God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
"Spirit Triumphant! Flame through the impotence of fettered, faltering souls! Burn up selfishness, kindle compassion, so that selflessness, the lifestream of humanity, may flow as the wellspring of spiritual rebirth!" — Rudolf Steiner
The Spiritual Ground of Education. Lecture 5 of 9.
Rudolf Steiner, Oxford, England, August 21, 1922:
If the process of the change of teeth in a child is gradual, even more gradual is that great transformation in the bodily, psychic, and spiritual organism of which I have already spoken. Hence in education it is important to remember that the child is gradually changing from an imitative being into one who looks to the authority of an educator, of a teacher. Thus we should make no abrupt transition in the treatment of a child in its seventh year or so — at the age, that is, at which we receive it for education in the primary school. Anything further that is said here on primary school education must be understood in the light of this proviso.
In the art of education with which we are here concerned the main thing is to foster the development of the child's inherent capacities. Hence all instruction must be at the service of education. The task is, properly speaking, to educate; and instruction is made use of as a means of educating.
This educational principle demands that the child shall develop the appropriate relation to life at the appropriate age. But this can only be done satisfactorily when the child is not required at the very outset to do something which is foreign to its nature.
Now, it is a thoroughly unnatural thing to require a child in its sixth or seventh year to copy without more ado the signs which we now, in this advanced stage of civilization, use for reading and writing.
If you consider the letters we now use for reading and writing, you will realize that there is no connection between what a seven-year old child is naturally disposed to do — and these letters. Remember, that when men first began to write they used painted or drawn signs which copied things or happenings in the surrounding world; or else men wrote from out of will impulses, so that the forms of writing gave expression to processes of the will, as for example in cuneiform. The entirely abstract forms of letters which the eye must gaze at nowadays, or the hand form, arose from out of picture writing. If we confront a young child with these letters we are bringing to him an alien thing, a thing which in no wise conforms to his nature. Let us be clear what this ‘pushing’ of a foreign body into a child's organism really means. It is just as if we habituated the child from his earliest years to wearing very small clothes, which do not fit and which therefore damage his organism. Nowadays when observation tends to be superficial, people do not even perceive what damage is done to the organism by the mere fact of introducing reading and writing to the child in a wrong way. An art of education founded in a knowledge of man does truly proceed by drawing out all that is in the child. It does not merely say: the individuality must be developed, it really does it. And this is achieved firstly by not taking reading as the starting point. For with a child the first things are movements, gestures, expressions of will, not perception or observation. These come later. Hence it is necessary to begin not with reading, but with writing — but a writing which shall come naturally from man's whole being.
Hence, we begin with writing lessons, not reading lessons, and we endeavor to lead over what the child does of its own accord out of imitation, through its will, through its hands, into writing. Let me make it clear to you by an example: We ask the child to say the word “fish,” for instance, and while doing so, show him the form of the fish in a simple sketch; then ask him to copy it; — thus we get the child to experience the word “fish.” From “fish” we pass to f (F), and from the form of the fish we can gradually evolve the letter f. Thus we derive the form of the letter by an artistic activity which carries over what is observed into what is willed:
By this means we avoid introducing an utterly alien F, a thing which would affect the child like a demon, something foreign thrust into his body; and instead we call forth from him the thing he has seen himself in the marketplace. And this we transform little by little into ‘ f .’
In this way we come near to the way writing originated, for it arose in a manner similar to this. But there is no need for the teacher to make a study of antiquity and exactly reproduce the way picture writing arose so as to give it in the same manner to the child. What is necessary is to give the rein to living fantasy and to produce afresh whatever can lead over from the object, from immediate life, to the letter forms. You will then find the most manifold ways of deriving the letter form for the child from life itself. While you say M let him feel how the M vibrates on the lips, then get him to see the shape of the lips as form, then you will be able to pass over gradually from the M that vibrates on the lips to M.
In this way, if you proceed spiritually, imaginatively, and not intellectually, you will gradually be able to derive from the child's own activity all that leads to his learning to write. He will learn to write later and more slowly than children commonly do today. But when parents come and say: My child is eight, or nine years old, and cannot yet write properly, we must always answer: What is learned more slowly at any given age is more surely and healthily absorbed by the organism than what is crammed into it.
Along these lines, moreover, there is scope for the individuality of the teacher, and this is an important consideration. As we now have many children in the Waldorf School, we have had to start parallel classes — thus we have two first classes, two second classes, and so on. If you go into one of the first classes you will find writing being taught by way of painting and drawing. You observe how the teacher is doing it. For instance, it might be just as we have been describing here. Then you go into the other Class 1, Class 1B, and you find another teacher teaching the same subject. But you see something quite different. You find the teacher letting the children run around in a kind of eurythmy, and getting them to experience the form from out of their own bodily movements. Then what the child runs is retained as the form of the letter. And it is possible to do it in yet a third and a fourth manner. You will find the same subject taught in the most varied ways in the different parallel classes. Why? Well, because it is not a matter of indifference whether the teacher who has to take a lesson has one temperament or another. The lesson can only be harmonious when there is the right contact between the teacher and the whole class. Hence every teacher must give his lesson in his own way. And just as life appears in manifold variety, so can a teaching founded in life take the most varied forms.
Usually when pedagogic principles are laid down it is expected that they shall be carried out. They are written down in a book. The good teacher is he who carries them out punctiliously, 1, 2, 3, etc. Now, I am convinced that if a dozen men, or even fewer, sit down together they can produce the most wonderful program for what should take place in education; firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc. People are so wonderfully intelligent nowadays; — I am not being sarcastic, I really mean it — one can think out the most splendid things in the abstract. But whether it is possible to put into practice what one has thought out is quite another matter. That is a concern of life. And when we have to deal with life, — I ask you now, life is in all of you, natural life, you are all human beings, yet you all look different. No one man's hair is like another's. Life displays its variety in the manifold varieties of form. Each man has a different face. If you lay down abstract principles, you expect to find the same thing done in every classroom. If your principles are taken from life, you know that life is various, and that the same thing can be done in the most varied ways. You see, for instance, that Negroes must be regarded as human beings, and in them the human form appears quite differently. In the same way when the art of education is held as a living art, all pedantry and also every kind of formalism must be avoided. And education will be true when it is really made into an art, and when the teacher is made into an artist. It is thus possible for us in the Waldorf School to teach writing by means of art. Then reading can be learned afterwards almost as a matter of course, without effort. It comes rather later than is customary, but it comes almost of itself.
While we are concerned on the one hand in bringing the pictorial element to the child — (and during the next few days I shall be showing you something of the paintings of the Waldorf School children) — while we are engaged with the pictorial element, we must also see to it that the musical element is appreciated as early as possible. For the musical element will give a good foundation for a strong energetic will, especially when attention is paid — at this stage — not so much to musical content as to the rhythm and beat of the music, the experience of rhythm and beat; and especially when it is treated in the right manner at the beginning of the elementary school period. I have already said in the introduction to the eurythmy demonstration that we also introduce eurythmy into children's education. I shall be speaking further of eurythmy, and in particular of eurythmy in education, in a later lecture. For the moment I wished to show more by one or two examples how early instruction serves the purpose of education insofar as it is called out of the nature of the human being.
But we must bear in mind that in the first part of the stage between the change of teeth and puberty a child can by no means distinguish between what is inwardly human and what is external nature. For him up to his eighth or ninth year these two things are still merged into one. Inwardly the child feels a certain impression; outwardly he may see a certain phenomenon, for instance a sunrise. The forces he feels in himself when he suffers unhappiness or pain he supposes to be in Sun or Moon, in tree or plant. We should not reason the child out of this. We must transpose ourselves into the child's stage of life and conduct everything within education as if no boundary existed as yet between inner man and outer nature. This we can only do when we form the instruction as imaginatively as possible, when we let the plants act in a human manner — converse with other plants, and so on — when we introduce humanity everywhere. People have a horror nowadays of anthropomorphism, as it is called. But the child who has not experienced anthropomorphism in its relation to the world will be lacking in humanity in later years. And the teacher must be willing to enter into his environment with his full spirit and soul so that the child can go along with him on the strength of this living experience.
Now all this implies that a great deal shall have happened to the teacher before he enters the classroom. The carrying through of the educational principles of which we have been speaking makes great demands on the preparation the teachers have to do. One must do as much as one possibly can beforehand when one is a teacher, in order to make the best use of the time in the classroom. This is a thing which the teacher learns to do only gradually, and in course of time. And only through this slow and gradual learning can one come really to have a true regard for the child's individuality.
May I mention a personal experience in this connection? Years before my connection with the Waldorf School I had to concern myself with many different forms of education. Thus it happened that when I was still young myself I had charged to me the education of a boy of eleven years old who was exceedingly backward in his development. Up to that time he had learned nothing at all. In proof of his attainment I was shown an exercise book containing the results of the latest examination he had been pushed into. All that was to be seen in it was an enormous hole that he had scrubbed with the india-rubber; nothing else. Added to this, the boy's domestic habits were of a pathological nature. The whole family was unhappy on his account, for they could not bring themselves to abandon him to a manual occupation — a social prejudice, if you like, but these prejudices have to be reckoned with. So the whole family was unhappy. The family doctor was quite explicit that nothing could be made of the boy. I was now given four children of this family to educate. The others were normal, and I was to educate this one along with them. I said: I will try — in a case like this one can make no promises that this or the other result will be achieved — but I would do everything that lay within my power, only I must be left complete freedom in the matter of the education. So now I undertook this education. The mother was the only member of the family who understood my stipulation for freedom, so that the education had to be fought for him in the teeth of the others. But finally the instruction of the boy was confided to me. It was necessary that the time spent in immediate instruction of the boy should be as brief as possible. Thus if I had, say, to be engaged in teaching the boy for about half-an-hour, I had to do three hours' work in preparation so as to make the most economical use of the time. Moreover, I had to make careful note of the time of the music lesson, for example. For if the boy were overtaxed he turned pale and his health deteriorated. But because one understood the boy's whole pathological condition, because one knew what was to be set down to hydrocephalus, it was possible to make such progress with the boy — and not psychical progress only — that a year and a half after he had shown up merely a hole rubbed in his exercise book, he was able to enter the Gymnasium. (Name given to the Scientific and Technical School as distinct from the Classical.) And I was further able to help him throughout the classes of the Gymnasium and follow up the work with him until near the end of his time there. Under the influence of this education, and also because everything was spiritually directed, the boy's head became smaller. I know a doctor might say perhaps his head would have become smaller in any case. Certainly, but the right nurture of spirit and soul had to go with this process of getting smaller. The person referred to subsequently became an excellent doctor. He died during the war in the exercise of his profession, but only when he was nearly forty years old.
It was particularly important here to achieve the greatest economy in the time of instruction by means of suitable preparation beforehand. Now, this must become a general principle. And in the art of education of which I am here speaking this is striven for. Now when it is a question of describing what we have to tell the children in such a way as to arouse life and liveliness in their whole being, we must master the subject thoroughly beforehand and be so at home with the matter that we can turn all our attention and individual power to the form in which we shall present it to the child. And then we shall discover as a matter of course that all the stuff of teaching must become pictorial if a child is to grasp it not only with his intellect but with his whole being. Hence we mostly begin with tales such as fairy tales, but also with other invented stories which relate to Nature. We do not at first teach either language or any other “subject,” but we simply unfold the world itself in vivid and pictorial form before the child. And such instruction is the best preparation for the writing and reading which is to be derived imaginatively.
Thus between his ninth and tenth year the child comes to be able to express himself in writing, and also to read as far as is healthy for him at this age, and now we have reached that important point in a child's life, between his ninth and tenth year, to which I have already referred. Now you must realize that this important point in the child's life has also an outward manifestation. At this time quite a remarkable change takes place, a remarkable differentiation, between girls and boys. Of the particular significance of this in a coeducational school such as the Waldorf School, I shall be speaking later. In the meantime we must be aware that such a differentiation between boys and girls does take place. Thus, around about the tenth year girls begin to grow at a quicker rate than the boys. Growth in boys is held back. Girls overtake the boys in growth. When the boys and girls reach puberty the boys once more catch up with the girls in their growth. Thus just at that stage the boys grow more rapidly.
Between the tenth and fifteenth year the outward differentiation between girls and boys is in itself a sign that a significant period of life has been reached. What appears inwardly is the clear distinction between oneself and the world. Before this time there was no such thing as a plant, only a green thing with red flowers in which there is a little spirit just as there is a little spirit in ourselves. As for a “plant,” such a thing only makes sense for a child about its tenth year. And here we must be able to follow his feeling. Thus, only when a child reaches this age is it right to teach him of an external world of our surroundings.
One can make a beginning for instance with botany — that great standby of schools. But it is just in the case of botany that I can demonstrate how a formal education — in the best sense of the word — should be conducted. If we start by showing a child a single plant we do a thoroughly unnatural thing, for that is not a whole. A plant, especially when it is rooted up, is not a whole thing. In our realistic and materialistic age people have little sense for what is material and natural; otherwise they would feel what I have just said. Is a plant a whole thing? No: when we have pulled it up and fetched it here it very soon withers. It is not natural to it to be pulled up. Its nature is to be in the Earth, to belong with the soil. A stone is a totality by itself. It can lie about anywhere and it makes no difference. But I cannot carry a plant about all over the place; it will not remain the same. Its nature is only complete in conjunction with the soil, with the forces that spring from the Earth, and with all the forces of the Sun which fall upon this particular portion of the Earth. Together with these the plant makes a totality. To look upon a plant in isolation is as absurd as if we were to pull out a hair of our head and regard the hair as a thing in itself. The hair only arises in connection with an organism and cannot be understood apart from the organism. Therefore: In the teaching of botany we must take our start not from the plant or the plant family but from the landscape, the geographical region: from an understanding of what the Earth is in a particular place. And the nature of plants must be treated in relation to the whole Earth.
When we speak of the Earth we speak as physicists, or at most as geologists. We assume that the Earth is a totality of physical forces, mineral forces, self-enclosed, and that it could exist equally well if there were no plants at all upon it, no animals at all, no men at all. But this is an abstraction. The Earth as viewed by the physicist, by the geologist, is an abstraction. There is in reality no such thing. In reality there is only the Earth which is covered with plants. We must be aware when we are describing from a geological aspect that, purely for the convenience of our intelligence, we are describing a non-existent abstraction. But we must not start by giving a child an idea of this non-existent abstraction, we must give the child a realization of the Earth as a living organism, beginning naturally with the district which the child knows. And then, just as we should show him an animal with hair growing upon it, and not produce a hair for it to see before it knew anything of the animal — so must we first give him a vivid realization of the Earth as a living organism and after that show him how plants live and grow upon the Earth.
Thus the study of plants arises naturally from introducing the Earth to the child as a living thing, as an organism — beginning with a particular region. To consider one part of the Earth at a time, however, is an abstraction, for no region of the Earth can exist apart from the other regions; and we should be conscious that we take our start from something incomplete. Nevertheless, if, once more we teach pictorially and appeal to the wholeness of the imagination the child will be alive to what we tell him about the plants. And in this way we gradually introduce him to the external world. The child acquires a sense of the concept “objectivity.” He begins to live into reality. And this we achieve by introducing the child in this natural manner to the plant kingdom.
The introduction to the animal kingdom is entirely different — it comes somewhat later. Once more, to describe the single animals is quite inorganic. For actually one could almost say: It is sheer chance that a lion is a lion and a camel a camel. A lion presented to a child's contemplation will seem an arbitrary object however well it may be described, or even if it is seen in a menagerie. So will a camel. Observation alone makes no sense in the domain of life.
How are we to regard the animals? Now, anyone who can contemplate the animals with imaginative vision, instead of with the abstract intellect, will find each animal to be a portion of the human being. In one animal the development of the legs will predominate — whereas in man they are at the service of the whole organism. In another animal the sense organs, or one particular sense organ, is developed in an extreme manner. One animal will be specially adapted for snouting and routing (snuffling), another creature is specially gifted for seeing, when aloft in the air. And when we take the whole animal kingdom together we find that what outwardly constitutes the abstract divisions of the animal kingdom is comprised in its totality in man. All the animals taken together, synthetically, give one the human being. Each capacity or group of faculties in the human being is expressed in a one-sided form in some animal species. When we study the lion — there is no need to explain this to the child, we can show it to him in simple pictures — when we study the lion we find in the lion a particular overdevelopment of what in the human being are the chest organs, the heart organ. The cow shows a one-sided development of what in man is the digestive system. And when I examine the white corpuscles in the human blood I see the indication of the earliest, most primitive creatures. The whole animal kingdom together makes up man, synthetically, not symptomatically, but synthetically woven and interwoven.
All this I can expound to the child in quite a simple, primitive way. Indeed I can make the thing very vivid when speaking, for instance, of the lion's nature and showing how it needs to be calmed and subdued by the individuality of man. Or one can take the moral and psychic characteristics of the camel and show how what the camel presents in a lower form is to be found in human nature. So that man is a synthesis of lion, eagle, ape, of camel, cow, and all the rest. We view the whole animal kingdom as human nature separated out and spread abroad.
This, then, is the other side which the child gets when he is in his eleventh or twelfth year. After he has learned to separate himself from the plant world, to experience its objectivity and its connection with an objective Earth, he then learns the close connection between the animals and man, the subjective side. Thus the universe is once more brought into connection with man, by way of the feelings. And this is educating the child by contact with life in the world.
Then we shall find that the requirements we always make are met spontaneously. In theory we can keep on saying: You must not overload the memory. It is not a good thing to burden the child's memory. Anyone can see that in the abstract. It is less easy for people to see clearly what effect the overburdening of memory has on a man's life. It means this: that later in life we shall find him suffering from rheumatism and gout — it is a pity that medical observation does not cover the whole span of a man's life, but indeed we shall find many people afflicted with rheumatism and gout, to which they had no predisposition; or else what was a very slight predisposition has been increased because the memory was overtaxed, because one had learned too much from memory. But, on the other hand, the memory must not be neglected. For if the memory is not exercised enough, inflammatory conditions of the physical organs will be prone to arise, more particularly between the 16th and 24th years.
And how are we to hold the balance between burdening the memory too much or too little? When we teach pictorially and imaginatively, as I have described, the child takes as much of the instruction as it can bear. A relationship arises like that between eating and being satisfied. This means that we shall have some children further advanced than others, and this we must deal with, without relegating less advanced children to a class below. One may have a comparatively large class and yet a child will not eat more than it can bear — spiritually speaking — because its organism spontaneously rejects what it cannot bear. Thus we take account of life here, just as we draw our teaching from life.
A child is able to take in the elements of arithmetic at quite an early age. But in arithmetic we observe how very easily an intellectual element can be given the child too soon. Mathematics as such is alien to no man at any age. It arises in human nature; the operations of mathematics are not foreign to human faculty in the way letters are foreign in a succeeding civilization. But it is exceedingly important that the child should be introduced to arithmetic and mathematics in the right way. And what this is can really only be decided by one who is enabled to overlook the whole of human life from a certain spiritual standpoint.
There are two things which in logic seem very far removed from one another: arithmetic and moral principles. It is not usual to hitch arithmetic on to moral principles because there seems no obvious logical connection between them. But it is apparent to one who looks at the matter, not logically, but livingly, that the child who has a right introduction to arithmetic will have quite a different feeling of moral responsibility from the child who has not. And — this may seem extremely paradoxical to you, but since I am speaking of realities and not of the illusions current in our age, I will not be afraid of seeming paradoxical, for in this age truth often seems paradoxical — if, then, men had known how to permeate the soul with mathematics in the right way during these past years we should not now have Bolshevism in Eastern Europe. This it is that one perceives: what forces connect the faculty used in arithmetic with the springs of morality in man.
Now, you will understand this better probably if I give you a very small illustration of the principles of the teaching of arithmetic. It is common nowadays to start arithmetic by the adding of one thing to another. But just consider how foreign a thing it is to the human mind to add one pea to another and at each addition to name a new name. The transition from one to two, and then to three — this counting is quite an arbitrary activity for the human being. But it is possible to count in another way. And this we find when we go back a little in human history. For originally people did not count by putting one pea to another and hence deriving a new thing which, for the soul at all events, had little connection with what went before. No, men counted more or less in the following way: They would say: What we get in life is always a whole, something to be grasped as a whole; and the most diverse things can constitute a unity. If I have a number of people in front of me, that can be a unity at first sight. Or if I have a single man in front of me, he then is a unity. A unity, in reality, is a purely relative thing. And I keep this in mind if I count in the following way: One | = | two | = | = | three | = | = | = | four | = | = | =| = | and so on, that is, when I have an organic whole (a whole consisting of members): because then I am starting with unity, and in the unity, viewed as a multiplicity, I seek the parts. This indeed was the original view of number. Unity was always a totality, and in the totality one sought for the parts. One did not think of numbers as arising by the addition of one and one and one, one conceived of the numbers as belonging to the whole, and proceeding organically from the whole.
When we apply this to the teaching of arithmetic we get the following: Instead of placing one bean after another beside the child, we throw him a whole heap of beans. The bean heap constitutes the whole. And from this we make our start. And now we can explain to the child: I have a heap of beans — or if you like, so that it may the better appeal to the child's imagination: a heap of apples — and three children of different ages who need different amounts to eat, and we want to do something which applies to actual life. What shall we do? Now we can for instance divide the heap of apples in such a way as to give a certain heap on the one hand and portions, together equal to the first heap, on the other. The heap represents the sum. Here we have the heap of apples, and we say: Here are three parts, and we get the child to see that the sum is the same as the three parts. The sum = the three parts. That is to say, in addition we do not go from the parts to arrive at the sum, but we start with the sum and proceed to the parts. Thus to get a living understanding of addition we start with the whole and proceed to the addenda, to the parts. For addition is concerned essentially with the sum and its parts, the members which are contained, in one way or another, within the sum.
In this way we get the child to enter into life with the ability to grasp a whole, not always to proceed from the less to the greater. And this has an extraordinarily strong influence upon the child's whole soul and mind. When a child has acquired the habit of adding things together we get a disposition which tends to be desirous and craving. In proceeding from the whole to the parts, and in treating multiplication similarly, the child has less tendency to acquisitiveness; rather, it tends to develop what, in the Platonic sense, the noblest sense of the word, can be called considerateness, moderation. And one's moral likes and dislikes are intimately bound up with the manner in which one has learned to deal with number. At first sight there seems to be no logical connection between the treatment of numbers and moral ideas, so little indeed that one who will only regard things from the intellectual point of view, may well laugh at the idea of any connection. It may seem to him absurd. We can also well understand that people may laugh at the idea of proceeding in addition from the sum instead of from the parts. But when one sees the true connections in life one knows that things which are logically most remote are often in reality exceedingly near.
Thus what comes to pass in the child's soul by working with numbers will very greatly affect the way he will meet us when we want to give him moral examples, deeds and actions for his liking or disliking, sympathy with the good, antipathy with the evil. We shall have before us a child susceptible to goodness when we have dealt with him in the teaching of numbers in the way described.
|The Fifth Seal: Anthropos-Sophia|
|"Wisdom is the precondition of love; love is wisdom reborn in the I." -Rudolf Steiner|
The Spiritual Ground of Education. Lecture 4 of 9.
Rudolf Steiner, Oxford, England, August 19, 1922:
It might perhaps appear as if the art of education described in these lectures would lead away from practical life into some remote, purely spiritual region: as though this art of education laid too much stress on the purely spiritual domain. From what I have said so far in describing the spiritual foundation of education, this might appear to be the case. But this is only in appearance. For in reality the art of education which arises from this philosophy has the most practical objects in view. Thus it should be realized that the main object of speaking of spiritual facts here is to answer the educational question: how can we best develop the physical organism in childhood and youth?
That a spiritual philosophy should consider firstly the development of the physical organism may seem to be a fundamental contradiction. The treatment of my theme in the next few days, however, will do more toward dispelling this contradiction than any abstract statements I could make at the outset. Today I would merely like to say that when one speaks on educational questions at the present day one finds oneself in a peculiar situation. For if one sees much that needs reforming in education, it is as much as to say that one is not satisfied with one's own education. One implies that one's own education has been exceedingly bad. And yet, as a product of this very bad education, of this education in which one finds so much to criticize — for otherwise why be a reformer? — one sets up to know the right way to educate! This is the first thing that involves a contradiction. The second thing is one which gives one a slight feeling of shame in face of an audience when speaking on education — for one realizes that one is speaking of what education ought to be and how it must be different from present-day practice. So that it amounts to saying: you are all badly educated. And yet one is appealing to those who are badly educated to bring about a better education. One assumes that both the speaker and the audience know very well what good education should be in spite of the fact that they have been exceedingly badly educated.
Now this is a contradiction, but it is one which life itself presents us, and it can really only be solved by the view of education which is here being described. For one can perfectly well know what is the matter with education and in what respects it should be improved, just as one can know that a picture is well painted without possessing the faintest capacity for painting a picture oneself. You can consider yourself capable of appreciating the merits of a picture by Raphael without thinking yourself capable of painting a Raphael picture. In fact it would be a good thing today if people would think like this. But they are not content with merely knowing, where education is concerned: they claim straightaway to know how to educate; as though someone who is no painter and could not possibly become a painter, should set up to show how a badly painted picture should be painted well.
Now it is here contended that it is not enough to know what good education is but that one must have a grasp of the technique and detail of educational art, one must acquire practical skill. And for this, knowledge and understanding are necessary. Hence yesterday I tried to explain the elementary principles of guidance in this ability, and I will now continue this review.
It is easy to say man undergoes development during his lifetime, and that he develops in successive stages. But this is not enough. Yesterday we saw that man is a threefold being: that his thinking is entirely bound up physically with the nerve-senses system of his organism, his feeling is bound up with the rhythmic system, particularly the breathing and circulation system, and that his will is bound up with the system of movement and metabolism.
The development of these three systems in man is not alike. Throughout the different epochs of life they develop in different ways. During the first epoch, which extends to the change of teeth — as I have repeatedly stated — the child is entirely sense organ, entirely head, and all its development proceeds from the nerve-senses system. The nerve-senses system permeates the whole organism; and all impressions of the outside world affect the whole organism, work right through it, just as, later in life, light acts upon the eye.
In other words, in an adult light comes to a standstill in the eye, and only sends the idea of itself, the concept of light, into the organism. In a child it is as if every little blood corpuscle were inwardly illumined, were transfused with light — to express it in a somewhat exaggerated and pictorial way. The child is as yet entirely exposed to those etheric essences (effluvia), which in later life we arrest at the surface of our bodies, in the sense organs — while we develop inwardly something of an entirely different nature. Thus a child is exposed to sense impressions in a far greater degree than is the adult.
Observe a concrete instance of this: take a person who has charge of the nurture of a very young child, perhaps a tiny baby; a person with his own world of inner experience. Let us suppose the person in charge of the child is a heavy-hearted being, one to whom life has brought sorrow. In the mature man the physical consequences of the experiences he has been through will not be obvious, but will leave only faint traces. When we are sad our mouth is always a little dry. And when sadness becomes a habitual and continuous state, the sorrowful person goes about with dry mouth, with parched tongue, with a bitter taste in the mouth and even a chronic catarrh. In the adult these physical conditions are merely faint undertones of life.
The child who is growing up in the company of the adult is an imitator; he models himself entirely on the physiognomy of the adult, on what he perceives: — on the adult's sad manner of speaking, his sad feelings. For there is a subtle interplay betwixt child and adult, an interplay of imponderables. When we have an inner sadness and all its physical consequences, the child, being an imitator, takes up these physical effects through inward gestures: through an inward mimicry he takes up the parched tongue, the bitter taste in the mouth; and this — as I pointed out yesterday — flows through the whole organism. He absorbs the paleness of the long sad face of the adult. The child cannot imitate the soul content of the sorrow, but it imitates the physical effects of the sorrow. And the result is that, since the spirit is still working into the child's whole organism, his whole organism will be permeated in such a manner as to build up his organs in accordance with the physical effects which he has taken up into himself. Thus the very condition of the child's organism will make a sad being of him. In later life he will have a particular aptitude for perceiving everything that is sad or sorrowful. Such is the fine and delicate knowledge that one must have in order to educate in a proper way.
This is the manner of a child's life up to the changing of the teeth. It is entirely given up to what its organism has absorbed from the adults around it. And the inner conflict taking place here is only perceptible to spiritual science; this struggle which goes on can only be described as the fight between inherited characteristics and adaptation to environment.
We are born with certain inherited characteristics. — This can be seen by anybody who has the opportunity of observing a child during its first weeks or years. Science has produced an extensive teaching on this subject. — But the child has more and more to adapt itself to the world. Little by little he must transform his inherited characteristics until he is not merely the bearer of a heredity from his parents and ancestors, but is open in his senses and soul and spirit to receive what goes on at large in his environment. Otherwise he would become an egotistic man, a man who only wants what accords with his inherited characteristics.
Now, we have to educate men to be susceptible to all that goes on in the world: men who each time they see a new thing can bring their judgment and their feelings to meet this new thing. We must not educate men to be selfishly shut up within themselves, we must educate men to meet the world with a free and open mind, and to act in accordance with the demands of the world.
This attitude is the natural outcome of such a position as I described yesterday.
Thus we must observe in all its details the inner struggle which takes place during the child's early years between heredity and adaptation to environment. Try to study with the utmost human devotion the wonderful process that goes on where the first teeth are replaced by the second. The first teeth are an inherited thing. They seem almost unsuitable for the outer world. They are inherited. Gradually above each inherited tooth another tooth is formed. In the modeling of this tooth the form of the first tooth is made use of, but the form of the second tooth, which is permanent, is a thing adapted to the world.
I always refer to this process of the teeth as characteristic of this particular period of life, up to the seventh year. But it is only one symptom. For what takes place in the case of the teeth conspicuously, because the teeth are hard organs, is taking place throughout the organism. When we are born into the world we bear within us an inherited organism. In the course of the first seven years of our life we model a new organism over it. The whole process is physical. But while it is physical, it is the deed of the spirit and soul within the child. And we who stand at the child's side must endeavor so to guide this soul and spirit that it goes with and not against the health of the organism. We must therefore know what spiritual and psychic processes have to take place for the child to be able to model a healthy organism in the stead of the inherited organism. We must know and do a spiritual thing in order to promote a physical thing.
And now, if we follow up what I said to you today in the introduction, we come to something else. Suppose that as a teacher or educator we enter a classroom. Now, we must never think that we are the most intelligent of human beings, men at the summit of human intelligence — that, indeed, would mean that we were very bad teachers. We really should think ourselves only comparatively intelligent. This is a sounder state of mind than the other. Now, with this state of consciousness we enter the classroom. But as we go in we must say to ourselves: there may be among the children a very intelligent being, one who in later life will be far more intelligent than we. Now if we, who are only comparatively intelligent, should bring him up to be only as intelligent as ourselves, we should be making him a copy of ourselves. That would be quite wrong. For the right thing would be so to educate this very intelligent individual that he may grow up to be far more intelligent than we are ourselves or ever could be. Now, this means that there is something in a man which we may not touch, something we must regard with sensitive reverence if we are to exercise the art of education rightly. And this is part of the answer to the question I asked.
Often, in earlier life, we know exceedingly well what we ought to do — only we cannot carry it out. We feel unequal to it. What it is that prevents us from doing what we ought to do is generally very obscure. It is always some condition of the physical organism — for example, an imitated disposition to sadness such as I spoke of. The organism has incorporated this, it has become habitual. We want to do something which does not suit an organism with a bent to sadness. Yet such is our organism. In us we have the effects of the parched tongue and bitter taste from our childhood; now we want to do something quite different, and we feel difficulty.
If we realize the full import of this we shall say to ourselves: the main task of the teacher or educator is to bring up the body to be as healthy as it possibly can be; this means, to use every spiritual measure to ensure that in later life a man's body shall give the least possible hindrance to the will of his spirit. If we make this our purpose in school we can develop the powers which lead to an education for freedom.
The extent to which spiritual education works healthily upon the physical organism, and thus upon man as a whole, can be seen particularly well when the great range of facts provided by our magnificent modern natural science is brought together and coordinated in a manner only possible to spiritual science. It then becomes apparent how one can work in the spirit for the healing of man. To take a single instance: an English doctor, Dr. Clifford Albert, has said a very significant thing about the influence of grieving and sadness in human beings upon the development of their digestive organs, and — in particular — upon the kidneys. People who have a lot of trouble and grief in life show signs after a time of malformation of the kidneys, deformed kidneys. This has been very finely demonstrated by the physician Dr. Clifford Albert. That is a finding of natural science.
The important thing is that one should know how to use a scientific discovery like this in educational practice. One must know, as a teacher or educator, that if one lets the child imitate one's own sorrow and grief, then through one's sorrowful bearing one is damaging the child's digestive system to the utmost degree. Insofar as we let our sorrow overflow into the child, we damage its digestive system. You see, this is the tragedy of this materialistic age, that it discovers many physical facts — if you take the external aspect — but it lacks the connections between them; it is this very materialistic science which fails to perceive the significance of the physical and material. What spiritual science can do is to show, on all hands, how spirit — and what is spiritual — work within the physical realm. Then instead of yearning in dreamy mysticism for castles in the clouds, one will be able to follow up the spirit in all its details and singular workings. For one is a spiritual being only when one recognizes spirit as that which creates, as that which everywhere works upon and shapes the material: — not when one worships some abstract spirit in the clouds like a mystic, and for the rest, holds matter to be merely the concern of the material world.
Hence it is actually a matter of coming to realize how in a young child, up to the seventh year, nerve-senses activity, rhythmic breathing and circulation activity, and the activity of movement and metabolism are everywhere interplaying: — only the nerve-senses activity predominates, it has the upper hand; and thus the nerve-senses activity in a child always affects his breathing. If a child has to look at a face that is furrowed with grief, this affects his senses to begin with; but it reacts upon the manner of his breathing, and hence in turn, upon his whole movement and metabolic system.
If we take a child after the change of teeth, that is after about the seventh year, we find the nerve-senses system no longer preponderating; this has now become more separate, more turned toward the outer world. In a child between the change of teeth and puberty it is the rhythmic system which preponderates, which has the upper hand. And it is most important that this should be borne in mind in the primary school. For in the primary school we have children between the change of teeth and puberty. Hence we must know here: the essential thing is to work with the child's rhythmic system, and everything which works upon something other than the rhythmic system is wrong. But now what is it that works upon the rhythmic system? It is art that works upon the rhythmic system, everything that is conveyed in artistic form.
Consider how much everything to do with music is connected with the rhythmic system. Music is nothing else but rhythm carried over into the rhythmic system of the human being himself. The inner man himself becomes a lyre, the inner man becomes a violin. His whole rhythmic system reproduces what the violin has played, what has sounded from the piano. And as in the case of music, so it is also, in a finer, more delicate way, in the case of plastic art, and of painting. Color harmonies and color melodies also are reproduced and revived as inner rhythmic processes in the inner man. If our instruction is to be truly educational we must know that throughout this period everything that the child is taught must be conveyed in an artistic form. According to Waldorf School principles the first consideration in the elementary school period is to compose all lessons in a way that appeals to the child's rhythmic system.
How little this is regarded today can be seen from the number of excellent scientific observations which are continuously being accumulated and which sin directly against this appeal to the rhythmic system. Research is carried on in experimental psychology to find out how soon a child will tire in one activity or another; and the instruction must take account of this fatigue. This is all very fine, splendid, as long as one does not think spiritually. But if one thinks spiritually the matter appears in a very different light. The experiments can still be made. They are very good. Nothing is said here against the excellence of natural science. But one says: if the child shows a certain degree of fatigue in the period between its change of teeth and puberty, you have not been appealing, as you should do, to the rhythmic system, but to some other system. For throughout life the rhythmic system never tires. Throughout the whole of life the heart beats night and day. It is in his intellectual system and in his metabolic system that a man becomes tired. When we know that we have to appeal to the rhythmic system we know that what we have to do is to work artistically. The experiments on fatigue show where we have gone wrong, where we have paid too little attention to the rhythmic system. When we find a child has got overtired we must say to ourselves: How can you contrive to plan your lesson so that the child shall not get tired? It is not that one sets up to condemn the modern age and says: natural science is bad, we must oppose it. The spiritual man has no such intention. He says rather: we need the higher outlook because it is just this that makes it possible to apply the results of natural science to life.
If we now turn to the moral aspect, the question is how we can best get the child to develop moral impulses. And here we are dealing with the most important of all educational questions. Now, we do not endow a child with moral impulses by giving him commands, by saying: you must do this, this has to be done, this is good — by wanting to prove to him that a thing is good, and must be done. Or by saying: that is bad, that is wicked, you must not do that — and by wanting to prove that a certain thing is bad. A child has not as yet the intellectual attitude of an adult toward good and evil, toward the whole world of morality, — he has to grow up to it. And this he will only do on reaching puberty, when the rhythmic system has accomplished its essential task and the intellectual powers are ripe for complete development. Then the human being may experience the satisfaction of forming moral judgment in contact with life itself. We must not engraft moral judgment onto the child. We must so lay the foundation for moral judgment that when the child awakens at puberty he can form his own moral judgment from observation of life.
The last way to attain this is to give finite commands to a child. We can achieve it, however, if we work by examples, or by presenting pictures to the child's imagination: for instance through biographies or descriptions of good men or bad men; or by inventing circumstances which present a picture, an imagination of goodness to the child's mind. For, since the rhythmic system is particularly active in the child during this period, pleasure and displeasure can arise in him — not judgment as to good and evil, but sympathy with the good which the child beholds presented in an image, or antipathy to the evil which he beholds so presented. It is not a case of appealing to the child's intellect, of saying ‘Thou shalt’ or ‘Thou shalt not,’ but of fostering aesthetic judgment, so that the child shall begin to take pleasure in goodness, shall feel sympathy when he sees goodness, and feel dislike and antipathy when he beholds evil. This is a very different thing from working on the intellect, by way of precepts formulated by the intellect. For the child will only be awake for such precepts when it is no longer our business to educate him, namely, when he is a man and learns from life itself. And we should not rob the child of the satisfaction of awakening to morality of his own accord. And we shall not do this if we give him the right preparation during the rhythmic period of his life; if we train him to take an aesthetic pleasure in goodness, an aesthetic dislike of evil; that is, if also here, we work through imagery.
Otherwise, when the child awakens after puberty he will feel an inward bondage. He will not perhaps realize this bondage consciously, but throughout his subsequent life he will lack the important experience: morality has awakened within me, moral judgment has developed. We cannot attain this inner satisfaction by means of abstract moral instruction; it must be rightly prepared by working in this manner for the child's morality.
Thus it is everywhere a case of ‘how’ a thing is done. And we can see this both in that part of life which is concerned with the external world and that part of life concerned with morality: both when we study the realm of nature in the best way, and when we know how best morals can be laid down in the rhythmic system — in the system of breathing and blood circulation. If we know how to enter with the spirit into what is physical, and if we can come to observe how spirit weaves continuously in the physical, we shall be able to educate in the right way.
While a knowledge of man is sought in the first instance for the art of education and instruction, yet in practice the effect of such a spiritual outlook on the teacher's or educator's state of mind is of the greatest importance. And what this is can best be shown in relation to the attitude of many of our contemporaries.
Every age has its shadow side, no doubt, and there is much in past ages we have no wish to revive; nevertheless, anyone who can look upon the historical life of man with certain intuitive sense will perceive that in this our own age many men have very little inner joy; on the contrary, they are beset by heavy doubts and questions as to destiny. This age has less capacity than any other for deriving answers to its problems from out of the universe, the world at large: "Though I may be very unhappy in myself, and with good reason, yet there is always a possibility of finding something in the universe which can counterbalance my unhappiness." But modern man has not the strength to find consolation in a view of the universe when his personal situation makes him downcast. Why is this? Because in his education and development modern man has little opportunity to acquire a feeling of gratitude: gratitude namely that we should be alive at all as human beings within this universe. Rightly speaking, all our feelings should take their rise from a fundamental feeling of gratitude that the cosmic world has given us birth and given us a place within itself. A philosophy which concludes with abstract observations and does not flow out in gratitude toward the universe is no complete philosophy. The final chapter of every philosophy, in its effect on human feeling at all events, should be gratitude toward the cosmic powers. This feeling is essential in a teacher and educator, and it should be instinctive in every person who has the nurture of a child entrusted to him. Therefore the first thing of importance to be striven for in spiritual knowledge is the acquiring of thankfulness that a child has been given into our keeping by the universe.
In this respect reverence for the child, reverence and thankfulness, are not to be sundered. There is only one attitude toward a child which can give us the right impulse in education and nurturance, and that is the religious attitude, neither more nor less. We feel religious in regard to many things. A flower in the meadow can make us feel religious when we can take it as the creation of the divine spiritual order of the world. In face of lightning flashes in the clouds we feel religious if we see them in relation to the divine spiritual order of the world. And above all we must feel religious toward the child, for it comes to us from the depths of the universe as the highest manifestation of the nature of the universe, a bringer of tidings as to what the world is. In this mood lies one of the most important impulses of educational technique. Educational technique is of a different nature from the technique devoted to unspiritual things. Educational technique essentially involves a religious moral impulse in the teacher or educator.
Now you will perhaps say: nowadays, although people are so terribly objective in regard to many things — things possibly of less vital importance — nowadays we shall yet find some who will think it a tragic thing that they should have a religious feeling for a child who may turn out to be a ne'er-do-well. But why must I regard it as a tragedy to have a child who turns out a ne'er-do-well? Today, as we said before, there are many parents, even in this terribly objective age, who will own that their children are ne'er-do-wells, whereas this was not the case in former times; then every child was good in its parents' eyes. At all events this was a better attitude than the modern one. — Nevertheless we do get a feeling of tragedy if we receive as a gift from spiritual worlds, and as a manifestation of the highest, a difficult child. But we must live through this feeling of tragedy. For this very feeling of tragedy will help us over the rocks and crags of education. If we can feel thankfulness even for a naughty child, and feel the tragedy of it, and can rouse ourselves to overcome this feeling of tragedy, we shall then be in a position to feel a right gratitude to the divine world; for we must learn to perceive how what is bad can also be a divine thing — though this is a very complicated matter. Gratitude must permeate teachers and educators of children throughout the period up to the change of teeth: it must be their fundamental mood.
Then we come to that part of a child's development which is based principally on the rhythmic system, in which, as we have seen, we must work artistically in education. This we shall never achieve unless we can join to the religious attitude we have toward the child a love of our educational activity; we must saturate our educational practice with love. Between the change of teeth and puberty nothing that is not born of love for the educational deed itself has any effect on the child. We must say to ourselves with regard to the child: clever a teacher or educator may be, the child reveals to us in his life infinitely significant spiritual and divine things. But we, on our part, must surround with love the spiritual deed we do for the child in education. Hence there must be no pedagogy and didactics of a purely intellectual kind, but only such guidance as can help the teacher to carry out his education with loving enthusiasm.
In the Waldorf School what a teacher is is far more important than any technical ability he may have acquired in an intellectual way. The important thing is that the teacher should not only be able to love the child but to love the method he uses, to love his whole procedure. Only to love the children does not suffice for a teacher. To love teaching, to love educating, and love it with objectivity — this constitutes the spiritual foundation of spiritual, moral, and physical education. And if we can acquire this right love for education, for teaching, we shall be able so to develop the child up to the age of puberty that by that time we can really hand him over to freedom, to the free use of his own intelligence.
If we have received the child in religious reverence, if we have educated him in love up to the time of puberty, then our proper course after this will be to leave the youth's spirit free, and to hold intercourse with him on terms of equality. We aim, that is, not to touch the spirit but to let it be awakened. When the child reaches puberty we shall best attain our aim of giving the child over to free use of his intellectual and spiritual powers if we respect the spirit and say to ourselves: you can remove hindrances from the spirit — physical hindrances and also, up to a point, hindrances of the soul. What the spirit has to learn it does learn, because you have removed the impediments. If we remove impediments the spirit will develop in contact with life itself even in very early youth. Our rightful place as educators is to be removers of hindrances.
Hence we must see to it that we do not make the children into copies of ourselves, that we do not seek forcibly and tyrannically to perpetuate what was in ourselves in those who in the natural course of things develop beyond us. Each child in every age brings something new into the world from divine regions, and it is our task as educators to remove bodily and psychical obstacles out of its way; to remove hindrances so that his spirit may enter in full freedom into life. These then must be regarded as the three golden rules of the art of education, rules which must imbue the teacher's whole attitude and all the impulse of his work. The golden rules which must be embraced by the teacher's whole being, not held as theory, are: reverent gratitude to the world in the person of the child which we contemplate every day, for the child presents a problem set us by divine worlds; thankfulness to the universe: love for what we have to do with the child; respect for the freedom of the child — a freedom we must not endanger, for it is to this freedom we educate the child, that he may stand in freedom in the world at our side.
Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity
You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity