Myth: "Waldorf education is racist"
"... as regards ... what is independent of our bodily makeup we are all individually made; each one of us is his or her own self, an individual. With the exception of the far less important differences that show up as racial or national differences ... but which are (if you have a sense for this you cannot help noticing it) mere trifles by comparison with differences in individual gifts and skills: with the exception of these we are all equal as human beings ... as regards our external, physical humanity. We are equal as human beings, here in the physical world, specifically in that we all have the same human form and all manifest a human countenance. The fact that we all bear a human countenance and encounter one another as external, physical human beings... this makes us equal on this footing. We differ from one another in our individual gifts which, however, belong to our inner nature."

Rudolf Steiner: Education as a Force for Social Change (in GA 192), Hudson 1997, lecture of 23 April 1919.


The central focus of Waldorf education, as one of the movements based on anthroposophy, is the development of that essence in every person that is independent of gender, race or other external characteristics. It makes the Waldorf teacher work at building an understanding and appreciation of each child's place in the world as a world citizen, rather than primarily as a member of a specific nation, ethnic group or race.

In 1935, this anti-racist and anti-nationalist stance of anthroposophy and Waldorf education made the Nazi authorities in Germany prohibit and dissolve the Anthroposophical Society and prohibit the Waldorf schools from taking on new pupils, after extensive investigations writing on Waldorf education in the prohibition:

"The methods of teaching developed by its founder, Steiner, and followed in the anthroposophical schools still existing today follow an individualistic and human-oriented education, which has nothing in common with the principles of National Socialistic education.

"As a result of this opposition to the National Socialistic idea of Volk (Voelkische Gedanke), the continued activity of the Anthroposophical Society imposes the danger of injuring the National Socialistic State. The organization is therefore to be dissolved on account of its subversive character and the danger it poses to the public."

A multi-cultural orientation has also been a marked trait of Waldorf education since its inception 80 years ago, especially in building an understanding of the historical origin of the different major cultures of the world. Today (2013), there exist appr. 1,000 Waldorf schools and probably some 1,400 Waldorf Kindergarten and 120 Waldorf institutions for special education world-wide in 60 countries around the world.

Accusations that racism was taught in Waldorf schools in the Netherlands and appeared in Steiner's writings prompted the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands in July 1996 to set up a commission to investigate the issue, led by an anthroposophical lawyer specializing in discrimination issues. The commission set about analyzing the published works of Rudolf Steiner, encompassing approximately 89,000 pages, mostly transcripts of some 4,000 lectures, but also some 50 written works.

The key question it tried to investigate was whether Rudolf Steiner taught a racial doctrine, in the sense of a seemingly scientific theory whereby the superiority of one race is supposed to be legitimized at the expense of another.

The 720 page report of the commission, that was published on April 1, 2000, going through the complete collected works by Steiner, answered the question in the negative: anthroposophy contains no such racial doctrine.

For more on this, see here.

Empirical research in Germany, that has the largest number of Waldorf schools (appr. 200) contradicts that racism is promoted in Steiner Waldorf education.

According to a study some years ago by an independent criminological research institute at the request of the German parliament, to find out among other things how wide spread racism is among German school pupils, the proportion of xenophobic pupils, hostile to foreigners, was by far the lowest among Waldorf pupils, 2.8%, compared to "Gymnasien" (High schools) 8.3%, "Gesamtschulen" 16.5 %, "Realschulen" 17.4 % and "Hauptschulen" (main schools) 24.7 %.

For more, see:

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Copyright 2013: Robert Mays and Sune Nordwall