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Human Values in Education

Schmidt Number: S-5848

On-line since: 15th May, 2012

LECTURE VIII

Arnheim, 24th July, 1924.

You will have seen that in anthroposophical education great value is laid on what lies in the consciousness of the teacher; there must live in his consciousness a knowledge of man that is whole, that is complete in itself. Now, as various examples have already shown you, the conception of the world which is usual today is ill-adapted to penetrating deeply into the human being. The following explanation will make my meaning clear. In studying man, we have to distinguish between his constituent parts: firstly his physical body, his physical organisation, then the finer ether or life-body which contains the formative forces, the forces which live in growth and in the processes of nourishment, and which, in the early years of childhood, are transmuted into the forces of memory. Then we have to add everything that the plant does not yet possess, although it, too, has growth and nourishment, and even to some extent lives in memory, in so far as it always retains and repeats its form. The next member of his being man has in common with the animal; it is the sentient body, the astral body, the bearer of sensation. Added to this we have the ego-organisation. These four members we have to distinguish from one another, and in so far as we do this we shall gain a true insight into the being of man and into human evolution.

To begin with man receives his first physical body, if I may so express myself, out of the forces of heredity. This is prepared for him by his father and mother. In the course of the first 7 years of life this physical body is cast off, but during this time it serves as a model from which the etheric body can build up the second body. Today people make the things confronting them so frightfully simple. If a ten-year-old child has a nose like his father's they say it is inherited. But it is not so simple as this, for as a matter of fact the nose is only inherited up to the time of the change of teeth. For if the ether body is so strong that it rejects the model of the inherited nose, then in the course of the first seven years its shape will change. If on the other hand the ether body is weak, it will not be able to free itself from the model and at the age of 10 the shape of the nose will still be the same. Looked at from an external point of view it seems as though the concept of heredity might still have the same significance in the second 7 year period as it had in the first 7 years. In such cases people are wont to say: “Truth must be simple.” In reality things are very complicated. Concepts formed today are mostly the result of a love of ease rather than the urgent desire for truth. It is therefore of real importance that we learn to look with understanding at this body of formative forces, this etheric body, which gradually in the course of the first 7 years creates the second physical body, that in its turn also lasts for 7 years. The etheric body is therefore a creator of form, a sculptor. And just as a true sculptor requires no model, but works independently, while a bad sculptor makes everything according to the model, so in the first life period, and working towards the second period, the ether body, or body of formative forces, fashions the second physical body of the human being. Our present day intellectuality enables us to acquire knowledge of the physical body; it serves this purpose admirably, and anyone lacking intellect cannot acquire such knowledge. But our university studies can take us no further than this. For the ether body cannot be comprehended by means of the intellect, but rather by pictorial, intuitive perception. It would be immensely important if the teacher could learn to understand the ether body. You cannot say: We surely cannot expect all our teachers to develop clairvoyance and so be able to describe the ether body! — But let the teacher practise the art of sculpture instead of studying the things which are so often studied in University courses. Anyone who really works at sculpture and enters into its formative nature will learn to experience the inner structure of forms, and indeed of just those forms with which the human body of formative forces is also working. Anyone who has a healthy sense of form will experience the plastic, sculptural element only in the animal and human kingdoms, not in the plant kingdom. Just imagine a sculptor who wanted to portray plants by means of sculpture! Out of sheer anger one would feel like knocking him down! The plant consists of the physical body and the ether body; with these it is complete. The animal on the other hand envelops the ether body with the astral body and this is still more the case with man. This is why we can learn to comprehend the human etheric body when, as sculptors, we work our way into the inner structure of the forms of Nature. This, too, is why modelling should take a foremost place in the curriculum of a training college, for it provides the means whereby the teacher may learn to understand the body of formative forces. The following may well be taken as a fundamental principle: A teacher who has never studied modelling really understands nothing about the development of the child. An art of education based on the knowledge of man must inevitably induce a sense of apprehension because it draws attention to such things as these and makes corresponding demands. But it can also induce apprehension because it seems as though one must become frightfully critical, rejecting everything that is common practice.

Just as the ether body works at freeing itself in order to become independent at the time of the change of teeth, so does the astral body work in order to become independent at puberty. The ether body is a sculptor, the astral body a musician. Its structure is of the very essence of music. What proceeds from the astral body of man and is projected into form is purely musical in its nature. Anyone able to grasp this knows that in order to understand the human being a further stage of training must develop receptivity towards an inner musical conception of the world. Those who are unmusical understand nothing whatever about the formation of the astral body in man, for it is fashioned out of music. If therefore we study old epochs of culture which were still built up out of inner musical intuition, if we enter into such oriental epochs of culture in which even language was imbued with music, then we shall find a musical conception of the world entering even into the forms of architecture. Later on, in Greece, it became otherwise, and now, especially in the West, it has become very different, for we have entered an age when emphasis is laid on the mechanical and mathematical. In the Goetheanum at Dornach an attempt was made to go back again in this respect. Musicians have sensed the music underlying the forms of the Goetheanum. But generally speaking there is little understanding for such things today.

It is therefore necessary that we should gain in this way a concrete understanding of the human being and reach the point at which we are able to grasp the fact that man's physiological and anatomical form is a musical creation in so far as it stems from the astral body. Think how intimately a musical element is connected with the processes of breathing and the circulation of the blood. Man is a musical instrument in respect of his breathing and blood circulation. And if you take the relationship between the breathing and the circulation of the blood: 18 breaths in a minute, 72 pulse beats in a minute, you get a ratio of 4:1. Of course this varies individually in many ways, but by and large you find that man has an inner musical structure. The ratio 4:1 is the expression of something which, in itself an inner rhythmical relationship, nevertheless impinges on and affects the whole organisation in which man lives and experiences his own being, In olden times the scansion of verses was so regulated that the line was regulated by the breath and the metrical foot by the circulation.

Diagram 1

Dactyl, Dactyl, Caesura, Dactyl, Dactyl. Four in one, the line expressive of the man.

But what man expresses in language is expressed still earlier in his form. Whoever understands the human being from a musical aspect knows that sound, actual tones, are working within him. At man's back, just where the shoulder blades meet and from there are carried further into the whole human being, forming and shaping him, are those human forms which are constituted out of the prime or key-note. Then there is a correspondence in the form of the upper arm with the second, and in the lower arm with the third. And because there is a major and minor third — not a major and minor second — we have one bone in the upper arm, but two in the lower arm, the radius and the ulna; and these correspond to the major and minor third. We are formed according to the notes of the scale, the musical intervals He hidden within us. And those who only study man in an external way do not know that the human form is constituted out of musical tones. Coming to the hand, we have the fourth and fifth, and then, in the experience of free movement, we go right out of ourselves; then, as it were, we take hold of outer Nature. This is the reason for the particular feeling we have with the sixth and seventh, a feeling enhanced by experiencing the movements of eurythmy. You must bear in mind that the use of the third made its appearance comparatively late in the development of music. The experience of the third is an inward one; with the third man comes into an inner relationship with himself, whereas at the time when man lived in the seventh he experienced most fully the going outwards into the world beyond himself. The experience of giving oneself up to the outer world lives especially strongly in the seventh.

And just as man experiences the inherent nature of music, so the forms of his body are shaped out of music itself. Therefore if the teacher wishes to be a good music teacher he will make a point of taking singing with the children from the very beginning of their school life. This must be done; he must understand as an actual fact that singing induces emancipation; for the astral body has previously sung and has brought forth the forms of the human body. Between the change of teeth and puberty, the astral body frees itself, becomes emancipated. And out of the very essence of music emerges that which forms man and makes him an independent being. No wonder then that the music teacher who understands these things, who knows that man is permeated through and through with music, will quite naturally allow this knowledge to enrich the singing lesson and his teaching of instrumental music. This is why we try not only to introduce singing as early as possible into the education of the child, but also to let those children with sufficient aptitude learn to play a musical instrument, so that they have the possibility of actually learning to grasp and enter into the musical element which lives in their human form, as it emancipates and frees itself.

But all these things will be approached in the right way if only the teacher has the right feeling and attitude towards them. It is important to understand clearly that every training college should in fact be so constituted that its curriculum should run parallel with medical studies at a university. The first approach should lead to the intellectual understanding which can be gained from a study of the corpse; this should lead further to an artistic understanding of form, and it can only be acquired when, side by side with the study of physical anatomy, the student practises modelling. This again should lead to a musical understanding. For a true knowledge of man is not attained unless there is added to the earlier medical studies a comprehension of the part music plays in the world. During his college training the student teacher should acquire an understanding of music, not in a purely external way, but inwardly, so that he is able by means of this inner perception to see music everywhere. Music is truly everywhere in the world; one only has to find it. If however we wish to obtain an understanding of the ego-organisation it is essential to master and make one's own the inner nature and structure of some language.

So you see, we understand the physical body with the intellect, the etheric body through an understanding of form, the astral body through an understanding of music; while the ego, on the other hand, can only be grasped by means of a deep and penetrating understanding of language. It is just here, however, that we are particularly badly off today, for there is a great deal we do not know. Let us take an example from the German language. In German something is described that rests quietly on our body, is round and has eyes and nose in front. It is called in German Kopf, in Italian testa. We take a dictionary and find that the translation of Kopf is testa. But that is purely external and superficial. It is not even true. The following is true. Out of a feeling for the vowels and consonants contained in the word Kopf, for instance, I experience the o quite definitely as a form which I could draw: it is, as eurythmists know, the rounded form which in front is developed into nose and mouth. We find in this combination of sounds, if we will only let ourselves experience it, everything that is given in the form of the head. So, if we wish to express this form, we make use of larynx and lungs and pronounce the sounds approximating to K-o-pf. But now we can say: In the head there is something which enables one person to speak to another. There is a means of communication. We can impart to another person the content of something which we wish to make known — a will or testament for instance. — If you want to describe the head, not in relation to its round form, but as that which imparts information, which defines clearly what one wishes to communicate, then language out of its own nature gives you the means of doing so. Then you say testa. You give a name to that which imparts something when you say testa; you give a name to the rounded form when you say Kopf. If the Italian wanted to describe roundness, he too would say Kopf; and likewise, if the German wanted to express communication, he would say testa. But both the Italian and the German have become accustomed to expressing in language something different, for it is not possible to express totally different things in a single word. Therefore we do not say exactly the same thing when we speak the word testa or Kopf. The languages are different because their words express different things.

Now let us try to enter into the way in which a member of a particular nation lives with the language of his folk-soul. The German way of living in his language is a way of plastic formation. German language is really the language of sculptural contemplation. That has come about in German because in the whole evolution of speech German is a further continuation of the Greek element up into Central Europe. If you study Italian and the Romance languages in general you find the whole configuration is such that they are developed out of the motor function of the soul. They are not contemplative. Italian has formed itself out of an internal dancing, an internal singing, out of the soul's participation in the whole organism of the body. From this we see how the ego stands within the substance of the Folk-Soul; through making a study of the inner connections, the inner make-up of language, we learn to know how the ego works.

This is why it is necessary for the teacher to acquire not only a feeling for music, but an inner feeling for language — taking as a starting point the fact that in the more modern languages we have only retained soul experiences, experiences of feeling, in the interjections. For instance, when in German we say “etsch!” — it is as though someone had slipped and fallen and we want to express this, together with the amusement it has caused. In the interjections we still have something in language which is felt. In other respects language has become abstract, it hovers above things, no longer lives in them. It must, however, again become living and real. We must learn to wrestle with language, we must feel our ego going right through the sounds. Then we shall feel that it is something different whether we say Kopf and thereby have the feeling that we should like to draw the form of the head straight away, or whether we say testa and immediately have the feeling that we want to dance. It is just this feeling one's way into the activities of life which must be developed quite specially in the teacher.

If therefore the teacher can accustom himself to regarding the physical and the soul-spiritual together — for they are indeed one, as I have repeatedly impressed upon you — and if he succeeds in doing this ever more and more, he will not be tempted to enter into abstractions and intellectualities, but he will have the will to keep his teaching and educational practice between the change of teeth and puberty within the sphere of the pictorial. There is nothing more distasteful, when one is accustomed to think pictorially about real things, than to have someone coming and talking intellectually in a roundabout way. This is a frightfully unpleasant experience. For example, one is accustomed to seeing something in life as it actually takes place, one only has the wish to describe it as it is, one is living completely in the picture of it; then somebody comes along with whom one would like to come to an understanding, but he forms his judgment purely on the basis of intellect and immediately begins with: It was beautiful, or ugly, or magnificent or wonderful — all these things are one or the other — and one feels in one's soul as if one's hair were being torn out by the roots. It is especially bad when one would really like to know what the other man has experienced and he simply does not describe it. For instance, I may have made the acquaintance of someone who raises his knee very high when he walks — but this man starts immediately with: “He walks well” or “he has a good carriage.” But in saying this he tells us nothing about the other man, only about his own ego. But we do not want to know this; we want an objective description. Today people find this very difficult. Hence they do not describe the things, but the effect the things make upon them, as “beautiful” or “ugly.” This gradually enters even into the formation of language. Instead of describing the physiognomy of a face, one says: “He looked awful” — or something of the kind.

These are things which should enter into the deepest part of a teachers' training, to get rid of oneself and to come to grips with reality. If one succeeds in doing this, one will also be able to establish a relationship with the child. The child feels just as I described, that his hair is being pulled out by the roots if the teacher does not get to the point, but speaks about his own feelings; whereas, if he will only keep to what is concrete and real and describe this, the child will enter into it all immediately. It is therefore of great importance for the teacher that he does not overdo — his thinking. I always feel it to be a great difficulty with the teachers of the Waldorf School if they think too much, whereas it gives me real satisfaction when they develop the faculty of observing even the smallest things, and so discovering their special characteristics. If someone were to say to me: “This morning I saw a lady who was wearing a violet dress; it was cut in such and such a fashion and her shoes had high heels” and so on — I should like it better than if someone were to come and say: Man consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego, — for the one proves that he stands firmly in life, that he has developed his etheric body, the other that he knows with his intellect that there is an etheric body etc. But this does not amount to much.

I must express myself drastically in this way so that we learn to recognise what is of the greatest importance in the teacher's training; not that he learns to spin out his thoughts about many things, but that he learns to observe life. That he is then able to make use of such observation in life is something that goes without saying. Everything is ruined, however, if he racks his brains over how he should make use of it. This is why anyone who wishes to describe something arising out of Spiritual Science should make very strong efforts to avoid using ordinary abstract concepts, for by so doing he gets right away from what he really wants to say. And especially it is the case that the impression made on anyone who tries to grasp things in a characteristic way will be such that he learns to describe things in the round, not with sharp edges. Here is a drastic example. To me it is unpleasant to say in certain circumstances: “There stands a pale man.” That hurts. On the other hand the sentence begins to breathe and have reality if I say: There stands a man who is pale, — in other words, if I do not give a description in stiff, ordinary concepts, but characterise with ideas that enclose it. And one will find that children have much more inner understanding for things when they are expressed in relative form, than they have for bare nouns qualified by adjectives. Children prefer a gentle way of handling things. When I say to them: “There stands a pale man” — it is just as if I was hitting at something with a hammer; but if I say: “There stands a man who is pale” — it is like a stroking movement of my hand. Children find it much more possible to adapt themselves to the world if things are presented in this second form rather than by hitting at them. A certain fineness of feeling must be developed in order to make oneself a sculptor in the use of language in order to put it to the service of the art of education. It also lies in the sphere of education as an art if one strives to gain a sufficient mastery of language to enable one to articulate clearly in the classroom and to know when teaching how to emphasise what is important and to pass lightly over the unimportant.

We lay great value on just these kind of things, and again and again in the teachers' conferences attention is drawn to the imponderable in teaching. For if one really studies a class, one notices all sorts of things which can be of immense help. For instance, suppose one has a class of 28 boys and girls and one wants to give these children something which they can make their own, something which will enrich their inner life. It may perhaps be a little poem, or even a great poem. You try to teach this poem to the class. Now you will observe the following: If you let them all recite in chorus, or even a third or half of the class, each child will speak and be able to say it; but if you then test one or other of the pupils in order to see if he can say it alone you will find that he cannot. It is not that you have overlooked him and failed to see that he was silent, for he can speak it perfectly well in chorus with the others. The fact is that a group spirit pervades and activates the class and one can make use of this. So if one really works with the whole class, regarding the children as a chorus, it seems at first that this calls up in them a quicker power of comprehension. One day, however, I had to point out the shadow side of this procedure and so I will now entrust you with a secret. It is this. There are also shadow sides in the Waldorf School! Gradually one finds one's way and discovers that handling the class as a chorus and allowing the children to speak together goes quite well; but if this is overdone, if one works only with the class, without taking the individual child into account, the result will be that in the end no child by himself will know anything.

We must consider the shadow side of all those things and be clear as to how far we can go, for instance, in handling the class as a chorus and to what extent it is necessary to take the individual child separately. Here theories do not help. To say that it is good to treat the class as a chorus, or to maintain that things should be done in this or the other way is never any use, because in the complexities of life what can be done in one way can also, given other conditions, be done in another way. The worst that can happen in educational science — which indeed is art rather than science — the worst that can happen is that directions are given which have an abstract character and are based on definitions. Educational instructions should consist solely in this, that the teacher is so guided that he enters with understanding into the development of this or that human being, and by means of the most convincing examples is led to a knowledge of man.

Method follows of itself when we proceed in this way. As an example let us consider method in the teaching of history. To want to teach history to a child before the 9th or 10th year is a quite futile endeavour, for the course of history is a closed book to the child before this age. It is only with the 9th or 10th year — you can observe this for yourselves — that he begins to be interested in individual human beings. If you portray Caesar, or Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon or Alcibiades simply as personalities, allowing what belongs to history to appear only as a background, if you paint the whole picture in this way the child will show the greatest interest in it. It will be evident that he is eager to know more about this sort of thing. He will feel the urge to enter further into the lives of these historical personalities if you describe them in this way. Comprehensive pictures of personalities complete in themselves; or comprehensive pictures of how a meal-time looked in a particular century, and in some other century; describe plastically, pictorially, how people used to eat before forks were invented, how they were accustomed to eat in Ancient Rome; describe plastically, pictorially, how a Greek walked, conscious of each step, aware of the form of his leg, feeling this form; then describe how the people of the Old Testament, the Hebrew people walked, having no feeling for form, but slouching along, letting their arms loose; call up feelings for these quite separate and distinct things which can be expressed in pictures; this will give you the right approach to the teaching of history between the 10th and 12th years.

At this latter age we can take a further step and proceed to historical relationships, for it is only now that the child becomes able to understand such concepts as cause and effect. Only now can history be presented as something that is connected, that has cohesion. Everything that lives in history must, however, be worked out in such a way as to show its gradual development. We come to the concept of growth, of becoming. Call up before you the following picture. We are now living in the year 1924 [The date of the lectures.]. Charles the Great lived from 760 until 814, so if the year 800 be taken as the approximate date, we find he lived 1120 years before us. If we imagine ourselves now living in the world as a child and growing up, we can reckon that in the course of a century we can have: son or daughter, father or mother, grandfather and perhaps even a great-grandfather, that is to say 3 or 4 generations following one after the other in the course of a hundred years. We can show these 3 or 4 generations by getting someone to stand up and represent the son or daughter. The father or mother will stand behind, resting their hands on the shoulders of the one in front; the grandfather will place his hands on the shoulders of the father, and the great-grandfather his hands on the shoulders of the grandfather. If you imagine placing son, father and grandfather one behind the other in this way, as people belonging to the present age, and behind them the course of the generations in a further ten centuries, you will get all told 11 times 3 or 4 generations, let us say 44 generations. If therefore you were to place 44 people one behind the other, each with his hands on the shoulders of the one in front the first can be a man of the present day and the last can be Charles the Great. In this way you can change the time relationships in history, which are so difficult to realise, into relationships which are purely spatial. You can picture it also in this way: Here you have one man who is speaking to another; the latter turns round and speaks to the one behind, who in turn does the same thing, and so it goes on until you come right back to the time when Peter spoke to Christ. In doing this you get the whole development of the Christian Church in the conversation between the people standing one behind the other. The whole apostolic succession is placed visually before you.

It really amounts to this. One should seize every opportunity of making use of what is pictorial and tangible. This is all the more necessary because in this way one learns to enter into reality, thereby learning also to form everything in accordance with what is real. It is actually quite arbitrary if I place 3 beans before the child, then add another 3 beans and yet another 3 or maybe 4, and then proceed to teach addition: 3 plus 3 plus 4 equals 10. This is somewhat arbitrary. But it is quite another thing if I have a small pile of beans and do not know to begin with how many there are. This accords with the reality of things in the world. Now I divide the pile. This the child understands immediately. I give one part to one child, another part to a second child and a third part to a third child. So you see, I divide the pile, first showing the child how many beans there are altogether. I begin with the sum and proceed to the parts. I can let the child count the beans because that is just a repetitive process, 1, 2, 3 and so on, up to 12. But now I divide them into 4, into 4 more and still another 4. If I begin with the sum and proceed to the addenda the child will take it in quite easily. It is in accordance with reality. The other way is abstract, one just puts things together, one is intellectualistic. It is also more real if I get the child to the point when he must answer the following question: If I have 12 apples and somebody takes them, goes away and only brings 7 back, how many has he lost? Here one starts with the minuend and goes from the remainder to the subtrahend; one does not subtract, but goes from the remainder, that is to say, from what remains as the result of a living process, to what has been taken away.

Thus one's efforts are not everywhere directed towards abstractions, but find their outlet in reality; they are linked with life, they strive after life. This reacts on the child and makes him bright and lively, whereas for the most part the teaching of arithmetic has a very deadening effect. The children remain somewhat dead and apathetic, and the inevitable result of this is the calculating machine. The very fact that we have the calculating machine is a proof of how difficult it is to make the teaching of arithmetic perceptually evident. We must however not only do this, but we must learn to read from life itself.




Last Modified: 28-Oct-2018
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