To the Court:
I am writing in reference to the suit involving X. I am Roger Rawlings; I manage the website Waldorf Watch [http://www.waldorfwatch.com/ and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/]. I have extensive knowledge of Waldorf education and Anthroposophy.
I cannot comment on the particulars of X’s situation. I do not know X, nor do I know his personal history. But I can say that the general description of Waldorf education he has provided is highly accurate. Indeed, he has performed a valuable service by providing the public with information that is often hidden within the Waldorf school movement.
I would like to comment on several specific matters raised by X.
1. Indoctrination. There is no doubt that Waldorf schools often attempt to indoctrinate their students. Indeed, drawing students toward Anthroposophy is the underlying reason for the existence of Waldorf schools. I discuss this matter on my website, for instance on the page “Here’s the Answer” [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/heres-the-answer].
2. Social Maladjustment. Graduates of Waldorf schools are often ill-equipped for life in the real world. Waldorf schools lead them away from the real world, into a dream world, the occult fantasies that constitute Anthroposophy. My own personal experience is one example. I attended a Waldorf school for 11 years, and I suffered for many years afterwards as a consequence. I discuss this on my pages “I Went to Waldorf” and “My Sad, Sad Story” (an ironic title) [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/i-went-to-waldorf and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/my-sad-sad-story].
3. Abuse of Students. Students in Waldorf schools are not universally abused by their teachers. Still, there have been many reports of abuse in Waldorf schools. One special problem in these schools is that the teachers, believing in karma, may think that some people are destined to be abusers and others are destined to receive abuse. And because karma is a divine process, the process must be allowed. I deal with such matters on the pages “Slaps”, “Pops”, and “Extremity” [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/slaps, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/pops, and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/extremity].
4. Fraternal Strife. As a cult, Anthroposophy has long been riven by schisms. These are often reflected on Waldorf faculties. While amity may often prevail, bitter conflicts are also common. The court may wish to consult such pages as “Ex-Teacher 2”, “His Education”, and “Coming Undone” (particularly the comments by Debra Snell) [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/ex-teacher-2, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/his-education, and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/coming-undone].
I hope this brief letter is helpful. If I can provide any further assistance to the court, I will be happy to comply.
Here is the supplementary documentation I submitted.
The purpose of Waldorf schools is to spread Anthroposophy. The children are taught Anthroposophy, usually indirectly. This is the process X refers to as indoctrination.
Here are some statements by Rudolf Steiner himself, revealing the purpose of Waldorf schools.
The children will be taught Anthroposophy: “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.]
Waldorf teachers try to bring Anthroposophical religious feelings and attitudes into all class work: "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." [Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.]
Waldorf school teachers should be devout Anthroposophists: “As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.]
Waldorf schools exist to promote Anthroposophy: “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” [Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.]
Waldorf teachers try to serve the gods by being the conduits for what “streams down from above”: “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.” [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.]
In serving the gods, Waldorf teachers try to lead students toward Anthroposophy, but they do this clandestinely: “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." [Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998, p. 705.]
Students in Waldorf schools are generally led away from the “outside world” (that is, the real world and the society at large), so that very often they emerge from their educations maladjusted. Here is how I have described the effects on myself as a Waldorf student. This passage has been repeatedly cited as an accurate description of the effects of Waldorf schooling:
“My nearest approach to full allegiance [to Waldorf and Anthroposophy] came during the excitement and nostalgia of graduation day. On that June morning, I considered myself profoundly religious (although I could not list the Ten Commandments nor quote more than a few short Bible verses). I thrilled to the knowledge that the world is more spirit than physics, more ideal than actual. I was vain, moralistic, priggish, innocent, shy, racially bigoted, and (confusingly, for a kudo-swollen student) utterly lacking in self-confidence. I was judgmental yet uncertain. I had no patience with science and its shallow half-truths. I prized imagination over intellect, sensibility over sense. I was right about everything, always — don’t even ask. (Please, don’t ask.) I had only superficial knowledge of the US economy and the major political issues in the wide world — and I didn’t care. Everything that I saw outside the school seemed to be beneath me. I was directionless. I had no career ambitions, no academic focus, no marketable skills. I had precious few social skills. I longed for a beauteous, buxom Aryan mate. (Few real girls approximated my fantasy. Marilyn, where are you? I never dated much.) I half-yearned for easeful death, or better yet a crusade, or salvation. I dreamed of writing a book titled GOD that would reconcile all the world’s religions. I dreamed of becoming President of the United States. I dreamed of performing — I wasn’t sure what — something — a titanic, stupendous something. But I had no intention of lifting a finger. I was on hold, waiting... In other words, I had been brainwashed, with a thoroughness and intensity I could not fathom. (Call me the Manchurian Schoolboy.) And, I should add, I was — without quite realizing it — deeply unhappy. Thank God, I was deeply unhappy. As the realization of my dejection slowly dawned on me during the following years, I became motivated to try to comprehend my condition and then to repair it. Even so, only gradually was I able to fight my way down from the fog in which (metaphorically speaking: only a metaphor) I levitated and at long last find my footing in reality. It took me more than twenty years to fully deprogram myself. [Roger Rawlings, “I Went to Waldorf”, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/i-went-to-waldorf]
There have been many reports of abusive behavior committed against students in Waldorf schools, sometimes by the teachers, and sometimes by other students while teachers looked on without intervening. Here are a few examples:
• “A girl I knew was rammed against a wall by a [Waldorf] teacher, left the school shortly thereafter, and seemed traumatized by it when she told me about it years later. Yet another girl told me that a teacher hurt her when he yanked her arm to try to force her to cross a stream on a field trip and then grabbed her and shook her violently, despite the fact that she kept telling him not to touch her. I saw a teacher go ballistic on two children for playing with some outdoor sprinkler lines when all he needed to do was to say, ‘Don't play with those pipes.’ Even a teacher whom we liked and respected had a reputation for occasionally going into extraordinary rages in the classroom.”
• “My [Waldorf] teacher was a man who I will refer to here as Mr. M, who was...a teacher bully ... Mr. M went out of his way to give me a hard time and bully me because of my difficulty paying attention, or if I made a mistake no matter how small.”
• “My Waldorf school, and the kindergarten, too, was very violent; violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've read others state that the school was well-known for its problems with bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.
“The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I can't describe it better. You could count on being thrown into the wall, cupboards or into rocks, being hit, being pushed, those kinds of things — every day.”
• “Where our children went, not only was there unnecessary physical force from teachers (apparently quite violent), and bullying amongst the children. There were occasions when dark children with some non-European roots (including ours) were singled out; questioning this brought rage from the teachers....”
• “I've known more than a few children who were hit, screamed and sworn at by Waldorf teachers — with virtually NO repercussions, other than pathetic suggestions that those who raise concerns do not understand karma. Fact is there were no other available teachers, so the wild ones stayed, believing (and being supported by peers) they were destined to be with the children in their class. That's what Steiner says.”
• “During one of the sessions we attended at the [Waldorf] school, my son was violently pushed backwards off a play bridge. I understand this is not unusual, as it could happen in any nursery or school. However, as I sat there comforting my child, I noticed that the teacher who witnessed the incident didn't respond in any way or acknowledge what happened. Instead, she continued to sew in silence. I sat there in utter disbelief. The act of ignoring felt more violent than the original act itself. Seeing that I was somewhat baffled and distressed by the teacher's lack of concern, a parent later explained to me that the children were ‘working out their karma.’"
• From an Australian newspaper: “As an English teacher [at a Waldorf school] Roger Graham knows how to write a love letter. But in 2001 when he began writing to one of his 16-year-old female students, the married Graham, in his fifties, may have penned the final chapter for the Newcastle Waldorf School, a Rudolf Steiner school he helped establish in the early 1980s ... The relationship [between Graham and the student] was discovered in May 2001, and Graham was stood down [i.e., dismissed] on full pay. Even then, he continued to write to the girl, his letters passed on by the school's co-founder and senior teacher, Keitha Montefiore ... Graham's re-emergence is the latest in a long line of controversies at the 140-student school, including the sexual grooming of students by male and female teachers in the mid-2000s and allegations of emotional and physical abuse dating back to the early 1990s. In 1995 eight children and several parents made statements to the child protection and investigation unit of Newcastle Police, alleging seven teachers shook, choked, hit and kicked students as young as seven. A teacher also reportedly pushed a boy through a classroom window, breaking his arm ... Parents, former students and former staff allege a culture of secrecy, denial and cover-up at the school, which they claim [was] run as a private fiefdom of Montefiore and Graham, until the latter's dismissal ... Several teachers have gone on to marry former students, who in turn became teachers at the school. "The whole place is incredibly incestuous and parochial," says the former board member.”
These and other reports are summarized at https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/slaps
Numerous people who have worked or volunteered at Waldorf schools have reported on the conflicts — sometimes quite fierce — that often erupt among Waldorf faculty. Here are two reports:
1) Statements by Keith Francis, a former Waldorf teacher and headmaster:
"When Waldorf teachers work together the external opposing forces [i.e., opponents of Waldorf education and/or Anthroposophy] can be resisted effectively, if not defeated. Bitter experience has taught me, however, that these periods of well-being do not last, and that when things go bad they do so from the inside....
"Waldorf communities make very convenient homes for loose cannons ... I remember several occasions when the work of the College [of Teachers] ground to a halt for weeks or even months because of implacable bees in the bonnets of one or two members. I remember other occasions when good people left the school because they couldn’t stand it any more....
"[T]hree years of productivity and relative peace were followed by a period of discord which led to another outbreak of the old scenario. Resistance [against school policy] was just as strong as before and this time it was more vocal. Soon after that the teacher in question took a job at another Waldorf school, leaving the faculty bitterly divided and the school seriously damaged....”
When discord rends Waldorf faculties, the cause can often be found in the teachers' varying interpretations of Holy Writ — i.e., the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The result can be, in effect, a sectarian conflict between opposing bands of true believers:
"[S]everal teachers had, through a misunderstanding and misapplication of Steiner's words, become excessively, in fact obsessively, preoccupied with the development of the instrumental program [i.e., the creation of a student orchestra]. The program certainly needed developing, but the zeal and fervor with which the ideas were put forward would have been somewhat more appropriate for a religious revival....
"Between them the school's managers and their protégés had turned the Rudolf Steiner School into a place where I didn't want to be ... I got myself a job at the [non-Steiner] Lenox School ... My work at Lenox was rather trying, since the students were much nastier than the ones at the Rudolf Steiner School and this was only partly compensated for by the fact that the teachers were considerably easier to get on with."
2) Statements by Debra Snell, a former Waldorf board member:
“I learned regular rules do not apply in Waldorf schools. Anthroposophy is more important than individual rights, laws, or common truths....
“I used to watch the Waldorf teachers at parent gatherings (festivals). The teachers would stand on the stage with their arms around each other, singing songs in rounds, while parents beamed ... I was amazed by the teachers' performance ... [B]ehind closed doors, they were all backstabbers. Seemingly insecure people competing for the top position on the Anthroposophical dog pile. It was never pretty. There was a lot of acting out, both blatant and passive (aggressive). I thought it was just this school, these teachers at the time. Now I think it comes out of some very deep flaws that Anthroposophy is incapable of dealing with. At least so far.
“Board meetings were always exhausting because you could cut the tension between the teachers with a knife. Words were always so carefully chosen but what was being left unsaid screamed way louder than what was actually being said. Two of the teachers had eating disorders, but that seemed like the least of their problems....
“Teachers demonstrated an inability to think logically and seemingly acted out of pure, uncontainable emotion. There were frequent faculty crying sessions taking place in front of the parents... The teachers were all control freaks but the faculty chair took the cake. He had no personal social skills whatsoever BUT he did know Steiner and he was on top of the Anthroposophical dog pile ... He freaked potential parents out and there were many closed-door discussions about this fact.”