Talk:Waldorf education

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I agree that the lead is somewhat overlong, but let's work on it section by section, and above all avoid introducing grammatically-confusing passages. HGilbert (talk) 20:34, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps now it is both shorter, and more grammatically adherent to WP:MOS.--Shibbolethink (talk) 00:52, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
I've clarified some of the content -- when the philosophy, and when the actual practice, is meant, for example -- and restored the explicit reference to early childhood, elementary, and secondary education, which is fundamental.
As far as the conclusion goes: the science curriculum has empirically-verifiable excellence of results and has received criticism. The criticism should not overwhelm the empirical evidence (of multiple PISA and other studies) that demonstrates the science curriculum's quality and success. Either neither should be in the lead, or both should. HGilbert (talk) 01:51, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
See this is what I'm talking about in the criticism section. You're right! Both should be included. But the /style/ of how you include them is VITALLY important. If I give you two sentences which read like:
<criticism><BUT refutation></criticism></refutation>
then it is much more biased than
<criticism></criticism><refutation></refutation>. In one, the reader is given a criticism, which is then IMMEDIATELY refuted, but allowed to continue, whereas in the other the criticism and refutations are allowed to exist as standalone thoughts. It's subtle, but I think it's rampant throughout this article.--Shibbolethink (talk) 14:24, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
I have tried to have an approximate balance to positive and negative evaluations in the lead, and also to vary the order in which these occur. Further rearrangements are certainly possible.
I have also removed one evaluative comment that was completely unsupported by the source given. HGilbert (talk) 23:29, 29 March 2015 (UTC)


Steiner's human developmental construct is listed in Wikipedia under "Developmental Stage Theories" of which there are many similar physical, emotional, psychological, even spiritual constructs. "Reincarnation" is outside all Developmental Stage Theories as it occurs after death and not during life. One can only have one life at a time therefore one may not reincarnate while you are still alive. Should this reference be removed from this section? Greeddados (talk) 19:18, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi! I really don't think arguments from logic make sense when we're talking about theories steeped in magical thinking. So I'd prefer if we kept it to talking about WP:RSes take on what Steiner/Waldorf educators believe.--Shibbolethink ( ) 19:25, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

How could one reincarnate every seven years??? The cited NYTimes article is clearly not a competent source for Steiner's views. If we wish to refer to these views, we should use the many high-quality academic analyses of Steiner's thinking, none of which suggests any sort of 7-year reincarnation plan. Nor does anything in Steiner's works support this. I have removed this curious passage.

FYI: What Steiner actually suggested was that people generally reincarnate every thousand years or so, but that it is very variable. HGilbert (talk) 19:52, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

I'm sorry that you feel that way, but here are several more sources backing up the every 7 years claim. The Atlantic and The New York Times are both very reputable sources, as are Salon, the BBC, etc.[1][2]I'm reverting your rollbacks. You have yet to produce sources directly refuting the claim that Steiner believed in the 7 year reincarnation, and I've provided several that verify it. Worthy sources for reference by WP:RS standards are not those of a high academic standing, but that:
"Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared in those sources are covered"--Shibbolethink (talk) 20:01, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
Also from WP:RS re: News Organizations:
"News sources often contain both factual content and opinion content. "News reporting" from well-established news outlets is generally considered to be reliable for statements of fact (though even the most reputable reporting sometimes contains errors). News reporting from less-established outlets is generally considered less reliable for statements of fact."
So basically, if you produce a variety of scholarly sources refuting the 7 years claim, we can instead keep it in and say that "Several noted individuals from the BBC, Salon, the New York Times, and the Atlantic have reported that...." But you can't erase the fact that various different PRIMARY news agencies (the BBC and the Atlantic are both considered primary because they don't reprint stories from the AP.) have asserted the claim.--Shibbolethink (talk) 20:13, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry; none of these sources claim that Steiner either (1) believed in a 7-year reincarnation cycle, or (2) that reincarnation underlies the 3-stage theory. All that they claim is that Steiner believed in reincarnation, and that the idea of reincarnation is important for Waldorf education. This is true but has nothing to do with 7-year cycles. HGilbert (talk) 02:46, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

-> Please see wikipedia's "Developmental Stage Theories" listing which refers to Steiner's, and other theoriests, 7-year phases. Greeddados (talk) 19:24, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Here are quotes, since you seem to be misreading these sources.
  • "It was also the method that contributed to Mr. Steiner's view of child development, which forms the basis of Waldorf education. He believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years, beginning with the physical birth and ending at age 21, when the spirit of a human being is fully developed and continually reincarnated on earth. Certain subjects are taught at times that he thought best coincided with these changes."[3]
  • "He also points out that the ultimate goal of Anthroposophy is to lead children through the stages of reincarnation, which blurs the line between education and religion to an even greater extent. Nancy Frost*, a former Waldorf instructor, concurs: “I heard in a faculty meeting that there were many important souls waiting to reincarnate in this century and that they would only be able to do so if there were enough Waldorf schools,” she says. “By the end of the year I taught there I was completely convinced that Waldorf constituted a cultlike religious movement which concealed its true nature from prospective parents.”[4]
  • "That is because of the particular views of Rudolf Steiner, the intellectual father of Steiner schools. The Austrian-born occultist, who died in 1925, left a vast body of work covering everything from biodynamic farming to alternative medicine. It is known, collectively, as "anthroposophy". The SWSF's guidelines from 2011 said that schools using the Steiner name were obliged to prove "an anthroposophical impulse lies at the heart of planning for the school". Since 2013, this has been made vaguer: they now need a commitment to "the fundamental principles of Waldorf education". Those ideas are based in a belief in reincarnation. Pupils may not have been sold this creed, but Steiner was very strict that teachers were not supposed to pass them on to children - just to act on them."[5]
  • "At other times, spirit serves as a kind of internal clock that orders the way subjects are taught. As the the New York Times explained in 2000, "Steiner believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years, beginning with the physical birth and ending at age 21, when the spirit of a human being is fully developed and continually reincarnated on earth." As a direct consequence, at traditional Waldorf schools, "certain subjects are taught at times that he thought best coincided with these changes." Students also remain with the same instructor for periods of about seven years, a technique known as "looping." A Steiner biographer notes that "it's not unusual for many parents sending their children to Steiner schools to be unaware of his occult philosophy." Some of the school's more unusual practices turn potential families away -- for instance, the fact that children aren't taught to read until second or third grade. Day to day, though, the esoteric influence at Waldorf schools is practically invisible."[6]
That should be sufficient. See above as well, if you produce sources refuting the seven years claim, we can clarify the seven years claim by saying that prominent staff on these news sources have reported this fact, while scholars dispute it.--Shibbolethink ( ) 02:55, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
There is only one source that makes this claim: the NYTimes article, written by someone with no expertise and citing no source for the claim. The Atlantic article merely quotes the NYTimes; this is not an independent source. The rest of the citations above in no way connect reincarnation to a seven-year cycle.
If this were true, it would be possible to find a second source supporting this. Absent any, and any evidence whatsoever that either Steiner or any Waldorf source ever suggested such a thing, why would we put an evidently false claim in this article???HGilbert (talk) 21:08, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
There are several sources linking reincarnation to practices in Waldorf schools. I gave you them. The NYT directly references the 7 year claim, and the other sources link reincarnation directly to practices in Waldorf schools. What more do you want? WP:RS does not mean an expert. WP:RS means published by an agency that fact checks. The NYT is incredibly well known for its fact-checking. As is the Atlantic. For instance, you already used the Atlantic elsewhere in the article! We don't need to prove that Steiner ever said it, we just need to prove that people believe that Waldorf schools use this ideology. I've done that.--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:22, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Clearly, at most, the NYT article from 2000 can be used in good consciousness at present, citing it as source for "a type of reincarnation" taking place every seven years, as a full reincarnation of the spirit would require first a full excarnation of the spirit, meaning that the person dies, and I very much doubt anyone, anywhere has claimed that as taking place at seven, or fourteen, or 21, and that it then has been published by a reliable fact-checking source. Thebee (talk) 08:33, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Might a newbie here offer that "seven-year reincarnations" is an interesting but highly misleading rendering of something actually well known? Namely, that the mineral content of the human body is cycled out, even from the teeth, so that isotope-marked chemicals are found to have completely disappeared within a span of seven years. (The teeth actually replace their content faster.) This is an extremely literal (but not inaccurate?) rendering of "re-in-carn-ation"; perhaps some fan or critic of Waldorf thought it was a clever insight to identify it as a "reincarnation."

Anyway, one of Steiner's major students, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, spoke of this in 1958 in a public lecture on nutrition, as follows: "Now we must ask ourselves: what does metabolism mean? ... If I had stood seven years ago on this podium and one had made a little sign somewhere in the [chemical] substance in my body, and I had stood here again today, you would not find the smallest remnant of such a mark. Instead, a completely different substance would be here. This picture could be compared with the bed of a stream and the stream itself. The water in the stream is never the same; at every second it is different, while the bed of the stream remains. ... So it is also with our body. ... After seven years we have arrived, so to speak, at the end point, where one can be absolutely certain that nothing of the original substance remains anymore." This lecture was published in English in 1981 in a small booklet.[1]. TomShoshoni (talk) 12:23, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Tom's note is interesting. If the physical substance is regarded as the body, then there is a new body every seven years, and whatever it is that incarnates is incarnated in a new body. But is that reincarnation? No one I'm aware of uses that conception, logical though it may be. Anthroposophists regard the body of life-formative forces (etheric body) as the enduring "life form" rather than the chemicals. — The quotes in the New York Times article are certainly interesting but they are reflect individual interviews. Every Waldorf school is independent; there is no kind of doctrinal authority as in religious schools. Every Waldorf teacher is called on to exert herself or himself to meet each of the unique persons in the class and to work with their development artistically, which doesn't leave a lot of time for other studies. Some teachers are anthroposophists, but that is an unavoidably loose term, since the scope of anthroposophy touches almost every aspect of culture and Steiner emphasized freedom as the basis of further human development; and some of them will take anthroposophy up in a literal and dogmatic way according to their characters. If some teacher has picked up the idea of seven-year reincarnation and mentions it to a New York Times reporter, that may get printed, but it doesn't make it a credible account of Waldorf education or anthroposophy. The most authoritative sources are Steiner and the various heads of the Pedagogical Section since 1924 at the Goetheanum. One wonders how reincarnation may be handled in India now, given that it is a traditional concept there, but that Steiner's view of it differed significantly from Hindu-Vedantic authorities. jb (talk) 01:37, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Merging of Theory and Practice[edit]

As far as I can tell, much of the ideas resident in the sections "Educational Theory" and "Educational Practice" are incredibly interrelated, if not the exact same. I'd like to embark on a small project to merge these two into a single section, "Educational Theory and Practice." The goal of this article should be to educate a layperson on the ideas inherent to Waldorf education and how the practice of education exists in Waldorf Schools. At the moment, I feel that is impeded by over-complication and overt verbosity. Thoughts? --Shibbolethink ( ) 05:20, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

This duplication arose from a previous editor who criticized the lack of a separate theory section. I agree that there is no real reason to run through the developmental sequence three times, however, which the current article does. I have begun a merge process. HGilbert (talk) 10:44, 30 March 2015 (UTC)


I just added the advert tag, which I probably should have done before. In concert with the NPOV, this article uses a host of advert-like terms. To quote a few things that I noticed to be advert like:

"imbue the child with a sense that the world is good" "beautiful" "true" etc.

These are not objective terms, and we cannot say that Steiner's worldview is an objective reality.

"Seating arrangements and class activities may be planned taking into account the temperaments of the students[53] but this is often not readily apparent to observers."

This sentence smacks of a defense of Waldorfian temperament-based seating, etc. Like something you would find on a Waldorf school website, not an encyclopedia.

"Letter grades are generally not given until students enter high school at 14–15 years,[56] as the educational emphasis is on children's holistic development, not solely their academic progress"

holistic development is a buzzword-phrase if I've ever heard one.

"Waldorf pedagogical theory considers that during the first years of life, children learn best by being immersed in an environment they can learn from through unselfconscious imitation"

What exactly does "unselfconscious imitation" mean? At the end of the day, I don't think these, and the other numerous examples of advert-like buzzword non-NPOV are the result of /bad faith/ but rather a misunderstanding of the nature of Wiki style :/ I'll be going through and attempting to fix this in the near future. If anyone else wants to help, just post here on what sections you'd like to focus on.--Shibbolethink ( ) 19:19, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

There should be, and is, no claim that WE does imbue children with these, but it is true and should be mentioned that it is its aim to do so. It is valid to include objectives of the education so long as these are clearly distinguished from its empirical attainments. To say that the Catholic Church intends the salvation of its members is not an advert for the Church; it merely describes its established purpose. So here, that the child learns in progressive stages of life that the world is good, beautiful, and true is merely a description of Waldorf's intention. As it is also a reliably sourced claim, taking it out would seem to violate RS.
The statement about seating arrangements is taken straight from a thesis about the education; it clearly represented the experience of the observing writer, not an attempt to defend the principle. As it is also RSourced, I question its removal. I am not attached to the sentence.
We can replace the term holistic development.
I don't know why "unselfconscious imitation" puzzles you. But we could just say imitation.
Finally, NPOV does not say that no statements with positive valuations may appear, any more than it restricts statements with negative valuations. Its explicit point is that all points of view should be represented. Any attempt to throw in every negative reception of the education while attempting to exclude all positive reception is in danger of violating NPOV. HGilbert (talk) 07:52, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Which is why the way that these are currently written into the text are much better than the way before I edited them. They should be separated as an intention instead of blended in like an empirical fact. These were examples of how I think we should more clearly delineate in-universe claims from anthropological empirical ones.--Shibbolethink ( ) 15:07, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
The wording now in the article is fine, except it would be better to say that this is the "declared" than that it is the "official" goal. I personally think the older wording also made it abundantly clear that this was a goal, but have no problem with the change.. HGilbert (talk) 16:57, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
"Declared" is fine in my book.--Shibbolethink ( ) 17:10, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Also yeah, just "imitation" is much better in my opinion.--Shibbolethink ( ) 15:12, 23 March 2015 (UTC)


I have reason to believe that Shibbolethink is a sockpuppet for the banned User:Pete K. Same style, edits, personal comments. There was a poorly disguised attempt to make a few edits on other pages to establish himself as an editor and then he promptly turned to massive, single-purpose editing. I am reverting the banned user's edits. HGilbert (talk) 13:52, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Don't you think you should prove that first? His edits were of good quality. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 14:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Good quality? How so. First of all there were far too many wild claims.
  • "Waldorf system has become a semi-official theory of education" in Europe?? Not true and uncited.
  • Describing anthroposophy as "cyclical reincarnation, [[Anthroposophic medicine|pseudoscientific alternative medicine practices]], and the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible and accessible spiritual world"? Better to leave this as a link to a comprehensive article than pick out three random factors, one of which replaces a link to an article with a judgmental claim.
  • "Rudolph Steiner believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years" -- ridiculous claim unfounded by any reference to either Steiner's works or any authority on Steiner. (One newspaper article makes this mistaken claim.)
Perhaps you could give an example of what you mean by an improvement in the article. HGilbert (talk) 14:15, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Here's why those edits were worth making:
1-this is a rephrasing of your previous statement, which said that the Waldorf system has been accepted widely in Europe. That's also an unsourced claim, and I simply rephrased it, knowing that there exists some talk of Waldorf being accepted and funded in Europe later on in the body. I made it NPOV.
2-These are elements of Anthroposophy which are important to the article. These are the three elements of the discipline which come in to play in Waldorf Schools. Notice how I didn't mention Biodynamic farming, etc? Because it wasn't relevant. These references are.
3-The reincarnation claim is sourced by 5 WP:RS articles on Waldorf Schools from newspapers and monthly magazines with wide readership, fact checking, and reputations for unbiased analysis. The Atlantic, The NYT, Salon, and The BBC all make mention of the role of reincarnation in Waldorf Education, and the first three reference the 7 years claim directly.--Shibbolethink ( ) 15:07, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not a sockpuppet of anyone, and I can prove it. This is a PROJECT of mine, it is not my single purpose in editing. You can see by my contributions and the relevant statistics that I'm editing many other articles as well, even while continuing this project. I posted about it in other Wikiprojects, I asked for help of other users, etc. I think what PeteK did is abhorrent and distasteful. If you disagree with my edits, improve the article by changing things to a wholly new state by going somewhere in the middle, don't just revert everything. I'm reverting your improper use of rollback, and reporting it. I don't speak like PeteK, I have used none of his tactics or w/e, I didn't even know PeteK existed til I read this article for the first time and saw the dispute! WP:PROVEIT. --Shibbolethink ( ) 14:19, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm gonna request some third parties from the relevant Wikiprojects above, and I'll post on noticeboards. If this keeps up, we can escalate to formal mediation.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:23, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I have tried to make changes in smaller ways, and you promptly reverted essentially every one. The ridiculous claim that Steiner believed in a seven-year reincarnation cycle is one example; see discussion above. If we could work together I would be happy. But that means working together, not just barreling through your own way. HGilbert (talk) 15:00, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I've actually kept many of your edits. See Talk:Waldorf_education#Use_of_Ullrich.27s_citation_in_claims for just one example. I also kept the way you revamped the Lead, and much of your phrasing in the Developmental Approach section. Re: the reincarnation claim, it's sourced!! I even gave you the alternative. If you can find sources refuting the 7 years claim, we'll just have to clarify it by saying that X, Y, and Z all have claimed this in their publications. The viewpoint about reincarnation's role EXISTS! It deserves mention. Above all, I'm interested in creating a NPOV in this article with most weight given to neutral statements, but proportional weight given to a small amount of positive promotional statements and negative critical statements. I'm also interested in working with you, but I'm not interested in allowing any soapboxing, biased POV, or sanitizing to occur. This article needs neutral third parties, desperately, and I'm one. --Shibbolethink ( ) 16:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
As the top of this talk page says, "Be Bold, but not reckless." I sincerely believe I am doing just that. Assume Good Faith, User:Hgilbert! :/ --Shibbolethink ( ) 16:12, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Here's how I found this article and started this project: I was sitting in my living room, having a conversation with a friend of mine from college about how he was raised in Waldorf Schools and attributes a lot of his eccentricities to the practices therein, and so I decided to look it up on Wiki, having never heard of the schools or of Steiner. What I found was an obvious promotional page, needing lots of love and attention. So I decided to devote a large portion of my free time to make this article NPOV. I have no dog in this fight, I have no relationship to Waldorf Schools or education, I only know this one person who's ever even gone to a Waldorf school, and even that was just until the second epoch. Pete K was clearly an activist editor, he published websites, all this other stuff elsewhere on the web and elsewhere in wikiland, all anti-Waldorf and particularly anti-Hgilbert. I have done none of that, I am not him, and I have no dog in the fight of this article. I'm purely interested in making it adhere to wiki standards.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:59, 20 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. Shibbolethink has just over 500 edits. The first 125 or so were spaced out over several months and broadly over many articles. Then, over the last four days, he has made something like 375 edits, 90% of which have been on Waldorf education. This is a clear picture of a single-purpose editor, and a plausible picture of someone preparing a tapestry to hide their real interest.
  2. He is personally aggressive in the same way that Pete K was: "Waldorf educaiton exists outside of your conception of reality, apparently."
  3. Like Pete K, he systematically reverted every edit that in any way modified his additions or changes, failing to follow WP:BRD or to come to solutions on talk pages.
  4. His edits from the beginning of this period do not sound like an editor with only 125 edits under his belt: referring to "mediation committee" and now to various Wikipedia committees he has apparently had no previous experience with.
  5. He appeals, like Pete K, to a supposed conflict of interest on my part.
  6. Pete K repeatedly threatened to return. This editor's behavior fits his in every respect and does not fit the behavior of a new editor with a casual interest in the theme. Nearly 400 edits in four days after an average of one a day from 3 December - 17 March?? Obviously this is the editor's real purpose. HGilbert (talk) 17:15, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Checkuser has confirmed numerous other accounts as sockpuppets of this user. See [1], [2], [3]. I will prepare a Sockpuppet case, but this will take some time. HGilbert (talk) 17:23, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Just a by-the-by, all of those sockpuppet investigations of Pete K you mentioned are addressing anonymous IP addresses. So why am I, an autoconfirmed user, suspected by you?
ALSO, I just read over those sockpuppet reports again. Checkuser was never even involved! Not in any of them! It was declined in the first, and then never asked for in the 2nd and 3rd!--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:33, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
If you go through my edit history, you'll see there were several other times I was called a single purpose account, but for OTHER PURPOSES. Focusing on one group of articles or even one article for an extended period of time in one's history does not alone make one a single purpose account. Even while editing this page, and focusing here, I have edited numerous other pages.
The IPs I edit from tend to be in the to 100 range or used to be in the range. This is because I graduated from the University of Chicago last year and started attending the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Pete K has many websites that he used to use to attack Hgilbert, and others, in a pretty shitty way. The IP addresses of those pages, and the biographical information on those sites about Pete K, show that he and I are clearly completely unrelated people. You'll also see, if you go to those websites, that I have never posted there, there is no one resembling me on any other forums about Waldorf education or Anthroposophy. That is because I only found out that Waldorf education EXISTED by finding this ridiculously bad POV article here on Wiki.
I am a neutral third party, who only wants this article to adhere to wiki standards. If you go through my edit history on Waldorf education, you'll see that I made many edits, that could be construed as from BOTH sides. See here and here and here. To me, this entire sockpuppet charade seems like a tactic to prevent any editor who wants to fix up the POV issues on Waldorf Education from doing so. I would normally AGF, but in this case, I'm dumbfounded! --Shibbolethink ( ) 18:05, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm also gonna go through these point by point, to make this easier:
1-I edited many articles in that timeline, and in short stretches punctuated by when I had final and midterm exams to study for in my graduate school classes. I took on several projects, notably getting an article on a prominent facebook group deleted because I and many others thought it wasn't WP:Notable. 7 months of very diverse edits seems like a very long time investment for a sock puppet, and it completely is away from the pattern of this Pete K user. Also, I edit from completely different IPs, as stated above.
2-While that might have been an impolite statement, it does comport with the WP:COI you've previously been tagged with. I apologize for momentarily not assuming Good Faith. Perhaps you should do the same? I was asserting a very well sourced statement. It still is well sourced.
3-I DID follow BRD! I came here and talked about every change I was going to make, and all of the sources therein. You failed to respond with any counter-sources, so I reverted! That's the process.
4-You know, you're right. I had previously edited a lot from different IPs, and when I became an editor, I spent a lot of time reading policies instead of just diving into editing. That's probably why I had so few edits in my month or so. Doesn't mean I'm a sockpuppet. -__-
5-It's not a supposed conflict of interest, it's certified. See the relevant ArbCom decision. You aren't supposed to use Anthroposophists as sources, and yet you continue to do so.
6-You know, you're right, it's not just a casual interest. I was STRICKEN with how much this article violates every element of WP:NPOV, WP:ADVERT, WP:CONCISE, etc. etc. I started to read about the various ArbCom decisions, and started to suspect that the reason these policy violations continue is that many Anthroposophists have relied on other users avoiding the pages altogether. And perhaps, now, accusing them of being sockpuppets?
I asked for other users' help on several wikiprojects, notified prominent copy editors, and posted on several relevant noticeboards. None of that is at all similar to the behavior of the previously banned user in question. All we have alike is that Hgilbert doesn't like our edits. Otherwise, Pete K was abusive, insulted Hgilbert, posted about it on numerous other websites, etc. --Shibbolethink ( ) 18:27, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Yeah this user is definitely not a sockpuppet. After looking through his history, he has done many things other than edit this article. His edits to this article were constructive, and personally I think this article should have a topic ban re: Hgilbert, who clearly can't restrain himself from slanting the POV and publishing original research. Whitehat2009 (talk) 18:58, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

...and where did you come from? o_O — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 19:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
User:Whitehat2009 and I were both passionate about that AfD for CFWC, mostly because he and I had both encountered the Facebook page itself and remarked on its esoterica. I won't out him, etc, but he and I know each other in Meatspace, and he's worked on other nonwiki projects with me, some of which are mentioned on my user page. He probably found this article because we're friends on wikipedia and browse each other's contribs once in a while. NOTICE how Whitehat2009 has no edits at all in relation to Pete K. Probably because Pete K and I aren't related whatsoever. :P --Shibbolethink ( ) 19:10, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Ha. Okay, thanks. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 19:13, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Yeah he doesn't really contribute on the English Wiki much. He's done a lot on the UChicago specific wiki, but I had to teach him sooo much about wiki markup.--Shibbolethink ( ) 19:15, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I withdraw this supposition. It is clear that Shibbolethink and Pete K are entirely different people. My apologies. Furthermore, if my fellow editors think it appropriate, I am happy to delete this entire section. HGilbert (talk) 23:41, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Let that be done. Qexigator (talk) 06:08, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Edit Warring[edit]

From the end of Shibbolethink's large series of edits, there have been several full reverts of the material. Please do not escalate this into an edit war where folks have their participation restricted (or removed). Just because a particular user has not conducted three reverts, does not mean what is happening is not edit warring and will not be treated as such by drive by admins. There has been some good discussion on the talk page here, and articles can always get better (not just longer). --Rocksanddirt (talk) 20:52, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes, but I would think that a series of explained and valid edits should not be reverted wholesale for literally no reason at all (other than an "I think this user is a sockpuppet" complaint coming from an editor with an established conflict of interest). — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 20:58, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, But....the number of wholesale reverts by everyone is what's going to get someone sanctioned. The important point is to be clear, and explain anything large on the talk page. My overly quick scan of Shibbolethink's edits is that a lot of them are nit picky to the point of being filler, compared to some of the very real questions and suggestions that he/she's made for improving the article. It might have been best to not mix the copyedits with the substance edits quite so thoroughly. --Rocksanddirt (talk) 21:08, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
All of those edits are an attempt to bring this article to NPOV. If you want to see why individual small changes can become an overall NPOV problem, see this legal study at Harvard about this article.[2]--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:13, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
OK: let's see if we can make gradual changes. I have explained that significant parts of the new material are not justified by the citations. I will revert these and expect a discussion according to WP:BRD HGilbert (talk) 21:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
You've attempted to explain but what you keep doing is removing well-sourced material without refuting the citations! We've had this discussion, and you've failed to provide WP:RS or quotes that show how material is refuted in the sources themselves.--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:08, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
What I think you should do, is make minor edits individually, instead of attempting to bundle minor edits with wholesale removal of well-sourced material. I won't revert edits that aren't removing that well-sourced material.--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:15, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
It doesn't much matter if you simply revert everyone else, whether the changes are small or large. Which is what you are doing. HGilbert (talk) 11:17, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
I did no such thing. I reverted the wholesale changes and removals of cited material. I then went through and added back the stylistic changes that weren't clearly in violation of WP:NPOV, and WP:CITE that you and User:EPadmirateur did.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:37, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
  1. ^ Pfeiffer, Ehrenfried, PhD, "Sub-nature and Super-nature in the Physiology of Plant and Man" translated by G.F. Karnow, MD, Mercury Press, Spring Valley, NY (1981); ISBN 0-936132-39-6 (as printed)
  2. ^ (pp 116-124)

Dubious (settled)[edit]

Here are quotes from these sources verifying the claims that User:Hgilbert has marked as dubious:

  • "It was also the method that contributed to Mr. Steiner's view of child development, which forms the basis of Waldorf education. He believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years, beginning with the physical birth and ending at age 21, when the spirit of a human being is fully developed and continually reincarnated on earth. Certain subjects are taught at times that he thought best coincided with these changes."[1]
  • "He also points out that the ultimate goal of Anthroposophy is to lead children through the stages of reincarnation, which blurs the line between education and religion to an even greater extent. Nancy Frost*, a former Waldorf instructor, concurs: “I heard in a faculty meeting that there were many important souls waiting to reincarnate in this century and that they would only be able to do so if there were enough Waldorf schools,” she says. “By the end of the year I taught there I was completely convinced that Waldorf constituted a cultlike religious movement which concealed its true nature from prospective parents.”[2]
  • "That is because of the particular views of Rudolf Steiner, the intellectual father of Steiner schools. The Austrian-born occultist, who died in 1925, left a vast body of work covering everything from biodynamic farming to alternative medicine. It is known, collectively, as "anthroposophy". The SWSF's guidelines from 2011 said that schools using the Steiner name were obliged to prove "an anthroposophical impulse lies at the heart of planning for the school". Since 2013, this has been made vaguer: they now need a commitment to "the fundamental principles of Waldorf education". Those ideas are based in a belief in reincarnation. Pupils may not have been sold this creed, but Steiner was very strict that teachers were not supposed to pass them on to children - just to act on them."[3]
  • "At other times, spirit serves as a kind of internal clock that orders the way subjects are taught. As the the New York Times explained in 2000, "Steiner believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years, beginning with the physical birth and ending at age 21, when the spirit of a human being is fully developed and continually reincarnated on earth." As a direct consequence, at traditional Waldorf schools, "certain subjects are taught at times that he thought best coincided with these changes." Students also remain with the same instructor for periods of about seven years, a technique known as "looping." A Steiner biographer notes that "it's not unusual for many parents sending their children to Steiner schools to be unaware of his occult philosophy." Some of the school's more unusual practices turn potential families away -- for instance, the fact that children aren't taught to read until second or third grade. Day to day, though, the esoteric influence at Waldorf schools is practically invisible."[4]

That should be sufficient. See above as well, if you produce sources refuting the seven years claim, we can clarify the seven years claim by saying that prominent staff on these news sources have reported this fact, while scholars dispute it.--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:37, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

@Hgilbert: If I change the mentions to "The NYT, BBC, the Atlantic, and the Guardian have reported that Waldorf education systems...blah blah blah 7 years reincarnation etc." will you remove the dubious claims? Then we're making it directly about it being said elsewhere.--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:26, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

There should be no mention of seven-year reincarnation periods, at all. This is nonsense. The BBC and the Guardian say nothing about it. The Atlantic merely quotes the NYTimes. You have one poor source (a newspaper is not a quality source to report on a philosophical movement) to support an evidently nonsensical claim. Steiner's complete works are available online. Find even one mention of a seven-year reincarnation cycle either in them, or in any other source than the one NYTimes article (or someone quoting this), and the discussion is worth having. Otherwise the passage should simply go. HGilbert (talk) 21:53, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
What do you mean, no mention, at all? The NYT directly says it. The BBC and the Guardian directly reference the connection between reincarnation periods and the curriculum. If Newspapers and periodicals aren't quality sources for philosophical movements, then why are they used so commonly across the entire wikipedia to do just that? Also, we're talking about Anthroposophy as a pseudoscience, not as a philosophical movement in this case. We already went all over about this over at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Skepticism#Waldorf_Education_and_Anthroposophy. Finally, Wikipedia IS NOT ABOUT PRIMARY SOURCES. This has also been talked about up and down several times over in that ArbCom decision from like 8 years ago. This is getting repetitive. If a number of prominent newspapers say something, it deserves to be on Wikipedia. That's the WP:RS policy. It's policy!--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:02, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Also, @Hgilbert:, if you could refrain from editing inline my comments on this talk page, that would be greatly appreciated.--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
The BBC says only that the idea of reincarnation is central to anthroposophy.
There is no quote from the Guardian here; I don't know what you are referring to.
The Atlantic is directly quoting the NYTimes article, and says so clearly.
The Salon article merely says that Waldorf education is meant to support the (re)incarnation process. (Also, Salon is hardly a RS.)
You are left with the NYTimes article as the only one that talks about "reincarnation periods". A side comment in a newspaper article is simply not sufficient to make an evidently spurious claim when there is absolutely no other supporting evidence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hgilbert (talkcontribs) 11:20, 21 March 2015‎
Yep. You seem to have hit the nail on the head. If you combine the NYT source and the Whedon source, then we can clearly say that what some journalists (listed above) describe as reincarnation is done in 7 year cycles, whereas Whedon and other academics (that I presume you will produce) describe it as a gradual incarnation of the soul. Salon is a RS. It has fact checking in some cases, in others it's just an editorial thing, it has a wide readership. It's an opinion RS, which in this case is what we're using it for anyway. You keep saying there's no supporting evidence, but SOURCES (like the whedon article) already claim there's a 7 year period of incarnation. The NYT article just says it's REINCARNATION. So we have to give parity. we have to represent both sides in proportion to how they exist out there in the world. See further down in the page where I explain my draft of how I think that should be done, instead of wholesale dismissing evidence like this. Clearly people think reincarnation is involved, so we should use the word "reincarnation." somewhere in the article. I won't budge on that, because all these WP:RSes say it. but I will compromise for parity and proportionality. Why won't you do the same?--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:48, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) First of all, WP should not include statements that are factually wrong, so the use of the NYT source should not be in consideration at all, despite being ostensibly a WP:RS reliable source. There are several sources, both "allowed" academic sources and even more numerous anthroposophical sources, that demonstrate the NYT statement is factually wrong -- the child developmental stages in WE do NOT involve some sort of repeated reincarnation process, where "people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years". While the anthroposophical sources are not allowed as references in the WE article, they can be used by editors as sources to establish the factual correctness of a source.
Second, the appeal to WP:PARITY among sources can't apply in cases of factual errors. If you want to describe a "fringe" theory, then get the description right. WP should not be used to repeat and perpetuate factual errors about anything, even so-called fringe theories. The only reasons an editor might knowingly wish to promote a factually incorrect description of a theory would be to demean and mock its adherents and to mislead the public about it. Since we are WP:AGF assuming good faith here, that couldn't be the motivation among any editors here, right? --EPadmirateur (talk) 13:27, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

I have added a thought about this "seven-year reincarnation" above under Reincarnation. TomShoshoni (talk) 12:46, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Agreeing with these replies, and see #The_Guardian_article. for clarification that Whedon talks about an incarnation process in seven-year cycles, which does not even remotely support the idea that there is reincarnation in seven-year cycles. HGilbert (talk) 13:16, 27 March 2015 (UTC)


Thebee, why are you reverting such absurdly minor edits? Templates in that format just LOOK better when they're at the top of a section. We already have inline "dubious" to make it clear which part is considered dubious. Could it be this is animosity in action?--Shibbolethink ( ) 21:55, 20 March 2015 (UTC)


@EPadmirateur:, I reverted the most recent two of your edits, because they remove well-sourced material. You said "accuracy" in your edit summary, could you explain further what you mean by "accuracy?" We've had long conversations about this on the talk page. If we're going to change these references, it should be to clarify their nature as from several sources, and not the opinion of everyone in the field. To be clear, there was no WP:CONSENSUS about this issue, so the references shouldn't be removed until we reach one.--Shibbolethink ( ) 03:41, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

There, User:EPadmirateur, now I've combined our diffs to reflect your style edits, but keep the facts that are directly sourced.--Shibbolethink ( ) 03:51, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm striving for accuracy, too. --EPadmirateur (talk) 04:11, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Could you explain how those WP:RS don't show the accurate nature of the reincarnation claim?--Shibbolethink ( ) 04:12, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Once more: The NYTimes article is the only one that links reincarnation to seven-year cycles. The Atlantic is merely quoting this article and does not represent an independent source.
No other source says anything more than that the idea of reincarnation influences the education. That is true. The connection to seven-year cycles is completely bogus. HGilbert (talk) 11:20, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Shibbolethink, I'd be glad to respond -- thanks for the opportunity. "Developmental stages" is the term of art in Waldorf pedagogy to describe the 7-year stages a child goes through in development from birth into adulthood. There is more to them than what "developmental stages" simply states but using the term "reincarnation" or "rebirth" is inaccurate and misleading as Hgilbert has been saying.

You will not find any WP:RS sources from independent academic authors that use the term "reincarnation" to explain the theory behind the 7-year developmental stages in Waldorf eduction. Relying on newspaper sources, however numerous, to support the introduction of the term "reincarnation" into the description of this theory is just plain wrong. If you're willing to hear more, I'd be very glad to explain more. --EPadmirateur (talk) 11:33, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Could you give some WP:RS to explain this term of art? In which case, we could explain it in the article itself instead of leaving the distinction to the talk page? Such as ((stages of reincarnation, referred to by insiders as...) I think at this point it should be abundantly clear that the origin of these stages IS a theory of reincarnation, whether seven years or not, as Hgilbert would love to contest.--Shibbolethink ( ) 15:43, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

I mean guys, @EPadmirateur:@Hgilbert: we can come to an agreement about this, we shouldn't have to escalate to mediation or an ArbCom or w/e. I'm willing to compromise on the 7 year number if we explicitly include the words reincarnation where appropriate, and don't replace it with the sanitizing "term of art." This is not an article for adherents to the Waldorf system, it's an article to be read by interested parents. They deserve to know where the concept comes from.--Shibbolethink ( ) 16:26, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Great! Let me explain this in general terms. So far, I have one WP:RS that's already among the references -- Sarah Whedon (2007)., Hands, Hearts, and Heads: Childhood and Esotericism in American Waldorf Education, pp. 46-48. Hopefully Hgilbert and others who have access to acceptable WP:RS sources can add to this.
Child development is viewed as a process progressive, gradual incarnation (NOT reincarnation) that goes in three 7-year stages. At birth, the etheric and astral bodies (the vehicles of the life force and the soul forces respectively) are wrapped in protective envelopes (as Whedon puts it). During ages 0-7 the etheric works to develop the physical body (hence the pedagogical focus on physical activity and imitation). At the change of teeth around age 6-7, the etheric is released. During ages 7-14 the astral forces (especially of feeling) work to develop the etheric (hence the pedagogical focus on the imagination, ideals and values). Puberty around age 13-14 then signals the release of the astral. During 14-21, the astral forces of thinking especially are the focus and the ego (the sense of I) is worked on. During this time the pedagogical focus is the development of the intellect and independent judgment.
I hope you can see from this that the journalists who describe this process as different stages of reincarnation have got it wrong. So a better description in the Waldorf education#Anthroposophical basis would be something like "Steiner believed that children pass through three developmental stages of seven years, beginning with birth and ending at 21 years of age, which involve a progressive incarnation of the different aspects of the child's being, the physical body, the etheric or life-force aspect and the astral or soul-force aspect.(ref Whedon, pp. 46-48) This idea informs the pedagogical focus and curricular content of the pre-school/kindergarten, elementary and secondary programs."
Other references to child development should then refer to "stages of development". If need be, words that explain the special nature of the child development theory should refer to "stages of development in accord with the child's progressive incarnation into physical existence", or something like that. --EPadmirateur (talk) 17:55, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, that sound about right. I mentioned that same Whedon source in my conversation with Hgilbert over at Wikiproject:Skepticism. So since we have these two groups of WP:RS, we should really put them side by side in the article, then. I think that's a good compromise. Deal?
Something like this:
"Journalists from the BBC, the NYT, the Chicago Tribune, and the Guardian have described these stages as modes of reincarnation of the soul developing in 7 year increments. Academics, such as Sarah Whedon, have described them rather as incarnation of the soul into physical existence." How's that? It's just my first draft. --Shibbolethink ( ) 19:05, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
We could also then, of course, provide more academic sources to back up the incarnation assessment, and put them there with Whedon. and make it like "Academic researches<a number of citations>" or "Academic researches from X Y and Z journal <a number of citations>...." Or something like that. I'm a big fan. This would then meet the standard of presenting theories in proportion, not just a balance of opposing theories.--Shibbolethink ( ) 19:13, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
You really are not listening. The BBC, Tribune, and Guardian claim no such thing. Nothing you have quoted from these sources is remotely supportive of a reincarnation of the soul in 7-year increments. There is one source, a newspaper article about a different topic, and that is not sufficient to make a claim that every other source does not support. A journalist is not an expert on philosophy. Reliable sources would be academic publications; as previous admins have noted in previous arbitrations, there are ample such to rely on. HGilbert (talk) 02:48, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
You don't get to decide what a WP:RS is. That's why this exists: WP:RS.Let's go through the facts: Your academic source, Whedon, says there are 7 year periods of incarnation. NYT says reincarnation in 7 year increments. Atlantic, BBC, Guardian, Chicago Trib, and Salon say reincarnation influences waldorf education. Can't we combine all of these things into a cohesive draft? Are you literally not willing to include anything from these WP:RSes? You're unwilling to compromise?--Shibbolethink ( ) 03:12, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
WP:RS states, "When available, academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks...[or] material from high-quality mainstream publications" should be used, and emphasizes that "even the most reputable [news] reporting sometimes contains errors". As there are plenty of academic and peer-reviewed publications on the subject, these should be used rather than newspaper reports.
Sources that rank way higher on WP:RS' list and that give plenty of information on the topic include:
  1. Olav Hammer, Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. For example, "After centuries in a discarnate state, the essence of the individual is reborn in a new physical sheath" chosen by high spiritual beings. "One is often reincarnated twice in every astrological age [2160 years for Steiner], once as a man and once as a woman".
  2. Heiner Ullrich, Rudolf Steiner, Bloomsbury Publishing. For example: "children, seemingly inexperienced and helpless, appear to their parents or caregivers as an age-old being with unknown abilities...All a person's traits seen as the result of numerous previous spiritual and emotional lives" and "For Steiner, karma does not represent unchangeable any moment one may begin to...change one's own destiny"
  3. Helmut Zander, Reinkarnation und Christentum: Rudolf Steiners Theorie der Wiederverkorperung im Dialog mit der Theologie (a very mainstream academic with no affiliation to anthroposophy)
  4. Jörg Ewertowski, "Anthroposophie als Geisteswissenschaft", in Uhlenhoff, Rahel (ed.) Anthroposophie in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag
  5. Willmann Waldorfpädogogik, part of a series on various alternative pedagogies. (See p. 27-30.) HGilbert (talk) 11:56, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Per ArbCom, sources from Anthroposophists are off limits for statements of fact.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:23, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
First of all, none of these are anthroposophists. They are all academics.
Second, that's actually not remotely what the ArbCom said. It said sources published by anthroposophical presses should not be used as citations for controversial matters. For uncontested matters of fact they are fine. Furthermore, WP policy states that even self-published sources are legitimate for self-description; e.g. it is fine to use Steiner's work, or that of anthroposophical authors, to discover what Steiner believed. But this is irrelevant here; these are high quality academic sources. HGilbert (talk) 16:20, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

The Guardian article.[edit]

@Hgilbert: since you asked, here's the guardian article's quotes:

"[Steiner] called the resulting spiritual world-view "anthroposophy". It incorporated reincarnation, karma, astrology, a dash of numerology and assorted other tenets that a sceptic might well be tempted to throw in a box marked, "So far, so wackjob". But, at least as far as education is concerned, it resulted in a liberal, progressive attitude that resonates deeply with current concerns about individual and social development and responsibility - not to mention lovely organic school meals."
"But teachers who believe in reincarnation and in children having astral bodies - can they see how that might be unsettling for the parent in the street? "I absolutely see that," says Van-Manen. "Some of the terms Steiner uses are very scary and confusing. But it's just terminology. We might say among ourselves, 'astral body'. Well, another word is 'soul' and everybody uses the word soul. Or use 'psyche', if you're more comfortable with that. But we do have these terms and I accept that it is very off-putting." And reincarnation? "I say: 'Fine, we don't expect you to believe in reincarnation, but just listen to this. Do you think it's such a bad thing that teachers who work with your child think that your child comes from somewhere, brings certain qualities and then goes off somewhere else? No, it's a good thing. It doesn't really matter whether you accept it. The point is that a child has certain qualities. We try to work with those, bring them out, and feel that those qualities will go out and have a life beyond.""
You yourself, Hgilbert, even admitted here:
FYI: What Steiner actually suggested was that people generally reincarnate every thousand years or so, but that it is very variable. HGilbert (talk) 19:52, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
that Steiner believed in reincarnation. And these numerous WP:RSes show that that theory of reincarnation plays a very big role in the curricular design of Waldorf Schools. So why are all your and EPadmiratuer's reverts focused on removing every mention of reincarnation? Let's compromise, show that both theories of reincarnation and incarnation exist, and that there are some who believe it's a 7 year cycle of incarnation/reincarnation, and others who believe it was a 1000 year cycle. Compromise is WP:FUN, and it results in GAs.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:56, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Perfect. Many Waldorf teachers believe in reincarnation, which is a central tent of anthroposophy. Fine. No one is trying to remove all mention of reincarnation. It is amply covered in the anthroposophy article, has long appeared in this article in a critical discussion, and could appear more strongly. No problem at all.
What needs to go is the nonsense about 7-year cycles. Why are you so fixed on this? It is an absurd, false claim hanging on one journalist's mistaken statement. It has no support from any other authority and the journalist does not attribute the idea to any source.
Let it go. Please. And above all stop claiming that sources which do not support this idea, do so. HGilbert (talk) 02:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not wed enough to the 7 year cycle claim to force it in. But will you at least admit that Whedon references the 7-year claim in an Academic publication? What do you think of my draft? How would you change it?--Shibbolethink ( ) 03:32, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Whedon does not say that there are "7 year periods of incarnation". She refers to incarnation from one lifetime to the next (p. 49), not within a single life. The seven-year periods are periods of development within a single life. We all agree that these are posited within Waldorf education, and the article explains this in detail. HGilbert (talk) 11:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Whedon does say "Gradual stages of incarnation" that last 7 years. We're arguing about semantics. Any way, why don't you copyedit my draft instead of trying to WP:WIN.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:24, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Incarnation and reincarnation are as similar as birth and rebirth. Mistaking a biological description of birth for a description of rebirth would not be merely a semantic mistake, but a fundamental confusion. Just so here. So the first thing would be to stop confusing the two terms. So my copy-edit of your draft would be:

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Waldorf education describes the process of incarnation as taking place in seven-year stages.

Since you feel that this is a matter of semantics, you won't mind my using the term that academic sources prefer in this context: "incarnation". HGilbert (talk) 16:14, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Begin to work on issues[edit]

I would like to help to satisfy the issues that an editor has listed. I will start with:

This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (March 2015)

Please list the details which have been considered to be excessive and I will work on it. Thanks! Gandydancer (talk) 16:48, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Doing that is probably not as simple as you make it sound. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 17:05, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
If it is so complicated that I can't figure out how to work to fix the problem, is that not a problem? It is quite easy to tag an article, but the editor must be able to specify the problem so that others can work to remedy it. Where would you suggest I start if I'm not even sure of what it is that I need to work on? Gandydancer (talk) 20:22, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I think the largest problem of overcomplication is in the explanation of the discipline itself. Like in terms of how complicated all the explanations of the different stages of education are, etc, there's lots of repetitive clauses and things are said multiple times in the same section. I think that could be condensed, without losing actual information or description. See: everything between Developmental Approach and Reception.--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:43, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I can give you explicit examples after an exam I have tomorrow morning, but those are the sections I was thinking of when I put this tag in.--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:49, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Shibbolethink, as I said, I will be glad to help when I understand the problems you see. Perhaps you could start with explaining who the "specific audience" is with a few examples I can work on. Thanks. Gandydancer (talk) 00:23, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Are the promised explicit examples of the problem still coming? HGilbert (talk) 08:12, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
One example is given below: repeated descriptions of the 3 phases of education. I think this has been resolved. Are there other issues to be dealt with? Please list these promptly or the on-going lack of concrete direction will begin to make the tag rather useless.HGilbert (talk) 23:54, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Loose wording[edit]

Recent edits have added a lot of loose wording that ends up being very misleading. I will begin to list these here. Feel free to comment inline.

The term "official" (settled issue)[edit]

Calling WE a "semi-official theory of education" in Europe is misleading. The lead should be changed to reflect the real situation, which is one of wide acceptance and influence. Look at the old wording (why was this changed???) for a clearer statement of the facts. HGilbert (talk) 17:57, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Agreeing with that comment, and after reading the above discussion (as from 17:25, 17 March 2015) in my view the use of a more than dubious source attributing to Steiner a theory of seven-year cycle of reincarnation in child development may have been in good faith but, to anyone acquainted with the content of the article here (Waldorf education) and its presentation of the known and public information on the topic, is absurdly naive and ignorant, and gives no confidence in the edits of the person who is claiming to have adopted the article as a personal project, with no prior knowledge and after a conversation with a friend. In fact, the attempt to use a decision to adopt the article as a project for revision is unconvincing, and becomes less so the more one sees the responses to knowledgeable, npov, criticism. Qexigator (talk) 19:25, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry, what exactly are you accusing me of here?--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:39, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Do you think I'm like some sort of anti-Waldorf POV activist editor or Whackjob or something? Be plain, please.--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:53, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Also, Re: The semi-official wording, it should be made clear that Waldorf education is and is not official in Europe in different contexts. It gets governmental funding in a lot of places, but is governed by different accreditation committees etc. Is this wrong? Waldorf is not the only form of accepted official education in Europe, that much is certain.--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:47, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure what "semi-official" means in this (or any) context, and therein lies a problem already; wording should be clear. Yes, governmental funding is available for private schools generally in many parts of Europe. Does that make every pedagogy that receives funding semi-official? Why not just say that WE receives government funding, if that's all you mean? And why change a clear wording (what the article originally said) for an unclear one? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hgilbert (talkcontribs)
Yeah, that's fair. Let's just include an element that means says some WE schools have received governmental funding, but that others have received controversy in this context. It was a very minor edit, and I think it's fine you want to revert it.--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:17, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Hooray! Agreement on a subject! Thanks; let's work to resolve the other issues, as well. HGilbert (talk) 16:28, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Magical thinking[edit]

Waldorf Education does have a lot of roots in magical thinking. When I first read this article, I did not get that at all anywhere in the text. I think that's a failure of the former structure of the article and the issues with NPOV. other WP:RSes made that clear, including actually reading in depth the academic sources referenced here. It seemed to me there was a systematic de-emphasis on the magical thinking elements. Do you disagree?--Shibbolethink ( ) 22:54, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Magical thinking is a curious term in this context. I have seen the term used to describe homeopathy, and thus anthroposophic medicine where it employs homeopathy, and it makes sense to me in this context. I have not heard it used to refer to the education, nor does it make sense to me. Do you have a RS for this?? HGilbert (talk) 16:41, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
From David Jelinek, Ph.D. over at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), a paper so generously provided by User:Dkriegls:
"As a first step Waldorf should disregard Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy as the source of accurate scientific concepts. The basis for this recommendation is that Steiner’s teachings do not pass the tests of empiricism (a,b,c and d), are not testable by anyone (e), have not changed much, if any, since Steiner introduced them (f), and rely on paranormal statements that cannot be verified (g)."
Any claim that "cannot be verified by observation or reason" is, by definition, Magical thinking.
Also this MotherJones source describes Waldorf education as another anthroposophical belief that derives from Steiner's view of the soul, which is not empirically verifiable.
Also this paper from Research on Steiner Education self-describes Waldorf as a process that instills "magical thinking" from ages 2-7 (pp 79). That's not a WP:RS, but it is for statements in-universe.
Finally, it's clear enough that others, particularly those involved in PLANS, believe Waldorf to be based on magical thinking. See this article from the Atlantic monthly: "These notions make Dugan, who is a sound engineer, smile and shake his head. "I'm opposed to magical thinking; I'm a secular humanist," he told me as we chatted recently in an office stuffed with electronic equipment on one side and dozens of anthroposophy books on the other, all of which he claims to have read. In Dugan's view, Steiner's theories are simply "cult pseudo-science." After Waldorf began spreading into public school classrooms, Dugan formed a group called PLANS (People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools) to declare what he calmly calls "epistemological warfare." His goal, he says, is to sort out two questions: "What is reliable knowledge? How is it obtained?"" --Shibbolethink ( ) 17:08, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
That's a lot of OR. What I take away: Anthroposophy is based on non-empirically verifiable ideas. That's true of every philosophy, by the way.
And PLANS is not a RS. HGilbert (talk) 12:49, 24 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. The mistake discussed above reappears where the article states that "the structure of Waldorf education follows Steiner's theories of child development and reincarnation, which divide childhood into three developmental stages of reincarnation or rebirth". This should read, "the structure of Waldorf education follows Steiner's theories of child development and reincarnation, which divide childhood into three developmental stages of reincarnation or rebirth". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hgilbert (talkcontribs)
How about "the structure of Waldorf education follows Steiner's theories of child development and gradual spiritual incarnation, which divide childhood into three developmental stages of incarnation of souls from 1000 years prior."--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:21, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
We need to avoid confusing incarnation (essentially child development) and reincarnation (the reappearance of a previous individuality in a new life). How about The structure of Waldorf education follows Steiner's theories of child development and progressive incarnation, which divide childhood into three developmental stages. and Waldorf Education understands children's traits to be "the result of numerous previous spiritual and emotional lives[1]. (In a case where we are struggling with wording, quoting a RS avoids arguing over differing interpretations.)
Comment on above: 'Incarnation' is described as meaning embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial. Given that it is applicable to child development generally, would a link to that be acceptable here, if it is what the source intends? Qexigator (talk) 10:56, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
That direct link between childhood development and (re)incarnation that you're making, Hgilbert, and Qexigator for that matter, is Original Research. I never made that link, and I don't think you should do it for the reader, in lieu of letting them make their own conclusions about the relatedness of childhood development and spiritual incarnation.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:59, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
No; Whedon, for example, explains their direct connection on the page you cite (p. 46). Other sources can easily be found, too. HGilbert (talk) 16:28, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I won't budge. We would be doing a disservice to the readers of this page if we don't include the word reincarnation. This wiki page is for people who are interested in learning about Waldorf Education, and you want to include terms of art instead of what the discipline is based on. It's based on principles of magical thinking, specifically reincarnation. We should include that. Even your WP:RSes say that. Why don't you want to include it?--Shibbolethink ( ) 16:35, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I want to stick to reliable sources, which clearly distinguish

  • developmental stages as progressive incarnational process, and
  • reincarnation as an event between human lives.

Both of these have their place. Just don't try to confuse them. Perhaps it would defuse the situation if we would simply quote any academic source on the subject instead of using either of our wordings. HGilbert (talk) 12:53, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Once again: I am proposing to include both progressive incarnation and reincarnation (i.e. not excluding any topic listed here), but not confusing them. So, for example (these can certainly be tweaked or changed):
  • "The structure of Waldorf education follows Steiner's theories of child development, which divide childhood into three developmental stages, sometimes regarded as progressive stages of incarnation".
  • "Waldorf teachers are tasked with helping each child's soul and spirit grow in accordance with" the anthroposophical belief that each is a reincarnating individual, descending from and destined to return to a spiritual world. [2][3]

Early childhood[edit]

  1. "These practical activities are provided in lieu of reading, writing, and other academic disciplines traditionally present in pre-school curriculums." The cited source does not say that these are traditionally present in such curricula, but the opposite: that there is a trend today toward including such disciplines. Including academic work in KG is a relatively recent trend, not the tradition. HGilbert (talk) 21:21, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Rewrite to be: "These practical activities are provided in lieu of reading, writing, and other academic disciplines present in other pre-school curriculums."--Shibbolethink ( ) 07:03, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
They are not provided "in lieu" of anything, and to say so verges on (or crosses over into) OR. How about: The curriculum centers on practical activities and opportunities for imaginative play. Reading, writing, and other academic disciplines are not introduced until the elementary school (first grade). Then the section on Waldorf_education#Reading_and_literacy, which can be revised to be more comprehensive if we find more Rsources, should follow. HGilbert (talk) 12:31, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Done HGilbert (talk) 23:48, 29 March 2015 (UTC)


I would suggest that we rely on academic/peer-reviewed sources for general material about the education, and restrict newspapers to information about current events or disputes. HGilbert (talk) 23:01, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

I respectfully disagree, as you already know. I think academic sources are liable to bias in this area, since very few sources study Waldorf education without having a COI. They exist, those NPOV WP:RS from academia, I'll readily admit it. And you have some in this article. But I think others, like Whedon, have shown plainly that they operate in-universe. They aren't studying it from an anthropological perspective.--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:13, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Also, I DO think academic sources on Waldorf's validity, like studies of its effectiveness, are totally WP:RS and I completely agree we should use them. I mean the academic papers in areas of non-data-based analysis.--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:14, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
While scientific sources are preferred over newspapers for certain scientific claims, creating any broad claim that this is true for "general material about the education" would not fit with WP:Verifiability. However, in that light, this academic paper from the American Educational Research Association should find its way into this article at some point. Dkriegls (talk to me!) 07:15, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
I am not trying to lay down a hard and fast line here, but just to point us toward quality sources appropriate to the purpose. WP:RS clearly suggest that academic and peer-reviewed sources are the most reliable. Would an article on any philosophy rely on newspaper accounts of that philosophy to describe the fundamental principles of that philosophy? Or would it use academic books and peer-reviewed journals for this purpose, assuming these are available?
And yes, the paper you cite can certainly be used to establish critiques and recommendations. HGilbert (talk) 13:06, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Holistic education[edit]

The term "holistic education" is not a buzzword or advert; it is a descriptive term used frequently in contemporary discussions of education. A Worldcat search for the term reveals numerous mainstream publications that use the term in the title or self-description. A Google scholar search reveals more than 700,000 hits.

That it is applicable to WE is verifiable by numerous RS, notably Thomas William Nielsen's Rudolf Steiner's pedagogy of imagination : a case study of holistic education, published by a mainstream press. HGilbert (talk) 13:51, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Is this issue resolved, or are there further questions? HGilbert (talk) 08:45, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of cooperation needed to work on the issues related to the numerous tagging of this article. It is not fair to our editors when an editor places so many tags on a long-standing article that an editor such as myself is left at a loss as to where to help with the removal of the tags. And in the meantime our readers remain just as confused as to the reliability of the article and don't understand where the problems may lie. If the editor that did all the tagging continues to refuse to take part in all the discussions he/she started, I'm going to start removing tags that seem settled to me. Gandydancer (talk) 16:04, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I think the {{advert}} ("article contains content that is written like an advertisement"), {{peacock}} ("article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information"), and {{copy edit}} ("article may require copy editing for style and tone") templates are redundant and at least two of them should be removed. Since we can specify what's wrong with the copyedit tag then maybe we should keep that one and maybe replace the "style and tone" with something longer or more specific.
{{POV}} ("neutrality of this article is disputed") and {{condense}} ("article may have too many section headers dividing up its content") seem to point at the same problem which is possibly covered by the {{overly detailed}} ("article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience") tag.
Or maybe POV and advert point at the same problem, in any case there's a lot of redundancy here and Shibbolethink should explain why he added each tag and/or suggest which ones he thinks we should keep (for the article as it is in its current state). — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 16:37, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Because maintenance tags aren't supposed to be badges of shame but if we over-tag the article like so then it kinda seems like an effort to accentuate how horrible this article is. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 16:42, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Jeraphine Gryphon's above comments. Qexigator (talk) 17:31, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Agreed, maintenance tags are not a badge of shame. So why don't we reduce to just NPOV and Excessive detail? Those are my two main problems with the page. For examples of the first, see the reception section. For examples of the second, see the many stages of Waldorf Education. The first has a lack of cohesion and lacks many critical receptions that exist in WP:RSes mentioned elsewhere on this talk page. The second restates many of the features of each developmental stage in two redundant headings. This is an excessive detail that detracts from the goal of all articles on wiki: to educate a general interest individual with the important and pertinent details on a subject. for what I mean, see WP:NOTJOURNAL, etc.--Shibbolethink ( ) 03:54, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
OK; let's move forward on this. I have established a discussion and archiving sections for some of these problems below. I have also tried to merge parallel topics repeated in several places, a work that needs to continue. For what it's worth, I'd like to note that this fragmentation did not arise through my editing work.
For the NPOV problems you cite, a discussion was opened above to revise the current Reception section. I agree that a balanced solution should be found on the talk page before replacing the current section. HGilbert (talk) 11:04, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I actually don't see that the stages of WE are duplicated any more now that I have removed the run-through of these @Shibbolethink added to the Anthroposophy section. Is there something I'm missing, or is this problem resolved? HGilbert (talk) 11:10, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Science education[edit]

I think User:Dkriegls brings up an excellent source that should be included prominently in the Science instruction section. Here are the highlights:

"Waldorf does not, for example, fully align itself with the national science standards, though as the reviewers point out, there are numerous favorable processes that support science as inquiry, so they gave pedagogical appropriateness and science content fairly high ratings, overall. On the other hand, some of the concerns the reviewers raised about questionable concepts would be reason enough for some critics to discredit Waldorf science education all together. The evolutionary notion that animals are the by-products of human development, that the spirit of man physically incarnated into soul qualities that manifested themselves into various animal forms, is highly suspect as a valid scientific theory. So is the geological position that earth evolved through Lemurian and Atlantean epochs and is now in its fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Or the theory that the four kingdoms of nature are mineral, plant, animal and man. "

"Though it is true that some Waldorf teachers demonstrated a high degree of scientific understanding and others a high degree of “Waldorf-specific” concepts (e.g., Steiner’s view of evolution), the majority actually appeared to be struggling with the question about what should be taught and how it should be taught. There was struggle over whether Rudolf Steiner’s teachings about science had any place in the curriculum, or if content to be delivered should be drawn from more mainstream sources. In actuality, the majority of Waldorf teachers we interviewed pointed to this latter choice as the more ideal; albeit they were uncertain about how to go about doing this."

"There is also an argument that Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education are inseparable. If that is true then it is difficult to understand how Waldorf could offer a viable form of science education. But many educators argue that the methods of Waldorf and Anthroposophy are separable -- public Waldorf educators have gone so far as to argue this point in court when challenged on separation of church-state issues. Legal ramifications aside, there is little doubt that a distinct separation from Anthroposophy is needed. Consider the anthroposophical tenets of developmentalism and evolution. Steiner’s developmentalism is based on his teachings that children pass through three 7-year stages: the first characterized by the reincarnated human spirit adjusting to the physical world; the second by the incarnation of the “etheric” body with the physical body; and the third by the incarnation of the “astral” body. [emphasis mine]

"By removing Anthroposophy the arguments of Waldorf’s questionable philosophical foundation are removed and Waldorf can focus, instead, on the strengths of its methodology and ways to improve it. It should be noted, however, that rejecting Steiner and Anthroposophy as the source of accurate scientific concepts does not signify the rejection of the many exemplary Waldorf methods that have attracted the attention of innumerable parents, educators and academics."

So, by the way, there's another source that reincarnation is a prime element of the developmental stages. So why not include it?--Shibbolethink ( ) 17:25, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

This is a copy vio (yes, even on a talk page). Please cut it back to a reasonable length. Thanks. Gandydancer (talk) 18:23, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
And then there are critics of the critic:
"In his book about Rudolf Steiner, Heiner Ullrich (2008) discusses...Steiner’s philosophy of knowledge...I was astonished to find so many claims about what Steiner means almost without a single reference to – let alone a quote from – Steiner’s work... I am surprised that such a text can be published with the implicit claims of being a scholarly and academic book..."[4] Gandydancer (talk) 18:40, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
SHOCKER that the Anthroposophists over at ROSE would be a critic of this paper. Difference is, one of them is a review later published in a mainstream journal, and presented at a mainstream conference. Also, since the copyright is held with the author themselves, (since it's a paper held at a conference), I can ask them for permission to reprint here. But I'll cut it down for you.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:06, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
This theoretical critique is perfectly valid. So are the empirical TIMMS and PISA results which show that Waldorf students in the USA and Europe achieve knowledge of science superior to that of state school pupils and have significantly more enthusiasm for the subject. There are also studies that show that Waldorf students disproportionally go into science-related fields. All of these have place in the article. HGilbert (talk) 23:41, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Shibbolethink Please tone your sarcasm down - I came to this article to help, not to do battle with you. Where does this paper come from - is it a talk that the author gave at the annual meeting or is it from a journal? Gandydancer (talk) 00:12, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I think it's fair to mention both claims in the article as the sources themselves support presenting both sides. Undo weight of course will be the issue. Perhaps keeping both within the critique section as sort of a claim and defense narrative will keep the article balanced. Dkriegls (talk to me!) 06:17, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
An eminently fair solution HGilbert (talk) 12:57, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's do it.--Shibbolethink ( ) 14:20, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────See Talk:Waldorf education/Science for a workspace to synthesize these. HGilbert (talk) 16:18, 25 March 2015 (UTC) The paper cited at the top of this section was already used in the science section, though it did not appear in the references. Instead, a Routledge Studies in Science Education review's analysis of this was used. For clarity, I have added the original paper as a citation, as well.

The review is comprehensive and as a secondary source is a Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources#Primary.2C_secondary.2C_and_tertiary_sources preferred reliable source. More material should be brought in from it. HGilbert (talk) 10:16, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I have now added an overview from the secondary source and a specific recommendation from the Jelinek study. HGilbert (talk) 10:33, 1 April 2015 (UTC)


This is a different topic, but deserves an answer. Note that the authors use the term reincarnation once, and incarnation the other times. We reincarnate once each lifetime; then there is a process of progressive incarnation, which passes through several stages (independent physical existence with conception/birth; independent memories and habits with around 6-7 years of age; independent judgment and emotional and intellectual life at around 13 years). Please do not continue to confuse the developmental path of incarnation and reincarnation. HGilbert (talk) 23:45, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Fair, so why not use the word "reincarnation" somewhere in the article?--Shibbolethink ( ) 07:04, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Also, you may think that's the case, but we have to keep it anthropological in writing the article. Many people don't believe in reincarnation, and these sources do not claim reincarnation as fact. Only that Anthroposophists, such as yourself, do believe it.--Shibbolethink ( ) 07:05, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's please WP:Assume good faith and avoid making personal comments.
Not only have I repeatedly said that reincarnation can be included here, it has been represented in the article for many years in a critical and objective context. There is no disagreement over this whatsoever.
But you have to stop confusing reincarnation and incarnation. HGilbert (talk) 15:22, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Before I began editing the article, there was only one mention of the word "reincarnation" and it wasn't in a statement of fact. Even though it is a well recognized fact that many Waldorf practices are based upon it, and Steiner readily believed in it. It deserves more representation, as it is widely recognized as a component in the controversial practices of WE. This mention: "In November 2012, BBC News broadcast an item about accusations that the establishment of a state-funded Waldorf School in Frome was a misguided use of public money. The broadcast reported that concerns were being raised about Rudolf Steiner's beliefs, stating he "believed in reincarnation and said it was related to race, with black (schwarz) people being the least spiritually developed, and white (weiß) people the most."[140]" Is not enough, in my opinion.--Shibbolethink ( ) 15:38, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Agree. There should be an objective presentation of how the idea of reincarnation manifests in WE. See my proposal above. HGilbert (talk) 08:47, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Agree That seems to be clear and objective. Gandydancer (talk) 16:13, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Next steps[edit]

I wonder if there is enough material where there is effective agreement to begin implementing the above solutions in the article. HGilbert (talk) 20:55, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

IMO, please proceed. Gandydancer (talk) 13:30, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Ditto. Qexigator (talk) 13:36, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I have now merged parallel material, removed unrelated material, and considerably trimmed where I could. Is there more to be done to satisfy the concern for undue detail? If so, can someone give specifics?
Similarly, I have striven to address the NPOV concerns raised here. It seems to me that there is reasonable balance. Are there more specific concerns? HGilbert (talk) 10:39, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
i have attempted to address every concern articulated above. In response to the excessive detail tag, I have reduced the article length by about 12%. If no further concerns are articulated, the tags should be removed. HGilbert (talk) 11:55, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree. --EPadmirateur (talk) 17:02, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Unsupported material[edit]

I am finding many statements that are "supported" with citations which do not even mention the specific topic, e.g.

  • Anthroposophical belief in developmental cycles is also the origin of many practices in Waldorf Schools, including the delay of reading and writing education until after age seven, and the removal of televisions and computers from a young child's environment.[4][5][6]
    These articles do not mention the relationship of televisions and computers to developmental cycles. In fact, I don't see that they mention television at all.
    The introduction of academic subjects such as reading and writing education is covered in a separate section. This should be merged HGilbert (talk) 10:50, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Duplicated or superfluous[edit]

In line with the excessive detail tag, I am removing (and archiving here) material that is either duplicated or does not seem to add substantially to the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hgilbert (talkcontribs)

  • This underlying philosophy leads to increased attention being given to child development supported by ongoing study.[7]
    There is already a great deal of emphasis on child development. What does this add?

There was indeed a lot of fat; I have now cut more than 10% of the article's length. Specific suggestions would be helpful, however! HGilbert (talk) 09:12, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Reading and literacy[edit]

Only one sentence of this section is specific to WE. I am archiving the rest here for the moment and have moved the one sentence that is specific to the reception section, where it fits better.

In preliteracy research, the topic of best teaching practice is controversial. Some scholars favor a developmental approach in which formal instruction on reading begins around the age of 6 or 7 and others who argue for literacy instruction to occur in pre-school and kindergarten classrooms, assuming that other activities are taking place as well.[8]

In a discussion on academic kindergartens, professor of child development David Elkind has argued that since "there is no solid research demonstrating that early academic training is superior to (or worse than) the more traditional, hands-on model of early education" educators should defer to developmental approaches that provide young children with ample time and opportunity to explore the natural world on their own terms.[9] Elkind names Rudolf Steiner as one of the "giants of early-childhood development" and describes activities for young children in a Waldorf school as "social," "holistic," and "collaborative," as well as reflecting the principle that "early education must start with the child, not with the subject matter to be taught."[9] In response Grover Whitehurst, educational policy chair at the Brookings Institution, argues the opposite. In his view, the lack of solid research demonstrating the benefits of early academics merely reveals the urgent need for an evidence-based "science of early education." He laments that early education scholarship is "mired in philosophy, in broad theories of the nature of child development, and in practices that spring from appeals to authority," such as Elkind's praise for those "giants of early-childhood development" whose work reflects Jean Piaget’s insights.[9]

Sebastian Suggate has performed analysis of the PISA 2007 OECD data from 54 countries and found "no association between school entry age ... and reading achievement at age 15".[10] He also cites a German study[11] of 50 kindergartens that compared children who, at age 5, had spent a year either "academically focused", or "play-arts focused" — in time the two groups became inseparable in reading skill. Suggate concludes that the effects of early reading are like "watering a garden before a rainstorm; the earlier watering is rendered undetectable by the rainstorm, the watering wastes precious water, and the watering detracts the gardener from other important preparatory groundwork."[10]

In 2013, Waldorf kindergartens in the United Kingdom were granted an exemption from and modifications of a number of the government's Early Learning Goals, including the requirement that early childhood programs include a reading and writing curriculum. The exemption was granted on the basis that certain of these goals run counter to Waldorf early childhood education's established principles.[12]

The last paragraph might be useful for the UK section. HGilbert (talk) 21:22, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I have moved much of the rest to Age to introduce literacy learning and linked through a "see also" template from this article HGilbert (talk) 21:34, 30 March 2015 (UTC)


I have reorganized the theory and practice section topically: Early Childhood and connected themes, elementary school and connected themes, high school, curriculum and connected themes, etc. (Themes were somewhat scrambled previously.) The actual text is unchanged.

I have also moved the section on evaluations of the education to the reception section. HGilbert (talk) 00:05, 31 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Heiner Ullrich, Rudolf Steiner, Bloomsbury Publishing
  2. ^ Carolyn Chernoff, "Waldorf" (pp. 843-844) in Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide, J. Ainsworth (ed.), p. 843
  3. ^ Heiner Ullrich, Rudolf Steiner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Chapter 13
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference Year6 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Van Kleeck, A.; Schuele, C. M. (2010). "Historical Perspectives on Literacy in Early Childhood". American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 19 (4): 341–355. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2010/09-0038). PMID 20581109.  edit
  9. ^ a b c Elkind, David (2001). "Much Too Early". Education Next. 
  10. ^ a b Sebastian Suggate, "Watering the garden before a rainstorm: the case of early reading instruction" in Contemporary Debates in Childhood Education and Development, ed. Sebastian Suggate, Elaine Reese. pp. 181–190.
  11. ^ Suggate, S. P.; Schaughency, E. A.; Reese, E. (2013). "Children learning to read later catch up to children reading earlier". Early Childhood Research Quarterly 28: 33. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.04.004.  edit
  12. ^ Catherine Gaunt, Steiner-Waldorf schools win victory on EYFS exemptions Nursery World, 28 January 2013

Contents of lede[edit]

It seems clear that the lede should focus on issues closely connected to the schools and educational philosophy. Does a critique of Steiner's comments on race qualify?

This really belongs to the article on Steiner. The fact that critics of WE have sometimes mentioned Steiner's valuations of race in connection to the education can be included in this article, but why in the lede? I know of (and the present citations list) no suggestion that these valuations actually play a role in the schools.

Finally, if the consensus is that this should stay in the lede, should not the fact that several empirical studies have demonstrated that Waldorf students have considerable less racial prejudice than students from other schools also be included in the lede for balance? HGilbert (talk) 01:52, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Broadly agree, and the treatment in Wikipedia articles of Steiner's educational theory, and the practice of this under the name 'Waldorf' or otherwise, can be such as to be compared with the treatment of other educational theorists or reformers affecting current educational practice, or the Philosophy of education, such as Pestalozzi, Commenius, Thomas Arnold, Edward Thring, Nathaniel Woodard, Montessori, Jean Piaget (naming just a few, almost at random). Qexigator (talk) 06:12, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Soundly agree. Just as a mention, I tend to believe that as time has passed Steiner would have likely had a change of mind on some things. My dad wrote a book in the early 50's and today it seems so both racist and sexist - but he definitely was neither. It was a different world back then and he was part of it. BTW, there is an ongoing quest to search out pseudoscience in Wikipedia wherever it may be lurking and expose it. See here: [5], so it is not unlikely that this article may be targeted. Gandydancer (talk) 11:39, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Done. I agree that Steiner would have both thought about these things differently, and been better about expressing his thoughts, which were often quite pluralistic and forward-thinking on these issues. HGilbert (talk) 13:44, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
  • see also Wikipedia talk:Criticism#When should critical reception or controversies be included in the lede?. I agree that criticism mentioned in the lede should be about the critical reception of Waldorf education, not about the critical reception of Rudolf Steiner (the person) and/or of Anthroposophy (the philosophy): it is correct to give appropriate summaries of such criticisms (as relevant to Waldorf education) in the body of this article, but these criticisms are too tangential to the topic of this article to be summarized in its lede. --Francis Schonken (talk) 06:54, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks all; this is very helpful. HGilbert (talk) 10:28, 16 April 2015 (UTC)


"Articles should rely on secondary sources whenever possible" according to Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources#Scholarship, which also suggests scholarly articles and books are to be preferred over news reports (except where the latter provide information about recent events that would not have been able to be included in earlier publications). Much of this article already cites sources that meet these standards, but where this is not yet the case, I am trying to find higher quality sources. As a first phase, I am using encyclopedias of education, a large number of which have articles on Waldorf education. It seems to me that these will provide a general overview from the perspective of an encyclopedia and so might be particularly useful. HGilbert (talk) 23:36, 16 April 2015 (UTC)