Practical thinking

The first that must exist with that who wants to experience a practical development of thinking is that he confides in reality, in the reality of thoughts. What does this mean? You cannot scoop water from a glass without water. You cannot take out thoughts from a world without thoughts. It is absurd if one believes that the whole sum of our thoughts and mental pictures exists only in us. 

If anybody disassembles a clock and reflects the principles of its construction, then he must suppose that the watchmaker has joined the parts of the clock first according to these principles. Nobody should believe that one could find any thought from a world, which is not created and formed according to thoughts. All that we learn about nature and its events is nothing else than what must be put first into this nature and its events. It is no thought in our soul, which has not been outdoors in the world first. Aristotle said more correctly than some modern people did: what the human being finds in his thinking last exists in the world outdoors first.

However, if anybody has this confidence in the thoughts, which are contained in the world, then he sees very easily that he has to educate himself at first to a thinking full of interest in the world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 57 – The Practical Development of Thinking – Berlin, 11th February, 1909

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The upbringing of children: the first seven years

The best way to influence the child during his first seven years is through the development of his sense-organs. All the impressions they receive from the outer world are significant, and everything a child sees or hears affects him in terms of his sense-organs. The sense-organs, however, are not influenced by lesson-books or verbal teaching, but by means of example and imitation. The most important thing during the first seven years is to nourish a child’s sense-organs. He will see with his eyes how people round him are behaving.

Aristotle was quite right in saying that man is the most imitative of all creatures; and this is particularly true during the first seven years. Hence during these years we must try to influence a child’s senses, to draw them out so that they become active on their own account. That is why it is such a mistake to give a child one of those “beautiful” dolls; they hinder him from setting his own inner powers to work. A normal child will reject the doll and be much happier with a piece of wood, or with anything which gives his imagination a chance to be active. […]

It is very important that during these early years a child should be surrounded by noble-minded, generous-hearted and affectionate people with good thoughts, for these stamp themselves on the child’s inner life. Example, therefore, in thought and in feeling is the best means of education at this stage. It is not what we say but what we are that influences a child during his first seven years. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the inner members of a child’s being, his surroundings should be kept free from all impure, immoral thoughts and feelings.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VI: The upbringing of children – Stuttgart, 27th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 18, 2015

Fragments from The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (2 of 3)

There are two magic words which indicate how the child enters into relation with his environment. They are: Imitation, and Example. The Greek philosopher Aristotle called man the most imitative of creatures. For no age in life is this more true than for the first stage of childhood, before the change of teeth. What goes on in his physical environment, this the child imitates, and in the process of imitation his physical organs are cast into the forms which then become permanent. ‘Physical environment’ must, however, be taken in the widest imaginable sense. It includes not only what goes on around the child in the material sense, but everything that takes place in the child’s environment — everything that can be perceived by his senses, that can work from the surrounding physical space upon the inner powers of the child. This includes all the moral or immoral actions, all the wise or foolish actions, that the child sees.

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

Translated by George and Mary Adams

The upbringing of children: the first seven years

The best way to influence the child during his first seven years is through the development of his sense-organs. All the impressions they receive from the outer world are significant, and everything a child sees or hears affects him in terms of his sense-organs. The sense-organs, however, are not influenced by lesson-books or verbal teaching, but by means of example and imitation. The most important thing during the first seven years is to nourish a child’s sense-organs. He will see with his eyes how people round him are behaving. Aristotle was quite right in saying that man is the most imitative of all creatures; and this is particularly true during the first seven years.

Hence during these years we must try to influence a child’s senses, to draw them out so that they become active on their own account. That is why it is such a mistake to give a child one of those “beautiful” dolls; they hinder him from setting his own inner powers to work. A normal child will reject the doll and be much happier with a piece of wood, or with anything which gives his imagination a chance to be active. […]

It is very important that during these early years a child should be surrounded by noble-minded, generous-hearted and affectionate people with good thoughts, for these stamp themselves on the child’s inner life. Example, therefore, in thought and in feeling is the best means of education at this stage. It is not what we say but what we are that influences a child during his first seven years. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the inner members of a child’s being, his surroundings should be kept free from all impure, immoral thoughts and feelings.

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Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VI: The upbringing of children – Stuttgart, 27th August 1906