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 1.4.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 4)
This ‘Body of the Ego’ is the vehicle of the higher soul of man. Through it man is the crown of all earthly creation. Now in the human being of the present day the Ego is by no means simple in character. We may recognize its nature if we compare human beings at different stages of development. Look at the uneducated savage beside the average European, or again, compare the latter with a lofty idealist. Each one of them has the faculty of saying ‘ I ’ to himself; the ‘Body of the Ego’ is present in them all. But the uneducated savage, with his Ego, follows his passions, impulses, and cravings almost like an animal. The more highly developed man says to himself, ‘Such and such impulses and desires you may follow,’ while others again he holds in check or suppresses altogether. The idealist has developed new impulses and new desires in addition to those originally present. All this has taken place through the Ego working upon the other members of the human being. Indeed, it is this which constitutes the special task of the Ego. Working outward from itself, it has to ennoble and purify the other members of man's nature.
In the human being who has reached beyond the condition in which the external world first placed him, the lower members have become changed to a greater or lesser degree under the influence of the ‘Ego.’ When man is only beginning to rise above the animal, when his ‘Ego’ is only just kindled, he is still like an animal so far as the lower members of his being are concerned. His etheric or life-body is simply the vehicle of the formative forces of life, the forces of growth and reproduction. His sentient body gives expression to those impulses, desires, and passions only, which are stimulated by external nature. As man works his way up from this stage of development, through successive lives or incarnations, to an ever higher evolution, his ‘Ego’ works upon the other members and transforms them. In this way his sentient body becomes the vehicle of purified sensations of pleasure and pain, refined wishes and desires. And the etheric or life-body also becomes transformed. It becomes the vehicle of the man's habits, of his more permanent bent or tendency in life, of his temperament and of his memory. A man whose Ego has not yet worked upon his life-body, has no memory of the experiences he goes through in life. He just lives out what Nature has implanted in him.
This is what the growth and development of civilization means for man. It is a continual working of his Ego upon the lower members of his nature. The work penetrates right down into the physical body. Under the influence of the Ego, the whole appearance and physiognomy, the gestures and movements of the physical body, are altered. It is possible, moreover, to distinguish the way in which the different means of culture or civilization work upon the several members of man's nature. The ordinary factors of civilization work upon the sentient body and imbue it with pleasures and pains, with impulses and cravings, of a different kind from what it had originally. Again, when the human being is absorbed in the contemplation of a great work of art, his etheric body is being influenced. Through the work of art he divines something higher and more noble than is offered by the ordinary environment of his senses, and in this process he is forming and transforming his life-body. Religion is a powerful means for the purification and ennobling of the etheric body. It is here that the religious impulses have their mighty purpose in the evolution of mankind.
What we call ‘conscience’ is nothing else than the outcome of the work of the Ego on the life-body through incarnation after incarnation. When man begins to perceive that he ought not to do this or that, and when this perception makes so strong an impression on him that the impression passes on into his etheric body, ‘conscience’ arises.
Now this work of the Ego upon the lower members may either be something that is proper to a whole race of men; or else it may be entirely individual, an achievement of the individual Ego working on itself alone. In the former case, the whole human race collaborates, as it were, in the transformation of the human being. The latter kind of transformation depends on the activity of the individual Ego alone and of itself. The Ego may become so strong as to transform, by its very own power and strength, the sentient body. What the Ego then makes of the Sentient or Astral Body is called ‘Spirit-Self’ (or by an Eastern expression, ‘Manas’). This transformation is wrought mainly through a process of learning, through an enriching of one's inner life with higher ideas and perceptions.
Now the Ego can rise to a still higher task, and it is one that belongs quite essentially to its nature. This happens when not only is the astral body enriched, but the etheric or life-body transformed. A man learns many things in the course of his life; and if from some point he looks back on his past life, he may say to himself: ‘I have learned much.’ But in a far less degree will he be able to speak of a transformation in his temperament or character during life, or of an improvement or deterioration in his memory. Learning concerns the astral body, whereas the latter kinds of transformation concern the etheric or life-body. Hence it is by no means an unhappy image if we compare the change in the astral body during life with the course of the minute hand of a clock, and the transformation of the life-body with the course of the hour hand.
When man enters on a higher training — or, as it is called, occult training — it is above all important for him to undertake, out of the very own power of his Ego, this latter transformation. Individually and with full consciousness, he has to work out the transformation of his habits and his temperament, his character, his memory ... In so far as he thus works into his life-body, he transforms it into what is called in anthroposophical terminology, ‘Life-Spirit’ (or, as the Eastern expression has it, ‘Budhi’).
At a still higher stage man comes to acquire forces whereby he is able to work upon his physical body and transform it (transforming, for example, the circulation of the blood, the pulse). As much of the physical body as is thus transformed is ‘Spirit-Man’ (or, in the Eastern term, ‘Atma’).
Now as a member of the whole human species or of some section of it — for example, of a nation, tribe, or family — man also achieves certain transformations of the lower parts of his nature. In Anthroposophical Science the results of this latter kind of transformation are known by the following names. The astral or sentient body, transformed through the Ego, is called the Sentient Soul; the transformed etheric body is called the Intellectual Soul; and the transformed physical body the Spiritual Soul. We must not imagine the transformations of these three members taking place one after another in time. From the moment when the Ego lights up, all three bodies are undergoing transformation simultaneously. Indeed, the work of the Ego does not become clearly perceptible to man until a part of the Spiritual Soul has already been formed and developed.
FROM what has been said, it is clear that we may speak of four members of man's nature: the Physical Body, the Etheric or Life-Body, the Astral or Sentient Body, and the Body of the Ego. The Sentient Soul, the Intellectual Soul, and the Spiritual Soul, and beyond these the still higher members of man's nature — Spirit-Self, Life-Self, Spirit-Man — appear in connection with these four members as products of transformation. Speaking of the vehicles of the qualities of man, it is in fact the first four members only which come into account.
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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