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Curative Education

Schmidt Number: S-5808

On-line since: 21st August 2004

NINTH LECTURE

4th July, 1924

We had before us yesterday a succession of children to whom we gave our attention. It is in this way for the most part that the study of the treatment of abnormal children has necessarily to be pursued — namely, in relation to particular examples. Abnormality manifests in all possible directions, and each single case is a case by itself. The only way you can begin to learn how to deal with such children is to devote yourself to an individual case, and thereby, as time goes on, gradually acquire the skill that will be needed for dealing with other cases.

You will remember the boy of twelve years old who was brought before us yesterday and whom I had to describe as a kleptomaniac. I explained to you how spiritual vision can discern, in the case of such a kleptomaniac, that on account of hindrances in the astral body, he has no means of access to the capacity for judgement that ordinarily belongs to human beings in the world. In this connection, you must realise that everything which has to do with morality, everything of which it can be said that our conception of it must needs include moral impulses, comes to expression within Earth existence alone. We really could say — it would of course be misunderstood by the superficial thinking of the present day — that where the Earth comes to an end, where one goes out beyond into the super-sensible realm, moral judgements such as we are familiar with on Earth cease to exist; for the reason that out there, in the realm of the super-sensible, morality is, so to say, a complete matter of course. Moral judgements begin only where there is a possibility of choice between good and evil. For the spiritual world, good and evil are simply characteristic qualities. There are good beings and there are bad beings. As little as you can say of a lion that he ought, or ought not, to be lion-like, just so little can you say, when you have come away from the Earth, that good and evil ought or ought not to be as they are. To speak in this way pre-supposes the possibility of choice, of saying Yes or No, a possibility which comes in question solely within the organisation of man and where human beings are living socially together. Now, in the case of an illness such as kleptomania, owing to the hindrances of which we spoke, the person in question has not evolved his astral body far enough to enable him to develop a sensitivity to moral judgements. Consequently, the moment a boy of this kind feels a particular interest in some object, he sees no reason at all why he should not take it. He does not understand that it may “belong” to someone, the idea of “mine and thine” has no meaning for him. His astral body does not get far enough into the physical world for him to be able to appreciate the concept of possession.

We have here exactly the same kind of phenomenon as when someone is colour-blind. It's no use talking about colours to one who is colour-blind; and it would have just as little sense to speak in the higher world about possession and non-possession. The child does not find his way far enough into the physical world for him to be able to attach any meaning at all to what he hears people say about “possessing” things. What is particularly strong in him is the idea of discovery — the idea that he has lighted upon some object or other which astonishes him, which fills him with delight and interest. But there his capacity for forming ideas comes to a full stop. The truth is that up to now his astral body has not penetrated to the region of the will, but has remained more or less in the intellectual sphere. We have evidence of this in the fact that the organs of the will are deformed at the side. Consequently, whatever he finds good intellectually he at once turns into will. Let the same defect show itself in the intellect, and you will find the children are dull and stupid; but when, as here, it shows itself in the will, they are kleptomaniacs.

An abnormality of this kind is very difficult to contend with. For at the age of life when it would be important to make a strong stand against the failing, it generally escapes notice altogether. At this early age, the child is naturally imitative, doing what he sees done around him, and so one may easily fail to discern in his behaviour the tendency to kleptomania. Only after the change of teeth, will the tendency begin to be apparent. When the change of teeth has taken place, the child is however even then not far enough out yet on the physical plane to develop a sense for any moral judgement other than: What I like is good, what I don't like is bad. His judgements, that is to say, are entirely aesthetic. It will therefore be for the teacher to awaken in the child the feeling for the good — the meaning of “good” — by bringing it about that the child looks up to him and takes him for his pattern and example. That is why in our Waldorf School education we take particular care that authority shall make itself felt in this age of life. Quite as a matter of course it should come about that the child regards his teacher with devotion. The teacher will then speak of things that are “good” always in such a manner as to arouse the child's interest and enjoyment, and of things that are “bad” in such a manner as to arouse his antipathy. For this to achieve the desired result, it is of course essential that there be first the natural acceptance of the teacher's authority. If this is necessary in the case of a so-called normal child, it is in the very highest degree necessary in the case of such a child as we are considering. In all education nothing contributes so much to true progress as that the child has trust and confidence in the one who is his teacher; and in dealing with abnormal children it is absolutely essential that this right relationship between child and teacher can be relied on from the outset.

In a course of study such as we are now engaged in, we must not omit to point out how important it is, when dealing with quite little children, to make careful observation of the whole way in which their development takes place. If we notice that a little child grows very happy and animated on account of something he has learned — learned, I mean, before the change of teeth — if we notice, for instance, that a child who is learning to speak takes inordinate pleasure in some new sound he has learned to utter, then we must be prepared for the possibility that things may go wrong with that child! Children who later on become kleptomaniacs, develop this kind of egotism in the tender age of early childhood; they will perhaps click their tongue with satisfaction, when they have acquired a new word. This is rare with very young children, but it certainly can occur.

One has to learn to be able to look ahead and see what may be the outcome of such a trait in future years. Far more important for the doctor as well as for the educator, than the principles upon which he has to work — although a knowledge of these is, of course, to be taken for granted — far more important for him is that he should acquire a sensitive perception for what is going on in the world around him. You must not, you see, be like Wulffen [See Lecture 2]; you must be ready to appreciate what a vast deal depends on the environment of a growing child. Take, for instance, such a case, where a very little child has the habit I spoke of just now: he clicks his tongue with satisfaction over some new thing he has learned. This delight at acquiring something in the intellectual sphere will change, about the time of the second dentition, into a conspicuous vanity; the child will grow vain and conceited in relation to other things as well. It should indeed be a matter for grave concern, for instance, if at about the time of the change of teeth a child develops — as it were, from an inborn tendency — a hankering after fine clothes. Symptoms of this nature should be carefully noted. But let us now consider two kinds of environment into which such a child may grow up.

The child may be born in a region — we will imagine for the purpose some quite small territory — where people are accustomed to live in an easy-going way and let things take their course, and where they look upon the militia as something that is necessary for the defence of their territory, but that arouses in them no enthusiasm or at best an enthusiasm that has to be artificially stimulated. There will then develop in every child as a matter of course, during the period between the seventh and fourteenth years, a feeling for what is expected of him as a member of the community. The boy grows up; and if particular care has not been taken that he is able to look up with love and respect to his teacher (for parents, as you know, do not always concern themselves about such a matter in this period of the child's life), then the tendency which we have seen at work in the intellectual sphere slips down now into the will, and it is quite possible that kleptomania may ensue.

And now let us see, on the other hand, what happens when a child of this kind grows up, not in a country where the militia is regarded as a somewhat troublesome burden, but in a region where the child finds himself surrounded by a kind of Prussianism. (As you will see, I am giving just characteristic features of a particular case.) Militarism is here looked upon by no means merely as a necessity, but as something that gives one tremendous pleasure, something that thrills one with wonder and admiration and to which one is loyal through thick and thin. The child does not remain at home in the family, he is sent to school and then later to the University. And now the trait that was not at all advantageous to the other boy turns out to be of great advantage to him. The disposition of which we have spoken and which was already present in him as a child finds its fulfilment and expression when he becomes a researcher in natural science. He is engaged in preparing microscopic slides; he will look round in all directions for objects to bring under the microscope, and in this regular — and at the same time irregular — way, satisfy his longing to acquire things for himself. The impulse will experience its full satisfaction. For the boy has found his way into a milieu within which the habit of stealing has no place; if things are “taken”, then it is things with which one does not associate the concept of stealing. The kleptomania will in this case go on developing beneath the surface. The boy becomes later a lecturer in physiology, he becomes the most famous physiologist of his time. Something of the kleptomaniac propensity remains with him for life, but it is associated in him with a kind of enthusiasm for war. This enthusiasm now changes however the sphere of its activity, finding its way especially into the imagery he uses in his lecturing; these are all about fighting and going to war. And then, strangely enough, this tendency may in certain circumstances degenerate into a kind of vanity. A feeling may get hold of him that his rhetorical figures are his own possession and that no one else has a right to use them. Suppose some daring and rather mischievous student of his, who is a bit of a genius, ventures in his examination to use the very same figures of speech. That student will certainly be failed. And if he should go so far as to click his tongue at the same time, then things will go very badly with him.

Once we have the insight to see and understand things of this kind when we meet them in life, the insight itself will guide us to the right method of dealing with them. We must resolve to make ourselves acquainted with life in all its manifold shades and varieties. Then we shall be ready to notice quickly when traits begin to show themselves that point in this or that direction.

I have already spoken to you of a good curative measure that can be employed in the psychological sphere. You have to cultivate your power of invention and tell the boy a story, in which this characteristic of his plays a part. You tell him of people who do the same kind of thing, and then you make it clear that all the time they are only digging a pit for themselves into which they afterwards fall. If the dramatic character of the story be developed with real enthusiasm, you can attain your end in this way, provided you sustain the effort without any slackening. In addition, you will at the same time need to treat such a child therapeutically; he must receive injections with hypophysis cerebri and honey, because, as you saw, the temporal lobes are stunted and we must do all we can to encourage forces of growth that shall counteract this deformation.

Very good results can also be obtained from the use of Curative Eurythmy; but it must be carried out with tremendous energy. All the movements that belong to the vowels, the boy must be got to make with his legs. For what we have to do is to expel from the will the intellectual element, and at the same time impel into the will the striving, the taking pains, that lives in the vowel sounds.

Finally, it is most important that by virtue of the authority we have with the child, we should find it possible to speak with him quite plainly and unreservedly on the matter, showing him how objectionable such a habit is. But this must not be done too early. It has to be brought home to the child's intellect, and by attempting it too early we can easily spoil everything. We must go to work with our stories in the first place, and then gradually lead over to this appeal to the intellect.

It is most difficult to point to any success in these measures, for the good results are simply not noticed. The truth is, however, that many a kleptomaniac would never have been one at all, if early on, so soon as symptoms began to show themselves, those in charge of the child had at once begun telling the right kind of stories. Such stories always work; but we must have patience. One can be quite sure that in such a case as this boy, good results can be achieved — although, if the habit is deeply ingrained, perhaps only after a very long time.

And now for the other difficult child of whom I was speaking yesterday, who is not yet quite a year old, the case of hydrocephalus. Treatment has indeed in this instance been very difficult so far. For what do we observe in this child? What strikes us about him? First and foremost, excessive excitability and irritability of the nerves-and-senses system. This it is that has made possible such a prodigious enlargement of the head. Marked irritability of nerves and senses will always be found to express itself in an enlargement of the head. We must however be careful here to look at relative and not absolute measurements. If a person who is predisposed to be small altogether, has a head of the same size as that of a big, tall person, then he has what is for him a large head. This must not be forgotten when we are considering cases that are not abnormal. The child we saw yesterday is abnormal. The inordinate sensitiveness and irritability of the nerves-and-senses system, which are so evident in him, have been induced by the conditions under which he was living in the embryo time; I described these conditions to you yesterday, explaining them as due to the uneven way in which the influences of mother and father co-operated in the embryo.

What must we do in order to bring the child nearer to normality? Everything that could excite or irritate the nerves-and senses system must be shut out for as many hours of the day as possible. Accordingly we have had the child in a dark room, a room that is completely darkened, so that as he lies there, he is all the time in the quiet and the dark, receiving no impressions. As a matter of fact, I overestimated at first the results that could be attained by these means, for the child is actually not yet responsive to light. His sensitivity to light is exceedingly weak; on this account the exclusion of light is of less importance than might have been presumed. Nevertheless, this is the right principle to go on — to let the child live in the quiet and in the dark, having around him as few impressions as ever possible; then the impulse for quick and restless movement — an impulse of the will — will be aroused from within, and will work counter to the nerves-and-senses system. This then will be the first rule we set out to follow. Another thing we must do is to try to influence the nerves-and-senses system through the appropriate agencies. We have been using gneiss as an internal remedy. Quartz itself, used directly, would induce shock, and that we must at all costs avoid; with gneiss, the effects of the influence of quartz are more distributed. In quartz, the forces are strongly “radiant” in their working, sharp and spear-like; whereas when the same forces are distributed as in gneiss, they are mild in their working and spread out in the organism, reaching the periphery with a lighter touch. Gneiss in a high potency can here lead to the desired result. And then we must try to calm down the excited state of the nerves in the region also of the will. For in a very little child the whole human being, you must remember, is nerves-and senses system. This can be achieved by giving poppy baths. Baths are prepared, using the common field poppy.

When you see before you a state of affairs such as shows itself in this child, two things must go hand in hand the whole time — observation of the case, and whatever therapy is possible. You are dealing, you see, with an individual case. You will be in a better position to appreciate the importance of what I am saying if I tell you now what further symptoms have presented themselves to our observation. To begin with, we noticed that during the time of the treatment by injection the temperature dropped. Shortly afterwards the head was found to have increased in size. The child was sleeping by day and crying in the night. That changed when we began to give poppy baths in the evening. The fæces are hard, and a difference can be noticed according as the baths are given in the daytime or at night. The connection of astral with physical body is quite different morning and evening.

What we have to do is to bring order into the processes whereby what comes from the digestive system works into the brain. You will easily realise that mother's milk is not able under all circumstances to benefit a child of this kind in the same way that it does another child. (Normally, you know, mother's milk has an inherent tendency, a natural readiness to transfer itself from the digestive system to the nerves-and senses system.) We therefore discontinued mother's milk at the beginning of March, and the child was from then on nourished by other means. Nectar was given — the content of the nectaries found in the flowers of certain plants. Nectar has the effect of strengthening the ego in the region of the will. By administering a nourishment that develops — with something even of the dynamic of a parasite — in the region of the blossom, we make appeal to the inner individuality of the child, we try to call forth this inner individuality and bring it to activity. We have had some measure of success in this direction. But I must warn you how necessary it is, when one has a plan of this kind on hand, to decide on a suitable time for carrying it out, and then prepare oneself thoroughly for the occasion. Set-backs can always occur, and these are misjudged by anyone who looks at the matter from a layman's point of view. We have it here on record that for some days the child was having nectar and the fæces became softer. Afterwards diarrhoea ensued. The nectar was then discontinued. The diarrhoea stopped, and a condition set in during the night of 11th-12th June, that brought a kind of crisis. The child was crying, and blinking, and passing a great deal of water; the body sank in with every expiration; there were attacks of cramp in the left leg, while the left arm grew tense and rigid; the fontanels were also quite taut, and the reflex actions more pronounced. Hot compresses were applied, and compresses of poppy juice, after which the child fell asleep, and his condition on the following day was good. Appetite and evacuation of the bowels were in order.

You must understand that it is impossible to steer clear of such crises — unless one is prepared to steer clear of all hope of a cure! For the very work we have to set ourselves to do in the organism is bound at some time or other to express itself in such a crisis. When this happens, it is of course necessary immediately to intervene — as Frau Dr. Wegman did. After the application of hot compresses and poppy juice compresses the crisis will subside in a proper way. The only advice that can be given for a crisis of this nature is on no account to allow yourself to be alarmed or thrown off your guard. There are moments in such a case when everything depends on prompt and immediate action.

I would like to tell you of an interesting little experience that I had on this occasion. News reached me from another quarter that the child was in a very bad way. Frau Dr. Wegman herself said nothing about it; I was accordingly reassured, and was confident that the condition was taking its inevitable course. For one must, you know, retain the whole time a mood of readiness for the natural development of the illness; that is essential. And then one can listen quite quietly to someone or other who, without any real understanding of the case, is frightened and disturbed at the turn the illness is taking. In cases like this, where anything may happen, we must first be perfectly clear in ourselves that we are doing what requires to be done; if this is so, then we can also rest assured that everything is as it should be. It is of course most important to be watchful for crises and, when they come, to give them every care and attention; but we must know that they will certainly occur in a case of this kind. Feelings of pity and the like, which tend to make one agitated and upset, cannot help. It is never of the least use to be overcome with a feeling of pity, that way we merely get bewildered and distraught; the one and only thing that can help is to face the situation quite objectively and do what has to be done.

And now let us go a little further into the subject of treatment. As we have seen, it is not possible to do anything much yet in the way of psychological-pedagogical treatment; we have only one possibility in this direction, namely, to help psychologically by giving rest and, as far as possible, darkness. It is important however to find a way of bringing into the organism the principle of disintegration. We must replace the strong tendency that is at work there towards the watery element, towards fluidity by the principle of disintegration. Water does not fall asunder or disintegrate; it flows and spreads. We want to call upon forces that can promote disintegration, that can aid and encourage it. Such are the forces of lead. In lead we have a most effective means of inducing decomposition, disintegration. Whenever you see that upbuilding forces are rampant in the very place where breaking-down forces should be at work — and is not a preponderance of upbuilding over breaking-down forces the fundamental phenomenon to be observed in a giant-embryo such as this little child? — whenever you see this, you may always start on a course of medical treatment with lead. Lead, especially when injected, can have extraordinarily good results.

Let me describe to you how lead takes effect in the organism. Lead has, of course, long been known as a remedy; for thousands of years those who have had any understanding of such things have pointed to the medicinal influence of lead. The knowledge of its beneficial working has however been tending gradually to disappear — although now in our own time it is coming into notice again in a most remarkable way, from quite a new quarter. But now consider for a moment — where, in the whole earth, are the most powerful forces of disintegration to be found? We find them where radium occurs. And from radium we get, along with helium, an intermediary product which, undergoing further transformation, produces lead. Here, then, you have the inner connection. In the great world outside, in the cosmos, the most powerfully working forces of cleavage produce in lead the substance in which these forces of cleavage are ultimately concentrated. If therefore you bring lead into the human body, you are bringing into it cosmic destruction, cosmic disintegration. Think what this means. You introduce the lead, by means of injection, into the blood-circulation. In the circulation of the blood we have an immediate reflection of the structure of the universe. The 25,000 years that the sun takes to go round the universe — these 25,000 years we have in the circulation, in the pulsation of the blood. [The exact number is 25,920.] And now you bring disintegrating forces straight into the organism. The cosmos, as we know, gives itself time to work; nevertheless, if we have a real insight into the matter, it will be evident to us that the introduction of such a substance as lead can be of real help.

Treatment for this child will therefore be as I have described. We have also used hypophysis, applying it to the legs as an ointment; the formative, shaping forces that are active in the secretion of hypophysis counteract deformation. We shall in this way “form” while we heal. We have of course at the same time to see that the right stimulation is provided in order for the remedies to be able to work.

One can, you know, be very thankful that we have now surmounted a first crisis; one can be glad of the crisis that occurred between the 11th and 12th July, when the child manifested the symptoms we described. He will in all probability have to go through many such crises, and we must be very watchful to see that we cure the child, in the positive sense. For it is, you know, quite possible for a cure to take place in a negative sense. It comes to this — we have to cure, not for death, but for life. It is indeed a most delicate matter ever to deal with an organ therapeutically.

I would like also at this point to draw your attention to the fact that nothing could be achieved by puncturing and letting water flow out; the trouble then only starts again and grows even more serious than before. Obviously, however, so long as we have not yet ourselves attained any success in diminishing the size of the head, it is not for us to begin criticising other methods of treatment.

This is going to be a particularly interesting case, and for me personally it has as a matter of fact quite a special interest. For, whenever I think of this little fellow, whenever I look at him, it is not merely this child that I see before me. Imagine to yourselves this child grown to be thirty years old. He would then be an adult human being. It might well happen. He would be about six times as big as he is now. The head would be perhaps three-and-a-half times its present size, and the rest of the body six times. Imagining this, I see before me a man whom I actually did have before me when I was a boy of six years old. We used to meet constantly, for he was always there at the station when the trains arrived. He was obliged to use crutches, because his body could not carry his head. The whole muscular system that is involved in walking had not developed properly. He had an immense head. The man had in fact remained an embryo, he was a thirty-year-old embryo.

The reason why this man made such a remarkable impression on me as a little boy was that he was unbelievably clever. I did so enjoy talking to him! A deformity is of course a bit of a shock to a boy of seven or eight years old; but then, on the other hand, the man was, as I have said, astonishingly clever. One could learn a great deal from him; and all his judgements were pervaded with a great gentleness. This gentleness and mildness seemed to overflow from him — like his head! When he spoke — his sentences were not unduly drawn out, they took the normal length of time to utter, but as he spoke them, it was almost as though he had some sugary moisture on his lips, as though he were rubbing his lips together and tasting the sweetness all the time. There was indeed something quite original about the man. He was moreover genuinely inventive. Inventions of many kinds were attributed to him — which he was said to have made first on a small scale. Altogether, a most interesting personality. In course of time he had become less sensitive about his abnormality, he had grown accustomed to it. After all, he lived, you see, in a village, where a person of this kind is regarded with a certain measure of understanding. I have in fact never yet come across a village where some afflicted child had not grown up in this manner, becoming the child of the whole village, and receiving constant care and help from those around.

If we should have a child of this kind to look after, who is rather older than the little fellow we are considering, we would have to adopt other measures, such as I described to you in part when I told you how I had to treat the hydrocephalic boy of eleven years old who was given into my care, and who was in time completely healed.

Now let us go on to the next — the little girl who was rather unruly and troublesome. This child weighed 41 lb. at birth, was a nine months child and was breast-fed for seven months. She learned to walk in her first year, and learned also to speak at the proper time. When a year and a half old, she ceased to wet the bed at night, but wet herself by day. At the age of three-and-a-half she had an attack of influenza with headache and high fever, and three weeks later developed measles. The mother had influenza at the same time and was nervous and worried. The child's appetite is bad. She sometimes has disturbing dreams.

We have here a condition that is frequently to be met with among these children; we might even describe the little girl as a “normally” abnormal child. Our chief concern must be to see that the astral body receives the right form and configuration that will enable it to fit itself into the ether and physical bodies in a harmonious manner. To achieve this end, we always give arsenic baths — that is, we use arsenic externally; and occasionally we administer arsenic internally as well. The treatment has the effect of harmonising the relationships of astral body, ether body and physical body. Then, to ensure that the externally administered arsenic shall really strike home, we reinforce it by applying mustard compresses to the feet before and after the bath, using also grated horse-radish for this purpose. I should add that in the latter case, you must make sure that the horse-radish is not grated until immediately before use. It is most important that it should be freshly grated; if allowed to stand for some hours, it loses its efficacy.

Coming to the psychological aspect of the case, we must try to cure the child of the habit of being so excited. For she is still always restless and excited; I don't think the environment here has so far had any marked influence on her. We must break her of this habit. Altogether, the breaking of some habit or trait of character in a child can often lead to most salutary results — a fact that should not be overlooked. In the case we are considering, a great deal can be achieved by bringing the child to be quiet and still at the very moment when something is being told her of a kind that generally makes her excited and restless — even if, in order to keep her still, we have to resort to mechanical means. First of all, therefore, we observe, when we are relating some story, what things in the story particularly excite the child. Then, we compel her to restrain herself and not get excited, to become inwardly a little stiff and hold herself in. If we can bring this about we shall find, as time goes on, that the characteristic trait in the child is somehow being broken down. Instead of evincing excitement, she will begin even to show signs of weariness when the story is told. We let this weariness work — say, for a week or two; and then for a while we simply let the child go her way, treating her as though she were quite normal. After a time there will be some return of the excitability; then we shall have to set to work all over again, and repeat our course of treatment. The pauses are necessary; otherwise, if we go straight on without interruption, a reaction will come. The weariness, the slight signs of depression, will, if we push too far with our treatment, lead on to conditions of bodily depression, and we shall harm the child rather than heal.

We have now come to the point where I can indicate for you the principle that underlies the psychological treatment of all such children. We have to be ready and attentive, watching what is there in the child, realising that the abnormalities of soul are symptoms of what is going on within him, symptoms of the behaviour of ether body, astral body, ego organisation, etc. I say “etc.”; what do I mean? For when we divide the human being into

  1. Physical body
  2. Ether body
  3. Astral body
  4. Ego organisation
  5. Spirit-Self

we generally go on to say, do we not, that the spirit-self has not yet been evolved by man and does not therefore immediately concern him. We read about it of course in the books, but in the present epoch, man reaches only as far as the ego organisation, and so we have no call to trouble about the spirit-self. But, my dear friends, that is not a true and full picture of the situation. Human beings, we say, reach as yet only as far as the ego organisation; but not all the beings with whom we humans have to do, come only as far as the ego and no further! When we are dealing with growing children, we are necessarily brought into contact with beings who attain to the spirit-self, beings who are further on in evolution than man. If we set out to develop Waldorf School pedagogy and really mean our work to have life, then we must appeal not only to the human beings who are congregated there in our school, but also to spiritual beings who are more highly developed than man, spiritual beings who show quite clearly that they have evolved to the spirit self. In dealing with a growing child, we shall particularly have to do with one specific class of such beings, namely, the beings to whom we give the name of “Genius of Language”. Were it left to the human beings themselves to hand on language to the next generation, man would pine away and perish. Being lives in language, as truly as ever being lives in man himself. Along with speech and language something enters into man, wherein beings live whose whole life bears unmistakably the stamp of the spirit-self, even as man in his life bears the stamp of the ego organisation. These beings inspire us; they live in us through the fact that we speak.

Think how in Eurythmy we have to develop an artistic speaking in order for a visible speech and language to arise. We are really very far from comprehending what speech is in its fullness! A little part of the working of the Genius of Language we elaborate in Eurythmy, so as to enable a visible speech to come to birth. And then again in Curative Eurythmy — think how we appeal there to what these beings can achieve with the spirit-self, in the intuitive stimulation of man's will!

It is really so: the moment we begin to speak of education, we have immediately to make our appeal to spirits who have evolved the spirit-self. And whenever we try to elucidate what lies hidden in speech, we are actually describing the spirit-self. I would therefore recommend anyone who is setting out to educate abnormal children, to meditate upon what he can read in our books, about the spirit-self. He will find this a good material for meditation. It is a prayer to those spiritual beings who are of the same kind as the Genius of Language.

Such spiritual beings are verily present among us. Say, we come into the schoolroom. If our behaviour and gestures as we enter give adequate expression to what we are feeling and experiencing in our soul, then they have an immense influence upon the child. And they are moreover a proof that we are connected with the spiritual beings who bear within them the spirit-self.

There is a habit that is all too common among people today — I am far from suggesting you should start inveighing openly against it; in matters of this kind, one must adopt a completely objective attitude, the same objective attitude. as is required in dealing with the crises that occur in the little child. It is nevertheless a fact that when whole communities of people have a habit of keeping their hands in their trouser pockets and so avoiding any use of gesture, it means nothing else than that they want to be God-forsaken, they want to be left alone by the Gods — the Gods who are next above the spirit-man. It means, they would rather not have any knowledge of the beings who have developed the spirit-self — even as man has developed the I organisation. And one of the first things that happens to such persons is that their speech begins to be slovenly. This, is, in fact, the great danger that faces the civilisation of the West — the danger that speech and language, instead of being developed to become what they should become, deteriorate and grow slovenly.

In dealing with the growing child it is of the very first importance to see that he speaks clearly and distinctly, and this is more than ever necessary in the case of the abnormal child. We must on no account overlook the smallest sign of slovenliness of speech. In all your dealings with abnormal children, make it a rule to be watchful of how they speak, mindful always that their speech shall be clear and distinct and well-formed. Your watchfulness will react favourably on the condition of the child.

And then for the very young child who does not yet speak himself, it is good if he hears well-formed speech spoken around him — unless of course special instructions have had to be given that he is to be left still and quiet! And for children between the ages of seven and fourteen whom we have received into our care as abnormal, we need not have the slightest hesitation in bringing to them just as much as ever we can in the way of good speaking and recitation. To listen again and again to good speaking, well-ordered and articulate, is for abnormal children an absolute need, a need that springs from the inherent nature of the abnormality itself.




Last Modified: 17-Oct-2017
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