Some comments on discussions of Steiner Waldorf education at Mumsnet

Since 2007, "Northernrefugee39", an intense talkative professed atheist, socialist and republican, and former Steiner Waldorf mother in Pinkerton, U.K., with very little patience for what she thinks are "boring" discussions, has been pursuing a persistent and repeated anti-Steiner school crusade at Mumsnet in cooperation with a "barking".

She has posted in all threads she has found where she has been able to find any possibility to express her antipathy towards Steiner Waldorf education, from threads having nothing to do as such with Steiner Waldorf education, to threads discussing Steiner Waldorf education in general, to all discussions of one or other specific Steiner waldorf school in the U.K.

INTERNET TROLLING CAMPAIGN

When she later (2008) tried to pursue her anti-Waldorf crusade also in other parenting forums on the net, she was less successful and was banned for trolling at a number of them.

This was the case at the Green Parent forum, where she, like at Mumsnet, tried to pursue her anti-Waldorf crusade in all Waldorf threads she could find, but soon was banned for her aggressive trolling. The BBC parenting forum did not like her aggressive anti-Steiner trolling either but deleted a number of her postings and banned her from further discussions. When she pursued a similar anti-Steiner trolling campaign at Mothering in the U.S. in April 2008, as "bluetrain" (discussion has since been removed), she was banned from further participation in the Waldorf discussions there too.

In December 2008 she posted obsessively as "darkgirls" in a comments section of an article about Steiner schools in The Guardian.

After reregistering at Mothering in April 2009, she in October continued a trolling campaign there in the Waldorf discussions, under another pseudonym, posting insinuating slander and promoting extensive defamation and libel of Steiner Waldorf education, but was banned (again) and the trolling removed

Last year (2009), she also continued her anti-Steiner crusade with comments on a number of blogs on the net, posting as "Cat Green" and "Boco", launching her anti-Steiner missiles like a Hamas fraction of the WC-group trying to defame Steiner Waldorf education and anthroposophy with links to among others the repeatedly twisted republished first work by a "Peter Staudenmaier" who plays a similar role to "waldorf critics" as David Irving to anti-Semites.

And on December 1, 2009, she continued her - well, somewhat obsessive - anti-Steiner crusade, again as "dark girls" in the comments section of an article about Steiner Waldorf education in The Guardian.

WC

In support of her anti-Waldorf trolling crusade at Mumsnet she was joined by some companeros, fellow members of an anti-Waldorf mailing list in English on the net, "waldorf critics" (WC), where she participates.

The list is owned by the secretary since long of a small anti-Waldorf fringe group in California, "PLANS Inc.", much rooted in his efforts since the end of the 1980s to actively spread secular humanism at the grass-root level in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When the large web portal DMOZ in 2001 looked at the site of the group, it decided that it did not qualify and deleted it from its Waldorf category as "informational" source on Steiner Waldorf education.

After Altavista looked closer at the site of the group two years later, in 2003, it took the drastic action to completely delete all links to it from its web index as "informational" site on Steiner Waldorf education and refused to publish any sponsored ad from overture.com for searches on "waldorf", "waldorf education", and "Rudolf Steiner", regardless of their origin, to get rid of the ads for PLANS for the searches.

In contrast to this judgement by DMOZ and Altavista of the site as "informational" source on Steiner Waldorf education, Northernrefugee39 in the discussions at Mumsnet repeatedly recommends its disinformation on Steiner Waldorf education as "information" on Waldorf education.

For a description of the group, see here.

For a shorter introductory description of the origin, nature, history and argumentation of the group, that started its anti-Waldorf campaign ten years ago supporting allegations that "Waldorf schools teach the pupils witchcraft", see Americans for Waldorf Education

For a summary on the group and its activities the last ten years, see Americans for Waldorf Education too.

The main anti-Waldorf argumentation of Northernrefugee39 and other waldorf critics in the threads that they occupied and any new thread on Steiner/Waldorf education started at Mumsnet - and where they bully everyone who does not agree with them - is that Steiner Waldorf schools don't give children a good education.

WORLD CONSPIRACY MYTH...

Instead they - according to Northernrefugee39 - in secret indoctrinate the pupils with anthroposophy, the spiritually oriented philosophy that constitutes the general basis of Waldorf education, with the goal - according to Northern - of making them into a "spiritually superior group".

Her argument is part of a slightly paranoid, since long cultivated and published myth by the WC-group - an "Anthroposophical World Conspiracy" myth. According to the myth, the secret goal of Steiner Waldorf education - not told to the parents - is to train the future rulers of the world, which seems to stand in some contrast to the alleged failure of the schools to even teach the pupils to read and write properly ...

For an introduction to actual Waldorf education and how it is related to anthroposophy, see Waldorf Answers.

For a more detailed description of Waldorf education, see the Wikipedia article on the subject.

The arguments by "critics" of Steiner Waldorf education at Mumsnet is based much on the slower way the pupils during the first grades at the schools are brought from a play stage of childhood over stories in different forms, from myths to nature stories, up to the present time, and the slower way first writing and then reading is taught at Waldorf schools during the first years at school, which at Waldorf schools start for the children at age 7, and the way they learn reading more at their own pace without pressure, at times only reading fully without effort at age 10 or 11.

The contrast is especially great during the earlier years at Steiner Waldorf schools in relation to how reading is taught, not least in schools in the U.K., where  primary school education is compulsory already from age 5, and children most commonly enter reception class at age 4 in the academic year in which they will reach their 5th birthday.

The suspicion and allegation by critics is that Steiner Waldorf schools therefore do not give the pupils a good education but - from a marked outspoken atheist perspective - are a sort of covert religious parochial schools, who don't through eight or twelve years give their pupils a good education but instead indoctrinate them with anthroposophy. This is contradicted by among other things the numerous parents, who through the years have chosen a Waldorf school for their children, and a number of the pupils who have gone there. (At present there exist probably around 1000 Steiner Waldorf schools incl. adult education, world wide)

ACTUAL WALDORF PARENTS AND PUPILS

To the group of the numerous present or former Steiner Waldorf parents belong among other Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor, Heinz Galinski, Auschwitz survivor and former President of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, Karl Otto Pöhl, former President of German Federal Bank for nine years,  Walter Riester, former German Minister of Labour, Otto Schily, former German Minister of the Interior and President by Seniority of German Federal Parliament, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eugen Wagner, former Senator, Hamburg  Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz, former German Ambassador to Russia, Knut Frydenlund, former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, present Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Among former Waldorf parents one also finds Wolfgang Sauer, former President of Volkswagen in Brasil, Erwin Neher, Nobel Laureate in medicine 1991, Gilbert M. Grosvenor (1875-1966), President & Chairman, National Geographic Society, Clifford Stoll, astronomer, co-developer of the Internet, Russell Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut, NASA Astronaut Technical Advisor, California Energy Commission, Eric Utne, founder of, publisher, and former editor-in-chief of Utne Reader (now Waldorf teacher), Mikhail Baryshnikov, well known Russian ballet dancer and actor, Robert Jungk, Austrian writer and journalist, Harvey Keitel, Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard, Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher,  André Previn, conductor, composer, pianist, Rosie O'Donnell, comedian, television talk show host, author, 11 times Emmy Award winner.

To the group of former Waldorf pupils belong Diana Kerry, sister of the former Presidential candidate John Kerry (according to an interview in der Tagesspiegel in 2004 about the time they spent in Berlin in the 1950's, when their father worked there as diplomat at the American Consulate), Kenneth  Chenault, former President and present Chief Executive Officer of American Express, Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, Andreas Carlgren, Swedish Minister for the Environment, Prof. Dr. Wolfram Achtnich, plant cultivation scientist, Scott Boman, American libertarian politician, Mosemarie Boyd, President & CEO of "American Women Presidents", Prof. Dr. Wolf-Christian Dullo, Oceanographer, Konrad Schily, Member of the German Parliament; founder and former President of University Witten-Herdecke, Andreas Schleicher, Inventor of the Programme for International Student Assessment,  Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division (Directorate for Education) OECD, Karl Matthäus Schmidt, CEO of quirin bank (a German bank specialized in Private Banking, Corporate Banking and Business Process Outsourcing).

Other former Waldorf pupils are Freimut Duve, politician and journalist; former member of German Parliament, Olaf Feldmann, former member of the German Parliament, Pekka Haavisto, member of the Finnish Parliament, former Finnish Minister of Environment, Hans-Peter Lehmann, former director of the State Opera in Hannover, Victor Navasky, Professor of journalism, Columbia University, former editor and now publisher emeritus of "The Nation", Kristen Nygaard, Professor of informatics, co-inventor of object orientated programming, Michael Rogowski, Vice President of the Federal Association of the German Industry "BDI",  former President of BDI, Aram Roston, CNN and newspaper reporter, George Hume, BBC journalist and newspaper columnist for Herald Tribune and other British papers, Joern G. Stegen, Diplomat (retired), working with the Council of Europe for 38 years, Oras Tynkkynen, member of the Finnish Parliament, Jennifer Aniston, winner of Golden Globe,  Julianna Margulies, nominated for 6 Golden Globes, Sandra Bullock, screen actress, Rutger Hauer, screen actor, winner of Golden Globe, Michael Ende, one of the most popular and famous German authors of the 20th century ("Momo", "The Neverending Story"), Ari Behn, writer, husband of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, Barbara Becker, actress, ex-wife of Boris Becker, Timothy Daly, actor, Chris Elliott, screen actor and TV-entertainer, Anna Paquin, actor, Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress in "The Piano", to mention a few.

For some more of the many distinguished Waldorf parents and pupils from different walks of life in different countries, see here.

MORE COMMENTS

For some comments on Waldorf education by some of the Waldorf parents/pupils mentioned above, and some others, like Selma Lagerlöf, 1909 Swedish Nobel Literature Laureate, Albert Schweizer, 1952 Nobel Peace Laureate, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), author, and Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986), Russian film director (Solaris, Stalker, Nostalghia, The Sacrifice), see the site of Waldorf Answers that also addresses a number of the myths about Waldorf education cultivated in the Mumsnet discussions.

The comments mentioned and the numerous Waldorf parents who have chosen a Waldorf education for their children through the 20th century world wide - clearly only a very small sample is mentioned above, put what Northernrefugee39 (and her fellow companeros from the mailing list of the WC anti-Waldorf fringe group) write at Mumsnet in a sobering perspective.

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