Incomplete research by BBC Inside Out Southwest


(This page expresses the personal views of the undersigned and does not represent the views of or is financed by any Steiner Waldorf school or related organization.)

On 19 NOVEMBER 2012, BBC Inside Out Southwest broadcast a defamatory and incompletely researched program on the Steiner Academy Frome that opened in September. It was based on interviews with probably three UK Steiner Waldorf critics; Melanie Byng, Andy Lewis, and John Boxall (see below).

The Steiner Waldorf education practiced at the school in steps brings children from the magical world of childhood over a cultivation of the arts and an artistic relation to the world in primary school, not primarily as tools for self expression, but as tools for understanding the world, to the clear wake, observing and reflecting scientific attitude of the adult in High School. (For more, se here.)

Its main philosophical basis is something called "anthroposophy". As philosophy, it supports the different stages in our development from childhood to adulthood in Steiner Waldorf schools and education, from "magic" and "faires" to science, in a structured way.

As philosophy, it also shows how the modern scientific consciousness developed during the last centuries can be developed further to investigate and research also more purely spiritual aspects of reality.

SKEPTICS HAVE PROBLEMS with the "magic" of the world most clearly experienced in childhood and the program reflected and started with a stress on that.

As tool for their skepticism, they give a distorted description of Steiner's view of man and our cultural development as humanity, and a small group of "skeptics" have campaigned intensely against the Steiner Academy Frome with Melanie Byng, a with little justification from slightly to somewhat more ... upset former Steiner Waldorf parent in Devon at their head.

Its origin had been brought to her attention by a friend who had read about it at Mumsnet in 2007, where it had been intensely defended and promoted by a deeply ambivalent former Steiner Waldorf pupil in Sweden, according to herself obsessed with words and numbers, and deeply antipathic to any of the practical subjects at Steiner Waldorf schools.

The Academy was the first to open in the U.K. after a new government some years ago decided on a new school policy similar to school policies in Sweden, the U.S., Finland, Canada and Australia since a number of years, allowing and supporting free state funded schools.

The distorted, made up "Protocol of Steiner" con story at the core and origin of the anti Steiner campaign of the skeptics, depicting anthroposophy as a Nazi philosophy, intensely promoted by Melanie Byng the last years and used by her to try to recruit others for her anti Steiner cause, was told by John Boxall in the program.

It was made up a decade ago by an intellectual con artist at the time, Peter Staudenmaier, who on the basis of a B.A. in German literature played historical scholar to incite little founded rage in the Jewish Community against anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education, and he stands out as the main inspirer of Melanie Byng's and Andy Lewis' agitation about Steiner Waldorf schools and everything related to them.

His story is contradicted by among other things the way people of Jewish origin have contributed to the founding and development up to this day of both anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education, and by the important role played by the history of Jews and Judaism in the Steiner Waldorf curriculum to an extent probably not found in any other not specifically Jewish school, as part of building the understanding of the history of humanity in Steiner Waldorf education.

After he invented and published the story told by Mr. Boxall, the last years Mr. Staudenmaier has continued to actually aquire a Ph.D. in history, and now works as assistant professor of history at the Jesuit Marquette University in Wisconsin, US, (far back, left, behind man in tie), led by the Jesuit Bishop David Malloy, but continues to publish his con stories, spread on the internet and used in rationalist campaigns against Steiner Waldorf education. In this sense he today is a Janus faced intellectual con artist.

Earlier in 2012 someone, probably Melanie Byng, tried to infuriate and recruit the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) in her anti Steiner crusade by referring to writings by him but failed. In seeming contrast to the BBC editor, the HET representative, who turned out to have a child in a Steiner Waldorf school, had looked closer at his writings and seems to have come to the well founded conclusion that they could not be completely trusted and that Steiner Waldorf education neither promotes anti-Semitism nor contributes to it in society.

This is supported by an independent study by a research intitute in Germany some years ago, that investigated how widespread racism was among pupils in Germany and found that

Waldorf pupils are least right wing extremist and hostile to foreigners of all pupils in Germany

FOR SOME COMMENTS on Mr. Staudenmaier's original untrue con story from 2000, broadcast by the BBC report as a claimed "description" of the basis of Steiner Waldorf education, and his failure to substantiate it when asked, see

On the stories by Peter Staudenmaier

When asked to correct it in accordance with the published source he claimed to describe, he said he had tried but failed and answered

"I don't take these things nearly as seriously as you do".

In a talk at the beginning of 2012 (22:44 into the talk) he again has described his method as "historian":

"I’m a person who makes copious use of insinuation and
innuendo in polemical contexts. I’m a big fan of using
those as a way of getting a point across.
"

He and his con stories about Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy continue to be promoted by Melanie Byng, Andy Lewis, and some other secular humanists and rationalists in

a campaign against Steiner schools in the UK as Free schools

and now also in the BBC story.

In the repeated promotion of Mr. Staudenmaier's con stories by Melanie Byng and continued promotion of them by Andy Lewis, they regrettably nourish otherwise little founded antisemitism.

DID RUDOLF STEINER have the view published and promoted by anti-Steiner groups, as told by Mr. Boxall in the BBC story?

No.

In Steiner's view the cultural development of humanity after the Middle Ages reached a certain culmination with Goethe and the idealistic culture of Central Europe during the beginning of the 19th century. It has parallels also in other parts of the world, in the U.S. represented by the transcendentalists and it was later partly developed by Edmund Husserl as "father" of the phenomenological tradition in philosophy.

With anthroposophy Steiner connected to and continued to develop this idealistic tradition as spiritual research, that then also led to a renewal of among other things education, called "Steiner" or "Waldorf" education, out of what is purely human in all of us regardless of our origin and where we happen to live.

But European development declined for a number of reasons at the end of the 19th century and continued on a downward path during the beginning of the 20th century, with a racist focus, developing anti-Semitism, and argumentation for "Aryan supremacy" replacing the idealistic culture 60-100 years earlier, a decline that then developed into the horrors of Nazism and Fascism.

Anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education worked against this to try to avert the development that followed, but barely survived.

After the second World War, the Steiner Waldorf movement however has expanded again, and today (2014) there are appr, 1,025 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 kindergartens and more than 629 institutions for special education world wide, based on anthroposophy.

For more on Mr. Boxall's story, see

- Myth: "Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are anti-Semitic"
- Anthroposophy in the Time of Nazi Germany
- Rudolf Steiner an active opponent of anti-Semitism

The BBC-reporter, Samantha Smith also told another story, rooted in superficial understanding of Steiner, who can be really difficult to understand at times without some serious investigation and thinking, more than that permitted for research for a normal BBC program.

While Steiner, as was common during his time, at times used the word "race" and "races" in a loose sense to refer to any group of people with some common characteristic, in his view the concept "races" in the proper sense of the word can only be used in human contexts for the increasingly human forms that is partly mirrored in the development of the hominids during Tertiary and Quaternary time up to the end of the latest glacial period.

That is the main background for a comment by Steiner in one of a series of articles, later published as book, described by Samantha Smith as a claim that Steiner said that reincarnation is related to race.

It is also the background for the myth cultivated by skeptics that Steiner promoted the idea of a hierarchical evolution through the races, as he did not at all times specifically make clear and describe in what sense he used the word at the specific time he used it, and this has to be inferred from the context in which he used it.

While the development in the background of increasingly human forms, partly mirrored in the development of the hominids during Tertiary and Quaternary time, can be described as reflecting a development from lower to higher forms, Steiner never described what later has been described as "the main races of humanity" as "lower" or "higher" or the relation between them as hierarchical and considered any "racial" differentiations today to be trifles in relation to what we are as individuals.

Myth: "Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are racist"
Myth: "Waldorf education is racist"

For more on this, see here (coming).

For a description of some more of the myths about Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education, published and propagated in some rationalist and secular humanist anti-Steiner campaigns, see

WaldorfAnswers
RECENTLY, ANDY LEWIS WROTE AN ARTICLE at a blog he publishes where he describes Steiner Waldorf education as "Absurd Educational Quackery".

For some reason, what Andy describes as "Absurd Educational Quackery" seems to have been an
important part of the background that put Kenneth Chenault, former Steiner waldorf pupil, in his position as CEO of American Express. In December 2012, Chenault was approached by the White House about joining President Barack Obama's second-term administration.

It was the school choice of the parents of John Kerry, U.S. Minister of Foreign Affairs since 1 February 2013, for their daughter Diana, when their father served as diplomat at the American Consulate in Berlin after WWII.

An "Absurd Educational" Steiner Waldorf "Quack" school was the school choice of the parents of Andreas Carlgren, former Swedish Minister for the Environment, of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for a son, of the parents of Konrad Schily, former member of the German Parliament, and brother of Otto Schily, former German Minister of the Interior and of Heinz Galinski, Auschwitz survivor and Chairman of the Central Jewish Council in Germany from 1988 until his death in 1992 for his daughter Evelyn Galinski.

For some reason, an "Absurd Educational Quack"
Steiner Waldorf school (he does have a way with words, Andy ..) was also the school choice of Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Norwegian Minister of Defense and of Foreign Affairs for his son, the (in Sept 2013) latest, former Social Democratic Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, human public representative in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in 2011by a fanatical anti-Muslim Norwegian nationalist, that claimed 77 lives, and of the former Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services Jonas Gahr Störe (formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs) for his children.

And of the parents of Karl Otto Pöhl, President of the Bundesbank and Chairman of its Central Bank Council from 1980 to 1991, and of Michael Rogowski, former President of the Federal Association of the German Industry (2001-2004). And some others, like Tankred Stöbe, President of the Board of Directors of the German branch of Doctors without Boarders, and Thomas Südhof, Nobel Laureate in Medicine 2013.

The mentioned pupils, their parents, American Express and the White House must have misunderstood something.

For some other comments on Steiner Waldorf education, see

WaldorfAnswers
(C) Sune Nordwall


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