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NOVEMBER 2012, BBC Inside Out Southwest broadcast a defamatory and incompletely researched
program about the basis of Steiner Waldorf education, practiced at the Steiner Academy Frome
that opened in September 2012. 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.)The goal of Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is to enable the students as fully as possible to choose and, in freedom, to realize their individual path through life as adults.
One of those whose comments reflects this is Joseph Weizenbaum, Professor (now emeritus), MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), author of Computer Power and Human Reason:
"Being personally acquainted with a number of Waldorf students, I can say that they come closer to realizing their own potential than practically anyone I know."
philosophical basis is called "anthroposophy".
As philosophy, it describes 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. For more on this, see here.
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.
PROBLEMS with the "magic" of the world most clearly experienced in
childhood and the program reflected and started with a
stress on that.
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 missionary "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.
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.
rated as a ‘good school’ across
the board by Ofsted in March 2014.
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, Chile,
New Zealand and Australia since a number of years, allowing and
supporting free state
funded schools within certain basic frames.
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.
He made it up
claimed description of the essence and summary of a lecture series by
Rudolf Steiner, that started by describing the spiritually
homeless person of today, and the nature of the higher spiritual beings
described in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and culminated with a prediction
of how an increasing
number of people, from the middle of the 20th century would have a
similar experience of Christ as Saul had at Damascus, who then preached the equality of all before God.
Or as one actual historian at the time modestly commented Staudenmaier's writings, after checking the sources he claimed for his writings:
went carefully through
Staudenmaier's arguments paragraph by paragraph, citation by citation,
in an attempt to determine whether the source material actually
supports his conclusions.
was clear from the outset that Staudenmaier was heavily spinning his
findings, but I was shocked by the level of inaccuracy and even
outright fabrications that I found."
is the central intellectual hero of critics of Steiner education in the
US, and of Melanie Byng, and Andy Lewis, anti herbal medicine
and anti homeopathy blogger the UK and the main inspirer of
an anti Steiner and anti
school crusade by Andy Lewis since 2012 in the UK.
Staudenmaier's story is contradicted (except by the published source he claimed to describe ... ) 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 the 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.
invented and published the con story told by Mr. Boxall in the BBC
film, 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, where he also went to High
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 missionary rationalist
against Steiner Waldorf education. In this sense he today is a Janus
historian and intellectual con artist.
in 2012 someone, probably Melanie Byng, tried to
infuriate and recruit the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) in
anti Steiner crusade
by referring to writings by him but failed. In
contrast to the BBC editor, the HET representative, who turned
out to have a child in a Steiner Waldorf school, had looked closer at
writings and seems to have come to the well founded conclusion
that they could not be completely trusted and that Steiner Waldorf
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
Mr. Staudenmaier's original untrue con story from 2000,
broadcast and leter defended by the BBC report as a claimed "description" by Mr. Boxall of
"Steiner's beliefs", and Peter Staudenmaier's failure to substantiate
when asked, see
When asked to
correct it in accordance with the published source he claimed to
describe, he said he had tried but
failed and added
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
and his con stories about Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy continue to
be promoted by Melanie Byng, Andy Lewis, and some other missionary
secular humanists and rationalists in
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.
asked if she has any other source than Staudenmaier for the Boxall
story, the BBC reporter Samantha Smith has not given any.
In Steiner's view the
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.
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.
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, 1,039 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 kindergartens and more than 646 institutions for special education world wide, based on anthroposophy.
more on Mr. Boxall's
- Myth: "Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner are anti-Semitic"The BBC-reporter, Samantha Smith, also made another unfounded claim about Rudolf Steiner's views on white and coloured people. Her way of telling it indicates that it was formulated by Andy Lewis, with a penchant for heavily spicing up his claims. It is contradicted by Steiner's expressed view that any
"differences that show up as racial or national differences ... are - if you have a sense for this you cannot help noticing it - mere trifles by comparison with differences in individual gifts and skills."
Her story is not found in an extensive report from an investigation on the subject of race in Steiner's works in 2000. When asked for the source or sources of her claim about Steiner, she has not given any. Her story thereby stands out as as misconstructed and badly founded as the Boxall story.
For a description of some more of the myths about Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education, published and propagated in some missionary rationalist and secular humanist anti-Steiner campaigns, seeRECENTLY, 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. John, who was eleven at the time, was sent to boarding school in Switzerland.
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 2011 by 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(C) Sune Nordwall
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