We must strongly develop the forces that can be developed in a child’s soul, so that later on he can harvest the fruits of his childhood learning. Today he looks back and feels what his childhood was and cannot gather anything from it because nothing was developed there. Our educational principles must be fundamentally changed if we want to do the right thing for children. Above everything we must listen very carefully to much that at present is highly praised and considered especially wholesome.
So, it is necessary that, without undue strain and exertion but through an economy of educational effort, children acquire concentration. This can be achieved, in the way modern man needs it, only by abolishing what is so greatly favored today, namely, the cursed curriculum of the schools; this instrument of murder for the real development of human forces. Just consider what it means: From 7 to 8 A.M. arithmetic, from 8 to 9 grammar, from 9 to 10 geography, from 10 to 11 history. Everything that has moved through the soul from 7 to 8 is extinguished from 8 to 9, and so on.
Now here it is necessary to get down to the bottom of things. We must no longer think that subjects exist in order to be taught as subjects. On the contrary, we must have clearly in mind that in children from the seventh to fourteenth year, thinking, feeling, and willing have to be developed in the right way. Geography, arithmetic, everything must be employed so that these faculties can be properly developed.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 296 – Education as a Social Problem: Lecture II: The Social Structure in Ancient Greece and Rome – Dornach, August 10, 1919