It is absolutely possible for an individual to exhibit qualities which compel us to treat him as mentally inferior, feeble-minded: nevertheless the same person may utter things — which are full of life and wit to the point of genius. That is quite possible. And why? Because of the extreme suggestibility associated with certain types of mental inferiority; a suggestibility open to all the mysterious influences of the environment and reflecting them as a mirror.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine: Lecture XIII – Dornach, 2nd April 1920

Untold damage

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.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 310 – Human Values in Education: LECTURE VIArnheim, 22nd July 1924

Thoughts as real as deeds

The materialist believes that he hurts a man when he throws a stone at him, on the other hand he believes that a hate thought he cherishes towards his fellow man, does not hurt. But who really knows the world, knows that much, much stronger effects are caused by a hatred thought than ever can be caused by a thrown stone.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – The Theosophy of the Rosicrusian – München, May 30, 1907

Previously posted on September 26, 2012.

If I give a child moral precepts I make morality distasteful, disgusting, to him

This is of enormous importance in its application to moral education: if we give the child definite precepts in conceptual form, we oblige him to come to morality in the form of ideas, and then antipathy arises; man’s inner organism sets itself against abstract moral precepts or commandments, it opposes them. But I can encourage the child to form his own moral sentiments direct from life, from feeling, from example and subsequently lead him on to the breaking down, to the catabolic stage, and get him to formulate moral principles as a free autonomous being. In this case I am helping him to an activity which benefits his entire being. Thus, if I give a child moral precepts I make morality distasteful, disgusting, to him, and this fact plays an important part in modern social life. You have no idea how much disgust human beings have felt for some of the most beautiful, the noblest, the mast majestic of man’s moral impulses because they have been presented to them in the form of precepts, in the form of intellectual ideas.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 – Spiritual Ground of Education: Lecture IX: The Teachers of the Waldorf School – Oxford, 25th August 1922

About arithmetic and moral principles

A child is able to take in the elements of Arithmetic at quite an early age. But in arithmetic we observe how very easily an intellectual element can be given the child too soon. Mathematics as such is alien to no man at any age. It arises in human nature; the operations of mathematics are not foreign to human faculty in the way letters are foreign in a succeeding civilisation. But it is exceedingly important that the child should be introduced to arithmetic and mathematics in the right way. And what this is can really only be decided by one who is enabled to overlook the whole of human life from a certain spiritual standpoint.

There are two things which in logic seem very far removed from one another: arithmetic and moral principles. It is not usual to hitch arithmetic on to moral principles because there seems no obvious logical connection between them. But it is apparent to one who looks at the matter, not logically, but livingly, that the child who has a right introduction to arithmetic will have quite a different feeling of moral responsibility from the child who has not. And — this may seem extremely paradoxical to you, but since I am speaking of realities and not of the illusions current in our age, I will not be afraid of seeming paradoxical, for in this age truth often seems paradoxical. — If, then, men had known how to permeate the soul with mathematics in the right way during these past years we should not now have bolshevism in Eastern Europe. This it is that one perceives: what forces connect the faculty used in arithmetic with the springs of morality in man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 – Spiritual Ground of Education: Lecture V: How Knowledge Can Be Nurture – Oxford, 21st August 1922

Where education is concerned, people claim straightaway to know how to educate

I would merely like to say that when one speaks on educational questions at the present day one finds oneself in a peculiar situation. For if one sees much that needs reforming in education, it is as much as to say that one is not satisfied with one’s own education. One implies that one’s own education has been exceedingly bad. And yet, as a product of this very bad education, of this education in which one finds so much to criticise — for other-wise why be a reformer? — one sets up to know the right way to educate! This is the first thing that involves a contradiction. The second thing is one which gives one a slight feeling of shame in face of the audience when speaking on education, — for one realises that one is speaking of what education ought to be and how it must be different from present day practice. So that it amounts to saying: you are all badly educated. And yet one is appealing to those who are badly educated to bring about a better education. One assumes that both the speaker and the audience know very well what good education should be in spite of the fact that they have been exceedingly badly educated.

Now this is a contradiction, but it is one which life itself presents us, and it can really only be solved by the view of education which is here being described. For one can perfectly well know what is the matter with education and in what respects it should be improved, just as one can know that a picture is well painted without possessing the faintest capacity for painting a picture oneself. You can consider yourself capable of appreciating the merits of a picture by Raphael without thinking yourself capable of painting a Raphael picture. In fact it would be a good thing to-day if people would think like this. But they are not content with merely knowing, where education is concerned, they claim straightaway to know how to educate; as though someone who is no painter and could not possibly become a painter, should set up to show how a badly painted picture should be painted well.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 – Spiritual Ground of Education: Lecture IV: Body Viewed from the Spirit – Oxford, 19th August 1922

Pain only becomes greater the more we think about it

As everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it. It is not the objective damage but the pain of it that increases as we think more about it. In certain respects, the very best remedy for the overcoming of pain is to bring yourself, if you can, not to think about it.

Source:Rudolf Steiner – GA 302aEducation for Adolescents – Stuttgart, 21th June 1922