Frequently Asked Questions

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Question: Are members of PLANS simply disgruntled parents who have an axe to grind with Waldorf? Waldorf was not what they expected so they want to get back at the Waldorf movement?

Answer: No. Many members and supporters of PLANS are, in fact, parents (some had their children in Waldorf schools for many years) who cannot simply walk away from their Waldorf experience. Out of a need to understand what happened they begin to research the Waldorf movement and its founder - Rudolf Steiner. Many parents feel the need to help others understand what Waldorf is really all about. Some probably do feel bitter but more importantly - they want to help others avoid their experience.

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Question: If Waldorf Education is steeped in occultism why do so many parents send their children there? Are all these parents occultists?

Answer: Waldorf's public presentations are very deceptive. A little research leaves no doubt that Waldorf schools are wholly the creation of Anthroposophy - a occultist religious sect. On the surface Waldorf appears to be a very gentle, arts based pedagogy. When parents look at Waldorf on the Internet or individual school promotional material there is virtually no mention of occultism or the mission of Waldorf movement. There is no mention of soul work or reincarnation even though these concepts are at the root of Waldorf Education, and are present in the classrooms and at faculty meetings.

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Question: Why don't parents simply pull their children out of Waldorf schools when/if they learn of the occultism?

Answer: Many parents do pull their children from Waldorf schools. PLANS would like to see data from Waldorf Schools for a statistical comparison with other independent schools' enrollment/retention records.

Waldorf education differs from other schools in many ways. It is difficult to simply pull a child and enroll him/her elsewhere. For example, Waldorf discourages reading until the second grade; a child arriving in a public school for grade two after a year at Waldorf would find it very difficult, academically, to catch up. Many ex-Waldorf students require private tutors. Waldorf Education involves learning-by-copying in the elementary years - virtually every lesson is copied from the teacher. Changing to another school can be difficult for young children.

Many parents decide not to get involved in the religious nature of the school (Anthroposophy study groups, various workshops, etc.) They leave their children in Waldorf - hoping it will all work out. Waldorf schools do not have a reputation for answering questions or being forthright with information about the connection between themselves and Anthroposophy. Eventually, when the religious/occult nature of the school is seen, many parents feel their options are limited. Some parents simply put up with it and others get more involved in Anthroposophy, changing their lifestyle and losing touch with old friends. They call their schools Waldorf communities. Some parents become engulfed by their school, spending many hours volunteering, attending meetings. Some parents end up donating most of their spare time (and money) for their school. Many parents who leave Waldorf schools find it difficult to adjust and refer to their time there as time spent in a cult. It is not at all unusual for parents and children to seek professional help after leaving a Waldorf Community.

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Question: Many children attend Waldorf for many years and turn out fine - how do you account for so many success stories?

Answer: Waldorf schools love to parade their celebrity parents, like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and their famous graduates, like Kenneth Chenault, the president of American Express. But David Gilmour now calls his Waldorf experience "horrific," and at PLANS, we hear about all the kids who still can't read in fourth grade and unemployable graduates of Waldorf high schools. Obviously, some outcomes of either extreme will result from any kind of school. A good assessment of an education system can only come from statistics on large numbers of students. Except for a 1981 German study that Waldorf has suppressed, no one has ever compiled statistics on Waldorf students. Nobody knows whether Waldorf is a good education or not.

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Question: Aren't parents to blame for sending their children to a school without first doing the research?

Answer: Parents want what's best for their children. Waldorf presents a beautiful environment, a curriculum that appears to be completely integrated with artistic activities, and teachers who dedicate their lives to the school. If parents ask about Anthroposophy, the religious sect behind the school, they are told that the teachers study it, but it has no place in the classroom. Unfortunately, this is all a false front. Since the beginning, Waldorf schools have kept parents in the dark about the real intention of Waldorf education, which is to guide the reincarnation of the children's souls.

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Question: Does PLANS suggest that ALL Waldorf teachers are occultists and liars with regards to what they are doing with our children?

Answer: Not at all. Many Waldorf teachers are wonderful people, excellent teachers and joined Waldorf for the same reasons most parents do. Unfortunately, many teachers leave for the same reason the parents leave. Some teachers stay and try not to get involved in the soul work of the school. Some attempt to change the way things happen at their school. Unfortunately, the connection with karma and incarnating souls is so entwined in the life of the school that teachers find it difficult - if not impossible - to avoid. Waldorf schools, even most public Waldorf schools, are controlled by Anthroposophists, and their religious ideals are part and parcel of the school.

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Question: Waldorf schools have been around for a long time. Why has none of your research surfaced until now?

Answer: Anthroposophy is a sect of occultism, based on esoteric knowledge revealed only to "initiates." It is a closed system. They publish their own books, buy school supplies from their own companies, grow their own food, and treat their own illnesses. Before PLANS, there was no critique of Waldorf except for some religious publications.

Waldorf teachers often refer to Steiner's work as "difficult." This may dissuade many parents from researching his theories. Additionally, Waldorf promoters call Steiner a "philosopher," or "scientist." But outside of school, Anthroposophists call Steiner an "occultist," which is what he called himself. Clearly, calling Steiner an occultist would raise the eyebrows of many potential Waldorf customers. In the USA, a country founded on freedom of religion, people aren't used to groups that hide what they do.

PLANS researchers are committed to Waldorf's full disclosure. We are trying to make research easier for potential Waldorf parents. PLANS is a nonsectarian group consisting of people with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. We are attempting to provide the information to insure the parents who do choose Waldorf will be a good fit.

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Question: Is Waldorf a Cult?

Whether you think Waldorf is a cult depends on your definition of "cult," but Waldorf teachers often behave in a cult-like way. Many Waldorf families' lives become so enmeshed with the school community that they stop socializing with non-Waldorf friends. It is not uncommon for Waldorf parents to cut off their childrens' friendships with other children who are not part of the Waldorf community. Families' lives can change drastically, as they try to conform to the total Waldorf lifestyle, often with no understanding of the reasons they are being pressured to eat, dress, and behave in prescribed ways. Many get deeply involved in fundraising. Parents are often expected to give more and more of their money to support the school community.

Waldorf can become a way of life, and an isolating one. In more dogmatically Anthroposophic schools, families may be discouraged from allowing their children to participate in activities outside of school such as clubs, dance classes, or sports. There is an Anthroposophically correct answer for every question a struggling parent may have: how to feed, dress, and discipline their children; when to put them to bed; what color to paint their bedroom; which toys are "appropriate" and which are "damaging." Simple pleasures like kicking a ball may be discouraged. Waldorf teachers try (usually unsuccessfully) to enforce a total ban on electronic media in any form for younger children, especially TV and computers, which Anthroposophists say embody a materialistic spirit named "Ahriman." The ban extends to recorded music and radio, which can make it difficult to even interact with one's extended family or neighbors. Even taking pictures of your children may be discouraged.

This ban on electronic media also not only means there are no computers in Waldorf elementary classrooms, but also means your child will never see a filmstrip at school or learn from slides, tapes, videos, or CDs. It's likely that he teacher won't even use an overhead projector. Some Waldorf teachers even consider the use of maps inappropriate.

While some parents welcome the "total lifestyle" of Waldorf, and are excited to find a new spiritual path for themselves as well as their children, to others it feels intrusive into family life. Some parents completely change the way they parent their children, which can leave children very confused. Parents are often encouraged to take their children to Anthroposophical doctors and eurythmists for remedial help, while they are urged to avoid help from "outsiders" such as tutors, counselors, or reading specialists.

Many Waldorf children are not immunized, and those parents who support immunization may be harshly judged. Steiner believed that certain diseases help children work out problem areas left over from their past lives. Children may be placed in danger by vulnerable parents seeking to be good Waldorf parents, who may not seek necessary medical help in the case of a high fever or serious illness.

Waldorf is not just an "alternative" education; it is a front for Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy has many of the characteristics of a cult, and the schools are the missionary arm of Anthroposophy. In enrolling your child in Waldorf, you may not be joining a cult per se, as most of the parent body is not part of the cult and many parents know little about Anthroposophy. Many very dedicated parents are unwittingly donating their money, and often their hard work, to the cult. The teacher training centers may be more properly described as religious seminaries. Although not all Waldorf teachers become Anthroposophists, dogmatic adherence to Anthroposophy is a prerequisite for a teacher to advance in his or her career. The more dogmatic Waldorf teachers take every word Steiner spoke as gospel.

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Question: It it true that Waldorf schools have a problem with left-handedness?

Answer: Yes. It has to do with a child's previous life. Teachers must be made aware of this and "correct" it. Steiner instructed the following:

May 25, 1923

A teacher: Should the children be broken of left-handedness?

Dr. Steiner: In general, yes. At the younger ages, approximately before the age of nine, you can accustom left-handed children to right-handedness at school. You should not do that only if it would have a damaging effect, which is very seldom the case. Children are not a sum of things, but exponentially complicated. If you attempt to create symmetry between the right and left with the children, and you exercise both hands in balance, that can lead to weak mindedness later in life.

The phenomenon of left-handedness is clearly karmic, and, in connection with karma, it is one of karmic weakness. Allow me to give an example: A person who was overworked in their previous life, so that they did too much, not only physically or intellectually, but, in general, spiritually, within their soul or feeling, will enter the succeeding life with an intense weakness. That person will be incapable of overcoming the karmic weakness located in the lower human being. (The part of the human being that results from the life between death and a new birth is particularly concentrated in the lower human being, whereas the part that comes from the previous Earthly life is concentrated more in the head.) Thus, what would otherwise be strongly developed becomes weak, and the left leg and left hand are particularly relied upon as a crutch. The preference for the left hand results in a situation where, instead of the left, the right side of the brain is used in speech.

If you give into that too much, then that weakness may perhaps remain for a later, that is, a third Earthly life. If you do not give in, then the weakness is brought into balance.

If you make a child do everything equally well with the right and left hand, writing, drawing, work and so forth, then the inner human being will be neutralized. Then the I and the astral body are so far removed that the person becomes quite lethargic later in life. Without any intervention, the etheric body is stronger toward the left than the right, and the astral body is more developed toward the right than the left. That is something you may not ignore; you should pay attention to that. However, we may not attempt a simple mechanical balance. The most naive thing you can do is to have as a goal that the children should work with both hands equally well. A desire for a balanced development of both hands arises from today's complete misunderstanding of the nature of the human being.

The Renewal of Education (GA 301). Translated by Robert F. Lathe and Nancy Parsons Whittaker

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