Suggested Reading

The books on the reading list suggested by the Stroud Steiner free school group are all written by anthroposophists.

Parents looking for information about Steiner education would not know this, and although reading these books would provide certain clues for those who are particularly curious and alert, such titles will not give them the facts they need to make an informed choice for their child.

Even the innocent – sounding titles about play and parenting are written by anthroposophists, and the two books the group are selling are Steiner Waldorf propaganda, pure and simple.

One of the 14 books on the list is published by the Anthroposophical Press, but all the publishers, except one in America, are anthroposophical.

The list is recommended as a “selection of recommended books that discuss the pedagogical aspects of Steiner Education and some other books relevant to family life working with a similar approach to childhood.”

What parents should be told is that all these books will not provide an impartial or comprehensive account of the Steiner Waldorf education system. They are written by people who follow the long dead Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner, and think his brand of wacky pseudoscience is ok to teach to children.

All these authors have a mission (in addition to selling their books); to further promote Steiner education worldwide. Some are members of the School of Spiritual Science.

Critical analysis of the Steiner movement is currently to be found on the internet, although a book on the subject could be in the offing.

Here is a list of the books I have found useful.

Sun at Midnight  –  The Rudolf Steiner Movement and Gnosis in the West  – by Geoffrey Ahern

As a review says this is one of the few books on the subject of Anthroposophy written by someone outside the cult. An old copy is kicking around in the Gloucestershire Library service, and the 2009 edition is now available in paperback

Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon – by Peter Washington

This is not specifically about the Steiner movement, but details Steiner’s involvement with Theosophy as suggested in the subtitle; “A History of the Mystics, Misfits, and Mediums who brought Spiritualism to America” – a great read anyway. Also available from the library.

A Handbook for Waldorf Class Teachers – compiled by Kevin Avison

Yes it is written and published by anthroposophists, but it is revealing in its frankness and of course is not meant for parental consumption.

Dispirited – by David Webster

Not about Steiner, but a common sense analysis of contemporary spirituality, and an interesting perspective on the way modern belief systems affect people. Concise and readable.

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4 comments

  1. Jim

    I suppose we should not be surprised – to be fair you would not go to the pope for an unbiased view of christianity. But of course the difference is that everyone knows the pope is broadly in favour of christianity whereas the true nature of Steiner education is deliberately hidden.

    I am surprised that there seems not to be a book length critique of the Steiner cult and its myriad tentacles.

  2. Helen

    My fear is that parents will read a couple of the books on the free school’s list and feel they have researched the subject of Steiner education enough.
    The problem is that you do not expect a school to be the subject of worldwide criticism – so why would you even think of looking for it?
    A book-length critique would certainly be educational for parents.

  3. mah74

    If I can suggest an addition to the reading list, try “The Spiritual Basis of Steiner Education” by Roy Wilkinson. It is very much pro-Steiner but also unusually good at explaining how Anthroposophy is relevant in the classroom. A preview of the contents page and first three chapters are available on Google Books.

  4. Helen

    Thanks for that useful addition to the list. Of course, as an anthroposophist the author’s view of life is bizarre, but as you say the book does emphasise the importance of anthroposophy and spirituality within the schools.
    I particularly like this;
    “The teacher who has studied spiritual science…will have created a substance within himself that flows over automatically to his pupils.” and, on noticing that parents wish the schools could be “divorced from certain crazy ideas a teacher may have expressed” he remarks
    “The Waldorf school and the ‘crazy ideas’ are, however, inseparable.”

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