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 1.3.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 3)
Anthroposophical Science, then, would never say that there are definite frontiers to human knowledge. What it would rather say is that for man those worlds exist, for which he has the organs of perception. Thus Anthroposophy speaks only of the methods whereby existing frontiers may be extended; and this is its position with regard to the investigation of the life-body or etheric body, and of all that is specified in the following pages as the yet higher members of man's nature. Anthroposophy admits that the physical body alone is accessible to investigation through the bodily senses, and that — from the point of view of this kind of investigation — it will at most be possible by intellectual deductions to surmise the existence of a higher body. At the same time, it tells how it is possible to open up a world wherein these higher members of man's nature emerge for the observer, as the color and the light of things emerge after operation in the case of a man born blind. For those who have developed the higher organs of perception, the etheric or life-body is an object of perception and not merely of intellectual deduction.
Man has this etheric or life-body in common with the plants and animals. The life-body works in a formative way upon the substances and forces of the physical body, thus bringing about the phenomena of growth, reproduction, and inner movement of the saps and fluids. It is therefore the builder and moulder of the physical body, its inhabitant and architect. The physical body may even be spoken of as an image or expression of the life-body. In man the two are nearly, though by no means wholly, equal as to form and size. In the animals, however, and still more so in the plants, the etheric body is very different, both in form and in extension, from the physical.
The third member of the human body is what is called the Sentient or Astral Body. It is the vehicle of pain and pleasure, of impulse, craving, passion, and the like — all of which are absent in a creature consisting only of physical and etheric bodies. These things may all be included in the term: sentient feeling or sensation. The plant has no sensation. If in our time some learned men, seeing that plants will respond by movement or in some other way to external stimulus, conclude that plants have a certain power of sensation, they only show their ignorance of what sensation is. The point is not whether the creature responds to an external stimulus, but whether the stimulus is reflected in an inner process — as pain or pleasure, impulse, desire, or the like. Unless we held fast to this criterion, we should be justified in saying that blue litmus-paper has a sensation of certain substances, because it turns red by contact with them. (See Footnote 2)
Man has therefore a sentient body in common with the animal kingdom only, and this sentient body is the vehicle of sensation or of sentient life.
We must not fall into the error of certain theosophical circles, and imagine the etheric and sentient bodies as consisting simply of finer substances than are present in the physical body. For that would be a materialistic conception of these higher members of man's nature. The etheric body is a force-form; it consists of active forces, and not of matter. The astral or sentient body is a figure of inwardly moving, colored, luminous pictures. The astral body deviates, both in shape and size, from the physical body. In man it presents an elongated ovoid form, within which the physical and etheric bodies are embedded. It projects beyond them — a vivid, luminous figure — on every side. (See Footnote 3)
Now man possesses a fourth member of his being; and this fourth member he shares with no other earthly creature. It is the vehicle of the human ‘ I ,’ of the human Ego. The little word ‘ I ’ — as used, for example, in the English language — is a name essentially different from all other names. To anyone who ponders rightly on the nature of this name, there is opened up at once a way of approach to a perception of man's real nature. All other names can be applied, by all men equally, to the thing they designate. Everyone can call a table ‘table,’ and everyone can call a chair ‘chair’; but it is not so with the name ‘ I .’ No one can use this name to designate another. Each human being can only call himself ‘ I ’; the name ‘ I ’ can never reach my ear as a designation of myself. In designating himself as ‘ I ,’ man has to name himself within himself. A being who can say ‘ I ’ to himself is a world in himself. Those religions which are founded on spiritual knowledge have always had a feeling for this truth. Hence they have said: With the ‘ I ,’ the ‘God’ — who in the lower creatures reveals himself only from without, in the phenomena of the surrounding world — begins to speak from within. The vehicle of this faculty of saying ‘ I ,’ of the Ego-faculty, is the ‘Body of the Ego,’ the fourth member of the human being. (See Footnote 4)
It is necessary to lay stress on this point, for there is in our time a great want of clearness on such matters. Many people obscure the distinction between a plant and a sentient being, because they are not clear themselves as to the real nature of sensation. If a being or thing acts in some way in response to an impression, that is made on it from without, one is not therefore justified in saying that it has a sensation of the impression. It can only be said to have sensation if it experiences the impression in its inner life, that is to say, if there is a kind of inward reflection of the outer stimulus. The great advances of Natural Science in our time, for which the true spiritual investigator has the highest admiration, have none the less brought about a lack of clearness with regard to higher concepts. Some biologists do not know what sensation is, and hence they ascribe it to a being that has none. What they understand by sensation, they may well ascribe even to non-sentient beings. What the Anthroposophical Science must understand by sensation is altogether different.
A distinction must be drawn between the experience man has of the sentient body within himself, and the perception of the sentient body by a trained seer. It is what lies open to the sentient body by a trained seer that is here referred to.
The reader must not take offense at the expression ‘Body of the Ego.’ It is certainly not used in any grossly material sense. But in Anthroposophical Science there is no other possibility than to use the words of ordinary language; and as these are ordinarily applied to material things, they must, in their application to a spiritual science, first be translated into the spiritual.
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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