Some short comments on argumentation by a former French Waldorf teacher


Some years ago, someone who had gone to a Steiner Waldorf school in France from the age of 11, then trained to become a Steiner Waldorf teacher, and worked as such for four years had a mental collapse in connection with having to leave his work at the school after a developing conflict with the school. Since then, as a revenge he has published a number of articles that criticize and with little justification defame his former school and Steiner Waldorf education.

One of the things he claims is that the schools engage in indoctrination of the pupils with anthroposophy.

One of his arguments for this is that they are taught that the human being and other organisms biologically exhibit a threefold structure. According to him, this is an example of anthroposophical indoctrination.

The reason for this is not any specific anthroposophical thesis, but that the germ out of which organisms develop has a basic threefold structure, with an endoderm, a mesoderm and an ectoderm, and that this is reflected in the way the fully developed organism is structured and functions.
Before developing into an embryo, the human egg is polarized into a vegetative pole and an "animal" pole. The polarization of the egg constitutes the basis for the later polarization of the human embryo into the development of nutritional organs out of the vegetative pole of the egg, and the organs of the nervous system out of the "animal" pole of the egg.

This development takes place via a further differentiation and development of three layers of the germ: an endoderm, a mesoderm and an ectoderm.

Out of the endoderm of the germ, the primitive gut and the main part of the digestive organs of the human develop. Out of the ectoderm of the germ, the receptors and the nervous system develops.

And out of the mesoderm of the germ, situated between the ectoderm and the endoderm, a mesenchyme develops into the main part of the circulatory system of the fully grown organism.

In the fully developed fetus and later in the fully developed human, this process constitutes the origin and basis for what from a systematic biological perspective can be observed as:
    - our basic digestive and metabolic system,
    - our basic rhythmic circulatory/respiratory system and
    - our basic sense/nervous system.

For some comments on how this is reflected in the way the human heart is built and works, see here.
He also exemplifies his thesis of anthroposophical indoctrination with the way animal physiology is introduced in grade four with the cow, the lion and the eagle as examples.

According to the teacher, this constitutes anthroposophical indocrination, as Rudolf Steiner as the founder of both anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education also commented on the bull/cow, the lion, and the eagle/scorpio as representatives of three of the four evangelists in the Apocalypse of St John and in Christian iconography.
That is not the reason for starting to teach animal physiology out of the cow, the lion, and the eagle as examples, but because they on a macroscopic level in a one sided way have developed what is reflected already in the embryo, with its development of the nutritional organs out of the endoderm (cow), the heart and circulation out of the mesoderm (lion), and the sense/nervous system out of the ectoderm (eagle). It builds a transdisciplinary understanding of the relation between otherwise to most unrelated subjects.
He also describes other examples of what he considers to be anthroposophical indoctrination.
Steiner Waldorf education moves from a stress on a generic reverent attitude to the world in general in early childhood, cultivating the experience that the world is a good place to live in in Kindergarten, out of a family type of environment for the children.

In grade school this leads over to more of a stress on relating to the world out of what is "beautiful" in the broad sense of the word through the cultivation of an artistic approach to all subjects, not primarily as a tool for self-expression, but as a tool for understanding the world.

And in High School (see here for more), this leads to the cultivation of an ever more scientific, in the sense consciously observing and reasoning-thinking attitude, that should build the basis also for a purely rationalist atheist view of life as one possibility for the pupils to choose as growing adults, and let them learn to argue for also such a world view in a good, thoughtful way, even if it is not the primary basis for Steiner Waldorf education.

According to the French former Waldorf teacher, the broad parental type of relation to the children in Kindergarten, faded out in the first grade in grade school, is unsound. While any relation to the pupils, or children, can develop in an unsound direction, the parental type of relation to the pupils in Kindergarten is not different from that of the parents to the children and cultivated with care in Steiner Waldorf education.
Children also need to get acquainted with and understand personally the basis for different religious world views held by the majority of the peoples in the world out of their own experiences.
If they don't get acquainted with also different religious perspectives and rituals when they grow up, and that are held by the great majority of the world population as also with the arguments for the opposite, rationalist and atheist view, how can they develop their own worldview, based on their own thinking and considerations, and understand others who have other world views than they have?
Steiner waldorf education does not see it as its goal to choose for the pupils how to see and understand the world, but to build an understanding of the pupils for all possible worldviews in a systematic way from childhood to adulthood, out of the inner situation of the pupils at the different stages of their path from childhood to adulthood, to make it possible for them to build their own life view as adults out of their own reflections and considerations.

That is Steiner Waldorf education.

According to the French former Steiner Waldorf teacher, this way of building the freedom for the pupils to cultivate their own world view and choose their individual paths in life as adults makes it into a "cult", a specific concept in French legislation, where it refers to "sectarian groups that undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual", a serious and untrue allegation about Steiner Waldorf schools.

The French Federation of Steiner Waldorf schools does not agree with him and therefore sued him for libel.