Human Values in Education
VI. Meetings of Parents and Teachers
22 July 1924, Arnheim
Today, before going into any further explanations concerning questions of method, I should like to add something more to what I said yesterday about the teachers' conferences. We attach the greatest importance to our relationship with the parents of our Waldorf School children and in order to ensure complete harmony and agreement we arrange Parents' Evenings fairly frequently, which are attended by parents of children living in the neighbourhood. At these meetings the intentions, methods and the various arrangements of the school are discussed — naturally in a more or less general way — and, in so far as this is possible in such gatherings, the parents have the opportunity of expressing their wishes and these are given a sympathetic hearing. In this way the opportunity is provided actually to work out what we should seek to achieve in our education and moreover to do this in the whole social milieu out of which such aims have in truth their origin. The teachers hear the ideas of the parents in regard to the education of their children; and the parents hear — it is our practice always to speak with the utmost sincerity and candour — about what is taking place in the school, what our thoughts are about the education and future of the children and why it is that we think it necessary to have schools which further a free approach to education. In short, by this means the mutual understanding between teachers and parents is not only of an abstract and intellectual nature, but a continuous human contact is brought about. We feel this contact to be very important, for we have nothing else to depend upon. In a state school, everything is strictly defined. There one knows with absolute certainty the aims which the teacher must bear in mind; he knows for instance, that at 9 years of age a child must have reached a certain standard, and so on. Everything is planned with exactitude.
With us everything depends on the free individuality of each single teacher. In so far as I may be considered the director of the school, nothing is given in the way of rules and regulations. Actually there is no school director in the usual sense, but each teacher reigns supreme. Instead of a school director or headmaster we have the teachers' conferences, in which there is a common study and a common striving towards further progress. There is therefore a spirit, a concrete spirit living among the college of teachers which works freely, which is not tyrannical, which does not issue statements, rules or programmes, but has the will continually to progress, continually to make better and better arrangements, in meeting the teaching requirements. Today our teachers cannot know at all what will be good in the Waldorf School in 5 years time for in these 5 years they will have learned a great deal and out of the knowledge they will have to judge anew what is good and what is not good. This is also the reason why what associations for educational reform decide to be valuable is a matter of complete indifference in the Waldorf School. Educational matters cannot be thought out intellectually, they can only arise out of teaching experience. And it is this working out of experience which is the concern of the college of teachers. But just because we are in this situation, just because we live in a state of flux in regard to what we ourselves actually want, we need a different kind of support than is given to an ordinary school by the educational authorities, who ordain what should be done. We need the support of that social element in which the children are growing up. We need the inner support of the parents in connection with all the questions which continually crop up when the child comes to school; for he comes to school from his parents' home.
Now if the aim is to achieve an individual and harmonious relationship, the teacher is concerned with the welfare of the child possibly even more than the parents themselves to whom he looks for support. If he does not merely let the parents come and then proceed to give them information which they can make nothing much of, but if, after a parents' evening, he shows a further interest by visiting the parents in their home, then in receiving a child of school age, about 7 years old, into his class, he has taken on very much more than he thinks. He has the father, the mother and other people from the child's environment; they are standing shadowlike in the background. He has almost as much to do with them as with the child himself, especially where physiological-pathological matters are concerned. The teacher must take all this into account and work it out for himself; he must look at the situation as a whole in order really to understand the child, and above all to become clear in his own mind what he should do in regard to the child's environment. By building this bridge between himself and the parents, as he sees them in their home, a kind of support will be brought about, a support which is social in its nature and is at the same time both free and living.
To visit the parents in their home is necessary in order to foster in the parents a concern that nothing should occur which might damage the natural feeling a child must have for the authority of the teacher. A lot of work must be done between the college of teachers and the parent-body by means of an understanding imbued with feeling, with qualities of soul. Moreover the parent too, by getting to know the teachers, getting to know them pretty thoroughly, must break themselves of the tendency to be jealous of them, for indeed most parents are jealous of their children's teachers. They feel as if the teachers want to take the child away from them; but as soon as this feeling is present there is an end to what can be achieved educationally with the child. Such things, can, however, be put right if the teacher understands how to win the true support of the parents. This is what I wished to add to my previous remarks on the purpose of the teachers' conferences.
Now there is something else to be considered. We must learn to understand those moments in a child's life which are significant moments of transition. I have already referred to one such moment when the teaching, which up to this time has been imaginative and pictorial must pass over, for instance, into teaching the child about the nature of the plants. This point of time lies between the 9th and 10th year. It shows itself in the child as an inner restlessness; he asks all kinds of questions. What he asks has usually no great importance in so far as the content is concerned; but the fact that the questions are asked, that the child feels impelled to ask questions, this is undoubtedly of great significance.
The kind of relationship we establish with the child just at this time has great importance for the whole of his life. For what is it that indwells the soul of the child? It is something that can be observed in every child who is not pathological. Up to this age a child who has not been ruined by external influences accepts the authority of the teacher quite naturally; a healthy child who has not been ruined by being talked into all kinds of nonsensical ideas also has a healthy respect for every grown-up person. He looks up to such a person, taking him as an authority quite simply and as a matter of course. Just think back to your own childhood; realise what it means, particularly for the quite young child, to be able to say to himself; You may do what he does or what she does for they are good and worthy people. The child really requires nothing else than to place himself under an authority
In a certain sense this feeling is somewhat shaken between the 9th and 10th year; it is shaken simply in the course of the development of human nature itself. It is important to be able to perceive this clearly. At this time human nature experiences something quite special, which does not however rise up into the child's consciousness, but lives in indefinite sensations and feelings. The child is unable to give it expression, but it is there. What does the child now say to himself unconsciously? Earlier he said out of his instinctive feelings: If my teacher says something is good, then it is good; if he says something is bad, it is bad; if he says something is right, it is right; if he says it is wrong, it is wrong. If something gives my teacher pleasure and he says it pleases him, then it is beautiful; if he says something is ugly and it does not please him, then it is ugly. It is quite a matter of course for the young child to look upon his teacher as his model. But now, between the 9th and 10th year this inner certainty is somewhat shaken. The child begins to ask himself in his life of feeling: Where does he or she get it all from? Who is the teacher's authority? Where is this authority? At this moment the child begins to feel an inner urge to break through the visible human being, who until now has been for him a god, to that which stands behind him as super-sensible or invisible God, or Divine Being. Now the teacher, facing the child, must contrive in some simple way to confirm this feeling in him. He must approach the child in such a way that he feels: Behind my teacher there is something super-sensible which gives him support. He does not speak in an arbitrary way; he is a messenger from the Divine.
One must make the child aware of this. But how? Least of all by preaching. One can only give a hint in words, one will achieve nothing whatever by a pedantic approach. But if one comes up to the child and perhaps says something to him which as far as content goes has no special importance, if one says a few words which perhaps are quite unimportant but which are spoken in such a tone of voice that he sees: He or she has a heart, this heart itself believes in what is standing behind, — then something can be achieved. We must make the child aware of this standing within the universe, but we must make him aware of it in the right way. Even if he cannot yet take in abstract, rationalistic ideas, he already has enough understanding to come and ask a question: Oh, I would so much like to know .... Children of this age often come with such questions. If we now say to him: Just think, what I am able to give you I receive from the sun; if the sun were not there I should not be able to give you anything at all in life; if the divine power of the moon were not there to preserve for us while we sleep what we receive from the sun I should not be able to give you anything either. In so far as its content is concerned we have not said anything of particular importance. If however we say it with such warmth that the child perceives that we love the sun and the moon, then we can lead him beyond the stage at which he asks these questions and in the majority of cases this holds good for the whole of life. One must know that these critical moments occur in the child's life. Then quite of itself the feeling will arise: Up to this time when telling stories about the fir tree and the oak, about the buttercup and dandelion, or about the sunflower and the violet, I have spoken in fairytale fashion about Nature and in this way I have led the child into a spiritual world; but now the time has come when I can begin to tell stories taken from the Gospels. If we begin to do this earlier, or try to teach him anything in the nature of a catechism we destroy something in the child, but if we begin now, when he is trying to break through towards the spiritual world, we do something which the child demands with his whole being.
Now where is that book to be found in which the teacher can read what teaching is? The children themselves are this book. We should not learn to teach out of any other book than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves; but in order to read in this book we need the widest possible interest in each individual child and nothing must divert us from this. Here the teacher may well experience difficulties and these must be consciously overcome.
Let us assume that the teacher has children of his own. In this case he is faced with a more direct and more difficult task than if he had no children. He must therefore be all the more conscious just in this respect and above all he must not hold the opinion that all children should be like his own. He must not think this even subconsciously. He must ask himself whether it is not the case that people who have children are subconsciously of the opinion that all children should be like theirs.
We see therefore that what the teacher has perforce to admit touches on the most intimate threads of the life of soul. And unless he penetrates to these intimate subconscious threads he will not find complete access to the children, while at the same time winning their full confidence. Children suffer great, nay untold damage if they come to believe that other children are the teacher's favourites. This must be avoided at all costs. It is, not so easily avoided as people usually think, but it can be avoided if the teacher is imbued with all those principles which can result from an anthroposophical knowledge of man. Then such a matter finds its own solution.
There is something which calls for special attention in connection with the theme I have chosen for this course of lectures, something which is connected with the significance of education for the whole world and for humanity. It lies in the very nature of human existence that the teacher, who has so much to do with children and who as a rule has so little opportunity of living outside his sphere of activity, needs some support from the outer world, needs necessarily to look out into this world. Why is it that teachers so easily become dried up? It happens because they have continually to stoop to the level of the child. We certainly have no reason to make fun of the teacher if, limited to the usual conceptual approach to teaching, he becomes dried up. We should nevertheless perceive where the danger lies, and the anthroposophical teacher is in a position to be specially aware of this. For if the average teacher's comprehension of history gradually becomes that of a school textbook — and this may well happen in the course of a few years' teaching — where should he look for another kind of comprehension, for ideas in keeping with what is truly human? How can the situation be amended? The time remaining to the teacher after his school week is usually spent trying to recover from fatigue, and often only parish pump politics plays a part in forming his attitude towards questions of world importance. Thus the soul life of such a teacher does not turn outwards and enter into the kind of understanding which is necessary for a human being between say, the ages of 30 and 40. Furthermore he does not keep fit and well if he thinks that the best way to recuperate in leisure hours is to play cards or do something else which is in no way connected with the life of the spirit.
The situation of a teacher who is an anthroposophist, whose life is permeated with anthroposophy, is very different. His perspective of the world is continually widening; his sphere of vision extends ever further and further. It is very easy to show how these things affect each other — It is indicated by the fact that the most enthusiastic anthroposophist, if, for instance, he becomes a teacher of history, immediately tends to carry anthroposophy into his conception of history and so falls into the error of wanting to teach not history, but anthroposophy. This is also something one must try to avoid. It will be completely avoided if such a teacher, having on the one hand his children and on the other hand anthroposophy, feels the need of building a bridge between the school and the homes of the parents. Even though anthroposophy is knowledge as applied to man, understanding as applied to man, there are nevertheless necessities in life which must be observed. How do people often think today, influenced as they are by current ideas in regard to educational reform or even by revolutionary ideas in this field? I will not at this moment enter into what is said in socialist circles, but will confine myself to what is thought by those belonging to the prosperous middle classes. There the view is held that people should get out of the town and settle in the country in order that many children may be educated right away from the town. Only so, it is felt, can they develop naturally. And so on, and so on. But how does such a thought fit into a more comprehensive conception of the world? It really amounts to an admission of one's own helplessness. For the point is not to think out some way in which a number of children may be educated quite apart from the world, according to one's own intellectual, abstract ideas, but rather to discover how children may be helped to grow into true human beings within the social milieu which is their environment. One must muster one's strength and not take children away from the social milieu in which they are living. It is essential to have this courage. It is something which is connected with the world significance of education.
But then there must be a deep conviction that the world must find its way into the school. The world must continue to exist within the school, albeit in a childlike way. If therefore we would stand on the ground of a healthy education we should not think out all kinds of occupational activity intended only for children. For instance all kinds of things are devised for children to do. They must learn to plait; they must carry out all kinds of rather meaningless activities which have absolutely nothing to do with life, merely to keep them busy. Such methods can never serve any good purpose in the child's development. On the contrary, all play activity at school must be a direct imitation of life. Everything must proceed out of life, nothing should be thought out. Hence, in spite of the good intentions lying behind them, those things which have been introduced into the education of little children by Froebel or others are not directly related to the real development of the children. They are thought out, they belong to our rationalistic age. Nothing that is merely thought out should form part of a school's activity.
Above all there must be a secret feeling that life must hold sway everywhere in education. In this connection one can have quite remarkable experiences. I have told you already that the child who has reached the stage of changing his teeth should have the path of learning made smooth for him by means of painting or drawing. Writing — a form of drawing which has become abstract — should be developed out of a kind of painting-drawing or drawing-painting. But in doing this it should be borne in mind that the child is very sensitive to aesthetic impressions. A little artist is hidden somewhere inside him, and it is just here that quite interesting discoveries can be made. A really good teacher may be put in charge of a class, someone who is ready to carry out the things I have been explaining, someone who is full of enthusiasm and who says: One must simply do away with all the earlier methods of education and begin to educate in this new way! So now he starts off with this business of painting-drawing or drawing-painting. The pots of paint and the paint brushes are ready and the children take up their brushes. At this point one can have the following experience. The teacher simply has no idea of the difference between a colour that shines and one that does not shine. He has already become too old. In this respect one can have the strangest experiences. I once had the opportunity of telling an excellent chemist about our efforts to produce radiant, shining colours for the paintings in the Goetheanum and how we were experimenting with colours made out of plants. Thereupon he said: But today we are already able to do much better — today we actually have the means whereby we can produce colours which are iridescent and begin to shimmer when it is dark. This chemist understood not a word of what I had been saying; he immediately thought in terms of chemistry. Grown-up people often have no sense for a shining colour. Children still have this sense. Everything goes wonderfully with very few words if one is able to read out of the nature of childhood what the child still possesses. The teacher's guidance must however be understanding and artistic in its approach, then the child will find his way easily into everything his teacher wishes to bring to him.
All this can however only be brought about if we feel deeply that school is a place for young life; but at the same time we must realise what is suitable for adult life. Here we must cultivate a sensitivity as to what can and what cannot be done. Please let no one take offence at what I am about to say. Last year in the framework of a conference on anthroposophical education the following took place. There was the wish to show to a public audience what has such an important part to play in our education: Eurythmy. This was done, but it was done in the following manner. In this particular place children gave a demonstration of what they had learned at school in their eurythmy lessons and a performance showing eurythmy as an art was only given later. Things were not arranged so that first people were given the opportunity of gaining some understanding of eurythmy, so that they might perhaps say: Ah, so that is eurythmy, that is what has been introduced into the school. It was done the other way round; the children's eurythmy demonstration was given first place, with the result that the audience was quite unconvinced and had no idea what it was all about. Just imagine that up till now there had been no art of painting: then all of a sudden an exhibition was held showing how children begin to daub with colours! Just as little was it possible for those who were outside the anthroposophical movement to see in this children's demonstration what is really intended and what actually underlies anthroposophy and eurythmy. Such a demonstration only has meaning if eurythmy is first introduced as an art; for then people can see what part it has to play in life and its significance in the world of art. Then the importance of eurythmy in education will also be recognised. Otherwise people may well say: Today all kinds of whimsical ideas are rife in the world — and eurythmy will be looked upon as just such another whimsical idea.
These are things which must lead us, not only to prepare ourselves for our work in education in the old, narrow sense, but to work with a somewhat wider outlook so that the school is not sundered from life but is an inseparable part of it. This is just as important as to think out some extremely clever method in education. Again and again I have had to lay stress on the fact that it is the attitude of mind which counts, the attitude of mind and the gift of insight. It is obvious that not everything can be equally perfect; this goes without saying. I do beg you not to take amiss what I have just said; this applies also to anthroposophists. I appreciate everything that is done, as it is here, with such willing sacrifice. But if I were not to speak in this way the following might well happen. Because wherever there is light there are also strong shadows, so wherever efforts are made to do things in a more spiritual way, there too the darkest shadows arise. Here the danger is actually not less than in the usual conventional circles, but greater. And it is particularly necessary for us, if we are to be equal to the tasks with which we shall be faced in a life which is becoming more and more complicated, to be fully awake and aware of what life is demanding of human beings. Today we no longer have those sharply defined traditions which guided an earlier humanity. We can no longer content ourselves with what our forefathers deemed right; we must bring up our children so that they may be able to form their own judgments. It is therefore imperative to break through the narrow confines of our preconceived ideas and take our stand within the all-comprehensive life and work of the world. We must no longer, as in earlier times, continue to find simple concepts by means of which we would seek to explain far-reaching questions of life. For the most part, even if there is no desire to be pedantic, the attempt is made to characterise most things with superficial definitions, much in the same way as was done in a certain Greek school of philosophy. When the question was put: what is a man? — the explanation given was as follows: A man is a living being who stands on two legs and has no feathers. — Many definitions which are given today are based on the same pattern, — But the next day, after someone had done some hard thinking as to what might lie behind these portentous words, he brought with him a plucked goose, for this was a being able to stand on two legs and having no feathers and he now asserted that this was a man. This is only an extreme case of what you find for instance in Goethe's play, “Goetz von Berlechingen,” where the little boy begins to relate what he knows about geography. When he comes to his own district he describes it according to his lesson book and then goes on to describe a man whose development has taken place in this same neighbourhood. He has however not the faintest idea that the latter is his father. Out of sheer “erudition,” based on what he has learned out of the book, he does not know his own father. Nevertheless these things do not go so far as the experience I once had in Weimar, where there are, of course, newspapers. These are produced in the way that usually happens in small places. Bits and pieces of news regarded as suitable are cut out of newspapers belonging to larger towns and inserted into the paper in question. So on one occasion, on 22nd January, we in Weimar read the following item of news: Yesterday a violent thunderstorm broke over our town. This piece of news had, however, been taken out of the Leipziger Nachrichten.
Similar things happen in life and we are continually caught in the web of their confusion. People theorise in abstract concepts. They study the theory of relativity and in so doing get the notion that it is all the same whether someone travels by car to Oosterbeek or whether Oosterbeek comes to him. If however anyone should wish to draw a conclusion based on reality he would have to say: If the car is not used it does not suffer wear and tear and the chauffeur does not get tired. Should the opposite be the case the resulting effect will likewise be opposite. If one thinks in this way then, without drawing a comparison between every line and movement, he will know out of an inner commonsense that his own being is changed when from a state of rest it is brought into movement. Bearing in mind the kind of thinking prevalent today, it is no wonder that a theory of relativity develops out of it when attention is turned to things in isolation. If however one goes back to reality it will become apparent that there is no accord between reality and what is thought out on the basis of mere relationship. Today, whether or not we are learned or clever we live perpetually outside reality; we live in a world of ideas in much the same way as the little boy in Goetz von Berlechingen, who did not know his father, in spite of having read a description of him in his geography book. We do not live in such a way as to have direct contact with reality.
But this is what we must bring into the school; we must face this direct impact of reality. We are able to do so if above all we learn to understand the true nature of man and what is intimately connected with him. It is for this reason that again and again I have to point out how easy it is for people today to assert that the child should be taught pictorially, by means of object lessons, and that nothing should be brought to him that is beyond his immediate power of comprehension. But in so doing we are drawn into really frightful trivialities. I have already mentioned the calculating machine. Now just consider the following: At the age of 8 I take something in but I do not really understand it. All I know is that it is my teacher who says it. Now I love my teacher. He is quite naturally my authority. Because he has said it I accept it with my whole heart. At the age of 15 I still do not understand it. But when I am 35 I meet with an experience in life which calls up, as though from wonderful spiritual depths, what I did not understand when I was 8 years old, but which I accepted solely on the authority of the teacher whom I loved. Because he was my authority I felt sure it must be true. Now life brings me another experience and suddenly, in a flash, I understand the earlier one. All this time it had remained hidden within me, and now life grants me the possibility of understanding it. Such an experience gives rise to a tremendous sense of obligation. And one cannot do otherwise than say: Sad indeed it is for anyone who experiences no moments in life when out of his own inner being something rises up into consciousness which he accepted long ago on the basis of authority and which he is only now able to understand. No one should be deprived of such an experience, for in later years it is the source of enthusiastic and purposeful activity in life. [Walter de la Mare has described this experience and the joy of saying: “Ah, so that was the meaning of that.”]
But let us add something else. I said that between the change of teeth and puberty children should not be given moral precepts, but in the place of these care should be taken to ensure that what is good pleases them because it pleases their teacher, and what is bad displeases them because it displeases their teacher. During the second period of life everything should be built up on sympathy with the good, antipathy for the bad. Then moral feelings are implanted deeply in the soul and there is established a sense of moral well-being in experiencing what is good and a sense of moral discomfort in experiencing what is bad. Now comes the time of puberty. Just as walking is fully developed during the first 7 years, speech during the second 7 years, so during the third 7 years of life thinking comes fully into its own. It becomes independent. This only takes place with the oncoming of puberty; only then are we really capable of forming a judgment. If at this time, when we begin to form thoughts out of an inner urge, feelings have already been implanted in us in the way I have indicated, then a good foundation has been laid and we are able to form judgments. For instance: this pleases me and I am in duty bound to act in accordance with it; that displeases me and it is my duty to leave it alone. The significance of this is that duty itself grows out of pleasure and displeasure; it is not instilled into me, but grows out of pleasure and displeasure. This is the awakening of true freedom in the human soul. We experience freedom through the fact that the sense for what is moral is the deepest individual impulse of the individual human soul. If a child has been led to a sense of the moral by an authority which is self-understood, so that the moral lives for him in the world of feeling, then after puberty the conception of duty works out of his individual inner human being. This is a healthy procedure. In this way we lead the children rightly to the point at which they are able to experience what individual freedom is. Why do people not have this experience today? They do not have it because they cannot have it, because before puberty a knowledge of good and bad was instilled into them; what they should and should not do was inculcated. But moral instruction which pays no heed to a right approach by gradual stages dries up the human being, makes out of him, as it were, a skeleton of moral precepts on which the conduct of life is hung like clothes on a coat-hanger.
If everything in life is to form a harmonious whole, education must follow a quite different course from the one usually pursued. It must be understood that the child goes through one stage between birth and the change of teeth, another between the change of teeth and puberty and yet another between puberty and the age of 21. Why does the child do this or that in the years before he is 7? Because he wants to imitate. He wants to do what he sees being done in his immediate surroundings. But what he does must be connected with life, it must be led over into living activity. We can do very much to help bring this about if we accustom the child to feel gratitude for what he receives from his environment. Gratitude is the basic virtue in the child between birth and the change of teeth. If he sees that everyone who stands in some kind of relationship to him in the outer world shows gratitude for what he receives from this world; if, in confronting the outer world and wanting to imitate it, the child sees the kind of gestures that express gratitude, then a great deal is done towards establishing in him the right moral human attitude. Gratitude is what belongs to the first 7 years of life.
If gratitude has been developed in the child during this first period it will now be easy between the 7th and 14th years to develop what must be the activating impulse in everything he does. This is love. Love is the virtue belonging to the second period of life. And only after puberty does there develop out of what has been experienced with love between the change of teeth and puberty that most inward of human impulses, the impulse of duty. Then what Goethe once expressed so beautifully becomes the guiding line for life. Goethe asks: “What is duty? It is when one loves what one commands oneself.” This is the goal to which we must attain. We shall however only reach it when we are led to it by stages: Gratitude — Love — Duty.
A few days ago we saw how things arising out of an earlier epoch of life are carried over into later ones. I spoke about this in answer to a question. Now I must point out that this has its good side also; it is something that must be. Of course I do not mean that gratitude should cease with the 7th year or love with the 14th year. But here we have the very secret of life: what is developed in one epoch can be carried over into later epochs, but there will be metamorphosis, intensification, change. We should not be able to carry over the good belonging to one epoch were there not also the possibility of carrying over the bad. Education however must concern itself with this and see to it that the force inherent in the human being, enabling him to carry over something out of an earlier into a later epoch, is used to further what is good. In order to achieve this however we must make use of what I said yesterday. Let us take the case of a child in whom, owing to certain underlying pathological tendencies, there is the possibility of moral weakness in later life. We perceive that what is good does not really please him, neither does what is bad awaken his displeasure. In this respect he makes no progress. Then, because love is not able to develop in the right way between the 7th and the 14th year, we try to make use of what is inherent in human nature itself, we try to develop in the child a real sense of gratitude, to educate him so that he turns with real gratitude to the self-understood authority of the teacher. If we do this, things will improve in respect of love also. A knowledge of human nature will prevent us from setting about things in such a way that we say: This child is lacking in love for the good and antipathy for the bad; I must instil this into him! It cannot be done. But things will go of themselves if we foster gratitude in the child. It is therefore essential to know the part gratitude plays in relation to love in the course of moral development in life; we must know that gratitude is a natural development in human nature during the first years of life and that love is active in the whole human organisation as a quality of soul before it comes to physical expression at puberty. For what then makes itself felt outwardly is active between the years of 7 and 14 as the deepest principle of life and growth in man; it weaves and lives in his inmost being. Here, where it is possible to discuss these things on a fundamental basis, I may be allowed to say what is undoubtedly a fact. When a teacher has once understood the nature of an education that takes its stand on a real knowledge of man, when on the one side he is engaged on the actual practice of such an education, and when on the other side he is actively concerned in the study of the anthroposophical conception of the world, then each works reciprocally on the other. For the teacher must work in the school in such a way that he takes as a foregone conclusion the fact that love is inwardly active in the child and then comes to outer expression in sexuality.
The anthroposophical teacher also attends meetings where the world conception of anthroposophy is studied. There he hears from those who have already acquired the necessary knowledge derived from Initiation Wisdom about such things as the following: The human being consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. Between the 7th and 14th years the etheric body works mainly on the physical body; the astral body descends into the physical and etheric bodies at the time of puberty. But anyone able to penetrate deeply into these matters, anyone able to perceive more than just physical processes, whose perceptions always include spiritual processes and, when the two are separated, can perceive each separately, such a man or woman can discern how in an 11 or 12 year old boy the astral body is already sounding, chiming, as it were, with the deeper tone which will first make itself heard outwardly at puberty. And a similar process takes place in the astral body of an 11 or 12 year old girl.
These things are actual, and if they are regarded as realities they will throw light on life's problems. It is just concerning these very things that one can have quite remarkable experiences. I will not withhold such experiences. In the year 1906 I gave a number of lectures in Paris before a relatively small circle of people. I had prepared my lectures bearing these people specially in mind, taking account of the fact that in this circle there were men of letters, writers, artists and others who at this particular epoch were concerned with quite specific questions. Since then things have changed, but at that time a certain something lay behind the questions in which these people were interested. They were of the type which gets up in the morning filled with the notion: I belong to a Society which is interested in the history of literature, the history of the arts; when one belongs to such a Society one wears this sort of tie, and since the year so-and-so one no longer goes to parties in tails or dinner jacket. One is aware of this when invited to dine where these and similar topics are discussed. Then in the evening one goes to the theatre and sees plays which deal with current problems! The so-called poets then write such plays themselves. At first there is a man of deep and inward sensibility, out of whose heart these great problems arise in an upright and honourable way. First there is a Strindberg. Later on follow those who popularise Strindberg for a wider public. And so, at the time I held these Paris lectures, that particular problem was much discussed which shortly before had driven the tragic Weininger to suicide. The problem which Weininger portrays in so childlike yet noble a fashion in Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character) was the problem of the day. After I had dealt with those things which were essential to an understanding of the subject I proceeded to explain that every human being has one sex in the external physical body, but bears the other sex in the etheric body. So that the woman is man in etheric body, and the man is woman. Every human being in his totality is bi-sexual; he bears the other sex within him. I can actually observe when something of this kind is said, how people begin to look out of their astral bodies, how they suddenly feel that a problem is solved for them over which they have chewed for a long time, and how a certain restlessness, but a pleasant kind of restlessness is perceptible among the audience. Where there are big problems, not merely insignificant sensations in life, but where there is real enthusiasm, even if it is sometimes close to small talk, then again one becomes aware of how a sense of relief, of being freed from a burden, emanates from those present.
So the anthroposophical teacher always looks on big problems as being something which can work on him in such a way that he remains human at every age of life; so that he does not become dried up, but remains fresh and alert and able to bring this freshness with him into the school. It is a completely different thing whether a teacher only looks into text books and imparts their content to the children, or whether he steps out of all this and, as human being pure and simple, confronts the great perspectives of the world. In this case he carries what he himself has absorbed into the atmosphere of the classroom when he enters it and gives his lesson.