Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Kingdom of Childhood
GA 311

Lecture II

13 August 1924, Torquay

I pointed out yesterday how the child's development undergoes a radical change with the loss of his first teeth. For in truth, what we call heredity or inherited characteristics are only directly active during the first epoch of life. It is however the case that during the first seven years a second life organism is gradually built up in the physical body, which is fashioned after the model of the inherited organism. This second organism is, we may say, completed at the changing of the teeth. If the individual who comes down out of the spiritual pre-earthly world is weak, then this second life organism is similar to the inherited one. If the individual is strong, then we see how in the period between the change of teeth and puberty, from seven years till about fourteen, a kind of victory is gradually accomplished over the inherited characteristics. Children become quite different and they even change in their outward bodily form.

It is specially interesting to follow the qualities of soul which now reveal themselves in this second life epoch. In the first epoch, before the change of teeth, we may describe the child as being wholly “sense-organ.” You must take this quite literally: wholly sense-organ.

Take for example the human eye or ear. What is the characteristic of such a sense-organ? The characteristic thing is that the sense-organ is acutely sensitive to the impressions of the outer world. And if you observe the eye you can certainly see what kind of process takes place. The child during the first seven years is really completely and wholly an eye. Now consider only this thought: in the eye a picture is formed, an inverted picture, of every external object. This is what ordinary Physics teaches everyone. That which is outside in the world is to be found within the eye as a picture. Physics stops here, but this picture-forming process is really only the beginning of what one should know concerning the eye; it is the most external physical fact.

But if the physicist would look upon this picture with a finer sense of observation, then he would see that it determines the course of the circulation of the blood in the choroid. The whole choroid is conditioned in its blood circulation by the nature of this picture within the eye. The whole eye adjusts itself according to these things. These are the finer processes that are not taken into consideration by our ordinary Physics. But the child during the first seven years is really an eye. If something takes place in the child's environment, let us say, to take an extreme example, a fit of temper when someone becomes furiously angry, then the whole child will have a picture within him of this outburst of rage. The etheric body makes a picture of it. From it something passes over into the entire circulation of the blood and the metabolic system, something which is related to this outburst of anger.

This is so in the first seven years, and according to this the organism adjusts itself. Naturally these are not crude happenings, they are delicate processes. But if a child grows up in the proximity of an angry father or a hot-tempered teacher, then the vascular system, the blood vessels, will follow the line of the anger. The results of this implanted tendency in the early years will then remain through the whole of the rest of life.

These are the things that matter most for the young child. What you say to him, what you teach him, does not yet make any impression, except in so far as he imitates what you say in his own speech. But it is what you are that matters; if you are good this goodness will appear in your gestures, and if you are evil or bad-tempered this also will appear in your gestures—in short, everything that you do yourself passes over into the child and pursues its way within him. This is the essential point. The child is wholly sense-organ, and reacts to all the impressions aroused in him by the people around him. Therefore the essential thing is not to imagine that the child can learn what is good or bad, that he can learn this or that, but to know that everything that is done in his presence is transformed in his childish organism into spirit, soul and body. Health for the whole of life depends on how one conducts oneself in the presence of the child. The inclinations which he develops depend on how one behaves in his presence.

But all the things that we are usually advised to do with Kindergarten children are quite worthless. The things which are introduced as Kindergarten education are usually extraordinarily “clever.” One is, I might say, quite fascinated by the cleverness of what has been thought out for Kindergartens in the course of the nineteenth century. The children certainly learn a great deal there, they almost learn to read. They are supplied with letters of the alphabet which they have to fit into cut out letters and such like. It all looks very clever and one can easily be tempted io believe that it really is something suitable for children, but it is of no use at all. It really has no value whatsoever, and the whole soul of the child is spoilt by it. Even down into the body, right down into physical health, the child is ruined. Through such Kindergarten methods weaklings in body and soul are bred for later life.1In Germany the children remain in the “Kindergarten” until their seventh year so that the above remarks apply to all school life up to this time, (including, for instance, the “Infants” Departments of State Schools in England).

On the other hand, if we were simply to have the children there in the Kindergarten and so conduct ourselves that they could imitate us, if we were to do all kinds of things that the children could copy out of their own inner impulse of soul, as they have been accustomed to do in the pre-earthly existence, then indeed the children would become like ourselves, but it is for us to see that we are worthy of this imitation. This is what you must pay attention to during the first seven years of life and not what you express outwardly in words as a moral idea.

If you make a surly face so that the child gets the impression you are a grumpy person, this harms him for the rest of his life. This is why it is so important, especially for little children, that as a teacher one should enter very thoroughly into the observation of a human being and human life. What kind of school plan you make is neither here nor there; what matters is what sort of a person you are. In our day it is easy enough to think out a curriculum, because everyone in our age is now so clever. I am not saying this ironically; in our day people really are clever. Whenever a few people get together and decide that this or that must be done in education, something clever always comes out of it. I have never known a stupid educational programme; they are always very clever. But it is not a question of having programmes of this kind. What matters is that we should have people in the school who can work in the way I have indicated. We must develop this way of thinking, for an immense amount depends upon it, especially for that age or life epoch of the child in which he is really entirely sense-organ.

Now when the change of teeth is complete the child is no longer a sense-organ in the same degree as previously. This already diminishes between the third and fourth year, but before then the child has quite special peculiarities of which one generally knows nothing whatever. When you eat something sweet or sour you perceive it on the tongue and palate, but when the child drinks milk he feels the taste of milk through his whole body for he is also an organ of sense with regard to taste. He tastes with his whole body; there are many remarkable instances of this.

Children take their cue from the grown-ups and therefore at fifteen, sixteen or twenty they are, nowadays, already blasé and have lost their freshness, but there are still children to be found who in their early years are wholly sense-organ, though life is not easy for such. I knew for example a small boy who on being given something to eat that he knew he would enjoy, approached the delectable object not only with those organs with which one generally approaches food, but he steered towards it with his hands and feet; he was in fact wholly an organ of taste. The remarkable thing is that in his ninth or tenth year he became a splendid Eurythmist and developed a great understanding for Eurythmy. So what he began by “paddling” up to his food as a little child was developed further in his will organs at a later age.

I do not say these things jokingly but in order to give you examples of how to observe. You very rarely hear people relating such things as these, but they are happening every moment. People fail to perceive these characteristic phenomena of life and only think out how to educate the young instead of observing life itself.

Life is interesting in every detail, from morning till evening; the smallest things are interesting. Notice, for instance, how two people take a pear from a fruit bowl. No two people take the pear in the same way; it is always different. The whole character of a person is expressed in the way he takes the pear from the fruit dish and puts it on his plate, or straight into his mouth as the case may be.

If people would only cultivate more power of observation of this kind, the terrible things would not develop in schools which one unfortunately so often sees today. One scarcely sees a child now who holds his pen or pencil correctly. Most children hold them wrongly, and this is because we do not know how to observe properly. This is a very difficult thing to do, and it is not easy in the Waldorf School either. One frequently enters a class where drastic changes are needed in the way the children hold their pencils or pens. You must never forget that the human being is a whole, and as such he must acquire dexterity in all directions. Therefore what the teacher needs is observation of life down to the minutest details.

And if you are specially desirous of having formulated axioms, then take this as the first principle of a real art of education. You must be able to observe life in all its manifestations.

One can never learn enough in this direction. Look at the children from behind, for instance. Some walk by planting the whole foot on the ground, others trip along on their toes, and there can be every kind of differentiation between these two extremes. Yes indeed, to educate a child one must know quite precisely how he walks. For the child who treads on his heels shows in this one small characteristic of his physical body that he was very firmly planted in life in his former incarnation, that he was interested in everything in his former earth life. In such a case you must draw as much as possible out of the child himself, for there are many things hidden away in such children who walk strongly on their heels. On the other hand the children who trip along, who scarcely use their heels in walking, have gone through their former earth life in a superficial way. You will not be able to get much out of these children, but when you are with them you must make a point of doing a great many things yourself that they can copy.

In this kind of way you should experience the changing of the teeth through careful observation. The fact that the child was previously wholly sense-organ now enables him to develop above all the gift of fantasy and symbolism. And one muss reckon with this even in play. Our materialistic age sins terribly against it. Take for example the so-called beautiful dolls that are so often given to children nowadays. They have such beautifully formed faces, wonderfully painted cheeks, and even eyes with which they can go to sleep when laid down, real hair and goodness knows what all! But with this the fantasy of the child is killed, for it leaves nothing to his imagination and the child can take no great pleasure in it. But if you make a doll out of a serviette or a handkerchief with two ink spots for eyes, a dab of ink for a mouth, and some sort of arms, then the child can add a great deal to it with his imagination.

It is particularly good for a child when he can add as much as possible to his playthings with his own fantasy, when he can develop a symbolising activity. Children should have as few things as possible that are well finished and complete and what people call “beautiful.” For the beauty of such a doll that I have described above with real hair and so on, is only a conventional beauty. In truth it is horribly ugly because it is so inartistic.

Never forget that in the period round about the change of teeth the child passes over into the age of imagination and fantasy. It is not the intellect but fantasy which fills his life at this age. You as teachers must also be able to develop this life of fantasy, for those who bear a true knowledge of the human being in their souls are able to do this. It is indeed so that a true knowledge of man loosens and releases the inner life of soul and brings a smile to the face. Sour and grumpy faces come only from lack of knowledge. Certainly one can have a diseased organ which leaves traces of illness on the face; this does not matter, for the child takes no account of these things, but if the inner nature of a person is filled with a living knowledge of what man is, this will be expressed in his face, and this it is that can make him a really good teacher.

And so between the change of teeth and puberty you must educate out of the very essence of imagination. For the quality that makes a child under seven so wholly into a sense-organ now becomes more inward; it enters the soul life. The sense-organs do not think; they perceive pictures, or rather they form pictures from the external objects. And even when the child's sense experiences have already a quality of soul, it is not a thought that emerges but an image, albeit a soul image, an imaginative picture. Therefore in your teaching you must work in pictures, in images.

Now we can work least of all in pictures if we are teaching the child something that is really quite foreign to him. For example, the calligraphy of today is quite foreign to the child whether in the written or printed letters. He has no relation whatever to this thing which is called an “A.” Why should he have a relation to an “A”? Why should he be interested in an “L”? These are quite foreign to him, this “A,” this “L.” Nevertheless when the child comes to school we take him into the classroom and start to teach him these things. The result is that he feels no contact with what he has to do. And if we teach him this before the change of teeth and set him to stick letters into cut-out holes, for example, then we are giving him things that lie right outside his nature and to which he has not the slightest relationship.

But what he does possess is an artistic sense, a faculty for creating imaginative pictures. It is to this that we must appeal, to this we must turn. We should avoid a direct approach to the conventional letters of the alphabet which are used in the writing and printing of civilised man. Rather should we lead the children, in a vivid and imaginative way, through the various stages which man himself has passed through in the history of civilisation.

In former times there was picture writing; that is to say, people painted something on the page which reminded them of the object. We do not need to study the history of civilisation, but we can show the child the meaning and spirit of what man wanted to express in picture writing. Then he will feel at home in his lessons.

For example: Let us take the word “Mund”—English “mouth.” Get the child to draw a mouth, or rather paint it. Let him put on dabs of red colour and then tell him to pronounce the word; you can say to him: don't pronounce the whole word but begin only with M; and now we can form the M out of the upper lip (see drawing). If you follow this

Diagram 1

process you can get your M out of the mouth which we first painted.

This is how writing really originated, only today it is difficult to recognise from the words themselves that the letters were once pictures, because the words have all been subject to change in the course of the evolution of speech. Originally each sound had its own image and each picture could have but one meaning.

You do not need to go back to these original characters, but you can invent ways and means of your own. The teacher must be inventive, he must create out of the spirit of the thing. Let us take the word “fish.” Let the child draw or paint some kind of fish. Let him say the beginning of the word: “F,” and you can gradually get the F out of the picture (see drawing).

And thus, if you are inventive, you can find in point of fact, pictures for all the consonants. They can be worked out from a kind of painting-drawing, or drawing-painting. This is more awkward to deal with than the methods of today. For it is of course essential that after the children have been doing

Diagram 2

this painting for an hour or two you have to clear it all away. But this just has to be so, there is nothing else to be done.

From this you can see how the letters can be developed out of pictures and the pictures again directly out of life. This is the way you must do it. On no account should you teach reading first, but proceeding from your drawing-painting and painting-drawing, you allow the letters to arise out of these, and then you can pass over to reading.

If you look around you will find plenty of objects which you can use to develop the consonants in this way. All the consonants can be developed from the initial letters of the words describing these objects.

It is not so easy for the vowels. But perhaps for the vowels the following is possible. Suppose you say to the child: “Look at the beautiful sun! You must really admire it; stand like this so that you can look up and admire the glorious sun.” The child stands, looks up and then expresses its wonder thus: Ah! Then you paint this gesture and you actually have the Hebrew A, the sound Ah, the sound of wonder. Now you only need to make it smaller and gradually turn it into the letter A (see drawing).

And so if you bring before the child something of an inner soul quality and above all what is expressed in Eurythmy, letting him take up this position or that, then you can develop the vowels also in the way I have mentioned. Eurythmy will

Diagram 3

be of very great help to you because the sounds are already formed in the Eurythmy gestures and movements. Think for instance of an O. One embraces something lovingly. Out of this one can obtain the 0 (see drawing). You can really get the vowels from the gesture, the movement.

Diagram 4

Thus you must work out of observation and imagination, and the children will then come to know the sounds and the letters from the things themselves. You must start from the picture. The letter, as we know it today in its finished form, has a history behind it. It is something that has been simplified from a picture, but the kind of magical signs of the printed letters of the present day no longer tell us what the picture was like.

When the Europeans, these “better men,” went to America at the time when the “savages,” the Indians, were still there,—even in the middle of the nineteenth century such things happened—they showed these savages printed writing and the Indians ran away from it because they thought the letters were little devils. And they said: The Pale-faces, as the Indians called the Europeans, communicate with each other by means of little devils, little demons.

But this is just what letters are for children. They mean nothing to them. The child feels something demonic in the letters, and rightly so. They have already become a means of magic because they are merely signs.

You must begin with the picture. That is not a magic sign but something real and you must work from this.

People will object that the children then learn to read and write too late. This is only said because it is not known today how harmful it is when the children learn to read and write too soon. It is a very bad thing to be able to write early. Reading and Writing as we have them today are really not suited to the human being till a later age, in the eleventh or twelfth year, and the more one is blessed with not being able to read and write well before this age, the better it is for the later years of life. A child who cannot write properly at thirteen or fourteen (I can speak out of my own experience because I could not do it at that age) is not so hindered for later spiritual development as one who early, at seven or eight years, can already read and write perfectly. These are things which the teacher must notice.

Naturally one will not be able to proceed as one really should today because the children have to pass from your Independent School into public life. But a very great deal can be done nevertheless when one knows these things. It is a question of knowledge. And your knowledge must show you, above all, that it is quite wrong to teach reading before writing, for in writing, especially if it is developed from the painting-drawing, drawing-painting, that I have spoken of, the whole human being is active. The fingers take part, the position of the body, the whole man is engaged. In reading only the head is occupied and anything which only occupies a part of the organism and leaves the remaining parts impassive should be taught as late as possible. The most important thing is first to bring the whole being into movement, and later on the single parts.

Naturally if you want to work in this way you cannot expect to be given instructions for all the little details, but only an indication of the path to be followed. Therefore just in this method of education which arises out of Anthroposophy you can build on nothing else but absolute freedom, though this freedom must include the free creative fancy of the teacher and educator.

In the Waldorf School we have been blessed with what I might call a very questionable success. We began with one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty pupils; but these pupils came from the industrial works of Emil Molt, so they were at that time to a certain extent “compulsory” children though we had some children from anthroposophical families besides.2In 1919 the first Rudolf Steiner School was founded by Emil Molt, Director of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory, Stuttgart. The first pupils were all children of the factory workers. In the short time of its existence the Waldorf School has grown so big that we have now more than eight hundred children and between forty and fifty teachers. This is a doubtful success because gradually it becomes impossible to keep a clear view of the whole. From the arrangements of the Waldorf School which I shall describe to you, you will soon see how difficult it is to survey the whole; though I shall later indicate certain ways of making this possible. We have had to form parallel classes; in the case of the fifth and sixth there are three parallel classes: A, B and C. These classes are still overfull and have more children than the other classes in the school.

There is therefore a teacher in Class A, another in Class B. Just imagine how this would work out in a “proper” educational establishment of today. You come into Class I A, where you find a particular educational drill going on which is considered the best. Now you go into Class I B. It could equally well be called ‘A,’ only that different children are sitting there, for in both classes exactly the same thing goes on, because the “right method” is used. This is of course all most cleverly thought out: what is intellectual has but one meaning and it cannot be otherwise.

With us in the Waldorf School you find no such thing. You go into the first Class A. There you see a teacher, man or woman, who is teaching writing. The teacher lets the children make all kinds of forms, let us say with string. They then go on to painting the forms and gradually letters arise. A second teacher likes to do it differently. If you go into Class B you find that this teacher is letting the children “dance” the forms round the room, in order that they may experience the forms of the letters in their own bodies. Then she carries over these forms also into the letters themselves. You would never find uniformity of teaching in Classes A, B and C. The same things are taught but in completely different ways, for a free creative fancy holds sway in the class. There are no prescribed rules for teaching in the Waldorf School, but only one unifying spirit that pervades the whole. It is very important that you should realise this. The teacher is autonomous. Within this one unifying spirit he can do entirely what he thinks right. You will say: Yes, but if everyone can do as he likes, then the whole school will fall into a chaotic condition. For in Class V A, there could be goodness knows what kind of hocus-pocus going on, and in V B, you might find them playing chess. But that is exactly what does not happen in the Waldorf School, for though there is freedom everywhere you will find in each class the spirit which is in accordance with the age of the children.

If you read the Seminar Course, you will see that you are allowed the greatest liberty, and yet the teaching in each class is what is right for that age3Just before the opening of the Waldorf School, in 1919, Dr. Steiner gave three simultaneous courses of lectures to the teachers two of which have been published in English under the titles ofStudy of Man and Practical Advice to Teachers. The strange thing is that no teacher has ever opposed this. They all quite voluntarily accept this principle of a unifying spirit in the work. No one opposes it or wants to have any special arrangements made for himself. On the contrary, the wish is often expressed by the teachers to have as many discussions as possible in their meetings about what should be done in the various classes.

Why does no teacher object to the curriculum? The school has been going for several years. Why do you think that all the teachers approve of the curriculum? They do not find it at all unreasonable. They find it in its very freedom excellent because it is bound up with real true human knowledge.

And just in such things as creating one's teaching matter out of fantasy it can be seen that freedom must prevail in the school. Indeed it does. Each of our teachers has the feeling that it is not only a question of what he himself thinks out and discovers out of his own fantasy, but when I sit with my Waldorf teachers in their meetings, or when I go into the classes, I get more and more the impression that when once the teachers are in their classrooms they actually forget that a plan of teaching has previously been drawn up. In the moment of teaching every teacher imagines that he himself is creating the plan of work. This is the feeling I have when I go into the classes.

Such is the result when real human knowledge lies at the basis of the work. I have to tell you these details even though you might think they were said out of vanity; indeed they are not said out of vanity but that you may know how it is and then go and do likewise; this will show you how what grows out of a true knowledge of man can really enter into the child.

It is on fantasy then, on imagination, that our teaching and education is to be built. You must be quite clear that before the ninth or tenth year the child does not know how to differentiate himself as an ego from his surroundings. Out of a certain instinct the child has long been accustomed to speak of himself as “P,” but in truth he really feels himself within the whole world. He feels that the whole world is connected with himself. But people have the most fantastic ideas about this. They say of primitive races that their feeling for the world is “animism,” that is, they treat lifeless objects as though they were “ensouled,” and that to understand a child you must imagine that he does the same as these primitive peoples. When he knocks against a hard object he hits it because he endows it with a quality of soul.

But that is not at all true. In reality, the child does not “ensoul” the object, but he does not yet distinguish between the living and the lifeless. He considers everything as a unity, and himself also as making up a unity with his surroundings. Not until the age of nine or ten does the child really learn to distinguish himself from his environment. This is something you must take into consideration in the strictest sense if you wish to give your teaching a proper basis.

Therefore it is important to speak of everything that is around the child, plants, animals and even stones, in such a way that all these things talk to each other, that they act among themselves like human beings, that they tell each other things, that they love and hate each other. You must learn to use anthropomorphism in the most inventive ways and speak of all the plants and animals as though they were human. You must not “ensoul” them out of a kind of theory but simply treat them in the way which a child can grasp when he is not yet able to distinguish between the lifeless and the living. For as yet the child has no reason to think that the stone has no soul, whereas the dog has a soul. The first difference he notices is that the dog moves. But he does not ascribe the movement to the fact that he has a soul. One can indeed treat all things that feel and live as if they were people, thinking, feeling and speaking to one another, as if they were persons with sympathy and antipathy for each other. Therefore everything that one brings to a child at this age must be given in the form of fairy tales, legends and stories in which everything is endowed with feeling. The child receives the very best foundation for his soul life when in this way we nourish his instinctive soul qualities of fancy. This must be borne in mind.

If you fill the child with all kinds of intellectual teaching during this age (and this will be the case if we do not transform into pictures everything that we teach him) then later he will have to suffer the effects in his blood vessels and in his circulation. We must consider the child in body, soul and spirit as an absolute unity. This must be said over and over again.

For this task the teacher must have an artistic feeling in his soul, he must be of an artistic disposition. For what works from teacher to child is not only what one thinks out or what one can convey in ideas, but, if I may express myself so, it is the imponderable quality in life. A very great deal passes over from teacher to child unconsciously. The teacher must be aware of this, above all when he is telling fairy tales, stories or legends full of feeling. It very often happens in our materialistic times that we notice how the teacher looks upon what he is telling as childish. He is telling something which he himself does not believe. And here Anthroposophy finds its rightful place if it is to be the guide and leader of the true knowledge of man. We become aware through Anthroposophy that we can express a thing infinitely more fully and more richly if we clothe it in pictures than if we put it into abstract ideas. A child who is naturally healthy feels the necessity to express everything in pictures and to receive everything also in picture form.

Remember how Goethe learnt to play the piano as a boy. He was shown how he had to use the first finger, the second finger, and so on; but he did not like this method, and this dry pedantic teacher of his was repugnant to him. For Father Goethe was an old Philistine, one of the old pedants of Frankfurt who naturally also engaged Philistine teachers for preference, because they are the good ones, as everyone knows. This kind of teaching was repugnant to the boy Goethe, it was too abstract. So he invented for himself the “ Deuterling” (“the little fellow who points”), not “Index finger,” that is too abstract, but “ Deuterling.”4Compare the old country names for the fingers referred to by Walter de la Mare inCome Hither p. 515, e.g. Tom Thumbkin, Bess Bumpkin, Long Linkin, Bill Wilkin and Little Dick.

The child wants an image and he wants to think of him- self as an image too. It is just in these things that we see how the teacher needs to use his fantasy, to be artistic, for then he will meet the child with a truly “living” quality of soul. And this living quality works upon the child in an imponderable way—imponderable in the best sense.

Through Anthroposophy we ourselves learn once more to believe in the legends, fairy tales and myths, for they express a higher truth in imaginative pictures. And then our handling of these fairy tales, legends and mythical stories will once more be filled with a quality of soul. Then when we speak to the child, our very words, permeated as they will be by our own belief in the tales, will flow over to him and carry truth with them; truth will then flow from teacher to child, whereas it is so often untruth that passes between them. Untruth at once holds sway if the teacher says: the child is stupid, I am clever, the child believes in fairy tales so I have to tell them to him. It's the proper thing for him to hear them. When a teacher speaks like this then an intellectual element immediately enters into the relating of the stories.

But the child, especially in the age between the change of teeth and puberty, has a most sensitive feeling for whether the teacher is governed by his fantasy or his intellect. The intellect has a destructive and crippling effect on the child, but fantasy gives it life and impulse.

It is vital that we should make these fundamental thoughts our own. We will speak of them in greater detail during the next few days, but there is one more thing I should like to put before you in conclusion.

Something of very special importance happens to the child between his ninth and tenth year. Speaking in an abstract way we can say that he then learns to differentiate himself from his environment; he feels himself as an “I,” and the environment as something external which does not belong to this “I” of his. But this is an abstract way of expressing it. The reality is this, speaking of course in a general sense: the child of this age approaches his much-loved teacher, be he man or woman, with some problem or difficulty. In most cases he will not actually speak of what is burdening his soul, but will say something different. All the same one has to know that this really comes from the innermost depths of his soul, and the teacher must then find the right approach, the right answer. An enormous amount depends on this for the whole future life of the child concerned. For you cannot work with children of this age, as their teacher, unless you are yourself the unquestioned authority, unless, that is, the child has the feeling: this is true because you hold it to be true, this is beautiful because you find it beautiful, and therefore point it out to him, and this is good because you think it good. You must be for the child the representative of the good, the true and the beautiful. He must be drawn to truth, goodness and beauty simply because he is drawn to you yourself.

And then between the ninth and tenth year this feeling arises instinctively in his subconsciousness: I get everything from my teacher, but where does he get it from? What is behind him? The teacher need not enlarge on this because if you go into definitions and explanations it can only do harm. The important thing is to find a loving word, a word filled with warmth of heart—or rather many words, for these difficulties can go on for weeks and months—so that we can avert this danger and preserve the feeling for authority in the child. For he has now come to a crisis as regards the principle of authority. If you are equal to the situation, and can preserve your authority by the warmth of feeling with which you deal with these particular difficulties, and by meeting the child with inner warmth, sincerity and truth, then much will be gained. The child will retain his belief in the teacher's authority, and that is a good thing for his further education, but it is also essential that just at this age of life between nine and ten the child's belief in a good person should not waver. Were this to happen then the inner security which should be his guide through life will totter and sway.

This is of very great significance and must constantly be borne in mind. In the handbooks on education we find all kinds of intricate details laid down for the guidance of teachers, but it is of far greater importance to know what happens at a certain point in the child's life and how we must act with regard to it, so that through our action we may radiate light on to his whole life.