Untruthful defamation of Steiner schools by BBC


(This page is not financed by any Steiner Waldorf school or related organization.)

On 19 NOVEMBER 2012, BBC Inside Out Southwest broadcast a film about Steiner Waldorf education, that gave a defamatory and incompletely researched description of the basis of Steiner Waldorf education, practiced at the Steiner Academy Frome that opened in September 2012. The description 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."

Its main philosophical basis is called "anthroposophy". As philosophy, it describes the different stages in our development from childhood to adulthood as a general frame for the education in Steiner Waldorf schools, from "magic" and "faires" to science, in a structured way. For more on this, see here.

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 this.

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 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.

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, 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.

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.

He made it up as a 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 and onwards 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:

"I 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. It 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."

Staudenmaier 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 Steiner school crusade by Andy Lewis in the UK since 2012.

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.

After he invented and published the con story told by Mr. Boxall in the BBC film, described as the basis of Steiner education, 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 School (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 missionary rationalist campaigns against Steiner Waldorf education. In this sense he today is a Janus faced historian and 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 and later defended by the BBC report as a claimed "description" by Mr. Boxall of "Steiner's beliefs", and Peter Staudenmaier's failure to substantiate his con story 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 added

"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 missionary 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.

When asked if she has any other source than Staudenmaier for the Boxall story, the BBC reporter Samantha Smith has not given any.

DID RUDOLF STEINER have the view published and promoted by missionary rationalist 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 in many countries, 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, 1,039 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 kindergartens and more than 646 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 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.

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

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, 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. 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, and of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for a son. It was the school choice 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 (since Sept 2013) 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 German 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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