Spiritual Science and the Art of Education
27 November 1919, Basel
I count it a special honour to be able to speak among you on the connection between that spiritually scientific outlook on the world to which I have devoted my life's work, and the educational activity, to which your lives are devoted. Let me begin with two introductory remarks. The first is, that what I now intend to say to you will, of course, have to be clothed in apparently theoretic words and phrases, for the simple reason that words are necessary in order to set forth our thoughts. But I say expressly at the outset, that it is not meant theoretically. For I should speak on this present subject least of all, were it not for the fact that I have always devoted a part of my activity to practical educational work, and indeed to the whole educational culture of mankind. What I want to put forward is definitely intended in this sense: it is derived from actual practice.
The second thing I would like to observe by way of introduction is this: The Spiritual Science, which I am here representing, is itself very widely and vehemently controverted and attacked as yet. And for the very reason that I represent this Spiritual Science, I can understand it well, if many an objection is brought forward at this present stage to one or other of the things I have to say. For in effect, the method which is adopted by Spiritual Science is new and unaccustomed from the points of view that still hold sway in modern thought. But it may be that the very way in which we are endeavouring to make it a real force in life, endeavouring to introduce it in so eminently practical a sphere as mar -of education, will contribute something towards an understanding, a way of approach to Spiritual Science itself.
There is no sphere in life that lies remote from the activity and interests of education. To one who has to work as a teacher or educator, the human being is entrusted at an age when he may still develop into anything in the wide world. And only when the teacher, the educator, is imbued with the very warmest interest in the whole life and civilisation of humanity, only then can he pour forth all that is needed for the teaching, the education of the child.
In bringing forward the particular subject of Spiritual Science and Education, I have this special reason: At this very point of time. Spiritual Science is intended as an element of thought and spiritual culture, to unite and gather up again the diverse spiritual and intellectual interests of mankind which have drifted so far apart in recent centuries, particularly in the 19th century. Through Spiritual Science, it is possible to draw together again into a concrete conception of the universe, all those things that have become specialised, without however failing to meet the demands of expert and special knowledge.
And to-day there is a very real reason to consider the relation of the Spiritual Science here intended, to Education. For Education, too, has had its share of the overwhelming influence that modern Natural Science, with its attendant triumphs, has exercised on all human thought and activity. Applied as a method in the sphere of Natural Science itself, the natural-scientific way of thought has led to glorious results. But at the same time — far more so than the individual realises or is conscious of — this way of thought has gained influence on all our activities. And it has gained especial influence on that activity which I call the Art of Education. Now while in the nature of the case I cannot go into the foundations of Spiritual Science as such — which I have often done in lectures in this town — there is one thing I would like to point out by way of comparison. It concerns the peculiar relation of the natural-scientific method to human life.
Consider, for example, how' the human eye comes to be this miraculous instrument, whereby in a certain sphere of sense-perception we see the outer world. This wonderful' function is fulfilled by the human eye, inasmuch as its whole construction fits it to see the surrounding world, and — I speak by way of comparison — ever and always to forget itself in the act of seeing. I might put it in this way: We must entirely invert the observing point of view (which we can only do- approximately with external scientific methods), if we would investigate and really penetrate our instrument of external, sensely sight. In the very act of seeing, we can never at the same time look back into the nature of our eye.
We may apply this image to the natural-scientific method in its relation to life. The man of modern times has carefully and conscientiously developed the natural-scientific method, until, in its Natural Law's and scientific conceptions, it reflects a faithful and objective picture of the outer world. And in the process, man has so formed and moulded his underlying mood and attitude of soul, that in his scientific observation of the world he forgets his own human self; he forgets all those things that have direct and immediate connection with human life. So it has come about, that the more we have! developed in the sense of Natural Science, the less able have we become, with this our scientific method, to see the essence of Man himself, and all that has to do with Man.
Now Spiritual Science — working entirely in the Spirit of Natural Science, but in this very spirit transcending natural- scientific knowledge — Spiritual Science would add to Natural; Science, if I may put it so, that inversion of observation which leads back again to Man. This can only be accomplished by really entering on those processes of inner life which are described in my books on the attainment of higher knowledge, or more briefly indicated in the second part of my book on “Occult Science.” Those processes do actually carry man's soul-life beyond the sphere wherein it moves in ordinary life and thought, including even Natural Science. [See “The Way of Initiation” and its sequel “Initiation and its Results” (particulars on back cover of this booklet). Dr. Steiner's book, “An Outline of Occult Science” is, unfortunately, out of print at present.]
In order to find our way into the thought of Spiritual Science, we must needs have what I would call: Intellectual Modesty. Some time ago, in a public lecture in this town, I used a certain image to indicate what is needful in this respect. Consider a child of five. Suppose you place a volume of Goethe's poems in the child's hand. A whole world is contained within its pages. The child will take it in its hand, turn it this way and that, and perceive nothing of all that would speak to the human being from out this volume. But the child is capable of development; powers of soul are slumbering within the child; and in ten or twelve years it will really be able to draw from the book what lies within it. This is the attitude we need, if we are to find our way into the Spiritual Science of which I am speaking here. We must be able to say to ourselves: By developing his intellect, his method of observation and experiment ever so carefully, the human being is brought up to a certain stage and not beyond. From that stage onwards he must take his own development in hand; and then he will develop powers which were latent and slumbering before. Then he will become aware, how before this development he confronted external Nature (so far as its spiritual essence is concerned), and, most particularly, he confronted Man, as the five-year-old child confronts the book of Goethe's poetry. In essence and in principle, everything depends on our making up our minds to this attitude of intellectual modesty. It is the first thing that counts, if we would find our way into what I have here called “Spiritual Science.”
Through adopting special methods of thinking, feeling and willing — methods which aim at making our thought independent and at training our will — through making our life of thought and will ever more and more independent of the bodily instruments, we become able, as it were, to observe ourselves. We attain the faculty of observing the human being himself. And once we are able to observe the human being, then we can also observe the growing human being, the human being in process of becoming — and this is of extraordinary importance.
It is true that the spirit is much spoken of to-day; and independence of thought is spoken of as well. But Spiritual Science as we understand it cannot join this chorus. For, by a real development of inner life, it seeks the spiritual methods to grasp the spiritual reality in actual and concrete detail. It is not concerned with that spirit of which people 'talk in a vague and misty sense, which they think of as vaguely underlying all things. The Spiritual Science here intended enters into the spiritual being of man in detail. To-day we are to speak of the being of man in process of growth, development, becoming.
People will speak, it is true — in abstract and general terms, if I may put it so — of the human individuality and of its development. And they are rightly conscious that the educator, above all people, must reckon with the development of the human being as an individual. But I may draw your attention to the fact that educationalists of insight have clearly recognised, how little the natural-scientific development of modern times has enabled man to understand any real laws or stages in the evolution of the growing human being. I will give you two examples. The Vienna educationalist, Theodor Vogt, who was well-known m the last third of the 19th century, speaking from out of the reformed Herbartian conception that he represented, made the following remark. He said: In the science of history, in our conception of the historic life of mankind, we have by no means got so far, up to the present, as to recognise how mankind evolves. ... From the evolution of species, the Natural Scientist arrives at the embryological development of the individual human being. But we have no historic conception of humanity's evolution, from which, in this sense, we might deduce conceptions about the evolving child. — This view was repeated by the Jena educationalist, Rein. It culminates in the admission, that we do not yet possess any real methods of spiritual science, such as might enable us to indicate what really lies beneath the human being's development.
In effect, we must first awaken such faculties as those to which I have just alluded, and of the cultivation of which you may read in further detail in my books. Then only are we able to approach that riddle, which meets us with such wonder when we observe how from birth onwards something works itself out from within the human being, flowing into every gesture, working itself out most particularly through language, and through all the relations which the human being enters into with his environment. Nowadays the different types of human life are, as a rule, considered too externally, from points of view of external Physiology or Biology. They make themselves no picture of the whole human being, in whom that which is bodily, that which is of the soul, and that which is spiritual, are working inwardly together. Yet if we would sensibly educate and instruct a child, it is just such a picture of the child which we must make.
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Now one who, strengthened by the methods of Spiritual Science, observes the growing child, will discover, about that period of time when the change of teeth occurs — about the sixth ok; seventh year — a most significant break in the child's development. There is a constantly repeated proverb: “Nature makes no jumps.” Natura non facit saltus. That is true to a certain extent; but all these general ideas are after all one-sided. You can only penetrate their real truth, if you recognise them in their one-sidedness. For in effect Nature is continually making jumps. Take, for example, a growing plant. We can apply the proverb, “Nature makes no jumps.” Yet in the sense of Goethe's idea of metamorphosis we should have to say: “Although the green leaf of the plant is the same thing as the coloured petal, yet Nature makes a jump from the leaf to- the sepal of the calyx, from the sepal to the coloured petal, and again from the petal to the stamen.” We do not meet the reality of life if we abstractly apply the idea that Nature and Life make no jumps at all. And so it is especially in man. Man's life flows by without discontinuity, and yet, in the sense here indicated, there are discontinuities everywhere.
There is a significant break in the life of the child about the sixth or seventh year. Something enters the human organism, that penetrates it through and through. Of this, modern physiology has as yet no real conception. Outwardly, the change of teeth takes place; but something is also taking place in the spiritual and. soul-being of the child. Until this point of time, man is essentially an imitative being. His Constitution of soul and body is such that he gives himself up entirely to his surroundings. He feels his way into his surroundings; from the very centre of his will his development is such, that the lines of force, and rays of force, of his will are exactly modelled on that which is taking place in his environment. Far more important than all that we bring to the child, in this age of life, by way of admonition and correction, is the way in which we ourselves behave in the child's presence.
In real life, the intangible, imponderable elements are far more effective than what we observe externally and clearly. So it is with regard to the child's impulse to imitate. It is not only tin- gross external behaviour of the human being that matters. In every tone of voice, in every gesture, in everything the educator does in the child's presence during this period of life, lies something to which the child adapts itself.
Far more than we know, we human beings are the external impress of our thoughts. We pay little heed, in ordinary life, to the way we move our hand. Yet the way we move our hand is a faithful expression of the peculiar constitution of our soul, of the whole mood and attunement of our inner life. In the developed- soul-life of the grown-up human being, little attention is paid to the connection between the stride of the legs, the gesture of the hands, the expression of the face, and that which lies, within the soul as a deep impulse of wi)I and feeling. But the child lives its way right into these imponderable things of life. It. is no exaggeration to say: If a man most inwardly endeavours to be a good man in the presence of a child before the age of seven; if he endeavours to be sound in every way, if he conscientiously resolves to make no allowances for himself even in his inner life, in thoughts and feelings that he does not outwardly express — then, through the intangible, imponderable things of life, he works most powerfully upon the child.
In this connection there are many things still to be observed, things which, if I may so express myself, “lie between the lines.” We have become enmeshed in a more materialistic way of life, especially as regards life's more intimate and finer aspects. And so we have grown accustomed to pay little attention to these things. Yet it is only when they are rightly observed and estimated once again, that a certain impulse will enter into our educational thought and practice — an impulse that is very badly needed, especially in an age which claims to be a social age, an age of social thought.
There are certain experiences in life, which we cannot rightly estimate unless we take into account these real observations of the soul- and spiritual-life within the human being. I am referring to actual facts of experience. For instance, a father comes to you in some consternation and says: “What am I to do? My child has been stealing.” It is of course very natural for the father to be concerned about it.
But now you look into the matter more closely. You ask,
How did it happen?
The child simply went to the drawer and took out some money.
What did the child do with the money?
Well, it bought some sweets for its playmates.
Then it did not even steal for selfish reasons?
And so at length you are able to say: “Now look, the child did not steal at all. There is no question of its having stolen. Day after day the child saw its mother go to the drawer and take, out money. It thought that was the right thing to do and imitated it. The child's action was simply the outcome of the impulse which is predominant in this early age — the impulse to imitation.” Bearing in mind that this imitative impulse is the most powerful force in this first stage of childhood, we may guide the child rightly in this sense. We may direct its attention to actions, whose influence will be powerful at this stage and permanent in its effect. And rye must be fully aware that at this period of the child's life exhortations and admonitions are as yet of no assistance. It is only what works on the will, that really helps.
Now this peculiar constitution of the human being lasts until the point of time when that remarkable period, is reached physiologically — when, if I may put it so, the hardening principle makes its final onset and crystallises the permanent teeth from out of the human organism. To look into that process by the methods of Spiritual Science and see what lies beneath it. in the growing organism when this final period is reached, when the change of teeth takes place, is extraordinarily interesting. But it is still more important to follow what I just now described, namely, the spiritual psychical development that goes parallel with this Organic change, and that still takes its start from imitation.
About the seventh year a very distinct change begins to make itself felt in the spiritual and soul-nature of the child. With this change a new faculty bursts in upon the young child, a faculty of reacting to different things. Previously the eye was intent to imitate, the ear was intent to imitate. But now the child begins to listen to what goes out from grown up people as expressions of opinions, judgments, and points of view. The impulse to imitate becomes transformed into devotion to authority. Now I know that many people to-day will particularly disapprove if we emphasise the principle of authority as an important factor in education. Nevertheless, if one is out to represent the facts with open mind and serious purpose, one cannot go by programmes nor by catchwords; one must be guided simply and solely by empirical knowledge, by experience. And it must be observed how much it means for a child, to be guided by a teacher or educator, man or woman, to whom the child looks up with reverence, who becomes for the child a natural and accepted authority. It is of the very greatest significance for the growth of the human being, that at this age he will accept this or that thought as his own, because it is the thought of the grown-up man or woman whom he reveres; that he will live into a certain way of feeling, because it is their way of feeling, because in effect there is a real growing together between the young developing human being and the mature one. We should only know how much it means for the whole after life of man, if in this period of life — between the change of teeth about the sixth or seventh year, and that last great change that comes at the time of puberty in the fourteenth or fifteenth year — he had the good fortune (I use this word deliberately) to be really able to give himself up to a natural and accepted authority.
But we must not stop at the abstract generalisation; we must enter more deeply into this most important period of life — the period which begins about the sixth or seventh year and ends with puberty. The child is now taken from its home — educated or spoilt through the principle of imitation — and handed over to the school. The most important things for after life are to be done with the child during this time. Here indeed it is right to say, that not only every year but every month in the child's development should be penetrated and investigated with diligent care by the teacher or the educator. Not only in general terms — but as well as may be, even in teaching large numbers at a time, each succeeding month and year should thus be studied and observed in every individual child's development. As the child enters school, and until about the ninth year, we see the imitative impulse still working on alongside the impulse of devotion to authority, which is already making itself felt. And if we can rightly observe the working together of these two fundamental forces in the evolving human being, I hen the full and living result of such observation will provide the true basis for the method of teaching and for the curriculum.
This question came upon me very strongly during the present year, when the new “Waldorf School” had to be instituted in Stuttgart. By the sympathetic co-operation of our friend Emil Molt, we were in a position to found this school in connection with the Stuttgart firm, “The Waldorf-Astoria Cod' The Waldorf School is in the fullest sense of the word a unitary school, i.e., a school without distinction of class, a school for the whole people. [For further particulars of the Waldorf School, see Numbers 1, 2 and 5 in Volume I of the “Threefold Commonwealth” fortnightly (price 3d. each), and also Volume I, Number 2 of the bi-monthly magazine “Anthroposophy” (price 1/-). To be obtained from the Publishers of this booklet. The Waldorf School is a “unitary” school in that it makes no distinction of Class. About 500 boys and girls, between the ages of 6 and 14, or 6 and 19, are educated there; and among them the children of manual workers and of the “educated classes” are represented in fairly even proportion. They all receive the same education, up to the time when they leave school, which varies according to their future vocation and the wishes of their parents.] In its whole plan and method, and in the arrangement of the subjects, it proceeds from the impulse that Spiritual Science can give towards an Art of Education. During last September I had the privilege of giving a course of training for the group of teachers whom I had selected for this school. At that time, all these questions came upon me in a very vivid way. What I am now endeavouring to say to you is in its essential features an extract of what was given to those teachers in the training course. For they were to direct and carry on a school, founded on principles of Spiritual Science and on the social needs of this time — a real people's school, on a basis of unity.
Now in effect not only the method of instruction, but the curriculum, the arrangement of subjects, the definite aim of the teacher, can be drawn from a living observation of the evolving human being. So, for example, we shall find much in the young child's life, even after the sixth or seventh year, that still proceeds from the peculiar will-nature which alone could make it possible for the child to have so powerful an impulse to imitation. As a matter of fact, the intellect develops very much later, and it develops from out of the will. The intimate relationship which exists between the one human being — the grown-up teacher, for example — and the other human being — the growing child — this intimate relationship finds expression as a relationship from will to will. Hence in this first year of elementary school we can best approach the child if we are in a position to work upon the will in the right way. But that is just the question — How can we best work upon the will?
We can not work on the will by laying too' much stress, at this early stage, on external perception and observation — by directing the child's attention too much to the external material world. But we can very effectively approach the will if we permeate our educational work in these first years with a certain artistic, aesthetic element. And it is really possible to start front the artistic and aesthetic in our educational methods. It is not necessary to begin with reading and writing lessons, where there is no real connection between the instruction given and the forces which are coming- outwards from the soul-centre of the child. Our modern written and printed signs are in reality very far removed from the original. Look back to the early forms of writing, not among “primitive” peoples, but in so highly evolved a civilisation as that of ancient Egypt, for example. You will see how at that time, writing was thoroughly artistic in its form and nature. But in the course time this artistic element gradually became worn, down and polished away. Our written signs have become mere conventional symbols. And it is possible to go back to the immediate, elementary understanding, which man still has for that which later on became our modern writing.
In other words, instead of teaching writing in an abstract way, we can begin with a kind of drawing-writing lesson. I do not mean anything that is arbitrarily thought-out. But from the real artistic sense of the human being it is possible to form, artistically, what afterwards becomes transformed, as the child grows and develops, into the abstract signs of writing. You begin with a kind of drawing-writing or writing- drawing, and you enlarge its sphere so as to include real elements of plastic art, painting and modelling. A true psychologist will know, that what is brought to the child in this way" does not merely grasp the head — it grasps the whole human being. In effect, things of an intellectual colouring, things which are permeated by the intellect only, and by convention most particularly, like the' ordinary printed or written letters, do only grasp the head, part of man. But if we steep our early teaching of these subjects in an. artistic element, then, we grasp the whole human being. Therefore, a future pedagogy will endeavour to derive the intellectual element, and objective teaching of external things, object- lesson teaching also, from something that is artistic in character at the outset.
It is just when we approach the child artistically, that we are best able to consider the interplay of the principle of authority and the imitative principle. For in the artistic there lives something of imitation; and there also lives in it something which passes directly from the subjective man to the subjective man. Anything that is to work in an artistic way must pass through the subjective nature of man. As a human being, with your own deep inner nature, you confront the child quite differently if what you, are teaching is first steeped in an artistic quality. For there you are pouring something real and substantial into yourself as well, something that must appear to you yourself as a natural and unquestioned authority. Then you will not appear with the stamp of a merely external conventional culture; but that which is poured into you brings you near to the child in a human way, as one human being to another. Under the influence of this artistic education it will come about quite of its own accord: the child will live and grow into a natural and unquestioning acceptance of the authority of the person who is teaching him and. educating him.
This again may bring it home to us, that spirit must hold sway in education. For instruction of this kind can only be given by one who allows spirit to permeate and fill his teaching; Spirit must hold sway in our whole treatment of our teaching work, and we ourselves must fully live in all that we have to convey to the child. Here 1 am touching on another of the intangible things in the teacher's life. It is very easy, it seems to come quite as a matter of course, for the teacher as he confronts the child to appear to himself as the superior and intelligent person, compared with the simple ingenuous nature of the child. But the effects of this on our teaching work are of very great significance. I will give you a concrete example, one which I have already mentioned in other connections, in my lectures here. Suppose I want to give the child, a conception of the immortality of the human soul. I take an example, a picture of it, adapting myself to the child-like spirit. I draw the child's attention, in a real nature-lesson, to the chrysalis and the butterfly emerging from it. And now I explain to the child: Look, just as the butterfly rests in the chrysalis, invisible to- the external eye, so your immortal soul rests in your body. Just as the butterfly comes out from the chrysalis, so when you go through the gate of death, your immortal soul rises out of your body into another world. And as the butterfly enters an entirely new world when it emerges from the chrysalis, so the world into which you enter, when you rise out of the body, is a very different world from this one.
Now it is perfectly possible to think out an image like this with one's intellect. And as an “intelligent person,” while one teaches it to the child, one does not quite like to believe in it oneself. But that has its effect in education and in teaching. For by one of the intangible facts of life, through mysterious forces that work from hidden soul to hidden soul, the child, only really accepts from me what I, as teacher, believe in myself.
In effect, Spiritual Science does lead us to this point. If we have Spiritual Science, we do not merely take this picture of the butterfly and the chrysalis as a cleverly thought- out comparison, but we perceive: This picture has been placed in Nature by the divine creative powers, not merely to symbolise the immortality of the soul for the edification of man, but because, at a lower stage, the same thing is actually happening when the butterfly leaves the chrysalis, as happens when the immortal soul leaves the human body. We can raise ourselves to the point of believing in this picture as fully and directly as we should desire the child to believe in it. And if a living and powerful belief flows through the soul of the educator in this way, then will he work well upon the child. Then, his working through authority will be no disadvantage, but a great and significant advantage to the child.
In pointing out such things as this, we must continually be drawing attention to the fact that human life is a single whole, a connected thing. What we implant in the human being when he is yet a child will often re-appear only in very much later years as strength and conviction and efficiency of life. And it generally escapes our notice, because, when it does appear, it appears transformed. Suppose, for example, that we succeed in awakening in the child a faculty of feeling that is very necessary: I mean, the power of reverence. We succeed in awakening in the child the mood of prayer and reverence for what is divine in all the world. He who has learned to observe life's connections, knows that this mood of prayer rc-appears in later life transformed. It has undergone a metamorphosis, and we must only be able to recognise it in its re-appearance. For it has become transformed into that inner power of soul whereby the human being is able to influence other human beings beneficially, with an influence of blessing. No one who has not learned to pray in childhood, will in old age have that power of soul which passes over as an influence of blessing, in advice and exhortation, nay, often in the very gesture and expression of the human being, to children or to younger people. By transitions which generally remain unnoticed, by hidden metamorphoses, what we receive as an influence of grace and blessing in childhood transforms itself in a riper age of life into the power to give blessing.
In this way every conceivable force in life becomes transformed. Unless we observe these connections, unless we draw our art of education from a full, broad, whole view of life, a view that is filled with spiritual light, education will not be able to perform its task — to work with the evolving forces of the human being instead of working against them.
When the human being has reached about the ninth year of life, a new stage is entered once again — -it is not so distinct a change this time as that about the seventh year, yet it is clearly noticeable. The after-workings of the imitative impulse gradually disappear, and something enters in the growing child which can be observed most intimately if one has the will to see it. It is a peculiar relation of the child to its own ego, to its own “I.” Now of course a certain inner soul- relationship to the ego begins at a very much earlier stage. It begins in every human being at the earliest point to which ill alter life he can remember back. About this point of time, the child ceases to say “Charlie wants that” or “Mary wants that,” and begins to say “I want that.” In later life we remember hack up to this point; and for the normal human being what lies before it vanishes completely, as a rule. It is at this point that the ego enters the inner soul-life of the human being. But it does not yet fully enter the spiritual or mental life.
It is an essentially spiritual or mental experience of “I,” that first becomes manifest in the inner life of the human being about the ninth year, or between the ninth and tenth years (all these indications are approximate), Men who were keen observers of the soul have sometimes pointed out this great and significant moment in human life. Jean Paul tells us how he can remember, quite distinctly: As a very young boy he was standing in the courtyard of his parents' house, just in front of the barn (so clearly does he describe the scene), when suddenly there awoke in him the consciousness of “I.” He tells us, he will never forget that moment, when for the first time he looked into the hidden Holy of Holies of the human soul.
Such a transformation takes place about the ninth year of life, distinctly in some, less distinctly in others. And this point of time is extraordinarily important from the point of view of education and of teaching. If by this time we have succeeded in awakening in the young child those feelings, if we have succeeded in cultivating those directions of the will, which we call religious and moral, and which we can draw out in all our teaching work, then we need only be good observers of children, and we can let our authority work in this period of life — as we see it approach — in such a way that the religious feelings we prepared and kindled in the preceding period are now made firm and steadfast in the young child's soul. Tor the power of the human being to look up, with true and honest reverence from his inmost soul, to the Divine and Spiritual that permeates and ensouls the world, this period of childhood is most decisive. And in this period especially, lie who by spiritual perception can go out into the young child's life, will be guided, intuitively as it were, to find the right words and the right rules of conduct.
In its true nature, education is an artistic thing. We must approach the child, not with a normal educational science, but with an Art of Education. Even as the artist masters his substances and his materials and knows them well and intimately, so he who permeates himself with spiritual vision knows the symptoms which arise about the ninth year of life, when the human being inwardly deepens, when the ego- consciousness becomes a thing of the spirit — whereas previously it was of the soul. Whereas his previous method of teaching and education was to start from the subjective nature of the child, so now the teacher and educator will transform this into a more objective way of treating things. If we can perceive this moment rightly, we shall know what is necessary in this respect. Thus, in the case of external Nature-lessons, observation of Nature, things of Natural Science, we shall know, that before this moment these things should be brought to the child only by way of stories and fairy-tales and parables. All things of Nature should be dealt with by comparison with human qualities. In short, one should not separate the human being at this stage from his environment in Nature. About the ninth year, at the moment when the' ego awakens, the human being performs this separation of his own accord. Then he becomes ready to compare the phenomena of Nature and their relation to one another in an objective way. But before this moment in the child's life, we should not begin with external, objective descriptions of what goes on in Nature, in man's environment. Rather should we ourselves develop an accurate sense, a keen spiritual instinct, to perceive this important transformation when it comes.
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Another such transformation takes place about the eleventh or twelfth year. While the principle of authority still holds sway over the child's life, something that will not appear in full development till after puberty already begins to radiate into it. It is, what afterwards becomes the independent power of judgment. After puberty, we have to work in all our teaching and education by appealing to the child's own power of judgment. But that which takes shape after puberty as the power of independent judgment, is already active in. the child at an earlier stage, working its way into the age of authority from the eleventh year onwards. Here again, if we rightly perceive what is happening in the soul-nature of the child., we can observe how at this moment the child begins to develop new interests. Its interest would be great, even before Ibis time, in Nature lessons, and descriptions, properly adapted, from Natural Science and Natural History. But a real power of comprehending physical phenomena, of understanding even the simplest conceptions of Physics, does not develop until about the eleventh or twelfth year. And when I say, a real power of understanding physical phenomena and physical conceptions, 1 know the exact scope and bearing of my statement.
There can be no real art of education without this perception of the inner laws and stages of development underlying human life. The Art of Education requires to be adapted to what is growing and developing outwards and upwards in the human being. From the real inner development of the child, we should read and learn and so derive the right curriculum, the planed teaching, the whole objective of our teaching work. What we teach, and how we teach it, all this should flow from a knowledge of the human being. But we shall gain no knowledge of the human being until we are in a position to guide cur attention and our whole world-outlook towards the spiritual — the spiritual realities that underlie the external facts of this world of the senses. Then too, it will be very clear that the intangible imponderable things of life play a real part, above all in the Art of Education.
Our modern education has evolved, without our always being fully conscious of it, from underlying scientific points of view. Thus, we have come to lay great value on lessons that centre round external objects, external objective vision. Now I do not want you to take what I am saying as though it were intended polemically or critically or by way of condemnation ex cathedra. That is by no means the case. What I want to do, is to describe the part which Spiritual Science can play in developing an educational art for the present and for the immediate future. If we have emphasised external objective methods of instruction overmuch, the reason lies, at bottom, in those habits of thought which arise from the methods and points of view of Natural Science. Now I say expressly, at the proper age of childhood and for the right subjects it is justified and good to teach the child in this external and objective way. But it is no less important to ask, whether everything that has to be communicated to the growing child can really flow from objective perception, whether it must not rather pass by another way, namely, from the soul of the teacher or educator into the soul of the child. And this is the very thing that needs to be pointed out: there are. such other ways, apart from the way of external, objective perception.
Thus, I indicated as an all-pervading principle between (be change of teeth and the age of puberty, the principle nl authority. That something is living in the teacher as an opinion or a way of feeling, this should be the reason why the child accepts this opinion or way of feeling as its own. And in. the whole way the teacher confronts the child, there must be something which works intangibly. There must in effect be something, which flows out from a knowledge and perception of life as a single whole, something which flows from the living interest that such a knowledge of life will kindle. I indicated the significance of this, when I said that what we develop in the age of childhood will often reappear, metamorphosed' and transformed, only in the grownup human being, nay, even in old age.
There is one thing we fail to observe if we carry the principle of external objective instruction to an extreme. We can, of course, bring ourselves down to the child's level of understanding. We can restrict ourselves and endeavour to place before the child only what it can see and observe and really grasp — or, at least, what we imagine it can grasp. But in carrying this principle to an extreme, we fail to observe an important law of life, which may be thus described: It is a very source of strength and power in life, if, let us say, in his 35th year a man becomes able to say to himself: “As a child you once heard this thing or that from your teacher or from the person who was educating you. You took it up into your memory and kept it there. Why did you store it in memory? Because you loved the teacher as an authority; because the teacher's personality stood before you in such a way that it was clear to you: — If he holds that belief, then you too must take it into yourself. Such was your instinctive attitude. And now you suddenly see a light; now you have become ready to understand it. You accepted it out of love for him who was your authority; and now by a full power of maturity, you recall it once again, and you recognise it in a new way. Now only do you understand it.”
Anyone who smiles at the idea of such a source of strength in after life, lacks living interest in what is real in human life. He does not know that man's life is a single whole, where all things are inter-connected. That is why he cannot rightly value how much it means, not to stop at ordinary objective lessons (which within limits are perfectly justified), but rather to sink into1 the child's soul many things that may afterwards return into its life, from stage to stage of maturity.
Why is it that we meet so many, many people to-day, inwardly broken in their lives? Why is it that our heart must bleed, when we look out over vast territories where there are great tasks to perform, where men and women walk through life, seemingly crippled and paralysed before these tasks? It is because, in educating the children as they grew up into life, attention was not paid to the development of those inner forces that are a. powerful support to man in after years, enabling him to take his stand firmly in the world.
Such things have to be taken into account, if we would pass from a mere Natural Science of pedagogy to a real Art of Education. Education is a thing for mankind as a whole. For that very reason it must become an Art, which the teacher and educator applies and exercises individually. There are certain inner connections which we must perceive if we would truly penetrate what is so often said instinctively, without being clearly understood. For example, the demand is quite rightly being voiced that education should not be merely intellectual. People say that it does not so much matter for the growing man to receive knowledge and information; what matters, they say, is that the element of will in him should be developed, that he should become skilful and strong, and so forth. Certainly, this is a right demand; but the point is that such a demand cannot be met by setting up general principles and norms and standards. It can only be met when we are able to enter into the real stages and periods of the human being's evolution, in concrete detail.
We must know that it is the artistic and aesthetic that inspires the human will. We must find the way, to bring the artistic and aesthetic to bear on the child's life of will. And we must not seek any merely external way of approach to the will; we must not think of it merely in the sense of external Physiology or Biology. But we must seek to pass through the element of soul and spiritual life which is most particularly expressed in childhood. Many things will yet have to be permeated with soul and spirit. In our Waldorf School in Stuttgart, we have for the first time attempted to transform gymnastics and physical exercises, which in their method and organic force have generally been based on physiological considerations, into a kind of Eurhythmic Art. What you can now see almost any Saturday or Sunday in the performances of Eurhythme at Dornach, is of course intended, in the first place, as a special form of art. It is a form of art using as its instrument the human organism itself, with all its inner possibilities of movement. But while it is intended as a form of art, it also affords the possibility of permeating with soul and spirit those movements of the human being which are ordinarily developed into the more purely physiological physical exercises. When this is done, the movements that the human being executes will not merely be determined by the idea of working, in such and such a way, on such and such muscles or groups of muscles. But they will flow naturally, from each inner motive- of the soul into the muscular movement, the movement of the limbs. And we, who represent the spiritualisation of life from the point of view of Spiritual Science, are convinced that Eurhythme will become a thing of great importance, for Education on the one hand, and on the other hand for Health. For in it we are seeking the sound and natural and healthy relationship which must obtain, between the inner life and feeling and experience of the soul, and that which can evolve as movement in the human being as a whole. Thus, what is generally sought for through an external Physiology or through other external considerations, is now to be sought for through the perception of man as being permeated by soul and spirit. [For further information about Eurhythme (not to be confused with other forms of art known in England as “Eurhythme” see “The Threefold Commonwealth” fortnightly, Volume I, Numbers 2, 5 and 6. Demonstrations are given and classes arranged in London and other parts of Britain. For particulars, apply to the Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in London.]
Thus, in the first years of elementary school, the whole principle of teaching must be saturated with the different arts, in order to work upon the will. And most particularly; that part of education which is generally thought of as an education of the will — gymnastics and physical exercises — must now be permeated with soul and spirit. But that which is soul and spirit in man must first be recognised, in its real scope, in its potentialities, in its concrete manifestation.
So again, we must recognise the connection between two faculties of the human soul — a connection which has not yet been properly discovered by modern Psychology, for in effect modern Psychology is out of touch with Spiritual Science. If we can look objectively into that important period of change which I described as occurring about the ninth year, we shall see how at that moment a very peculiar thing is happening, on the one hand, in the child's faculties of feeling, in its life of feeling. The child grows more deeply inward. New shades of feeling make their appearance. It is as though the inner soul-life were becoming more independent, in its whole feeling of the outer world of Nature. On the other hand, something else is taking place, which will only be noticed if one can observe the soul really intimately. It is certainly true, as Jean Paul observed and stated in a very penetrating epigram, that we learn more in the first three years of our life than in the three years we spend at the University. In the first three years, our memory is still working organically, and for actual life we learn far more. But about the ninth year a peculiar relationship a relationship which plays more into the conscious H/c comes about between the life of peeling and the tile of memory. These things must be seen; for those who cannot see them, they are simply non-existent.
Now, it we can really perceive these intimate relationships between the life of feeling and the memory, and if we rightly cultivate and nurture them, we find in them the right aspect for all that part of our leaching work in which a special appeal has to be made to the child's memory. As a matter of fact, appealing to the memory we ought always at the same time to appeal to the life of feeling. Particularly in our History lessons, in all stories from History, we shall find just the right shades of colouring in the way to tell the story, if we know that everything that is meant to be memorised should be permeated, as we give it out, by something that plays over into the life of feeling — the life of feeling, which at this age has grown more independent. And if we recognise these connections in life, we shall rightly place our History lesson in relation to the whole plan and curriculum. In this way also, we shall gain a correct view of historic culture in general.
Through all that primarily works upon the memory, we shall at the same time influence the life of feeling; just as we began, through artistic elements, to work upon the life of will. Then, after this period in life, we shall gradually find it possible to let the intellectual element work it way out through the elements of will and feeling. If we do not proceed in this way — if in our teaching and educating work we do not rightly develop the intellectual element from out of the elements of will and feeling — then we are working against, not with, the evolving forces of the human being.
You will have seen from the whole tenor of this lecture that in outlining the relation between Spiritual Science and the Art of Education the real point is that we so apply our Spiritual Science that it becomes a knowledge and perception of man. And in the process, we ourselves gain something from Spiritual Science which .passes into our will, just as everything which has in it the germ of art passes over into the will of man. Thus, we get away from a pedagogic science as a mere science of norms and general principles which always has its definite answers ready to hand: “Such and such should be the methods of education.” But we transplant, into our own human being, something that must live within our will — a permeation of will with spiritual life- in order that we may work, from our will, into the evolving forces of the child. In the sense of Spiritual Science, the Art of Education must rest on a true and effective knowledge of man. The evolving man — man in process of becoming — is then for us a sacred riddle, which we desire to solve afresh every day and every hour. If we enter the service of mankind in this spirit with our Art of Education, then we shall be serving human life from out of the interests of human life itself. — In conclusion, I should like to draw your attention once again to the points of view from which we started.
The teacher or educator has to do with the human being in that age, when there must be implanted in human nature and drawn forth from human nature, all those potentialities which will work themselves out through the remainder of the human being's life. There is, therefore, no sphere of life, which ought not somehow to concern and touch the person 1 whose task it is to teach, to educate. But it is only those who learn to understand life from the spirit, who can understand it. To form and mould human life, is only possible for those who — to use Goethe's expression — are able spiritually to form il. And it is this which seems to me important above all things in the present day: that that formative influence on life, which is exercised through education, may itself be moulded according to the spirit, and ever more according to the spirit.
Let me repeat, it is not for purposes of criticism or laying clown the law that these words have been spoken here to-day. It is, because in ail modesty we opine that Spiritual Science, with those very points of knowledge that it gains on the nature of man, and hence on the nature of evolving man, can be of service to the Art of Education. We are convinced of its power to bring fountains of fresh strength to the Educational Art. And this is just what Spiritual Science would do and be. It would take its part in life, not as a strange doctrine or from a lofty distance, but as a real ferment of life, to saturate every single faculty and task of man. It is in this sense that I endeavour to speak on the most varied spheres of life, to influence and work into the most varied spheres of life, from the point of view of Spiritual Science. If to-day I have spoken on the relation of Spiritual Science to Education, you must not put it down to any immodest presumption on my part. You must ascribe it to the firm conviction, that if we in our time would work in life in accordance with the spirit, very serious investigation and penetration into spiritual realities will yet be necessary — necessary above all in this our time. You must ascribe it to the honest and upright desire, for Spiritual Science to take its share in every sphere of life, arid particularly in that sphere, so wonderful, so great, so full of meaning — the formative instruction and education of man himself.
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