THE WALDORF CURRICULUM
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Like so much else about Waldorf schools, the standard Waldorf curriculum can seem attractive, initially. But a closer look raises concerns, especially with regard to occultism. Not all Waldorf schools are alike — some abide by Steiner’s occult intentions more fully than others do. Parents should certainly work to understand what goes on at any particular Waldorf school before sending their children there.
One occult premise of the general Waldorf curriculum is that children gain augmented spiritual capacities on a seven-year schedule.  A second premise is that children repeat, in their individual lives, the spiritual and cultural evolution that humanity as a whole has undergone.  Still another premise is that children represent four spiritual-psychological-emotional categories, four “temperaments,” so their schooling should be tailored for these categories.  Such concepts have little or no scientific support, but they generally control the operations of Waldorf schools.
Here is an overview of the curriculum you will find at many, if not all, Waldorf schools.  We will sketch a grade-by-grade outline presently.
Very young children retain memories of their lives in the spirit realm before birth, or so Waldorf teachers typically believe.  Kids should be encouraged to preserve these memories as long as possible. In Waldorf preschools, young children are immersed in an atmosphere of myths and legends, a mystical/spiritual atmosphere reinforced by such things as the presence of gnome statuettes in the classroom.  Academics are usually absent from Waldorf preschools, and even the first few grades of the lower school (first grade, second grade...) may seem, from a conventional perspective, formless and devoid of much academic content. The students play, listen to stories, and dabble in the arts. Because colors are deemed to have magical properties, only crayons of certain bright, cheerful colors are used — and only blunt crayons, to discourage kids from making realistic line drawings.  Reading, writing, and arithmetic are usually not begun until children near their first major developmental milestone — at about age seven, around the time when most kids lose their baby teeth.  The real world as apprehended by the ordinary senses and clear minds is held at bay throughout these early grades and often far beyond.
The miasma of myth and fantasy extends from preschool into the lower grades at a typical Waldorf. Fairy stories, legends, and fables are stressed in grades one and two.  In grade three, more conventionally spiritual/religious material is covered, especially Old Testament stories.  In grade four, the focus shifts to Norse myths , with myths from other cultures moving center stage in grade five.  When the kids are eleven or so, study is directed to ancient Greece, and a year later, ancient Rome.  This progression is meant to reenact the evolutionary development of humanity as a whole.
Basic math skills are introduced during the lower grades, but only lightly.  The same holds for other subjects — they generally enter the classroom tangentially and in romanticized form. The introduction to life sciences, for instance, consists mainly of romanticized nature stories.  Exposure to foreign languages may begin in the lower grades, but usually without formal study of vocabulary or grammar.  Activities such as watercoloring, knitting, and gardening take up a good deal of time — these are deemed to have esoteric value, although parents are often not informed of this rationale.  The teachers strive to provide slow learning (which is sometimes a cover for little or no learning).
Students in the middle grades are still not considered able to reach their own conclusions or even to grasp such elementary concepts as cause-and-effect , so class work consists mainly of copying lessons and drawings put on the chalkboard by the teachers.  Student artwork and classwork are thus generally derivative, with little or no individuality, although different tasks are often assigned to kids having different "temperaments."  Math study progresses a bit, with memorization of multiplication tables, for instance; math is considered a form of divine revelation, and this attitude is subtly conveyed whenever possible.  Elementary exposure to geography and physics usually occurs in the middle grades, along with continued “study” of life sciences. An underlying antiscientific bias often distorts these subjects, however. 
The stress on art persists in the middle grades, because of Steiner’s belief that that the arts provide direct communication with spiritual worlds.  Students are typically required to perform eurythmy, a form of dance believed to have occult effects.  Often, students are also taught to play recorders (simple woodwind instruments) and to participate in group singalongs or choruses.  Watercoloring continues, but it is now supplemented by drawing and clay sculpting. The prohibition against crayons and pencils that can produce clear lines is gradually relaxed as the kids grow older, and gradually some scope is given for individual creativity in the arts. 
Throughout the curriculum, academic subjects are given less emphasis than at many other kinds of schools. A typical Waldorf day begins with a prayer  followed by a long “main lesson”  — ninety minutes or more devoted to a subject, for example botany. The other events of the day are, to one degree or another, keyed to the main lesson. This creates immersion in a subject, but only briefly. Main lesson subjects change every three weeks or so — botany gives way to history, for instance, and then history gives way to something else. Subjects are thus dropped, only to be picked up again in following months or years, again for brief three-week exposures.  The cyclical pattern of this program is intended to reflect the cyclical nature of man’s spiritual evolution, as described by Steiner.  Textbooks are generally shunned, which means that virtually all information presented in class originates with the Waldorf teachers themselves, a process that vests the teachers with enormous authority. Not incidentally, this arrangement ensures that students receive only one point of view: the Anthroposophical/Waldorf/Steiner point of view. Students create their own texts — called class books, block books, or lesson books — by copying what their teachers write and draw on the chalkboard. 
In grades seven and eight, subjects often include Medieval history, the Renaissance, and national history. But, as before, subjects are presented briefly, then dropped. Instruction is still largely rote, with an emphasis on stories told by the teacher. Biographies of great people, and tales of world exploration, may be emphasized.  Math and the sciences are taken to higher levels than previously, and among art studies, creative writing may be given special attention. The study of foreign languages, if not introduced earlier, may begin now. 
Waldorf teachers stay with their classes for many years, shepherding them through a wide array of subjects. A class teacher may sometimes stay with the same group of children from first grade through fourth or even eighth grade. There are advantages to this approach — the teacher presumably gets to know the kids well. But there may also be problems. Over the years, kids may wind up spending nearly as much time with a particular Waldorf teacher as with their parents, which can cause a diversion of loyalty. Also, teachers presenting multiple subjects over many years necessarily present material that they have not mastered — the education becomes all the more superficial. “The class teacher up to class nine is expected to be able to teach all the main lessons, and teach them with imagination and artistry.”  This goal is nearly impossible to attain, and while teachers strain to get there, students are denied exposure to a variety of opinions and approaches, particularly from experts in various fields. The Waldorf system virtually guarantees that some subjects — perhaps many subjects — will be taught badly, by unqualified instructors.
Students are not considered capable of abstract reasoning until they are at least fourteen (or, at a deeper level, twenty-one).  The high school curriculum built on this dubious notion is a bit more conventional than the Waldorf middle-school curriculum. The day will generally still begin with a prayer and a main lesson, but after that students will separate, taking various electives. Textbooks may appear for the first time — teachers will still control the students’ knowledge to a large extent by writing and drawing lessons on the board, but students will also be assigned readings in various carefully selected texts.  Subjects covered in earlier grades (world history, national history, sciences, and so forth) will be repeated, still in a cyclical pattern, although in greater depth, and some classes aside from the main lesson will extend for many weeks. There will continue to be a strong emphasis on arts, crafts, and such projects as gardening. Depending on pressures applied by the community in general and parents in particular, there may or may not be much college preparation.  Even during high school, an effort is made to preserve students from maturing too soon. Steiner taught that premature aging can cause various difficulties, such as developing flawed telepathic powers rather than the “higher” form of clairvoyance he advocated. 
The central truth is that Waldorf schooling is not primarily geared to formal education — it is a spiritualistic enterprise geared to the promotion of Anthroposophy. Usually the process of Anthroposophical indoctrination is subtle and more or less hidden from view, but on occasion it becomes quite plain. The entire Waldorf curriculum is entwined in occult conceptions such as belief in reincarnation and the proposition that souls of children bear the imprint of pre-earthly existence. If a Waldorf school succeeds in its purpose, a student’s supposed contact with the spirit realm will be preserved from early childhood right through to adulthood. Subliminal contact with the invisible world beyond will be strengthened and channeled, but at a cost. Understanding of, and preparation for, life in the real, visible world will be given short shrift.
Can a student attending a Waldorf school get a good education? The answer depends on many factors, including the student’s innate abilities, the degree to which s/he resists Waldorf’s occultism, the resources available outside the school (at home, in the community at large, on the Internet), etc. But the academic success — or lack of academic success — of Waldorf students is not the key issue to consider when evaluating Waldorf education. Waldorf is rooted in occultism and it is meant to foster an occult mindset in its students. Only parents who want this for their children should select Waldorf.
Footnotes for the Foregoing
(Scroll Down to Find Further Sections)
 Taking the idea from Theosophy, Steiner taught that humans manifest nonphysical bodies on a seven-year schedule. Nonphysical bodies consist of incorporeal rather than material forces and substances. Until age seven, a child is primarily a physical being, then an “etheric” body incarnates, followed at age fourteen by an “astral” body and, at age twenty-one, an “I.”
“During the period from birth until about seven years of age, the etheric body undergoes a process similar to that undergone by the physical body before birth. Only at the end of that time can we say that the etheric body is ‘born.’ In the same way, the astral body is ‘born’ at the age of fourteen or fifteen....” etc. — Rudolf Steiner, THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 43.]
Mature humans have four bodies. Steiner taught, however, that people who are not really human lack an "I." Think about basing a child’s education on such premises.
 The child "recapitulates the cultural epochs of all Mankind.” — Peter Curran, quoted in WHAT IS WALDORF EDUCATION?, a collection of essays by Steiner (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 21.
For Anthroposophists, “cultural epochs” or “ages” are long stretches of time in mankind’s spiritual evolution. They are dated from the sinking of Atlantis (yes, Atlantis).
 See "Humouresque".
 For a brief, sympathetic presentation, see Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 395-8.
Not all Waldorf schools today follow the standard Waldorf curriculum, but most do, to one degree or another. Variations are usually minor, but the only way to know the sequence of studies followed at any individual Waldorf school is to investigate that school specifically.
 See "Thinking Cap".
 Gnomes are considered real, in Waldorf belief. They are "nature spirits." [See "Neutered Nature" and "Gnomes".] Gnome statuettes, dolls, and pictures are deemed to represent invisible beings that are really present in the schools.
 See Sharon Lombard, “Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner” [http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/lombard.html ]
 See William Ward, LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE IN THE WALDORF SCHOOLS: “Formal instruction of reading in a Waldorf school begins in the first grade when a child is six, turning seven (older than first graders in the public school.)" [http://www.steinerbooks.org/learning.html ] Also see Roy Wilkinson, THE CURRICULUM OF THE RUDOLF STEINER SCHOOL (Robinswood Press, 1990), p. 7: “The first lessons in arithmetic, to children aged 6, are introduced in story form....” While there is variation among Waldorf schools, there is also impressive uniformity. Here’s from Australia: “Steiner schools wait until the early childhood phase before formally starting reading, writing, and maths in year one [i.e., first grade].” — Karen McElroy, “Education and Children’s Health,” THE DAILY (Queensland, Australia), Jan. 15, 2009.
Postponing instruction in reading and math until children turn seven does not doom the students to educational failure. In Finland, which has a public school system generally judged excellent, reading and math are postponed until age seven. But Finnish schools are in most other ways wholly unlike Waldorf schools. The occultism at the basis of Waldorf education is wholly absent from the Finnish system. Indeed, the Finnish model (secular, public, rational, and scientific) is virtually the antithesis of Waldorf, and its success provides virtually no evidence supporting the Waldorf approach overall.
 See "Fairy Tales".
 See "Old Testament".
 See "The Gods".
 See "Oh My Word".
 MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, p. 396.
 See H. v. Baravalle, TEACHING OF ARITHMETIC AND THE WALDORF SCHOOL PLAN (Publications of the Waldorf School, Adelphi College, 1950).
Math is important, Steiner said, but it must be taught in a spiritual way. Math shows order in the universe, which in turn reveals the gods' design. Thus, math (and especially "sacred geometry") reveals the divine basis of life and puts us in communion with the high spiritual powers. For these reasons, Steiner made such statements as
“The child who has a right introduction to arithmetic will have quite a different feeling of moral responsibility from the child who has not.” — Rudolf Steiner, quoted in TEACHING OF ARITHMETIC AND THE WALDORF SCHOOL PLAN, p. 75.
“If men had known how to permeate their minds with mathematics in the right way during these past years we should not now have Bolshevism in Eastern Europe.” — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
 “Up to age 9 it is a matter of stories about familiar things which appeal to the imagination and feelings....” — “Nature Study and Science,” THE CURRICULUM OF THE RUDOLF STEINER SCHOOL, p. 13.
 Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 396.
One reason cliques develop at Waldorf schools is that Steiner’s instructions were often vague or, on numerous occasions, bonkers. Teachers may come up with varying interpretations, which may lead to ideological arguments and groupings. For example, Steiner said
“The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 558.
So, should French be taught? At my Waldorf, it was. At other schools, it may not be, or the issue may become a cause of dispute within the faculty.
 MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, p. 396.
 Because of the “evil” quality of black, chalkboards at Waldorf schools are often any color except black. If I remember correctly, at my school — back in the day when most chalkboards were black — they were green.
 See "Mystic Math".
 See "Magical Arts".
 See "Prayers".
 “In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247.
 See, e.g., MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, p. 397.
Participation in singing and other forms of music-making generally begins in preschool, although it is usually not formalized until much later. The playing or recorders and other simple instruments may begin quite early. The reading of music, and playing from musical scores, generally is postponed until the upper grades of middle school or later.
 “Tenth Grade...block printing, weaving, clay, pottery, drawing....” — “Why Waldorf Works”, Feb. 3, 2009. Note that this website is deeply pro-Waldorf: It is sponsored by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. Let the reader beware. Does Waldorf work? And if so, at what price? Consider the underlying occultism — I will return to this point.
 MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, p. 396.
At the Waldorf I attended, each day's main lesson ran from 8:30 until 10 a.m. At some Waldorfs, the main lesson may be two hours long.
 “The Ascending Spiral of Knowledge" — “Why Waldorf Works,” Feb. 3, 2009.
 To examine Steiner’s version of human evolution, see "Everything".
 See "Lesson Books".
 See "Oh My Word" — the history curriculum.
 “Upper Grades 7-8 Creative writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry, and drama ... Mathematics, geography, physics, basic chemistry, astronomy, and physiology ... [K]nitting, crochet, sewing, cross-stitch, basic weaving, toy-making, and woodworking ... Foreign languages (varies by school): Spanish, French, Japanese and German.” — “Why Waldorf Works,” Feb. 3, 2009.
 MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, p. 397.
 Ibid., p. 396, and A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), p. 24.
 See "Unenlightened".
 Theoretically, a Waldorf school could set high academic standards in basic subjects (history, math, and so forth) and reserve the school’s spiritualistic intentions for other parts of the day (arts classes, story hours, etc.). This might produce a solid academic record, depending on the caliber of the students enrolled and the degree of the faculty’s commitment to Steiner’s mystical intentions. Some American Waldorfs today claim to exceed various scholastic standards and benchmarks. Considering how low standards have generally become in the USA, this claim could easily be true in at least some instances. And, of course, it may well be that some Waldorfs today place greater emphasis on academics than my alma mater did. When College Board exams loomed for me, I realized that I was ill-prepared, so I bought some study guides and crammed. I still have one of them: Robert Sobel, THE COLLIER QUICK AND EASY GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY (Collier Books, 1962), $1.50.
The fundamental problems for Waldorf schools in attempting to achieve academic respectability is that the schools' underlying belief system, Anthroposophy, is largely at odds with truth. Anthroposophy rejects most findings of modern science and modern scholarship in most academic fields. Thus, in teaching students what modern science and scholars say, Anthroposophists think they are conveying falsehoods — which they naturally resist doing.
 “Lower forms of clairvoyance, such as telepathy, telekinesis and so on...are simply the result of this premature aging....” — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 132.
Year by Year
The following statements are taken from THE EDUCATIONAL TASKS AND CONTENT OF THE STEINER WALDORF CURRICULUM, published by Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications in 2000 and reprinted in 2008; the editors are Martyn Rawson and Tobias Richter. Often called “the yellow book” because of its bright-yellow cover, the book is widely used by teachers throughout the Waldorf movement. (A slightly revised edition was published in 2014.)
As you read the following, be alert for telltale signs of occultism or mysticism peeping through. You might also note how academics are so often missing from the discussion — Waldorf teachers have various goals in mind, goals that are often divorced from ordinary (or real) education.
If you have become conversant with Anthroposophical lingo, you may have little trouble decoding these excerpts. But if not, your eyes may start to water, blur, or roll. In that case, please skip ahead — we will try to return to rational discourse further down the page, and we will explore the issue of deciphering Anthroposophic code.
◊ “The Kindergarten (3-6 years) ... Cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills are accorded equal value  ... [Activities involve] feeling, touching, exploring and imitating ... [The child] 'thinks' with the entire physical being  ... [A]dults in Kindergarten teach by imitation...the teachers carry out their daily tasks in such a way as to be worthy of imitation  ... The forces of imitation [within a child] naturally give way...around the time of the second dentition  ... Seasonal activities celebrate the cycles of the year  ... There is a rhythmic alternation between the 'child's time' (creative play, outside time) and the teacher's time [including story telling] ... Stories are told not just once, but many times  ... A well told [sic] story creates an appreciation for the human voice and the beauty and rhythms of language ... Children leave Kindergarten with a rich and varied repertoire of songs, stories and poems." — THE EDUCATIONAL TASKS AND CONTENT OF THE STEINER WALDORF CURRICULUM, pp. 32-33.
◊ “Class 1 (Age 6-7) The seventh year sees the commencement of 'formal' schooling  ... Awareness of the complexities of the mother tongue and number[s] is acquired through informal play...not didactic instruction  ... [T]he second dentition [releases] forces...to become active in developing the facility for...pictorial thinking  ... The child is still in a mood of dreamy wholeness , more able to bring broad awareness than focused concentration to learning settings ... Cultivating reverence for nature , care for the environment, respect for others, interest in the world and a feeling of confidence in their teachers  — these are the moral aims for Class 1 and the following classes." — pp. 36-37.
◊ “Class 2 (Age 7-8) The eight-year-old child continues to reside in a largely self-created psychological landscape ... The children show greater alertness in noting what happens around them at this age. The mood of wholeness differentiates into contrasts such as a deeper, more conscious feeling for the religious element  alongside a tempting awareness of the mischievous ... The pupils continue to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of numeracy and literacy, while in gross and fine motor movements — whether through skipping, catching and throwing a ball, or knitting, crocheting, or flute-playing [i.e., playing recorders] — they develop a repertoire of skills and competencies ... The adult teeth continue to push through....” — p. 37.
◊ “Class 3 (Age 8-9) ... [C]hanges, referred to as the ninth/tenth-year threshold, may begin as early as 8.5 years or as late as 9.5 years  ... The child develops a firmer, more balanced gait; speech sounds are increasingly formed in the middle of the mouth and articulated more directly and the child focuses on the ‘middle distance’. The child’s constitution is noticeably stronger  ... [T]he child experiences a duality in perceiving the world. A process begins to unfold through which the child experiences with increasing strength, a sense of objectivity, alongside growing subjectivity .... The images of the Old Testament...help the children to engage in a new relationship with their surroundings ... As the Class 3 children become more aware of themselves and the physical environment in which they live, a new interest in the practical, material world emerges. ” — pp. 37-38.
◊ “Class 4 (Age 9-10) In Classes 4 and 5...the transition from early childhood is complete, the transition toward puberty has not yet begun ... The self-activity of the child brings about a harmonizing of the relationship of the breathing to the blood circulation.  Confidence in their new state is expressed [by the children] in a quality of vigour and an eagerness to look at and learn about the world ... The aim of Class 4 is first and foremost to channel positively the powerful energy which ten year-olds [sic] bring to the classroom ... The narrative content of the lessons aims to respond by offering stories in which a multiplicity of personalities contributes to the whole (e.g. stories of the Norse Gods ) and in which darkness and evil become more concrete.  The children should begin to identify individual 'badness' in contrast to social or communal 'goodness'. ” — pp. 40-41.
◊ “Class 5 (Age 10-11) At this age the child attains a certain ease and grace of movement intrinsic to the age ... Psychologically, the ‘I’/world differentiation develops, the individual ‘will’ element begins to grow, the awareness of ‘self’ strengthens  ... Cognitively, children are more able to understand questions and phenomena in a realistic and reasoning manner. The pictorial element in thought processes remains an important element  ... Out of the growing memory powers, the sense for time has developed ... The child experiences a growth in length ... Musically, a child has the capacity to master a musical instrument ... Elementary notions of personal responsibility and a faculty for understanding 'right and wrong' in a 'reasoning' spirit may be grasped ... Towards the end of this year the teacher will begin to experience her pupils' emergent intellectual faculties  ... The harmony [of the group] is lost, to be found again at the end of the Upper School years.” — p. 41.
◊ “Class 6 (Age 11-12) ... [T]he child’s growth begins to express itself in the skeleton ... [T]he child develops a tendency for awkward, angular movements. The 12-year-old experiences the strength of gravity through the skeleton.  The physical change is accompanied by the first experience of causation in the thinking realm , while psychologically, the child enters a phase which may be characterized as the ‘changeling’ period. The 12-year-old experiences what may be described as the death of childhood and the birth-pangs of the individual  ... The aim [for the class] is to forge a new social relationship between each other [sic] and their teacher  ... [T]he children can be led to understand causal relationships in the world. The children's awareness should be directed towards the [outer, adult] world ... The pupils should be challenged and are capable of high standards in their school work ... [T]he children are ready to develop a causal understanding of the world, yet given the emotional and subjective nature of their experience, it is important that this causal aspect be clothed in imaginative and pictorial language. ” — pp. 41-45.
◊ “Class 7 (Age 12-13) ... An appetite for knowledge of, and about, world phenomena, mingles with a budding capacity for reflection and the first promptings of self-reflection  ... [T]he physical changes which establish sexual identity and capacity begin to manifest more clearly ... Sporadic bursts of energy and an appetite for expanding outer horizons vie with periods of lethargic heaviness and subdued introspection ... [T]here are important differences in the manner in which boys and girls face up to the challenges of this age  ... The pupils...should be encouraged to challenge attitudes and assumptions which formerly they accepted on authority  ... [T]he teacher will have to accommodate the increased self-knowledge of the students ... [T]he (re)discovery by Europeans, of distant continents, and the discovery by non-Europeans of the strange forces emanating from Europe, is a major topic  ... At a period when they can be shy, self conscious [sic] and awkward...eurythmy  can articulate their experience of dynamic space as well as providing an artistic medium for the expression of their soul moods ... Just as handwork in Classes 7 and 8 gains an element of the artistic, so do crafts and woodwork  ... Salad servers, candle holders, postcard stands etc. [sic] are made in woodwork.” — pp. 45-49.
◊ “Class 8 (Age 13-14) ... [T]he young person seems more robust and the tenderness of the previous two years has lessened somewhat ... [T]he world of ideas begins to take on meaning for the young adolescent and the critical faculties of the 14-year-old are noticeably sharper  ... The emergence of an independent life of feeling enters the ‘labour and delivery’ phase  ... [G]irls may spend their time and energy in discussing and sharing their feelings ... Boys tend to respond differently to the hormonal and soul changes ... [B]oth genders now stand before new and unknown vistas with sharpening minds, tender hearts and limbs that struggle to reach an accommodation with gravity  ... Class 8 turns to [study of] the human from as such  ... [Y]oungsters in Class 8 are led...into the real world [sic] ... As the pupils begin to notice the sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic temperaments they begin to see each other in a new light  ... In Class 8 a year-long project is...undertaken by each student. Subjects and methods are many and varied ... [A] project provides opportunities [for teachers] to enter into relationships [with the students] based on an area of common interest. This enables teachers to continue an on-going relationship genuinely wanted by the pupils  ... 'When you discharge a child from [Grade 8] you should have laid the foundations for him or her to be no longer tied to the [physical] body ... [I]n thinking, feeling and will he must have become independent of the body.' ” — pp. 45-49.
The book continues in much the same vein, specifying different stages and approaches for the "upper school" or high-school years, classes 9 - 12. I strongly urge parents interested in Waldorf schools to study this book with great care. The mystical and occult nature of Waldorf schooling is often concealed in the book's sections, but the concealment is often imperfect — Anthroposophy repeatedly breaks into the open.
Footnotes for this Section
 Waldorf downplays academics and brainwork; it elevates other things to equal or greater importance. This is what is meant by the Waldorf motto "head, hands, and heart." [See "Holistic Education".] Downplaying academics and brainwork necessarily means failing to provide what is usually considered a good education. This problem is less acute in preschool, of course, but the Waldorf approach means that young children are not given the preparatory instruction that such programs as Head Start provide in conventional school settings. Waldorf students may start out behind and they may remain behind.
 Steiner taught that "thinking" occur in the bones and teeth, for instance. [See "Thinking".] Here we are told that young children think with their entire physical bodies, not their brains in particular. We will see presently that a major purpose of Waldorf schooling is to separate students from their physical bodies, which means making them more wholly spiritual beings.
 Waldorf teachers are encouraged to think of themselves as ideal role models. Waldorf students are meant to model themselves on their teachers. In this and other ways, Waldorf teachers try to supplant parents as the most important adults in students' lives. [See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".]
 I.e., the appearance of the second set of teeth. This event is given extraordinary importance in Waldorf thought — it is taken as a sign that the etheric body has incarnated. [See the entry for "etheric body" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]
 Activities of this sort center on religious festivals such as Michaelmas. [See the section on festivals in “Magical Arts”.]
 Such stories, repeated "many times," provide a method for inculcating Anthroposophical concepts, beliefs, and attitudes. [See, e.g., "Fairy Tales" and "Sneaking It In".] The process may be considered a form of indoctrination. [See "Indoctrination".]
 According to Waldorf belief, the etheric body incarnates at around this age. [See "Incarnation".] Formal instruction in such subjects as math and reading is postponed until this crucial event occurs.
 I.e., formal instruction. Until then, children are expected to feel their way toward knowledge through play and through imitating their teachers. (The role of the teacher gradually changes after this stage, but students are still expected to follow the model set by their teachers, and — as we will see — Waldorf teachers make special efforts to remain closely connected with their students. Toward the end of formal schooling, the teacher's role becomes more nearly that of a guru. [Gurus are important figures in Waldorf belief. See, e.g., "Guru".])
 Steiner taught that true thinking is pictorial — it is imagination (the forming of true mental images) or, at a higher level, clairvoyance. [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]
 In Waldorf belief, children retain a dreamy awareness of the spirit realm from which they have defended. Waldorf schools try to keep kids young so that this awareness is preserved. ["Thinking Cap".]
 In seeking to promote reverence, Waldorf teachers essentially undertake the role of priests. [See "Schools as Churches".]
The Waldorf attitude toward nature is complex; reverence is on element, but distrust is another. The physical, natural world is a place of illusion, Steiner taught. [See "Neutered Nature".]
 Again, a central aim pf Waldorf schooling is to get children to trust their Anthroposophical guides — imitating, obeying, and depending upon their Waldorf teachers in virtually all matters.
 "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.
 See the entry for "crossing the Rubicon" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.
 Although Waldorf schools claim to honor the individuality of their students, they often proceed on the premise that all children of a given age are essentially alike: "The child" reaches a certain developmental level at age 8-9, or instance, then s/he reaches another stage at age 9-10, etc.
 See "Old Testament". Steiner taught that the ancient Hebrews laid the basis for a materialistic view of reality; hence, children in Grade 3 are led — though Old Testament stories — toward a new relationship with "the practical, material world." The Anthroposophical view of Jews and their religion contains at least traces of anti-Semitism.
"The Jews have a great gift for materialism, but little for recognition of the spiritual world." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 59.
 Waldorf education is often more concerned with the supposed process of incarnation (the arrival and development of various "bodies," including the physical body and its systems) than with ordinary learning, academics, or brainwork. [Concerning the Waldorf view of human nature and bodily systems, see, e.g., "What We're Made Of" and "Oh Humanity".] If the Waldorf view on these matters is wrong, then Waldorf eduction is largely misdirected.
 Steiner taught that Norse myths present an essentially true picture of human spirit evolution. [See "The Gods".] Other mythologies also have large casts of characters and tell of battles between good and evil, but Waldorf schools — following Steiner — credit Norse myths with greater truthfulness and depth.
 Although Anthroposophists often describe their belief system as almost wholly affirmative and optimistic, in fact violence and combat (warfare between forces of good and evil) are central within it. Much of this can be traced, in its particularities, to Norse myths. [See, e.g., "Violence" and "Evil".]
 The human "ego" is crucial and important, Steiner taught. [See "Ego".] But egoism — separating oneself from one's people or social unit — is often deemed wicked. This belief is related to the concept that the gods intend all children within an age group to stand at a particular archetypal level.
 Understanding oneself as a unique individual is a key objective in Anthroposophy, although the effort entails the potential sin of egoism. While the recognition of the difference between "the I" and "the world" would normally be deemed a simple insight, attained by children at an early age, Anthroposophists vest this insight with enormous occult importance. No one can know your innermost self except you yourself.
"I am an I only to myself; to every other being I am a you.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), p. 49.
 Again, in Waldorf belief, pictorial thinking is ultimately clairvoyance. [See “Clairvoyance”.] Waldorf students are urged to think pictorially or imaginatively because, Steiner taught, this may lead to development of full-blown clairvoyant powers. If clairvoyance is a delusion — if there is no such thing as clairvoyance — then the Waldorf movement has no firm basis.
 Anthroposophy and Waldorf are fundamentally anti-intellectuall. [See “Steiner’s Specific".] But Steiner taught that we need to develop intellect for use in our Earthly incarnations (the brain, and intellect, and physical science yield more or less accurate knowledge of the superficial level of Earthly existence). The benefits will carry over into future evolutionary growth, he said. But we must not rely on intellect too much, and eventually we must put intellect behind us.
 According to Waldorf belief, the child is alien to the Earth and to the physical forces of life on Earth. Only gradually does the child truly become "at home in the physical body." According to Waldorf doctrines, children become more or less comfortable in their physical bodies by age seven, but they don't really feel easy with physical forces such as gravity until many years later. Until then, they are still largely beings of the spirit realm.
"Not until [puberty] does [the child] arrive fully in the outside world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EDUCATIONAL TASKS AND CONTENT OF THE STEINER WALDORF CURRICULUM, p. 46.
 I.e., a comprehension of cause-and-effect. (Whether children really cannot grasp such things until Grade 6 is doubtful. The Waldorf curriculum is based on the twin beliefs that children develop very slowly, and that all children develop more or less at the same slow pace. If these beliefs are false, then once again the Waldorf approach is baseless.)
 Having incarnated the etheric body (around age seven) and having "crossed the Rubicon" (around age nine), the child begins to attain full selfhood. At age 14, the astral body will incarnate, and at age 21, the "ego" will incarnate. [See “Incarnation”.] If these Waldorf beliefs are false...
 Once again, Waldorf teachers work to bind their students to themselves.
 For reasons we have already touched upon, Anthroposophists hold that rational and/or intellectual thought must always be subordinate to pictorial, imaginative, or clairvoyant insight. This is especially true for children, according to Waldorf belief.
 Again, proponents of other educational approaches argue that children reach these capacities must earlier; and they usually argue that children mature at different paces. Seen from a non-Waldorf perspective, Waldorf generalizations about child development are largely false.
 Some critics would argue that Waldorf education is hobbled by an inborn sexism. [See "Gender".]
 Steiner encouraged Waldorf teachers to prepare older students for independent lives in the "real world." Whether this objective can truly be attained within the occult Waldorf system is moot, however. If students have been indoctrinated and tightly bound to their teachers, then they are unlikely to find paths through life that diverge far from the Anthroposophical path. [See "Freedom".]
 Steiner taught that Europe — and especially Central Europe, in particular Germany — stands at the peak of human development. [See the entries for "Europeans", "Central Europe", and "Germans" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]
 See "Eurythmy".
 See the entry for "crafts" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.
 According to Waldorf belief, children of this age pass into the third major developmental stage, when the astral body incarnates. [See “Incarnation”.] Children attain for the first time some capacity to think for themselves. This is signaled by puberty, according to Steiner. (Proponents of other educational systems generally argue that most children begin to think for themselves far earlier. Some educators criticize Waldorf for intentionally retarding students' intellectual development.)
 According to Anthroposophy, feelings are far more important than thoughts — they are more direct avenues to truth. [See “Thinking”.] Steiner taught that adolescents enter a phase of heightened feelings that may — when properly overseen — lead to spiritual wisdom.
 Again, children are conceived as struggling to find their footing in the physical world.
Anthroposophical generalizations about the genders are certainly questionable. [Again, see "Gender".]
 See, e.g., "Our Parts".
At the Waldorf school I attended, some physiology and/or biology courses were taught by our headmaster, who had no academic qualifications in these fields. Unfortunately, some of the "information" we received from him and from at least one other of our teachers was threaded through with racism. [See "Compassion and Its Absence" and "Light and Dark".]
 Waldorf efforts to prepare students for the "real world" may be sincere, but they are undercut by the unrealistic, esoteric worldview on which Waldorf is founded. Here, for instance, we see the students being taught to classify one another according to an ancient, false system: the classical temperaments, "sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic." Far from shining "a new light," this spurious system shrouds human character in dim shadow. Waldorf students are led away from, not into, the real world. [See "Humoresque", "Temperaments", and "The Ancients".]
 Again, Waldorf teachers make a concerted effort to establish and preserve bonds between themselves and their students. Rather than setting their students free, they seek to continue exercising their influence over the students.
 This concluding statement is by Rudolf Steiner, and it helps explain where Waldorf teachers want to lead their students. They want to lead them into the occult mysticism promulgated by Steiner. "[I]n thinking, feeling and will [the student ] must have become independent of the body." No longer "thinking" with their entire physical constitutions, Waldorf students should cease relying on any physical instrumentalities at all, including their brains. They should "think" and "perceive" pictorially, or through the incorporeal medium of clairvoyance.
Note that the first Waldorf School originally lacked an upper school or high school. Graduation from Grade 8 meant departure from the school. Thus, in this statement, Steiner was describing an ultimate purpose, the effect the Waldorf School should have for it departing graduates. (Later, when an upper school was added, the statement presumably applied to the mindset students should have when entering the mystical shades of advanced Anthroposophical learning.
"Even though at the founding of the original Waldorf school, the students left school after Class 8, Steiner's comment...is equally relevant when the students go on to the Upper School." — p. 49.)
The objective is to ascend into the "supersensible" realm where we do not need to rely on our physical senses or our physical brains. The objective is to dwell in a region that rational people understand to be mere fantasy; we should "think" and "feel" and exercise "will" without use of the organ that makes thinking possible. The result must be, then, to substitute baseless imaginings for factually founded rational comprehension.
Waldorfish art by a Waldorf grad