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


Previously posted on April 10, 2018

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 2 of 6)  

Naturally it will not do to think: Now, reinforced with the knowledge of reincarnation and karma, I shall at once be able to grapple with external life. That, of course, is not possible. The essential thing is to understand how the truths of reincarnation and karma can penetrate into external life in such a way that they become its guiding principles.

Now let us consider how karma works through the different incarnations. When a human being comes into the world, his powers and capacities must, after all, be regarded as the effects of causes he himself engendered in earlier incarnations. If this idea is led to its consistent conclusion, every human being must be treated as if he were a kind of enigma, as a being hovering in the dark foundations of his earlier incarnations. If this idea of karma is put earnestly into effect a significant change will be brought about, not in methods of education only but in the whole of life. If that were achieved, the idea of karma, instead of being merely an anthroposophical idea, would be transformed into something that takes hold of practical life itself, would become a really potent factor in life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.


Vague and general phrases cannot provide the basis for a genuine art of education

Vague and general phrases — ‘the harmonious development of all the powers and talents in the child,’ and so forth — cannot provide the basis for a genuine art of education. Such an art of education can only be built up on a real knowledge of the human being. Not that these phrases are incorrect, but that at bottom they are as useless as it would be to say of a machine that all its parts must be brought harmoniously into action. To work a machine you must approach it, not with phrases and truisms, but with real and detailed knowledge. So for the art of education it is a knowledge of the members of man’s being and of their several development which is important. We must know on what part of the human being we have especially to work at a certain age, and how we can work upon it in the proper way.

There is of course no doubt that a truly realistic art of education, such as is here indicated, will only slowly make its way. This lies, indeed, in the whole mentality of our age, which will long continue to regard the facts of the spiritual world as the vapourings of an imagination run wild, while it takes vague and altogether unreal phrases for the result of a realistic way of thinking. Here, however, we shall unreservedly describe what will in time to come be a matter of common knowledge, though many to-day may still regard it as a figment of the mind.

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

Translated by George and Mary Adams

Previously posted on January 13, 2015


Musical education

A child who is denied the blessing of having his musical sense cultivated during these years (about 7 till 14), will be the poorer for it the whole of his later life. If this sense were entirely lacking in him, whole aspects of the world’s existence would of necessity remain hidden from him.

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

Previously posted on June 20, 2016


Fanaticism is the worst thing in the world

Fanaticism is the worst thing in the world, particularly in education, — a fanaticism which makes a man press on in one direction and push ahead regardless of anything but his one aim, reduced to precise slogans.

But if one looks at the world, without prejudice one will concede: views and opinions are but views and opinions. If I have a tree here and photograph it, I have one view of it; the view from here has a definite form; but the view is different from here, and again different from over there; so that you might think it was not the same tree if you only had the pictures to go by. In the same way there are points of view in the world, there are outlooks. Each one only regards one aspect of things. If you know that things must be looked upon from the most manifold standpoints you avoid fanaticism and dwell in many-sidedness, in a universality.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 305 – Spiritual Ground of Education: Lecture IX: The Teachers of the Waldorf School – 25th August, 1922 | Oxford

Translated by Daphne Harwood

Previously posted on February 12, 2018