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(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 Alicia Hamberg 2008against 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.

The culmination of the lecture series is a prediction by Rudolf Steiner that an increasing number of people from the middle of the 20th century will have a similar experience of Christ as Saul had at Damascus. In Sweden Peter Staudenmaiers’s con stories about the lecture series  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 further 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.

She writes about this

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:

”Hello Sune,

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!

-alicia”

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

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What does Julianna Margulies, actress, former Waldorf student at the High Mowing Waldorf School think about her school?

”The first time I understood the benefit of a Waldorf education was my first week in college. Students around me were flipping out because they were afraid of writing papers. At High Mowing we had at least ten pages to write every night. It was such a big part of our education that I was very confident in my writing. We had to analyze each scene, then write the analysis. I still have my ”Faust” main lesson book with me. When I wrote about it, I was able to expand my thinking and make it my own. That’s what’s so wonderful about Waldorf education. You’re exposed to all these different ideas, but you’re never given one view of it. You’re encouraged to think as an individual.”

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How does Evelyn Galinski, former Waldorf pupil and daughter of Heinz Galinski, Auschwitz survivor and for many years Chairman of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, view her school today, looking back?

”I personally have had only good experiences during my school time; it was liberal, antiracist, tolerant of every faith and not missionary”
(Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung, 30.3.2000)

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“A good education is about more than academics – it’s also about learning values and principles,”says Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express Company.
“My teacher, Lee Lecraw, set high standards. She taught her students about being responsible. She taught us the importance of integrity. Though thoroughly demanding, she also had a special gift for making learning fun.
“Lee was my teacher for several years when I was growing up, and I am blessed to call her a mentor and friend to this day.”

From kindergarten through 12th grade, Kenneth Chenault attended the Waldorf School of Garden City, N.Y. How does he view his Waldorf education today:

”My parents were looking for a school that would nurture the whole person. They also felt that the Waldorf school would be a far more open environment for African Americans, and that was focused on educating students with values, as well as the academic tools necessary to be constructive and contributing human beings. …

I think the end result of Waldorf education is to raise our consciousness. There is a heightened consciousness of what our senses bring us from the world around us, about our feelings, about the way we relate to other people. It taught me how to think for myself, to be responsible for my decisions. Second, it made me a good listener, sensitive to the needs of others. And third, it helped establish meaningful beliefs. In all the Main Block lessons — in history, science, philosophy — we really probed the importance of values and beliefs. In dealing with a lot of complex issues and a lot of stress, if that isn’t balanced by a core of meaningful beliefs, you really will just be consumed and fail.”

How do others view him?

An elegant, quietly charismatic man of even temper and unrelenting drive, Chenault tends to inspire his admirers to extravagant praise. ”Ken radiates such a depth of belief that people would do anything for him,” says Rochelle Lazarus, chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc., AmEx’ lead advertising agency. ”He is a true leader.” Adds Amy DiGeso, a former AmEx executive who is chief executive of Mary Kay Inc.: ”I can say unequivocally that I admire Ken more than anyone else I’ve ever worked with. I think he will be our generation’s Jack Welch.”
(Business Week 1998, Ken Chenault: The Rise of a Star)

More sources on Kenneth Chenault.

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A UK Department for Education and Skills report in 2005 noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf/Steiner and mainstream schools and suggested that each type of school could learn from the other type’s strengths: in particular, that state schools could benefit from Waldorf education’s

– early introduction and approach to modern foreign languages;

– combination of block (class) and subject teaching for younger children;

– development of speaking and listening through an emphasis on oral work;

– good pacing of lessons through an emphasis on rhythm;

– emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations;

– approach to art and creativity;

– attention given to teachers’ reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example); and

– collegial structure of leadership and management, including collegial study.

Aspects of mainstream practice which could inform good practice in Waldorf schools included: management skills and ways of improving organizational and administrative efficiency; classroom management; work with secondary-school age children; and assessment and record keeping.

A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.

Source: Waldorf education article at Wikipedia

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Från 2002 fram till 2008 samarbetade Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm och Rudolf Steinerhögskolan vid utbildningen av blivande Waldorflärare. En del av den fyraåriga utbildningen skedde vid Lärarhögskolan och en annan del vid Rudolf Steinerhögskolan.

Bakgrunden till samarbetet var bl a ett tillkännagivande av riksdagen den 11 december 1996 att regeringen, i kölvattnet av Friskolereformen från 90-talets början, skulle återkomma med förslag om innehåll och finansiering av en Waldorflärarutbildning med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan som huvudman.

Regeringens förslag tillhörde det som ledde till Rudolf Steinerhögskolans utbildning för Waldorflärare 2002-2008 på uppdrag av och i samarbete med Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm.

Den första januari i år övertogs Lärarhögskolans utbildningar av Stockholms Universitet.

I samband med överflyttningen granskades läroplanerna och litteraturen för de olika utbildningarna. Vid sin granskning av utbildningen till Waldorflärare menade man bland annat att utrymmet för vetenskapligt grundad ämnesteori i kurserna var alltför begränsad i utbildningen, bedömde att det inte fanns förutsättningar för att fortsätta att bedriva utbildningen i samarbete med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan och beslöt den 18 juni att lägga ner samarbetet om utbildningen.

Man upprättade dock ett avtal med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan om avveckling av den del av utbildningen som tidigare skett vid Lärarhögskolan som gör det möjligt för de som påbörjat utbildningen att avsluta den.

Beslutet att lägga ner samarbetet med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan har kritiserats och debatterats i flera artiklar i pressen, bl a i SvD. Den första, ”Pedagogisk mångfald stryps” den 24 augusti, var undertecknad av fem professorer, Ronny Ambjörnssön, Bo Dahlin, Sven-Eric Liedman, Töres Theorell och Kerstin Wickman, och av Maria Bergom Larsson, Agneta Pleijel och Skolverkets förre chefsjurist Göte Appelberg.

Den följdes av ett svar två dagar senare av Stefan Nordlund, dekanus för Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten och professor i biokemi och Anders Gustavsson, ordförande i Lärarutbildningsnämnden och professor i pedagogik, Rudolf Steiners kurser fyller inte måttet och en slutreplik den 30 augusti av de ursprungliga kritikerna av beslutet, ”Nedläggning kan inte förenas med mångfald”.

Den 12 September publicerade Anders Gustavsson och Stefan Nordlund ytterligare en kommentar till debatten och kritiken på universitets sajt. I kommentaren försvarade de universitets beslut, bl a med hänvisning till en forskningsrapport av en av de ursprungliga kritikerna till beslutet, Professor Bo Dahlin vid Karlstad Universitet.

Jag har varit i kontakt med Bo Dahlin som genomfört det forskningsprojekt kring Waldorfpedagogiken, som Gustavsson och Nordlund citerar som försvar mot kritiken av universitets beslut.

Han tillbakavisar Gustavsson och Nordlunds sätt att använda hans forskningsrapport.

De skriver:

    Debattörerna har i (…) ett inlägg i SvD (…) utvecklat sin kritik, bland annan säger de sig ha svårt att förstå att Stockholms universitets beslut kan bidra till mångfald och frihet. Här kan det vara på sin plats att peka på att lärarutbildningarna med inriktning mot waldorfpedagogik upprepade gånger fått kritik just för bristande allsidighet, mångfald och öppenhet.

    I en nyligen publicerad forskningsrapport, skriven av Bo Dahlin, en av debattörerna, framgår detta klart. I rapporten redovisas bland annat intervjuer med representanter för Lärarhögskolan som tidigare samarbetat med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan kring lärarutbildningarna med inriktning mot waldorfpedagogik. I diskussionen kring utbildningen av lärare skriver Dahlin:

    Ett mer övergripande problem är det som representanterna för Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm pekade på i vår intervju med dem (Langmann, Andersson och Dahlin, 2005), nämligen den slutenhet och dogmatism som lätt blir följden av alla välutvecklade och ”färdiga helhetssyner”, när de omfattar svar på nästan alla tänkbara frågor. Fördelen med en helhetssyn är den inspiration och arbetslust som den skapar hos dem som anammar den, något som dagens lärare sannolikt har stort behov av. Men nackdelen är risken för sekterism och dogmatisk slutenhet.” (1)”

Bo Dahlin kommenterar:

    Detta citat beskriver inte vår, dvs utvärderarnas slutgiltiga
    ställningstagande, den lyfter bara fram en av de synpunkter som fanns hos de som från före detta LHS ansvarade för waldorflärarutbildningen. Det ovanstående citatet från rapporten fortsätter på följande vis:

    Rudolf Steiner var också väl medveten om denna risk (se nedan, s 59) och det är även många av de ledande personerna i den antroposofiska rörelsen idag (se t ex Barkved, 2005). I vår undersökning har vi dock inte hittat några specifika uttryck för denna latent negativa sida hos Waldorfskolorna.

Vidare citerar Gustavsson och Nordlund ur en 13 år gammal utvärdering av Kanslerämbetet från 1995 av Waldorflärarutbildningen som den då såg ut:

    ”Hela lärarutbildningen genomsyras av an antroposofisk kunskapssyn, vilket klart framgår av de olika kursplanerna. Med tanke på högskolemässigheten enligt högskolelagen är det emellertid en allvarlig brist att annan pedagogisk teori förekommer i mycket begränsad omfattning.”

(Undervisning om andra pedagogiska perspektiv har bl a ingått i den del
av utbildningen som skett vid LHS och som omfattat 15 högskolepoäng
första året och 30 högskolepoäng andra året men också berörts i den del av utbildningen som skett på Rudolf Steinerhögskolan.)

    Det finns alltså en stor risk för att perspektivet blir alltför snävt. Högskolemässigheten kräver öppenhet för en mångfald tankar och idéer. Frågan är i vilken mån utbildningen ger de studerande förmåga till självständigt och kritiskt tänkande på vetenskaplig grund. Som allvarliga bedömer vi brister när det gäller kurslitteratur, påbyggbarhet, examensarbete, examinationsformer samt bibliotek och datorer. (Kanslersämbetets rapport 1995:6, s.68)

Bo Dahlin kommenterar:

    I våra intervjuer med de waldorflärarstuderande uttrycktes en mycket positiv inställning till möjligheten att ta del av andra pedagogiska teorier än Steiners. En del menade att det hjälpte dem att se vad som var det specifika med Waldorfpedagogiken i relation till andra pedagogiska förhållningssätt.

Man kan säkert utveckla utbildningen av Waldorflärare vid Rudolf Steinerhögskolan och dess företrädare framhöll i samtal med universitetet i slutet av 2007 att man var angelägna om att föra en dialog om kursplaner och kurslitteratur, vilket också bejakades av universitetet, men sen bemöttes av tystnad fram till i slutet av maj, efter att man sänt in elva av de dittillsvarande ca 26 kursplanerna.

Man fick då ett förhandsbesked om att ingen av de elva kursplanerna skulle godkännas vid fakultetsnämndens sammanträde 4 juni och att det inte fanns några möjligheter att påverka beslutet, som sen ledde till beslutet den 18 juni i Lärarutbildningsnämnden att avveckla samarbetet med Rudolf Steinerhögskolan, trots att den utvärdering av lärarutbildningen som Högskoleverket lade fram under våren inte hade några anmärkningar mot waldorfinriktningen (Rapport 2008:8 R).

Den fortsatta utvecklingen av den Waldorflärarutbildning, som riksdagen 1996 tillkännagav att regeringen skulle stödja, är i dagsläget oklar.

Not
1) Dahlin, Liljeroth och Nobel, Waldorfskolan – en skola för människobildning? Slutrapport från projektet Waldorfskolor i Sverige. Karlstad University Studies 2006:46.

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