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

Imitation and Example / Discipleship and Authority

As for the first years of childhood Imitation and Example were, so to say, the magic words for education, so for the years of this second period (7-14 years) the magic words are Discipleship and Authority. What the child sees directly in his educators, with inner perception, must become for him authority — not an authority compelled by force, but one that he accepts naturally without question. By it he will build up his conscience, habits and inclinations; by it he will bring his temperament into an ordered path. He will look out upon the things of the world as it were through its eyes. Those beautiful words of the poet, ‘Every man must choose his hero, in whose footsteps he will tread as he carves out his path to the heights of Olympus,’ have especial meaning for this time of life. Veneration and reverence are forces whereby the etheric body grows in the right way. If it was impossible during these years to look up to another person with unbounded reverence, one will have to suffer for the loss throughout the whole of one’s later life. Where reverence is lacking, the living forces of the etheric body are stunted in their growth.

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

Rudolf-Steiner

Imponderables: insubstantial matters; incalculable influences   

Up to around the seventh year the child is a mimicking being. I do not say this because of some mystical inclination on my part concerning the number seven, but because the change of teeth is effectively an important juncture in the whole life development of the child. – The child learns his specific movements through imitation, even his speech is acquired through imitation; the way it develops its thought forms happens by way of imitation as well. Because the relationship between the environment of the child and the child itself is not only dependant on external factors, but deeply hidden immeasurable influences (German: Imponderabilien) also play a role, parents and educators must be aware that the child adjusts to what the adults in its environment do. Not only outwardly observable actions are taken in – not just what they say – but what they experience, what they feel, what they think as well. In our materialistic times it is generally not believed that it makes a difference whether we have noble or ignoble thoughts in the environment of the developing child because we only consider the material entities as valid and not those which are inwardly connected to things which cannot be weighed nor measured.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Amsterdam, 28 February 1921 (p. 53-54)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on October 7, 2016

Example and imitation

In the first period of life, from the first to the seventh year the child is mainly an imitating being. But we have to understand this in the broadest sense of the word. […] In relation to these things people sometimes ask for advice at one or the other event.

So, for example, a father once complained to me about his five-year-old child. ‘What did this five-year-old child do? ‘ I asked. ‘It stole ‘, said the father unhappily. I told him: ‘Then one must first consider how the theft actually took place.’  Then he told me, that the child had not actually stolen out of wickedness. He had taken money from the drawer of his mother and purchased sweets. Afterwards he divided the sweets among the children in the street. So it was not bare selfishness.

What actually took place then? Now, every day the child sees the mother take money from the drawer. At the age of five years the child is an imitator. It did not steal; it simply did what he had seen his mother do daily, because the child instinctively considers what the mother does as right. – This is a typical example of the subtleties which one should be aware of when one wants to educate in accordance with the true being of man.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Utrecht, 24th February 1921 (p. 19-20)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on September 30, 2016