The principle which has ruined so much in our culture

It does not matter, you see, if you say a great deal to the child which he will only understand later. The principle that you should only teach the child what he already understands, what he can already form an opinion on, is the principle which has ruined so much in our culture. A very famous educator of a still more famous personality of to-day once boasted that he had educated this person on this principle: he said: “I have educated this young man well, for I have made him form an immediate opinion on everything.” 

Now very many people today are in agreement with this principle of forming opinions about everything and it is not remarkable that you find a very well-known teacher (Georg Hinzpeter (1827-1907) of a still better-known personality (Prince Wilhelm von Preußen) wishing to emphasize this principle again in pedagogical books. I have even found it said in a modern pedagogical work referring to this principle: It only remains to desire that such a model education might be given to every German boy and every German girl. You see from this that examples are plentiful among present-day educationists, of how not to behave, for this kind of educating conceals a great tragedy, and this tragedy again is connected with the present world catastrophe.

The point, then, is not that the child should at once form an opinion on everything imaginable, but that between the seventh and fifteenth year he absorbs what he is to absorb, from love for his teacher, from a sense of his authority.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 294 – Practical Course for Teachers – Stuttgart, 25th August, 1919

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on August 4, 2019

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