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

Anger: we can call it the teacher of love

For the spiritual scientist, anger is also the harbinger of something quite different. Life shows us that a person who is unable to flare up with anger at injustice or folly will never develop true kindness and love. Equally, a person who educates himself through noble anger will have a heart abounding in love, and through love he will do good. Love and kindness are the obverse of noble anger. Anger that is overcome and purified will be transformed into the love that is its counterpart. A loving hand is seldom one that has never been clenched in response to injustice or folly. Anger and love are complementary.

Transmuted anger is love in action. That is what we learn from reality. Anger in moderation has the mission of leading human beings to love; we can call it the teacher of love.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul Paths of Experience Vol. 1 – Lecture 2: The Mission of Anger – Munich, 5th December 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on February 3, 2018

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How unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say and how important what he himself is

Let us say, the child wants to walk, has the will to walk, but cannot. This can become a pathological condition, can become quite conspicuous; it may even happen that at last the child comes to be described as “incapable of learning to walk”. But we will suppose that the condition shows itself in only a slight degree. So long as the teacher meets the situation with any kind of bias, so long as it can arouse in him irritation or excitement — so long will he remain incapable of making any real progress with the child. 

Not until the point has been reached where such a phenomenon becomes an objective picture and can be taken with a certain calm and composure as an objective picture for which nothing but compassion is felt — not until then is the necessary mood of soul present in the astral body of the teacher. Once this has come about, the teacher is there by the side of the child in a true relation and will do all else that is needful more or less rightly. For you have no idea how unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say on the surface, and how important what he himself is, as teacher.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 317 – Curative Education: Lecture 2 – Dornach, 26th June 1924

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Obstacles for the good endeavours of the dead

The laws of the spiritual world, perceived in this way by clairvoyant vision, hold good unconditionally. That this is so is shown by an example which it has often been possible to observe. It is instructive to see how thoughts of hatred, or at least antipathy, take effect even if they are not conceived in full consciousness. 

There are school-teachers of the type usually known as ‘strict’, who are unable to gain the affection of their pupils; in such cases of course, the thoughts of antipathy and hatred are formed half innocently. But when such a teacher dies it can be seen how these thoughts too — for they persist — are obstacles in the way of his good endeavours in the spiritual world. 

After the teacher’s death it is not often that a child or young person realizes that his hatred ought to cease, but he nevertheless preserves the feeling of how the teacher tormented him. From such insights a great deal can be learnt about the mutual relationships between the living and the dead.

Source:Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – 1. LINKS BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD – Bergen, October 10,1913

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Education / Morality / Authority

In this period of his life (between the change of teeth and puberty) one must work upon the child through speech. But whatever is to work upon him in this way must do so by means of an unquestioned authority. When I want to convey to the child some picture expressed through speech, I must do so with the assurance of authority. I must be the unquestioned authority for the child when through speech I want to conjure up before him some picture. 

Just as we must actually show the little child what we want him to do, so we must be the human pattern for the child between the change of teeth and puberty. In other words, there is no point whatever in giving reasons to a child of this age, in trying to make him see why we should do something or not do it, just because there are well-founded reasons for or against it. This passes over the child’s head. It is important to understand this. 

In exactly the same way as in the earliest years of life the child only observes the gesture, so between the change of teeth and puberty he only observes what I, as a human being, am in relation to himself. At this age the child must, for instance, learn about what is moral in such a way that he regards as good what the naturally accepted authority of the teacher, by means of speech, designates as good; he must regard as bad what this authority designates as bad. The child must learn: What my teacher, as my authority, does is good, what he does not do is bad. Relatively speaking then, the child feels: When my teacher says something is good, then it is good; and if he says something is bad, then it is bad.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 310 – Human Values in Education: Lecture III – Arnheim, 19th July, 1924

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