Fragments from The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy (1 of 3)

With physical birth the physical human body is exposed to the physical environment of the external world. Before birth it was surrounded by the protecting envelope of the mother’s body. What the forces and fluids of the enveloping mother-body have done for it hitherto, must from now onward be done for it by the forces and elements of the external physical world. Now before the change of teeth in the seventh year, the human body has a task to perform upon itself which is essentially different from the tasks of all the other periods of life. In this period the physical organs must mould themselves into definite shapes. Their whole structural nature must receive certain tendencies and directions. In the later periods also, growth takes place; but throughout the whole succeeding life, growth is based on the forms which were developed in this first life-period. If true forms were developed, true forms will grow; if misshapen forms were developed, misshapen forms will grow. We can never repair what we have neglected as educators in the first seven years. Just as Nature brings about the right environment for the physical human body before birth, so after birth the educator must provide for the right physical environment. It is the right physical environment alone, which works upon the child in such a way that the physical organs shape themselves aright.

To be continued

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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Previously posted on April 9, 2018

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Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (2 of 3)

Now let us go back to the event that makes a strong impression on our life of feeling. Suppose the event happens between the change of teeth and puberty. A very remarkable thing then takes place, which in these days of crude observation is not generally noticed. The impression made upon your feeling is there, and then gradually the vibrations of it die away in your consciousness. But something takes place in the objective world quite apart from what is in your consciousness, quite apart from any share your life of soul has in it. And this process that goes on in the objective world may be compared with the setting up of a vibratory motion. It vibrates out into the world. And the remarkable thing is that it does not go out and out endlessly into the infinite, but when it has spread itself out for a sufficient distance — when its elasticity is, so to speak, used up — it swings back and makes its appearance in the next seven-year period as an impulse that works upon your life of soul from outside. I will not say that such an event always comes back seven years later, for the lapse of time depends on the whole form and character of the individual life, but it falls into the course of the next seven-year period, although very often entirely without your notice.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 2, 2020

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Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (1 of 3)

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply, some event that moves you to joy or sorrow. Now you know that the whole of life runs its course in such a way that we can separate it into periods of about seven years in length. Roughly speaking, the first is from birth to the change of teeth, the second to the age of puberty, the third to the beginning of the twenty-first year, and so on. All these boundary lines are of course only approximate. Here then we have one division that shows itself in the course of human life.

The turning-points in the development of the human being which we arrive at by this method are clearly marked in the earlier part of life — change of teeth, and puberty — but later are more or less concealed, although they can be distinctly noted by one who knows what to look for. That which takes place in the soul and spirit of the human being about the twenty-first year of life is, for one who can observe it, just as clearly perceptible as the change at puberty is for external physiology. The division into seven-year periods holds true, in fact, for the whole course of human life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

There is nothing that can fill us with such wonder and delight as to observe a little child

It is only when we have the right conception of man’s life as a connected whole that we come to realise how different from each other the various ages are. The child is a very different being before shedding its first teeth from what it becomes afterwards. Of course, you must not interpret this in crudely formed judgments, but if we are capable of making finer distinctions in life, we can observe that the child is quite different before and after the change of teeth.

Before the change of teeth we can still see quite clearly at work the effects of the child’s habits of life before birth or conception, in its pre-earthly existence in the spiritual world. The body of the child acts almost as though it were spirit, for the spirit which has descended from the spiritual world is still fully active in a child in the first seven years of its life. You will say: A fine sort of spirit! It has become quite boisterous; for the child is rampageous, awkward and incompetent. Is all this to be attributed to the spirit belonging to his pre-earthly life? Well, my dear friends, suppose all you clever and well-brought-up people were suddenly condemned to remain always in a room having a temperature of 144° Fahrenheit? You couldn’t do it! It is even harder for the spirit of the child, which has descended from the spiritual worlds, to accustom itself to earthly conditions. The spirit, suddenly transported into a completely different world, with the new experience of having a body to carry about, acts as we see the child act. Yet if you know how to observe and note how each day, each week, each month, the indefinite features of the face become more definite, the awkward movements become less clumsy and the child gradually accustoms himself to his surroundings, then you will realise that it is the spirit from the pre-earthly world which is endeavouring to make the child’s body gradually more like itself. We shall understand why the child is as he is, if we observe him in this way, and we shall also understand that it is the descended spirit which is acting as we see it within the child’s body.

Therefore for one who is initiated into the mysteries of the spirit there is nothing that can fill him with such wonder and delight as to observe a little child. In so doing one learns not of the earth, but of heaven; and this not only in the so-called “good children.” In their case, as a rule, the bodies have already become heavy, even in infancy. The spirit cannot properly take hold of the body; such children are quiet; they do not scream and rush about, they sit still and make no noise. The spirit is not active within them, because their bodies offer such resistance. It is very often the case that the bodies of the so-called good children offer resistance to the spirit.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – The Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 1 – Torquay, 12th August 1924

Translated by Helen Fox

Previously posted on November 8, 2016

There is nothing that can fill us with such wonder and delight as to observe a little child

It is only when we have the right conception of man’s life as a connected whole that we come to realise how different from each other the various ages are. The child is a very different being before shedding its first teeth from what it becomes afterwards. Of course, you must not interpret this in crudely formed judgments, but if we are capable of making finer distinctions in life, we can observe that the child is quite different before and after the change of teeth.

Before the change of teeth we can still see quite clearly at work the effects of the child’s habits of life before birth or conception, in its pre-earthly existence in the spiritual world. The body of the child acts almost as though it were spirit, for the spirit which has descended from the spiritual world is still fully active in a child in the first seven years of its life. You will say: A fine sort of spirit! It has become quite boisterous; for the child is rampageous, awkward and incompetent. Is all this to be attributed to the spirit belonging to his pre-earthly life? Well, my dear friends, suppose all you clever and well-brought-up people were suddenly condemned to remain always in a room having a temperature of 144° Fahrenheit? You couldn’t do it! It is even harder for the spirit of the child, which has descended from the spiritual worlds, to accustom itself to earthly conditions. The spirit, suddenly transported into a completely different world, with the new experience of having a body to carry about, acts as we see the child act. Yet if you know how to observe and note how each day, each week, each month, the indefinite features of the face become more definite, the awkward movements become less clumsy and the child gradually accustoms himself to his surroundings, then you will realise that it is the spirit from the pre-earthly world which is endeavouring to make the child’s body gradually more like itself. We shall understand why the child is as he is, if we observe him in this way, and we shall also understand that it is the descended spirit which is acting as we see it within the child’s body.

Therefore for one who is initiated into the mysteries of the spirit there is nothing that can fill him with such wonder and delight as to observe a little child. In so doing one learns not of the earth, but of heaven; and this not only in the so-called “good children.” In their case, as a rule, the bodies have already become heavy, even in infancy. The spirit cannot properly take hold of the body; such children are quiet; they do not scream and rush about, they sit still and make no noise. The spirit is not active within them, because their bodies offer such resistance. It is very often the case that the bodies of the so-called good children offer resistance to the spirit.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – The Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 1 – Torquay, 12th August 1924

Translated by Helen Fox