English Summary of Peter Bierl’s “Pädagogik der runden Ecken”

By Peter Staudenmaier, waldorf-critics list, September 12, 2007

It’s a very good summary of the various criticisms of Waldorf that are part
of current public discussion in Germany. Much of it is similar to themes
discussed on this list; Bierl addresses Waldorf’s rejection, on
anthroposophical grounds, of comics, legos, soccer, sex education,
lefthandedness, and so forth. He reviews the racist and ethnocentric content
of books officially recommended for Waldorf teachers, the fixation on
mystically derived 7 year periods rather than cognitive development as the
structure of Waldorf pedagogy, the rejection of critical thinking, the
categorization of pupils according to the four humors scheme, the notion of
Waldorf education as a karmic mission, and so forth. He also notes the
extraordinarily small percentage of ‘foreign’ students at German Waldorf
schools, which means that Waldorf schools are overwhelmingly white, in
contrast to public schools in Germany. The article reminds me that many of
the typical reactions of Waldorf defenders from North America (and England
and New Zealand and Australia etc) — golly, I’ve never seen anything like
*that* at *my* Waldorf school! — are based in part on ignorance of the
basic features of Waldorf education in its place of origin.

Bierl’s article is occasioned by the recent spate of publicity, including
lots of critical coverage, that anthroposophy and Waldorf have received in
Germany, through a combination of circumstances: the move to censor several
of Steiner’s books; the appearance of Helmut Zander’s history of
anthroposophy; and the plans by neo-Nazi leader Andreas Molau to found a
Waldorf school. Bierl is the author of an excellent book on anthroposophy
and Waldorf (Wurzelrassen, Erzengel, und Volksgeister, 2nd edition Hamburg
2005), and continues to research the subject. He is one of the favorite
targets of anthroposophist outrage in Germany.