Rudolf Steiner was a pseudo-scientific philosopher who created the imaginative theory of anthroposophy. His beliefs share the inherent racism of mormonism and the spiritual fantasies of L Ron Hubbard’s scientology.
So why are Waldorf schools still teaching his methods?
Rudolf Steiner was a likable, yet controversial, fellow. He graduated from an Austrian technical university in 1883, where he studied math, philosophy, and physics, but it wasn’t until he met the spiritual mentor of an herb gatherer named Felix Okutsgi that he started developing his esoteric side. He went on to get a doctorate of philosophy in Rockstock Germany, but it was his fascination with the phenomenological writings of Goethe and Fichte that further shaped his thoughts. This background led to his first book The Philosophy of Freedom, which theorized that spiritual freedom occurs when we bypass our social prisons and allow access to the intuitive experience of each spontaneous moment.
Anthroposophy, Steiner’s religiously inspired philoso-theory, says that man can overcome sensory experience to access an objective spiritual realm. My understanding of anthroposophy is that it’s a method of understanding the spiritual nature of the universe through intuitive experience, just as science is a method of describing the physical reality of the universe through logical observation.
This was all well and good until Steiner started funneling his ideas into fictional translations of the imaginary Akashic Records. Like Joseph Smith’s angel Moroni and Hubbard’s thetans, Steiner adopts his own sham origins by claiming to have checked out a book from God’s library (the Akashic) while he was astrally projecting himself into the spiritual realm. Steiner lifted many of his theories from Goerthe and eastern religion.
He used mysticism as an excuse to repackage ideas such as reincarnation, karma, astrology and clairvoyance. Steiner went so far as to rewrite the christian mythos, introducing modern satanic characters such as ahriman, the personification of materialism, whom he believed should be balanced with lucifer and Christ. As if this wasn’t outrageous enough, Steiner invented an origin for humanity (and anatomy) that is beyond logic and science; he declared that humans existed in pre-Atlantean times as bodiless souls and that we’ve since evolved into our current form. He believed that in the distant future, we will regain the clairvoyant powers we once lost.
Steiner adapted his brand of nonsense into a form of education that was later called the Waldorf method (after his first school for children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory). One of his first schools was the Goetheanum, The School of Spiritual Science. Steiner believed that humans experience reincarnation over several lives, the lowest of which are the colored races; the highest, of course, the white race. He also said that humans pass through seven spiritual stages (which he lifted from the seven shakras), and that education should be compatible with these stages.
The first stage lasts until age seven and is based on adjusting to the material world by method of imitation. Children in this stage are not allowed to read books or watch television.
The second stage occurs between the ages of seven and fourteen, and is meant to foster the imagination and submission to authority.
The third stage occurs between the ages of fourteen and twenty one, and is when the astral form inhabits the physical body via puberty. Hmmm…
Along the way, students are asked to pray every morning to God. They’re also taught eurythmy, a type of intuitive dancing, but even this nice idea is corrupted with pseudo-science and proto-mythology – the kids are sometimes asked to dance with copper tubes or re-enact seasonal pagan rituals. Steiner also objected to traditional forms of medicine such as inoculation because they interfere with the karmic cycle of reincarnation. However, anthroposophic doctors have no trouble prescribing homeopathic remedies, herbal miracle drinks, and even drawing with colorful crayons to cure disease. Steiner, himself, believed that mistletoe could cure cancer, and his followers believed that an allergic child should be force-fed the foods that make him sick to overcome the sins of his past life.
So, to sum up, Waldorf schools are just like Montessori, except for the paganism, the racism, the morning prayers, the quackery, the pseudo-science, the bastardization of world religions, the secrecy, and the elitist behaviors. I seriously considered sending my kids to a nearby Waldorf school because they presented themselves as a progressive private institution. Instead, I realize that these schools are antithetical to everything that I hold most dear. It’s a shame because Steiner’s concepts stripped of their mysticism can be applied in useful ways; I plan on adapting some of his fundamental methods to teach acting. But, on the whole, anthroposophy and Steiner education represent an amalgam of everything this blog opposes.
Check out PLANS (People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools) at waldorfcritics.org! I tried my hardest to fit everything into this one post, but there is so much more Waldorf nonsense that I can’t possibly cover it all.