our complaint. Basically they didn’t see a teacher using the word nigger in class as an issue,and they didn’t see boys using the word in class and the playground as an issue.
    It was an issue to us and the beliefs that many teachers hold is an issue to us.
    Maimuna.

  • 237 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 15:27

    Thetis, DM to you.

  • 238 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 15:54

    @John Stumbles you said:

    “It’s one of the aspects of my sons’ Steiner education which, for me, greatly outweighs my distaste for the slightly nutty aspects of SWE”.

    You are describing some of the attractive ‘hooks’ that are so successful in pulling families (myself included) initially into the schools.

    Camping is not exclusive to Steiner schools, neither is gardening, singing, walking, art or bread-making. These activities are found in the local primary schools and in the home. For free.

    I urge you to think again about those families that suddenly disappear, as one ex-Steiner parent explains:

    I heard many stories as to why children and their families were to blame for situations that led to their leaving our Waldorf school. I sometimes heard the parents’ side of the story but usually gave the school the benefit of the doubt because I was one of those people who thought the school was wonderful and could not believe that any school could be capable of some of the things parents claimed had happened . Then it happened to my family, and then I heard the lies that were going around the school. That’s when I learned for the first time that truth and integrity — things I value — were not valued at our Waldorf school. Since then, I’ve heard many, many stories from parents around the world that indicate deception and lack of integrity are systemic in Waldorf education.

    “… All schools have children who leave for one reason or another and switch to another school. Never, though, have I heard parents talking about switching schools based on the horrifying and outrageous situations that former Waldorf school parents describe. Nor have I heard of children leaving other schools in such great numbers as they leave our local Waldorf school.

    “Waldorf schools have, among many other problems, an intrinsic problem with truthfulness and honesty. I warn any satisfied Waldorf parents to pay more attention when families leave the school suddenly or unexpectedly and to dig deep to find out what really happened. Do not accept the school’s version at face value. Ask questions. See if your questions are encouraged or discouraged. See if the answers really make sense in the context of the real world, not just the secretive murky world of Waldorf, where everything has meaning that you don’t necessarily fully understand. And most importantly, call or write to the parents of the children who left and ask them to tell you about the situation from their point of view.”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/14671

  • 239 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 15:59

    @alfa-omega @Thetis I wonder if the SWSF would like to clarify if Sune (The Bee) is working for them?

  • 240 lovelyhorse // Jan 8, 2011 at 16:03

    Quoting John Stumbles:

    ” … which, for me, greatly outweighs my distaste for the slightly nutty aspects of SWE.”

    @Maimuna said:

    “I see the reincarnation through races from Black to white as racist, not nutty”.

    Absolutely, John appears to have a stronger stomach than the rest of us.

  • 241 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 16:17

    Ref: #238

    lovelyhorse: “I heard many stories as to why children and their families were to blame for situations that led to their leaving our Waldorf school. … deception and lack of integrity are systemic in Waldorf education.”

    You can substitute “regular teacher” for “children and their families”, and reread what lovelyhorse has written.

    On leaving the Waldorf school I have been a part of for a while, the pupils in a higher grade counted some 30 teachers and “teachers” since their first grade.

    “… call or write to the parents of the children who left and ask them to tell you about the situation from their point of view.”

    That, talking to the families — or teachers — who left or were fired, that was STRICTLY forbidden, although expressed in the usual esotheric way.

  • 242 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 16:34

    Ref: #239

    lovelyhorse: “I wonder if the SWSF would like to clarify if Sune (The Bee) is working for them?”

    See:
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/waldorfskolefederationen-och-moralen/

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/from-the-minutes-of-the-swedish-waldorf-federation/

    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/pa-spaning-efter-waldorffederationens-forlorade-samvete/
    (Sune/excalibor participated wits comments).

    Although the posts are mostly written in Swedish, the comments are mostly in English (not Sune’s, though. I think he didn’t want the UK/USA Waldorf critics to participate).
    (We don’t need to write it again, do we, Thetis?)

  • 243 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 16:45

    While I am in the process of presenting useful links:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/16471

    (by Peter Staudenmaier)

  • 244 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 18:33

    And this, my favourite, written by Nick Nakorn:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/07/23/pseudoscience-is-not-a-valid-educational-choice/#comment-56618

  • 245 Thetis // Jan 8, 2011 at 18:45

    alfa-omega – that’s a brilliant comment from Nick Nakorn. Perceptive, chilling and hilarious. I recommend:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/07/23/pseudoscience-is-not-a-valid-educational-choice/#comment-56618

  • 246 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 19:04

    PS:
    (recommend with a special address to John Stumbles).
    Anthro/Steiner/Waldorf described in 842 words.

  • 247 zooey // Jan 8, 2011 at 21:36

    Jan,
    ‘Still this is something different from understanding what Anthroposophy is.’

    I know that from the standpoint of anthroposophists, this is very much the case. The problem is, none of us critics of anthroposophy (or, more to the point, anthroposophy in steiner waldorf education), will ‘understand’ anthroposophy in a way anthroposophists will consider ‘right’. Because that would require of us to more or less become anthroposophists! Not until we see things as anthroposophists see them will we be considered knowledgeable. But then we’ll also be anthroposophists!

    Well, admittedly, this picture is simplified, but it is so for a reason: to show that, as critics, we’re in an impossible situation in this regard. As long as we’re not anthroposophists, we’re not really worth listening to. But if we show a proper attitude towards anthroposophy, criticism of it is rendered impossible. Again, simplified.

    The point is — there isn’t much we can do to be taken seriously by anthroposophists. (In particular not by the more fundie anthros. Some of whom are running waldorf steiner schools.)

  • 248 alfa-omega // Jan 8, 2011 at 21:48

    Zooey, simplified or not — very correct!

  • 249 Thetis // Jan 8, 2011 at 22:00

    @zooey – very elegantly put (in the circumstances). Recapitulates an important point of the original post – the very attitude of anthroposophists illustrated by some of these comments.

  • 250 Jan Luiten // Jan 8, 2011 at 23:36

    @zooey
    Please don’t become an anthroposophist of the kind you think of as an anthroposophist, rather stay a critic, stay who you are.
    You mentioned the “standpoint of anthroposophists”. Should I have that standpoint too ? It is just that generalizing thought that leads to so much misunderstanding. You cannot say: “ he is an anthroposophist so this is the way he looks at the world”. I can assure you there are very few people who see the things like I do. It would be nice when you and others would take me as an individual and not just as a member of a group about which you have stereotypical thoughts.

  • 251 Jan Luiten // Jan 8, 2011 at 23:52

    @Lovelyhorse
    “Anthroposophy is in my opinion nothing more than a jumped up self-development programme for the parents and teachers.
    Anthroposophy is a hobby and should remain just as that. It has no place whatsoever in our schools”

    There are people who want these schools.
    Do you want to deny their rights?
    Playing God? You have the monopoly on truth?
    Not very much democratic!

  • 252 maimuna // Jan 9, 2011 at 03:55

    Jan said ‘There are people who want these schools’

    Most parents don’t know what these schools ARE to want them,many parents want what they SEEM to be,arty ,non pressured with pretty surroundings (some parents are Anthro and know what they are getting into although the huge pupil turnover suggest the vast majority are not aware )

    ‘Do you want to deny their rights?’
    P-LEASE ! Our rights as parents were completely denied as we were not informed about the nature of Anthroposophy and how the teachers study it.
    There is no question that the SWSF and the schools deliberately withold information,karma and helping the kids reincarnate is never mentioned in the school prospectus or at an open day,after all that’s the point of bloody Eurythmy and most art lessons ! If I had read the book that is on the teacher’s reading list about Eurythmy BEFORE we joined the school i would
    have thought “What the fek??!”,and run for the hills there and then ! A dance exercise indeed.How many parents would set foot in the door if on the open day they were told that Eurythmy was in fact ‘visible speech’ and it could be used to cure their child if they were over ambitious ( hadn’t seen that as a problem myself !) mmm and then they could be informed,” Also theres a percentage of us teacher’s who believe we are lucky enough to reached the pinnacle of humanity,especially the blond ones with blue eyes and don’t worry it doesn’t mean we are racist we have plenty of dark haired teachers who are very close and we welcome non white families as there is nothing wrong with you ,after all we were once as you were and you will get there in time ,in fact some curative Eurythmy could help with that AND the dyslexia you are suffering from because of ‘you know what’ in your last life ,we could do a two for one deal and help with both those issues ”
    Would the parents think’ Wow what a bargain’ or ‘ What time is the next train/bus?’
    Jan is an individual… who I will lump together with other Anthroposophists who disagree that reincarnating from Black to white is a racist idea.
    I don’t answer statements made on here to try and change Jan,John etc minds as that will not happen and it would in my mind be a waste of time. For me I just hope people reading will get the info I wish we had BEFORE enrolling our child.
    Alfa-Omega, I know what you mean about the volume of teachers.Our daughter had 3 teachers in two years and the year after she left her old class had another new one.
    Maimuna /Maura

  • 253 Thetis // Jan 9, 2011 at 13:16

    @Jan Luiten –

    Now you’re falling back on ‘choice’ as an argument. It’s true that a few people do want Steiner schools, and they want tax-payers to pay for them too – although as the schools and initiatives have been actively circulating ‘expression of interest’ forms and encouraging parents to get their families and neighbours to sign too, we can be pretty certain that the desire for Steiner education is far less than they would like the DfE to believe.

    Many of those families now asking are clueless as to the nature of these schools, as Maimuna says, and if it were pointed out to them what anthroposophy really is and how the teachers are trained to view their children, they would be far less keen. The swift turnaround of clientele (as well as teachers) could be seen as an indication that something is wrong, even without the closure of the UK’s only Steiner teacher training course (BA) shortly after a similar closure in Stockholm. (see http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3595 ) Anti-scientific and downright dangerous is not the best recommendation for an education system.

    At any rate this is not just about the right of a small group of parents to make the taxpayer pay for their niche school: it is also about the rights of children, and of the wider community who will be forced to support these schools, giving up already scarce funds from local schools to do so.

    Personally, I can quite understand that people want alternatives to the established education system and I believe that these should be explored. But alternatives do exist, without the dubious, occult underpinning of Steiner education.

  • 254 understanding (the ‘real’) anthroposophy « zooey // Jan 9, 2011 at 14:48

    [...] On DC’s improbable science blog, there’s a discussion going on right now. Begins around this comment.* The latest one is this however; Jan Luiten [...]

  • 255 zooey // Jan 9, 2011 at 14:51

    @ Jan [Jan 8, 2011 at 23:36]

    I wrote a lengthier comment to what you wrote, but I wasn’t sure how relevant it was in this thread, so I’ll link to it instead. http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/understanding-the-real-anthroposophy/

  • 256 Thetis // Jan 9, 2011 at 15:26

    @zooey – it’s entirely relevant – but it’s also a good idea to provide other forums for discussion. I thought this an excellent observation:

    “..is it reasonable, in the first place, to allow for the state funding of schools based on a philosophy that nobody is thought competent to describe, define or discuss… because it can be anything its adherents choose it to be at the spur of moment… based on a process only anthroposophists (sorry, stereotype…) are supposed to understand. This would be quite bizarre wouldn’t it? Maybe it’s not really ok to sell an educational philosophy to people who cannot understand it?)”

  • 257 zooey // Jan 9, 2011 at 16:04

    Thanks Thetis! This thread is so long as it is, unbelievable. It’s odd — and interesting — that it’s not until the issue of racism comes up that anthroposophists (and others) become interested. Well, that’s what it seems like to me.

    I agree with you that it’s about the rights of children not the rights of parents. It’s about their right to an education, not their parents’ rights to their personal spiritual paths.

  • 258 alfa-omega // Jan 9, 2011 at 16:38

    Ref: #251 (and #252)

    Jan Luiten:

    [1] There are people who want these schools.
    [2] Do you want to deny their rights?
    [3] Playing God? You have the monopoly on truth?
    [4] Not very much democratic!

    My comment to [1]

    The people who want these schools fall into two broad categories:
    a: anthro/wannabee antro/”know-someone-who-is-anthro”
    b: parents who for ANY reason are not satisfied with the local state school,
    and cannot/wish not to pay for a private independent alternative
    “a” is not sufficient running a school, so, “b” is needed.
    Most waldorf-critics are “b” who left waldorf. It has been pointed out MANY times, at MANY places, recently by Maimuna /Maura in #252 in this thread.

    I will give an example from Sweden, as I know the situation there much better (compared to the UK).
    The pupil base “a” is not sufficient for running a school, (“a”+”b”) is sufficient in few places, most Waldorf schools with the (“a”+”b”) pupil base balance are on the edge. On top of this, “b” come and leave, so, there is instability in the daily life of the school (would be this way independently of the ethos of a particular school).

    Jan Luiten’s “There are people who want these schools.” are those “a” and a part of “b” (those who do not leave after discovering all the hidden).
    To run a school, ANY school, there is a minimum (time and country dependent) pupil base needed or order to run the school efficiently. In Sweden at least, “a” and a part of “b” is nor a sufficient pupil base. INDEPENDENTLY of who is the Secretary of Education, which political party is at power for the moment, which school legislation is valid for the moment.

    The “Swedish model” referred to in the UK means “parental choice, powered by voucher money (taxpayer’s money) which follows the pupil”.

    So, in Sweden, the question is: what alternatives (to the community comprehensives) do the parents have? Plenty of alternatives. (During the time in the 1980’s when Zooey went to the Waldorf-flagship in Stockholm, the Kristofferskolan, it was almost the only alternative to the community comprehensives her parents had ). Now, the Waldorf has to meet competition. Just, shouting “we are the best” as the argument does not hold in the reality. And, of course, REALITY has always been a week point for anthro/Steiner/waldorf. Will always be a week point, by definition.

    My comment to [2]

    I do deny the rights of any religious school to participate in the compulsory education.
    On top of that, for the possibility to run ANY school efficiently, please see [1].

    My comment to [3]

    “the monopoly on truth” is the anthro way, rather than the deceived “b”s (Please, see [1] for “b”).

    My comment to [4]

    Instead of discussing the Swedish state of democratic education, I will now give a few examples of international/UK democratic education I know about:

    1st:
    http://www.ideceudec.org/ an international movement.
    There is a “make contact” on this page – do it, inquire about the possibilities in the UK.
    I have found http://www.eudec.org/schools/ with the links to UK, http://www.eudec.org/schools/summerhill-school/ and
    http://www.eudec.org/schools/sands-school/

    2nd:
    http://www.phoenixeducation.co.uk/
    http://www.phoenixeducation.co.uk/democratic-education-schools/demo-edu-schools.htm
    Working in ordinary schools as well as democratic schools.
    Democratic education can operate in community colleges as well.

    Here, a version of democratic education in action:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/the-school-where-pupils-rate-their-teachers-466690.html

    3rd:
    Montessori:
    http://www.montessorieducationuk.org/

    ************

    Starting tomorrow, I will work fulltime (I only worked part-time previously). Also, I will have to spend 2-3h a day travelling. I have a family, too.
    So, for this reason, I will barely have time to come by sometimes and read.

  • 259 alfa-omega // Jan 9, 2011 at 16:53

    Typo in comment #257:

    Should be:

    The pupil base “a” is not sufficient for running a school, (“a”+”b”) is only sufficient in a few places, most Waldorf schools with the (“a”+”b”) pupil base balance on the edge.

    pupil base needed *in* order to run the school efficiently. In Sweden at least, “a” and a part of “b” is *not* a sufficient pupil base.

  • 260 alfa-omega // Jan 9, 2011 at 20:29

    My comment got #258, the typos are in my comment, of course.

    Should be:

    The pupil base “a” is not sufficient for running a school, (“a”+”b”) is only sufficient in a few places, most Waldorf schools with the (“a”+”b”) pupil base balance on the edge.

    pupil base needed *in* order to run the school efficiently. In Sweden at least, “a” and a part of “b” is *not* a sufficient pupil base.

  • 261 5raphs // Jan 10, 2011 at 10:31

    Just to add to what others have said, Zooey’s post here- What is “real” anthroposophy is entirely relevant and pertinent to this discussion.
    http://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/understanding-the-real-anthroposophy/
    As Zooey puts it:

    “As long as anthroposophy is part of teacher training and as long as it remains the foundation of waldorf education — and, in my opinion, the connection between anthroposophy and waldorf cannot be severed without waldorf losing everything it is except its name — we must discuss what anthroposophy is. ”
    This point is something the anthroposophists need to consider too

    ” as soon as you begin to judge that other people don’t understand, aren’t you sort of beginning to walk down the same path the intolerant fundies are walking? Because at the same time you come to this judgment, you’re making all sorts of implicit assumptions about what anthroposophy ‘really’ is — as you understand it, your interpretation being superior to that of mine for example. Much like the fanatics are doing, but of course they do it on another scale and they are way more insistent in their supremacy.”

  • 262 Thebee // Jan 10, 2011 at 17:06

    Maybe just a short comment on my relation to the Federation of Swedish Waldorf schools:

    After I participated in discussions of Steiner Waldorf education at Mumsnet in 2008 I have started to work part time for the Federation of Waldorf schools in Sweden. I suggested this, and the Federation agreed.

    My work description, that I wrote myself, is to follow what is published in the media related to Steiner waldorf education primarily focussed on Sweden and to report about it to the Federation.

    My work only encompasses doing that and not to in any sense or way represent the Federation.

    Outside of that work, I continue to participate in discussions as a free debater. As such, I only represent myself and my own views.

  • 263 DW // Jan 10, 2011 at 17:56

    “After I participated in discussions of Steiner Waldorf education at Mumsnet in 2008 I have started to work part time for the Federation of Waldorf schools in Sweden. I suggested this, and the Federation agreed.”

    Do you mean the Swedish Federation *liked* what you did on mumsnet? That seems hard to believe. What you did was unscrupulous, posing as a mother of children in a Steiner school when in fact you are a single childless man, changing aliases when you were revealed, and then making legal threats against the web site if they allowed negative comments on Steiner?

    Now you come here saying you don’t “represent” the Federation? That ship has sailed. You represent them even if they may have thought better of it after seeing the damage you do. They will have a hell of a time shaking you off.

  • 264 zooey // Jan 10, 2011 at 18:02

    The definitely didn’t not like it, anyway. They have made no objections at all to what Sune/thebee is doing, and by now they ought to be well aware of it.

    Here’s how we learnt they were paying him. http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/supervising-the-attacks/

  • 265 zooey // Jan 10, 2011 at 18:35

    It’s important to remember that he made sure almost everyone with a critical view of waldorf education was banned from Mumsnet. He achieved this through legal threats against the forum.

    And then, the official organization for waldorf schools in Sweden, thought he’d done such a great job that they hired him.

    Not only that — they can’t be unaware of all the nasty websites he’s created. You wonder — does the waldorf movement approve of harassment of former parents and students as well as of academics who study anthroposophy? (The italicized quotes in this post are actual quotes from his websites: http://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/an-otherwise-quite-ordinary-afternoon/)

    As DW pointed out, the ship has sailed. For Sune/Thebee and for the Swedish waldorf school federation.

  • 266 David Colquhoun // Jan 10, 2011 at 20:23

    I think the time has come to close the comments.

    There are now almost 70,000 words in 267 comments, on this post alone and 442 comments altogether. Just about everything that can be usefully be said has been said, often several times.

    I’m enormously grateful to those who have commented, but I’m particularly grateful to the authors. Their three posts are classics and they will be read for a long time to come. I hope that they will influence government policy. No minister can now say that they are unaware of the nature of Steiner education and the sheer battiness of anthroposophy.

  • 267 still waiting for the waldorf federation to wake up « zooey // Jan 10, 2011 at 22:32

    [...] at all! Instead, we encounter Nordwall lying his pants off once again over at DC’s, where he wrote today: After I participated in discussions of Steiner Waldorf education at Mumsnet in 2008 I have [...]

  • 268 uk: steiner waldorf free schools « zooey // Feb 17, 2011 at 01:01

    [...] — the possible future state funding of the schools. All three posts (i — ii — iii) are important, and I want to stress how indispensable it is for anybody interested in this matter [...]

  • 269 Free Schools(4) – Absurdly normal « UK Anthroposophy // Jul 6, 2011 at 01:54

    [...] It’s a painful read, not so much artful spin as it is sophistry and splat. An excellent article here explains Steiner racism and in the process dismantles and rebuts the statement made by [...]

  • 270 waldorf and racism (again) « the ethereal kiosk // zooey // Aug 3, 2011 at 20:43

    [...] more to anthroposophy, and to waldorf, than esoteric racism — there’s more than racial-spiritual hierarchies and negroes who are cooking in their [...]

  • 271 Steiner-Waldorf Education -- a Nadder! // Oct 10, 2011 at 02:32

    [...] EDIT: After I wrote this post a three part blog series with more information and criticism of Waldorf education appeared in the blogosphere. Here it is: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 [...]

  • 272 Transition Towns Interview « SkeptEco // Nov 3, 2011 at 20:35

    [...] Food-Pure Blood” and I believe many in the organics movement do think this way. See: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853 [...]

  • 273 Schumacher Woo-macher « SkeptEco // Nov 20, 2011 at 21:43

    [...] than baking and running are different ways of doing the same thing. Apart from the fact that Anthroposophy is a cult based on Steiner’s bizarre theories of racial karma, the whole idea of Holistic Science is a travesty of science, a sleight-of-hand apparently designed [...]

  • 274 Does the Spiritual have a place in Permaculture? « SkeptEco // Jan 9, 2012 at 19:42

    [...] imaginative powers. His beliefs were however of their time and place, and, based as they were on a system of racist karma, they were adopted by some high-ranking members of the Nazi party who saw an affinity between [...]

  • 275 EcoFascism Revisited « SkeptEco // Feb 4, 2012 at 11:58

    [...] Another group she mentions is the World League for the Protection of Life which basis its ideology on Anthroposophy and the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. [...]

  • 276 EcoFascism Revisited « SkeptEco // Feb 4, 2012 at 18:34

    [...] Another group she mentions is the World League for the Protection of Life which basis its ideology on Anthroposophy and the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. [...]

  • 277 Frome Steiner Academy: Absurd Educational Quackery | The Quackometer // Feb 27, 2012 at 17:51

    [...] parent ThetisMercurio discusses the troubling response to criticism of racism by UK Steinerists here and gives us cause for concern that such beliefs are still [...]

  • 278 Should the state be funding schools which were founded by a racist mystic? | Francis Gilbert // Mar 8, 2012 at 12:28

    [...] ignored his nasty ideas and cherry-picked the “nice” ideas he had! Reading the minutes of a meeting some Steiner followers had with government advisors Sam Freedman and Rachel Wolf, of the New Schools [...]

  • 279 The University of Aberdeen and its vice chancellor, Ian Diamond, step back from the brink? // Apr 27, 2012 at 09:17

    [...] Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism [...]

  • 280 What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools | The Quackometer Blog // Nov 2, 2012 at 15:12

    [...] Professor David Colquhoun posted similar criticisms of Steiner Waldorf Schools, a comment was posted under the name SWSF (presumably [...]

  • 281 What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools, By Andy Lewis « Blog de Grégoire Perra // Nov 3, 2012 at 15:35

    [...] Professor David Colquhoun posted similar criticisms of Steiner Waldorf Schools, a comment was posted under the name SWSF (presumably [...]

  • 282 Antroposofie in de praktijk - Steinerscholen.com // Dec 17, 2012 at 13:32

    [...] is beloond met een prijs: Peter Staudenmaier. De dissidente antroposoof Tom Mellet meldt in december 2010 in DC Improbable Science dat Staudenmaier een doctoraat heeft behaald en verwijst naar de Waldorf Critics List voor meer [...]

  • 283 Tory Free Schools Plot to Spin Away the Racism of Steiner Schools. | The Quackometer Blog // Jan 7, 2013 at 18:47

    [...] about the religious and occult nature of their philosophy and that this philosophy is based on an abhorrent racist view of human spirituality. Furthermore, children are likely to be exposed to pseudoscience, hidden spiritual agendas and [...]

  • 284 Steiner Academy Bristol, A Challenge: Be Open With Parents | The Quackometer Blog // Jan 8, 2013 at 17:56

    [...] reject his racism? How are you sure racist elements do not appear in your schools? (see this recent parent’s horrible experience for example with a teacher using the word ‘nigger’ that was in a Steiner textbook.) [...]

  • 285 Andy Lewis: Tory free schools plot to spin away the racism of Steiner schools « Shropshire Humanist Group – News and Articles // Jan 14, 2013 at 15:26

    [...] about the religious and occult nature of their philosophy and that this philosophy is based on an abhorrent racist view of human spirituality. Furthermore, children are likely to be exposed to pseudoscience, hidden spiritual agendas and [...]

  • 286 The Age of Global Warming | SkeptEco // May 25, 2013 at 15:01

    [...] 1960s by Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich; Jeavons’ concern about Peak Coal- written in 1865; Steiner’s mystical racism contained within his system of biodynamic agriculture, a pre-curser to the organic movement, which [...]