Some comments on a blog article by Andy Lewis, UK rationalist missionary, on an article by a French former Steiner Waldorf teacher
According to some secular humanist critics of Steiner Waldorf education in the UK, the French Waldorf movement does not want you to read an article written by a French former Steiner Waldorf teacher about Steiner Waldorf education. The former teacher wrote it in connection with a mental collapse some years ago as a revenge after having to leave his work at the school.
The article by Andy Lewis about the former teacher and his publication of the article at his blog is part of an argumentation, claiming that Steiner Waldorf schools try to keep the philosophy of the schools secret to parents and the public. Some time after the original publication of the article by the former teacher, the French Federation of Rudolf Steiner schools decided to sue him for libel.
If you know a little about Steiner Waldorf education and Andy Lewis, you soon realize to what extent what Andy writes and promotes at his blog on Steiner Waldorf education and schools, as on any subject, primarily is ideologically based propaganda.
According to Andy, the reason that the French Federation of Steiner school sued the former teacher for libel was that it wants to keep the philosophy underlying the schools a secret. That is not correct.
The article is published. Anyone can read it. And the philosophy of Steiner Waldorf education is easily accessible to anyone interested. That is not the issue. The issue it that the article is untruthful and libelous with regard to its claim that the schools "indoctrinate" the pupils with anthroposophy and that it is the expression of a "secret cult".
For some comments on the article by the French former Steiner school teacher, see here. For some basic information about Steiner Waldorf education, see WaldorfAnswers. and Wikipedia.
As the name of all 1,025 Steiner Waldorf schools world wide tell, they are based on the philosophy and thinking of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Wikipedia has an extensive and detailed article abut him and his general philosophy, called anthroposophy and a number of further detailed related articles.
If someone says he or she did not realize that Rudolf Steiner schools are based on the philosophy and thinking of Rudolf Steiner, it is pure mental laziness. It someone claims that the philosophy in the broad and narrow sense of the schools is "secret", it is pure propaganda. It is widely published and accessible for free on the internet, and as literature, accessible to anyone through any bookstore.
The philosophy at the roots of Steiner Waldorf schools, in the broad sense of the general philosophy of Rudof Steiner, meaning basically all his lectures (on the order of 6,000) and writings on all possible subjects you can imagine, 100 years ago, are published and a large part is freely accessible online in English.
They're found at the site of RSarchive.org.
For all written books by Steiner, see here.
For 2315+ lectures published in English translation, see here.
For Articles, Essays, Reports and other writings, see here.
All lectures and discussions by Steiner, on or related to Steiner Waldorf education, are public, even though their publication for free online for long has disappeared some time ago with the latest update of the the site that published them online - steinerbooks.org. Today, you have to buy them in book shop or order them from a place like Amazon or directly from the publisher. They are listed at the site of Steinerbooks.
At Amazon, a simple search on "Steiner education" gives you a list of 1,255 search results. A similar search on "anthroposophy" gives you a list of 2,022 search results. A third search, on "Rudolf Steiner", gives you a list of 5,775 search results (June 2013), in all approximately 9,052 publications on Rudolf Steiner and his ("secret") philosophy.
Maybe a comments on one point in what Andy Lewis writes and claims: He gives a distorted description of what he describes as Rudolf Steiner's views on "blacks" and "Aryans". It is a typical propaganda myth, repeatedly promoted by some rationalists.
For some comments on the publication of the myth in the journal Salon.com some years ago, see here.
After intense anti Steiner mail lobbying by an agitated former Steiner parent at and outside twitter for a number or years, a BBC film in November last year broadcast a similar story.
The story, that was told by a Mr. Boxall in the film, portrays anthroposophy as a nazi type of philosophy. It was made up and published by a Janus faced intellectual con artist, Peter Staudenmaier, in 2000, now 13 years ago. For some comments on it, see here and here.
For some detailed comments on the BBC film, that broadcast it, see here.
IS SPIRITUAL RESEARCH POSSIBLE?
One can understand Andy's fear, as rationalist, of losing the ground under his feet when approaching what is spiritual, fearing that he can't approach it with a basic scientific attitude.
His fear is unfounded. Anthroposophy shows how one can develop a scientific approach to spiritual issues without losing the ground under one's feet, though work related to and based on anthroposophy so far has been dominated by practical work in different forms.
For some comments from a Philosophy of Science perspective on the relation between anthroposophy as an effort to develop a spiritual science, or - more properly human sciences - and what today is called natural science, see "What is Science?"
Anthroposophy is not secret. It is public. Our time does not stand secrecy as already Steiner, as the originator of both anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf education, himself commented on the issue in 1916: Supersensible Knowledge - Its Secrecy in the Past and Publication in our Time.
That's why anthroposophy is public, including a School for anthroposophy as spiritualised human and natural sciences, that the French teacher gives a distorted picture of in his writings that Andy publishes. For a description of the centre of the "School of Spiritual Science", that exists worldside, see here.
Basically all lectures Rudolf Steiner held during his life, including during a first of three planned classes of the School are published, and free to order and buy for anyone in any bookshop.
What is the substance of the secrecy myth cultivated by some rationalists and secular humanists?
Little more than empty words.
Co-webmaster of WaldorfAnswers
(The views expressed above are the personal views of the undersigned and does not represent the views of or is financed by any Steiner Waldorf school or related organization.)