The Kingdom of Childhood
By Rudolf Steiner
Translated by Helen Fox
Copyright © 1982
Steiner presents here the idea of the three seven-year periods
of child development and gives many classroom examples. These seven
intimate talks, and one Question & Answer lecture, were presented
to a small group on Steiner's final visit to England. Because they
were given to “pioneers” dedicated to opening a new Waldorf
school, these talks are often considered one of the best introductions
to Waldorf education.
Here is one of the best introductions to Waldorf education! Translated
by Helen Fox, and with a Preface by A. C. Harwood, we present these
lectures with the kind permission of the
Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
The German source is,
Die Kunst des Erziehens aus dem Erfassen der Menschenwesenhiet.
This e.Text edition is provided with the cooperation of:
The Anthroposophic Press
The Rudolf Steiner Press
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Thanks to an anonymous donation, this lecture has been made available.
| ||Cover Sheet
|About the Transcripts of Lectures
|Synopsis of Lectures
||August 12, 1924|
for a new Art of Education. The whole of life must be
considered. Process of incarnation as a stupendous task of the
spirit. Fundamental changes at seven and fourteen. At seven, the
forming of the “new body” out of the “model
body” inherited at birth. After birth, the bodily milk as sole
nourishment. The teacher's task to give “soul milk” at
the change of teeth and “spiritual milk” at puberty.
||August 13, 1924|
epoch of life child is wholly sense-organ. Nature of child's
environment and conduct of those around him of paramount importance.
Detailed observation of children and its significance. In second
epoch, seven to fourteen, fantasy and imagination as life-blood of
all education, e.g. in teaching of writing and reading, based on free
creative activity of each teacher. The child as integral part of his
environment until nine. Teaching about nature must be based on this.
The “higher truths” in fairy tales and myths. How the
teacher can guide the child through the critical moment of the ninth
||August 14, 1924|
teach about plants and animals (seven to fourteen). Plants must
always be considered, not as specimens, but growing in the soil. The
plant belongs to the earth. This is the true picture and gives
the child an inward joy. Animals must be spoken of always in
connection with man. All animal qualities and physical
characteristics are to be found, in some form, in man. Man as
synthesis of the whole animal kingdom. Minerals should not be
introduced till twelfth year. History should first be presented in
living, imaginative pictures, through legends, myths and stories.
Only at eleven or twelve should any teaching be based on cause and
effect, which is foreign to the young child's nature. Some thoughts
on punishment, with examples.
||August 15, 1924|
Development of imaginative qualities in the teacher. The story of the
violet and the blue sky. Children's questions. Discipline dependent
on the right mood of soul. The teacher's own preparation for this.
Seating of children according to temperament. Re-telling of stories.
Importance of imaginative stories which can be recalled in later
school life. Drawing of diagrams, from ninth year. Completion and
metamorphosis cf simple figures, to give children feeling of form and
symmetry. Concentration exercises to awaken an active thinking as
basis of wisdom for later life. Simple colour exercises. A Waldorf
School timetable. The “Main Lesson.”
||August 16, 1924|
teaching matter must be intimately connected with life. Thus in
counting, each different number should be connected with the child
himself or what he sees around him. Counting and stepping in rhythm.
The body counts. The head looks on. Counting with
fingers and toes is good (also writing with the feet). The ONE is the
whole. Other numbers proceed from it. Building with bricks is against
child's nature. His impulse is to proceed from whole to parts, as in
medieval thinking. Contrast Atomic Theory. In real life we have first
a basket of apples, a purse of coins. In teaching
addition, proceed from the whole. In subtraction, start with
minuend and remainder, in multiplication, with product and one
factor. Theorem of Pythagoras (11–12 years). Details given of a
clear, visual proof, based on practical thinking. This will arouse
fresh wonder every time.
|Appendix to Lecture 5
||August 18, 1924|
seven years etheric body is an inward sculptor. After seven, child
has impulse to model and to paint. Teacher himself must learn Anatomy
by modelling the organs. Teaching of Physiology (nine to
twelve years) should be based on modelling. Between seven and
fourteen astral body gradually draws into physical body, carrying the
breathing by way of nerves, as playing on a lyre. Importance of
Singing. Child's experience of well-being like that of cows
chewing the cud. Instrumental music from beginning of school life,
wind or strings. Teaching of Languages; up to nine through
imitation, then beginnings of Grammar, as little translation as
possible. Vowels are expression of feeling, consonants are imitation
of external processes. Each language expresses a different
conception. Compare head, Kopf, testa. The parts of speech in
relation to the life after death. If language is rightly taught, out
of feeling, Eurythmy will develop naturally, expressing inner and
outer experiences in ordered movements — “visible
speech.” In Gymnastics man finds relationship to space.
||August 19, 1924|
seven and fourteen soul qualities are paramount. Beginnings of
science teaching from twelfth year only, and connected with
real phenomena of life. The problem of fatigue. Wrong
conceptions of psychologists. The rhythmic system in man, predominant
in second period, never tires. Rhythm and fantasy.
Composition. Sums from real life, not abstractions.
Einstein's Theory. The Kindergarten — Imitation of life.
Teacher' Meetings, the heart of the school. Every child
to be in the right class for his age. Importance of some
knowledge of trades, e.g. shoe-making. Handwork and
embroidery. Children's Reports — characterization, but
no grading. Contact with the Parents.
|Questions and Answers
||August 20, 1924|
The close relationship of
Multiplication and Division. How to deal with both
Transition from the concrete to the abstract in Arithmetic.
Not before the ninth year. Healthiness of English weights and
measures as related to real life. Decimal system as an intellectual
Drawing. Lines have no reality in drawing and painting, only
boundaries. How to teach children to draw a tree in shading,
speaking only of light and colour. (Illustration). Line-drawing
belongs only to Geometry.
Direct Method in Language Teaching.
Gymnastics and Sport. Sport is of no educational
value, but necessary as belonging to English life. Gymnastics should
be taught by demonstration.
Religious Instruction. Religion lessons in the Waldorf School
given by Catholic priest and Protestant pastor. “Free”
Religion lessons provided for the other children. Plan of such
teaching described, of which the fundamental aim is an understanding
of Christianity. The Sunday Services.
Modern Language Lessons. Choice of languages must be guided
by the demands of English life. These can be introduced at an early
Closing words by Dr. Steiner on the seriousness of this first attempt
to found a School in England.