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Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public SchoolsReforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?$
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Candy Gunther Brown

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648484

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648484.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Waldorf Methods

Waldorf Methods

(p.229) Chapter 11 Waldorf Methods
Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools

Candy Gunther Brown

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 11 considers Pennsylvania’s Hatboro-Horsham School District (HHSD)’s determination that the proposed Good Earth Charter School (GE) is religiously sectarian. GE is a Waldorf Methods school, premised on Rudolf Steiner’s (1861-1925) anthroposophy, a religious cosmology that explains humanity’s spiritual evolution from cosmic origins and anticipates humanity’s attainment of divine nature. Although Waldorf charter schools withstood a legal challenge in California in PLANS, Inc. v. Sacramento City Unified School Distict, Twin Ridges Elementary School District (1998–2012), HHSD found that GE’s curriculum, teacher training, and affiliations reflect its anthroposophic foundations. Contrasting the California and Pennsylvania cases illustrates how resource disparities can affect legal determinations of what counts as religion. This chapter argues that Waldorf Methods charter schools illustrate how a pedagogical approach can be secular and religious. GE’s curriculum is aligned with state educational standards, and there are public Waldorf Methods schools that promote secular interests by offering an arts-focused education to students who otherwise could not afford it. Yet, Waldorf’s distinctive pedagogy—including its meditation practices—is an outgrowth of Steiner’s esoteric understanding of child development. Modern anthroposophists have in two separate court cases argued successfully that anthroposophy is a religion for free exercise purposes.

Keywords:   Pennsylvania, sectarian, Waldorf Methods, Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy, charter schools, California, meditation, esoteric, free exercise

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