Graham Kennish (Steiner science teacher) has written to the Stroud News and Journal this week to dismiss what he calls the “usual racial accusations about Rudolf Steiner” by claiming that Hitler “immediately closed down all Steiner schools in Germany”.
Mr Kennish then goes on to quote Rudolf Steiner;
“In our own epoch the concept of race will gradually disappear…”
Neither of these arguments in themselves answer the questions about why Steiner folllowers see nothing wrong with Steiner’s teachings about spiritual development through the races. They are distractions from those questions, but his letter will perhaps make people curious about the Steiner take on history and race; the editor of the newspaper singled out the phrase “concept of race will disappear” as the title for the letter, so clearly that part grabbed her attention.
Mr Kennish is wrong on the first point;
According to Peter Staudenmaier who made a detailed study of Nazism and anthroposophy,
“In comparison to other alternative educational projects, Waldorf schools initially fared relatively well under the Nazi regime”.
There were Steiner schools in Germany until 1941, and the reason for their closure at that stage, according to Staudenmaier , was that the occult teachings in Steiner schools were eventually deemed incompatible with the Nazi idea of German “Volksgemeinschaft or national community”. It was not that Steiner followers refused to collaborate with the Nazis; indeed, some anthroposophists were members of the Nazi party and others supported their policies.
The arguments here on this blog against state-funded Steiner education have not included accusations of Nazism among Steiner people, but since Mr Kennish brings Hitler into the discussion, it is worth pointing out that looking back to 1930s Germany, Staudenmaier says
“The openly pro-Nazi faction within the Waldorf camp had extensive roots within the anthroposophical movement, and for a time played a substantial role in shaping and representing Waldorf education.”
Each time the racism in anthroposophy is discussed, anthroposophists mention Nazism as though this is the accusation against the Steiner creed, in fact the racism is much more subtle, but still harmful.
Now on to the second argument, where Mr Kennish quotes Steiner on race “disappearing in our own epoch”;
As he is a Steiner teacher, I am sure Mr Kennish is familiar with the precise meaning of the term “epoch” as used in his chosen quote. According to Steiner teachings, we are in the “fifth post Atlantean epoch”, which will last until the year 3573. So in another 1500 years or so, humans will be vastly different, if we are to believe Steiner’s clairvoyant vision.”Post Atlantean”, by the way, means post the catastrophe which caused the first members of the aryan race to leave Atlantis. Here is some info on the epochs.
Not only will there be no “concept of race”, but according to the Rudolf Steiner archive;
“…men in the sixth epoch will only be considered to have real knowledge when they recognize the spiritual, when they know that the spiritual pervades the world and that human souls must unite with the spiritual. What is known as science today with its materialistic trend will certainly not be honored by the name of science in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. It will be regarded as antiquated superstition…”
“The whole purpose of spiritual science is to prepare in this sense for the sixth epoch of culture”.
So there we have it, the reason why Steiner teachers, trained in anthroposophy, are so concerned about the spiritual development of school children, is so that humanity will be ready to inhabit this imaginary future world, where the dreaded “intellect” will have no place. No wonder anthroposophists are not worried about science taking a back seat in the current “epoch”; when they reincarnate in the sixth, they will only need to have knowledge of “the spiritual”, and so will the children in their care.
An informative article from 2009 explains the way science is taught in Steiner schools, with a description of the Goethean science” they are so fond of;
“The idea is that the Goethean does not need to superimpose a rationalistic or reductionistic explanatory mechanism over top of the observed phenomenon, but rather simply takes the intuitive imaginative experience at face value.
“A philosopher would call that a phenomenological approach. A scientist would call it ‘making s*** up’ – and that’s pretty much the size of it. So-called Goethean ‘scientists’ simply disregard all the proven tools provided by the scientific method, i.e. logic, reason and evidence, in favour of treating their own imaginings and subjective impressions as an alternative form of ‘scientific truth’.
When an anthroposophist like Kennish opens his mouth – or puts pen to paper – in defence of Steiner’s pronouncements and the ethos of the schools, he opens another can of worms.
I hope parents are interested enough to read up and find out the reasons for some of the more bizarre aspects of Steiner education.