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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NY Times Education Section

School, Unplugged

Here's where my long rebuttal to the original NY Times article ended up.

Waldorf education isn’t exactly forthcoming about what they teach children and the real reasons why – and the subject requires very serious research.
Waldorf teachers tend to be very nice people who self-proclaim themselves to be experts in child development. There is no basis for this, which is easy to
verify if one cares to. Their self-confidence is possibly why so many people simply trust their children to them. The less time parents actually have to research Waldorf, the more likely they will be taken in by the Waldorf hype.
Busy executives believing they are getting a benign arts-based education for their children are, unfortunately, participating in something VERY different.
So, what EXACTLY is Waldorf education? And what have the Silicon Valley executives signed their kids up for? If their children are taking in Waldorf curriculum – “in through the heart, out through the mind” – what EXACTLY is
going IN?
Waldorf education is the missionary arm of Anthroposophy – a quasi-religious movement based on the clairvoyant visions of a single man – Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner was a mystic who lived around the turn of the century. He wrote what has been compiled into over 40 books and gave over 6000 lectures. His body of work is essentially what represents Waldorf teacher training. In other
words, the “special” training Waldorf teachers get that makes them “experts” in child development is nothing more than Rudolf Steiner’s clairvoyant musings.
So, it’s pretty important to know what Steiner had to say… not just in general, but specifically to Waldorf teachers. Here are a few gems that Steiner told Waldorf teachers directly… this is part of Waldorf teacher training
“The task of Anthroposophy is not simply to replace a false view of the world with a correct one…The task is to raise the spirit-soul into the realm of the spiritual, so that the human being is no longer a thinking and feeling
automaton…The human being is…in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos.” (FACULTY MEETINGS
In fact, “Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner” (goes by many names, “Conferences with Teachers”, should be required reading for parents (it’s required reading for teachers after all…) And, thanks to the internet,
parents can read it on-line here:\
Steiner says, among other things:
That “children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings…” and can be, in fact, DEMONS. (ibid pp649-650)
“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.” (ibid p607)
“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.” (ibid pp30-31)
“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.” (ibid p184).
Again, this is all required reading for Waldorf teachers. Waldorf teachers are also required to read Steiner’s race theories. Steiner believed people incarnate into “higher” or “lower” races, that some races are “degenerate” and
that one race, the “white race, is the race of the future”. (Rudolf Steiner, “Farbe und Menschenrassen”, lecture in Dornach March 3, 1923, in Steiner, Vom
Leben des Menschen und der Erde, Dornach 1993, p. 67)
Steiner is Waldorf’s “guru” – and his ideas are indeed the basis of Waldorf education, training and curriculum. Unfortunately, his racist ideas come out in the curriculum – just like his other ides do. It is a fact that my son was
taught as part of physiology class at Highland Hall Waldorf school in Southern California, that “the blood of people in Europe is more `evolved’ than the blood of people from Asia and Africa”. When I questioned this lesson plan, several conferences ensued in which the school DEFENDED the lesson plan. So this wasn’t one wacky teacher teaching something silly – it is what Waldorf teachers are taught, AND it is what they teach.
When I enrolled my kids in Waldorf, nearly 20 years ago, it wasn’t very easy to get good information about what Waldorf is. Today, we have access to testimony after testimony of parents who have discovered for themselves the problems in Waldorf education.
Thanks you – to the Silicon Valley elitists who put their kids in Waldorf! Thanks to them, parents can now find this information out on their own, with very little effort. Unfortunately, it may require the use of the internet.
Pete Karaiskos
20 year Waldorf parent, critic, advocate
— Pete Karaiskos