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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Spirit of the Waldorf School, GA#297
6 Lectures Surrounding the Founding of the First Waldorf School in Stuttgart 1919
ARJ2 Chapter: Spiritual Science
Translation and Introduction
Robert F. Lathe and Nancy Parson Whittaker
Plus An Essay from The Social Future, Feb. 1920
Published by Anthroposophic Press/NY in 2004
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2016
The Spirit of the Waldorf School, GA#297
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Recently I came across a series of twenty-six volumes of Steiner lectures devoted to Education and found that I had already read and written detailed studies (reviews) of nine of them. I compiled these into a list to be included with each of the reviews, so that anyone reading one of these book reviews on education can easily find the other reviews and the entire list of names of the books. After identifying those books left to study, I ordered all those that were available and have begun working on them. This volume will be the tenth one to be reviewed and you can determine at any time in the future which of the 26 volumes have been reviewed: each one with an underlined title has been reviewed.
Why am I reviewing these volumes about education? I am certainly interested in education, having taken four post-graduate courses in the field and a lot of independent study of my own. But that's not the whole story: each set of Steiner's lectures I study contain mind-boggling concepts, one I have not encountered anywhere before. Take for example, Manifestations of Karma, which I recently reviewed. In it, I discovered that Steiner had created the equivalent of Einstein's Energy =Mass*c2 by sharing his insight which equates Soul and Love, which I dare to give as this equation: Love = Soul*c2. The expression c2 means the speed of light squared. The speed of light is a very large number, which, when multiplied by itself, becomes an enormous number.
Einstein came to understand that each tiny particle of Mass was an enormous amount of Energy compressed, I. e., there was no Mass as we understand a material particle but, instead, there were two forms of Energy: expanded energy (Energy) and compressed energy (Mass) and c2 was the ratio of their compression.
Steiner came to understand that each particle of Soul was an enormous amount of Love compressed, that what we understand as our Soul is an agglutination of an enormous amount of Love. It seems likely to me that ratio of Love to Soul is the same c2 factor which relates Energy to Mass. Compress Energy and you get Mass; compress Love and you get Soul. This allows us to understand why a baby born without receiving Love will invariably die, for the lack of nourishment for its Soul(1).
What I saw in these 17 lectures series on education was the possibility of further revelations by Steiner as he helped teachers in the Waldorf Schools to assimilate anthroposophy to assist them in facilitating the growth of their students into full human beings. If a teacher does not allow love to flourish in the lives of young children in their classrooms, how can they develop into soul-filled adults? And how can Steiner inspire educators to allow love to flourish unless he embodies love in his presentations to them. This point was expressed quite well in the Translators' Note on page ix as Lathe and Whittaker describe Rudolf Steiner as a "man filled with warmth for his audience, enthusiasm for his task and a clear sense of the urgency, even the desperation, of modern times." The translators strove to convey the impression that Steiner was speaking to a 1994 American audience, and "to find words that would ring true to the American ear as well as to the American eye." These two excellent writers went on to describe in their Introduction (page xi) the conditions of post-WWI Germany thus, "Shame slouched where pride once strode." Rudolf Steiner at the time was attempting to persuade the movers and shakers of the new Germany to evolve into a Threefold Society to instead of repeating the gross mistakes which led the people into the Great War. No one would listen to him, and finally he understood the reason: education, the lack of.
[page xii] He concluded that no one could hear him because the education people had been given left them unable to consider, and therefore unable to work with, anything not based on familiar routine.
Emil Molt, Director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company, was a student of Rudolf Steiner and wished for a reformation of German society after listening to Steiner speak in November 1918. After requests to do so by some of his workers, he resolved to form a school for his factory workers' children, and enlisted Steiner's help. Here was a way to develop ears for people to hear, develop people with ears and minds open to ideas for reforming society.
[page xiv] The goal of this education was that, through living inner work guided by the insights of Rudolf Steiner, the teachers would develop in the children such power of thought, such depth of feeling, such strength of will that they would emerge from their school years as full members of the Human Community, able to meet and transform the world.
In Herbert Hahn's Foreword, he leads us to see Emil Molt as a gallant surfer on the crest of the Great Wave of the Threefold Society who lands safely on the beach intent on forming a school which can create adults who could understand the principles which led Steiner to his threefolding concept. Hahn writes about what was important to Steiner:
[page 5] He did not see the renewal of pedagogy as one social reform among many. He saw it as the source of social renewal for the coming generations of young people.
We stand here almost a hundred years later and observe that Waldorf Schools are open and thriving, hundreds of them, all around the world. We can read in these lectures how Steiner approached the founding of the Waldorf school system, not by expressing empty phrases, but inspiring concerned educators to look beyond the empty phrase, that is, talk without content, to the needs of the growing children. He reminds us of the horrendous effects of the empty phrase which led the world into war. By empty phrase he seems to refer to the various diatribes hurled back and forth by various countries which eventually led to war. From a small beginning the battles grew as various treaties of support forced more and more countries into battle with each other until the battles grew into a World War.
[page 10, 11] And into this reign of the empty phrase has been woven the most terrible event that has occurred in world history — the horrible catastrophe of the war in the past years! Just think about how closely the empty phrase is connected with this catastrophe! Think about the role it has played, and you will arrive at a truly dismaying judgment about the reign of the empty phrase in our time.
Here's the empty phrase about education which Steiner focuses on, "What is important is not the subject matter, but the pupil." He regrets having to use the phrase, but he explains what he means by it. He definitely does not mean that we pour the subject into the minds of students, like one pours water from a pitcher into a glass. Instead we use the subject matter as a means of shaping the pupil. The subject matter is secondary to the primary goal of forming the will, feeling, and intellect of the pupil.
[page 11] We want to use the subject matter in our Waldorf School in such a way that at each stage of instruction it will serve to improve the human development of the pupil regarding the formation of the will, feeling and intellect, rather than serving to provide superficial knowledge. We should not offer each subject for the sole purpose of imparting knowledge. The teaching of a subject should become an art in the hands of the teachers. The way we treat a subject should enable the children to grow into life and fill their proper place.
Educators should not strive to put knowledge into children as one might put savings into a piggy bank, but rather they should strive to give children dancing lessons in life. Each child comes with a predisposition to a certain kind of dancing, of moving in and through their life, and the teacher's job is to encourage the child to find their tendencies and to express it in their life.
If we tell a story to our children before bedtime, they will have all sorts of feelings arise in them and we do best if we allow them to take these feelings to sleep with them. Steiner says we should avoid giving explanations after telling children stories, but rather we should allow them to take those feelings home with them.
[page 38] You destroy everything you want to achieve through telling the story by following it with interpretations. Children want to take stories in through feeling. Without outwardly showing it, they are dreadfully affected in their innermost being if they must listen afterwards to the often quite boring explanations.
If the teacher wishes to give helpful explanatory material, they do best if they give this material before the story.
[page 38] You must try to provide an explanation first. When you want to tell the children a story such as "The Wolf and the Lamb," simply speak with the children about the wolf's and the lamb's characteristics. (We could also apply this to plant life.) As much as possible, speak of these characteristics in relationship to people. Gather everything that you feel will help the children form pictures and feelings that will then resonate when you read the story. If, in an exciting preliminary talk, you offer what you would give afterward as an explanation, then you do not kill the sensations as you would in giving that explanation afterward. On the contrary, you enliven them. If the children have first heard what the teacher has to say about the wolf and the lamb, then their sensations will be all the more lively, and they will have all the more delight in the story.
Each individual child will leave for home having had different reactions to the story which will live inside of them. Giving explanations after telling the story squelches the feelings, the delight, and all the various sensations, replacing them with some abstract explanation. This is a disservice to the children and quite the opposition of education, the very essence of which is educare — to draw out of the children their individuals feelings, reactions, and understandings.
[page 38, 39 italics added] When they hear the story, you must bring them to the heights of their souls for them to understand it. This process must conclude in reading the story, telling the tale, doing nothing more than allowing the children's sensations, already evoked, to take their course. You must allow the children to take their feelings home.
Anthroposophy is the study of the full human being, in body, soul, and spirit and part of that study brings us to understand that the human being has aspects of every animal inside. As humans evolved, we went through the stage of animal evolution during the Moon epoch, we went through the stage of animal evolution during the Sun epoch, and this knowledge can best be imparted to children not as abstract statements, but in a very practical way.
[page 39] Particularly in the study of nature, we should not begin with the idea of nature as something external to humans, but always begin with humanity itself; we should always put people in the center.
When dealing with lower animals, such as the squid, how can we keep the human as the center of the child's focus? Well, children are human beings, so if we say the squid is all head, the children can relate to that, as each one of them has a head.
[page 40] Let's say that we give the child the chance to see a squid. Then, always using the appropriate terms, we go on to show with which parts of the ideal human the squid is most closely related. The child can quickly understand that the squid is most closely related to the human head. It is in reality so: the lower animals have only simple forms, but the human head repeats the forms that find their simplest expression in the lower animals. The human head is only endowed in a more complicated way than the lower animals. What we find in the higher animals, for example, mammals, can only be compared with what we find in the human torso. We should not compare the higher animals with the human head, but with the torso. If we go on to the human limbs, then we must say, "Look at the human limbs; in their form they are uniquely human. The way the arms and hands are formed -- as appendages to the body in which the soul-spirit in us can move freely — such a pair of limbs is not found anywhere in the entire animal kingdom!" If we speak of the monkey's four hands, this is really an improper manner of speaking since their nature is to serve in holding, in moving the body along. In the human we see a remarkable differentiation of the hands and feet, the arms and legs. What makes a human really a human? Certainly not the head; it is only a more perfect form of what we find already in the lower animals. What we find in the lower animals is further developed in the human head. What makes a human, human, what puts the human far above the animal world, are the limbs.
Each teacher must find ways of bringing these things to their children so that they can learn over time about animals by relating them to corresponding parts and functions of human beings. The human being is already known intimately by the child through its own experience. It also achieves a moral goal by balancing the importance of the heads and the limbs of humans.
[page 40, 41] Our present moral culture is so often spoiled because people are so proud and arrogant concerning the head. Whereas, people could be proud of their limbs that serve to work, that serve to put them in the world of social order.
If you give good definitions to children, they will hold those definitions, and since definitions are by nature stiff, the children will grow up into stiff adults. If you say something to a stiff adult, you are likely to get this response back, "I know that!" What they really know is some definition they accepted as a child which they deem as sufficient for the rest of their life. Ask such a child what a lion is and they will give you a definition of a lion they heard from some so-called teacher. They think they know what a lion is, but all they know is a stiff, lifeless definition of a lion. What children need more than stiff definitions are unanswered questions, good questions about possibilities, good questions which will live inside of them and find answers later in life, good answers which will live inside of them. A question such as this, "Why does a lion lie down for a long time after a meal?" Humans don't need to do this, but lions do. Why is that so?
[page 47] If we want to bring ideas to a child, we will depict them from as many points of view as possible. We will not say, "What is a lion? A lion is such and such." Rather, we will depict a lion from may different points of view — we will instill living, moving ideas that will then live with the child. In this regard, modern education does much damage.
Alfred Korzybski famously wrote, "The map is not the territory." After spending a year studying his Science and Sanity, I was still holding that sentence as an unanswered question, and in the forty years since, it still brings life and understanding to me. Maps act as stiff definitions; they create stiff people who constantly stumble against hard realities because of their stiff definitions or maps. Per Holst who grew up in Norway told me that his Boy Scout handbook on map-reading said, "If the terrain differs from the map, believe the terrain." If your map says there's a level plain ahead of you and your eyes see a steep cliff alongside a fiord, do not step forward. Believe the terrain!
If you assume something to be true and act on that assumption, you are believing the map, and it may differ from the terrain drastically. Maps operate in so many ways in our lives that we are rarely aware of them, until something goes wrong. Steiner strove in his Waldorf School to instill in children the living ideas that help them to grow and prosper.
If you regulate the play of children, for example, you are applying a map, a goal, and then it is no longer play. Coerced play is not play.
[page 47, 48] There is today, for instance, so much nonsense concerning the importance of play in the education of children. In considering the importance of play, we often forget the most important thing, namely that if play is strongly regulated and children are made to direct their play toward a particular goal, then it is no longer play The essence of play is that it is free. If, however, you make play really play, as is necessary for instruction, then you will not fall prey to the foolish expression, "Instruction should be just a game." Then you will look for the essential in the rhythm that comes into the life of the child when you allow play and work to alternate.
One can only wonder how little focus parents have on the manual dexterity of their children. Fathers are the butt of many jokes in comic strips and most often because of some lack of manual dexterity. They destroy plumbing doing a simple J-trap replacement, they burn supper and order pizza, they fall off a roof putting up a satellite dish, etc, etc. In a comic strip this morning a father goes to set a mouse trap and we hear a loud snap! The son asks what his dad caught, and his mom answers, "His finger." I rarely find this funny because my father had a physical and manual dexterity that I absorbed. I have set many mouse traps and never caught my finger in one. Steiner helps me to understand that my choice of father for this lifetime gave me someone to teach me physical dexterity which led my own development of will.
[page 49] We can give children a foundation for directing the intellect toward the spirit only insofar as we practice a development of will, even if we develop it only as physical dexterity. That so few people today tend to direct the intellect toward the spirit can only be a consequence of the fact that the will was so incorrectly trained during childhood.
That so many comics portray fathers as inept in physical dexterity and therefore weak-willed is an indictment on our state-controlled school systems and a powerful incentive for parents to place their children in Waldorf Schools.
[page 49] You see how necessary it is in modern times that we come to a new understanding of humanity. This understanding can be the basis for a new way of educating, as much as this is possible within all the constraints that exist today. Because modern science does not comprehend these things, we must create something that leads in this direction through the Waldorf School.
Children today go to school in a hurry to get out, and then wonder what to do after they graduate. They miss the essence of the Commencement ceremony, whose name means that life outside of school is ready to commence, to begin. "But what are we to do, they think, without any teachers to tell us to do?" Few actually think that, but it would be an excellent unanswered question for new graduates to hold. No one has shaped such children to expect that learning to learn is a lifelong occupation, one which, if done poorly or not at all, can lead to a sad, empty, and unhappy life.
[page 50, 51] Think about the importance of what the teacher represent to the growing child. Basically, we people here on earth, if we are not to become petrified in one of the stages in our life, must continually learn from life. But, first we must learn to learn from life. Children must learn to learn from life in school so that, in later life, their dead ideas do not keep them from learning from life; so that, as adults, they are not petrified. What keeps eating at people today is that school gave them too little. Those who see through our deplorable social conditions know that they are largely connected with what I have just described. People do not have that inner hold on life that can come only when the right material is taught at the right time in school. Life remains closed if school does not give us the strength to open it. This is only possible if, in the early school years the teacher is the representation of life itself. . . . Children meet life through the teacher. The teacher stands before the child as, later, life stands there. Life must be concentrated in the teacher.
The word Liberal, which referred to a supporter of free trade, limited government, and unencumbered individual freedom, has come to mean the opposite of its original meaning. Isn't there a truth-in-meaning law that some Liberal would support? Things haven't changed in a hundred years, have they?
[page 54] Today, our antisocial life has come so far that people express opposites with the same words. That is what makes it so difficult to understand one another. Someone who truly thinks socially, thinks very differently from modern people satisfied with the old traditions. In the same way, we must think fundamentally differently about teaching and education when we attempt to solve the educational social question in a particular instance. We must think differently from those who believe we can base this change on their traditional educational methods. Truly, today we must think and perceive more thoroughly than many believe. In addition, we must be clear that we cannot create something new out of the old educational and scientific methods; education and science must themselves change.
Can education improve if it remains in the grip of natural science? Education as we've known it for centuries is based on natural science, a materialistic science which ignores the living capabilities of human beings. These educators treat individual humans as if they were molecules in a chemical solution: each one completely identical with no individual characteristics. Education that is based on natural science tends to treat children like identical molecules, separating them only by general characteristics, grade level, sex, IQs, etc, in other words, as things that can be tested for and graded, like the quality of ball bearings from a factory. These educators are taught what the essence of natural science dictates. Waldorf teachers are held to a higher standard: they are to look for the essence of humanity in each child.
[page 55] Our new teachers also must carry another conviction in their souls, namely, that from the time children enter school we may teach them only what the essence of humanity dictates. In this sense we want to found a unified school in the truest sense of the word. All we want to know in the growing child is the developing human being. We want to learn from the nature of the developing child how children want to develop themselves as human beings, that is, how their nature, how their essence should develop to become truly human.
Don't all educators consider the distinct personalities of the children? Sure, about the same way chemists consider the distinctive properties, e.g., of ammonium nitrate and calcium carbonate molecules. They treat all the molecules of a given chemical alike and want to identify equivalent distinctive properties of children via testing so they can treat them as groups rather than individuals.
[page 55] "That is just what we also want," the old teachers and educators of teachers tell us. "We have always tried to teach people, to consider, for example, the distinct personalities of the children."
Yes, we must reply, you have striven to train children to be what you perceived human beings to be, the kind of people you thought were necessary for the old political and economic life. We cannot do anything with this idea of 'human beings"; and the future of humanity will not know what to do with it nor want to know.
And where did the old teachers and educators of teachers learn how to deal with children? They got it from the swollen morass of academic asses over the centuries before Steiner's time. Their maps are no longer useful for modern times.
[page 56] The first thing needed for the educational system of the future is a new understanding of humanity. The understanding of humanity that has swollen up out of the morass of materialism in the last centuries and has been dressed up in our higher schools of learning as the basis of human nature cannot be the basis of the art of education in the future.
We need a GPS locator for every individual child, not a Handbook of Properties such as chemists and physicists use, whose values have hardly changed for centuries. The teacher becomes the GPS locator, not pinpointing longitude and latitude of each child, but the predominate mixture of temperaments of each child.
Over the past centuries until today, educators strove to develop the thinking of their students and students were left alone to develop their feeling and willing. What is needed is focus and implementation of all three aspects of the full human being, and it must start at the earliest grade level.
[page 56] Today we study the true essence of human thought, so we can train the child in the right kind of thinking. We study the true basis of real human feeling, so that in the genuinely social community people bring forth justice based upon true human feeling. We study the essence of human will, so that this human will can embrace and permeate the newly formed economic life of the future. We do not study people in a materialistic, one-sided way; we study the body, soul, and spirit of the human being, so that our teachers can train the body, soul and spirit of human beings.
What can be the difference between two teachers if they both have the same academic training? All the difference in the world. One teacher can approach the job mechanically and make no connection with the children. The other teacher can communicate the lesson wordlessly while engaging the children's rapt attention.
[page 60] What makes such a difference? The teacher who makes such an adverse impression on the children goes into the school only to, as the saying goes, earn a living — in order to live. That teacher has acquired the superficial ability to drill the children, but goes just as unwillingly to school as the children and is just as happy when school ends. That teacher does the job mechanically.
What the first teacher communicates wordlessly is their own dislike for being in school and the students absorb that quickly. The other teacher creates a lesson plan to ensure their understanding of the material, and that understanding flows wordlessly into their students as the teachers shares the material with them(2).
From dead science can only come dead lecturing — that's what Steiner says in this next passage. The best way to enliven a lecture is to educator teachers from an early age in Waldorf schools. Steiner was faced with a bootstrap problem. How to create Waldorf teachers from adults not schooled in a Waldorf school? By a combination of astute selection and intensive training he quickly gathered adept teachers for the initial Waldorf school. This book contains some of the initial lectures he gave to Waldorf teachers as part of this bootstrap endeavor.
[page 60] I am not surprised that the majority of today's teachers view their work mechanically. Their understanding of humanity comes from the dead science that has arisen out of the industrial statist and capitalist life of the past three or four centuries. That science has resulted in a dead art of education, at best a wistful form of education. We are striving for the understanding of humanity that we need to create the art of teaching in the Waldorf School. This vision of humanity, this understanding of humanity, so penetrates the human being that of itself it generates enthusiasm, inspiration, love. Our aim is that the understanding of humanity that enters our heads should saturate our actions and feelings as well. Real science is not just the dead knowledge so often taught today, but a knowledge that fills a person with love for the subject of that knowledge.
In my grade school education in public school during th mid-1940s, we had no art classes. Maybe some colored crayons and a coloring books of pre-drawn figures to fill in, but nothing that would constitute true art as an expression coming out of me. What I did was fill in the dead lecture time with surreptitious drawings, doodling in the pages of my notebook while I pretended to be paying attention. Yes, I paid attention to stuff I heard that was new to me, but that took only about 20% of my time as best I can recall. One activity I did a lot was to scribble a continuous line down the margin of a page with lots of angles and shapes. Then I would look for faces in a short portion of the scribbled line and draw out the face. Often I'd end with 7 to 10 different faces on that line. I didn't know that by my doodling I was building up my will power, up until now.
The North American Indians did not have a written language before the white settlers came to their continent. Seeing the whites's writings, they saw a lot of "little devils" all lined up on a page. Our Native Americans had a very strong will power, and they sensed intuitively that the little devils were destructive to the will power of the whites.
[page 61] Our children will learn to read and write from life itself. This is our intention. We will not pedantically force them to write letters that for every child at first seem all the same. They need not learn it as an abstract thing, as letters were for the North American Indians when the Europeans came. It is true, isn't it? The Europeans destroyed the North American Indians down to the root. One of the last chiefs of the North American Indian tribes destroyed by the Europeans tells that the white man, the paleface, came to put the dark man and all he stood for under the earth. "The dark man had certain advantages over the palefaces," the chief then continued; "he did not have the little devils on paper."
By showing children how writing comes from drawing, they will learn quickly and grow up as strong-willed adults.
[page 63] These people will have learned to think; these people will have learned to correctly feel; and these people will have learned to properly use their will. . . . We should make the child a true person.
Free education is an empty phrase, Steiner says. My basic motto is that anything you get free is worth less than you paid for it. There is always a cost, not matter how well hidden in taxes, via inflation, or by outright fraud. To say something is free, rightly understood, is a fraud, i.e., "without a basis in reality". We cannot provide education without cost. If anyone thought it was possible, Steiner asked how:
[page 64] I would like to know how we can, in fact, do this. We just deceive ourselves, since we must pay for education. It cannot be free of cost — that is only "possible" through the deception of taxes or such things. We make up such phrases, which do no have any basis in reality.
A week before opening the first Waldorf school, Steiner said two things could happen: 1) Resistance could prevent the Emil Molt ideas from being implemented and the school would disintegrate. 2) The ideals could become customary and people will say, "Something really practical was put into the world!" (Page 69) Lucky for the 21st Century the second of these came to pass and Waldorf Schools are found all over the world.
Steiner's earnest prayer has come to fruition and is growing every year.
[page 69] May it prosper! May it thrive, so that those who see this blossoming decide to do that same in many different place. Of course, only when, and may it be as soon as possible, the same takes place out of the same spirit in many place, only then can what should come out of the Waldorf School come out of it. Then soon many more will follow. The free spirit will rule and a free social training and educational system will spread over the civilized earth.
Steiner says we each have certain capacities for spiritual knowledge sleeping in us. (Page 76) If this is the case, those capacities must have been active in us previously or else how could they be sleeping now? And if they're sleeping, it must be possible for them to be awakened, makes sense? What are these three stages?
[page 76] If vou look at my book How To Know Higher Worlds, you will see that I describe those stages of supersensible knowledge that people can attain through the development of certain capacities sleeping within them: 1) the Imaginative stage of knowledge, 2) the stage of Inspiration and 3) the stage of true Intuition(3).
How did these capacities first appear in humans and why did they later go to sleep? These first appear as growth forces in humans between birth and the age of 21, and afterward they will sleep unless we consciously awaken them. The highest stage, that of Intuition, is at work in babies until 7, the age of teeth change. During this time, children are very intuitive and imitate whatever happens around them. After seven, children will be inspired by and follow the orders of their adult caregivers. After 14, the onset of sexual maturity, young adults will imagine doing things out of their own power and judgment, often resisting adult authorities during their teenage years. These three stages of growth forces are crucial for development into an adult, and thereafter they become latent forces for further spiritual growth such as the development of supersensory perception as Steiner outlines in How to Know Higher Worlds.
[page 77, 78] These forces really exist. The forces that in a certain sense cause the crystallization of the second set of teeth out of human nature, a meaningful conclusion to the stage of human development ending at age seven, really exist. The forces that work mysteriously on that part of human beings that is connected with growth and the unfolding of human nature until age fourteen really exist. These forces are real; they are active. But after the completion of physical development (around the age of twenty), where are these inner spiritual forces that have acted upon our physical form? They still exist; they are still there. These inner forces fall asleep, just as the forces we use in our everyday life, our everyday work from waking to sleeping, fall asleep and become dormant while we sleep. The forces of human nature that blazed during childhood and youth, the forces that fired the developmental changes that transform children into adults, and everything connected with these changes, fall asleep around the age of twenty. Those who look at the whole human being know that at the very moment when human beings reach this point, the forces that acted in the child, in the youth, step back into the innermost part of human nature. These forces go to sleep.
These are three levels of bootstrap forces which raise mere living matter into a human being. Having completed three growth functions, they lie dormant until a given individual calls upon them. Why is this so? It is a safety mechanism, basically. Similar to a parent not allowing an eleven-year-old boy to drive a high-powered Ferrari! There no shortcuts to growing up. Likewise there are no shortcuts to spiritual knowledge. Those who seek shortcuts to spiritual growth, by taking LSD or other mind-altering substances, will endanger themselves and others, just as a small boy driving a Ferrari at high speed on a city street. Steiner says on page 78, "The forces we use until the age of twenty-one for growing and forming the inner organs become inflexible, just critical intellect." In other words, when a force stops working as a growth force for our inner organs, it turns into an inflexible, merely critical intellect, but at age 21, it becomes available as an inner force of spiritual perception. This happens in three stages.
The first is Imagination, second is Inspiration, and third is Intuition(4). Note how the stages develop in the reverse order in and adult from the order in which they appeared as growth forces in the pre-adult human being. Note how this is the teenager stage of growth force which goes to sleep after 21, but which can be re-activated consciously as an inner spiritual perception or supersensible knowledge.
[page 78, 79 Imagination] It becomes an imaginary inner force, a power of the soul, no longer so strong as it was earlier when it had to guide human formation. If we can find it sleeping in human nature, this power that once was a formative force but after the age of twenty no longer is, if we develop it so it exists with the same strength as before, then, acting now through love, it becomes Imaginative power. People attain a capacity to see the world not only through abstract concepts, but in pictures that are alive, just as dreams are alive, and that represent reality just as our abstract concepts do. The same force that previously acted upon the healthy developing human to form the capacity to love, can enable us to see such pictures of the world and to reach the first stage of supersensible knowledge. We can awaken this human capacity and plunge it deeper into our surroundings than normal thinking and normal sensing can go.
The second stage is Inspiration. The growth forces which became active from teeth-change-to-puberty become quiescent, go to sleep, after the age of 14. They can be resurrected consciously as the inner spiritual perception of Inspiration after 21.
[page 79] Then we can go further, since the forces that cause the important formative changes from approximately seven years of age, from the change of teeth, until sexual maturity, are also sleeping in us. These forces sleep deeper under the surface of normal soul life than the forces I just characterized as Imaginative. When we reawaken these idle formative capacities, when we call these spiritual powers out of their sleep, they become the forces of Inspiration. These teach us that Imaginative pictures are filled with spiritual content, that these pictures, which appear to be dreams but really are not, reflect a spiritual reality that exists in our surroundings, outside ourselves.
The third stage is Intuition. These are the deepest, most unconscious forces of growth from birth until teeth change, after which it goes quiescent, sleeping until called into action by the adult human as supersensible knowledge after age 21.
[page 79]These formative forces that were active in the first years of life have withdrawn themselves most deeply from external life. If we bring them forth again in later life and imbue them with Imagination and Inspiration, we will then have the Intuitive powers of supersensible knowledge. These are the powers that enable us to delve into the reality of the spiritual world in the same way that we can delve into the physical world through the senses and the will usually associated with the body.
With these three powers, an adult human being is able to gain access to the supersensible world using the most normal of all forces: the growth forces from birth to twenty-one. Yes, all three of these forces become dormant after age 21 when their growth functions are completed, but they can be re-activated to allow the spiritual world to open up to us in a safe, completely conscious fashion.
Should we discard our sense-perceptual understanding of human beings and adopt a supersensible understanding? No, we shouldn't. Steiner emphasizes this as he helps Waldorf schools develop a living pedagogy to supplement the abstract-logical pedagogy which came down to us over the past centuries.
[page 84] This supersensible perception of human beings does not at all ignore sense-perceptible understanding — it takes it fully into account. The sense-perceptible view of human beings, with all its understanding of anatomy, physiology, and so forth, treats people as an abstraction. Supersensible perception adds the spirit-soul element, while at the same time taking sense-perceptible knowledge fully into account. It observes the whole person, with emphasis upon the development of the whole person.
[page 86] Think about it for a moment. Consider how close the sources of pedagogical art are to what grows in the child when supersensible knowledge controls and directs what the teacher brings to the child! We should not search for new abstract ideas nor clever new rules in what we refer to as social pedagogical effectiveness. What we should search for is that the living should replace the dead, the concrete should replace the abstract.
Holding an unanswered question(5) can be a fruitful source of understandings over time. The person who replies to some new source of knowledge with a perfunctory, "I know that!", has little chance of acquiring new understandings. They aimlessly become a person of whom one can say after their death, "They spent their life perfecting their faults." How can teachers avoid stultifying their pupils? Teach them things which will stretch their understanding instead of fit neatly inside what they already know.
[page 88] Now, if you only teach children what they can understand, then you neglect what can be the most beautiful thing in human life. If you always want to stoop to the level of what the children can already comprehend, then you do not know what it means later in life, perhaps at the age of thirty or thirty-five, to look back upon what you were taught in school. You do not understand what it means to have been taught something that you did not fully comprehend because you were not yet mature enough. But it comes up again. Now you notice that you are more mature, because you now understand it. Such a re-living of what has been taught forms the real connection between the time in school and the whole rest of life. It is immensely valuable to hear much in school that we cannot fully comprehend until we re-experience it later in life. We rob the children of this possibility when, with banal instruction, we stoop to the level of the child's understanding.
Spiritual science, rightly understood, is not abstract, but something that enters directly into living humans. It is the basis upon which Waldorf schools have been formed, a basis in truly practical life. (Page 95) Steiner closes Lecture 4 with this set of axioms, each of which should fill an reasonable person with one or more unanswered questions (Page 98):
1) Seek the truly practical material life, but seek it such that it does not numb you to the Spirit working in it.
2) Seek the Spirit, but seek it not in supersensible lust, out of supersensible egotism; seek it because you want to become selfless in practical life, selfless in the material world.
3) Turn to the old maxim: Never Spirit without matter, never matter without Spirit!
And he adds:
[page 98] Do this so that you can say, "We want to perform all material deeds in the light of the Spirit, and we want to seek the light of the Spirit in such a way that it develops warmth within us for our practical deeds."
At the turn of the twentieth century, a spate of spirit channels appeared and became very popular, offering all kinds of advice and insight from the spiritual world. Steiner eschews such advice, calling it a "final decadent outstreaming of a desire for an abstract spiritual life." Note that he was referring to the kind of spiritualism popular in the beginning of the twentieth century, characterized by table-tipping, seances, and sleeping prophets like Edgar Casey, etal. These fell out of fashion by mid-century, only to be replaced by the very popular Seth, Ramtha, Lazaris, etal in the 1980s, who remain mostly as memories in the twenty-first century.
[page 105] The science of the spirit cannot speak of a spirit that partakes of guest appearances that have nothing to do with external reality, and are called forth simply to convince passive people that spirit exists. The science of the spirit cannot speak of such a spirit. Spiritual science can speak only of the spirit that in truth participates in every material effect and every material event. It speaks of the spirit with which people can connect themselves in order to master external reality.
On page 106 Steiner gives us a story of a young girl who limped regardless of how people tried to get rid of the limping. He says, "The reason the child limped was that she had an older sibling who, due to a diseased leg, actually had cause to limp!" She limped because between birth and seven she imitated the way her sibling walked. Much of what passes as pedagogy today evolved over the centuries by imitating a limping pedagogy based solely on physical science. A modern pedagogy must be based on spiritual science and physical science. The Waldorf school system is bringing a new pedagogy which will overcome the absurdities of the old pedagogy, much as modern science since Copernicus and Galileo has overcome the absurdities of the earlier sciences of astronomy and mechanics.[page 116] In the same way, the knowledge of the three stages of life, their basic forces and their transformation into Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition through spiritual science will become a matter of course.
Steiner was never hypnotized by the masses's cry for bread during his time; he saw it rightly as a cry for spirit.
[page 122, 123] We have to see through the cry for bread, to see that it is nothing other than a modern cry for the spirit. Only out of an understanding of the true spirit can come the social strength of will that can properly provide tools for bread production. The point is not to cry for programs, but to turn rightly to human faculties, to turn to the strength of human activity. That means to correctly understand people, so that hey find their proper place in life and can work in the most efficient way to feed their families, to work for the whole life of their fellow human beings.
Rightly understood, this would require the implementation of Steiner's 3-fold society, but as he and Emil Molt realized, there was a dire need for spiritually-based education before such three-foldness would be accepted and implemented in society.
For over forty years now, I have disliked wax fruit and wondered why. During a visit to a friend's house in California, I admired how his wife kept fresh fruit in a bowl in their kitchen. I returned with a resolve to do the same thing in our kitchen. I found a beautiful Portofino Pear bowl which has become our fruit bowl ever since. It requires tending on a weekly basis, but it repays my attention by its natural beauty and its constant availability of fresh, live fruit to eat and use in salads and desserts. In a humorous fashion, Steiner explains my own dislike for wax fruit.
[page 126, edited] An outrageously inept thing often occurs that is the expression of bad taste. You show someone, let's say, an apple that you find particularly pleasing, beautifully polished, and so forth. Then, they say, "It's as pretty as if it were made out of wax!" It's impossible to think of something more outrageously inept than when someone compares something from nature with an artificial thing, regardless of how good this artificial thing is!
Steiner was pointing out that an imitation of nature can never be real art. The map (wax apple) cannot reach or exceed the territory (real apple). Art that claims to be lifelike fails to reach the status of true art. And a pedagogy which claims to follow a hide-bound tradition fails to reach the level of a living pedagogy for human beings.
[page 128] You must understand what it means not to practice a learned pedagogy from memory, but to invent at each moment the individual methods that this child needs.
Art without creativity is kitsch; it is not effective in inspiring awe in an art lover. Similarly, a pedagogy without creativity cannot reach the living human being. A teacher must "invent at each moment the individual methods that this child needs." (Page 128)
If you have ever been present at a lecture in which the speaker reads entirely from notes, you might have been reminded of a wax apple which promised more than it delivered in your presence. What gives life to a speaker's words is the immediacy, the unexpected, the thrill of discovery by the speaker of the right metaphor, the right words to express ideas in a living fashion.
Many people present at Steiner's lectures have commented that he seems always to shape his lectures to the wants and needs of those present, as if he sensed their unanswered questions and found a way to include an answer to them in the course of his already planned lecturers. The best examples of Steiner doing this in the series of "From . . . to . . ." lectures he gave to workers at the Goetheanum in Dornach(6).
[page 128] There have been times, and probably still will be, when I have lectured on the same theme week after week. I do not think anyone can say that I have ever spoken about the same theme in the same way. When you speak from the spirit, your concern is to create something immediate. It is not at all possible in the normal sense to memorize what comes from the spirit, because it must continuously develop in direct contact with life.
Memorized speeches are map; extemporaneous speeches are territory, as unique as a real apple appears next to a wax apple.
[page 128, 129] The true spirit must at all times be a creator. In the same way, education carried by the spirit must be a continuously creative art.
There will be no blessing upon our elementary schools, and there will also be no healing in our school systems, until education becomes a continuously living, creating art, carried by true love and those intangibles of which I have spoken.
We begin to comprehend why the centuries-old pedagogy which fills our non-Waldorf schools fails to meet the needs of our students and creates adults who so often live stilted, loveless lives and work in equally dismal work environments.
[page 131] . . . because the unifying spirit is something concretely alive, we cannot understand it by encompassing it with abstract concepts, with ideology. We must resolve to seek the living spirit. We can only seek it, though, if, with a certain intellectual modesty, we find the bridge between the sleeping inner human forces that are of a spiritual nature and the spirit that lives in nature, in human life, in the whole cosmos.
The eye cannot see itself except by reflection. These seem like a tautology, but rarely do we use the eye to see itself; most of the time we ignore its presence so long as it is working normally. Our human self is that way when it comes to the methods of natural science, we forget ourselves in the scientific method and along with it we forget everything connected with human life. One example of this came to my mind in studying the process of digestion. Steiner explains that food we digest must be converted into living nutrients before it can enter the blood stream or else it will act as a poison(7). Has anyone ever told you that you poison yourself when you eat and that your body undertakes to change the dead chemicals of your food into living nutrients before it can process the nourishment you need without killing you? Kind of an important insight, don't you think? But the typical doctor or medical researcher is oblivious of this, so far as I know, always assuming that chemicals are chemicals, always dead substances that one can analyze the constituents of with a mass spectrometer.
It would likely shock these highly trained medical personnel if we told them that they knew as much about human beings as a five-year-old child can know about the world from reading Goethe's lyrical poetry. The child may be able to read all the words and still make no sense of the realities Goethe is writing about.
[page] 134] Suppose we put a book of Goethe's lyrical poetry in the hands of a five-year-old child. This book of Goethe's poems contains a whole world. The child will take the book in hand and play around with it, but will not perceive anything that actually speaks to people from this volume. However, we can develop the child, that is, we can develop the soul powers sleeping in the child, so that in ten or twelve years the child can really take from the volume what it contains.
Why does Steiner tell us this story? Because it would take a similar amount of training for average medical professionals of our day to come to understand the spiritual processes of the human being which are otherwise as transparent to them as our eyes are to us. Like any 21-year-old, these professionals have powers sleeping within them which they can awaken, if they will take over their own development.
[page 134, 135] We need this attitude if we are to find our way to the science of the spirit. We must be able to say to ourselves that even the most careful education of our intellect, of our methods of observation and experimentation, brings us only so far. From there on, we can take over our own development. From that stage on, we can develop the previously sleeping forces ourselves. Then we will become aware that previously we stood in the same relationship to the external nature of our spirit-soul being, particularly the essence of our humanity, as the five-year-old child to the volume of Goethe's lyrical poetry. In essence and in principle, everything depends upon a decision for intellectual modesty, so that we can find our way to the science of the spirit.
Most medical professionals do not form a picture of their patient's body, soul, and spirit interweaving each other, but focus mostly on the body's functions and try not to upset the soul of their patient. To Steiner this is a skewed materialistic view of human life, one not suited to medical doctors or educators.
[page 136] Usually people observe the different manifestations of human life much too superficially, both physiologically and biologically. People do not form a picture of the whole human being in which the body, soul, and spirit intertwiningly affect one another. If you wish to teach and educate children as they need, you must form such a picture.
Why should children change dramatically at 7, 14, and 21? Isn't it said that Nature takes no leaps? Yes, but wrongly so. Look at the green leaves on a plant, one identical leaf after another, then suddenly the topmost leaf changes shape and color and becomes a flower! That's a dramatic leap! For a child, as dramatic as getting new teeth at age 7. Then, the multicolored flower develops a fruit containing the seeds of reproduction, another dramatic leap! For a new teenage, as dramatic as voice deepening in boys and menarche for girls, both signs that they are now able to reproduce. Yes, human life does undergo leaps at critical points in life. And a spiritual science inspired pedagogy will produce teachers who understand this as their pupils grow and mature through these stages. It is the reason which Waldorf teachers remain with a class over the first 8 grades: they get to observe these changes in each child and facilitate their passage into maturity. The Waldorf teacher approaches each child as a divine riddle to be solved at each hour, not as an empty bucket for knowledge to be poured into.
[page 154] This is the goal of spiritual science. It does not desire to be something foreign and distant from the world. It desires to be a leaven that can permeate all the capacities and tasks of life. It is with this attitude that I attempt to speak from spiritual science about the various areas of life and attempt to affect them. Also, do not attribute to arrogance what I have said today about the relationship of spiritual science to pedagogy. Rather, attribute it to an attitude rooted in the conviction that, particularly now, we must learn much about the spirit if we are to be spiritually effective in life. Attribute it to an attitude that desires to work in an honest and upright manner in the differing areas of life, that wishes to work in the most magnificent, the most noble, the most important area of life — in the teaching and shaping of human beings.
Surely there must be some rules for Waldorf teachers, you must be thinking. Yes, there is one: understand the rule through the specific case. The individual comes before the general rule and teachers learn how to apply that rule in a wise manner to foster the growth of the individual student.
[page 165] To guide educationally each individual child by interpreting general ideas, we must acquire, through a particular spiritual knowledge, an eye for what cannot be included as a specific case under a general rule — for that rule first must be understood through the specific case. Unlike the model of normal cognition, the spiritual knowledge meant here does not lead to a set of general ideas and to their utilization in specific cases. Rather it brings people to a certain condition of the soul, so that they may, through observation, experience the particular case in its individuality.
Reducing class size seems to be a goal of so many school systems, but paradoxically Waldorf schools are able to manage large class sizes while giving individual attention when required. Once a teacher has grouped a class so that the various temperaments are together, the rough edges of each temperament are smoothed out by rubbing against each other(8). The sanguine become less obstreperous among other sanguines, for example. But everything creating an involved and orderly class flows out from the teacher.
[page 167] The spiritual understanding reveals itself in the entire demeanor of the teacher. It will give character to each word, to everything done by the teacher. Under the guidance of the teacher, the children will become inwardly active. The teacher's general conduct will affect the children in such a way that they do not need to be forced into activity.
[page 170] Through a teacher who understands the soul, who understands people, the totality of social life affects the new generation struggling into life. People will emerge from this school fully prepared for life.
Spiritual science and pedagogy not only mix together, but they both prosper in each other's presence. Together they create teachers who understand human nature and inspire their pupils to do the same, while in school and later in life outside of school. What more can we ask of teachers than this?
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------Return to text directly before Footnote 1., 2 volumes: Volume 1, Volume 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1998).
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Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
These thee stages of supersensible knowledge and the spiritual growth forces in human beings are capitalized to distinguish them from the ordinary human processes we know as imagination, inspiration, and intuition.
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Footnote 8.Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
Read about the four temperaments: melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric as characteristics of pupils viewed in the Waldorf teacher's macroscope here in The Spiritual Ground of Education.
RUDOLF STEINER'S LECTURES
and WRITINGS ON EDUCATION
LEGEND: (TBA) indicates this review to be added later.
Underlined Title indicates Available Review: Click on Link to Read Review.
(NA) indicates the Book is NOT in Print presently, so far as we know.
I. Allgemeine Menschenkunde als Grundlage der Pädagogik: Pädagogischer Grundkurs, 14 lectures, Stuttgart, 1919 (GA 293). Previously Study of Man. The Foundations of Human Experience (Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
II. Erziehungskunst Methodische-Didaktisches, 14 lectures, Stuttgart, (GA 294). Practical Advice to Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 2000).
III. Erziehungskunst, 15 discussions, Stuttgart, 1919 (GA 295). Discussions with Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1997).
IV. Die Erziehungsfrage als soziale Frage, 6 lectures, Dornach, 1919 (GA 296). Previously Education as a Social Problem. Education as a Force for Social Change
(Anthroposophic Press, 1997).
V. Die Waldorf Schule und ihr Geist, 6 lectures, Stuttgart and Basel, 1919
(GA 297). The Spirit of the Waldorf School (Anthroposophic Press, 1995).
VI. Rudolf Steiner in der Waldorfschule, Vorträge und Ansprachen, 24 Lectures and conversations and one essay, Stuttgart, 1919-1924 (GA 298) Rudolf Steiner in the Waldorf School: Lectures and Conversations
(Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
VII. Geisteswissenschaftliche Sprachbetrachtungen, 6 lectures, Stuttgart, 1919
(GA 299). The Genius of Language (Anthroposophic Press, 1995).
VIII. Konferenzen mit den Lehrern der Freien Waldorfschule 1919-1924, 3 volumes
(GA 300a-c). Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
IX. Die Erneuerung der pädagogisch-didaktischen Kunst durch Geisteswissenschaft,
14 lectures, Basel, 1920 (GA 301). The Renewal of Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2001).
X. Menschenerkenntnis und Unterrichtsgestaltung, 8 lectures, Stuttgart, 1921
(GA 302). Previously The Supplementary Course: Upper School and Waldorf Education
for Adolescence. Education for Adolescents (Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
XI. Erziehung und Unterricht aus Menschenerkenntnis, 9 lectures, Stuttgart, 1920, 1922, 1923 (GA 302a). The first four lectures are in Balance in Teaching (Mercury Press, 1982); last three lectures in Deeper Insights into Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1988).
XII. Die gesunde Entwicklung des Menschenwesens, 16 lectures, Dornach, 1921-22
(GA 303). Soul Economy: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003).
XIII. Erziehungs- und Unterrichtsmethoden auf anthroposophischer Grundlage, 9 public lectures, various cities, 1921-22 (GA 304) Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995).
XIV. Anthroposophische Menschenkunde und Pädagogik, 9 public lectures, various cities, 1923-24 (GA 304a). Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
XV. Die geistigseelischen Grundkräfte der Erziehungskunst, 12 Lectures, 1 special lecture, Oxford, 1922 (GA 305). The Spiritual Ground of Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004).
XVI. Die pädagogische Praxis vom Gesichtspunkte geisteswissenschaftlicher Menschenerkenntnis, 8 lectures, Dornach, 1923 (GA 306) The Child's Changing Consciousness as the Basis of Pedagogical Practice (Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
XVII. Gegenwärtiges Geistesleben und Erziehung, 14 lectures, Ilkley, 1923
(GA 307) Two Titles: A Modern Art of Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004) and
Education and Modern Spiritual Life (Garber Publications, 1989).
XVIII. Die Methodik des Lehrens und die Lebensbedingungen des Erziehens, 5 lectures, Stuttgart, 1924 (GA 308). The Essentials of Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1997).
XIX. Anthroposophische Pädagogik und ihre Voraussetzungen, 5 lectures,
Bern, 1924 (GA 309) The Roots of Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1997).
XX. Der pädagogische Wert der Menschenerkenntnis und der Kulturwert der Pädagogik, 10 public lectures, Arnheim, 1924 (GA 310) Human Values in Education(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971).
XXI. Die Kunst des Erziehens aus dem Erfassen der Menschenwesenheit, 7 lectures, Torquay, 1924 (GA 311). The Kingdom of Childhood (Anthroposophic Press, 1995).
XXII. Geisteswissenschaftliche Impulse zur Entwicklung der Physik. Erster naturwissenschaftliche Kurs: Licht, Farbe, Ton — Masse, Elektrizität, Magnetismus
10 lectures, Stuttgart, 1919-20 (GA 320). The Light Course (Anthroposophic Press, 2001).
XXIII. (NA) Geisteswissenschaftliche Impulse zur Entwicklung der Physik. Zweiter naturwissenschaftliche Kurs: die Wärme auf der Grenze positiver und negativer Materialität, 14 lectures, Stuttgart, 1920 (GA 321). The Warmth Course (Mercury Press, 1988). This Mercury Press edition may still be in print.
XXIV. (NA) Das Verhältnis der verschiedenen naturwissenschaftlichen Gebiete zur Astronomie. Dritter naturwissenschaftliche Kurs: Himmelskunde in Beziehung zum Menschen und zur Menschenkunde, 18 lectures, Stuttgart, 1921 (GA 323). Available in typescript only as "The Relation of the Diverse Branches of Natural Science to Astronomy."
XXV. Six Lectures in Berlin, Cologne, and Nuremberg from 1906 to 1911, (Misc. GA's.) The Education of the Child — Early Lectures on Education (a collection; Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
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