(Published in its first form August 30, 2008. Last updated in April 2013.)
August 27, 2008, the Swedish Christian daily Dagen (The Day) published an interview with Alicia Hamberg, an intelligent, sensitive and humorous former Steiner Waldorf pupil, 30 in 2008. She went to ”Kristofferskolan” (The Christopher School) in Stockholm between the ages of three and 12 during the 1980s, at first in Kindergarten and then during the first six grades.
The interview was made after she had supported and promoted a crusade against Steiner Waldorf education in an English discussion forum during the Spring, with the discussion extending over thousands of postings during five months. The crusade was pursued by a small group of rabid members of a small fringe anti-Waldorf group, on whose board she participated as its ”European representative”, and that she had drawn to the discussions.
The reason was that the undersigned had started to participate in the forum to address a long discussion defaming Steiner Waldorf education, introduced by one participant by referring and linking to an article by a Peter Staudenmaier, who started his career as solo writer on anthroposophy as part of the basis for Steiner Waldorf education with an invented, defamatory untrue con story about a lecture series by Rudolf Steiner now 100 years ago in Oslo, Norway, and that in Sweden is published and promoted by the missionary secular humanist association ”Science and Education of the Public” since 2000.
When his untruth abut the lecture series was exposed, he invented a number of con stories to cover up for his original untruthfulness, without being able to document their truthfulness either.
Staudenmaier plays a similar role to critics of Steiner Waldorf education as David Irving does to antisemites, (though Staudenmaier is much younger) and Alicia Hamberg always defends him when he is criticized for being untruthful in his writings, or criticized in any way.
(The latest example of this is January 12, 2013.
The day before, January 11, I had told her at twitter that
”what infuriates me about Peter Staudenmaier is his way of playing intellectual mind games to with little foundation incite hatred against Steiner Waldorf education in especially the Jewish Community.”
The following day, January 12, Alicia lies about this in a comment at her blog, aptly titled ”Mind games”, to – again – faithfully – protect Peter Staudenmaier from exposure.
”What Sune is infuriated with — he used that word, and I do believe it’s accurate, he is infuriated — is not me or Melanie or Peter or Diana or anyone else. He’s infuriated with poor old Rudolf S who said some silly things that don’t sound very appealing today and probably didn’t to lots of people even back then.”)
As he publishes libel in what he writes, I pointed out to the forum owners and moderators that postings that directly or indirectly linked to his writings as ”explanation” of the experiences of parents at one or other Steiner Waldorf school constituted promotion of libel that violated UK legislation. On this ground a number of the postings were deleted, something critics in continued anti Steiner Waldorf campaigns and arguments polemically have described as suppression of free speech.
After five months, the group was banned from the discussions. The reason was that the forum did not allow crusades by single issue participants, and that the forum owners and administrators not were convinced that the defamation was justified. (I was banned too, for defending against it …)
During the year, the education of Steiner Waldorf teachers had been moved from the Teachers College in Stockholm to the University of Stockholm. In connection with the transition, the University decided that a number of the courses did not fulfill what it considered to be the necessary academic standards for the education of teachers. It is part of a process still going on in Sweden to remove all courses not primarily based on academic research from higher education at universities and colleges. Following the transition, the Board of the Faculty of Science at the university decided to terminate the cooperation between the Teachers College and the Rudolf Steiner College that had been going on since 2002 in a joint education of Steiner Waldorf teachers.
In connection with a public discussion of the decision, the Christian daily ”Dagen” (The Day) made the mentioned interview with Alicia, and another interview with Bo Dahlin, Professor of Education at Karlstad University about Steiner Waldorf education.
Who is Alicia Hamberg, or Zooey/Zzzooey as she calls herself on the net, this relentless critic of Steiner Waldorf education?
On the internet, she has described herself as obsessed with words and letters and in a personal correspondence 2007/2008 described how difficult she finds it to listen to people and for that reason hardly watched TV.
As reason for her parents to put her at ”Kristofferskolan”, the main Steiner Waldorf school in Stockholm, she has stated that she was more difficult to handle than the average child, as she expressed it.
She also told how much she disliked doing especially that which is done a lot at Steiner Waldorf schools; paint, sing, play different instruments, handicraft, and eurythmy, a dancelike form of art movement.
Her difficulty to listen to people probably made it especially difficult for her to go to the Steiner Waldorf school she went to as Steiner Waldorf education, much based on anthroposophy as philosophy and view of man, to such a high degree is built on the spoken word. During her school time, according to herself, she refused to go to school without her watch, making it possible to see how many minutes remained till class was over.
With her great interest in numbers and written text, her difficulties to listen to others (according to herself, she did not care much about what they said) and her deep aversion towards especially the artistic and handicraft elements that distinguish Steiner Waldorf schools from other schools, she soon seems to have become an outsider in her Kindergarten group and later in grade school, and as such bullied by especially one other pupil.
The strife to integrate also a developmentally challenged pupil with outbursts at time in her class also put its mark on the situation of her and others during the time she went there, something she has described with bitterness on the net.
Since the end of 2007, she has started to work through her experiences at school and criticize and heckle everything related to Steiner Waldorf education at a blog and in different discussion forums in an often well formulated way, that however can stand out as somewhat obsessive.
In response to a question who she is, she answered in 2008
”I am someone who eats anthroposophists for breakfast Welcome back to the blood bath ”
She is a secular humanist and the interview describes how she is a member of what is described as ”a network that reviews Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy and Steiner Waldorf schools”. (It refers to this group …) As such, she is one of the, if not the most active Steiner Waldorf critic on the net since 2007.
Since 2008 she has made some 3.000+ postings in different waldorf critical discussions and in addition has written (March 2011) 20,000+ tweets at Twitter. (Since then, she has added 18,000 more tweets.) So she’s a little talkative, internet-wise. She has also told that she’s constantly febrile and how she can’t sleep without sleeping pills. An important part of what she writes – like before – consists in promoting and spreading criticism of everything connected with Waldorf education and anthroposophy, now in cooperation with three British ”Humanists”.
But she has also, after among other things having read descriptions of Steiner as autistic as a child and the peculiarly challenging way he at times describes things, developed an expressed sympathy for him (she has described how she experiences herself as a creature from outer space).
She has described how much she likes the architectural form language in the second Goetheanum and thinks that an exhibition ”Rudolf Steiner – Die Alchemie des Alltags” on display in Germany from May to October 2010 also should be shown in Sweden. At her blog, she has written several (so far 16) postings with ”Love greetings” to Jaerna (a center of anthroposophical activities in Sweden) with pictures she has taken herself of the anthroposophical ”Kulturhuset” (House of Culture) and the garden of the Rudolf Steiner College.
Maybe this (some comments on her ambivalent attitude to anthroposophy and biodynamic farming) can complement the somewhat complex picture through which she expresses herself on the net.
What the Christian ”The Day”-article does not link to is an extensive answer to what the waldorf critics (WC) write.
While it links to a study of Steiner Waldorf education by prof. Bo Dahlin at the University of Karlstad, Waldorfskolan – en skola för människobildning? (The Waldorf school – a school for the cultivation of humanity?), it could also have included a link to one of the most extensive sites on the internet on Steiner Waldorf education, Waldorf Answers. A similar site in Swedish is under construction.
Since 2008, she pursues a personal campaign against the undersigned for my description here in this posting of parts of what she has written about herself on the net, to make her understandable. She also does not like what I have written about Peter Staudenmaier after having analyzed his writings in relation to the sources he refers to as basis for them, or an anti-Steiner crusade by one of the most rabid Steiner Waldorf critics on the net the last years.
August 30, 2008, I wrote this posting in its first form, based on and describing what she has written about herself on the net.
After the banning of the rabid mostly American anti Steiner Waldorf crusaders from the British discussion forum, she developed an extensive personal criticism of the undersigned in the discussion forum of the Swedish missionary secular humanist group ”Science and Education of the People”, where I did not participate.
I instead invited her for a cup of tea at the Tea House in Stockholm (famous for its location under a group of Elms, that were the center for the ”Battle of the Elms” in 1971 in the ”Kings Garden” in the center of Stockholm. The City planners had planned to cut them down and replace them with a subway station, but failed to implement this when Stockholmers of all ages protested against it, some by climbing the trees when the police was called in to support the cutting of the trees.).
I wanted to hear more from herself about the background of her intense antipathy against Steiner Waldorf education, but she answered that she’d rather have tea with ”Ahriman” (the representative of Satan in Persian Mythology) and was somewhat later interviewed by the Christian daily ”The Day”. I did not quite think the interview did her or the ”Kristoffer school” justice and therefore wrote this blog posting in its first form, based on what she had written about herself, to make her understandable.
When she saw it, she wrote a long commentary in one discussion forum, introducing it with
”anthroposophy is rotten, it’s a religion for compulsive liars
and it’s absolutely irredeemable. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point in fighting stupidity. There’s no point in thinking that however good my arguments are, scumbags like (this blogger) will have 10 times the amount of time to just be the asshole that he is (It’s no struggle for him, I’m sure.) First a greeting to all the Swedish anthroposophists: fuck you. You’re a group of lying, deceiving, evil people in a society which kisses your feet and the ground you walk on–and showers you with money”…
Later, she continued with among other things a long posting that mainly consisted of a list of links to 74 pages on the net, that I had written over the last ten years as comments on different discussions of Steiner Waldorf education, which has upset her, and that she described as ”drivel”.
When someone wrote to her in December 2009 (a rabid German co-Waldorf critic according to her) to ask if she had seen a psychologist, she commented at her blog (from which she has banned the co-critic in question)
”I can hardly even remember anymore. I probably have. Mostly, though, I’ve seen psychiatrists. For a multitude of reasons.”
As she hasn’t seemed to feel that well, since last year, I try as much as possible to avoid public discussions with her, and have only as an exception commented on what she has written, beyond this blog comment.
Someone else, who seems to have read her blog and commented on it is Marlene Olsson, a Waldorf mum with radically different experiences of her children’s Steiner Waldorf school than Alicia.
Outside internet discussions, we however have had friendly mail exchanges and during late Autumn (2010) she mainly seems to have felt better. At the beginning of the year, a support teacher at the ”Kristoffer school”, where she went to school during the 1980s, asked me for help to contact her, after having read what she had written on the net. I did, they are now Facebook friends, and Alicia has expressed her gratitude for the contact with the support teacher.
At the beginning of August (2010), I happened to see a comment by her at Twitter, telling how difficult she found it to log out from a yahoo account. As I had had similar problems at one time, I wrote to her and told where she could find the log out text.
She answered the same evening:
Funnily enough, I succeeded in logging out 5 minutes ago. After having gone out at yahoo outside the mail itself. Then suddenly that small ‘log out’-thing appeared at the top of the page. Small it was, but it was visible. I think I have a rather high resolution at my screen. It is actually rather peculiar. I tried to log out already a week ago, but gave up. I have two yahoo email addresses and sometimes I have to log in to the second one to see what new offers I have gotten from Burkina Faso and such places where the forgotten accounts grow on trees. The billions rattle in.
Many thanks anyhow!
So what she writes varies, but the comment feels like an expression of her actual basic positive attitude to life, when nothing troubles or disturbs her.
After the internet discussions in 2008, I suggested to the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf Schools that they employ me part-time as media consultant to follow and report what is published in different media on and related to Steiner Waldorf education, mainly in Sweden, but partly also abroad and they agreed. My work only included reporting about it, and not to write for or in any way represent the Federation. Last December (2011), I stopped working for the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf schools.
Outside of my part time employment I continued and continue to participate in discussions of Waldorf education as a free debater the same way I have done the last decade before and after the employment. In those discussions, as in all discussions, I only represent myself and my own personal views.
If you have any questions or comments on this, feel free to write to me at