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

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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

See also:

The education of the child in the light of anthroposophy (1 of 3)

The education of the child in the light of anthroposophy (2 of 3)

The education of the child in the light of anthroposophy (3 of 3)

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