Punishments are often opposed to the real development of the child’s nature. In the Waldorf School we have had some very gratifying experiences of this. What is the usual method of punishment in schools? If a child has done something badly he has to “stay in” and do some Arithmetic for instance.
Now in the Waldorf School we once had rather a strange experience: three or four children were told that they had done their work badly and must therefore stay in and do some sums. Whereupon the others said: “But we want to stay and do sums too!” For they had been brought up to think of Arithmetic as something nice to do, not as something which is used as a punishment.
You should not arouse in the children the idea that staying in to do sums is something bad, but that it is a good thing to do. That is why the whole class wanted to stay and do sums. So that you must not choose punishments that cannot be regarded as such if the child is to be educated in a healthy way in his soul life.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – The Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 3 – Torquay, 14th August 1924
Translated by Helen Fox
Previously posted on November 9, 2016