An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties

We may meet a person who seems to be very stupid, but who has brought with himself a concealed higher life that needs only to be brought out. Most human beings these days are much further than it seems, and more people would know about this if the materialism of our conditions and of our time would not drive them back into the inner life of the soul. A large percentage of today’s human beings was previously much further advanced. Whether that which is within them will come forth depends on many factors. But it is possible to give some help. Suppose you have before you a person who was highly developed in his earlier incarnation, but now has an undeveloped brain. An undeveloped brain may at times conceal great spiritual faculties. But if he can be taught the usual everyday abilities, it may happen that the inner spirituality also comes forth.

Another important factor is the environment in which a person lives. The human being is a mirror-image of his surroundings in a most significant way. Suppose that a person is a highly developed personality, but lives in surroundings that awaken and develop certain prejudices with such a strong effect that the higher talents cannot come forth. Unless such a person finds someone who can draw out these abilities, they will remain hidden.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Esoteric Development: Lecture I: Inner Development – Berlin, 7th December 1905

Translated by Gertrude Teutsch

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Painting by Lutz Baar

Previously posted  on July 4, 2018

The first seven years of life / Pleasure and delight

There is one thing that must be thoroughly and fully recognized for this age of the child’s life (Steiner talks here about the first seven years). It is that the physical body creates its own scale of measurement for what is beneficial to it. This it does by the proper development of craving and desire. Generally speaking, we may say that the healthy physical body desires what is good for it. In the growing human being, so long as it is the physical body that is important, we should pay the closest attention to what the healthy craving, desire and delight require. Pleasure and delight are the forces which most rightly quicken and call forth the physical forms of the organs.

In this matter it is all too easy to do harm by failing to bring the child into a right relationship, physically, with his environment. Especially may this happen in regard to his instincts for food. The child may be overfed with things that completely make him lose his healthy instinct for food, whereas by giving him the right nourishment the instinct can be so preserved that he always wants what is wholesome for him under the circumstances, even to a glass of water, and turns just as surely from what would do him harm. Anthroposophical Science, when called upon to build up an art of education, will be able to indicate all these things in detail, even specifying particular forms of food and nourishment. For Anthroposophy is realism, it is no grey theory; it is a thing for life itself.

Thus the joy of the child, in and with his environment, must be reckoned among the forces that build and mould the physical organs. Teachers he needs with happy look and manner, and above all with an honest unaffected love. A love which as it were streams through the physical environment of the child with warmth may literally be said to ‘hatch out’ the forms of the physical organs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Translated by George and Mary Adams

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See also:

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-1-of-3/

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-2-of-3/

https://rudolfsteinerquotes.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/fragments-from-the-education-of-the-child-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy-3-end/

Previously posted on October 4, 2020

Why should I learn what the teacher does not know himself?

It always fills me with horror to see a teacher standing in his class with a book in his hand teaching out of the book, or a notebook in which he has noted down the questions he wants to ask the children and to which he keeps referring. The child does not appear to notice this with his upper consciousness, it is true; but if you are aware of these things then you will see that the children have subconscious wisdom and say to themselves: He does not himself know what I am supposed to be learning. Why should I learn what he does not know? This is always the judgment that is passed by the subconscious nature of children who are taught by their teacher out of a book.

Such are the imponderable and subtle things that are so extremely important in teaching. For as soon as the subconscious of the child notices that the teacher himself does not know something he has to teach, but has to look it up in a book first, then the child considers it unnecessary that he should learn it either.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 3 – Torquai, 14th August 1924

Translated by Helen Fox

The teacher with glasses holding a book in his hands.

Previously posted on May 12, 2018

Steiner as an educator and home teacher (3 of 3)

My young charge was successfully guided through the Gymnasium; I continued with him even to the Unter-Prima. By that time he had made such progress that he no longer needed me. After completing the Gymnasium he entered the school of medicine, became a physician, and in this capacity he was later a victim of the World War. The mother, who had become a true friend of mine because of what I had done for her boy, and who clung to this child of sorrow with the most devoted love, soon followed him in death. The father had already gone from this world.

A good portion of my youthful life was bound up with the task which had grown so close to me. For a number of years I went during the summer with the family of the children whom I had to tutor to the Attersee in the Salzkammergut, and there became familiar with the noble Alpine nature of Upper Austria. I was gradually able to eliminate the private lessons I had continued to give to others even after beginning this tutoring, and thus I had time left for prosecuting my own studies.

In the life I led before coming into this family I had little opportunity for sharing in the play of children. In this way it came about that my “play-time” came after my twentieth year. I had then to learn also how to play, for I had to direct the play, and this I did with great enjoyment. To be sure, I think I have not played any less in my life than other men. Only in my case what is usually done in this direction before the tenth year I repeated from the twenty-third to the twenty-eighth year.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter VI

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Pauline Specht – Mother of Otto

Previously posted on April 30, 2018

Steiner as an educator and home teacher (2 of 3)

This educational task became to me the source from which I myself learned very much. Through the method of instruction which I had to apply there was laid open to my view the association between the spiritual-mental and the bodily in man. Then I went through my real course of study in physiology and psychology. I became aware that teaching and instructing must become an art having its foundation in a genuine understanding of man. I had to follow out with great care an economic principle. I frequently had to spend two hours in preparing for half an hour of instruction in order to get the material for instruction in such a form that in the least time, and with the least strain upon the mental and physical powers of the child, I might reach his highest capacity for achievement. The order of the subjects of instruction had to be carefully considered; the division of the entire day into periods had to be properly determined. I had the satisfaction of seeing the child in the course of two years accomplish the work of the Volkschule, and successfully pass the examination for entrance to the Gymnasium. Moreover, his physical condition had materially improved. The hydrocephalic condition was markedly diminishing. I was able to advise the parents to send the child to a public school. It seemed to me necessary that he should find his vital development in company with other children. I continued to be a tutor for several years in the family, and gave special attention to this boy, who was always guided to make his way through the school in such a way that his home activities should be carried through in the spirit in which they were begun. I then had the inducement, in the way I have already mentioned, to increase my knowledge of Latin and Greek, for I was responsible for the tutoring of this boy and another in this family for the Gymnasium lessons.

I must needs feel grateful to Fate for having brought me into such a life relationship. For through this means I developed in vital fashion a knowledge of the being of man which I do not believe could have been developed by me so vitally in any other way. Moreover, I was taken into the family in an extraordinarily affectionate way; we came to live a beautiful life in common. The father of these boys was a sales-agent for Indian and American cotton. I was thus able to get a glimpse of the working of business, and of much that is connected with this. Moreover, through this I learned a great deal. I had an inside view of the conduct of a branch of an unusually interesting import business, and could observe the intercourse between business friends and the interlinking of many commercial and industrial activities.

To be continued


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter VI

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Otto, Richard and Arthur Specht

Previously posted on April 29, 2018