Sunday, June 8, 2014

Why Waldorf BULLIES

Why Waldorf BULLIES
KARMA and BULLYING in Waldorf Schools

One of the pillars upon which Anthroposophy is built is the notion of karma and with it, reincarnation. It is the child's karma to be connected with their Waldorf teacher, and the children in their classroom.

Bullying cannot happen in Waldorf schools because absolutely NOTHING is considered “bullying”. Teachers consider any unpleasant experiences a child has in Waldorf school as the child's KARMA. The child will be stronger for all the bullying they receive at the hands of their classmates (and sometimes their own teachers).

Here is Steiner discussing the karma of a child known to him who was killed:
"In the autumn we experienced the death of a member's child, a child seven years of age. The death of this child occurred in a strange way. He was a good boy, mentally very much alive already within the limits set for a seven-year-old; a good, well-behaved and mentally active child. He came to die because he happened to be on the very spot where a furniture van overturned, crushing the boy so that he died of suffocation. This was a spot where probably no van went past before nor will go past again, but one did pass just that moment. It is also possible to show in an outer way that all kinds of circumstances caused the child to be in that place at the time the van overturned, circumstances considered chance if the materialistic view is taken ... Studying the case in the light of spiritual science and of karma it will be seen to demonstrate very clearly that external logic, quite properly used in external life, proves flimsy in this case and does not apply ... The karma of this child was such that the ego, to put it bluntly, had ordered the van and the van overturned to fulfill the child's karma."
Rudolf Steiner, THE DESTINIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 125-126.

“The judgments man has in physical life on earth are, in fact, different from
the judgments he has between death and a new birth. For there the point of
view is changed. And so it is, if you say to a human being here on earth — a
young human being, perhaps-that he has chosen his father, it is not out of the
question that he might make objection: “Do you mean to say that I have
chosen the father who has given me so many thrashings?” Yes, certainly he
has chosen him; for he had quite another point of view before he came down
to earth. He had the point of view that the thrashings would do him a lot of
good.” (Steiner, Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture V)

So, karma explains ANY unfortunate circumstances that happen to children in Waldorf schools. What's a little bullying, when something powerful enough to require a child's DEATH is at work in these children?

Below, Master Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz explains how little bullying means to Waldorf teachers in a video mocking parent complaints regarding bullying!  It sounds like he's serious up until the end.

Because bullying is considered by Waldorf teachers to be part of a child's karma, and therefore something the child must work through on their own, children are FAR MORE LIKELY to suffer bullying at a Waldorf school than in ordinary school environments where laws against bullying are enforced and where common sense (and not karma) prevails.  Waldorf teachers may not even mention to parents that their child is suffering bullying or humiliation on a daily basis.

Let's look at more of Waldorf's official stance. How about AWSNA, the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America. What did their representatives say about a TEACHER who duct-taped children to their seats?

Claire McConnell, who apologized in a letter June 24, was accused of strapping one child into a chair with a leather belt, tying the hands of others and taping shut the mouths of some elementary school students, the Albany Times Union reported Thursday.

AWSNA's response:

"She's a young teacher, a learning teacher," Patrice Maynard, a teacher and mentor to McConnell, told the newspaper.
She referred further questions to a letter promising that "errors in disciplinary action would not be repeated."
Get that? “errors in disciplinary action would not be REPEATED.” That's because this was the SECOND time duct-taping of children was done by this particular teacher. The first time, they did NOTHING!
Steiner taught Waldorf teachers that some children were DEMONS! Here's how Steiner described one child:
Dr. Steiner: “That little girl L.. in the first grade must have something very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [the highest element of one’s spiritual being]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the [1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.”
A teacher: “How is that possible?”

Dr. Steiner: “Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in.... They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences....
(Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Anthroposophical Press, 1998, pp. 649-650.)
“Faculty Meetings” (by several names) is on every Waldorf teacher required reading list.

Here's Rudolf Steiner himself bullying a child - notice how he attributes "karma" as the source of the problems he perceives.  The child very obviously doesn't respond to Steiner's commands at the end.  Steiner wisely chooses not to "force him":

“And now, if you will begin to observe the child for yourselves — [to the boy] Come here a minute! — you will find many things to notice. Let me draw your attention, first of all, to the strongly developed lower half of the face. Look at the shape of the nose and the mouth. The mouth is always a little open, which has an effect on dental development. It is important to note these things, for they are unquestionably bound up with the whole soul-and-spirit constitution of the child… The formation you see here in the jaws — the jaws belong, of course, to the limb system — is wholly part of the head system … Look, he’s amused! I think Fraulein B. was asking him why he keeps his mouth open, and his reply was: ‘To let the flies come in.’ This is a firmly fixed opinion of his.
“… Here (in the front) as we remarked, the head is pressed together. In all probability this points back to a purely mechanical injury, either at birth or during pregnancy, a mechanical injury in which we can see nothing else than a working of karma …
“The whole breathing system … is very little under control … Hence the symptom that is so conspicuous in a child of this kind … What ought to happen is that gradually, in the course of life, the whole system of movement in man should become a servant of the intellectual system. [To the boy] Stand still a minute! And now come here to me and do this! (Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm as if to take hold of something; the boy does not make the movement.) Never mind! We mustn’t force him. Do you see? It is difficult for him to do anything; he has not the power to exercise the right control over his metabolism-and-limbs system….” [Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 106-110.]

Steiner treats this "special needs" child as if he cannot even understand what is being said about him.  What parent would expect their child to be humiliated in this way?  To Steiner, the child was fulfilling his own karma - nothing to see here - move along.  Again, this book is required reading in Waldorf teacher training.

Below is a Waldorf school document for faculty:

p9, Bullying Presentation to Faculty – Handout
May 13, 1999
Alan Howard Waldorf School
Prepared by Cynthia Kennedy and Betty Robertson
We have labored over this section and it has been written and rewritten a number of times. Can a child’s karma or destiny be that of a victim or bully? Is it a child’s destiny to seek certain experiences to build his or her self-esteem and inner self? Should a potentially abusive situation be stopped, and if so, at what point? We do not know the answers; however, when dealing with bullying behavior we thought that caution is necessary. If intervention can change the experiences that our children encounter then conceivably it is not entirely destiny we are dealing with. And perhaps all the children are better served if they are given tools to better handle aggression, be it their own, or their peers.
For a child who is being victimized, it must be the teacher’s role and responsibility to determine how much victimization is healthy to enable the child to be strengthened through the experience and at what point the exposure is excessive and detrimental. This situation is something that all teachers must struggle with, and the obligation becomes that much more onerous given that, in all likelihood, most of what a child is subjected to will be unknown to the teacher.
It appears that the bully, primarily through child rearing, arrives at our school with a predisposition to aggressive and bullying behavior. The research is not clear as to how much these children can be helped without the support of the parents. However, parental commitment is one of the qualities expected of any Waldorf family so there may be more success with our families than the average. In addition, we understand that doing biography work with the affected child(ren) and families may increase understanding and help the situation. Curative work, including assessments and curative eurythmy, perhaps in consultation with specialists like Anthroposophical doctors, may provide additional information to both the family and teacher(s).
Here's a student's story of bullying and sexual harassment by her Waldorf teacher.

A victim of teacher bullying at Waldorf

"I remember him in first grade screaming at me in front of the whole class, because I was having trouble understanding a math problem. I also remember in first grade, we were doing our first painting and I forgot to wet my brush after dunking it with another color and I accidentally mixed that blue and the yellow making what was supposed to be a yellow, green. However, instead of giving me a chance to correct my mistake he just told me that I couldn’t paint that day. I laid my head down on the desk feeling devastated. As I look back as an adult, I look at him and I think to myself, ‘how dare he treat that little girl (me) that way.’ I was only seven years old. He could have given me a chance to fix the mistake. I remember in third grade, I misunderstood a homework assignment and he literally shamed me for the whole afternoon. It was a lot of things like that during the time he was my teacher."
"Mr. M even sexually harassed me in fourth grade. One day he was out of the room and we were all running around, and there was this boy who was hitting girls on the butts, including me. I told the boy to stop it but he wouldn’t. When Mr. M came back into the room, I told him that this boy was hitting girls on the butts. However, instead of taking the boy aside and explaining to him that that kind of behavior was not okay, in front of the whole class, he lambasted me for being a tattletale, saying that it was just a game. He told me not to be so fragile or sensitive otherwise no one would want to be my friend. Eventually, I told my mother and she yelled in his face and told a friend of hers on the school board. Why this man hasn’t been fired I’ll never know."
"Now I am not upset anymore with the ten year old boy, who was hitting girls on the butts. He being an immature ten year old boy who needed an adult to sit him down and explain why that kind of behavior is not okay. I am livid and furious and outraged about how a grown man could sink so low as to sexually harass a ten year old girl and allow and condone that kind of behavior. I know that when teachers go to school to become teachers they are taught about education law and when congress passes a new law or the Supreme Court rules on a law regarding education teachers are made aware of it. Title IX was passed in 1972, nine years before I was born and twenty years before the incident. The Minnesota state statute says all schools even private much have a sexual harassment policy, and this statute was passed in 1989. I know that Mr. M knew what sexual harassment was and that it was against the law in the 1991-1992 school years. However, after I was sexually harassed he turned around and violated my civil rights and sexually harassed me and taught every single student in that classroom that sexual harassment was okay. As a woman, a feminist, and a future lawyer it disgusts me and boggles my mind. I’ve heard that a lot of times Waldorf schools ignore civil rights laws and it’s wrong."
"In first grade, I felt my self-esteem being affected and I felt very small as result of his behavior towards me and it made learning harder for me. I can see now that his bullying of me only made it harder for me to learn. Eventually in sixth grade, my parents finally saw Mr. M for who he was and took me out of that school. However, now I clearly see that what Mr. M did to me was to psychologically abusive, and disability harass me and sexually harass me."

This parent blames the children of non-Waldorf parents for the horrible things that happened at school.  Can't be that wonderful "Waldorf education" we've heard so many good things about, right?  If there are problems at Waldorf, its' those pesky mainstream parents' fault.

i sent my son to a steiner school because the philosophy resinated with my heart felt way of son has a disibility,i thought his unique spirit would bloom in such a holistic environment.instead he was bullied and severly sexually assaulted by his pears from 5yrs to 7 1/2yrs when i pulled him out. he now has post traumatic stress disorder and i have spent the last 18mths trying to intergrate him into a mainstreme school. he attends only two days a week and i have to sit at the school all day as he wont use the toilet any more. this whole situation has been a nightmare. i love steiner education it resonates deeply within my being as truth, unfortunetly i didnt realize that most parents who send there kids to stiener schools are like you,dont believe in the theory or practice the beliefs. so mainstreme kids who wanna'pour kerosine on it' attend the steiner school and like it because they can run amuck. the steiner teachers at the school we went to have a massive challange teaching stiener education to the 'spoilt child'(exposure to tv and computer) Thank you for your article it has made me realize how angry i still am at the truma we have been thru.I just dont understand why you and other non steiner parents dont send your kids to mainstream school? having to send my child to a mainstreme school,is actually like a huge punishment for us because it goes against everthing we believe. i cant get my son into another stiener school because there all full. if i could get in im not sure i wanna risk a group of boys pushing a stick up his rectum again or the daily terror they put him thru,because he was smaller more inocent and struggles to use his words.stiener theory would be great if it was stiener practice but unfortunately the school is full of people like you,who dont believe or care about stiener education. you just send your kids there and ignore and laugh at the rules wich are crutial to make steiner education work,when instead there are many many other schools who share your beliefs that your kids could go to. i found your article extremely offensive and i am grateful for that,you laugh at a school that is our greatest dream to attend and yet we cant because its full of mainstream parents like you, who dont even attempt to understand or support the philosophy.again i am just so angry at what has happened to us, my emotional response at the ugliness of this article is making me realize i still have much to learn. thankyou

So parents, when you bring your child to a Waldorf school, consider what Waldorf teachers learn in their TRAINING:
1. How to establish if your child is a demon.
2. That they should stand by while your child is being bullied (oops, I mean, having their karma fulfilled for them).
3. Karma also requires some children to be the bullies.
4. That the child's karma has drawn them to the Waldorf school because they need to experience whatever is in store for them there – even if it means they will be harmed.
5. Children are IMPROVED for having experienced bullying - regardless of whether they were the bully or the bullied child.

Parents considering Waldorf should ask themselves if children should be expected to do better in schools where it is their belief that it is *normal* even *better* for teachers to allow, and even to apply bullying and abuse to their students?

Here is some good advice from Mumsnet about what to do if your child is being bullied or is bullying others.


  1. Taking this shit way to seriously people....if your goal is to bash the Waldorf method of education at least 1000 times, what do you feel you will achieve? Vindication for some stupid emotional problem?

    1. How seriously should the fraud that is Waldorf education be taken then? Personally, I think the FBI should be called in to investigate this obvious problem of fraud and cover-ups that extends nation and world wide. Too serious? How many people have to be defrauded of their money? How many children have to come to harm? Before it's worth taking "seriously" to you?

  2. My child, who is a 7th grader now at a Waldorf school has been there since kindergarten. I guess her school chooses to march by the beat of a different drum because they take bullying VERY seriously and have put into place a board of students and teachers to address ANY complaints made by students or parents. They consider bullying to be any behavior that belittles the student and makes them feel uncomfortable. I realize the Waldorf way is very non traditional and of course there are those families who, unfortunately have bad experiences at their schools, but I think it's unfair to assign every greivance to the Waldorf schools in general. As with any other school systems, some teachers and admins are better than others and some are just horrible and should not be teaching period. At the end of the day, each family has to decide what is best for them and make changes when they feel it;s necessary.

    1. "some are just horrible and should not be teaching period" Or making instructional videos for other Waldorf teachers which mock parent complaints. As this "Master" Waldorf teacher demonstrates, it's up to the Waldorf teacher to discern exactly how much bullying is appropriate for a child. To him, bullying is like kittens playing.

      In my very direct experience, Waldorf representatives at the highest levels make excuses for bullying, for teachers who permit bullying - even for teachers who themselves bully students. It is shameful and systemic and as we saw in the video by Schwartz, Waldorf embraces a certain amount of bullying. At the end of the day, each family has to decide whether their child deserves better than the reckless attitude Waldorf schools worldwide have toward bullying.

    2. There are certain patterns that exists in most Waldorf schools. So, it is fair to generalize. Congratulations on finding one of the few Waldorf schools that takes bullying seriously. I bet the teachers still lack transparency, believe they know better than the parents what is best for the children, and often do not disclose what happens in school to the parents. Most Waldorf parents cannot be objective about a system that they fully participate in with their children. If many of the criticisms, that would be thousands of consistent repetitive criticisms, were true, then what kind of a parent would you be? Can't be true.

    3. We have recently departed a Waldorf school for this exact reason. They encourage bullying (through non-intervention)while articulating a "Zero Tolerance" policy for bullying. The cognitive dissonance aside, behavior that was abusive was tacitly encouraged. My son was beaten with a stick everyday at lunch by one student who told him that if he told on him the beatings would be harder and more frequent. The teachers responded that my son should be more "resilient". I asked if that was the same advice they would give a friend being beaten by a partner. Waldorf is flawed, at the core. Send your children with extreme caution. This was one of a dozen similar incidents and it finally took a non-Waldorf friend to help me regain some perspective and get him to a better school.

  3. I have two boys at a steiner school in Scotland and one leaves today and the other leaves in 4 weeks. Both have been systematically bullied. My youngest became physically ill because of it but the school did not let on that it was happening before he became sick. This is a child that wants to cope himself and did not let us know that it was happening. He was being hit, punched, strangled and called names (including being sworn at) all at only 9 year old. My older son come home with bruises and has been spat on and hit with sticks. The teachers have told me that it is the fault of both my children that they bring it apon themselves in some way. I have witnessed children hitting each other (not mine) and when I reported it to the teacher I was told that it was just rough play and should be left by itself despite the girl being hit shouting stop it stop it no! no! Also my son apparently figits in class and has difficulty reading and writing because his soul has not enterred his body properly - he is dyslexic (privately assessed because the school refuses to believe that he had a learning difficulty). I just wish there was somebody I could complain to properly.

  4. Howard Paull, a Pasadena Waldorf School teacher, actively bullied his own students and parents for 8 years. He was rewarded with a sabbatical for his actions. He also sad idle while he watched my child be hit by another classmate. MULTIPLE TIMES. When I brought it up to him, he replied, "XX and XX are working out some deep, dark karmic thing." I was quite demoralized by this creepy response so I asked about PWS' written policy on hitting only to find that it's non existent. As a parent, it was quite horrifying to realize that my child was not safe from being physically injured under the supervision of her lead teacher.

  5. I have known a few individuals over the years who had gone through the Waldorf system. While my limited sample size can not be overgeneralized to represent all the people who had gone through Waldorf's system, the people I met had a few things in common:
    1. After they needed to transfer out of Waldorf (due to moves or other involuntary issues), they were unable to cope with the basic academic demands of a regular high school setting. Parents did their homework for them to graduate. They all ended up in art schools and had alleged "learning disabilities".
    2. They all lacked motivation, initiative and the willingness to work through their academic challenges. Everything was blamed on their alleged learning disabilities and the same parents who put their kids in Waldorf schools, accused the non-Waldorf teachers of being the culprit for their children's repeated failures.
    3. None of these kids should have graduated from highschool but did (because parents did their homework). They all went to art colleges or university art programmes and did not graduate due to their lack of work ethic and parents being unable to sit exams for them at that level.
    4. All of the former Waldorf students I've known lacked a strong moral fibre. They were emotionally and financially dependent on others and therefore unable to individuate from controlling and oppressive external forces which included domineering parents and the Waldorf Cult mentality itself.
    5. The Waldorf system often appeals to narcissistic parents who see themselves as special and whose children function as their narcissistic extensions. The child's developmental stunting is therefore reinforced and lauded by the parent who seeks to assert control over their child into perpetuity.

    Thank you for your excellent piece about your experiences with this very toxic "educational" alternative. I hope authorities start taking action and shutting them down.

  6. My daughter is currently a sophomore at a Waldorf high school. She has attended a Waldorf school from the tender age of 3 and 1/2. I have come full circle in experience with my child's education. Kindergarten was lovely, great teachers, bread baking, birthday stories, whats not to love right? Grade school was a struggle. My daughter had learning difficulties that prevented her from learning to read until grade 5. We finally had her tested and sought a tutor and had to put her on Ritalin( working with her teacher and the reading specialist). With in that year she caught up to her class mates and actually started to surpass them in some ways. At first I was angry at Waldorf, for failing my child. What I know see is, that even though she could read, they allowed her to show her intelligence in other ways, she was never bullied or made fun of due to her struggles. This allowed her to come out the other side a extremely happy, confidant, well rounded individual. I honestly don't think that would have happened at another school where she would have been labeled and stuck in a remedial class. I'm not saying its the only way or there are not better school out there, but I do feel generalizing all Waldorf school by the action of a few is unfair. She is now in high school and I am so impressed with the person she is becoming, compassionate, socially aware, motivated, interested. I also will say I know many graduates that have gone on to lead successful lives( lawyers, politicians, doctors, nutritional coaches to name a few). Again, I'm sure there are student that don't make it far in life, but we cant blame it all on the school, parents and the individual student have some accountability don't they?

    1. You were lucky that you interfered by Grade 5. She would have been identified as having challenges with reading much earlier at a public school and not necessarily put in a remedial class. Waldorf parents always like to demonize public schools. There are many more Waldorf students that can't handle professional jobs because they never learned to deal with academic pressure or how to use their will to accomplish tasks sufficiently to compete. This is far more common that those Waldorf students that end up succeeding in university settings. No-one is generalizing Waldorf schools by the actions of the few, in fact, the majority of Waldorf schools display very similar patterns explained by parents that have left. The reason there are so many critics is because the Waldorf schools have the same problems worldwide. You can read a teacher that left the Waldorf school in France, detail these patterns. Same patterns I saw in our Waldorf school happen over and over again.

  7. For every example of a bad teacher in a Waldorf school there are likely 5 or more equally bad in public schools or other private schools. People are not perfect, nor can they be expected to be perfect. It's unfortunate that so many people feel the need to bash Waldorf schools because of some bad personal experiences. Maybe it's their karma? haha ;)

  8. Maybe most rational people think of 'personal experience' as a more accurate guide to reality than esoteric dogma.

  9. I came across this post because I've been searching for discussion about Waldorf and the issues therein. I work for a Waldorf school and, though the school that I work for does a lot to mitigate undue stress, including bullying, I realize after seeing story after story that Waldorf schools, or Steiner schools, have some problematic aspects that seem inherent to the experience. I think a lot of this is due to where the education stems from. Anthroposophy verges on cult status for many, especially for those who've done Eurythmy training and consider themselves serious anthroposophists. The problem is that Waldorf education, in my view, cannot be separated from anthroposophy since so many of its basic tenets are based, solely, on the teachings or lectures of Rudolf Steiner.
    While I think, as an artist and writer, that there are some good ideas presented in Waldorf education, namely the artistic ideas, including handwork and woodwork, there are quite a lot of shortcomings. I've been asked to tutor many students at my school for various things, the most basic being things like parts of speech and basic essay writing.
    Also, while I do think Waldorf students tend to be very creative thinkers, critical thinking, in my experience, has been sorely lacking. Many highschool students I've had conversations with nearly always steer towards magical thinking. There's a lot of woo in the anthroposophical community.

    I appreciate you for putting this out there.

  10. Claire McConnell (the teacher that taped the students hands and mouths and tied the little girl to a chair with a belt) went on to continue teaching in Waldorf schools until 2022.

  11. I wish I’d researched more. Initially, the idea of a predominantly outside school during a pandemic offering experiential learning sounded like a dream for my boys. I was reluctant to fall for the unicorn/rainbow-bypass culture but hoped the earthiness of outside would help to supply some of the grit and reality I prefer versus a sanitized, organic hippie-dippie dreamland. However, I hoped for the best. My oldest boy soon became one of the scapegoats for a teacher’s distress. He wasn’t the only one, but he was the only one initially to speak up and be heard (by his parents). Leadership downplayed the complaints and encouraged us not to speak to others. The teacher took no accountability, of course. I started sending the dis-ease and co-dysregulation in the system and clearly became the bee in their bonnet, the unpopular parent they wish would just stop questioning their practices and lack of leadership. Then I began gaining more insight through various ways. There is no hierarchy among leadership and teachers. There is no courage, no humility, no depth. It’s a sick system, a sad system of trauma bonding. Please beware. I removed my boys and will never look back.

    1. Correction: I started *sensing* the dis-ease and co-dysregulation…


You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.