TABLE OF CONTENTS
This website is being rebuilt. It will be a mess for a while,
but it will remain open while the work progresses.
Here is a directory to the pages at Waldorf Watch and its associated sites. At the end of the directory, you will find some general explanatory notes, including "A Question of Quotes".
The essays at Waldorf Watch were written over a period of years. There is some overlap, some repetition, and some minor inconsistency among them. I wrote most of these essays, but other critics of Waldorf schooling are also represented — including Dan Dugan, Pete Karaiskos, Grégoire Perra, Ian Robinson, Margaret Sachs, Debra Snell, Peter Staudenmaier, and Diana Winters. Read as much as you like; skim or skip over whatever you find redundant or dull. I think you'll find that, overall, the essays present a clear explanation of Waldorf schooling and the thinking that lies behind it.
— Roger Rawlings
Home page, with statement of objectives
1. WALDORF EDUCATION: AN OVERVIEW
A short, direct answer to the question, "What are Waldorf schools all about?"
Best foot forward
The bright side
A pictorial overview
Teachers as priests
Does Waldorf Work?
How they teach it
Words of warning
The key to Waldorf
The use of "clairvoyance" by Waldorf teachers
Developing our invisible bodies
Steiner, trying to make Waldorf education seem sensible
The memoir of a former Waldorf student and teacher
From the beginning, again
Design of the site
2. WALDORF SCHOOLS TODAY
Bringing the inquiry up to date: What goes on inside Waldorf schools today?
Waldorf schools in the 21st Century
What they're saying
What they're reading
What they're saying (cont.)
More, and more, and...
Still more, and still more, and...
Stop the presses
A brief look at the purposes of Waldorf schooling
A brief summary of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines and teachings
A guide for students and parents
Steiner's theory of everything
Some of the things you aren’t supposed to know
To survive or not, to teach or not
Debating and evaluating Waldorf education
3. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PARENTS
For parents considering sending kids to a Waldorf school
Detailed pointers on evaluating a Waldorf school
Reverence, wonder, and the aftereffects of straining for them
One family's story [external link]
Classroom discipline and...
Some positive elements, but also...
A parent's cry
A father asks for guidance
Looking at a Parent Handbook
An inquiry into the “success” of Waldorf schooling
The “temperaments” as conceived and acted upon in Waldorf schools
Can a Waldorf school cleanse itself?
Examining a problem that began with the first Waldorf School
An overview and a parent's personal report [external link]
4. THE WALDORF APPROACH
A look at the standard Waldorf program
How they try to do it
Seven of them
How they get that way
The irrational modes of “thought” fostered at Waldorf schools
English classes and history classes in a typical Waldorf school
The central mythology in many Waldorf schools: Norse myths
At Waldorf schools, ignorance is often taken as wisdom
The Waldorf curriculum: the arts, and festivals
The Waldorf curriculum: math
The antiscientific nature of Waldorf education
Class journals as created by students at many Waldorf schools
The Anthroposophical take on technology
No [external link]
The Waldorf curriculum: astronomy
Steiner on our solar system or "our universe"
A behind-the-scenes look at Waldorf education
Exploring the fundamentals of Waldorf schooling
Still further explorations
Talks between Steiner and Waldorf teachers
"Practical" tips Steiner gave to Waldorf faculty
5. A FORMER WALDORF STUDENT
A report on life as a Waldorf student
An overview of Waldorf schooling; a far longer version of "I Went to Waldorf", including:
"Unenlightened - Part 2"
"Unenlightened - Part 3"
"Unenlightened - Part 4"
"Unenlightened - Part 5"
"Unenlightened - Part 6"
(including addenda, etc.)
"Unenlightened - Part 7"
6. FORMER WALDORF TEACHERS, ET AL
A student, teacher, believer — who left
Another firsthand account
A third firsthand account
A long, astrological tale — told briefly
Leaving Waldorf, finding something better
The real skinny
The child vs. the cause
Contamination and corruption
Teachers as priests
A wayward Anthroposophist
Reeling away from Christchurch
Focus on Steiner schools
A big year coming
A square peg
Parent and teacher
After 10 years...
You will be lied to...
A chat between friends
And to its Waldorf school
Now a critic
She hits the trail
7. IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Selected, revealing Steiner quotations; includes "Anthroposophy at Waldorf"
More from Steiner
Other than Rudolf
Who Says continued
Nonsense in the air
Perhaps the worst statements Steiner made
Additional revealing quotations; includes "Last Words" and "Reading Steiner"
Some of Steiner’s silliest statements (on topics such as gnomes)
8. THE WORST SIDE
The racial teachings deep in Anthroposophy
Problems in the doctrines
A lecture that exculpates?
One of Steiner's suppressed lectures
Two fundamental legends embraced by Steiner
Ties to Nazism? Allegations and denials
Steiner’s strange version, tied to his racial teachings
Anthroposophical racism, recapped
9. WALDORF AND RELIGION
Examining the central denial made by Steiner’s followers
Comparing Steiner's teachings with Christ's
The hidden story
Anthroposophy and hidden knowledge
Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism
Steiner's strange ideas about the Lord
The Earth Goddess; and the Theory of Everything: Anthropo-Sophia
What Waldorf faculties aim for
About those "morning verses"
The religion of Anthroposophy in the classroom
Turning students into disciples
Why choose Anthroposophy when there are so many alternatives?
10. CLAIRVOYANCE AND DELUSION
The missing basis of Waldorf thinking
Occult initiation in Anthroposophy
Oh why? Oh why? Oh why?
Delusional or fraudulent?
11. THE WALDORF WORLDVIEW
An examination of Steiner’s central text
Steiner’s extraordinary, sci-fi-like narrative of human evolution;
the story continues in:
Steiner promoted love, sort of
Surprising violence in Steiner's kindly vision
And badder, and baddest
America, Germany, and Waldorf
How to, he said (his #2 text)
Steiner’s occult conspiracy theories
12. DANGEROUS DISCONNECTIONS
Errors, fallacies, falsehoods...
Quack Anthroposophical medicine
Human nature as conceived by Steiner and acted upon in Waldorf schools
Macrocosms, microcosms — big and small
The Waldorf view of the natural world
Quack agriculture: astrology and magic
Laying it out clearly
Bizarre ideas about the universe: Vulcan, the Zodiac, Mars, etc.
13. RUDOLF STEINER
Seeing Steiner through his followers’ eyes; with a brief chronology of Steiner's life
What he prescribed, and — perhaps — why
Steiner as leader
Steiner’s embrace of an architect of destruction
Steiner and his followers, beleaguered
The coming, epoch-ending war
What he might have done
14. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
A look back, plus
Mystical thinking, realistic thinking;
Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools
More reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools
Talking it over
Crossing many lines
Describing the near-collapse of the Waldorf school I attended
Deprogramming myself after Waldorf
Who the heck am I?
Doom and deliverance
Short and sweet
Can you trust me?
15. SUPPLEMENTAL PAGES
To see a listing of the supplemental pages,
click on this link:
The overall design of Waldorf Watch
is presented at
For concise, direct answers to questions about Waldorf schools,
An attempt to simulate a characteristic style of Anthroposophical art,
a style often seen in Waldorf schools. Artwork in the schools
is often far superior to this, but aesthetics are largely beside the point.
Anthroposophical art is meant to evoke and embody spiritual powers and beings —
it is not art for art's sake, but art for occultism's sake.
◊ While I take Rudolf Steiner seriously, I often laugh at his doctrines. Much of what he taught is preposterous. But be forewarned: Some of his doctrines are quite hateful and thus not at all laughable. And the harm Steiner's educational doctrines can inflict on innocent young children is serious indeed.
◊ My primary focus is on Waldorf schools. Many people find these schools attractive, at least initially. Waldorfs are often small, cozy, and beautiful. They can seem like safe refuges in a fearful world. However, any schools that abide by Steiner’s teachings are necessarily devoted to occultism, specifically Anthroposophy — although they often disguise this devotion. Understanding what goes on in such schools requires peering beneath the surface. Waldorf Watch aims to enable such peering.
◊ Especially important passages crop up in more than one essay. I don't expect anyone to read every essay here, so to make sure that various pivotal items reach as many readers as possible, I have stated some arguments, and cited some quotations, in two, three, or even four places on the site. If you come upon something you’ve read before, please just skip ahead.
◊ Throughout, I provide links to other sources of information. As time passes, some of these links may become outdated. I will update them if I can, but if you try to use a link that proves to be a dud, searching the Internet by keyword may take you where you want to go.
◊ Here and there, I have included sketches I have made. Many of these are renderings of illustrations found in Anthroposophical books. Some photographs I've taken over the years are also scattered around the site. I apologize for my poor artistic efforts (all of which are identified by my initials, R.R.) — I use my own sketches and photographs only when no other, better works are available for reproduction here.
Please excuse any typos at this site.
I hope they are few and insignificant.
I’ll correct them all when I find them.
A QUESTION OF QUOTES
When quoting Steiner and others, I often omit extraneous and repetitive phrases, which I replace with ellipsis marks. I take care, however, not to alter any author's meaning. The best way to check me is to consult the texts from which I quote. I almost always provide citations.
Here is an example. In my long essay "Unenlightened", I use the following quotation to show that Steiner differentiated between the soul and the spirit: “The soul must not be impelled, through the body, to lusts and passions ... The spirit, however, must not stand as a slave-driver over the soul, dominating it with laws and commandments....” [Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 96.]
Here is a more complete version of the same passage, in which I include all words I previously omitted, and for context I include the sentences that appear immediately before and after the passage:
“The body must be so ennobled and purified that its organs are impelled to nothing that is not in the service of the soul and spirit. The soul must not be impelled, through the body, to lusts and passions which are antagonistic to pure and noble thought. The spirit, however, must not stand as a slave-driver over the soul, dominating it with laws and commandments; the soul must rather learn to follow these laws and duties out of its own free inclination. The student must not feel duty to be an oppressive power to which he unwillingly submits, but rather something which he performs out of love.”
Remember that my purpose was to establish that Steiner differentiates between the soul and the spirit. Including the additional sentences and phrases does not alter that differentiation; it merely makes the quotation longer while raising extraneous issues. That Steiner speaks of love, for instance, may be to his credit, but it does not change the distinction between spirit and soul. Thus, the clipped form of the quotation is accurate and more to the point.
The issue of context is complex. The passage I’ve quoted comes from within a long paragraph. The only way to absolutely avoid taking such passages out of context would be to reprint entire paragraphs or perhaps entire chapters. But clearly that would be impractical and — in some cases — illegal due to copyright laws. The test you should apply is whether a quotation would mean something fundamentally different if taken within a larger context. In the example I've given, neither the omission of some words nor the absence of the larger context alters the point at issue, which is that Steiner distinguished between spirit and soul.
Another note on this topic: In omitting phrases and sentences, I may seem to be ducking some issues. You can check me on this, as well. I can’t deal with every issue simultaneously, but I do not intentionally ignore any subjects that are important to an understanding of Waldorf education or Anthroposophy. Thus, I deal with Steinerian “love” in the such essays as "Love and the Universal Human", “Underpinnings”, and “Was He Christian?” Similarly, I deal with Steiner’s conception of thought (a subject introduced by the phrase “pure and noble thought”) in various essays including "Thinking", “Thinking Cap”, and “Steiner’s Specific”. For a discussion of Steiner’s doctrines about the human constitution (“the body must be so ennobled and purified that its organs...”), see “Steiner’s Quackery”, “What We’re Made Of”, and "Our Parts". For more on Steiner’s conception of freedom (which boils down to voluntary acceptance of laws and commandments), see "Freedom", “Nutshell”, and “Steiner Static”.
I should also explain, briefly, that I generally format all quotations, long and short, alike. I place them within quotation marks. This violates a common practice, which is to omit quotation marks from long quotations, indenting these passages instead, and setting the indented material in smaller type. My purpose has been to ensure that all quotations are immediately recognizable as such, and that they are readily legible on computer screens.
— Roger Rawlings