We will now
speak of some further details of method, though of course in this
short time I can only pick out a few examples to give you.
consider the whole period between the change of teeth and puberty we
can see that it divides itself again into three sections, and it is
these three sections that we must bear in mind when we have to guide
the children through these early years of school life.
have the age up to the point of time which I have described to you
here, when the child begins to differentiate himself from his
environment and makes a distinction between “subject”
— his own self, and “object” — the things
which surround him in the outside world; up to this point of time it
is essential for us to teach in such a way that everything within the
child or without him bears the character of a unity. I have shown you
how that can be done artistically. Then, in the second period, we saw
how the transition to descriptions of the outside world can be made
through our teaching of plant and animal life. You can treat these
things in quite an elementary way up till the twelfth year. The third
section extends from the twelfth year up to puberty, and it is really
only at this time that we can pass on to lifeless nature, for it is
only now that the child really begins to understand the inanimate
indeed say that from the seventh year to about nine-and-a-half or
nine-and-one-third the child takes in everything with his soul. There
is nothing that the child would not take in with his soul. The trees,
the stars, the clouds, the stones, everything is absorbed by the
child's soul life. From about nine-and-a-third to about
eleven-and-two-thirds the child already perceives the difference
between the soul quality which he sees in himself and what is merely
“living.” We can now speak of the whole earth as living.
Thus we have the soul quality and the living quality. Then from
eleven-and-two-thirds to about fourteen the child discriminates
between what is of the soul, what is living, and what is dead, that
is to say, what is based on the laws of cause and effect.
not speak to the child of Inanimate things at all before he
approaches his twelfth year. Only then should we begin to speak about
minerals, physical phenomena, chemical phenomena and so on. We must
make it clear to ourselves that this is really how things are: in the
child between the change of teeth and puberty it is not the intellect
but the fantasy that is predominantly active; we must constantly be
thinking of the child's fantasy, and therefore, as I have often said,
we must especially develop fantasy in ourselves. If we do not do
this, but pass over to all kinds of intellectual things when the
child is still quite young, then he cannot go through his development
rightly even in his physical body. And much that is pathological at
the present day arises from the fact that in this materialistic age
too much attention has been paid to the intellect in children between
the change of teeth and puberty.
only very gradually introduce the lifeless world when the child is
approaching his twelfth year, for this lifeless world must be grasped
by the intellect. At this time we can introduce minerals, physical
and chemical phenomena and so on. But even here we should connect it
up with life as far as possible, not simply start, for instance, with
a collection of minerals, but start from the earth, the soil, and
first describe the mountain ranges, how they bring about the
configuration of the earth; then we can speak of how the mountains
are surrounded with soil at their foot, and the higher we go the more
bare they become and the fewer plants there are. So we come to speak
of the bareness of the mountains and point out that here there are
minerals. Thus we start with the mountains and lead on to the
we have given a clear description of the mountains we can show the
children a mineral and say: this is what you would find if you were
to take this path up the mountain. This is where it is found. When
you have done this with a few different minerals you can pass on to
speak of the minerals themselves. But you must do the other first,
here again proceeding from the whole and not from the part. This is
of very great importance.
physical phenomena also it is just as important to start from life
itself. You should not begin your teaching of Physics as set forth in
the text books of today, but simply by lighting a match for instance
and letting the children observe how it begins to burn; you must draw
their attention to all the details, what the flame looks like, what
it is like outside, what it is like further in, and how a black spot,
a little black cap is left when you blow out the flame; and only when
you have done this, begin to explain how the fire in the match came
about. The fire came about through the generation of warmth, and so
on. Thus you must connect everything with life itself.
the example of a lever: do not begin by saying that a lever consists
of a supported beam at the one end of which there is a force, and at
the other end another force, as one so often finds in the Physics
books. You should start from a pair of scales; let the child imagine
that you are going to some shop where things are being weighed out,
and from this pass on to equilibrium and balance, and to the
conception of weight and gravity. Always develop your Physics from
life itself, and your chemical phenomena also.
the essential thing, to begin with real life in considering the
different phenomena of the physical and mineral world. If you do it
the other way, beginning with an abstraction, then something very
curious happens to the child; the lesson itself soon makes him tired.
He does not get tired if you start from real life. He gets tired if
you start from abstractions.
golden rule for the whole of teaching is that the child should not
tire. Now there is something very strange about the so-called
experimental education of the present day. Experimental psychologists
register when a child becomes tired in any kind of mental activity,
and from this they decide how long to occupy a child with any one
subject, in order to avoid fatigue.
whole conception is wrong from beginning to end. The truth of the
matter is as follows: you can read about it in my books, especially
in the book Riddles of the Soul and in various lecture
courses; all I shall do now is to remind you that man consists of
three members — the nerve-senses man, that is, all that
sustains man in the activity of his mind and spirit; the rhythmic
man, which contains the whole rhythm of breathing, the circulation of
the blood and so on; and the metabolic-limb man, in which is to be
found everything that is metamorphosed by means of the different
you take the physical development of the child from birth to the
change of teeth you will find it is specially the head-organisation,
the nerve-senses organisation that is at work. [Dr.
Steiner is here speaking of the process of organic development, not
of the child's mental growth. There is no question of approaching the
child's intellect during this first period of childhood when the head
and nerves system is performing a function entirely different from
later years. See Rudolf Steiner: The
Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy.] The
child develops from the head downwards in the early years of his
life. You must examine this closely. Look first of all at a human
embryo, an unborn child. The head is enormous and the rest of the
body is still stunted. Then the child is born and his head is still
outwardly the largest, strongest part, and out of the head proceeds
the whole growth of the child.
no longer the case with the child between the seventh and fourteenth
year. Rhythm of breathing, rhythm of the blood, the whole rhythmic
system is what holds sway between the change of teeth and puberty.
is the real nature of rhythm? Now if I think a great deal,
particularly if I have to study, I get tired, I get tired in my head.
If I have to walk far, which is an exertion for my limb organism, I
also tire. The head, or the nerve-senses organism, and the
metabolic-limb organism can get tired. But the rhythmic organism can
think; you breathe all day long. Your heart beats at night as well as
in the day. It must never stop, from birth to death. The rhythm of it
has to go on all the time, and cannot ever tire. It never gets tired
education and teaching you must address yourself to whichever system
is predominant in man; thus between the change of teeth and puberty
you must address yourself to rhythm in the child by using pictures.
Everything that you describe or do must be done in such a way that
the head has as little to do with it as possible, but the heart, the
rhythm, everything that is artistic or rhythmic, must be engaged.
What is the result? The result is that with teaching of this kind the
child never gets tired, because you are engaging his rhythmic system
and not his head.
are so terribly clever, and in this materialistic age they have
thought out a scheme whereby the children should always be allowed to
romp about between lessons. Now it is certainly good to let them romp
about, but it is good because of the soul qualities in it, because of
the delight they have in it. For experiments have been made and it
has been found that when the children are properly taught in lesson
time they are less tired than when they play about outside. The
movement of their limbs tires them more, whereas what you give them
in their lessons in the right way should never tire them at all. And
the more you develop the pictorial element with the children and the
less you exert the intellect, by presenting everything in a living
way, the more you will be making demands on the rhythmic system only,
and the less will the child become tired. Therefore when the
experimental psychologists come and make observations to see how much
the child tires, what is it they really observe? They observe how
badly you have taught. If you had taught well you would find no
fatigue on the part of the children.
work with children of Elementary School age we must see to it that we
engage the rhythmic system only. The rhythmic system never tires, and
is not over-exerted when we employ it in the right way, and for this
rhythmic system we need not an intellectual but rather a pictorial
method of presentation, something that comes out of the fantasy.
Therefore it is imperative that fantasy should hold sway in the
school. This must still be so even in the last period of which we
have spoken, from eleven-and-two-thirds to fourteen years; we must
still make the lifeless things live through fantasy and always
connect them with real life. It is possible to connect all the
phenomena of Physics with real life, but we ourselves must have
fantasy in order to do it. This is absolutely necessary.
fantasy should above all be the guiding principle in what are called
compositions, when the children have to write about something and
work it out for themselves. Here what must be strictly avoided is to
let the children write a composition about anything that you have not
first talked over with them in great detail, so that the subject is
familiar to them. You yourself, with the authority of the teacher and
educator, should have first spoken about the subject with the
children; then the child should produce his composition under the
influence of what you yourself have said. Even when the children are
approaching puberty you must still not depart from this principle.
Even then the child should not just write whatever occurs to him; he
should always feel that a certain mood has been aroused in him
through having discussed the subject with his teacher, and all that
he then himself writes in his essay must preserve this mood.
again it is “aliveness” that must be the guiding
principle. “Aliveness” in the teacher must pass over to
“aliveness” in the children.
will see from all this, the whole of your teaching and education must
be taken from real life. This is something which you can often hear
said nowadays. People say that lessons must be given in a living way
and in accordance with reality. But first of all we must acquire a
feeling for what is actually in accordance with reality. I will give
you an example from my own experience of what sometimes happens in
practice even when in theory people hold the most excellent
went into a classroom — I will not say where it was —
where an Arithmetic example was being given which was supposed to
connect addition with real life. 142/3, 165/6 and 253/5 for example, were not
simply to be added together, but were to be related to life. This was
done in the following way: The children were told that one man was
born on 25th March, 1895, another on 27th August, 1888, and a third
on 3rd December, 1899. How old are these three men together? That was
the question. And the sum was quite seriously carried through in the
following way: from the given date in 1895 to 1924 [The date of this Lecture Course.] is 293/4; this is the age of the
first man. The second one up to 1924 is about 261/2 years old, and the third,
from 1899, as he was born on 3rd December, we may say 25. The
children were then told that when they add up these ages they will
find out how old they all are together.
dear friends, I should just like to ask how it is possible that they
can make up a certain sum together with their ages? How do you set
about it? Of course the numbers can quite well be made up into a sum,
but where can you find such a sum in reality? The men are all living
at the same time, so that they cannot possibly experience such a
thing together in any way. A sum like this is not in the very least
taken from life.
pointed out to me that this sum was actually taken from a book of
examples. I then looked at this book and I found several other
ingenious examples of the same kind. In many places I have found that
this kind of thing has repercussions in ordinary life, and that is
the important thing about it. For what we do at school affects
ordinary life, and if the school teaching is wrong, that is if we
bring such an unreality into an arithmetical example, then this way
of thinking will be adopted by the young people and will be taken
into ordinary life. I do not know if it is the same in England, but
all over Central Europe when, let us say, several criminals are
accused and condemned together, then you sometimes read in the
papers: all five together have received sentences of imprisonment
totalling 751/2 years. One has ten years, another twenty and so on, but
it is all added up together. This you can find repeatedly in the
newspapers. I should like to know what meaning a sum like that can
have in reality. For each single prisoner who is sentenced, the 75
years together certainly have no meaning; they will all of them be
free long before the 75 years are over, so that it has no reality at
that is the important thing, to make straight for the reality in
everything: you simply poison a child to whom you give a sum like
this which is absolutely impossible in real life.
guide the child to think only about things that are to be found in
life. Then through your teaching reality will be carried back into
life again. In our time we suffer terribly from the unreality of
men's thinking, and the teacher has need to consider this very
a theory in this age which, though postulated by men who are
considered to be extraordinarily clever, is really only a product of
education. It is the so-called Theory of Relativity. I hope you have
already heard something of this theory which is connected with the
name of Einstein; there is much in it that is correct. I do not want
to combat what is right in it, but it has been distorted in the
following way. Let us imagine that a cannon is fired off somewhere.
It is said that if you are so many miles away, after a certain length
of time you hear the report of the cannon. If you do not stand still
but walk away from the sound, then you hear it later. The quicker you
walk away the later you get the impression of the sound. If you do
the opposite and walk towards the sound you will be hearing it sooner
and sooner all the time.
if you continue this thought you come to the possible conception,
which is however an impossibility in reality, that you approach the
sound more quickly than it travels itself, and then if you think this
out to its conclusion you come to the point of saying to yourself:
then there is also a possibility of hearing the sound before the
cannon is fired off!
what it can lead to, if theories arise out of a kind of thinking
which is not in accordance with reality. A man who can think in
accordance with reality must sometimes have very painful experiences.
For in Einstein's books you even find, for instance, how you could
take a watch and send it out into the universe at the speed of light,
and then let it come back again; we are then told what happens to
this watch if it goes out at the speed of light and comes back again.
I should like to get an actual sight of this watch which, having
whizzed away at this speed, then comes back again; I should like to
know what it looks like then! The essential thing is that we never
lose sight of reality in our thinking.
lies the root of all evil in much of the education of today, and you
find, for instance, in the “exemplary” Kindergartens that
different kinds of work are thought out for the child to do. In
reality we should make the children do nothing, even in play, that is
not an imitation of life itself. All Froebel occupations and the
like, which have been thought out for the children, are really bad.
We must make it a rule only to let the children do what is an
imitation of life, even in play. This is extremely important.
reason, as I have already told you, we should not think out what are
called “ingenious” toys, but as far as possible with
dolls or other toys we should leave as much as we can to the child's
own fantasy. This is of great significance, and I would earnestly beg
you to make it a rule not to let anything come into your teaching and
education that is not in some way connected with life.
rule applies when you ask the children to describe something
themselves. You should always call their attention to it if they
stray from reality. The intellect never penetrates as deeply into
reality as fantasy does. Fantasy can go astray, it is true, but it is
rooted in reality, whereas the intellect remains always on the
surface. That is why it is so infinitely important for the teacher
himself to be in touch with reality as he stands in his class.
that this may be so we have our Teachers' Meetings in the Waldorf
School which are the heart and soul of the whole teaching. In these
meetings, each teacher speaks of what he himself has learnt in his
class and from all the children in it, so that each one learns from
the other. No school is really alive where this is not the most
important thing, this regular meeting of the teachers.
indeed there is an enormous amount one can learn there. In the
Waldorf School we have mixed classes, girls and boys together. Now
quite apart from what the boys and girls say to each other, or what
they consciously exchange with each other, there is a marked
difference to be seen in the classes according to whether there are
more girls than boys or more boys than girls or an equal number of
each. For years I have been watching this, and it has always proved
to be the case that there is something different in a class where
there are more girls than boys.
latter case you will very soon find that you yourself as the teacher
become less tired, because the girls grasp things more easily than
boys and with greater eagerness too. You will find many other
differences also. Above all, you will very soon discover that the
boys themselves gain in quickness of comprehension when they are in a
minority, whereas the girls lose by it if they are in the minority.
And so there are numerous differences which do not arise through the
way they talk together or treat each other but which remain in the
sphere of the imponderable and are themselves imponderable
things must be very carefully watched, and everything that concerns
either the whole class or individual children is spoken of in our
meetings, so that every teacher really has the opportunity to gain an
insight into characteristic individualities among the pupils.
one thing that is of course difficult in the Waldorf School method.
We have to think much more carefully than is usually the case in
class teaching, how one can really bring the children on. For we are
striving to teach by “reading” from the particular age of
a child what should be given him at this age. All I have said to you
is directed towards this goal.
suppose a teacher has a child of between nine and ten years in the
class that is right for his age, but with quite an easy mind he lets
this child stay down and not go up with the rest of the class;
the consequence will be that in the following year this child will be
receiving teaching which is meant for an age of life different from
his own. Therefore under all circumstances we avoid letting the
children stay down in the same class even if they have not reached
the required standard. This is not so convenient as letting the
children stay in the class where they are and repeat the work, but we
avoid this at all costs. The only corrective we have is to put the
very weak ones into a special class for the more backward children.
[Dr. Steiner then added that these children were at
that time being taught by Dr. Karl Schubert who had a very special
task in this domain and was particularly gifted for it.]
who are in any way below standard come into this class from all the
Otherwise, as I have said, we do not let the children stay down but
we try to bring them along with us under all circumstances, so that
in this way each child really receives what is right for his
also consider those children who have to leave school at puberty, at
the end of the Elementary School period, and who cannot therefore
participate in the upper classes. We must make it our aim that by
this time, through the whole tenor of our teaching, they will have
come to a perception of the world which is in accordance with life
itself. This can be done in a two-fold way. On the one hand we can
develop all our lessons on Science and History in such a manner that
the children, at the end of their schooling, have some knowledge of
the being of man and some idea of the place of man in the world.
Everything must lead up to a knowledge of man, reaching a measure of
wholeness when the children come to the seventh and eighth classes,
that is when they have reached their thirteenth and fourteenth year.
Then all that they have already learnt will enable them to understand
what laws, forces and substances are at work in man himself, and how
man is connected with all physical matter in the world, with all that
is of soul in the world, with all spirit in the world. So that the
child, of course in his own way, knows what a human being is within
the whole cosmos. This then is what we strive to achieve on the one
other hand we try to give the children an understanding of life. It
is actually the case today that most people, especially those who
grow up in the town, have no idea how a substance, paper for
instance, is made. There are a great many people who do not know how
the paper on which they write or the material they are wearing is
manufactured, nor, if they wear leather shoes, how the leather is
many people there are who drink beer and have no idea how the beer is
made. This is really a monstrous state of affairs. Now we cannot of
course achieve everything in this direction, but we try to make it
our aim as far as possible to give the children some knowledge of the
work done in the most varied trades, and to see to it that they
themselves also learn how to do certain kinds of work which are done
in real life.
however, extraordinarily difficult, in view of what is demanded of
children today by the authorities, to succeed with an education that
is really in accordance with life itself. One has to go through some
very painful experiences. Once for instance, owing to family
circumstances, a child had to leave when he had just completed the
second class and begun a new year in the third. He had to continue
his education in another school. We were then most bitterly
reproached because he had not got so far in Arithmetic as was
expected of him there, nor in Reading or Writing. Moreover they wrote
and told us that the Eurythmy and Painting and all the other things
he could do were of no use to him at all.
therefore, we educate the children not only out of the knowledge of
man, but in accordance with the demands of life, they will also have
to know how to read and write properly at the age at which this is
expected of them today. And so we shall be obliged to include in the
curriculum many things which are simply demanded by the customs of
the time. Nevertheless we try to bring the children into touch with
life as far as possible.
have dearly liked to have a shoemaker as a teacher in the Waldorf
School, if this had been possible. It could not be done because such
a thing does not fit into a curriculum based on present-day
requirements, but in order that the children might really learn to
make shoes, and to know, not theoretically but through their own
work, what this entails, I should have dearly liked from the very
beginning to have a shoemaker on the staff of the school. But it
simply could not be done because it would not have been in accordance
with the authorities, although it is just the very thing that would
have been in accordance with real life. Nevertheless we do try to
make the children into practical workers.
come to the Waldorf School you will see that the children are quite
good at binding books and making boxes; you will see too how they are
led into a really artistic approach to handwork; the girls will not
be taught to produce the kind of thing you see nowadays when you look
at the clothes that women wear, for instance. It does not occur to
people that the pattern for a collar should be different from that of
a belt or the hem of a dress. People do not consider that here for
example (see drawing a.) the pattern must have a special character
because it is worn at the neck. The pattern for a belt (see drawing
b.) must lead both upwards and downwards, and so on.
we never let our children make a cushion with an enclosed pattern,
but the pattern itself should show where to lay your head. You can
also see that there is a difference between right and left, and so
forth. Thus here too life itself is woven and worked into everything
that the children make, and they learn a great deal from it. This
then is another method by which the children may learn to stand
rightly in life.
endeavour to carry this out in every detail, for example in the
giving of reports. I could never in my life imagine what it means to
mark the capacities of the children with a 2, or 3, or 21-. I do not
know if that is done in England too, giving the children numbers or
letters in their reports which are supposed to show what a child can
do. In Central Europe it is customary to give a 3, or a 4. At the
Waldorf School we do not give reports like this, but every teacher
knows every child and describes him in the report; he describes in
his own words what the child's capacities are and what progress he
every year each child receives in his report a motto or verse for his
own life, which can be a word of guidance for him in the year to
come. The report is like this: first there is the child's name and
then his verse, and then the teacher without any stereotyped letters
or numbers, simply characterises what the child is like, and what
progress he has made in the different subjects. The report is thus a
description. The children always love their reports, and their
parents also get a true picture of what the child is like at
great stress upon keeping in touch with all the parents so that from
the school we may see into the home through the child. Only in this
way can we come to understand each child, and to know how to treat
every peculiarity. It is not the same thing when we notice the same
peculiarity in two children, for it has quite a different
significance in the two cases.
for instance that two children each show a certain excitability. It
is not merely a question of knowing that the child is excitable and
giving him something to help him to become quiet, but it is a
question of finding out that in the one case the child has an
excitable father whom he has imitated, and in the other case the
child is excitable because he has a weak heart. In every case we must
be able to discover what lies at the root of these peculiarities.
the real purpose of the Teachers' Meetings, to study man himself, so
that a real knowledge of man is continually flowing through the
school. The whole school is the concern of the teachers in their
meetings, and all else that is needed will follow of itself. The
essential thing is that in the Teachers' Meetings there is study,
steady, continual study.
the indications I wanted to give you for the practical organisation
of your school.
of course many things that could still be said if we could continue
this course for several weeks. But that we cannot do, and therefore I
want to ask you tomorrow, when we come together, to put in the form
of questions anything which you may have upon your minds, so that we
may use the time for you to put your questions which I will then
answer for you.