Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rudolf Steiner: Racist Esoteric Cult or Credible Educational Alternative?

“An island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.” [Rudolf Steiner]

Before I began my research into Steiner, I would have issued a widely held & shared opinion (read; unfounded generalisation) that the parents who send their kids to one of these schools would fall loosely into the category of Green Party voting, bohemian, alternative life-stylers ,who opt to ride bikes as their main mode of transport, and don’t have televisions.

After finishing my research I would have but two words to sum-up parents who send there kids to a Rudolf Steiner School : blissfully unaware.

That is not meant to be an out-right criticism of parents who choose this form of education, this is a free society, I just don’t think many of them really know much about Rudolf, nor the basis of his teaching methods.

90% of parents, with kids in Steiner Schools, have never heard of, let alone examined its founding philosophy: anthroposophy.

Which one of these thousands of parents or even those who have spent time at one of these schools can tell me and you, what the hell Steiner is talking about when he said "The vowel is born out of man's inmost being; it is the channel through which this inner content of the soul streams outwards.... If we utter the sound A, (as in mate) and take this out-going stream of the breath as the prototype for the Eurythmic movement, we find that this breath stream reveals itself to our imagination as flowing in two crossed currents. This is how the Eurythmic movement for A is derived....Curative Eurythmy can be of extreme value in the treatment of illness, and can be applied in those cases where one knows the way in which a certain movement will react upon a certain organ with beneficial results"

What is this ‘warm fuzzy Steiner stuff’ all about, what really goes-on in their classrooms up and down the country?

To find out we need to go back and examine Steiner himself, after all Rudolf Steiner's life and writings are the foundations on which his Waldorf schools are built.

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian philosopher , literary scholar, architect, playwright and educator, who is founded Anthroposophy (anthroposophist focus their attention on the freedom of every individual and one's association with and pursuit of the arts, science, and spirituality) Steiner is best known for starting Waldorf Schools (ironically named after a Cigarette manufacturer) but he also was the father of Biodynamic Farming, the Camphill Movement, and the Christian Community (the religious wing of Anthroposophy)

A true polymath, between the years 1902-25, he mixed agriculture, architecture, drama, maths, philosophy, reincarnation, cosmology, karma, occult and religion into a giant melting-pot, resulting in Anthroposophy – the basis the 800 schools which exist around the globe today.

In many circles the likeable Steiner was regarded as a mystic, with his eclectic mix of spirituality & science. These crude attempts lead him to claim “the main life process in the human body is the transformation of oxalic acid into formic acid”. Clearly Steiner was no biologist.

Neither was he evidently any sort of a physician - believing the heart was not responsible for pumping blood, but it was blood itself, that circulated of its own accord. And if that wasn’t absurd enough, thinking did not occur in the brain.

Nor for that matter was Herr Steiner any astronomer, looking at this quote of his “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.”

Steiner never the less continues to promote Anthroposophy as a “spiritual science”.

He believed in a special spiritual consciousness that provides direct access to higher spiritual truths & spiritual evolution is hindered by mankind being mired in the material world.

According to Steiner, people existed on Earth since the creation of the planet. Humans, he taught, began as spirit forms and progressed through various stages to reach today's form. Humanity, Steiner said, is currently living in the Post-Atlantis Period, which began with the gradual sinking of Atlantis 7227 BC . The Post-Atlantis Period is divided into seven epochs, the current one being the European-American Epoch, which will last until the year 3573. After that, humans will regain the clairvoyant powers they allegedly possessed prior to the time of the ancient Greeks.
There is clear evidence,Steiners daft theories, were later plagiarised and expanded on by L.Ron Hubbard (Church of Scientology) who merely introduced an extra-terrestrial 'spin' for a modern-day audience.
The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day;
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs;
In sunlight shining clearI reverence,
O God,The strength of humankind,
That Thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my might
May love to work and learn.
From Thee come light and strength,
To Thee rise love and thanks
[Steiner Approved Morning Verse recited until
Steiner's education system, may not look 'religious' or 'spiritual' on the surface,but in reality it is a mismatched bunch of religious ideas,dressed-up under the guise of education.
His own words probably best sum-up what his system is all about.“By employing our methods we will harmonise the higher being, being the human spirit & soul with the physical body and the lower being”.

Teachers in his first schools were taught by Steiner himself they were on a divine cosmic mission.

For example Rudolf Steiner Schools teach children at one age to paint on damp paper because their souls are were not developed to cope with such large distinctions, not for any proven educational reasoning or proven benefits to the child.
Here’s Steiner’s own thoughts on reading & writing, which make interesting reading themselves particularly for any parent considering this line of education.

"It is a very bad thing to be able to write early"

"Reading and writing....are not suited for a human till the eleventh & twelfth year"

So education bows to spirituality & in obeisance to the mystical number seven Steiner even divided a child’s developmental stages into seven year cycles (7,14,21)

Educators at Steiner Schools prefer the colours ‘white & blue’ over ‘black & brown’ not for any reasons relating to teaching and children’s learning process’s , but because Steiner believed there was an eternal battle for mans souls, and white and blue represented the powers of light over the powers of darkness.
Earlier versions of Steiner Schools segregated classrooms into pupil temperaments, rather than scholastic ability.

In Melbourne this year the parents of one child at a Steiner School were told their son had to repeat his prep-year because the boy's soul had not fully incarnated.

Another pseudo religious part of the school curriculum involves something Steiner dubbed “Eurythmy” which is described as ‘art of movement that tries to make visible the inner forms and gestures of language and music, brought about by the spiritual world penetrating the soul’.
If you are confused by that description of Eurythmy, then what say we refer to The New Zealand Anthroposophy Associations site to see if they can better describe the workings of Eurythmy to laymen like you and I.

Eurythmy is a new art that has been developed since the beginning of our century. Its instrument is the human body. Its form of expression is movement. The human body originally developed out of movement and it is movement, that keeps the human body healthy and alive. The inner movements of our organs, the outer movements of our limbs. The world around us too is in constant movement. The earth in its rotation, the sun and moon, the more distant planets. There is no standing still. There is a constant change in evolution. The laws of movement and their significance in the cosmos, are studied in the new art of eurythmy.

Still, none the wiser about Eurythmy(?)- then you are not alone!

Think Pagan Dancing meets Ti-Chi, and you are close enough.

Doubtless the biggest ‘skeleton’ in Steiner’s cupboard, was that he shared the same belief in racial superiority, as that of the worlds best known Austrian. As mentioned above, his theory was there was a migration of humanity from the mythical states of Atlantis & also some place called Lemuria, and these different races had reached differing evolutionary levels, with the Africans at the bottom, East Asians in the middle ( specifically "they will never come up with ideas of their own") and a mixture of Middle Eastern, Greco-Roman and Modern Europeans at the top.

"We are within the great Root Race of humanity, which has peopled the earth, since the land on which we now live rose up out of the inundations of the ocean. Ever since the Atlantean Race began slowly to disappear, the great Aryan Race has been the dominant one on earth. If we contemplate ourselves, we here in Europe are thus the fifth Sub-Race of the great Aryan Root Race. [Steiner 1905, rather than out of the pages of Main Kampf, but you’d be forgiven for thinking as much]

"You see, when we really study science and history, we must conclude that if people become increasingly strong, they will also become increasingly stupid. If the blondes 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. Blonde hair actually bestows intelligence. It is indeed true that the more the fair individuals die out the more will the instinctive wisdom of humans vanish." [Another racist gem from Rudolf 1922, which unfortunately for the world and in particular The Jews of Europe, Hess and Himmler took deadly seriously]

It is clear the Rudolf Steiner Schools must be doing something right, the proliferation of schools indicates some level of success, although there is no independent evidence they offer a superior level of education versus the main-stream alternative, nor any advantage in the field of child development.

There will be parents reading this that will support Steiners system, with claims their child has thrived in its learning environment etc, but any such anecdotal support of this kind is based on personal bias & opinion, and can not be borne out in any independent studies.

More ever, support for Rudolf Steiner Schools from any quarter, completely ignores Steiners own wacky & overtly racist theories.

Parents don’t want to hear that Rudolf entered into meditative states from which he would ‘dream-up’ his preposterous theories – including all the ones their kids are now taught.

Whilst astral-plaining one day he made claims to have checked out a book from God’s library (the Akashic).

The cure for cancer is, at least according to Rudolf ........mistletoe! (remember his largest benefactor Waldorf made smokes)

He came back from another meditation ‘trip’ with claims he was about to revolutionise the growing of crops through-out the world. For the benefit of these parents & Steiner proponents only, the recipe to Rudolf’s ‘magical fertiliser’ is: bury the ground you are about to with stag bladders full of yarrow flowers.

And in case Steiner supporters were wondering why Negroes have darker skins(?) Rudolf comes-up with the goods yet again!

“But the people that didn't develop their id, that was too exposed to the influence of the sun, they were like plants: they produced far too much carbon under their skin - and became black.”

And Waldorf Steiner School fans in case you are wondering what happens when you die(?), good- old-Rudolf has an answer to that million dollar question as well.

What a guy!

“A soul can be incarnated in any race, but if this soul doesn’t become evil, it doesn’t need to be reincarnated in a descending race, it will reincarnate later in a ascending race”.

So next time you want to chastise your kids put in the threat “if you are naughty Mr Steiner says you’ll be a Chinaman in the next life”.

Or speaking of possible avenues for child punishment for Steiner followers - why not scare the kids with tales of Goblins?

Steiner (leaving reality again) argued for the existence of Goblins, even pushing the idea they live in vast numbers within hollow caverns, beneath the surface of the earth.

Parents of Rudolf Steiner Children; Wake-up!

This guy Rudolf Steiner was at times, clearly delusional.

In fact most of what he wrote falls into the category of fanciful rubbish, that has long since been discredited, in all but his own circles, who continue fight to preserve his 'good' name, in much the same way David Irving denies The Holocaust never happened.

I urge you, to start doing your own research on ‘the real Rudolf Steiner’.

Get one of his many unintelligible books from the Library.

Don’t just believe what I have laid down here, and more importantly don’t believe all the ‘revisionist’ propaganda that comes home from school.

I’ve saved what I consider the best, or should that be weirdest?, Rudolf Steiner quotes for last.

"1. If, as he had developed on the Sun, man was called plant man, the man of the Moon can be called animal man...The Sun man could only elevate himself into a plant by thrusting a portion of his companions down into a coarser mineral realm...The animal man of the Moon does not yet have firm bones. His skeleton is still cartilaginous. His whole nature is soft, compared to that of today....2. These were human beings who had their origins in the interbreeding of Earth offspring with humans who ... moved to Jupiter.” [ 1. Rudolf Steiner in Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and 2. Man & An Outline of Esoteric Science]


camphillinfo said...

Bad article! Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, views on life, religion and life style. If everyone thinks is his own opinions are the ultimate truth needs treatment.

Hugo Carsten

Canterbury Atheists said...

Is that right Hugo....Bad! Boy am I hurt about this sort of negative feedback especially when it comes from a guy who believes in this load of crap (scheibe)I am sorry Hugo it is free world mate - partly due to New Zealanders fighting the WW2 facist regime in Germany who loved Herr Rudolfs Ayran fairy-stories. Please tell me which FACTS I got wrong so I can ammend accordingly? The Steiner quote say about men living on the moon? England not being attached to the Earth and held down by stars? Rudolf Steiner war wahnsinnig mein freund.

Anonymous said...

Die Fakten moegen vielleicht stimmen aber die Zusammenhaenge hast du ausgelassen mein Freund. Nimmt sich jeder nur die Saetze und Quoten aus einem Philosophen die ihm passen dann kann man die Philosophie desjenigen um 180 Grad drehen. Und das, mein Freund, ist was du hier gezogen hast...
Aber eben, jeder soll sein eignes Bild machen ja?

Eleven European Mystics said...

It is rather daunting, yet, whenever one reads Steiner one knows he is using language as it is today to explain something we may be able to explain only in some distant future, even when obvious idiosynchrehic traits interfere with our tastes. Colombus, Christopher, talked about the West Indies, but, nevertheless he did discover America. Likewise, Freud made more than one mistake and used words of his time and age, but he named the continent of the unconscious. Into a visionary wilderness sets out Rudolf Steiner, and with great ambition. He is puzzling and quite a torment at times, but his endeavour is serious.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.
These people can believe in fairies and Atlantis if they wish; but they continue to deny the racist thread which runs through Steiner's cosmic plan.
To promote their spiritual woo through education and camphill communities- children and those with learning difficulties is scandalous, as well as the state funding they receive.
Time for disclosure.

Anonymous said...

This is a good article, as are many others on the subject. People do have a right to practice religion, just as people have a right to voice their opinions.

The thing that annoys me about Steiner schools is how deceptive they are. If I enroll my children in a state school, I wouldn't expect the religious education of a catholic school. A steiner school misleads parents about the religious aspects, and that is just plain wrong.

And by the way, if it doesn't have a hypothesis that can be falsified it is not science. The crap that I hear the drones of Steiner say under the name of science is incredible.

camphillinfo said...

According to the constitution of every western country we can express our opinions without any restrictions. Of course anyone can (dis)agree with someone else opinions, but the question who is right or wrong is sounding very ludicrous.

Hugo Carsten

Anonymous said...

Good for you. Hope you had fun researching that, looks like it took a while. I was outside making a daisy-chain.

camphillinfo said...

Thank you, but it has nothing to do with research, mate. I can only suggest to you to adopt a relaxed attitude towards other people’s opinions and views on life. Your harsh remarks? Not a smart thing to do, pal. It will just made them more convinced in their believes and views.

Kind regards,

Hugo Carsten.

Anonymous said...

Where does Steiner education recieve state funding?
You mean the petty cash they get for caring for the disabled?

Hardly a model for a T4 plan is it?

British Steiner schools rejected state funding because it meant accepting the states agenda lead curriculum.

Britain has the highest rate of state educated delinquents in Europe.
Hardly a recomendation for the states agenda?

Canterbury Atheists said...

Hi there,

If you are a product of the Steiner education system, then clearly the U.K Authorities are right to deny state funding.

Unless the tectonic plates have moved dramatically New Zealand is still about as far away from the United Kingdom as one can get on this planet.

See ewe.


Anonymous said...

err ...sorry to disappoint you, but at least one uk steiner school has accepted state funding, and this doesn't mean taking on state curriculum-with the exception of introducing a couple of extra exams for the older children, nothing has changed in the teaching as far as i can see-my daughter attends that school.

i actually have many doubts about steiner teaching. my daughter is there purely because she is much happier there than when state educated.
if that changes, i will have no problem removing her if needed.

Joe "the Kid" Harper said...

I am not certain, but I don't think when Steiner says "race" as in your quote above " We are within the great Root Race of humanity, which has peopled the earth..." he is talking about the race as it spoken of today.
Check out this site:
(see item 10) which discusses more at length on this issue.
I am by no means an expert on Steiner, but what I do know about him he was very idealistic and ethical, his intentions for peace and harmony. The school teaches reverence for the planet, nature, and human beings. Everyone I have encountered associated with the Waldorf community seems very grounded, kind, warm, and thoughtful. Steiner is not for everyone, but I am certain he was a good person.

concerned parent said...

Interesting article. I appreciate your research and find your opinion to be not too far from mine. I currently have a four year old child that has just started their second year in a Waldorf school. It has just been within the last two weeks that I learned about Anthroposophy. I hadn't even heard of it and certainly didn't realize that my child's education was based on it. The research I have done in the last couple of weeks has left me less than impressed. I think Steiner had some wonderful ideas but for the most part I have found him to be a racist kook. As much as my child loves this school I fear that I am going to have to find a different program.

Anonymous said...

Great summary of Steiner, incorporating aspects of his views other than those concerning education. I plan to pass it on but wish there was documentation of where the quotes came from.
It has been my experience that there will always be hard-core doubters who will look truth in the eye and still deny it, but a small percentage of the doubters are actually searching for truth, and will check out the sources, so it's always good to give them persuasive documentation.
Thanks for writing this article.

Anonymous said...

If you actually bother to exercise your mind and read Steiner, for example his book 'Theosophy' or 'Occult Science' you will see that his thoughts and vision was a gift to humanity that is still stuck in a dark age. To give knowledge so we can understand our true being was Steiner's aim. It's a hard knowledge that challenges us to wake up to our spiritual being. We're not ready, we don't understand, we are still asleep, so it's easier to condemn. If you actually bother to read one of Steiner's lecture cycles in its entirety, with an open mind, you might just do your soul a favour.

Anonymous said...

i have had experience with steiner schools (personally i don't think theres a difference between them and any other school) but the philosophy of steiner is not taught to children, only teachers loosley follow it butthis is just what i've had experience with it may differ from school to school.

Anonymous said...

Most things you wrote I can laugh about in amused self-recognition, but comparing Steiner to Hitler is really going too far and apart from being insulting and grossly out of whack with historyit completely disregards the core of Steiner's philosophy, that encourages free thinking. It is this core idea of anthroposophy which caused Steiner schools to be banned in nazi germany after the relevant authorities had studied his body of work. Evidently they did a better job at figuring out what he was about than this blog does.

Canterbury Atheists said...

By any standards in the light of knowledge open to us today the bloke was bonkers. In Europe (U.K as well?) in its bid to get state funding for schools the Steiner movement was forced to repudiate their founder’s racist beliefs.

Unknown said...

I completely agree with the author, after 7 years of being involved in a Waldorf school in the U.S. pacific northwest (fortunately mostly very early years), I can say WHAT WAS I THINKING? Finally woke up after numerous red flags that pointed to an undisclosed school agenda, e.g. anthroposophical ideals. They are not honest with parents and have nutty ungrounded ideas about discipline, child development, and education. The beauty and calm is misleading and mostly on the surface only. I think eventually these schools will be closed down or they will have to change. There are numerous legal claims brewing, e.g. basic educational malpractice and various emotional abuse causes of action. Parents beware, their undisclosed dogma which is the water the faculty swims in results in damage to many children, their parents, and teachers. Do your research, particular Gregoire Perra, an ex waldorf teacher, he hits the nail on the head.