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 1.2.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 2)
In the following pages we shall endeavor to prove this for one particular question — the question of Education. We shall not set up demands nor programs, but simply describe the child-nature. From the nature of the growing and evolving human being, the proper point of view for Education will, as it were, spontaneously result.
If we wish to perceive the nature of the evolving man, we must begin by considering the hidden nature of man as such. What sense-observation learns to know in man, and what the materialistic conception of life would consider as the one and only element in man's being, is for spiritual investigation only one part, one member of his nature: it is his Physical Body. This physical body of man is subject to the same laws of physical existence, and is built up of the same substances and forces, as the whole of that world which is commonly called lifeless. Anthroposophical Science says, therefore: man has a physical body in common with the whole of the mineral kingdom. And it designates as the ‘Physical Body’ that alone in man, which brings the substances into mixture, combination, form, and dissolution by the same laws as are at work in the same substances in the mineral world as well.
Now over and above the physical body, Anthroposophical Science recognizes a second essential principle in man. It is his Life-Body or Etheric Body. The physicist need not take offence at the term ‘Etheric Body.’ The word ‘Ether’ in this connection does not mean the same as the hypothetical Ether of Physics. It must be taken simply as a designation of what will here and now be described. In recent times it was considered a highly unscientific proceeding to speak of such an ‘Etheric Body’; though this had not been so at the end of the eighteenth and in the first half of the nineteenth century. In that earlier time people had said to themselves: the substances and forces which are at work in a mineral cannot of their own accord form the mineral into a living creature. In the latter there must also be inherent a peculiar ‘force.’ This force they called the ‘Vital Force,’ and they thought of it somewhat as follows: the Vital Force is working in the plant, in the animal, in the human body, and produces the phenomena of life, just as the magnetic force is present in the magnet producing the phenomena of attraction. In the succeeding period of materialism, this idea was set aside. People began to say: the living creature is built up in the same way as the lifeless creation. There are no other forces at work in the living organism than in the mineral; the same forces are only working in a more complicated way, and building a more complex structure.
To-day, however, it is only the most rigid materialists who hold fast to this denial of a life-force or vital force. There are a number of natural scientists and thinkers whom the facts of life have taught, that something like a vital force or life-principle must be assumed. Thus modern science, in its later developments, is in a certain sense approaching what Anthroposophical Science has to say about the life-body. There is, however, a very important difference. From the facts of sense-perception, modern science arrives, through intellectual considerations or reflections, at the assumption of a kind of vital force. This is not the method of genuine spiritual investigation which Anthroposophy adopts and from the results of which it makes its statements. It cannot often enough be emphasized how great is the difference, in this respect, between Anthroposophy and the current science of to-day. For the latter regards the experiences of the senses as the foundation for all knowledge. Anything that cannot be built up on this foundation, it takes to be unknowable. From the impressions of the senses it draws deductions and conclusions. What goes on beyond them it rejects, as lying ‘beyond the frontiers of human knowledge.’
From the standpoint of Anthroposophical Science, such a view is like that of a blind man, who only admits as valid things that can be touched and conclusions that result by deduction from the world of touch — a blind man who rejects the statements of seeing people as lying outside the possibility of human knowledge. Anthroposophy shows man to be capable of evolution, capable of bringing new worlds within his sphere by the development of new organs of perception. Color and light are all around the blind man. If he cannot see them, it is only because he lacks the organs of perception. In like manner Anthroposophy asserts: there are many worlds around man, and man can perceive them if only he develops the necessary organs. As the blind man who has undergone a successful operation looks out upon a new world, so by the development of higher organs man can come to know new worlds — worlds altogether different from those which his ordinary senses allow him to perceive.
Now whether one who is blind in body can be operated on or not, depends on the constitution of his organs. But the higher organs whereby man can penetrate into the higher worlds, are present in embryo in every human being. Everyone can develop them who has the patience, endurance, and energy to apply in his own case the methods described in the volume, ‘Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment.’
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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