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

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

It is not moral talk or prudent admonitions that influence the child in this sense. Rather is it what the grown-up people do visibly before his eyes. The effect of admonition is to mould the forms, not of the physical, but of the etheric body; and the latter, as we saw, is surrounded until the seventh year by a protecting etheric envelope, even as the physical body is surrounded before physical birth by the physical envelope of the mother-body. All that has to evolve in the etheric body before the seventh year — ideas, habits, memory, and so forth — all this must develop ‘of its own accord,’ just as the eyes and ears develop within the mother-body without the influence of external light … What we read in that excellent educational work — Jean Paul’s ‘Levana’ or ‘Science of Education’ — is undoubtedly true. He says that a traveler will have learned more from his nurse in the first years of his life, than in all his journeys round the world. The child, however, does not learn by instruction or admonition, but by imitation. The physical organs shape their forms through the influence of the physical environment. Good sight will be developed in the child if his environment has the right conditions of light and colour, while in the brain and blood-circulation the physical foundations will be laid for a healthy moral sense if the child sees moral actions in his environment. If before his seventh year the child sees only foolish actions in his surroundings, the brain will assume such forms as adapt it also to foolishness in later life.

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 11, 2018

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.

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 10, 2018

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

Imponderable things of life

It is no exaggeration to say: If a man most inwardly endeavours to be a good man in the presence of a child before the age of seven; if he endeavours to be sound in every way, if he conscientiously resolves to make no allowances for himself even in his inner life, in thoughts and feelings that he does not outwardly express — then, through the intangible, imponderable things of life, he works most powerfully upon the child.  

In this connection there are many things still to be observed, things which, if I may so express myself, “lie between the lines.” We have become enmeshed in a more materialistic way of life, especially as regards life’s more intimate and finer aspects. And so we have grown accustomed to pay little attention to these things. Yet it is only when they are rightly observed and estimated once again, that a certain impulse will enter into our educational thought and practice — an impulse that is very badly needed, especially in an age which claims to be a social age, an age of social thought.

There are certain experiences in life, which we cannot rightly estimate unless we take into account these real observations of the soul- and spiritual-life within the human being.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 297 – Spiritual Science and the Art of Education – November 27, 1919   

Translated by George Kaufmann from a Shorthand Manuscript of an Address to School Teachers

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