Download the article: Spiritual Science and Pedagogy
Presented in Basel, NOVEMBER 27, 1919 A Lecture for Public School Teachers
I consider it a particular honor to be able to speak to you about the relationship of my work in spiritual science to your pedagogical work. You will allow me to make two introductory remarks. The first is that I will, of course, need to clothe my thoughts in apparently theoretical words and ideas, since to discuss points of view, we need words. However, I expressly note that I do not speak theoretically. I would not even speak about today's topic if I did not direct a portion of my activity toward the practical, particularly concerning educational methods and their effectiveness. Thus, what I wish to bring to you today comes directly from practice.
The second thing I would like to say is that at present spiritual science is extremely controversial. I therefore can quite understand (especially because I represent spiritual science) that there may be many objections today because its methods are, in many cases, foreign to modern points of view. Perhaps we can help make spiritual science more understandable through the way we introduce it and attempt to make it a true living force in such an important practical area as education.
Can we name any areas of life that are unaffected by pedagogical activities and interests? At an age when children can develop themselves into everything possible, we entrust them to those who act as teachers. Teachers can provide what humanity needs only through the warmest participation in the totality of human life. When I speak about the special topic of spiritual science and pedagogy, I do this because, particularly now, the science of the spirit should become an active part of life. Spiritual science should be present to reunite the separate human cultural interests that have been driven apart in the last centuries, particularly in the nineteenth century. Through spiritual science, through a concrete point of view, we can unite the specialties without becoming paralyzed by the requirements of specialization. Today, there is also a very important reason to think about the relationship of spiritual science to pedagogy: education has influenced all human thinking and activity, including modern science and its great achievements.
More than people know, the scientific way of thinking that has led to such glorious results in science has won influence over everything we do, particularly over what we do in education. Although I am unable to develop the foundations of spiritual science here, I wish to take note of one thing, namely, the relationship of the scientific method to life.
Think, for example, about the human eye, this marvel through which we experience the outside world in a particular realm of the senses. The eye, this marvelous organ, is constructed so as to see the world and at the same time (I speak comparatively) always to forget itself in this seeing. In a sense, when we really want to investigate this instrument of external vision, we must completely reverse the standpoint of observation that modern science can only approximate. While seeing, we cannot at the same time look back at the essence of our eyes. We can use this picture to relate the scientific method to life. In modern times we have carefully and conscientiously developed the scientific method so that it gives the different sciences an objective picture of the external world. In doing this, we have formed a basic mood of soul such that we forget the human self in the scientific observation of the world, such that we forget everything directly connected with human life. Thus, it has come about that the more we develop in a modern scientific sense, the less we can use this science to see what is human.
The desire of spiritual science to bring about that reversal of observation that again turns to human beings arises from an understanding of science that goes beyond the understanding conventional science has of itself. This reversal can only occur when people go through those stages of soul life that I have described in How To Know Higher Worlds, and in an abbreviated form have indicated in the second part of An Outline of Occult Science.These are the processes that really carry this life of the human soul beyond normal life, and beyond the normal scientific world.
To come to such a manner of looking at things, you must have what I would like to call intellectual modesty. In a recent public lecture here, I gave a picture of what is necessary. Suppose, for example, we observe a five-year-old child. Suppose we put a book of Goethes lyrical poetry in the hands of a five-year-old child. This book of Goethes poems contains a whole world. The child will take the book in hand and play around with it, but will not perceive anything that actually speaks to people from this volume. However, we can develop the child, that is, we can develop the soul powers sleeping in the child, so that in ten or twelve years the child can really take from the volume what it contains. We need this attitude if we are to find our way to the science of the spirit.
We must be able to say to ourselves that even the most careful education of our intellect, of our methods of observation and experimentation, brings us only so far. From there on, we can take over our own development. From that stage on, we can develop the previously sleeping forces ourselves. Then we will become aware that previously we stood in the same relationship to the external nature of our spirit-soul being, particularly the essence of our humanity, as the five-year-old child to the volume of Goethe's lyrical poetry. In essence and in principle, everything depends upon a decision for intellectual modesty, so that we can find our way to the science of the spirit.
We achieve the capacity to really observe ourselves, to observe the human being, when we practice specific thinking, feeling and willing exercises developed to make thinking independent, to train the will, when we become increasingly independent from physical willing and thinking. If we can observe the human being, then we can also observe what is so extremely important, the developing human. Today, there is certainly much talk about the spirit, talk about independent thinking. The science of the spirit cannot agree with this talk for a simple reason. Spiritual science develops inner spiritual techniques to grasp and understand concrete spirituality, not the spirit about which people speak nebulously as forming the basis of things and people. Spiritual science must go into detail concerning the essence of the human being.
Today, we want to speak about the essence of the developing human. I would say that people speak quite abstractly about human individuality and its development. However, they are quite correctly conscious that the teacher especially needs to take the development of this human individuality into account. I only wish to point out that insightful teachers are very clear about how little our modern science of education is able to identify the orderly stages of human development. I would like to give two examples. The oft-mentioned Viennese educator Theodor Vogt represented the reformed Herbartian school of thought. He said that we are not advanced enough in our understanding of human history to derive a view of child development from human historical development in the same way biologists derive the individual human embryonic development from the development of the species. The pedagogue Rein repeated this point of view. It culminates in accepting that today we do not have research methods of any sort that could identify the basis of human development. The development of such capacities as those I have just cursorily mentioned (you can read more in my books) enables us to approach the riddle that meets us so wonderfully when we observe how, from birth onward, an inner human force increasingly appears in every gesture. In particular, we can see how it manifests through speech, through the relationships of people with their surroundings, and so forth. Usually people observe the different manifestations of human life much too superficially, both physiologically and biologically. People do not form a picture of the whole human being in which the body, soul and spirit intertwiningly affect one another. If you wish to teach and educate children as they need, you must form such a picture.
Now those who, strengthened by spiritual scientific methods, observe the developing child will find an important developmental juncture at approximately the time of the change of teeth, around six or seven years of age. There is an oft-quoted saying that nature makes no leaps. To a certain degree, this is quite correct. However, all such views are basically one-sided. You can see their correctness only if you recognize their one-sidedness, for nature continuously makes leaps. Think about a growing plant, to name only one example. Fine. You can use this saying, nature makes no leaps. However, in the sense of Goethe's law of metamorphosis, we must say that, despite the fact that the green leaf is the same as the colorful flower petal, nature does make a leap from the leaf to the colorful petal, and yet another leap from the petal to the stamen, and another quite special leap to the fruit. We do not get along well in life if we abstractly adopt the point of view that nature, or life in general, does not make leaps. And this is particularly true with people. Human life flows along without leaps, but in this other sense, there are such leaps everywhere.
Around the age of six or seven there is a particularly important turning point that has far-reaching consequences for human structure and function. Modern physiology does not yet have a correct picture of this. Something also occurs in people in the spirit-soul realm. Until this time, human beings are fundamentally imitative beings. The constitution of their body and soul is such that they totally devote themselves to their surroundings. They feel their way into the surroundings. They develop themselves from the center of their will so that they mold the force lines and force rays of their will exactly to what occurs in their surroundings. More important than everything that we can bring to the child through reprimanding words, through preaching in this stage, is the way in which we ourselves behave in the presence of the child. Since the intangibles of life act much more strongly than what we can clearly observe on the surface, we must say that what the child imitates does not depend only upon the observable behavior of people. In every tone of speech, in every gesture that we as teachers use in the presence of the child during this stage, lies something to which the child adapts itself. As human beings we are much more than we know by the external reflection of our thoughts. In life we pay little attention to how we move a hand, but the way we move a hand is the faithful reflection of the whole state of our souls, the whole reflection of our inner mood. As adults with developed soul lives we pay little attention to the connection between the way we step forward with our legs, the way we gesture with our hands, the expressions on our faces, and the will and feeling impulses that lie in our souls. The child, however, lives into these intangibles. We do not exaggerate when we say that those in the young child’s surroundings who inwardly strive to be good, to be moral, who in their thinking and feeling consciously intend to do the child no wrong, even in what is not spoken—such people affect the child in the strongest possible manner through the intangibles of life.
In this connection we must pay attention to what, if I may express myself so, actually lies between the lines of life. In that we slowly find ourselves caught in the web of a more materialistic life, particularly in relation to the intimacies of existence, we become accustomed to paying relatively little attention to such things. Only when we value such things again will a certain impulse enter pedagogy, an impulse particularly necessary in a time that refers to itself as social, as a socially minded period.
You see, people cannot correctly value certain experiences if they do not take into account observations of the spirit-soul nature that is the foundation of human beings. I am speaking to you about everyday events. A despairing father comes, for example, and says, “What shall I do? My child has stolen something!” We can, of course, understand how a father can despair about such things. But, now we attempt to understand the situation better. We can say, “Yes, but what were the complete circumstances?” The child simply took some money from the drawer. What did the child do with the money? The child bought something for a friend, candy, for instance. So, the child did not steal for selfish reasons. Thus, we might possibly say the child did not steal at all. There can be no talk about the child having stolen. Every day the child has seen that Mother goes to the drawer and takes money out. The child has seen that as something normal and has only imitated. This is something that has resulted from the forces that are the most important at this stage, imitation and mimicking. If you direct the child properly in this sense, if you know how to properly direct the child’s attention, then this attention will be brought to all sorts of things that will have an important influence at this stage.
We must be quite conscious that reprimands and preaching at this stage do not help. Only what affects the will can help. This human characteristic exists until the moment when the remarkable physiological conclusion of childhood occurs, when “hardening” makes its final push and the permanent teeth crystallize out of the human organism. It is extremely interesting to use spiritual scientific methods to look at what lies at the basis of the developing organism, what forms the conclusion, the change of teeth. However, it is more important to follow what I have just described, the parallel spirit-soul development that arises completely from imitation.
Around the age of seven, a clear change in the spirit-soul constitution of the child begins. We could say that at this age the capacity to react to something quite differently than before emerges. Previously, the child’s eye was intent upon imitating, the child’s ear was intent upon imitating. Now the child begins to concentrate upon what adults radiate as opinion, as points of view. The child transforms its desire to imitate into devotion to authority. I know how unpleasant it is for many modern people when we make authority an important factor in education. However, if we wish to represent the facts openly and seriously, programs and slogans cannot direct us. Only empirical facts, only experience can be our guides. We need to see what it means when children have been guided by a teacher they can look up to because this teacher is a natural authority for them. That the developing human can take something into its thoughts, can live into something, because the respected adult has these thoughts and feelings, because there is a “growing together” between the developing being and the adult being, is of great importance in the development of the child. You can know what it means for the whole later life of the child only when you (I want to say this explicitly) have had the luck of having been able to devote yourself to a natural authority in the time between the transformation at around six or seven years of age and the last great transformation around the time of puberty, at about fourteen or fifteen years of age.
The main thing is not to become mired in such abstractions, but instead to enter into this very important stage of life that begins around the age of six or seven years and concludes with puberty. At this age the child, having been properly raised or spoiled through imitation, is turned over to the school by the parents. The most important things for the child’s life occur in this period. This is quite true if we keep in mind that not only each year, but each month, the teacher must carefully discover the real essence of developing children. This discovery must be not only general, but as far as possible in large classes, the teacher should also carefully consider each individual child. After the child enters school, we see the residual effects of the desire to imitate alongside the beginning devotion to authority until around the age of nine (these things are all only approximate, of course). If we can properly observe the interaction of these two basic forces in the growing child, then the living result of this observation forms the proper basis not only for the teaching method, but also for the curriculum.
Excuse me if I interject a personal remark, but I encountered this very question when the Waldorf School was formed this year. Through the understanding accommodation of our friend Emil Molt and the Waldorf-Astoria firm in Stuttgart, we were able to bring a complete unified elementary school to life. We were able to bring to life a school that, in its teaching methods and in the ordering of its curriculum, is to result entirely from what the science of the spirit can say about education. In September of this year it was my pleasure to hold a seminar for the faculty I assembled for this school. All of these questions came to me in a form very fitting to our times. What I want to talk to you about now is essentially an extract of everything given to the faculty during that seminar. These teachers are to guide this truly unified elementary school according to the needs of spiritual science and contemporary society.1
(1.Translators’ note: The needs of society are to be understood as both the requirements of the Department of Education and the inherent needs of a more humanly formed social organization.)
We concerned ourselves not only with teaching methods, but particularly with creating the curriculum and teaching goals from a living observation of growing children. If we look at the growing child, we will find that after the age of six or seven much still comes from that particular kind of will that alone makes the child’s desire to imitate possible to the degree I described previously. It is the will that forms the basis of this desire to imitate, not the intellect. In principle, the intellect develops from the will much later. That intimate bond between one human being, the adult teacher, and another human being, the growing child, is expressed in a relationship between will and will. Thus, we can best reach the child in these first elementary school years when we are able to properly affect the will.
How can we best affect the will? We cannot affect the will if during these years we emphasize outer appearances too strongly, if we turn the child’s attention too strongly to material life. It turns out that we come particularly close to the will if in these first years we allow education to be permeated by a certain aesthetic artistry. We can really begin from this aesthetic artistry. We cannot, for example, begin with that teaching of reading and writing that does not arise from the proper connection between what we teach and the powers that come from the core of the child’s soul. The letters and characters used in reading and writing consist of something quite removed from life. You need only look back at earlier characters (not those of primitive peoples, but, for example, those of the highly developed Egyptian culture) to see that writing was still quite artistically formed. In the course of time, this has been lost. Our characters have become conventions. On the other hand, we can go back to the direct primary relationship that people once had to what has become writing. In other words, instead of giving abstract instruction in writing, we can begin to teach writing through drawing. We should not, however, teach through just any drawings, but through the real artistic feeling in people that we can later transform into artistically formed abstract characters for the growing child. Thus, you would begin with a kind of “written drawing” or “drawn writing,” and extend that by bringing the child true elements of the visual arts of painting and sculpture.
Psychologists who are genuinely concerned with the life of the soul know that what we bring to the child in this way does not reach simply the head, it reaches the whole person. What is of an intellectual color, what we permeate only with intellect, and particularly with convention, like the normal letters of reading and writing, reaches only the head. If we surround the instruction of these things with an artistic element, then we reach the whole person. Thus, a future pedagogy will attempt first to derive the intellectual element and the illustrative material from the artistic.
We can best take into account the interaction of the principles of authority and imitation if we approach the child artistically. Something of the imitative lies in the artistic. There is also something in the artistic that goes directly from subjective person to subjective person. What should act artistically must go through the subjectivity of people. As people with our own inner essence, we face the child quite differently when what we are to bring acquires an artistic form. In that way, we first pour our substance into what must naturally appear as authority. This enables us not to appear as a simple copy of conventional culture and the like, but humanly brings us closer to the child. Under the influence of this artistic education, the child will live into a recognition of the authority of the teacher as a matter of course.
At the same time, this indicates that spirit must prevail since we can teach in this way only when we allow what we have to convey to be permeated by spirit. This indicates that spirit must prevail in the entire manner of instruction, that we must live in what we have to convey. Here again I come to something that belongs to the intangibles of teaching life. People so easily believe that when they face the child they appear as the knowing, superior person before the simple, naive child. This can have very important consequences for teaching. I will show this with a specific example I have used in another connection in my lectures. Suppose I want to convey the concept of the immortality of the soul to a child. Conforming myself to the child’s mood of soul, I give the example by presenting a picture. I describe a cocoon and a butterfly creeping from it in a very pictorial way. Now, I make clear to the child, “In the same way that the butterfly rests in this cocoon, invisible to the eye, your immortal soul rests in your body. Just as the butterfly leaves the cocoon, in the same way, when you go through the gates of death, your immortal soul leaves your body and rises to a world that is just as different as the butterfly’s.”
Well, we can do that, of course. We think out such a picture with our intellect. However, when we bring this to the child, as “reasonable” people we do not easily believe it ourselves. This affects everything in teaching. One of the intangibles of education is that, through unknown forces working between the soul of the child and the soul of the teacher, the child accepts only what I, myself, believe.
Spiritual science guides us so that the picture I just described is not simply a clever intellectual creation.We can recognize that the divine powers of creation put this picture into nature. It is there not to symbolize arbitrarily the immortality of the soul in people, but because at a lower level the same thing occurs that occurs when the immortal soul leaves the body. We can bring ourselves to believe in the direct content of this picture as much as we want, or better, as much as we should want the child to believe it. When the powers of belief prevail in the soul of the teacher, then the teacher affects the child properly. Then the effectiveness of authority does not have a disadvantage, but instead becomes a major, an important, advantage.
When we mention such things, we must always note that human life is a whole. What we plant into the human life of a child often first appears after many, many years as a fitness for life, or as a conviction in life. We take so little note of this because it emerges transformed. Let us assume we succeed in arousing a quite necessary feeling capacity in a child, namely the ability to honor. Let us assume we succeed in developing in the child a feeling for what we can honor as divine in the world, a feeling of awe. Those who have learned to see life’s connections know that this feeling of awe later reappears transformed, metamorphosed. We need only recognize it again in its transformed appearance as an inner soul force that can affect other people in a healthy, in a blessed, manner. Adults who have not learned to pray as children will not have the powers of soul that can convey to children or younger people a blessing in their reprimands or facial expressions. What we received as the effect of grace during childhood transforms itself through various, largely unnoticed, phases. In the more mature stages of life it becomes something that can give forth blessing.
All kinds of forces transform themselves in this way. If we do not pay attention to these connections, if, in the art of teaching, we do not bring out the whole, wide, spiritually enlightened view of life, then education will not achieve what it should achieve. Namely, it will not be able to work with human developmental forces, but will work against them.
When people have reached approximately nine years of age, they enter a new stage that is not quite so clearly marked as the one around the age of seven years. It is, however, still quite clear. The aftereffects of the desire to imitate slowly subside, and something occurs in the growing child that, if we want to see it, can be quite closely observed. Children enter into a specific relationship to their own I. Of course, what we could call the soul relationship to the I occurs much earlier. It occurs in each persons life at the earliest moment he or she can remember. This is approximately the time when the child goes from saying, “Johnny wants this,” “Mary wants this,” to saying “I want this.” Later, people remember back to this moment. Earlier events normally completely disappear from memory. This is when the ensouled I enters the human being. However, it has not completely entered spiritually. We see what enters the human soul constitution spiritually as the experiencing of the I that occurs in the child approximately between nine and ten years of age. People who are observers of the soul have at times mentioned this important moment in human life. Jean Paul once so beautifully said that he could remember it quite exactly. As a young boy, he was standing before a barn in the courtyard of his parents’ home, so clearly could he recall it. There, the consciousness of his I awoke in him. He would never forget, so he told, how he looked through the veil at the holy of holies of the human soul.
Such a change occurs around the age of nine, in one case clearly, in another case less clearly. This moment is extremely important for the teacher. If you have previously been able to arouse in the growing child feelings tending in those directions of the will called religious or moral that you can bring forth through all your teaching, then you need only be a good observer of children to allow your authority to be effective when this stage appears. When you can observe that what you have previously prepared in the way of religious sensitivities is solidly in place and comes alive, you can meet the child with your authority.
This is the time that determines whether people can honestly and truly look from their innermost depths to something that divinely courses through the spirit and soul of the world and human life. At this point, those who can place themselves into human life through a spiritual point of view will, as teachers, be intuitively led to find the right words and the right behavior. In truth, education is something artistic. We must approach children not with a standardized pedagogy, but with an artistic pedagogy. In the same way that artists must be in control of their materials, must understand them exactly and intimately, those who work from the spiritual point of view must know the symptoms that arise around the age of nine. This is the time when people deepen their inner consciousness so that their I-consciousness becomes spiritual, whereas previously it was soulful. Then the teacher will be able to change to an objective observation of things, whereas previously the child required a connection to human subjectivity. You will know, when you can correctly judge this moment, that prior to this you should, for example, speak to children about scientific things, about things that occur in nature, by clothing them in tales, in fables, in parables. You will know that all natural objects are to be treated as having, in a sense, human characteristics. In short, you will know that you do not separate people from their natural surroundings. At that moment around the age of nine when the I awakens, human beings separate themselves from the natural environment and become mature enough to objectively compare the relationships of natural occurrences. Thus, we should not begin to objectively describe nature before this moment in the child’s life. It is more important that we develop a sense, a spiritual instinct, for this important change.
Another such change occurs around eleven or twelve years of age. While the child is still completely under the influence of authority, something begins to shine into life that is fully formed only after sexual maturity. The child’s developing capacity to judge begins to shine in at this time. Thus, as teachers we work so that we appeal to the child’s capacity for judgment, and we allow the principle of authority to recede into the background. After about twelve years of age, the child’s developing capacity for judgment already plays a role. If we correctly see the changing condition of the child’s soul constitution, then we can also see that the child develops new interests. The child previously had the greatest interest, for example, in what we (of course, in a manner understandable to a child) brought in describing natural sciences. Only after this change, around eleven or twelve years of age, does this interest (I understand exactly the importance of what I say) develop into a true possibility of understanding physical phenomena, of understanding even the simplest physical concepts.
There can be no real pedagogical art without the observation of these basic underlying rhythms of human life. This art of education requires that we fit it exactly to what develops in a human being. We should derive what we call the curriculum and educational goals from that. What we teach and how we teach should flow from an understanding of human beings. However, we cannot gain this understanding of human beings if we are not able to turn our view of the world to seeing the spiritual that forms the basis of sensible facts. Then it will become clear to us that the intangibles that I have already mentioned really play a role, particularly in the pedagogical art.
Today, where our pedagogical art has developed more from the underlying scientific point of view, we place much value upon so-called visual aids (this is the case, although we are seldom conscious of it). I would ask you not to understand the things I say as though I want to be polemic, as though I want to preach or derogatorily criticize. This is not at all the case. I only wish to characterize the role that the science of the spirit can have in the formation of a pedagogical art. That we emphasize visual aids beyond their bounds is only a result of the common way of thinking that has developed from a scientific point of view, from scientific methods. However (I will say this expressly), regardless of how justified it is to present illustrative materials at the proper time and with the proper subjects, it is just as important to ask if everything we should convey to the child can be conveyed by demonstration. We must ask if there are no other ways in which we can bring things from the soul of the teacher to the soul of the child. We must certainly mention that there are other ways. I have, in fact, mentioned the all-encompassing principle of authority that is active from the change of teeth until puberty. The child accepts the teacher’s opinion and feeling because they live in the teacher. There must be something in the way the teacher meets the child that acts as an intangible. There must be something that really flows from an all-encompassing understanding of life and from the interest in an all-encompassing understanding of life. I have characterized it by saying that what we impart to children often reveals itself in a metamorphosed form only in the adult, or even in old age.
For example, there is one thing people often do not observe because it goes beyond the boundaries of visual aids. You can reduce what you visually present the child down to the level the child can comprehend. You can reduce it to only what the child can comprehend, or at least what you believe the child can comprehend. Those who carry this to an extreme do not notice an important rule of life, namely, that it is a source of power and strength in life if you can reach a point, for example at the age of thirty-five, when you say to yourself that as a child you learned something once from your teacher, from the person who educated you. You took it into your memory and you remembered it. Why did you remember it? Because you loved the teacher as an authority, because the essence of the teacher so stood before you that it was clear to you when that teacher truly believed something, you must learn it. This is something you did instinctively. Now you have realized something, now that you are mature. You understand it in the way I have described it —“I learned something that I learned because of a love for an authority. Now the strength of maturity arises through which I can recall it again, and I can recognize it in a new sense. Only now do I understand it.”
Those who laugh at such a source of strength have no interest in real human life, they do not know that human life is a unity, that everything is connected. Thus, they cannot value what it means to go beyond normal visual aids, which are completely justifiable within their boundaries. Such people cannot value the need for their teaching to sink deeply into the child’s soul so that at each new level of maturity it will always return. Why do we meet so many inwardly broken people these days? Why do our hearts bleed when we look at the broad areas in need of such tremendous undertakings, while people nonetheless wander around aimlessly? Because no one has attended to developing in growing children those capacities that later in life become a pillar of strength to enable them really to enter into life.
These are the things that we must thoroughly consider when we change from simple conventional pedagogical science to a true art of education. In order for pedagogy to be general for humanity, teachers must practice it as an individual and personal art. We must have insight into certain inner connections if we want to understand clearly what people often say instinctively but without clear understanding. Today, with some justification, people demand that we should not only educate the intellect. They say it is not so important that growing children receive knowledge or understanding. What is important is that they become industrious people, that the element of will be formed, that real dexterity be developed, and so forth. Certainly, such demands are quite justifiable. What we need to realize though, is that we cannot meet such demands with general pedagogical phrases or standards; we can only meet them when we really enter into the concrete details of human developmental stages. We must know that it is the artistic aesthetic factor that fires the will, and we must be able to bring this artistic aesthetic factor to the will. We must not simply seek an external gateway to the will. That is what we would seek if we sought out people only through physiology and biology. That is what we would seek if we were not to seek them through the spiritual element that expresses itself in their being and expresses itself distinctly, particularly in childhood. There is much to be ensouled, to be spiritualized.
In our Waldorf School in Stuttgart, we have attempted for the first time to create something from what is usually based only upon the physiological, at least in its inner strength and its methods. Namely, we have attempted to transform gymnastics into the art of eurythmy. Almost every Saturday and Sunday in Dornach you can see a eurythmy performance. Eurythmy is an art form in which we use the human organism, with its possibilities for inner movement, as an instrument. What you see as an art form also has the possibility of ensouling and spiritualizing human movements that otherwise occur only in gymnastics.
Thus, people not only do what may affect this or that muscle, they also do what naturally flows from this or that feeling of the soul into the movement of the muscles, into the movement of the limbs.
Because it is based upon a spiritual scientific vitalization of life, we are convinced eurythmy will be significant for both pedagogy and healing. We are seeking the necessary healthy relationship between inner experiencing, feeling and expression of soul, and what we can develop in people as movement. We seek to develop these natural connections. We seek through the recognition of the ensouled and spiritualized human being what people usually seek only through physiology or other external facts. We can also affect the will not only when we apply the most common of arts to the principles of teaching in the early elementary school years. We can equally affect the will in a very special way when we allow soul-spirituality to permeate something also thought to cultivate the will, namely, gymnastics. However, we must recognize soul-spirituality in its concrete possibility of effectiveness, in its concrete form.
Thus, we must recognize the connections between two capacities of the human soul. Modern psychology cannot see this because it is not permeated by spiritual science. If we can look objectively at that important moment that I have described as occurring around nine years of age, we will see, on the one hand, that something important happens that is connected with the feeling capacity, the feeling life of the child. People look inwardly. Quite different feeling nuances occur. In a certain sense, the inner life of the soul becomes more independent from external nature in its feeling nuances. On the other hand, something else occurs that we can see only through a truly intimate observation of the soul. Namely, we learn because we still have what we might call an organically developed memory. Jean Paul noticed this and expressed it brilliantly when he said that we certainly learn more in the first three years of our life than in three years at the university. This is so because memory still works organically. We certainly learn more for living. However, around the age of nine a particular relationship forms between the life of feeling and the life of memory that plays more into conscious life.
We need only to see such things. If we cannot see them, then we think they are not there. If you can really see this intimate relationship between the life of feeling and memory, then you will find, if you pay attention, the proper standpoint from which to appeal to memory in your teaching. You should not appeal to memory any differently than you appeal to feeling. You will find the proper nuances, particularly for teaching history, for everything you have to say about history, if you know that you must permeate your presentation of what you want the children to remember with something that plays into their independent feelings. You will also be able to properly order the teaching of history in the curriculum if you know these connections. In this way, you can also gain a proper point of view about what the children should generally remember. You will be able to affect the feeling to the same extent you intend to affect the memory, in the same way you previously affected the will through artistic activity. Slowly, you will gain the possibility, following this stage of life, of allowing will and feeling to affect the intellect. If, in education, we do not develop the intellect in the proper way out of will and feeling, then we work in a manner opposing human developmental forces, rather than supporting them.
You can see that this whole lecture revolves around the relationship of spiritual science to pedagogical art, and how important it is to use spiritual science to provide a true understanding of human beings. In this way we obtain something from spiritual science that enters our will in the same way that artistic talents enter the human will. In this way we can remove ourselves from a pedagogy that is simply a science of convention, that always tells us to teach in this or that manner, according to some rules. We can transplant into the essence of our humanity what we must have in our will, the spiritual permeation of the will, so that from our will we can affect the developmental capacities of the growing child. In this manner, a truly effective understanding of human beings should support education in the spiritual scientific sense. The developing human thus becomes a divine riddle for us, a divine riddle that we wish to solve at every hour. If, with our art of teaching, we so place ourselves in the service of humanity, then we serve this life from our great interest in life.
Here at the conclusion, I wish to mention again the standpoint from which I began. Teachers work with people at that stage of life when we are to implant all the possibilities of life into human nature and, at the same time, to bring them forth from human nature. Then they can play a role in the whole remainder of human life and existence. For this reason we can say there is no area of life that should not, in some way or another, affect the teacher. However, only those who learn to understand life from a spiritual standpoint really understand life. To use Goethe’s expression, only those who can form life spiritually will be able to form life at all. It seems to me that the most necessary thing to achieve now is the shaping of life through a pedagogy practiced more and more in conformity with the spirit. Allow me to emphasize again that what I have said today was not said to be critical, to preach. I said it because, in my modest opinion, the science of the spirit and the understanding that can be gained through it, particularly about the essence of humanity, and thus about the essence of the growing child, can serve the art of education, can provide new sources of strength for the pedagogical art.
This is the goal of spiritual science. It does not desire to be something foreign and distant from this world. It desires to be a leaven that can permeate all the capacities and tasks of life. It is with this attitude that I attempt to speak from spiritual science about the various areas of life and attempt to affect them. Also, do not attribute to arrogance what I have said today about the relationship of spiritual science to pedagogy. Rather, attribute it to an attitude rooted in the conviction that, particularly now, we must learn much about the spirit if we are to be spiritually effective in life. Attribute it to an attitude that desires to work in an honest and upright manner in the differing areas of life, that wishes to work in the most magnificent, the most noble, the most important area of life—in the teaching and shaping of human beings.
Discussion Following the Lecture
W: The speaker says that he listened to Dr. Steiner s explanation concerning pedagogy with great interest and that the same could be extended to art. He mentions Ferdinand Hodlers words that what unites people is stronger than what divides them. He then continues-
What unites us all is just that spirituality of which Dr. Steiner has spoken. Modern art also seeks this spirituality again and will find it in spite of all opposition.
I would like to mention something else. We can follow the development of children through their pictures. We often see pictures that children have painted. These pictures tell us something, if we can understand them. I will relate an experience that I, as an art teacher, have had in teaching.
I had a class draw pictures of witches. Each child expressed in the picture of the witch the bad characteristic that he or she also had. Afterward, I discussed this with the class teacher, and he told me that what I saw in the pictures was completely correct. My judgment, based upon the pictures, was completely correct.
Now a short remark concerning the way we can view modern art, the way we must view it. I can show you by means of an example. In front of us we have a blackboard. I can view this blackboard with my intellect, which tells me that this blackboard has four corners with two pairs of parallel sides and a surface that is dark and somber. My feelings tell me something else. My feelings tell me that this black, hard angular form gives me the impression of something heavy, dark, harsh, disturbing. What I first think of in seeing this blackboard, what first comes to mind, is perhaps a coffin.
It is in this way that we must understand modern pictures, no longer through reasoning, but through feeling. What do I feel in this picture, and what thoughts come to mind? We must teach children not so much to see what is externally there, but more to feel.
X: I find myself speaking now due to an inner need. In particular, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the lecturer for his beautiful words and for the pictures, ideas and thoughts that he unrolled before our eyes. His words have affected me extremely positively because they come from ideas with which I have concerned myself time and again for many years.
I did not know what “spiritual science” meant. Now I see quite clearly that a close connection exists between spiritual science and pedagogy. This is now my complete conviction. His words have also quite positively affected me since he demonstrated a certain development throughout the complete presentation, the development we see in the Herbart-Ziller school to which the lecturer also made reference.
The lecturer also referred to certain stages of development in children, and this causes me to make a short remark.
He has described stages in such a way that I am convinced such stages really exist. We find that Herbart also defined such stages. Already in 1804 Herbart showed, in a very interesting work concerning aesthetic form in education, what should be, what must be really important in education. From this he created the theory of stages, which Ziller carried further. These stages were to a certain degree plausibly described by Vogt in Vienna.
However, reading about all these stages had still not convinced me of their reality, of their existence, as the lecturer, Dr. Steiner, did in speaking today. For that I wish to express particular thanks.
Now one thing more. You have certainly felt that everything depends upon one thing, upon something that surely must lie heavily upon our souls, including my own. Everything depends upon the personality of the teacher. This comes out quite clearly throughout the whole lecture, with warmth, depth and responsibility. Time and again it made me particularly happy that Dr. Steiner emphasized this with complete insight and certainty. Thus, he has also shown us what a great task and responsibility we have if we wish to continue in our profession as teachers. I am generally in complete agreement with all the pictures of life he has presented. You have spoken from what I myself have experienced, thought and felt for decades. I wish to again express my most heartfelt thanks to the lecturer for his remarks.
Y: The first speaker has already expressed to a large extent what I wanted to say about how we should live into the child through art.
Now, I would like to say something somewhat critical. Dr. Steiner said that we should replace gymnastics as we now have it in the school with eurythmy. I have seen some of the eurythmy performances and understand their intent. However, I do not believe that we may use eurythmy alone in the school. What does eurythmy develop? I think that all these dancing movements ignore the human upper body, the formation of muscles. However, it is precisely this that is important to working people, and most of our elementary school students will become working people. Through eurythmy we will produce undeveloped, weak muscles, weak chest muscles, weak back muscles. The leg muscles will be strongly developed, but not those of the upper arms. They will be undeveloped and weak. We see just this weakness already today in so-called girls gymnastics, where the tendency is already to lay too much value upon dancing. Where the strength of the upper arms is demanded, these muscles fail. These girls cannot even do the simplest exercises requiring support of the arms. However, this is much less important to girls than it is to boys in their later work. If we take eurythmy and leave aside physiological gymnastics—the parallel bars, the high bar, rope climbing—then I fear that the strength people need in their work may suffer. What I wish to say is that we can teach eurythmy, and the children will receive an aesthetic training, but it should not be eurythmy alone. What pleased me at the performances in Dor-nach was the beautiful play of lines, the harmony of the movements, the artistic, the aesthetic. However, I would doubt that these eurythmy exercises can really play a part in making the body suitable for working. I would like to hear a further explanation if Dr. Steiner desires to have only eurythmy exercise, if he desires to deny school gymnastics, based in physiological facts, its rightful place. If we were to deny those physical exercises based upon an understanding of the human body their rightful place, then I would be unable to agree completely with the introduction of eurythmy into the schools.
Dr. Steiner: I would first like to say a few words concerning the last point so that misunderstandings do not arise.
Perhaps I did not make this clear enough in the lecture, since I could only briefly discuss the subject. When we present eurythmy in Dornach, we do this, of course, as an artistic activity, in that we emphasize just what you referred to as being pleasant. In that we emphasize what can be pleasant, in Dor-nach we must, of course, present those things meant more for viewing, for an artistic presentation. In the lecture I wanted to indicate more that in viewing eurythmy people would recognize that what they normally think of as simply physiological (this is somewhat radically said, since gymnastics is not thought of as only physiological), what is primarily thought of as only physiological, can be spiritualized and ensouled. If you include eurythmy in the curriculum (when I introduce a eurythmy performance, I normally mention that eurythmy is only in its beginning stages), and if today it seems one-sided in that it particularly develops certain limbs, this will disappear when we develop eurythmy further. I need to mention this so as not to leave the impression that I believe we should drop gymnastics.
You see, in the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, we have a period of normal gymnastics and a period of eurythmy, consisting of more than you see in an artistic presentation. Thus, we take into account the requirements that you justifiably presented.
What is important to me is that along with the physical, the physiological that forms the basis of gymnastics, we add the spirit and soul, so that both things are present. Just as people themselves consist of a totality in the interaction of body, soul and spirit, what is truly the soul, recognizable for itself, also works in the movements that people carry out in gymnastics
and such. We are not at all concerned with eliminating gymnastics. Quite the opposite. It is my desire that gymnastics be enriched with eurythmy. We should not eliminate one single exercise on the parallel bars or high bar. We should leave out nothing in gymnastics. However, what eurythmy attempts is that instead of asking how we can handle this or that muscle from the physiological point of view, the question becomes how does a soul impulse work? In other words, alongside what already exists, we add something else. I do not at all wish to criticize what already exists, but rather to describe briefly what spiritual science fosters in the way of permeating things with spirit and soul. I agree with your objection, but it is my desire to show that bringing the soul element into gymnastics can originate from the science of the spirit.
Z: Mr. Z describes how the principle that Dr. Steiner has developed would be extremely educational and fruitful for the school.
If people were to consider how schools now handle things, they would have to say that this does not correspond to the stages described by Dr. Steiner. Goethe once said that children must go through the cultures of humanity to develop their feeling life. If we want to connect with these valuable words from Goethe and make them fruitful, we should have methods that are completely contrary to the ideas we have used for years. The second thing I would like to mention is that in drawing, we always begin with lines and figures. If we look at the drawings of the cave dwellers, we must realize that they did not have any instruction in drawing at all. I think that we can learn a great deal for teaching drawing to our children from the first drawings and paintings of those primitive people. Regarding singing, we now begin with the scale, as if that was the natural basis for singing in school. However, if we study the history of music, we will immediately see that the scale is an abstraction to which humanity has come only over many centuries. The primary thing in music is the triad, the chord in general. Thus, our singing instruction should much more properly begin with chords and only later come to scales. For other subjects, such as geography and history, I think we should pay much more attention to how primitive people first obtained this (I dare not say science), this knowledge. We could then continue in the same way. For example, we could present geography beginning with interesting drawings of the trips of discovery to the New World, and so forth. Then the children would show much, much more interest because we would have enlivened the subject instead of presenting them with the finished results as is done today in the dry textbooks and through the dry instructions—“obstructions.”
Dr. Steiner: It is now much too late for me to attempt to give any real concluding remarks. I am touched with a deep sense of satisfaction that what has come forth from the various speakers in the discussion was extremely interesting, and fell very naturally into what I intended in the lecture. It’s true, isn’t it, that you can comprehend in what, for example, you can see in Dornach, in what we present in the various artistic activities in Dornach, that something is given that reflects the fundamental conviction of spiritual science.
Now the gentleman who just spoke so beautifully about how we can educate for artistic feeling rather than mere viewing, would see that spiritual science artistically attempts to do justice to such things. He would see that in Dornach we attempt to paint purely from color, so that people also feel the inner content of the color, of the colored surface, and that what occurs as a line results from the colored area. In this regard, what is substantial in spiritual science can work to enliven much of what it touches today. The remarks about the Herbartian pedagogy were extremely interesting to me, since in both a positive and negative sense we can learn much from Herbart. This is particularly true when we see that in the Her-bartian psychology, in spite of a methodical striving toward the formation of the will, intellectualism has played a major role. You must struggle past much in Herbartian pedagogy in order to come to the principles that result from my explanation today.
Regarding the last speaker, I agree with almost everything. He could convince himself that the kind of education he demands, in all its details, belongs to the principle direction of our Waldorf School, particularly concerning the methods of teaching drawing, music and geography. We have put forth much effort, particularly in these three areas, to bring into a practical form just what the speaker imagines. For instance, in the faculty seminar we did a practice presentation about the Mississippi Valley. I think the way we prepared this presentation of a living, vivid geography lesson that does not come from some theory or intellectuality, but from human experience, would have been very satisfactory to the speaker. In place of a closing word, I therefore only wish to say that I am extremely satisfied that so many people gave such encouraging and important additions to the lecture.