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 2.5.
"The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" by Rudolf Steiner (Section 10)
With the age of puberty the astral body is first born. Henceforth the astral body in its development is open to the outside world. Only now, therefore, can we approach the child from without with all that opens up the world of abstract ideas, the faculty of judgment and independent thought. It has already been pointed out, how up to this time these faculties of soul should be developing — free from outer influence — within the environment provided by the education proper to the earlier years, even as the eyes and ears develop, free from outer influence, within the organism of the mother. With puberty the time has arrived when the human being is ripe for the formation of his own judgments about the things he has already learned. Nothing more harmful can be done to a child than to awaken too early his independent judgment. Man is not in a position to judge until he has collected in his inner life material for judgment and comparison. If he forms his own conclusions before doing so, his conclusions will lack foundation. Educational mistakes of this kind are the cause of all narrow one-sidedness in life, all barren creeds that take their stand on a few scraps of knowledge and are ready on this basis to condemn ideas experienced and proved by man often through long ages.
In order to be ripe for thought, one must have learned to be full of respect for what others have thought. There is no healthy thought which has not been preceded by a healthy feeling for the truth, a feeling for the truth supported by faith in authorities accepted naturally. Were this principle observed in education, there would no longer be so many people, who, imagining too soon that they are ripe for judgment, spoil their own power to receive openly and without bias the all-round impressions of life. Every judgment that is not built on a sufficient foundation of gathered knowledge and experience of soul throws a stumbling-block in the way of him who forms it. For having once pronounced a judgment concerning a matter, we are ever after influenced by this judgment. We no longer receive a new experience as we should have done, had we not already formed a judgment connected with it. The thought must take living hold in the child's mind, that he has first to learn and then to judge. What the intellect has to say concerning any matter, should only be said when all the other faculties of the soul have spoken. Before that time the intellect has only an intermediary part to play: its business is to grasp what takes place and is experienced in feeling, to receive it exactly as it is, not letting the unripe judgment come in at once and take possession. For this reason, up to the age of puberty the child should be spared all theories about things; the main consideration is that he should simply meet the experiences of life, receiving them into his soul. Certainly he can be told what different men have thought about this and that, but one must avoid his associating himself through a too early exercise of judgment with the one view or the other. Thus the opinions of men he should also receive with the feeling power of the soul. He should be able, without jumping to a decision or taking sides with this or that person, to listen to all, saying to himself: ‘This man said this, and that man that.’ The cultivation of such a mind in a boy or girl certainly demands the exercise of great tact from teachers and educators; but tact is just what anthroposophical thought can give.
All we have been able to do is to unfold a few aspects of education in the light of Anthroposophy. And this alone was our intention, — to indicate how great a task the anthroposophical spiritual impulse must fulfill in education for the culture of our time. Its power to fulfill the task will depend on the spread of an understanding for this way of thought in ever wider and wider circles. For this to come about, two things are, however, necessary. The first is that people should relinquish their prejudices against Anthroposophy. Whoever honestly pursues it, will soon see that it is not the fantastic nonsense many to-day hold it to be. We are not making any reproach against those who hold this opinion; for all that the culture of our time offers must tend on a first acquaintance to make one regard the followers of Anthroposophy as fantastic dreamers. On a superficial consideration no other judgment can be reached, for in the light of it Anthroposophy, with its claim to be a spiritual Science, will seem in direct contradiction to all that modern culture gives to man as the foundation of a healthy view of life. Only a deeper consideration will discover that the views of the present day are in themselves deeply contradictory and will remain so, as long as they are without the anthroposophical foundation. Indeed, of their very nature they call out for such foundation and cannot in the long run be without it.
The second thing that is needed concerns the healthy cultivation of Anthroposophy itself. Only when it is perceived, in anthroposophical circles everywhere, that the point is not simply to theorize about the teachings, but to let them bear fruit in the most far-reaching way in all the relationships of life, — only then will life itself open up to Anthroposophy with sympathy and understanding. Otherwise people will continue to regard it as a variety of religious sectarianism for a few cranks and enthusiasts. If, however, it performs positive and useful spiritual work, the Anthroposophical Movement cannot in the long run be denied intelligent recognition.
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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