The Big Lie from PLANS

Yes, the web-site of PLANS includes a lot of lies. This quote is a particularly glaring example. The untruth of this particular example has been pointed out over and over and over again. It has been pointed out on the Waldorf Critics discussion list. It has been pointed out on Anthroposophy Tomorrow. Daniel Hindes provided a detailed analysis of the first half of this article, coming up with 66 pages worth of paragraph by paragraph analysis of the problems with the article. But the article is still up on PLANS site. [Link to Daniel’s article can be found starting from his page of Refutations:
This example of something that Steiner supposedly “said” has been up on the PLANS web-site for years. It is the first paragraph of an article by Peter Staudenmaier entitled: Anthroposophy and Ecofascism.

In June, 1910, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, began a speaking tour of Norway with a lecture to a large and attentive audience in Oslo. The lecture series was titled “The Mission of National Souls in Relation to Nordic-Germanic Mythology.” In the Oslo lectures Steiner presented his theory of “national souls” (Volksseelen in German, Steiner’s native tongue) and paid particular attention to the mysterious wonders of the “Nordic spirit.” The “national souls” of Northern and Central Europe belonged, Steiner explained, to the “germanic-nordic” peoples, the world’s most spiritually advanced ethnic group, which was in turn the vanguard of the highest of five historical “root races.” This superior fifth root race, Steiner told his Oslo audience, was naturally the “Aryan” race. [1]

I would like to challenge the Waldorf Critics to verify this quote by providing:
1)The full quote.
2)The date and title of the lecture in question.
3)The GA number of the volume wherein it was published.
I will personally donate $50 to PLANS for their court case if anyone can verify this quote. Since I am a very poorly paid public librarian, $50 represents a lot of money. I am putting up this offer to show that I am quite serious about the claim that PLANS and the WC publish lies.
A few ground rules – the lecture proffered must have been given in Norway. The quote needs to be translated into English, but it would be best if it could also be provided in German. If the quote provided includes ellipses, the amount of skipped text must be identified in brackets. I have ten days after a quote is offered to research the quote and confirm that it is indeed an accurate reflection of Steiner’s spoken words. The sample quotes need to be offered as comments on this blog. Any irrelevant quotes (attempts to prove that Steiner was indeed a racist by quoting other stuff, not connected with the example above) will result in $5 being subtracted from the proposed donation each time such a quote is put forward. And, to be even meaner, I will only publish the citation for such quotes, not the quote themselves.
I’m waiting…I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a very, very long time.

Returning to Pt 1, “Lies on waldorf critics website”

Suffering the “Summer Lazies”, I didn’t get much further than Paragraph One in Dan Dugan’s challenge to “expose any lies” on the PLANS website. I do still intend to return to it.
However, there is some unfinished business remaining on the analysis of the lies on Paragraph One. Dan has formed a response of sorts to the issues, and I would like to take this opportunity to explore that response. I’m happy to report he wasn’t in wholesale disagreement with me on each of the issues I raised. He agreed with at least one of them, my assertion that the waldorf critics are but a “motley handful” of people. Well! That’s a good start!
But we’ve still a long way to go. My original argument can be found here . Unfortunately, Dan’s response won’t be there. Dan’s response was not written to me directly, but instead to a third individual who had read my remarks and commented upon them, adding to them some of his own thoughts as well.
The PLANS website claims itself to be a “worldwide network” of former Waldorf parents, teachers, administrators, etc.
In my piece, I pointed out that despite concerted efforts on my part, I couldn’t find but a single individual who would admit to being a member of this “worldwide network” besides board members, and quipped that six of the seven board of directors live “close enough they could lunch together”. Dan pointedly disagreed, and insisted but just five were living close by.
I hate being wrong. Am I? No, I don’t think so. Count them again, Dan. Not too hard, since only ONE of the board of directors lives outside an only mildly extravagant “Let’s Do Lunch” geographical perimeter. Though I didn’t count them in my original tally, all from PLANS “Supporting Advisory” board could easily join them as well, all except one-“The Amazing Randi”-who calls Florida his home.
So Dan?!?! Come on………..! Ten of the twelve live within just hours of you. Why won’t you concede my point on this?
Moving to the next contention. I claimed that PLANS has a lawyer who “has been funded by a religious organization which was deceived into believing that Waldorf schools engage in witchcraft”. Dan takes issue, saying his lawyer “would be very pleased to be funded”, and attempts to discredit my comment by suggesting that there were just “two small grants” from Pacific Justice Institute (which IS a religious organization btw).
Dan, since these “two small grants” represent the lion’s share of the moneys paid thus far (as publicly disclosed, anyway), attempts to minimize it seem a little silly. In 1999, PLANS reports the first of the grants as an “earmarked” asset in their disclosure of financial resources to the IRS. The amount indicated in the first funding was $15000 (cost reimbursable grant), and a copy of the grant application was included. Media later reported that $18000 in grant money had been provided.
Dan also tries to downplay the role the witchcraft allegations played in this application, and once again offers his public the disingenuous denial, “I don’t know where this impression came from”. I say “disingenuous”, because this isn’t some new, outta the blue, issue. This is a very, very old story, reaching all the way back to PLANS very earliest days as leaflet passing, media-microphone blabbing, poster waving rabble-rousers, and he fully well knows the issue is still ‘out there’ because it continues to be raised in the media.
As evident in this initial grant application, PJI was explicitly told that the involved students were “required to fold their arms and chant, say a pledge to the sun flag, and other Wicca-based religious practices.” PLANS had organized demonstrations at the Waldorf methods school in one of the districts being sued, and subsequent to these demonstrations, the media widely reported the witchcraft allegations. One local paper reported, “By 1997, administrators had to fend off claims that the school was teaching witchcraft. Dan Dugan, a Bay Area activist with a goal to rid public schools of all such Waldorf teachings, led the protest then and now.”
Dan attempts to deflect from PLANS any measure of responsibility for the witchcraft allegations with a personal abstention: he didn’t make the allegations, and he doesn’t believe them himself. However, there is no question that in the grant application for the lawsuit, and in PR both then and ever since, Dan has benefitted PLANS by playing this both ways. He will assert PLANS represents those individuals who believed it, including those who made the allegations to TV and print reporters. This fact too was a representation made on behalf of PLANS in the grant application. Both he and others on the PLANS board stood right alongside those making the allegations, and in some measure, coordinated with them in the organized demonstrations. PLANS milked this nonsense charge for every drop it afforded, as the PLANS president, Debra Snell acknowledged at least once on the WC list. The “witchcraft” accusations brought PLANS much-sought media attention. They bought PLANS at least $15000 to apply toward legal expenses. And for the upcoming trial itself, PLANS added one of the most prominent individuals to have made the witchcraft allegations to their own WITNESS LIST!!
But gee, Dan…………..”I don’t know where this impression came from”??????????????? Cut it out, already, before your nose grows so long it attracts woodpeckers.
I haven’t finished all the remaining ‘unfinished business’ from Paragraph One. The rest will have to wait. But before I sign off on this installment, I thought I’d comment that the WC list continues to roast an unidentified “Board Chair” of a private Waldorf school someplace for her failure to be currently and accurately informed on the status of the PLANS lawsuit. After all, list members argue, it’s “her job” to be informed of issues which pertain to the Waldorf movement.
Ironically, it’s clear PLANS founding board member Dan Dugan is demonstrating a few key knowledge “gaps” of his own regarding his own organization.

Waldorf Critics display ignorance

A great delight of my life as an undergraduate was studying Ancient Greek for 3 years. Reading Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato and Euripides in Greek (very badly, I admit) was a thrill. In addition, my fellow students were a diverse and fascinating bunch.
But I digress.

Are Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf Schools `Non-Sectarian’?
Dan Dugan and Judy Daar

was published in Free Inquiry in 1994. I’m not going to take the time to analyze the entire article (already taken care of), but there is one goody I wanted to point out. At the very end of the article it says:

“The four temperaments” refers to Steiner’s revival of medieval psychology. Waldorf teachers classify personalities as sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, or choleric, and treat children differently according to their types.

Now it is true that scholars in the Middle Ages still used these terms, although during that period they had little to do with psychology: these concepts were actually central to medieval medical practice.
My amusement arises from two sources. First, the fact that Dan and Judy are unaware of the true source of the temperaments in Ancient Greece. The ideas were derived from Aristotle’s work with the elements and transformed into medical practice by Galen (2nd century A.D.) Everyone calls them “medieval” so at least their ignorance is common currency.
The second source of amusement is the following quote:

A psychology colleague at Oxford remarked recently that, as a classification of personality types, the four humours are as good as any that has ever been offered.

From Greek Fire: The Influence of Ancient Greece on the Modern World by Oliver Taplin. Macmillan, 1989.
I’d much rather study the work of someone like Rudolf Steiner, who had the good sense to recognize a useful set of concepts, develop them further and put them into practice; than hang out with the Waldorf Critics who, in spite of all the ranting about ad homs, just toss out the word “medieval” and feel no need to think further.
Ignorance and closed minds.

What is an “anthroposophical education”?

I came across a potentially confusing phrase today, "anthroposophical education". It is potentially confusing because it could be understood two ways. It could mean: a school that will teach children anthroposophy. Or it could mean: a curriculum that is consistent with the principles of anthroposophy, even as it does not teach anthroposophy.

Rudolf Steiner explicitly and repeatedly stated that the Waldorf Schools SHOULD NOT teach anthroposophy to the students. He said at one point that a healthy child would have a natural repulsion to anthroposophy if they encountered it. This is something that those familiar with anthroposophy take seriously; it is not for children. You will have a very hard time finding a school that teaches anthroposophy to children; no Waldorf school should be doing it.

What is found at most Waldorf Schools is an "anthroposophical education" in the sense of an education that anthroposophists find appropriate for children. An "anthroposophically appropriate" curriculum is one that takes the anthroposophical knowledge of the human being, such as the stages of childhood development, and uses this knowledge to shape a curriculum that addresses the child where she is at, in each phase of development. That is, you use the understanding gained by a study of anthroposophy to create something new, a whole curriculum, or a daily lesson plan.

Using one thing to create another is a distinction lost on many at the Waldorf Critics list. When Joseph Beuys used Rudolf Steiner‘s anthroposophy as inspiration to create his artwork, the results are not "anthroposophy" just because the inspiration behind their creation was anthroposophy (FWIW I am aware of the debate in art history circles about how much or little Rudolf Steiner actually influenced Joseph Beuys). Likewise, when a Waldorf teacher uses anthroposophy as a guide to creating a lesson plan, the resulting lesson plan is not "anthroposophy". It is the same principle as creating a lesson plan using Backwards Design Principles. The resulting lesson plan is a lesson plan consistent with the principles of Backwards Design. It is not "Backwards Design" itself. This principle of using something (anthroposophy) as an inspiration to create something else (a pedagogy) seems very simple to me, yet it has confused the best minds at the Waldorf Critics list.

No Progress to Report

I’m delighted to report that PLANS has made no progress at all in correcting the lies on their web-site.
The piece about children having to all embroider the same design has not been modified (as suggested by Dan Dugan) with the word “usually.” The unsubstantiated claims that children “meditate” in school have neither been substantiated nor removed.
My highlighting of the outrageous cutting of Eugene Schwartz’ talk has been ignored. There it still sits, missing over 700 words, kindly represented by 4 sets of dots. Still no link to his complete talk. Still no apology for the blatant misrepresentation of his meaning. No withdrawal of the rumor mongering about the end of Mr. Schwartz’ employment at Sunbridge.
Now, the WC has provided a good explanation of why they don’t have to correct any of the lies we have been pointing out. It is because we aren’t pointing them out on the WC list. Right. Sure. Okay. Who could possibly argue with logic like that?

Waldorf Critics and why Eurythmy is not “Anthroposophy”

Over in the commnts of my posting on the Influence of Books, Peter "Pete" K. has taken me to task for misunderstanding Rudolf Steiner‘s indications about how Eurythmy=Anthroposophy, and accused me of using "Waldorf Speak" to obfuscate the fact, parrotting a "party line" because I disagree with him. He is mistaken, as I labor to demonstrate in my response, which I copy below. Peter wrote:

Daniel, I’m quite aware of the party line on Eurythmy. That you say it is not Anthroposophy is, well, bizarre. But, I have no desire to come here to your site and teach you about what Eurythmy is. Here is what Steiner said about it – and I would recommend you read the entire lecture before suggesting Eurythmy is nothing more than an art form. Some of us who are accustomed to Waldorf-speak have better things to do than to be instructed by you on what you apparently know very little about, or if you do, are unwilling to discuss honestly. Here – talk to Steiner:

“I speak in all humility when I say that within the Anthroposophical Movement there is a firm conviction that a spiritual impulse of this kind must now, at the present time, enter once more into human evolution. And this spiritual impulse must perforce, among its other means of expression, embody itself in a new form of art. It will increasingly be realised that this particular form of art has been given to the world in Eurythmy.

It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception.”

From Rudolf Steiner’s “Lecture on Eurythmy” August 26, 1923
And please, take the time to read the entire lecture.


It is not my intention to parrot any sort of "party line". First, no one has ever suggested that I do so, much less told me what such a line should be, and second, I’m not the type of person for parties or conformity. You appear frustrated that you find so few people who agree with you, but I would suggest that this is because the facts are against you, and not because of some sort of Waldorf conspiracy.

I have read the entire lecture in question (and several others). More importantly, I have about 15 years experience practicing Eurythmy (I can also sing fairly well, play three instruments, draw, paint, and knit, thanks to a Waldorf education). So when I talk about what Eurythmy is or isn’t, I can talk as one who has done the movements and exercises (just as I have practiced scales on my cello, and done life-drawing exercises in graphic arts). I have experienced about 10 different Eurythmy teachers on three different continents, observed their different approaches to teaching Eurythmy, and observed several professional performances. I have also studied a lot of anthroposophy. None of my Eurythmy classes ever talked about anthroposophical subjects; they described the movements and what they were looking for as far as forms. And they really tried to get us to have a feeling for what we were doing, so that the movements would come from the heart, and not be mechanical. A parallel is perhaps applicable in music. Beethoven’s piano sonatas are renown for being fairly simple to play. Yet they are one among the more difficult pieces to perform, because you really have to feel them properly in order to have them sound satisfying. Done improperly, they sound plodding and mechanical. It takes a real artist to bring them to life. Eurythmy is the same, and I say this from experience.

I’ve had a lot of real Eurythmy teachers (it is a four-year training, seven for Curative Eurythmy), I don’t need you to "teach" me what Eurythmy is, because, frankly, you are not qualified.

Rudolf Steiner said a lot about Eurythmy, five volumes worth, in all, including the lecture I quoted. You have taken two further paragraphs from it, and apparently misunderstood them, because you have drawn a conclusion from them that is not supported by what is there. Rudolf Steiner said:

I speak in all humility when I say that within the Anthroposophical Movement there is a firm conviction that a spiritual impulse of this kind must now, at the present time, enter once more into human evolution. And this spiritual impulse must perforce, among its other means of expression, embody itself in a new form of art. It will increasingly be realised that this particular form of art has been given to the world in Eurythmy.

It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception.

According to Rudolf Steiner, all of the arts originated in spiritual impulses, Eurythmy like the rest of them. Steiner is explicitly NOT saying that Eurythmy is Anthroposophy. He is saying that Eurythmy, like literally everything else in the world, originates from a spiritual impulse. Steiner was an Idealistic philosopher (in the technical sense); he believed that everything in the material world had its origin in the spiritual world. Now this spiritual world is not "Anthroposophy". The term "Anthroposophy" is not synonymous with "spiritual world". Anthroposophy is a method of investigating what exists, it is not the thing investigated. (For some, Anthroposophy is the results of such investigations in the form of hypotheses, or "Steiner says" quotes, but these are really just shadows of the real thing.) Now, according to Rudolf Steiner as cited above, the art of Eurythmy has its origin in a spiritual impulse, one that is closely related to the Anthroposophy. But this does not change the fact that the result of this impulse is an Art, an Art just like the other arts. Now that it exists, it is possible to study Eurythmy and perform it entirely without reference to its origins, as is done in Waldorf schools.

You are quite combative with your opinions, but that does not change the fact that they are hasty and ill-informed. You presume to "teach" me about Eurythmy, but you can’t take the time to read and understand two paragraphs. So I’m sorry if everyone who has actual experience with the subjects we are talking about contradicts your opinions. If several people disagree with you, it may simply be because you are wrong, and not some "party line" designed to fool you. If I could recommend anything, it would be to slow down and study a subject before becoming an instant expert in so-called "Waldorf Speak". Get your basic facts correct, please.

Is Eurythmy Anthroposophy?

As an example of anthroposophy in a Waldorf classroom, someone recently brought up Eurythmy. Eurythmy is taught in Waldorf schools to the students. Is not Eurythmy a perfect example of anthroposophy in the classroom? I can see how, if you knew nothing about Eurythmy, this idea might seem to have some validity. But a proper understanding of what constitutes Eurythmy will show that this is not so.

Eurythmy is an art, like modern dance or sculpture. In a slightly modified form, it can also be applied therapeutically, similar to the way the painting can be applied as a form of therapy, known as Art Therapy. Eurythmy is not anthroposophy. It is possible to practice Eurythmy while knowing nothing whatsoever of anthroposophy, either as an adult or as a child. Anthroposophy is a path of knowing, a way of looking at the world, or a body of teaching. Anthroposophy is a conscious path, through the exercise of thinking. It involves a working with concepts, and applying rational logic. Eurythmy, on the other hand, is artistic expression, in the form of movement. It presupposes no knowledge, no doctrine, no theory. You simply have to do it. Is it good for you? Of course, and so is painting, and so is sculpture, and so is choral singing. This does not make any of the above into anthroposophy. Only by defining anthroposophy as "that which anthropsophists do" is it possible to consider Eurythmy as "anthroposophy".

While it is true that Eurythmy is primarily found around anthroposophical initiatives, such as Waldorf schools, this fact alone does not change the nature of the art form. I know at least three people who work as consultants teaching Eurythmy to business groups as a form of team building. When you create a Eurythmy form in movement with other people, it is absolutely necessary to know where each other person is in their path through the form, in order for you to create your movements in proper harmony with the whole. Interestingly, this awareness of what other people are doing is something that businesses also find valuable. And I also heard a number of comments by coaches about how well Waldorf basketball teams perform, attributed to their training during Eurythmy in keeping track of the movements of other people in a group. So yes, practicing Eurythmy confers benefits. But this does not make Eurythmy "anthroposophy". A quote from Rudolf Steiner may be elucidating:

Rudolf Steiner:
… But some little time after the founding of the Waldorf School, it was discovered that Eurythmy can serve as a very important means of education; and we are now in a position to recognise the full significance of Eurythmy from the educational point of view. In the Waldorf School, [The original Waldorf School in Stuttgart of which Steiner was educational director] Eurythmy has been made a compulsory subject both for boys and girls, right through the school, from the lowest to the highest class; and it has become apparent that what is thus brought to the children as visible speech and music is accepted and absorbed by them in just as natural a way as they absorb spoken language or song in their very early years. The child feels his way quite naturally into the movements of Eurythmy. … The Waldorf School has already been in existence for some years, and the experience lying behind us justified us in saying that in this school unusual attention is paid to the cultivation of initiative, of will — qualities sorely needed by humanity in the present day. This initiative of the will is developed quite remarkably through Eurythmy, when, as in the Waldorf School, it is used as a means of education. One thing, however, must be made perfectly clear, and that is, that the greatest possible misunderstanding would arise, if for one moment it were to be imagined that Eurythmy could be taught in the schools and looked upon as a valuable asset in education, if, at the same time, as an art it were to be neglected and underestimated. Eurythmy must in the first place be looked upon as an art, and in this it differs in no respect from the other arts. And in the same way that the other arts are taught in the schools, but have an independent artistic existence of their own in the world, so Eurythmy also can only be taught in the schools when it is fully recognised as an art and given its proper place within our modern civilisation.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923 (GA 279)

So the supposition that, "only anthropsophists do it, so it therefore must be anthroposophy" is both factually incorrect and logically in error. Quite a few non-anthroposophists practice Eurythmy. And practicing Eurythmy is not anthroposophy, it is simply art.

The influence of books

On the Waldorf Critics list it has been suggested that you can tell how much Anthroposophy is taught to the students in a Waldorf School by the types of books in the school library. Beyond the basic illogic of the entire premise, I have to ask the question, which library? At the school where I teach, we have a student library, and a Faculty Library. All the anthroposophical books are locked in the Faculty Library, and students are not allowed access to them. It is probable that not all Waldorf Schools have dual libraries; however, using the above test, the students at my Waldorf School must be entirely free of anthroposophical influence simply due to the library arrangements.

I don’t recall any anthroposophical books at the Waldorf Schools that I attended, either. The whole subject was entirely uninteresting to me until I was past school-age; probably a healthy situation. In any case, the mere presence of books is not going to have much effect. To demonstrate influence, you would have to show that students were actually reading such books. I have a hard time picturing a 5th grader getting more than one page into a Steiner book. Heck, most Waldorf Critics can’t get that far, much less read an entire book! But they would have us think that school-aged children are reading Rudolf Steiner?

More on Dan’s evidence for soggy meditations (wet-on-wet)

Or is it soggy evidence? I’m beginning to think that Dan’s reasoning is all wet.
Last night I chatted with my sister, who spent, if I remember correctly, four years in a waldorf school. I asked her if she thought that wet-on-wet painting was a form of meditation exercise. She was just as incredulous as my brother. What makes this response amusing is my sister’s religious orientation: she is an extremely devout and devoted born-again Christian. She doesn’t approve of anthroposophy, although she tolerates me and I tolerate her (this is an achievement for both of us). But she is quite positive about waldorf education, is pleased that her great niece and nephew will be attending a waldorf school and has good memories of her years at the waldorf school.
So, do waldorf schools produce anthroposophists? This is one of the assertions that has been made on the WC.
In my family:
I attended waldorf two years as a teenager – several years later I started studying anthroposophy – mostly through the influence of my aunt who was a long-time anthroposophist
my sister was at a waldorf school for about 4 years (5th – 8th?) and became a born again Christian
my brother was at a waldorf school for about 6 years (3rd – 8th?) and is, as far as I can tell, cheerfully agnostic
my daughter was at two waldorf schools for a total of 13 years (nursery through 7th, 10th-12th) and eventually decided to study anthroposophy. She was at least 28 or older when she decided to take it seriously. Considering that she had a great-aunt who was a totally dedicated anthroposophist, a mother who was and still is very involved in anthroposophy it doesn’t seem likely that her “exposure” at school was a deciding factor. On the other hand, the fact that she liked her education is definitely the deciding factor in her choice of school for her children.
I’ll have to ask my daughter about her recent high school reunion. How many of her former classmates are involved with anthroposophy, I wonder?

The RULES according to the WC and PLANS

THE BASIC RULE: Only negative stuff counts when it comes to waldorf
In practice this means:
Positive newspaper stories are automatically the result of
deception, etc., but a negative newspaper story is the result of a
penetrating and thoughtful investigation.
Positive waldorf anecdotes are always isolated stories, but negative
waldorf anecdotes can be combined into a convincing narrative of
horrors that prove how awful waldorf is.
And so on…
ADDITIONAL RULE: Critics are capable of objectivity about waldorf
due to the strong emotions arising from the terrible experiences
suffered by their children, but waldorf supporters are totally
subjective due to the strong emotions arising from the wonderful
experiences of their children.
Please add additional rules that occur to you…I’m sure I haven’t covered all the possible variations!