A Biographical Note
As a boy, I attended a Waldorf school in suburban New York. After graduation, I enrolled at a prestigious college — and I soon dropped out. I then attended a second college, briefly, before enrolling at a third where I finally gained my academic footing. I earned a BA and an MA in English literature. Subsequently, I became a college instructor, a magazine writer, and a book editor. I am now retired. My wife and I recently celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary.
During the last few years, I have spent considerable time researching and writing about Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, and Rudolf Steiner.  When I began this effort, I had only vague ideas about what I might learn. Much of what I dug up startled me, and that kept me going — and it made me decide to continue writing and posting for as long as the process seemed productive. In presenting the results of my research, I have tried to hold back nothing. Here it is, what I have learned; here it is, what Rudolf Steiner and his followers have said and done. To a great extent, I have relied on Rudolf Steiner's own words to tell the story. This has been a risky strategy, because Steiner is so hard to read — the more I quote Steiner, the more I risk losing my readers. But quoting Steiner has been essential. Rudolf Steiner invented Anthroposophy and he founded Waldorf education. He is still, today, the intellectual and spiritual leader of the Waldorf movement. So I have needed to report his words, I have needed to report what he said. Steiner’s own statements constitute the most telling indictment of the intellectual and even spiritual barrenness of Anthroposophy and, by extension, Waldorf education.
Some Anthroposophists now make ad hominem attacks against me, as if attributing real or imagined faults to me somehow refutes my arguments.  But ad hominems are, by definition, invalid. Maybe I’m a great guy, or maybe not — but either way, the contents of this website will stand or fall on their own merits. Let's put it this way: I am a flawed messenger. But I am unimportant. What matters are the truths I have told about Steiner and Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. On each page of this site, I have told the truth to the best of my ability, and I have provided extensive documentation throughout. In a continuous editorial process, I have reviewed all my work repeatedly, soliciting the opinions of others to assist me. I have corrected the errors we found, and I have amended or omitted sections that, in retrospect, seemed deficient. The results are not perfect — what human endeavors are? — but I am confident that the results of this process will reward close examination.
Please read as many of the essays on this site as you like, and draw your own conclusions. Either my essays make a powerful, logical, well-documented case, or they do not. I am happy to leave the final evaluation up to you.
— Roger Rawlings
Self-portrait, Aug. 16, 2012.
(Too cheap to visit a real photographer.)
 Periodically during the years when I have done this work, I have struggled with poor health. This has complicated things for me, but it has also been beneficial in at least one way. Forced to be sedentary, I have had plenty of time (more than I wanted, really) to read and write. As a result, I've done more research, and written more, than I initially intended. From time to time, when my health was at its worst, I had to suspend the work; but in each instance, I recuperated, and I was able to press ahead. Moreover, during each recovery, I reviewed the work I had done before, including any I had done while feeling poorly, and I made any needed corrections. I can promise you, then, that everything you find at Waldorf Watch was produced while I was at my best. Naturally, I leave it to you to judge just how good my best has been.
 In October, 2009, I was told that an Anthroposophist had written that Waldorf Watch is the number one "hate site" dealing with Waldorf schools and Anthroposophy. This surprised me, although not much. Here is a reply I posted:
The funny part is, I'm not really an enemy of Anthroposophy. The evidence seems pretty clear: Steiner’s doctrines are wacky. But, then, so are many (most? all?) other forms of occultism. I’m a skeptic, certainly. I reject Anthroposophy for myself, certainly, and I would urge great caution on anyone who feels drawn to Anthroposophy. But I’m not a sworn enemy. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who wants to be an Anthroposophist is free to do so, and I wouldn't say "boo" (or I would say it only very quietly). What I oppose is the infusion of Anthroposophy into Waldorf education, especially when this is done covertly, without informing the parents of Waldorf students.
It might be worthwhile to talk briefly about hatred. Several participants here — Dan, Diana, Pete, Peter, and Zooey spring to mind — have been on the receiving end of what certainly appears to be hatred. Anthroposophists have demonized them. These days, I am being honored by such attentions.
There’s nothing surprising in this. Those of us who attempt to tell the truth about Waldorf schools naturally incur the displeasure of people who admire the schools, especially those who have devoted their lives to the schools. There should also be no surprise if displeasure sometimes leads to stronger, more intense emotions producing harsh denunciations. Lashing out at perceived enemies is, unfortunately, a very human impulse.
My own response to furious attacks and slanders aimed at me is to ignore them. This may not be the wisest course, but then again perhaps it is. In any case, I do not consider myself to be the issue, any more than I consider myself to be important in the big scheme of things. I have told my story as a former Waldorf student because it affords an inside view of Waldorf education. But I have also frequently argued that no one should base any decisions on my personal experiences. The more significant portions of my work consist of extensive, detailed documentation — quotations from Steiner and his followers, published criticisms and defenses of Waldorf schools, and so on — and extended analyses of such materials. Those documents and analyses are far more important than my personal story, and they are the sorts of evidence people should primarily consider when deciding whether to send their children to Waldorf schools.
I’m not aware that I have written anything hateful; I know that I have not been motivated by hatred. I have reached some strong, highly critical conclusions about Steiner's doctrines, but I have done so as dispassionately as I could, after long, careful study. I hate no one. If some folks hate me (without, I might add, ever having met me), there’s not much I can do about it. Ultimately, those of us who are attacked have to place reliance on the public’s ability to distinguish truth from untruth, and ad hominem smears from rational discussion. This is a tall order; humans have convincingly demonstrated — from time out of mind — their willingness to embrace lies and fantasies. Seeing the world as we wish it to be as opposed to how it actually is, is a tendency deep in the human psyche. Still, people can be rational, and in the end we have to trust in this capacity.
Most of all, we have to trust in people’s love for their children. No parent wants to send a child to a school that is likely to harm the child. Love is the ultimate antidote, the ultimate motivator for piercing lies and finding truth.
I’d add this, too. Some demonized critics of Waldorf education may have motives other than love. But some of us may be motivated mainly by love. Love of the truth, if nothing else. Love of humanity’s highest possibilities. And love of humanity’s children, whom we must protect and nurture. After all, the children are humanity’s hope — perhaps, in a sense, they are our only hope. So it is for the children that we should work, enduring whatever we must in the process.
Since Anthroposophists claim the same devotion to the welfare of children, it ought to be possible for us all to come together, reason together, and reach some sort of mutual understanding. But that would require Anthroposophists to entertain a possibility that they almost always reject out of hand: the possibility that Steiner’s critics might be right about some things. At the least, Anthroposophists would have to stop thinking of the people sitting across the table from them as demons. That would create at least the possibility of dialogue, which surely is the prerequisite for any true progress.
Throughout my life, I have attempted to have reasonable discussions with Anthroposophists. I hope I will always have the strength to make such attempts. But, in any event, parents need to step back, weigh the evidence that has been assembled, and come to the important decision: What is best for your children?
[R.R. photo, 1996.]
Here are excerpts from messages I posted
in an online discussion in 2016;
I have revised them slightly for use here:
As I have said here before, I am not an atheist, I am an agnostic. I do not claim to know that God does not exist (or that there are no gods), but neither do I claim to know that God does exist (or that there are gods). I don't know, and as far as I can tell, no one knows. But this does not mean that I am unspiritual. I have spiritual experiences daily, and I seek them out. I go for meditative walks in the woods, enlarging my consciousness as much as I can, and finding joy and solace in the wondrous life all around me. (We have deer, here. I do not hunt, nor do I allow any hunting here. So the deer are safe here, and some of them have gotten to know and trust me. They allow me to approach them closely. One has gone for a walk with me. Two have allowed me to be present at the birth of their fawns. I deem these to have been spiritual experiences.) At night, before bed, I always go outdoors and gaze at the stars. I expand my consciousness as much as I can. And I thank the cosmos for my life. I deem this to be a spiritual experience.
P.S. Lest it cause confusion, I probably should add that I thank the cosmos silently. I thank the processes (probably, at root, physics) that caused the Earth to form, and life to evolve, and me to be born. (Wow! Me! The pinnacle of creation!)
I might also add that as far as I can tell, "spirit" and "mind" and "psyche" are all pretty much the same. My spirit, I think, is produced by the functioning of my brain, a physical organ. When I die, my brain will stop working, and my spirit will blink out of existence. (Drat. There goes the pinnacle of creation, down the drain.)
Years ago, among my friends and acquaintances, I was famously religious. I wore my faith proudly. I had been baptized and confirmed. I read the Bible daily. I was an acolyte at our church. I wore vestments, lit altar candles, brought out communion trays for the minister, and so forth. I thought seriously of going to seminary.
My gradual shift away from religion was a personal odyssey of no special importance to anyone but myself; I have never tried to convince anyone to follow my example. We all must find our own paths through life. Suffice it to say that I read voluminously (sacred texts from around the world, and works of theology from various faiths), prayed a lot, thought a lot, looked as carefully as I could into my own heart and mind, and slowly I changed.
So I am not religious now. But as an agnostic, I do not lump all religions together; I do not automatically reject all claims of faith or spirituality. I do not paint all forms of spirituality with the same brush.
Some religions, IMO, contain more verifiable truth than others. Buddhism, for instance. At least as originally formulated, Buddhism goes light on theology. Buddha declined to answer such questions as whether God exists. Buddhism, as originally formulated, is empirical. It is more nearly a form of therapy than an ordinary religion. You meditate in whatever way works for you; you do not bow to requirements that you find unhelpful.
We all need to keep open minds, I think. This is one of the virtues of agnosticism, I’d suggest: You don’t lie to yourself, you don’t think you have reached an unassailable, final conclusion. You remain open to the possibility that you will learn something tomorrow that will enable you to grow further, maybe in a new direction. You remain humble in this vast, mysterious, violent yet beautiful universe.
Here are a few additional observations,
written several years after the foregoing messages —
these additions may serve as a sort of coda.
I explain why I decline to engage in debates
about the work I have done here.
On Debates and Defenses
We all stand to beneft from rational, constructive discussions. The more we hold such discussions, the more we stand to benefit. But debates, pitting contenders against one another, are something different — they are generally pointless. Indeed, debates are often self-defeating. Humanity would be better off without them.
I'm talking about all forms of verbal fisticuffs in which disputants try to best one another. Very rarely will one side win; very, very rarely will either side admit defeat. Instead, as verbal darts fly back and forth, feelings get wounded, egos get rubbed raw, and the antagonists dig in their heels. They become more, not less, opposed to one another; they descend into their trenches and fire off bigger and bigger mortars.
I don't mean to overstate matters. A debate may be "won" in the sense that non-participants, members of the audience, may be persuaded to embrace the views of one disputant or the other. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on the validity of that disputant's statements. But bear in mind how, instead of listening with impartial reasonableness, audiences may be whipped up into paroxysms of opposition. As the disputants become more enflamed, so may their listeners. Differences of opinion may easily be aggravated, not rationally repaired. So, again, a debate may easily prove damaging to humanity's tenuous grip on sweet sanity.
None of this is to say that people should not express their views clearly and even forcibly. But the aim should not be to beat an opponent. The aim should be the exposition of truth. And the attempts to express truth should be directed to the members of the audience who genuinely seek truth — they should not be directed chiefly to one's own supporters, nor should they be framed as weapons meant to vanquish one's opponents.
At Waldorf Watch, I have attempted to state truths both clearly and forcefully. And I have employed various rhetorical strategies meant to drive points home — satire, for instance. (Most of Rudolf Steiner's teachings are absurd, and as such they deserve derision.) I have striven to discover and convey truth.
The results of my efforts — the contents of my interconnected websites — are for others to judge. Nothing is served if I now pound my chest and proclaim loudly to the world that my websites are wonderful. Indeed, rational appraisal of the matters discussed at my sites would only become less likely if I contributed to whipping up a debate about the sites and/or about their creator. Things would get still worse if I wasted time trying to clobber people who criticize me or my sites.
I am unimportant; my sites, indeed, are unimportant, at least as subjects of debate. The important questions before us are the nature of Waldorf education and the nature of the thinking that underlies Waldorf education (Anthroposophy). At my sites, I have attempted to give true answers to these questions. I leave it now to readers — especially those who truly, calmly, rationally seek truth — to reach their own conclusions about the matters examined at the sites. Anyone who reaches conclusions different from mine is perfecrtly free to publish their own essays or studies.
I have held back nothing. If you delve into Waldorf Watch, you will find everything I know about Waldorf and Anthroposophy, and you will find clear attributions to all the sources I have drawn upon. In the future, I may add more to the sites if I learn still more, and I will surely continue the process of editing/improving the sites. But everything will remain in the open, freely available to everyone — including, first and foremost, you, gentle reader.
Jan. 20, 2022