Course WC2 5
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 2
Rudolf Steiner published "The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" in 1907.
In this publication Steiner presented the basis of the educational approach that later would become the foundation of what is today known as Waldorf Education, and has been developed from the beginnings of the first Waldorf School founded by Rudolf Steiner and Emil Molt in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 to being today a worldwide movement that has established itself all over thee world as the most innovative and dynamic educational movement in our modern time.
In "The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" Steiner developed first the basic ideas that later became the cornerstones of this new form of education. Steiner addresses the nurture versus nature and the clash of cultures and worldviews surrounding this theme from a spiritual point of view. Steiner presented the basic concepts of the essential nature of the human being in body, soul and spirit, and Steiner discusses the physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. Steiner presents the background to what is truly age appropriate education with the idea that the child in growing up recapitulates the development of consciousness of humanity while going through stages or phases of incarnation. Steiner outlines the differing educational approaches necessary to teach children during early childhood, during the grade school years, during high school and during later life as an adult.
Study Material for this Lesson WC2 5 2.4.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 9)
Only the teacher who has a conscious and clear understanding of how the several subjects and methods of education work upon the growing child, can have the tact to meet every occasion that offers, in the right way. He has to know how to treat the several faculties of the soul — Thinking, Feeling and Willing, — so that their development may react on the etheric body, which in this period between the change of teeth and puberty can attain more and more perfect form under the influences that affect it from without.
By a right application of the fundamental educational principles, during the first seven years of childhood, the foundation is laid for the development of a strong and healthy Will. For a strong and healthy will must have its support in the well-developed forms of the physical body. Then, from the time of the change of teeth onwards, the etheric body which is now developing must bring to the physical body those forces whereby it can make its forms firm and inwardly complete. Whatever makes the strongest impression on the etheric body, works also most powerfully towards the consolidation of the physical body. The strongest of all the impulses that can work on the etheric body, come from the feelings and thoughts by which man divines and experiences in consciousness his relation to the Everlasting Powers. That is to say, they are those that come from religious experience. Never will a man's will, nor in consequence his character, develop healthily, if he is not able in this period of childhood to receive religious impulses deep into his soul. How a man feels his place and part in the universal Whole, — this will find expression in the unity of his life of will. If he does not feel himself linked by strong bonds to a Divine-spiritual, his will and character must needs remain uncertain, divided and unsound.
The world of Feeling is developed in the right way through the parables and pictures we have spoken of, and especially through the pictures of great men and women, taken from History and other sources, which we bring before the children. A correspondingly deep study of the secrets and beauties of Nature is also important for the right formation of the world of feeling. Last but not least, there is the cultivation of the sense of beauty and the awakening of the artistic feeling. The musical element must bring to the etheric body that rhythm which will then enable it to sense in all things the rhythm otherwise concealed. A child who is denied the blessing of having his musical sense cultivated during these years, will be the poorer for it the whole of his later life. If this sense were entirely lacking in him, whole aspects of the world's existence would of necessity remain hidden from him. Nor are the other arts to be neglected. The awakening of the feeling for architectural forms, for molding and sculpture, for lines and for design, for color harmonies — none of these should be left out of the plan of education. However simple life has to be under certain circumstances, the objection can never hold that the circumstances do not allow of anything being done in this direction. Much can be done with the simplest means, if only the teacher himself has the right artistic feeling. Joy and happiness in living, a love of all existence, a power and energy for work — such are among the lifelong results of a right cultivation of the feeling for beauty and for art. The relationship of man to man, how noble, how beautiful it becomes under this influence! Again, the moral sense, which is also being formed in the child during these years through the pictures of life that are placed before him, through the authorities to whom he looks up, — this moral sense becomes assured, if the child out of his own sense of beauty feels the good to be at the same time beautiful, the bad to be at the same time ugly.
Thought in its proper form, as an inner life lived in abstract concepts, must remain still in the background during this period of childhood. It must develop as it were of itself, uninfluenced from without, while life and the secrets of nature are being unfolded in parable and picture. Thus between the seventh year and puberty, thought must be growing, the faculty of judgement ripening, in among the other experiences of the soul; so that after puberty is reached, the youth may become able to form quite independently his own opinions on the things of life and knowledge. The less the direct influence on the development of judgement in earlier years, and the more a good indirect influence is brought to bear through the development of the other faculties of soul, the better it is for the whole of later life.
The spiritual knowledge of Anthroposophy affords the true foundations, not only for spiritual and mental education, but for physical. This may be illustrated by reference to children's games and gymnastic exercises. Just as love and joy should permeate the surroundings of the child in the earliest years of life, so through physical exercises the growing etheric body should experience an inner feeling of its own growth, of its ever increasing strength. Gymnastic exercises, for instance, should be of such a nature that each movement, each step, gives rise to the feeling within the child: ‘I feel growing strength in me.’ This feeling must take possession of the child as a healthy sense of inner happiness and ease. To think out gymnastic exercises from this point of view requires more than an intellectual knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. It requires an intimate intuitive knowledge of the connection of the sense of happiness and ease with the positions and movements of the human body — a knowledge that is not merely intellectual, but permeated with feeling. Whoever arranges such exercises must be able to experience in himself how one movement and position of the limbs produces a happy and easy feeling of strength, another, as it were, an inner loss of strength. ... To teach gymnastics and other physical exercises with these things in view, the teacher will require what Anthroposophy alone — and above all, the anthroposophical habit of mind — can give. He need not himself see into the spiritual worlds at once, but he must have the understanding to apply in life only what springs from spiritual knowledge. If the knowledge of Anthroposophy were applied in practical spheres like education, the idle talk that this knowledge has first to be proved would quickly disappear. Whoever applies it correctly, will find that the knowledge of Anthroposophy proves itself in life by making life strong and healthy. He will see it to be true in that it holds good in life and practice, and in this he will find a proof stronger than all the logical and so-called scientific arguments can afford. Spiritual truths are best recognized in their fruits and not by what is called a proof, be this ever so scientific; such proof can indeed hardly be more than logical skirmishing.
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 1
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 2
Tasks and Assignments
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