Don't forget to visit The Waldorf Review for more up-to-date school reviews and news stories.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Souls of Terror - Discovering the truth about Waldorf

Below is an excerpt from the new Anthroposophy-based thriller - Souls of Terror - a New Age Thriller.  In this scene, a terrified father discovers his wife has disappeared with their son and the son's Waldorf teacher.  For people who have experienced the dishonesty at the hands of Waldorf, this is a poignant example of what goes through a parent's mind when the lights suddenly come on.

Reprinted with permission of the author... Anthony P. Norse... Souls of Terror - pp49-54

Pinedale, Oregon
As he was driving home from the Waldorf School, Chris felt small and
alone. He noticed that his knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
Guilt overwhelmed his senses and caused a flood of questions to flow
through his tired mind.
Why did I not see this coming? What happened to my marriage—to my family?
Sitting with his laptop and a notepad at his kitchen table, Chris sipped on
a hot café latte. He stared pensively at the frothy drink. It was two years ago
at Christmas that his wife had given him a fancy coffee machine, along with a
warm hug and a Christmas kiss. They had been together for fifteen years.
Now she had disappeared with his son. It felt like a bad dream. At least the
coffee smelled and tasted good; he appreciated the caffeine buzz after a
nearly sleepless night.
He wanted to find someone to listen to him scream at the injustice of
what had happened, but he knew his priority needed to be finding his wife
and son. Still, a friend would be helpful. For the past many years, however,
his work and family had replaced his old friends. He tried to think of someone
to contact, someone who might understand, someone to offer advice . . .
or at least a shoulder to cry on.
He came up blank.
The only face that finally came to mind was that of his sister, Kate. But
they barely spoke these days. It would be an understatement to suggest that
Kate and his wife did not get along. The two women despised each other.
Although she lived not far away in Portland, Kate never came to visit. She
thought the world of Mike and would always send gifts on birthdays. But
shortly after Mike started at the Waldorf School, Serena had insisted that
Chris’s sister stay out of the family’s life.
Chris had pleaded with her and tried to get his sister to be more polite.
But when Serena called Kate a boorish tomboy and Kate responded by
calling Serena a spoiled New Age flake, things fell apart completely. That
was during Christmas dinner four years ago. Kate was outspoken and extremely
honest—to the point of finding fault with almost every facet of
Serena’s life. Not that those faults were not present, but Kate did not
understand the concept of “tact.” The two women were polar opposites and
the real victim of their rivalry was Mike.
Chris remembered pre-Waldorf days when Kate would take Mike to the
park and chase him around the playground. Kate-the-Grizzly-Bear and Mike
the helpless little camper fleeing for his life and laughing until he cried when
she caught him. Kate always found those special “tickle spots” under his
Chris smiled at the memory and found himself tapping his sister’s number
into his phone. He desperately needed to talk and Kate seemed to be his
best bet. He left a brief message on her answering machine and then thought
of how he could spend his time wisely.
He was sure Serena and Mike were with Sophia Meyer. He knew that
Miss Meyer was a dedicated Waldorf teacher and he also knew that his wife
had become enamored with everything Waldorf. The founding philosophy of
Waldorf was called Anthroposophy. He’d been told that word simply meant
Wisdom of Man.
He stared at the Google homepage on his laptop. Snippets of conversations
slowly made their way to the forefront of his mind—parent meetings at
the school, things his wife had told him about Miss Meyer, words that were
used to describe Mike’s school work.
He knew that both women believed in the need for Mike to excel at all
Waldorf disciplines. Chris thought he should try to learn more about what his
son had been doing at the school. He typed into his computer’s search
engine: “eurythmy and form drawings and Waldorf education.” The search
yielded over two thousand results. He also knew that Mike had been doing
wet-on-wet paintings for years at Waldorf—a watercolor technique involving
special paints and paper. Google came up with more than eight thousand
results. Clearly, he would need to refine his search. He finished his coffee
and tried a few more searches—with similar results. He clicked on a few
links but soon realized the futility of the exercise.
He thought again of his son. Where had they taken him? On a frustrated
whim, Chris went back to the Google homepage and typed, “Problem with
Waldorf.” He scanned the first few results until he came to a link that
piqued his interest. He read:
Does your child’s Waldorf School seem more like a religious seminary?
Concerned about your child’s Waldorf education? What is
Anthroposophy? Has Waldorf affected your marriage? You are not
alone. Visit one of the Waldorf Critical websites and discover what
lies beneath the surface of Waldorf education.
This sounded interesting—alarmist perhaps, but certainly worth a look.
He clicked around a few different websites. Two hours later Chris sat back
in his chair and felt like the shocked and bitterly disappointed child who has
just discovered that there really is no Santa Claus.
He felt stunned at his ignorance. Chris knew the many wonderful qualities
of Waldorf education—and there were many—but he had been unaware
of the deeply esoteric foundation of his child’s school. He learned that many
people described Waldorf and its founding philosophy as “cult-like.”
In two short hours, Chris discovered that many Waldorf teachers are devout
Anthroposophists who truly believe in their karmic mission to work
with the souls and spirits of children as they incarnate. They accomplish this
task by connecting spiritually with children, who they are convinced, have
chosen them as spiritual guides from a pre-earthly existence. Waldorf teacher
training, he learned, is full of lessons dealing with soul and karma and destiny
and reincarnation. Teachers believe they have a special karmic connection
with the souls of children in their care.
Although Waldorf schools supply parents with plenty of wonderful quotes
by and about Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, Chris now
discovered more pronouncements Steiner had made to the first Waldorf
teachers under his tutelage—quotes still taken as gospel truth by Waldorf
teachers today:
We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a
matter of intellect or feeling, but in the highest sense, as a moral
spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this
work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create
from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual
worlds. Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting
upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service
and in whose name each one of us must work.
Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge
that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the
divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do
something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods,
that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming
down from above will go out into the world.
You will have to take over children for their education and instruction–
children who will have received already (as you must remember)
the education, or mis-education given them by their
Chris learned that although the schools referred to Rudolf Steiner as a
“philosopher,” or a “scientist,” he was more deeply connected to occultism
than philosophy or science. The man had never been a parent, had no formal
teacher training and had spent very little time with children. Surprisingly,
however, Chris discovered that Waldorf teacher training is based almost
entirely on the beliefs of this self-professed clairvoyant. Waldorf teachers in
training had to read Steiner—lots of Steiner. Required reading included
books like Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, Occult Science,
Reincarnation and Karma, Manifestations of Karma, and The Spiritual Hierarchies.
Chris warmed up leftover soup and sat back at his kitchen table, staring at
the laptop. He had known there was a spiritual element to Waldorf education,
but he’d been given very innocent explanations about what that entailed.
Nobody had said anything about reincarnation or spiritual hierarchies.
He realized now that he had always felt uncomfortable with the lack of
books—especially textbooks in the school. He remembered his concerns
about reading and writing being discouraged for younger children. Just what
had his son been learning and why had Serena taken him away?
When Mike was a toddler and Chris and Serena began to think about his
education, the young couple had been excited to discover the gentle Waldorf
Island in the turbulent sea of pop culture, junk food vending machines and
cookie-cutter academics of conventional education. They were told Waldorf
was an arts-based school with lots of wooden toys and crafts and outdoor
playtime for children. They had wanted Mike to learn slowly, naturally, and
Waldorf had seemed like the perfect fit. And in some ways it was a good fit.
Chris finished his soup and stared through the kitchen window at the line
of poplar trees that bordered his property, watching them sway in the cool
September wind. Had he been duped? Had his wife fallen into some sort of
weird cult? Is that why she had left him and taken their son? He remembered
various comments and concerns of other Waldorf parents over the
years. Many families had pulled their children from the school out of frustration
and unanswered questions. But there were always new families arriving.
Chris recalled the excitement of Mike’s first day in grade one. He remembered
meeting Miss Meyer, thinking it odd that Waldorf teachers stay
with the same group of students for eight years, but also feeling grateful that
the woman seemed kind, always shaking hands and smiling and speaking
quietly to the children as they ran and jumped and played in the woods
beside the school.
He remembered betting his wife that Miss Meyer must have lived in a
hippy commune in the seventies or eighties, with her long cotton dresses and
bulky plain blouses, wool socks and sandals. Serena had laughed at the
suggestion and they ordered pizza for dinner that night and ate Haagen Dazs
for dessert and watched hockey on TV. Even Serena had cheered when the
Portland Winter Hawks scored the winning goal in overtime.
Those days had long since passed. He could not remember the last time
they had eaten pizza for dinner, let alone watched anything on TV. Dinners
were good but always very healthy—including certain grains that needed to
be served on certain days of the week, as per “Steiner’s indications.” Chris
had not understood Serena’s strange explanation but he knew it had something
to do with Anthroposophy.
Chris looked down at his laptop. There was an email address on one of
the info-packed Waldorf critical websites, where people could send questions
to volunteers with expertise in Anthroposophy and other “cult-like”
organizations. Questions could be submitted anonymously and would be
kept confidential.
Almost unconsciously, Chris began writing his question, oblivious to the
fact that he was actually spilling his guts in an email to a total stranger. His
anonymous “question” included his feelings of guilt and stupidity for allowing
this situation to happen. He told of the distance between himself and his wife
since she had drifted deeper into Waldorf and Anthroposophy, how frustrated
he had been for a couple of years now and how unable (or unwilling?) he was
to communicate with his wife. He went so far as to write about the complete
lack of intimacy between them for more than a year. Before he could change
his mind he signed it, “Sad Dad” and pushed send.
He sat for twenty minutes, lost in thought, staring at the trees in the wind
until the ping of his laptop told of an email received:
Hi Sad Dad,
I’m sorry to hear of your current dilemma. Although your case is
extreme, we’ve seen many relationship problems where one
spouse falls hard for the spiritual movement and the other feels
confused, angry, and hurt. Unfortunately, Waldorf promoters often
neglect to inform parents of the esoteric foundation of the “philosophy”
and you are certainly not the first parent to feel duped or
confused. The movement’s PR can feel disingenuous and misleading
after the fact and it often takes time for parents to realize the
fit for their families might not be right. Some schools have excellent
teachers, however, and are less Anthroposophic and/or more
open than others.
There is tremendous potential for Waldorf education but parents
are often concerned when their children seem to drift away
from reality. This is not what they signed up and paid for. If the
movement is to truly “move” in a positive direction, the leadership
will need to clearly explain the esoteric foundation to parents and
learn to resolve the obvious problems associated with spiritual and
racial hierarchies. I’ll attach a list of reading material and websites
that might help you understand the foundation of Anthroposophy
and Waldorf education. Best of luck.
Chris opened the attachment and counted references to seventeen books
and twenty-three websites. Spiritual and racial hierarchies? He walked to the
living room and stretched out on the couch. He could not remember the last
time he’d cried. It was probably years ago when his parents had died. The car
crash had happened when his wife was pregnant with Mike.
He thought again of his son. Tears flowed. The pent-up frustration and
resentment from the past couple of years exploded with every heavy heartbeat.
He felt sad, alone and completely helpless.


You can purchase Souls of Terror HERE.