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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Human Values in Education
GA 310

The underlying thesis of these lectures is that a true education must be founded on a knowledge of man, and that there can be no true knowledge of man without love. In pursuit of this knowledge of man the lectures investigate every aspect of the child's growth in its threefold aspect of body, soul and spirit. But they also show how the teacher must develop himself if he is to prove worthy of his calling.

In Steiner's view it is man who gives significance to the world: and the lectures contain the terrible indictment that ‘the world significance of modern education is that it is gradually undermining the significance of the world.’ The lectures show how education can restore to man the significance of the world, and to the world the significance of man.

This lecture series, translated by Vera Compton-Burnett, was published in German as, Paedagogische Wert der Menschenerkenntnis und der Kulturwert der Paedagogik.

I.Anthroposophical Education Based on a Knowledge of Man July 17, 1924
Anthroposophical Education based on a knowledge of man. Theoretical knowledge fails in life, as illustrated in business affairs and medicine. External educational psychology does not understand the living child. Love the first essential in education. Child descends from spiritual worlds by divine grace. Cleverness of modern education programmes. No programme in Waldorf School, only teachers and children. Relation between the physical and the soul-spiritual in childhood differs from that in adult. Old age in early epochs. Maturation regresses in history. Greek relation to sculpture. Genius in childhood. Teacher compared to a gardener.
II.Descent into the Physical Body, Goethe and Schiller July 18, 1924
Experiences in childhood may not produce their effects till the fifties. Need to understand effect of experience in spiritual world exemplified by Goethe and Schiller. Goethe's difficulty in entering body, but his subsequent good health and good looks. Long trunk and short legs a sign of harmonious adaptation to the body. Productive power in the middle of Goethe's life. Schiller's disharmony with his body. His ugly head, long legs, and weak rhythmic system, leading to cramps. All this due to stoppages in the fulfilment of karma. Similar conditions illustrated in acquaintance of Steiner, who also could not bring experience of spiritual world into physical. He suffered from stutter and squint and died after operation for the latter at 30. He would have had difficulty in developing consciousness soul at 35. Schiller prevented from finishing things by his cramp. The “Malteser” and “Demetrius.” Mystery of his death. Importance of listening to children's voices.
III.Stages of Childhood July 19, 1924
Importance of stages of childhood. Fine distinctions necessary. Mother's milk mediates child into world into which he grows in first seven years. Movement, gesture and imitation characterise this period. Distinction in early movements. Speech arises from movement. Vowels. Consonants. Religious devotion to world reaches to the physical body. Environment affects child's organism. The counting horse explained. After seven comes feeling for coordination and for speech, which arises from gesture. Authority of teacher vital. Teaching immortality through the symbol of the butterfly. Letters to be introduced as pictures. Two theories of origin of a speech. Outer and inner harmonised in consonants and vowels. Examples of picture letters. Realistic dolls condemned. “Study of Man” at ten or eleven and its effect on modelling. Greek artists and the model. Living teaching necessary. A question answered.
IV.Three Epochs of Childhood July 20, 1924
A question concerning imitation from a very young age. Reflection of the three epochs of childhood in gesture, speaking, thinking within the first epoch. Writing to be taught before reading because more active. Etheric forces freed from body at change of teeth; until then soul revealed in body. After this teaching in pictures needed to develop etheric. Astral (within etheric) works musically. Between 9th and 10th years the ego becomes conscious, and teaching of outer world can begin with plants. Plant never to be divorced from earth. The right treatment of the soil. Abstractions of modern thought in connection with speed of sound. Working of subconscious in child. Animals do not belong to earth, like plants, but are exaggerations of human form. Art for the etheric, music for the astral. The two combined manifest in Eurythmy, which must supplement Gymnastics. History and Geography to be taught pictorially till twelfth year, when child first understands causation. Explanation of child's so-called “animism.” Danger of making all subjects “visual.” Need for children to assimilate living concepts that grow. Dead concepts and sclerosis.
V.The Teachers' Conference in the Waldorf School July 21, 1924
Importance of Teacher's Conference in Waldorf School. Insight needed to determine whether a talent is healthy or unhealthy. The super-sensible is revealed in physical body of child, clairvoyance not needed. Example of a late developer. Hamerling's difficulty with the German language. Special class for children whose physical body does not release the spiritual. Medical knowledge for teachers. Steiner's own experience with hydrocephalic boy. Difference of classes where boys or girls predominate. Reciprocal feeling between teachers and children. The “main lesson” method and versatility of the teachers. Promise in the rascal. Goodness may be due to illness. Punishment. Qualifications for teachers. A unified educational ideal described. Contrast in parallel classes in Waldorf School. Behaviour of children at an inspection.
VI.Meetings of Parents and Teachers July 22, 1924
Meetings of parents and teachers. Teachers should visit parents. Confidence of child in teacher begins to weaken between 9th and 10th year. How to strengthen it. Stories from the Gospels. Teacher is to read the book of the child. He should be inspired by anthroposophy but not teach it. Children should be kept in their own environment. Activities of children should be real. Children's sense of colour. Eurythmy should first be shown as an art, not as demonstrated by children. Abstract definitions to be avoided. Joy of understanding later in life what was learnt earlier. Experiencing good as pleasure and bad as displeasure in middle epoch is true basis of morality, 1st seven years, Gratitude; 2nd seven years, Love; 3rd seven years, Duty. Astral descends at puberty into physical and etheric, but is already working in twelfth year. Every man is bi-sexual, the male having female etheric body and vice versa.
VII.Diet for Children, Four Temperaments July 23, 1924
Anthroposophy sees spiritual world in concrete detail. It sees the spiritual in the physical and the physical as manifesting the spiritual. Treatment of pale child and over-red child (a) by medicine and (b) by education through right use of memory. The four temperaments. Advantage of grouping children by temperament. Teacher to embody and use all temperaments. Co-operation of school and home in matter of diet. Melancholic child to have more sugar, sanguine child less. Child of quick comprehension, who quickly forgets, may need to eat less potato. Sugar consumption in England and Russia. Effect of potato on intelligence in Europe. Deeper grasp with less detail changed to quick and more superficial intelligence. Coffee helps logical thoughts — for writers. Tea produces fleeting thoughts — for diplomats. Typical forms of carbohydrates, as seen through microscope, appear in astral body of potato consumers. Modern divorce of Art, Science and Religion. Supersensible sometimes allowed today in art (Björnson) and appears in strange places. Mystery Centres were places of unity of art, science and religion, which uniting man needs again today.
VIII.Modelling of Bodies July 24, 1924
The four kingdoms of nature. The etheric body re-models physical in first seven years, but traces of the original model may survive. All teachers should practise sculpture, which helps in understanding etheric forces. Astral body fashioned out of music. Ancient architecture formed musically. From Greek age the mechanical and mathematical supplanted the musical. First Goetheanum again formed musically. Through astral man's body is a musical creation e.g. in breathing and blood circulation. Ratio of breath and pulse was basis of ancient poetry. The arm as formed by the musical scale. Singing and instruments to be taught in first school years. Intellectual, artistic and musical training needed for teachers to understand physical, etheric and astral. Ego reveals itself in speech. Differences of languages. Kopf and Testa. Example of form in speech. Observation needed by teacher, not intellect. The class and the individual child. History. Personalities and description of customs from 10th to 12th years. Making time spatially visible. Arithmetic to start with the whole.
IX.Styles in Education, Historical Examples July 24, 1924
Relation of teacher and pupil in ancient East. Waldorf Education is for the whole man. Greek education based on the Gymnast. Women today more mobile in thinking than men. Greek thinking illustrated. Roman education less universal and based on the Rhetorician. This education still found in the mediaeval seven liberal arts, and even into Jesuit training. Modern education since the Renaissance limited to the intellect and its representative figure is the Professor. A modern professor of “Eloquence” who taught only archaeology. Abstract ideas in Marx of which none saw the consequences. Modern finance impersonal and out of touch with reality. Story of Rothschild and the ambassador. Prime need of a teacher is not knowledge but the understanding of man. Modern education destroys significance of world. Needed — medical knowledge for teacher, educational knowledge for doctor.
X.Closing Words, the Relation of the Art of Teaching to the Anthroposophical Movement July 24, 1924
Thanks to organiser of the course. Spiritual revelation in ancient Mysteries worked in practical life. The same principle in new forms is possible today and is found in Waldorf education. The situation of anthroposophy compared to the early Christianity of the catacombs. The fate of the gnosis — to be obliterated — must not befall anthroposophy. The founding of Eurythmy and of the anthroposophical medical and educational movements arose from human needs and human personalities. The founding of the Waldorf School by Emil Molt coincided with a moment of freedom. Religious teaching in the Waldorf School. Its financial difficulties. It must be nurtured by love. Request by the top class in the school for an anthroposophical university. The problem of matriculation interfering with the curriculum dealt with by adding a 13th class. Progress or retrogression in civilisation depends on education. Waldorf education can show how anthroposophy works out of life.