Distinguishing Bigotry and Racism
- I take the liberty here of posting from the WC Archives, a message
from James Marshall Knight, Ph.D.--- one that he submitted 5 years ago
on the subject of distinguishing racism from bigotry. He includes some
quite telling observations about how teachers treat children of
different races in very different, mostly unconscious ways.
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002
From: "J. Marshall Knight"
Subject: Re: Stunted imagination
The racist topic comes up quite often on this list. There is a lack
of communication about how racism is transmitted in Waldorf schools.
Moreover, there is apparent confusion about racism vs. bigotry. One
can be a racist without being a bigot.
When I review my son's stay at a Waldorf school, I begin anew beating
myself up. It was not until I read Cosmic Memory, (He was in the
eighth grade then.) that I comprehended the racism inherent in Waldorf
stemming from Anthroposophy. In CM Steiner lays out the folk soul
stuff that many Waldorf teachers apparently believe and practice. I
know this because I attempted to talk to "lead' teachers who were
steeped in Anthroposophy about what I had read. Their responses were
something like: "Steiner could see into the akashic records and that
is what he saw."
The folk soul stuff and the manner in which "ancient history" is
taught are key to Waldorf's racism. There is no getting around it.
Their continued teaching of the Nordic myths, filled with Nordic
heroes and avoiding as much as they can teaching about heroes and
heroines in other cultures should tell you something.
When Ancient India, Ancient Persia, Ancient Egypt, etc. are taught the
slant is on the thread of the Aryans that brought forward the
"spiritual truths" from Atlantis. One of the books that is used as
background thinking for this "history" is Edouard Shure's book "THE
GREAT INITIATES." (If you have not already done so I suggest strongly
that you do so.) Racism is taught in this history by idolizing one
race and depreciating--giving less time to-- others.
Here in America often Native American history is taught with a bias
toward the White man's plight. Just as you learned about racism
through osmosis without anyone actually telling you, this is how
children who attend Waldorf are learning it. They are not necessarily
learning how to hate, they are learning superiority of one race over
another just as the Anthroposophers see it and Steiner wrote about it.
This superiority mindset could be negated easily if only they would
teach children how to observe and think for themselves and not through
the Steiner/Waldorf lens.
If you look closely at the Waldorf class room, especially in the
fourth and fifth grades, and ask questions about the roots of the
history and why it is taught as it is you may come away with a totally
different attitude about racism in Waldorf. Racism IMHO is
perpetuated through so called "holy" books and here I include all of
Steiner's books. (His followers treat them as such.) People who are
steeped in the religion of a holy book usually will not question what
the book says about anything let alone the superiority of their race
over others. It is sad but I think Waldorf students learn in effect
how to observe and relate to the races according to the way Steiner
has laid out his race theory.
I think many Anthroposophists on this list get their ire up because
they associate racism with bigotry. This is not to be overlooked.
There are many racial bigots and I think Steiner's race theory bodes
well with these people. There are people who, I believe, have their
children in Waldorf just because they perceive the racism in it. I
personal do not care what another person's racial attitudes are. I do
care if those attitudes interfere with others, especially my children.
However, as I intimated above, if you want to really examine
racism in the Waldorf movement, you will have also to examine the
mindsets of the teachers. Many of them carry Steiner's madness with
them. Those of you who have been around Waldorf teachers, especially
kindergarten teachers who have had multicultural classrooms, you
perhaps have observed the different treatments of kids from different
You perhaps have observed that when an African American child is being
"admired" the teacher will pat the child on the head, when an Asian or
Hispanic child is likewise being admired the teacher will invariably
pinch the child's cheeks, and when a Caucasian child is being admired
the teacher will gently stroke the child under the chin or caress the
child's face. They do this to the Caucasian child without adding the
words "she's so cute" as they add with other races. (For those of you
who are in other countries, please forgive this American slant here.)
I agree that there are teachers and families involved in Waldorf who
despise racism in any form. However, I do not believe they will take
a stance against Waldorf teaching practices. They want to believe in
the New Age tenets of Waldorf where people are evolving and getting
beyond pettiness. From what we are discovering genetically about us
humans, it is extremely petty to continue to advocate for and teach
the superiority of one race over another. Ford Motor Company had a TV
advertisement that said: "The closer you look the better we look."
The opposite is true for Waldorf. Please look closer.
"Mistakes live in the neighborhood of truth and therefore delude
- --- In email@example.com, "Frank Thomas Smith"
>Au contraire, Monsieur Forgeron...it is quite clever in a nit-picky
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "winters_diana"
> <diana.winters@> wrote:
> > Frank:
> > > Ten years ago, when we started the rural W-school here, I was
> > > to the parents and introduced a teacher who had volunteered to
> > > German free of charge (until she found another - paying - job it
> > > turned out). A mother raised her hand and asked: "Why German"? I
> thought that she might be Jewish and was referring to Germany's
> > > history, so I said something about German being one of the modern
> > > world's important languages and culturally and pedagogically
> > > significant, bla, bla. The came my cruncher though: And this
> > > teacher is Jewish! The mother stared at me in bewilderment. "So
> > > she said. "What I mean is: Who not Quechua?" (a native indigenous
> > > language, almost extinct.) Silence. Then I asked. "Do you know a
> > > Quechua teacher?" She didn't. "So we'll teach German," I
> > > Moral: It ain't so easy.
> Diana: Frank, it is fascinating to speculate on what you think this
> > signifies.
> F: Read, Diana, just read what I wrote. My post was in reference to
> what JoAnn wrote about teaching Native American, African etc stuff
> in schools. SO...what I think this story signifies is what I
> wrote: "IT AIN'T SO EASY." I put it in caps in case you need to
> upgrade your glasses.
> The mind boggles.
> Frank: Diana, your mind has been boggling ever since I've known you.
> Nothing new.
> D: The parent who questioned why German must
> > have been Jewish?
> F: In fact I wrote: "I thought that she *might* be Jewish and was
> referring to Germany's history,..." So why do you continuously
> misquote - at least me? The last time you said I agreed
> that "earthy" is racist, when I actually said the opposite. You
> apologized, I accepted...but here you go again. How about paying
> D: Hello?
> F: Hello? what?
> D: The "cruncher" was that the German teacher was
> > Jewish! How to fathom such a thing? I don't know how you make
> sense of
> > it all Frank, the world is just so complicated eh?
> F: The world is complicaed, yeah; the story isn't though if you'd
> use only an ounce of the neurons God gave you.
sort of way... but hasn't a clue when it comes to nuance...as a
creature of will it has motives but probably without any insight into
them at all...so, it doesn't have a clue with respect to what
motivates you with regard to sharing an anecdote.
It would recognize that the world is complicated...but not
qualitatively nuanced...it has no appreciation of the quite human
situation in which you were in...don't you remember the story about
the kid in the Red Sox uniform?...it actually thought the story was
about it...you mention "neurons", it will assume you think that brain
and mind are the same thing.
Ok, maybe you don't want to be a mean fucker...then spoon feed it...in
this, Sardonicus will prove useless...G.