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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

GA 307

Foreword by Marie Steiner

Schools where education is based on the principles laid down by Rudolf Steiner in no sense claim to be institutions representative of any particular philosophy or conception of the world. Their aim is to enable the child to develop and unfold in freedom. The child should live in an element of soul and spirit that is at once a support and help, instead of being allowed to sink into a spiritual void, finally emerging from school life wearied in soul and body. Those who teach must possess a conception of the world that enables them in renewed freshness to grapple with the problems of education and fills them with reverence and devotion so that they may help the child to overcome any hereditary failings and unfold the divine seed within him. A body of teachers borne onwards by these impulses can readjust individual shortcomings and correct the faults which are inevitably part of all human strivings.

This art of education is concerned with the possibilities latent in the whole being of man and reckons, at the same time, with the tendencies of modern life. At the central point stands the human being—no longer the boy or the man alone, no longer creed or class, but the human being. Our present age needs and is waiting for principles of education arising from the necessities of the times, free from all distinctions of class, sex and creed, conscious only of the demands which modern life imposes on us. Our social life needs a new impulse, but this can only arise as the fruit of past civilizations, as blossom from plant, and not from the forces of decay. Isolated reforms no longer avail in a cultural life that is self-destructive in its nature. A new orientation is necessary.

A religious deepening of the whole being is one of the essential tasks of education. Moral and religious qualities inhere in the child's life of feeling when he realizes that the bodily nature is everywhere a manifestation of the spiritual and that the spiritual is ever seeking to enter creatively into the body.

Living sympathies and antipathies for good and evil, delight in goodness, abhorrence of evil—these qualities, not precepts or injunctions, make the child a truly moral being. With the development of his sense of freedom and individual power of discrimination at the age of fifteen or sixteen, such feelings will then arise of themselves. He will be immune to outside influence and able to form his own free judgments. Conventional rules and regulations are of no avail. We must work, at the right age, on the child's life of feeling and perception—but not by way of dogma and mental concepts. Then no fetters will limit the individual power of judgment that emerges later. If the child has been educated in a wholly human sense, he will learn to feel and know his full manhood. His own free religious and moral sense will have been awakened. Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.