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In response to recent letters to the editor we wish to affirm that it is a fundamental goal of Waldorf education and Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School to bring students to an understanding and experience of the common humanity of all the world’s peoples, transcending the stereotypes, prejudices, and divisive barriers of classification by sex, race and nationality.

We most emphatically reject racism in all its forms.

We encourage the continuing dialogue of these issues and we see the proper forum for this in face-to-face conversation. Criticism gives us an opportunity to examine the roots of Waldorf education and discard any aspect of it that might lead to division, intolerance or misunderstanding. We strive to create an education that serves our families and our community.

—Faculty and Staff of Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School

The spiritual aspect of the child is nourished through the teachers’ shared understanding of each child as a spiritual being.

—Lake Champlain Waldorf School

Waldorf Schools are nonsectarian. Values such as respect for self, others and God, universal in all religious and spiritual traditions, are upheld in the classroom. Spiritual leaders of humanity such as Moses, Christ, Buddha and Mohammed are studied as part of the study of the history of civilizations. The question of religion is left strictly to the family.

—Toronto Waldorf School

Excerpt from Festivals and events guide, Lexington Waldorf School:
In his book, The Esoteric Background of Waldorf Education: the Cosmic Christ Impulse, Rene Querido explains:

“If the inquirer is thinking in terms of sectarian Christianity-in some sense denominational-then the answer is no. If, on the other hand, the question is asked in connection with deeper aspects of Christianity, an answer might be yes. Waldorf education as it arises out of Anthroposophy is, in its very nature, a Cosmic Christ-centered impulse. This Impulse is expressed implicitly, not explicitly, in our work with the children in the classroom.”

In celebrating the festivals, Waldorf schools strive for the universal truth or archetype of the festival. The Advent Spiral, for example, was developed to provide an experience for children to approach the light in the encroaching darkness and symbolically take some of that light into their own life journeys at a time of year when the nights are long and the light is weakest.

Waldorf education is a worldwide movement; as such, its celebrations will vary from country to country, as well as from school to school and classroom to classroom. The cultural diversity within each class is unique: the faculty, children and families who make up each class bring the experiences from their own background to share in the group setting. A particular observance may be chosen for inclusion based on appropriateness for the children or the background of the group.

—Lexington Waldorf School

We are often asked at our school about the spiritual nature of our curriculum. Is Pleasant Ridge a Christian School? If not, then why do we celebrate Christian festivals? If it is, then why do we celebrate non-Christian festivals? And what is Anthroposophy? And what does it have to do with Waldorf Education? If it’s not a religion, what then could it possibly be? These are difficult questions… . At our school, faculty and staff are asked to be open to the ideas of Anthroposophy, not to be anthroposophists. That means to be willing to look at, and at times have lively debate about, the educational ideas that have arisen out of Steiner’s relationship to Anthroposophy. These ideas are the philosophical (not religious) foundation upon which the pedagogical work of Waldorf Schools is based. Talking about Anthroposophy as a philosophy and not a religion may be interpreted as doublespeak, but the spiritual realm is about much more than religious dogma. What draws many people to Waldorf education is the deep spiritual foundation that encourages us to put aside any dogmatic beliefs we have about the spiritual world and come to a new study of the spiritual world based on a 20th century scientific outlook. It can be incredibly freeing to look at one’s religious heritage with new, non-dogmatic eyes. There are people who have used Anthroposophy as their new religion and want it to be a dogmatic belief system—but that is their own limitation, not one put on them by the ideas of Anthroposophy.

… Anthroposophy acknowledges a spiritual basis to our lives and includes development of the spiritual side of our being as an important part of the curriculum. This makes it appear as if it were a religion. Rather it is a new way of looking at the world. Several hundred years from now, the idea that our lives have a spiritual dimension may be easily incorporated into everyday, public discourse without reference to any specific religion, or to Anthroposophy. Waldorf Education can be seen as part of a much larger yearning on the part of humanity to reintegrate our spiritual and physical natures. In this context, the discussion of the role of Anthroposophy in /Waldorf Education will be with us for many years to come.

—Maureen Karlstad, Class Teacher, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School “Calyx” Volume 23 Issue 2

The Waldorf School of Princeton welcomes children of all cultural, racial, social and religious backgrounds. We strive to provide an education imbued with a fundamental respect for the individuality of each child. The basis of our philosophy is the conviction that the growing child is both physical and spiritual in nature: the child’s physical body is a vessel for the incarnation of the soul and spirit. There has never been, and there never will be, anything in the school’s philosophy, pedagogy or practice that is in any way racist or prejudiced by design.

—The Waldorf School of Princeton Parent Handbook

Underlying Waldorf Education is the view that each child is a unique, evolving being, with a spiritual, emotional and physical aspect to his or her existence. Waldorf Education is non-sectarian, and works to inspire morality through the cultivation of gratitude, reverence and love for the world. While the study of the history of civilizations acquaints the children with spiritual leaders of humanity such as Buddha, Moses and Christ, the School leaves the question of religion strictly to the family.

—The Waldorf School of Baltimore

Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy is known as Anthroposophy or “the wisdom of the human being” (from the Greek anthropos “human being” and Sophia “wisdom”)

Through his writing and lectures, Steiner conveyed a vast body of knowledge and described a meditative path for the spiritual development of the modern human being. Those who embrace Steiner’s philosophy believe that this path of inner development helps individuals to develop and strengthen moral forces and to awaken spiritual capacities that slumber within every person.

… Although Waldorf teachers study Anthroposophy and strive to apply its insights to their teaching, they do not teach it to the students in any way. Neither is religion taught in our school. The historic festivals of Christianity, and of other religions as well, are observed during the school year in the context of the universal human quest for life’s meaning. Our school’s interest in spiritual matters is aimed at awakening the child’s natural reverence for the wonder and beauty of life. We recognize and honor the diverse faiths of all of our families.

—Merriconeag Waldorf School, Parent Handbook

The Rudolf Steiner School actively welcomes students, faculty, and staff of all ethnicities and gender preferences, and of all faiths and creeds. We respect and support individuals’ spiritual beliefs and practices.

We strive to develop the mind, body and spirit of the child, encouraging, in the process, the child’s spiritual freedom and growth. As in every Waldorf school, our teaching works toward this aim by drawing on the insights into human development pioneered by Rudolf Steiner.

The Waldorf curriculum is diverse in nature and rich in the teachings of many great religious traditions. Students develop an understanding and respect for the various cultures of the world through their experience in the classroom and in the celebration of seasonal festivals of the year. Drawing primarily, but not exclusively, on Christian traditions, we celebrate our common humanity, not our separateness in belief or practice.

—Rudolf Steiner School, NYC

In response to recent letters to the editor we wish to affirm that it is a fundamental goal of Waldorf education and Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School to bring students to an understanding and experience of the common humanity of all the world’s peoples, transcending the stereotypes, prejudices, and divisive barriers of classification by sex, race and nationality.

We most emphatically reject racism in all its forms.

We encourage the continuing dialogue of these issues and we see the proper forum for this in face-to-face conversation. Criticism gives us an opportunity to examine the roots of Waldorf education and discard any aspect of it that might lead to division, intolerance or misunderstanding. We strive to create an education that serves our families and our community.

—Faculty and Staff of Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School

Collected in 2002 for a Towards Healthy Waldorf Schools workshop. “Spiritual, not Religious” by Scott Olmsted


Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Effective Practices Research Project
Development Document DEV 1-5.f


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