WHAT IS WALDORF EDUCATION?

Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is a unique form of education from preschool through high school, which is based on the view that the human being is a being of body, soul and spirit.

The specific methods used in Waldorf schools come from the view that the child develops through a number of basic stages from childhood to adulthood. The Waldorf curriculum is specifically designed to work with the child through these stages of development.

Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at the beginning of the 20th century. It is based on Steiner's broader philosophy and teachings, called anthroposophy (literally, wisdom or knowledge of man).

Anthroposophy holds that the human being is fundamentally a spiritual being and that all human beings deserve respect as the embodiment of their spiritual nature. This view is carried into Waldorf education as striving to develop in each child their innate talents and abilities. Waldorf schools operate in a non-discriminatory way, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

Some of the ideas in Waldorf education and anthroposophy are complex and require a degree of good will on the part of the reader to grasp. However, they form a coherent whole and Waldorf education, as documented by numerous studies and personal experiences, works well when done properly.

Some of the people that through the years have chosen a Waldorf education for their children are Heinz Galinski, Auschwitz survivor and for many years Chairman of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, Russel Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut, Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Otto Schily, former German Minister of the Interior.

Some other present or former Waldorf parents are Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, former President & Chairman of National Geographic Society, and many others.

To the former pupils at Waldorf schools belong the present President and CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault, Jennifer Aniston, and Jens Stoltenberg, earlier (2001) and present (since 2005) Prime Minister of Norway (ref. 1 and 2).

According to an interview with Diana Kerry, sister of the former Presidential Candidate John Kerry, in the Berlin Journal 'Der Tagesspiegel' on November 2, 2004, she and John also at one time went to a Rudolf Steiner School, in their case in 1954 in Berlin, where their father was stationed at the time as a diplomat at the American Consulate.

For a penetrating introduction to Waldorf education and its philosophical basis, and some comments on a number of the myths cultivated about it by the small group PLANS in San Francisco, see the site of Waldorf Answers or Wikipedia.

See also the site of Americans for Waldorf Education, to which you will be transferred in five minutes, if you have not by then chosen to go to another site.
 

WHAT IS "PLANS"?

"PLANS" is a small anti-waldorf fringe group in San Francisco, that since a number of years publishes a disinformational site on Waldorf education on the net, that it calls "waldorfcritics". The last years up to the beginning of 2005, and then again during the first half of 2006 it advertised its site widely on the Internet, using sponsored ads from Overture, and the group also advertised at Google, with deceptive ads adjusted to the more loose policies of Google than earlier, with regard to its demands on advertisers.

At the main page of the site of the group, it - to a first look - seems to formulate well founded criticism of Waldorf schools and Waldorf education.

But if you look closer at the site, and for a longer time follow a mailing list, personally owned by the secretary of the group, Mr. Dugan, you find that he and the group since a number of years, behind the first seemingly civil surface one encounters at its site after it engaged a professional journalist, except for badly founded criticism of Waldorf education, cultivate, publish and spread a host of defaming and demonizing myths about Waldorf education and anthroposophy as its philosophical basis.

For an overview of the Top Ten Myths about Waldorf education, published and cultivated by PLANS Inc, see here.

The systematical way the myths are cultivated and published at the site of the group, as a course of conduct rather than a single, isolated instance, puts the site in the hate speech category. It also puts the group in the hate-type category.

Though not as fully demonizing, it has a similar character in relation to Waldorf education and anthroposophy as the anti-Semitic group "Jew Watch" in relation to Judaism and people of Jewish origin and/or faith.

On 16 May 1997, the Sacramento Bee reported about a group of 20 "angry parents" and "concerned citizens", that picketed the Oak Ridge Elementary School. The picketing took place after a number of them had read leaflets distributed by PLANS people outside the school, protesting that Waldorf methods had been implemented at the school in September 1996.

According to the Sacramento Bee:

"Several pickets said they were 'in the dark¨' as to what was happening at Oak Ridge until PLANS - People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools - began distributing leaflets outside the school."

"Marjie Espinoza said she walked the picket line to stand up for five nieces and nephews who attend the school. They and their classmates are being taught satanic beliefs and witchcraft, she said. 'One of the teachers who is against Waldorf showed me some lessons plans,' Espinoza said. 'To me, they were like satanic, witchcraft.'"

Six days later, in an interview published on May 22 in the California Aggie, Dan Dugan, secretary of PLANS, commented on the Waldorf School in Davis, CA.

Dan Dugan:

"They believe that there are spirits behind everything. I know there are people who would call that evil. (They) would consider anthroposphy a satanic religion."
When he in a public discussion was asked if PLANS had contacted the Sacramento Bee to correct the allegations of teaching of witchcraft at the Oak Ridge school, Debra Snell, president of PLANS then as also today, eight years later, on May 26 answered that while allegations of witchcraft according to her was not PLANS' agenda, she had done nothing to correct them, and that she was "happy" that they were made in the media.

Debra Snell:

"We did not phone the Sacramento Bee to dispute Sac. City Unified School Officials statement that PLANS claims is based on rumor either..."

"Anyone who knows PLANS claims, knows that witchcraft has not been our handle."

[But] "We're frankly happy to see the issue in the news, and it has certainly been there lately."

When Mr. Dugan was criticized even by a supporter for the way PLANS seemed to use allegations of witchcraft at the Waldorf methods charter schools picketed against, he answered on his mailing list on June 9, defending it.

Dan Dugan:

"What I say 'in defense of the Waldorfians' is that 'they don't eat babies.'" "Am I pandering to the prejudices of Christians? Personally, yes I am!"
On 10 June 1997, the Sacramento Bee commented on PLANS's anti-Waldorf campaign in an editorial titled "The Attack on Oak Ridge":
" ... in recent weeks, at the urging of a Bay Area-based group called People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) and a few disgruntled teachers, a protest movement has brewed among a number of parents, marked by picketing and a boycott that kept a third of the student body out of school for parts of last week. PLANS suggests that Waldorf methods involve the teaching of witchcraft ...

... with a parent population that includes many recent Hmong and Mien immigrants who don't speak English well, PLANS has found fertile ground in which to plant the seed of paranoia. ... What's important now is to counter the misinformation campaign ..."

Other Waldorf schools targeted by PLANS in different ways are the Denver Waldorf school and the San Diego Waldorf school.

Three years later, in 2000, the president of PLANS in a public discussion, in some contrast to her earlier statement, defended a similar allegation as seemingly was propagated in 1997 -- this time that witchcraft is practiced at Waldorf schools by Waldorf teachers after school performing voodoo on the wool dolls made by the pupils.

When someone criticized the allegation, Debra Snell, the president of PLANS, defended it, described the one criticizing the allegation as member of "the cover-up committee", and implied that practicing voodoo was part of anthroposophy (see also below).

Media reports of the picketing and the allegations of witchcraft at Waldorf methods schools were then used to get US$ 15,000 from an evangelical organization to fund a litigation in 1998 against two school districts in California, that support Waldorf methods schools as charter schools, for allegedly illegally "advancing religion", to make them stop their support for Waldorf methods schools.

At the end of 2000, after years of campaigning and diatribes, the group, according to its secretary, had 44 members.

The two major search engines on the net; Google and Altavista, after reviewing the site of the group, have given PLANS the low-down as "informational" source on Waldorf education and anthroposophy.

As a result of the review, Google in 2002 removed the site of PLANS from the "waldorf organizations" category in its web directory, and Google AdWords, after having reviewed the site, canceled an ad from the group, that it had published for a short time.

In 2003, Altavista, after a similar review of the site of PLANS, decided to remove all direct links to it completely from its web index, and stopped publishing sponsored ads from Overture for searches on "waldorf", "waldorf education" and "Rudolf Steiner" to get rid of the ads from PLANS Inc. on the searches in question.

What is the background for these stern positions and actions by two of the largest and most widely used search engines on the internet on "PLANS"?

For a more detailed analysis, see below. For a more developed, systematic description of the group, see the site of "Americans for Waldorf Education".
 
 
The anti-Waldorf campaign and diatribes of the small fringe group "PLANS" in San Francisco


"Value should be attached solely to the mutual exchange between individuals. It is irrelevant whether someone is a Jew or a German ... This is so obvious that one feels stupid even putting it into words. So how stupid must one be to assert the opposite!"
Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education, September 1897, 
in Collected essays 1887-1901 (Collected works, vol. 31)
-
Introduction
- McCarthyist demagoguery
- Fundamentalist right wing litigation
- Medieval witch hunting and mythologies
- More mythologies
- Summarizing comments on PLANS
- Cultural freedom and mutual respect,
  some European and American perspectives
 

INTRODUCTION 


Since the beginning of 1996, a mixture of criticism, different degrees of distortion, the cultivation of different more or less demonizing myths, and/or libel against Waldorf education, Waldorf schools, Waldorf teachers, other individuals, anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner can be found at the site of PLANS (People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools), and at a mailing list, waldorf-critics (WC), personally owned by its secretary, and co-owned by its webmaster.

As additional tools in their anti-Waldorf campaign, PLANS, its secretary and webmaster at the site of PLANS and the mailing list use extensive violations of copyright of common newspapers, journals, web sites, mailing lists and individuals.

The main representative on the Internet of the group is its secretary, a Mr. Dan Dugan, a sound engineer, inventor and secular humanist skeptic missionary and activist in San Francisco since at least the 1980s. Except for having built the site of PLANS and running the mailing list, he repeatedly since a number of years writes to different academics, school boards, newspapers and journals to warn them against the dangers in his view of Waldorf education.

Together with a Mr. Sabsay, another member of the board of PLANS, he at the end of the 1980s engaged in a failed campaign to transform the San Francisco Bay Area Skeptics (BAS) into a crusading offensive grass root organization, preaching secular humanism in the Bay area.

For the view of the Bay Area Skeptics of the failed campaign, in which Mr Sabsay and Mr Dugan seem to have played the major role, as described by the secretary of BAS at the time, see here and here.

The pages tell how difficult he and the board of the Bay Area Skeptics found it to handle what he describes as the "throw-some-mud-and-see-what-sticks" tactic by Mr. Sabsay and the libel by Mr Dugan, that according to the secretary of Bay Area Skeptics were used by them at the time to achieve their goals.

The failed campaign led to the foundation of the East Bay Skeptics Society as a break away group from Bay Area Skeptics, with Mr. Sabsay as president. Its home page indicates that its activity today mainly seems to consist in meeting once a month for dinner at the China Village restaurant in Albany, CA.
 

McCARTHYIST DEMAGOGUERY 


In 1991, two years after the failed campaign against his own secular humanist friends, Mr. Dugan ran a new campaign, now against audiophiles. In an article in the Journal Stereophile at the time, "Audio McCarthyism", the reporter expresses his great surprise at the unexpected demagoguery used by Mr. Dugan in the campaign, comparing it to that used by the otherwise quiet, undistinguished Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy at the beginning of the 1950s in his use of irresponsible accusations, militant attacks and self aggrandizing witch-hunting in his efforts to try to crash his opponents.

In the anti-audiophile campaign, Mr. Dugan on "philosophical" grounds, interestingly in the same dogmatic spirit as that of the Catholic Church against Galileo 400 years ago, according to the Journal Stereophile contradicted by elementary empirical tests conducted by himself, argued that it is "impossible" for man to notice the difference between sounds transmitted by audio cables of different electrical properties, and that stating the opposite was "consumer fraud".

Later Mr. Dugan has continued his McCarthyist "skeptic" "philosophical" witch hunt diatribes and campaigns, seemingly as part of his long term missionary work to propagate secular humanism in the Bay area, now as a crusade against Waldorf education.

In its first form, PLANS was organized in 1995 by its present president, Debra Snell, a disgruntled former Waldorf parent at a Waldorf charter school she herself had participated in founding and participated in the running of. PLANS was formally registered as a corporation in 1997. According to its secretary, the group at the end of 2000, after 5 years of activity and campaigning, had 44 members.

(This is contradicted by the bylaws of PLANS, that state that it is a corporation that shall have no members. The people referred to as "members" seem to be persons who have contributed with at least $15 to PLANS' activities during the year, but who don't have any voting rights regarding the organization or activities of PLANS, that is wholly organized, ruled and run by its small board of directors. During the first 6 months of 1997, PLANS according to an application for tax exemption in 1997 had received $ 55 as "membership fees".)

The work of Mr. Dugan as the seemingly all time secretary of PLANS and of Ms. Snell as its all time president, with Mr. Dugan fighting a long term missionary secular humanist "philosophical" war and Ms. Snell fighting a personal war against Waldorf education, constitute the two main pillars of the anti-Waldorf diatribes of PLANS.

Mailing list 


At the mailing list of Mr. Dugan, that from 2001 to 2005 was co-owned by a new webmaster of PLANS during the time, a Gary Bonhiver, he argues against Waldorf education and anthroposophy as its philosophical basis. According to himself, he does not do this because he thinks that what is done in Waldorf education in general is bad as such -- if done by other than Waldorf teachers -- but because it in Waldorf education is done on in his view "erroneous" -- that is not secular humanist -- philosophical grounds.

The essence of the argumentation by Mr. Dugan and those supporting him on his list is: If anything is done at a Waldorf school or by a sympathizer of anthroposophy as the philosophical basis of Waldorf education, it is bad, one way or the other.

To substantiate his philosophical views, the secretary of PLANS not only invites to and himself contributes to the discussion of not only basic pedagogical issues, like the way of introducing reading in Waldorf education compared with public education.

To spice up the discussion, he also, applying the "throw-some-mud-and-see-what-sticks" tactic used already during his Bay Area Skeptics days in the 1980s against his secular humanist friends at the time, cultivates and/or supports the cultivation of different demonizing myths and libel about Waldorf education on his mailing list and at the site of PLANS.

As implied support for the mythologies in question, he encourages the discussion of any problem, large and small, that has come to expression at any time - 3, 10, 20 or 40 years ago - at any of the appr. 950 Waldorf or Steiner schools around the globe time during the today about 90 year long history of the Waldorf movement.

Independently of the nature of the problem discussed, Waldorf education as such is described as or accused of being responsible for all of them, with the moderator of the list and the president of PLANS describing them as "Waldorf horror stories" and a "typical" discussion topic on the list.

In the advertisement for the list, Mr. Dugan describes the members of PLANS as "philosophy warriors" and people supporting anthroposophy as a philosophical basis of Waldorf education as "defenders of the faith". He also in a markedly self-aggrandizing, but on the surface  modest tone, describes the list as an implied general reflection of "Waldorf education, as viewed from outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner" and an informational "networking resource for parents, teachers, school boards and reporters interested in Waldorf Education".

Site 


Based on the view of everyone except the secretary of PLANS and some few others as "deluded" and "deceived", regarding the anthroposophical basis of Waldorf education and the alleged "true", evil nature of anthroposophy as depicted by PLANS, he also advertises the site to search engines with the same self aggrandizing "Waldorf education as viewed from outside the cult".

Based on this advertisement and with the slogan "Truth in advertising", the secretary of PLANS then, up to 2001, when he found a new webmaster of PLANS, a Gary Bonhiver, (hooked up at the time on one of the myths cultivated by PLANS, that Steiner as the founder was anti-Semitic) linked to or mentioned only those few pages on the net that in some way for one or other reason expressed criticism on one or other point of Waldorf education or a Waldorf school.

Some months after the publication of an article exposing the untruthfulness of the mythology cultivated and used by PLANS as one of its main rhetorical anti-Waldorf tools, Mr. Dugan at the beginning of 2005 told that Mr. Bonhiver not any more is webmaster of PLANS's site.

In defense of his untruthful description of his site, Mr. Dugan answered that he considered all positive articles from people outside the Waldorf movement only to be "puff pieces" for Waldorf education.

Since long, most serious Waldorf supporters and representatives have given up on trying to reason with the small group of in a number of cases repeatedly obsessively tending 'critics' on the list, and left the discussion.

To compensate for this and draw new people to the list, he regularly in consciously expressed violation of copyright (one example from 2002 of the numerous ones) up to the present publishes and comments on private mails sent to him, to make the mostly innocent senders join the list to discuss all the strange allegations and myths he and PLANS cultivate. Because of the flaming demonizing myths about Waldorf education cultivated and supported by the group, also other Waldorf supporters in periods join the list.

For some of the articles, comments and reflections by some of the "deluded" persons referred to by Mr Dugan, see

  • Reflections on Waldorf education by a number of educationalists, including Joseph Weizenbaum, Professor emeritus at MIT and author of Computer Power and Human Reason.


FUNDAMENTALIST RIGHT WING LITIGATION 


In 1998, PLANS, financed through a right wing law firm, litigated against two public local school districts in California from a strange combination of rationalist, left wing and secular humanist and right wing fundamentalist positions. The litigation (see also here, here and here) concerned the school districts' integration and support of schools using Waldorf programs in their districts as charter schools.

It contended that not Waldorf schools, but Waldorf methods charter schools, formed specifically not to violate the first amendment of the US Constitution regarding the separation of "Church and State" - according to PLANS - have as their "primary purpose and primary effects [...] to advance religion, including the religious doctrines of Anthroposophy".

In support of PLANS's case and view that Waldorf education constitutes illegal religious indoctrination of children, the president of PLANS on the mailing lists of the secretary of the group in December 2000 told how she and the secretary of PLANS had hired a Private Investigator, splitting the cost of $1.500 for hiring him, to - in violation of the law - sneak in at a private, voluntary, outside school time, off campus, Advent celebration by Grade 3 pupils of one of the charter schools in California, to "in secret" videotape the children taking part in it.

For a description of the Midwinter celebration in question, that is a common tradition and one of the festivals and seasonal celebrations at Waldorf schools world wide, in the case mentioned, as probably at all public Waldorf charter schools taking place outside school hours and campus, that also is practiced and has been made a tradition by nonsectarian Universal Unitarians, see here and here.

For an online article on the midwinter Advent Spiral celebration at one Waldorf school, together with the traditional lightening of the menorah, in memory of when the Jews defeated Syrian armies in 165 B.C., see here.

In 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2005, a federal court in California in four steps has ruled against the litigation. 

In 1999 it found that the two school districts involved have a secular, non religious purpose for the operation of the two schools using Waldorf methods, targeted in the litigation. but let the case proceed, to investigate whether public Waldorf programs might have the unintended consequence of directly and substantially promoting "religion" to such an extent, that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

In 2001, the court however dropped the case, based on the insufficient evidence by PLANS in support of it and a recent legal precedent in a similar case in New York, indicating that PLANS did not have an argued for taxpayer standing in the case.

After an appeal by PLANS, an appellate court in February 2003 however filed a decision, reversing the decision on taxpayer standing by the lower court, which made the case head for court on September 12, 2005.

While the reversed ruling on PLANS' taxpayer standing was based on the width of the allegation in its litigation in contrast to the case in New York, it did not reverse the earlier ruling by the lower court in 2001, that the public Waldorf method schools involved, using waldorf methods do not have as "a primary purpose and primary effect [...] to advance religion, including the religious doctrines of Anthroposophy", as alleged by PLANS in its litigation.

In May 2004, PLANS presented a motion for summary judgment, or, in the alternative, summary adjudication, requesting that the court rule that anthroposophy is a religion, based on material presented by PLANS. But the court did not buy the argumentation, as little as in 1999, and on 15 November 2004 denied the motion. For the ruling in full, see the site of Waldorf Answers.

In September 2005, the Court ruled against PLANS for a fourth time. 

Once the trial started, it turned out the Plaintiff did not have one acceptable witness or evidence, and the trial came to an end after only 30 minutes. For the full transcript of the trial, see here (HTML) or here (pdf). For the final trial ruling, see here.

- Comments 


In a Press Release after the reversed ruling on taxpayer standing, the board of PLANS tells that "During the discovery phase of the litigation", PLANS discovered what it describes as "internal documents" ("The Waldorf Teacher's Survival Guide", a book that is advertised by Amazon), used by Sacramento City Unified School District as "training or instruction in Waldorf teaching methods or Waldorf curriculum.".

According to PLANS, the "internal documents" reveal that the "true nature" of Waldorf education is that it is inspired and supervised by the devil, an allegation seemingly cultivated by PLANS already from the start in 1997, judging from the Sacramento Bee at the time, and again in 2000, three years later, judging from the defense by the president of PLANS of an allegation at the time that Waldorf teachers after school perform voodoo on the wool dolls made by the pupils.

After reviewing key sections of the deposition testimony taken of PLANS' most vocal spokesperson, Dan Dugan, the judge in the case, Frank C. Damrell, Jr, expressed "grave doubts about any reliance upon his opinions about anything that has to do with any intellectual endeavor, including anthroposophy" before ruling that Dugan would not be allowed to give testimony in the trial. (Source: Reporter's Transcript, PLANS, Inc. vs Sacramento City Unified School District, Twin Ridges Elementary School District, Apr 11, 2001 Document #95)

A number of experts who have been watching PLANS' case from a national vantage point regard the legal situation is highly unusual. Some years ago, Edwin Darden, the senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association in U.S. commented on the litigation by PLANS in an article in Teacher Magazine: "I don't know if I've seen anything like this: school districts being sued for allowing schools to follow a philosophy that is not overtly religious". (For another article on it, see here.) 

For some comments by parents in Grass Valley having their children at the Yuba River Charter School on the litigation, see Yuba River Charter School does not teach religion and Yuba River Charter School suit is disappointing.
 

MEDIEVAL WITCH HUNTING AND MYTHOLOGIES 


Since some time, PLANS has focused on running a smear and witch hunting campaign against Rudolf Steiner at its site, based on one of the favorite myths it for some reason cultivates; that Rudolf Steiner was, and anthroposophy and Waldorf education are anti-Semitic.

The myth is one of the myths cultivated by PLANS and its representatives. (For more on the myth, see here, and here.)

The "Protocol of Steiner" myth in question is mainly based on the works of a left wing activist, Peter Staudenmaier, creating and laying a forgery as the foundation stone of his works as non-academic, self appointed "historical scholar", repeatedly mixing truths with untruths in what he writes on anthroposophy.

The mentioned forgery consists in making up an untruthful story about the content of the well documented and since long published first lecture in a lecture series held by Rudolf Steiner in Oslo in 1910, as also the whole lecture series in question. It was written as an introduction to a demonizing article about anthroposophically based activities, titled "Anthroposophy and ecofascism", published since 2000 by PLANS at its site.

The untruthful and demonizing made up introduction, that completely lacks support in the lecture and lecture series, portrays Steiner as a proto-Nazi, and is used by Staudenmaier as the basic introductory "explanation" of Steiner. When this has been pointed out to him, he has asserted, both that his description actually is well supported by the published lecture, as also that what he describes is a special lecture, not published in the lecture series, but he has at no time produced any documentation telling that the lecture corresponding to his description actually exists.

In spite of criticism pointing to this total lack of documentation regarding the "existence" of the special "lecture" that he describes in the introduction, as he describes it with regard to its content, Mr. Staudenmaier persistently in different confusing ways repeatedly has defended his made up demonizing fantasies about the lecture and lecture series, until it has become too evident to all that it constitutes a forgery in the sense described, only existing as he describes it in the fantasy of Staudenmaier himself.

In spite of the demonstrated untruthfulness of Mr. Staudenmaier, continued in his defense of his first untruths, the article was still in June 2005 published uncorrected in its original form at the site of PLANS -- five years after its original publication -- together with a number of other articles by Staudenmaier.

Some time after that, Mr. Dugan silently and without notice to anyone about it, has replaced the original version of the article with a slightly edited version, where the untruths found already in the introduction to the article, and that he and Mr. Staudenmaier repeatedly have defended since its first publication when their untruthfulness have been pointed to, have been removed, only keeping the introduction as an alleged description of the whole lecture series.

For an analysis also of this already in May 2001, see here.

Later (2005), Mr. Dugan has published yet another piece by Mr. Staudenmaier, that with broad strokes continues to try to depict Steiner as a racist in a way that demonstrates Mr. Staudenmaier's profound lack of understanding, alternatively interest to understand what he writes about. For more on this, see here.

While the paper was presented by Mr.Staudenmaier at an "anti-cult" conference in Atlanta in October 2004, it seems the organizer of the conference has decided not to publish it, after having read the documentation of Mr. Staudenmaier's "quality" as "scholar" at this site, and the site of Daniel Hindes.

The articles reveal that PLANS does not care very much about the actual truthfulness of what is published at its site, as long it is of use in PLANS' demonization of Waldorf education behind the at times more polite surface in different public contexts and contacts.

Peter Staudenmaier later was joined for a time by a Peter Zegers, in other discussions standing out as a somewhat extreme defender of Zionism, to an extent even commented on by Noam Chomsky as surpassing absurdity.

For some comments on Staudenmaier and Zegers, see here and here.

When Peter Staudenmaier's fantasy forgery has been exposed, he -- in discussions outside the context of PLANS -- has said that he has corrected it in later translations of his article. When pointed to that his forgery still is found uncorrected, even in his own view, at the site of PLANS and at the site of the Institute for Social Ecology for which he works, he has answered: "I don't take these things nearly as seriously as you do".

After criticism of a number of untruths published by PLANS at its site, Mr. Dugan did not correct the untruths or remove the untruthful material more than marginally, and complemented this with the addition of a disclaimer to the site, telling that PLANS does not vouch for the truthfulness of the material that it publishes at its site or links to.

The "Protocol of Steiner" mythology cultivated by the secretary of PLANS and especially the two Peters, is continuously used by PLANS as one of its main rhetorical tools seemingly to incite from deep antipathy to hatred against anthroposophy and Waldorf education in especially the Jewish community, in a similar way that the Protocol of Zion forgery was used a century ago, then to incite anger and rage against Jews in its cultivation of a myth that there exists a secret, hidden not generally known "Jewish world conspiracy" to take over and rule the world.

A more explicit corresponding paranoid "Anthroposophical world conspiracy mythology"  also has been cultivated by the secretary of PLANS, Dan Dugan, at his mailing list together with a journalist, Lisa Ercolano, alleging that the secret agenda of Waldorf education, not told to Waldorf parents, is to prepare for the pupils to become the future rulers of the world.

After the cultivation of the mythology at the mailing list of the secretary of PLANS, Lisa Ercolano was made vice-president of PLANS Inc.

Like the central anti-Semitic site "Jewwatch.com" in its campaign to incite hatred against Jews, PLANS Inc, although slightly softer and not as extensive, in addition to its cultivation of the "Protocol of Steiner" mythology and an "Anthroposophical world conspiracy" mythology as one variant of it, also uses the same demagogical seemingly "objective" "don't blame it on the messenger" quotation technique, earlier used at "Jewwatch".

This is done by among other things putting together a number of carefully selected "quotes" from different sources out of historical, cultural and conceptual context in such a way as to try to indicate that Rudolf Steiner was a racist and anti-Semite.

Like the anti-Semitic group "Jewwatch", that advertises its site as "information" about Jewry and Judaism with the neutral description "Not-For-Profit Library for private study, scholarship, or research", the secretary of PLANS also advertises his mailing list "Waldorf critics" with the on the surface neutral description of it as "networking resource for parents, teachers, school boards and reporters interested in Waldorf education".

In general, the site of PLANS and the WC mailing list personally owned by its secretary probably stand out as distorted, twisted and revolting to most people who know something about Waldorf education and anthroposophy, in their mixture of valid complaints with the repeated and extensive cultivation of different mythologies, xenophobia and demonizing witch hunting, as the hate site of "Jewwatch" stands out to Jews as "information" about Jewry and Judaism.

U.S. legislation indicates that the support, cultivation and spreading of the mythology in question on the WC list and at the site of PLANS since a number of years falls in the category of libel together with a number of postings made on the WC-list and republished at the site of PLANS as "archives" by the secretary of PLANS, Mr. Dugan.

Mail from parents at Waldorf schools tells that they understand the site of PLANS to demonstrate that anthroposophy as the spiritual philosophical basis of Waldorf education is evil. In a number of cases, it has made Waldorf parents take their children out of the Waldorf schools they go to, or not putting their children at one, because of the site of PLANS, with the site being the primary reason for doing it.

In addition to the decisions and actions by Altavista and Google, described in the introduction, to remove listings and advertisements for the site of PLANS, one or two meta editors of a the large search portal Open Directory Project also, after having reviewed the site of PLANS closer, has or have removed the site from two Waldorf categories at the portal where it could be found for a time, judging that the site not qualifies as informational site on Waldorf education according to the demands of the portal.

For some comments on the "Protocol of Steiner" mythology, see

Another myth used by PLANS in its its anti-Waldorf campaign, seemingly already in 1997, is a "Protocol of Waldorf" myth, building and cultivating the picture and understanding of Waldorf education as based on a pagan religion, inspired by the Devil. The mythology seems to be used to incite a similar anger against Waldorf education in the Christian community as the "Protocol of Steiner" mythology is used for in the Jewish Community, and was used in 1998 to raise the funding from a right wing group for the litigation against two Californian school districts.

While the "Protocol of Steiner" myth as such in the case of PLANS more seems to originate from the secretary of PLANS, the "Protocol of Waldorf" myth more seems to originate from the president of PLANS as her favorite, in 1997 expressing her "happiness" that public Waldorf charter schools were alleged to teach "witchcraft" to its pupils, and using media reports of the allegations to get $15,000 from a fundamentalist Christian organization to fund litigation against two public school districts, and then again in a similar way in 2000 on the mailing list of the secretary of PLANS defending an allegation that Waldorf teachers after school perform voodoo on wool dolls made by Waldorf pupils as fully reasonable, and describing the one criticizing it as part of a Waldorf "cover-up committee". 

For a description of, and some more comments on the two mythologies, see here.
 

MORE MYTHOLOGIES
- a "right wing" mythology 


People of all political and religious orientations can be found among parents at the c. 870 Waldorf schools around the world (Spring 2004). While possibly the majority of people interested in anthroposophy or putting their children in Waldorf schools may tend to have a social liberal and ecological orientation, at least in Europe, at times also people more tending to the political fringes, both left and right, develop an interest in anthroposophy and Waldorf education, some for and some against.

One of the myopic allegations and mythologies cultivated by some of PLANS' outspoken left wing supporters, like Peter Zegers and Peter Staudenmaier, is that anthroposophy is right wing oriented. The allegation may stand out as interesting to some in view of that the litigation by PLANS against two public school districts in California was supported, financed and run by a right wing fundamentalist law firm and individual.

For some comments on the writings by Staudenmaier and Zegers by among other Peter Normann Waage, former Waldorf pupil and well known journalist at the main left oriented daily in Norway; "Dagbladet" (The Daily), see here.

For some more comments on PLANS and its argumentation by a very personal and unique brand of left wing anarchist and anthroposophist, Tarjei Straume, also in the neighboring country west of Sweden; Norway (you know, those other Scandinavians, who in contrast to Sweden, where the webmaster of this site lives, stubbornly refuse to join the heaven of the European Union ;-)) ), go here.

For the main page of this in comparison very moderate and well behaved site ... ;-)), go here. For some efforts by the webmaster of this site at trying to participate in the discussion on the WC-list and comments on the discussion on the list, see here.

For some more comments on the allegations cultivated by PLANS, see the well formulated site here, built by Daniel Hindes.

- an "anti vaccination" mythology 


Opposition to simplified schematic mandatory childhood immunizations in the early life of children is a world wide growing movement that has developed in recent years, independently of Waldorf education, both outside and inside Waldorf schools. See Global Vaccine Institute and Global Vaccine Awareness League.

This has led to another of the unfounded allegations by PLANS and WCs in their anti-Waldorf campaign, that it is a general official or tacit policy of Waldorf Schools to oppose to childhood immunization, exposing children at Waldorf Kindergartens or the pupils at Waldorf schools to life threatening dangers in the form of child diseases like the measles and rubella.

That is not the case. The expressly stated view by the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education, where the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America is an affiliate member, is that vaccination of children is something for the parents of the children, not Waldorf schools, to decide on or try to influence in one or other direction.

For some comments on the issue and the danger respectively non danger of some child- and other infectious diseases on the WC-list, see here.

For an article on immunization in Shining Mountain, Boulder, Colorado, see A shot in the dark, Parents should get all the facts before immunizing their children.
 

SOME SUMMARIZING COMMENTS ON "PLANS" 


In general, some of the discontent that comes to expression at the site of PLANS and the two mailing lists related to it stands out as valid and understandable and can be seen as partly rooted in a too rapid growth of the Waldorf movement in US, resulting in partly immature schools and (like at most schools) at times not fully competent teachers and administrators.

Another part is understandable as an expression of a clash between a purely rationalist view of the purpose of education and an effort in Waldorf education to do a more balanced justice to not only the intellectual, but also the emotional, social and action oriented needs of growing children, and integrate also earlier perspectives and stages of the cultural evolution of mankind than the present in the Waldorf curriculum, in building an understanding of the pupils for their background and place in the world, not primarily as members of any specific nation or race, but as members of humanity and world citizens.

The third main part of the argumentation uses the first two parts as a basis and implied support for demonizing defamation, smearing of and witch hunting against Waldorf education, anthroposophy, the anthroposophical movement and Rudolf Steiner as the main originator of both anthroposophy and Waldorf education, as part of the mainly secular humanist rhetoric of the originator of the site of PLANS.

Except for the myths mentioned above, the main tools used in this part of the argumentation are the cultivation respectively support by the secretary, president and vice president of PLANS of allegations on the WC-list, then republished as "archives" at the site of PLANS, that Rudolf Steiner was schizophrenic, megalomaniac and a drug addict, that he probably practiced sex magic, and that elements in Waldorf education extensively are used as ritual magic, like eurythmy, or used to make "magical talismans" (wet-on-wet water-color paintings), and with the secretary of PLANS regularly comparing Steiner to Hitler one of many possible examples.

For an actual comparison of Steiner to Hitler, see here.

And except, of course, on the WC-list publishing insinuations that it is a common habit of Waldorf teachers to sexually assault Waldorf pupils, to then republish it as "archives" of the list at the site of PLANS.

For some kind of reality check on this, see here and the pages at, or linked to from this site.

For some comments more in detail on the myths in question, see one section at the site of Waldorf Answers. See also the site of Americans for Waldorf Education.

For a Wikipedia article on the group, see here.

At times participants on the WC mailing list start anti-Waldorf crusades in different other forums. For some comments on one such example, in 2008, see here.
 

CULTURAL FREEDOM AND
MUTUAL RESPECT
- some European and American perspectives 


Part of the development in Europe, especially since the middle of the 1980s, consists in an increased meeting and mixture of different cultures. But it also displays conflicts and the cultivation of different more or less serious types of cultural xenophobia, myths and paranoia, similar to what comes to expression through PLANS in USA in its cultivation and promotion of such cultural xenophobia and paranoia against everything connected with waldorf education and anthroposophy, advertising it as "information".

For some comments on the situation in Europe and USA in this perspective, see here.

For a comment on PLANS by a Waldorf teacher with 20 years of experience, see here.

Hopefully the pages at this site, mentioned and linked to above, especially at the site of Waldorf Answers and the links on the main page can throw a light on what Waldorf education is and some of the issues raised by the site of PLANS.

(Mr.) Sune Nordwall,
Stockholm, Sweden

Go to main page of the section on Waldorf education.

Copyright 2001-2007: Sune Nordwall

If you have any comments or questions,
feel welcome to email me.
For my email address, see here.