Course WC1 5
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 1
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 WC1 5 1.1.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 1)
Much that the man of to-day inherits from generations of the past is called in question by his present life. Hence the numerous ‘problems of the hour’ and ‘demands of the age.’ How many of these are occupying the attention of the world — the Social Question, the Women's Question, the various educational questions, hygienic questions, questions of human rights, and so forth! By the most varied means, men are endeavoring to grapple with these problems. The number of those who come on the scene with this or that remedy or program for the solution — or at any rate for the partial solution — of one or other of them, is indeed past counting. In the process, all manner of opinions and shades of opinion make themselves felt — Radicalism, which carries itself with a revolutionary air; the Moderate attitude, full of respect for existing things, yet endeavoring to evolve out of them something new; Conservatism, which is up in arms whenever any of the old institutions are tampered with. Beside these main tendencies of thought and feeling there is every kind of intermediate position.
Looking at all these things of life with deeper vision, one cannot but feel — indeed the impression forces itself upon one — that the men of our age are in the position of trying to meet the demands involved in modern life with means which are utterly inadequate. Many are setting about to reform life, without really knowing life in its foundations. But he who would make proposals as to the future must not content himself with a knowledge of life that merely touches life's surface. He must investigate its depths.
Life in its entirety is like a plant. The plant contains not only what it offers to external life; it also holds a future state within its hidden depths. One who has before him a plant only just in leaf, knows very well that after some time there will be flowers and fruit also on the leaf-bearing stem. In its hidden depths the plant already contains the flowers and fruit in embryo; yet by mere investigation of what the plant now offers to external vision, how should one ever tell what these new organs will look like? This can only be told by one who has learnt to know the very nature and being of the plant.
So, too, the whole of human life contains within it the germs of its own future; but if we are to tell anything about this future, we must first penetrate into the hidden nature of the human being. And this our age is little inclined to do. It concerns itself with the things that appear on the surface, and thinks it is treading on unsafe ground if called upon to penetrate to what escapes external observation.
In the case of the plant the matter is certainly more simple. We know that others like it have again and again borne fruit before. Human life is present only once; the flowers it will bear in the future have never yet been there. Yet they are present within man in the embryo, even as the flowers are present in a plant that is still only in leaf. And there is a possibility of saying something about man's future, if once we penetrate beneath the surface of human nature to its real essence and being. It is only when fertilized by this deep penetration into human life, that the various ideas of reform current in the present age can become fruitful and practical.
Anthroposophy, by its inherent character and tendency, must have the task of providing a practical conception of the world — one that comprehends the nature and essence of human life. Whether what is often called so is justified in making such a claim, is not the point; it is the real essence of Anthroposophy — and what, by virtue of its real essence, Anthroposophy can be — that here concerns us. For Anthroposophy is not intended as a theory remote from life, one that merely caters for man's curiosity or thirst for knowledge. Nor is it intended as an instrument for a few people, who for selfish reasons would like to attain a higher level of development for themselves. No, it can join and work at the most important tasks of present-day humanity, and further their development for the welfare of mankind. (See Footnote 1)
It is true that in taking on this mission, Anthroposophy must be prepared to face all kinds of scepticism and opposition. Radicals, Moderates and Conservatives in every sphere of life will be bound to meet it with scepticism. For in its beginnings it will scarcely be in a position to please any party. Its premises lie far beyond the sphere of party movements, being founded, in effect, purely and solely on a true knowledge and perception of life. If a man has knowledge of life, it is only out of life itself that he will be able to set himself his tasks. He will draw up no arbitrary programs, for he will know that no other fundamental laws of life can prevail in the future than those that prevail already in the present. The spiritual investigator will therefore of necessity respect existing things. However great the need for improvement he may find in them, he will not fail to see, in existing things themselves, the embryo of the future. At the same time, he knows that in all things ‘becoming’ there must be growth and evolution. Hence he will perceive in the present the seeds of transformation and of growth. He invents no programs; he reads them out of what is there. What he thus reads becomes in a certain sense itself a program, for it bears in it the essence of development. For this very reason an anthroposophical insight into the being of man must provide the most fruitful and the most practical means for the solution of the urgent questions of modern life.
1. It is not to be inferred that Anthroposophy has only to do with the greater questions of life. Anthroposophy, as the passage would express, is destined to afford a basis on which the solution of the greater questions may be sought; at the same time it is no less true that Anthroposophy is able to bring help to each individual person wherever he may find himself placed in life, that it can be a source whence he may draw the answers to the most everyday questions, whence he may draw comfort, strength, confidence for life and work. Anthroposophy can give strength for meeting the great life-problems, and just as surely also for meeting the immediate needs of the moment, even in the seemingly most insignificant matters of daily life.
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 1
The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy - Part 2
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