Thursday, February 4, 2021
Fundamentals of Educational Morality. The Study of Man: lecture 14 of 14
Rudolf Steiner to the first Waldorf teachers just before the opening of the first Waldorf school, Stuttgart, September 5, 1919:
If we regard man in the way we have done here in evolving a true art of education, his threefold bodily nature becomes evident from many aspects. We can clearly distinguish between all that belongs to the system of the head — the head formation of man — and what belongs to the formation of the chest, of the whole trunk; and these, again, we distinguish from what belongs to the limb formation. At the same time we must recognize that the limb formation is much more complicated than is usually imagined: because what is present in the limbs in germ — and is really formed, as we have seen, from without inwards — is continued right into the interior of man's being; hence we have to distinguish between what is built up from within outwards and what is pushed into the human body, so to speak, from without inwards.
If we have a picture in our minds of this threefold division of the human being, it will be particularly clear how man's head is in itself a whole human being, a whole human being raised from out the animal stage.
In the head we have the real head; but we have also the trunk: that is all that belongs to the nose; and we have the limb part, which is continued into the bodily cavity, namely, all that comprises the mouth. So we can see how the whole human being is present in the head in bodily form. Only, the chest part of the head is stunted; it is so stunted that the relation between the nose and the lung nature is no longer conspicuous. A correspondence, however, does exist between the nose and nasal passages and the lung nature. This nose is rather like a metamorphosed lung. It therefore transforms the breathing process also and makes it take on a more physical nature. Perhaps you think of the lung as less spiritual than the nose? This is a mistake. The lung is more of a work of art. It is more permeated with spirit, or at least with soul, than is the nose — which, to be sure, really pokes out in the face in the most immodest way; whereas the lung, although more soul-like than the nose, conceals its existence with more modesty.
And it is the mouth, and all that belongs with it, that is related to the metabolic system, to digestion and nourishment, and to all that is a continuation of the limb-forces into man; the mouth, indeed, cannot disguise its relationship to nourishment and to the limb nature.
Thus the head is a whole human being, only the non-head part of it is stunted: chest and lower body are also present in the head, but in a stunted form.
Now when in contrast to this we consider the limb man, we find that all its outer shapes, all its outer configuration, is essentially a transformation of man's two jaw bones, of the upper and lower jaw. What encloses your mouth below and above is but a stunted form of your legs and feet, and your arms and hands. Only you must think of the thing in its right position. Now you can say: If I think of my arms and hands as the upper jaw-bone, and my legs and feet as the lower jaw-bone, I have to ask: “To what are these jaw bones directed? Where do these jaws bite? Where is the mouth?” And you must answer this question as follows: It is where your upper arm is attached to your body, and where the upper part of your leg, the femur, is attached to your body. So that if you think of this as the human trunk [see drawing] you must think of the real head as somewhere outside: it opens its mouth here above [see drawing] and here below also; so that you can imagine a remarkable tendency of this invisible head that opens its jaws in the direction of your chest and your abdomen.
What then does this invisible head do? It is constantly devouring you. It opens its jaws upon you. And here the outward form is a wonderful representation of the real facts. Whereas man's proper head is a material bodily head, the head belonging to his limb-nature is a spiritual head, but one that becomes a little material so that it can continually eat the human being up. And when death comes, it has devoured him completely.
This, truly, is the wonderful process, that our limbs are so made as constantly to be consuming us. Our organism slips continuously into the yawning jaws of our own spirituality. The spiritual perpetually demands of us a sacrificial devotion. And this sacrificial devotion is expressed even in the form of the body. We have no understanding of the human form unless we recognize the expression of this sacrifice to the spirit in the relation of the limbs to the rest of the human body. Thus we can say: the head and limb nature of man form a contrast to one another; and it is the chest or trunk nature, midway between, that (from one aspect) maintains the balance of these opposites.
In man's chest there is in reality just as much head nature as limb nature. Limb nature and head nature are interwoven in the chest nature. The chest has a continuous upward tendency to became head, and a continuous downward tendency to fit in with the outstretched limbs, with the outer world — in other words to become a part of the limb nature. The upper part of the chest nature has the constant tendency to become head; the lower part has the tendency to become limb man. That is to say: the upper part of the human trunk has the continual desire to become head, but it cannot do so. The other head prevents it. Therefore it produces continuously only an image of the head, something that represents, so to speak, a beginning of the head formation. Can we not clearly recognize that in the upper part of the chest formation there is a suggestion of head formation? Yes, there we have the larynx, called Kehlkopf in German, from the native genius of the language, i.e., the head of the throat. The larynx is absolutely a stunted human head; a head which cannot become completely head and therefore lives out its head nature in human speech. The larynx continually makes the attempt in the air to become head; and this attempt constitutes human speech. When the larynx tries to become the uppermost part of the head we get those sounds which clearly show that they are held back by man's nature more strongly than any. When the human larynx tries to become nose it cannot, because the real nose prevents it. But it produces in the air the attempt to become nose, and this constitutes the nasal sounds. Thus in the nasal sounds the actual nose is checking the “air nose” which is seeking to arise. It is exceedingly significant how, when man speaks, he is continually making the attempt in the air to produce pieces of a head, and how these pieces of head are extended in wavelike movements which are then checked by the physically developed head.
You can now see what human speech really is. Therefore you will not be surprised that as soon as the head is more or less complete physically — i.e., towards the seventh year, when the change of teeth takes place — opportunity is provided for the soul head — which is produced out of the larynx — to be permeated by a kind of skeletal system. But it must be a skeletal system of the soul. To achieve this we must now leave off developing language merely at random through imitation, and must devote our powers to the grammatical side of language. Let us be conscious that when the child comes to us in his seventh year we have to do for his soul a thing similar to that done by his body in pushing up into his organism the second teeth. Thus we shall impart power and firmness to his language (but a firmness of the soul only) by introducing grammar in a reasonable way: that is, the working of language in writing and reading. We shall get the right attitude of mind to human speaking if we know that the words man forms actually express a tendency to become head.
Now, just as the upper part of the chest system in man has the tendency to become head, so the lower part has the tendency to become limbs. And just as all that proceeds from the larynx in the form of speech is a refined head, a head formed out of air, so all that proceeds downwards from the chest nature of man to take on something of the limb organization is a coarsened limb nature. The outer world pushes into man, so to speak, a densified, coarsened limb nature. And once natural scientists discover the secret that a coarsened form of hands and feet, arms and legs is present in man — more of the limbs being pressed inside than remains visible outside — then indeed they will have fathomed the riddle of sex nature. And then only will man find the right tone for speaking of these things. It is no wonder therefore that the talk prevalent today about sex instruction is mostly meaningless. For one cannot explain well what one does not understand oneself. And contemporary science has not the least understanding for the thing I have just barely touched on in characterizing the connection between the limb man and the trunk man. Just as one finds in the first years of school life that what penetrated the teeth before the age of seven is now pressing into the soul, so in the later years of schooling one finds pressing into the child's soul all that arises from the limb nature and comes to its rightful expression after puberty. This must be known.
Thus, just as the power to write and read is an expression of the teething of the soul, so all activity of imagination, all that is permeated with inner warmth, is an expression of what the soul develops in the later school years, the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth years. In particular, there then appear all those capacities of the soul which can be permeated and filled with inner love, all that shows itself, namely, in the power of imagination. It is to this power of imagination that we must especially appeal in the latter part of the period between the change of teeth and puberty. We are much more justified in encouraging the child of seven to develop its own intellectuality by way of reading and writing than we are justified in neglecting to bring imagination continually into the growing power of judgment of the child of twelve. (It is from the age of twelve onwards that the power of judgment gradually develops.) We must arouse the child's imagination in all we teach him, in all the lessons he has to learn during these years; all history teaching, all geography teaching must be steeped in imagination.
And we do really appeal to the child's imagination if, for instance, we say to him: “Now you have seen a lens, haven't you, a lens that collects the light? Now, you have such a lens in your own eye. And you know what a camera obscura is, where external objects are reproduced? Your eye is really a camera obscura, a dark room of this kind.” In a case of this sort where we show how the external world is built into the human organism through the sense organs — we are, once again, really appealing to the child's imagination. For what is built into the body is only seen in its external deadness when we take it out of the body; we cannot see it so in the living body.
Thus all the teaching, even what is given in geometry and arithmetic, must consistently appeal to the imagination. We appeal to the imagination if, in dealing with plane surfaces, for instance, we endeavor (as we have been doing in our practical course) not only to make them comprehensible to the intellect, but to make them so thoroughly comprehensible that a child needs to use his imagination even in arithmetic and geometry. That is why I said yesterday [in another course of lectures to teachers] that I wondered that nobody had thought of explaining the theorem of Pythagoras in the following way. The teacher could say: “Suppose we have three children; the first has just so much powder to blow that he can make it cover the first square; the second so much that it will cover the second square; the third so much that it will just cover the little square." We shall be helping the child's imagination when we show him that the powder needed to cover the largest square is the same in quantity as that needed to cover the other two squares. Through this the child will bring his power of comprehension on the powder blown on the squares — perhaps not with mathematical accuracy, but in a form filled with imagination. He will follow the surfaces with his imagination. He will grasp the theorem of Pythagoras by means of the flying and settling powder — that would have to be blown, moreover, into square shapes (a thing impossible in reality of course, but calling out the exertion of imagination). He will grasp the theorem with his imagination.
Therefore in these years we should foster an intercourse alive with imagination between teacher and child. The teacher must keep alive all his subjects, steep them in imagination. The only way to do this is to permeate all that he has to teach with a willing rich in feeling. Such teaching has a wonderful influence on children in their later years.
A thing of the very greatest importance, a thing to be particularly cultivated during the later primary school years, is the mutual intercourse, the complete harmony of life, between teacher and children. For this reason no one can be a good primary teacher unless he constantly endeavors to bring imagination into all his teaching; he must shape his teaching material afresh every time. For in actual fact the thing one has once worked out in an imaginative way, if given again years later in precisely the same form, is intellectually frozen up. Of necessity imagination must always be kept living, otherwise its products will became intellectually frozen.
This, in turn, throws light on what the teacher must be himself. He must never for a single moment in his life get sour. And if life is to be fruitful, two things must never meet, namely, the teaching vocation and pedantry. Should the teaching vocation ever be joined to pedantry the worst possible evil would result from this union. But I doubt if we need even imagine such an incongruity, as that teaching and pedantry have ever been united.
From this you see that there is a certain inner morality in teaching, an inner obligation, a true “categorical imperative” for the teacher. And this categorical imperative is as follows: Keep your imagination alive. And if you feel yourself getting pedantic, then say to yourself: for other people pedantry may be bad, for me it is wicked and immoral. This must be the teacher's attitude of mind. If it should not be his attitude of mind, then dear friends, the teacher would have to consider how he could gradually learn to apply what he had gained in his teaching profession to another walk of life. Of course in actual life these things cannot always come up to the ideal, but it is essential to know what the ideal is.
You will not, however, achieve the right enthusiasm for this educational morality unless you turn ever and again to fundamentals and make them part of yourself, You must know, for example, that the head itself is really a whole human being with the limbs and chest part stunted; that every limb is a whole human being, only that in the limb man the head is quite stunted, and in the chest man, head and limbs are held in balance. If you have this fundamental ground, its force will bring the necessary enthusiasm into your educational morals.
The intellectual part of man is very apt to become lazy and sluggish. And it will become most intensely sluggish if it is perpetually fed with materialistic thoughts. But if it is fed with thoughts, with mental pictures, won from the spirit it will take wings. Such thoughts, however, can only come into our souls by way of imagination.
Now, the second half of the nineteenth century stormed against the introduction of imagination into teaching. In the first half of the nineteenth century there were brilliant men, men such as Schelling, for example, whose sounder thought embraced education as well. You should read the beautiful and stirring account written by Schelling of the methods of academic study — written, it is true, not about primary schools but for college life — but alive with the spirit of pedagogy of the first half of the nineteenth century. His work was attacked, in a veiled way, in the second half of the nineteenth century, when everything seeking access to man's soul by way of imagination was treated with scorn and abuse. This is because people had become cowards in what concerns the life of the soul, and because they believed that the moment they gave themselves up to imagination they would be falling into the arms of falsehood. They had not the courage to be free and independent in their thought and still to unite themselves with truth instead of falsehood. They were afraid to move freely in thought, believing that if they did so they would straightway be letting falsehood into their souls. Thus in addition to the permeating of his teaching material with imagination, of which I have just spoken, the teacher must have courage for the truth. Without this courage for the truth he will find that his will in teaching will not serve him, especially when it comes to the older children. But this courage for the truth which the teacher develops must go hand in hand with a feeling of responsibility towards the truth.
The need for imagination, a sense of truth, a feeling of responsibility: these are the three forces which are the very nerves of pedagogy.
And whoever will receive pedagogy into himself, let him inscribe the following as a motto for his teaching:
Imbue thyself with the power of imagination,
Have courage for the truth,
Sharpen thy feeling for responsibility of soul.
Durchdringe dich mit Phantasiefähigkeit,
hebe den Mut zur Wahrheit,
schärfe dein Gefühl für seelische Verantwortlichkeit.