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Social Basis For Primary and Secondary Education

On-line since: 30th September, 2018

Lecture I

11 May, 1919

What I am going to say today is intended to deal with primary and secondary education, and to deal with it in such a way that what is of essential value can be useful for the present time, the grave times, in which we are now living. I believe you will have seen for yourselves that what could be given only as outline in my book The Threefold Commonwealth has many deep contributing factors — indeed very many, if we take into consideration all that arises from the new shaping of the world. So that actually in everything that must be said on this subject, preeminently where fresh activity has to be aroused, only guiding lines can be given to begin with instead of anything of an exhaustive nature.

When we look at the times in which we are living — and we need to do so for we have to understand them — it must constantly strike us what a gulf there is between what must be called a declining culture and a culture that may be described as chaotic, but all the same on the up-grade. I expressly draw attention to the fact that today I am wanting to deal with a special aspect of my subject, and therefore ask you to take it in connection with the lectures as a whole, once they are brought to completion.

I should like to start by drawing your attention to something that is clearly noticeable, namely, how the culture based on bourgeois social contract is in rapid decline, whereas we are witnessing the dawn of another culture based on what is largely not understood and represented by the proletariat. If all this is to be understood — it can be felt without being understood but will then lack clarity — we must grasp it in its symptoms. Symptoms are always a matter of detail; I ask you to remember this in what I am saying today. I shall naturally be forced by the subject itself to take details out of their context, but I shall take pains so to shape this symptomatology that it will not be able to work in the way of agitators or demagogues, but will really be shaped by the relevant circumstances. We may meet with much misunderstanding in this direction today, but that we shall have to risk.

Now in the course of years I have often asked you to bear in mind that, on the ground of the world-outlook represented here, it is perfectly possible to be a real upholder and defender of the modern natural scientific approach to the world. You know how frequently I have referred to all that can be said in defense of this approach! At the same time, however, I have never failed to point out what a fearful counterpart it has. Quite recently I reminded you that this can be seen at once when anyone, as a result of what we call here the symptomatic method of study, points to some particularly telling example and goes to work quite empirically. Now in another connection I have had to sing the praises of a recent remarkable work by the outstanding biologist Oskar Hertwig, Das werden der Organismen — Eine Wiederlegung der Darwinischen Zufallstheorie. Then, to avoid misunderstanding after the publication of a second book of his, I have had to remark how this man has followed up a really great book on natural science with a quite inferior work on social conditions. This is a fact fraught with meaning for the present time. It shows that even on the excellent foundation of the natural scientific approach to the world, what is pre-eminently necessary for an understanding of the present times cannot arise, namely, knowledge of the social impulses existing in our age. I want today to give you another example to bring home to you with greater emphasis how, on the one hand, bourgeois culture is on the decline and can be saved only in a certain way; how, on the other hand, there exists something that is on the ascent, something that must be carefully tended with understanding and judgment if it is to be a sarting point for the culture of the future.

Now I have before me a book that is a symptomatic and typical product of the declining bourgeoisie. It appeared immediately after the world war with the somewhat pretentious title The Light Bearer. This light bearer is admirably adapted to spread darkness over everything which today is most necessary for social culture and its spiritual foundation. A remarkable community of people have foregathered, who in separate articles have written remarkable things about a so-called rebuilding of the social organism. Naturally I can quote only certain passages from this rather voluminous work. To begin with we have a scientist named Jakob von Uexkull, really a good typical scientist who — and this is the important point — has not only a certain knowledge of natural science, is not merely well versed in it, but in his research work is recognised as an accomplished scientist of the day. He feels impelled, however, like others bred in the scientific tradition, to treat us to his views upon organising the world socially. He has learnt about the 'cell-state' as the organism is often called in scientific circles. He has certainly learnt to develop his mind, with which he then observes the social life. I want to refer you just to a few instances from which you may be able to see how this man, not from his knowledge of natural science but as a result of his scientific method of thinking — really quite correct but wholly absurd for practical life — how he now looks at the structure of modern society: he turns to the social organism, to the natural scientific organism, the organism as it is in nature, and finds that "the harmony in a natural organism can at times be disturbed by processes of disease" — and referring to the social organism goes on to say:

“All harmony can be disturbed through disease. We call the most terrible disease of the human body cancer. Its characteristic is the unrestrained activity of the protoplasm which, without considering the preservation of the organs, goes on producing more and more protoplasmic cells. These press upon the bodily structure; they cannot, however, fulfil any function themselves for they are lacking in structure.

“We recognise the same disease in the human community at large when the people's motto: liberty, equality, fraternity, replaces the motto of the state: compulsion, diversity, subordination.”

Now here you have a typical scientific thinker. He looks upon it as a cancerous disease when the impulse towards liberty, equality and fraternity arises out of the people. In place of freedom he wants to put compulsion, in place of equality, diversity, in place of fraternity, subordination. This is what from the 'cell-state' he has learnt to adopt as his method of viewing things, and which he then applies to the social organism. The rest of what he puts forward too is not without significance when considered from the symptomalogical point of view. He goes so far as to find something in the social organism that corresponds in the natural organism to the circulation of the blood, not at all in the way I have described it in various lectures, but as he himself pictures it. He goes to the length of looking upon gold as blood circulating in the social organism and says: “Gold possesses the faculty of circulating independently of commodities, finally reaching the collecting centres represented by the great banks (Gold heart)”. Thus this scientist seeks a heart for his social organism and finds it in the collecting centres of the great banks, “which can exercise an overwhelming influence on the movements of both gold and commodities”.

Now I particularly stress that I have no intention of making fun of anything here. I want just to let you see how a man, who from this point of view has the courage to think things out to their logical conclusion, is actually obliged to think. If today many people deceive themselves about our having during the last three or four centuries brought evolution to the point of making this kind of thinking quite intelligible, then it is evident that these people are asleep in their souls, that they give themselves up to cultural narcotics which prevent their looking with wide awake souls at what is concealed in bourgeois culture. For this reason I have shown you a symptom that sheds light on this light bearer, sheds light on the elements of present-day culture, in so far as, out of the scientific method of thinking, this culture understands the social life. In a further examnple I want to show you how different a result we experience from what we meet within the spiritual sphere.

Among those belonging to the society just mentioned there is a man with a more spiritual bent, by name Friedrich Niebergall. Now this Friedrich Niebergall is quoted because his attitude towards certain things we consider of value is most sympathetic. But I should like to say here that what matters is the nature of the sympathetic attitude with which from such a side certain matters are approached. If we know this, and if we are not mere egoists but understand the great social impulses, perhaps we do not value this sympathetic attitude very highly; and it would be good if in these matters we were not to give ourselves up to illusion. We know, some of us at least could know, that what we carry on here and call spiritual science, or anthroposophy, we have for some time considered to be the true spiritual foundation of what today is on the ascent. Here, it is true, extremes meet; and I have always been forced to experience how some of those very people who participate in our anthroposophical endeavors turn to other movements they feel to be closely akin, but which differ from our endeavors in that they belong to the worst phenomena of the bourgeois decline, whereas spiritual science has from the first been strongly opposed to all that is behind this. So we find confused together in a certain Johannes Müller, who has no power of discriminating the different streams — like Niebergall for example — we find in this Johannes Müller a phenomenon showing just the characteristics of our decadent culture; and on the other hand (you know I do not say these things out of mere foolishness) you find mention of my name. It is true that all kinds of elegant things, most elegant things, are said about what I try to accomplish. You must, however, realise how in all that is put forward in anthroposophy my every effort is directed towards taxing man's understanding and fighting in a pronounced way against anything in the way of nebulous mysticism or so-called mystic theosophy. This could be done only by approaching the highest spheres of knowledge with clear insight, lucid ideas, which will be striven for when through natural science we have learnt, not the natural scientific outlook of today, but true thinking. After the gentleman in question has declared how fine much of anthroposophy is, he adds: “Round this basis of practical truth there then springs forth a confused medley of alleged knowledge concerning the life of the soul, of mankind and of the cosmos — as once was the case in the all-embracing gnostic systems offered out of the secret wisdom of the East to an age seeking in like manner inner depths and peace of soul.” It is not possible to say anything less to the point than this. For the fact that the author describes this as confused nonsense, a confused medley, rests solely on his lacking the will to adopt the mathematical method of our spiritual science. This is generally the case with those wishing to gain conceptions from a knowledge that is on the decline. The result of disciplining inner experience by mathematical method appears to this author therefore to be a confused medley. But this conf used medley that brings into the matter mathematical clarity, perhaps indeed mathematical dryness, is what is essential, for it preserves what is meant to be pursued here from all fantastic mysticism, all nebulous theosophy. Without this so-called confused medley there can be no real foundation for the future life of spirit. It is true that by reason of our social conditions there had to be a struggle to make it possible for spiritual science to be carried on in the very modest dimensions it has reached today. We had to struggle with what very often appears as a result of most people — who now have time, and nothing but time, for the affairs of spiritual science — still having those old habits of thinking and perceiving which are on the decline. Hence, we have to struggle so hard against what easily spreads in a circle such as ours, namely, sectarianism, which naturally is the very opposite of what is meant to be cultivated here, and against every kind of personal wrangling which, it goes without saying, leads to the systematic slandering that has flourished so exuberantly on the soil of this movement.

Now whoever studies the life of spirit today from symptoms such as these will soon come to the point of saying: What is particularly needed in the sphere of spiritual endeavour is a return to original sources. The clamor for a new form of social life is always heard at a time when people harbor the most widespread anti-social impulses and anti-social instincts. These anti-social impulses and instincts are particularly evident in people's private intercourse. They are to be seen in what men give or do not give — to each other. They are to be seen in the characteristic way people ignore the thoughts of others, talk others down, and finally pass them by. In our day the instinctive capacity really to understand the people we meet is extraordinarily rare. The following also is a disappearing phenomenon — the possibility of people nowadays being convinced of anything unconnected with their social status, education or birth. Today people have the most beautiful thoughts, but it is very difficult for them to be enthusiastic about anything. In thought they pass by all that is best, and this is a deeply rooted characteristic of our age. As consequence of this fact — you know that recently I have talked of logic based on fact as being important for the present time in contrast to mere logic of thought — as consequence of this a longing exists in men today to have recourse to authority and the pronouncements of feeling rather than by their own inner activity to work through to things. Those today who talk a great deal about freedom from authority are the very people who, at heart, believe in it most firmly and long to submit themselves to it. Thus we see, only it is generally unnoticed because most people are asleep, a rather questionable tendency among those who, without finding any way out of it, are involved in this cultural decline, namely the tendency to sink back into the bosom of the old Catholic Church. Were people to realise what lies in this tendency to return to the Catholic Church they would be much astonished. Under the present conditions, if this tendency were to increase, at no very distant date we should have to witness a mighty swing over to the bosom of the Catholic Church by masses of the people. Whoever is able to observe the special features of our present culture knows that this is threatening us.

Now whence does all this arise? Here I must draw your attention to an essential phenomenon of our present social life. The special feature of what in the last few centuries has increased to ever wider dimensions, and will increase further in those lands which will preserve their civilisations throughout the present chaos — this special feature is the technical coloring of the culture, the particular technical shade taken on by the culture of recent times. Were I to speak exhaustively on this subject, I should have to point in detail to all that now is referred to just in passing; and one day I shall do so. This technical culture has indeed one quite definite quality; this culture in its nature is through and through altruistic. In other words there is only one favourable way for technical accomplishments to be wide­spread, namely, when the men actively engaged in them in contrast to egoism, develop altruism. Technical culture makes it increasingly necessary — and those who are able to observe these things see the necessity on every fresh advance of technical culture — for work organised on a technical basis to be entirely free from egoism. In contrast to this there has developed at the same time what has had its origin in capitalism, which must not necessarily be linked to technical culture or remain so linked. Capitalism, when it is private capitalism, cannot work other than egoistically, for its very being consists in egoistic activity. Thus in recent times two streams meet in diametrical opposition to one another: modem technical life which calls upon men to be free from egoism, and, coming from the past, private capitalism, which can prosper only by the assertion of egoistic impulse. This is what has made its way into our present situation, and the only means of extricating ourselves is to have a life of spirit which has the courage to break away from the old traditions.

Now today there are many people concerned with the problems of future primary and secondary education, school education, and of professional training for human beings. Especially when we are studying the question of primary and secondary education we must say to these people: Well and good, but with the best will in the world, can you interest people at large in primary and secondary education if you do nothing to change present conditions of education and matters of the spirit? Have you the material for the work? What actually are you able to do? With your principles — perhaps socialistic in a good sense — you may be able to found schools for a great mass of the people and to found institutions for their higher education. You may organise everything of this kind to which your good will impels you. But have you the material really to organise for the benefit of the people what you want with good will to extend to them? You tell us that you found libraries, theatres, concert halls, exhibitions, lecture courses, and polytechnics. But the question must arise: What books do you have in your libraries? What kind of science is dealt with in your lectures? You place on your library shelves those very books which belong to the bourgeois culture that is on the decline; you hand over the scientific education in the polytechnics to men who are products of that bourgeois culture. You give the nature of education new forms, but into these new forms you cast what you have absorbed of the old. For instance you say: For a long time we have been trying to give primary and secondary education a democratic form; up to now the various states have been against this for they want to educate men to be good civil servants. — True you are opposed to this education of good civil servants; you allow the people to be educated by them, however, for up to now you have nothing else in mind but these civil servants whose books are on the shelves of your libraries, whose scientific method of thinking you propagate by means of your lectures and whose habits of thinking permeate your colleges. — You see from this that in these serious times the matter must be taken far more profoundly than it generally is today.

Now let us just look at certain details to have at least something clear before us. We will begin with what we may call primary and secondary education. Under this heading I include everything that can be given to the human being when he has outgrown the education to be acquired in his family, when to this must be added the education and instruction obtained at school. Those who know the nature of man are clear that school education should never be a factor in the evolution of the human being until approximately the change of teeth has taken place. This is just as much a scientific law as any other. Were people to be guided by the real nature of human beings instead of by mere dummies, they would make it a regulation that school instruction should not begin till after the change of teeth. But the important question is the principles upon which this school instruction of children is to be based. Here we must have in mind that whoever is able to bring his thoughts and efforts into harmony with the ascending cultural evolution can really do nothing today bµt recognise, as inherent in the principles holding good in school education and instruction, what lies in the nature of the human being himself. Knowledge of human nature from the change of teeth until puberty must underlie any principles in what we call primary and secondary education. From this, and from a great deal of the same nature, you will realise that, if we take this as our basis, the result will be the same education for everyone; for obviously the laws which hold good in human evolution between approximately the seventh and fifteenth years are the same for all human beings. The only question we need answer concerning education and instruction is: To what point have we to bring human beings by the time they reach their fifteenth year? This alone may be called thinking in terms of primary and secondary education. At the same time this alone is thinking in a modern way about the nature of instruction. The consequence of this today will be that we shall no longer ignore the necessity of making an absolute break w1th the old school system, that we shall have in all earnest to set to work on organising what, during the years specified, is to be given to children in accordance with the evolution of the growing human being. Then a certain basis will have to be created — something that , when social goodwill exists , will not be a nebulous idea for the future but something practical which can be immediately acted upon. The basis for this will have to be created in the first place by a complete change in the whole nature of examination and instruction of the teacher himself. When today the teacher is examined, this is often done merely to verify whether he knows something that, if he is at all clever and doesn't know it, he can read up in a text book. In the examination of teachers this can be entirely omitted, but with it will go the greater part of such examinations in their present form. In those that will take their place the object will be to discover whether the man, who has to do with the education and instruction of the developing human being, can establish with him a personally active and profitable relation; whether he is able to penetrate with his whole mentality — to use a word much in fashion — into the soul of the growing human being, into his very nature. Then the teacher will not just teach reading, arithmetic or drawing; he will be fit to become a real moulder of the developing human being.

Thereupon, from all future examinations, which will take a very different form from their present one, it will be easy to discover if the school staff are really creative in this sense. For this means that the teacher will know: I must help this pupil in some particular way if he is to learn to think; another in another way if he is to unfold his world of feeling. — For the world of feeling is intimately bound up with the world of memory, a thing few people know today, most modem professors .being the worst possible psychologists . The teacher must know what to give to his pupil if the will is to unfold in such a way that the seeds, sown between his seventh and fifteenth years, may bring about the strengthening of the will for the whole of his life. The cultivation of will is brought about when everything that has to do with practical physical exercises and artistic pursuits is adapted to the developing being. Whoever is a teacher of those who are in process of development will concentrate all his effort on enabling the human being to become man. In this way he will discover how to utilise all that is conventionally called human culture — speaking, reading and writing. All this can best be utilised in the years between seven and fifteen for the development of thinking. However strange it may seem, thinking is the most external thing in man, and it must be developed on wha tever establishes us in the social organism. Consider how the human being on coming into the world through birth lacks any propensity towards reading and writing and how these belong to his life as a member of a community. Thus, for the development of thinking we must, comparatively early, have good instruction in languages, naturally not in what was spoken formerly but in languages as used today by the civilised peoples with whom we have contact. This efficient teaching in languages would naturally not consist in teaching the grammatical anomalies as is done today in the grammar school; it must be started in the lowest classes and continued. It will be important too that teaching should be given in a conscious way to unfold the feeling and the memory bound up with it. Whereas everything relating to arithmetic and geography — of which children can absorb an extraordinary amount when it is given them rightly — stands between what has to do with thinking and what has to do with feeling, everything taken into the memory has more to do with pure feeling, for instance, the history that is taught, the myths and legends that are told. I can only touch on these things.

But it is also necessary in these first years to give particular attention to the cultivation of will. Here it is a matter of physical exercises and artistic training. Something entirely new will be needed for this in these early years. A beginning has been made in what we call eurythmy. Today we witness a great deal of physical culture that is decadent and belongs to the past; it pleases many people. In its place we shall put something that so far we have had occasion to show only to the employees of the Waldorf — Astoria factory through the sympathetic help of our good Herr Molt; we shall put what — if it is given to the growing human being instead of the present gymnastics — promotes culture in both body and soul. It can so develop the will that the effect remains throughout life, whereas cultivation of the will by any other means causes a weakening of it when vicissitudes and various experiences are met with in the course of life. In this sphere particularly, however, we shall have to go to work with common sense. In the way instruction is given, combinations will have to be made little dreamt of today; for instance drawing will go hand-in-hand with geography. It would be of the greatest importance for the growing pupil to have really intelligent lessons in drawing; during these lessons he would be led to draw the globe from various sides, to draw the mountains and rivers of the earth in their relation to one another, then to turn to astronomy and to draw the planetary system. It goes without saying that this would have to be introduced at the right age, not for the seven-year-olds but certainly before they reached fifteen, perhaps from the twelfth year onwards, when if done in the right way, it would work on growing youth very beneficially.

For cultivating the feeling and the memory it will then be necessary to develop a living perception of nature even in the youngest pupils. You know how often I have spoken of this and how I have summed up many different views by saying: Today there are innumerable town-dwellers who, when taken into the country cannot distinguish between wheat and rye. What matters is not the name but that we should have a living relation to things. For anyone who can look into the nature of human beings it is overwhelming to see what they have lost, if at the right time — and the development of human faculties must take place at the right time — they have not learnt to distinguish between such things as, for example, a grain of wheat and a grain of rye. Naturally, what I am now saying has wide implications.

What in a didactic and pedagogical way I have just now been discussing concerning primary and secondary education will, in accordance with the logic of facts, have a quite definite consequence, namely that nothing will play a part in teaching that is not in one form or another retained for the whole of life. Today, as a rule, only what is included among the faculties plays its part rightly — what is done by learning to read is concentrated in the faculty of reading, what is done in learning to count is concentrated in the faculty of arithmetic. But just think how it is when we come to things having rather to do with feeling and memory. In this sphere children today learn a great deal only to forget it, only to be without it for the rest of life. In future, stress must be laid on this — that everything given to a child will remain with him for life.

We should then come to the question: What is to be done with the human being when having finished with the primary and secondary school he goes out into life? Here it is important that everything unsound in the old life of spirit should be overcome, that at least where education is concerned the terrible cleft made by class distinction should be abolished.

Now the Greeks, even the Romans, were able to devise for themselves an education that had its roots in their life, that was bound up with their way of life. In our time we have nothing which binds us in our most important years with our quite different mode off living. Many people, however, who later take up positions of authority, learn today what was learnt by the Greeks and Romans, and thus become divorced from life today; added to which this is spiritually the most uneconomical thing possible. Besides, we are today at a point in human evolution — if people only knew it — when it is quite unnecessary for preserving our relation to antiquity that we should be brought up in their ideas. What people in general need of the old has for a long time been incorporated in our culture, in such a way that we can absorb it without years of training in an atmosphere foreign to us. What we should imbibe of Greek and Roman culture can be improved upon, and this has also been the case; but that is a matter for scholars and has nothing to do with general social education. What is to be imbibed from antiquity for our general social education, however, has been brought to such a stage through the work of great minds in the past, and is so much in our midst, that if we rightly absorb what is there for us we have no need to learn Greek and Latin to deepen our knowledge of antiquity; it is not in the least essential and is no help at all for the important things in life. I recall how, to avoid misunderstandings, I found it necessary to say that, though Herr Wilamowitz is most certainly a Greek scholar of outstanding merit, he has nevertheless translated the Greek plays in a way that is really atrocious; but, of course, these translations have been acclaimed by both the press and scholars. Today we must learn to let people participate in life; and if we organise education so that people are able to participate in life, at the same time setting to work on education economically, you will find that we are really able to help human beings to a living culture. This, too, will enable anyone with a bent towards handicraft to take advantage of the education for life that begins about the fourteenth year. A possibility must be created for those who early show a bent towards handicraft or craftsman ship to be able to participate in what leads to a conception of life. In future, pupils who have not reached their twenty-first year should never be offered any knowledge that is the result of scientific research and comes from scientific specialisation. In our day, only what has been thoroughly worked out ought to have a place in instruction; then we can go to work in an out-and-out economic way. We must, however, have a clear concept of what is meant by economy in didactic and pedagogical matters. Above all we should not be lazy if we want to work in a way that is economic from the pedagogical point of view. I have often drawn your attention to something personally experienced by me. A boy of ten who was rather undeveloped was once given over into my charge, and through pedagogical economy I was enabled to let him absorb in two years what he had lacked up to his eleventh year, when he was still incapable of anything at all. This was possible only by taking into account both his bodily and his soul nature in such a way that instruction could proceed in the most economical way conceivable. This was often done by my spending three hours myself in preparation, so as in a half-hour or even in a quarter to give to the boy instruction that would otherwise have taken hours — this being necessary for his physical condition. If this is considered from the social point of view, people might say that I was obliged in this instance to give all the care to a single boy that might have been given to three others who would not have had to be treated in this way. But imagine we had a social educational system that was reasonable, it would then be possible for a whole collection of such pupils to be dealt with, for it makes no difference in this case whether we have to deal with one or fourteen boys. I should not complain about the number of pupils in the school, but this lack of complaint is connected with the principle of economy in instruction. It must be realised, however, that up to his fourteenth year the pupil has no judgment; and if judgment is asked of him this has a destructive effect on the brain. The modern calculating machine which gives judgment the place of memorising and calculating is a gross educational error; it destroys the human brain, makes it decadent. Human judgment can be cultivated only from and after the fourteenth year when those things requiring judgment must be introduced into the curriculum. Then all that is related, for example, to the grasping of reality through logic can be begun. When in future the carpenter or mechanic sits side-by-side in school or college with anyone studying to be a teacher, the result will certainly be a specialisation but at the same time one education for all; but included in this one education will be everything necessary for life. If this were not included matters would become socially worse than they are at present. All instruction must give knowledge that is necessary for life. During the ages from fifteen to twenty everything to do with agriculture, trade, industry, commerce will have to be learnt. No one should go through these years without acquiring some idea of what takes place in farming, commerce and industry. These subjects will be given a place as branches of knowledge infinitely more necessary than much of the rubbish which constitutes the present curriculum during these years. Then too during these years all those subjects will be introduced which I would call world affairs, historical and geographical subjects, everything concerned with nature knowledge — but all this in relation to the human being, so that man will learn to know man from his knowledge of the world as a whole.

Now among human beings who receive instruction of this kind will be those who, driven by social conditions to become workers in a spiritual sense, can be educated in every possible sphere at schools specially organised for such students. The institutions where people today are given professional training are run with a terrible lack of economy. I know that many people will not admit it but there is this lack of economy; above all validity is ascribed to the most curious conceptions belonging to the world-outlook that is on the decline. Even in my time I have experienced this — people have begun to press where it is a question in the universities of historical and literary subjects, for fewer lectures and more "seminars"; today we still hear it said that lectures should be given as little space as possible on the programme but seminars encouraged. One knows these seminars. Faithful followers of a university tutor gather together and learn strictly in accordance with the ideas of this tutor to work scientifically. They do their work under his coaching and the results of the coaching are forever visible. It is altogether another matter if a man, in the years when he should be learning a profession, goes of his own free will to a course of intelligent lectures, and then has the opportunity of embarking upon his own free exposition — though certainly this would be connected with what the lectures contained. Practical application can certainly be included in the programme but this exaggerated emphasis on seminars must be stopped. That is just an undesirable product of the second half of the nineteenth century, when the emphasis was on the drilling of human beings rather than on leaving them to develop freely.

Now when we are discussing this stage in education it must be said that a certain educational groundwork ought to be the same for everyone, whether he is destined to be a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher; that is one aspect of the matter; in addition to this, everyone must receive what contributes to the general culture of man, whether he is to become a doctor, a machine maker, architect, chemist or engineer; he must be given the opportunity of receiving general culture, whether he is to work with his hands or his head. Today little thought is given to this, though certainly in some places of higher education many things are better than they were. When I was at the Technical College in Vienna a Professor was giving lectures on general history. Each term he started to give his general history; after three or perhaps five lectures he ceased — there was no longer anyone there. Then, at this college, there was a Professor of history of literature . Thus there were the means to receive what was universally human besides specialised subjects. To these lectures on the history of literature, which included exercises in rhetoric and instruction on how to lecture, like those given, for example, by hand — to these lectures I always had to drag someone else, for they were held only if there was an audience of two. They could be kept going, therefore, only by a second being dragged in, and this was someone different practically every time. Except for this, the only attempt to provide students with the information they needed about conditions in life was by lectures on constitutional law or statistics. As I said, these things have improved; what has not improved is the driving force that should exist in our whole social life. This will improve, however, when there is a possibility for all that constitutes the universally human not to be made intelligible only to those with a definite professional view but intelligible from a universally human aspect. I have often been surprised how distorted my lectures on anthroposophy have been by my audience; for if they had taken them in a positive way they could have said: we won't bother about the anthroposophy in these lectures, but what is said about natural science, which receives great praise when coming from the ordinary natural philosopher — that is enough for us. For as you all know these lectures are always interspersed with general information about nature. But there are many people who are not interested in taking things from a positive angle, preferring to distort what they have no wish to accept. What they refused to accept, by the very way in which the thoughts were formed, by the whole mode of treatment, as well as the necessary interspersing of natural science, could be taken as contributing to universal human knowledge, which the manual worker could receive just as well as the scholar, and which was also generally intelligible as natural science. Just consider other endeavors towards a world-outlook. Do you imagine that in monistic gatherings, for instance, people can understand anything if they have not a scientific background? No, and if they have not, they merely gossip. What here we pursue as anthroposophy is something that can change all knowledge of nature, and even of history, so that everyone will be able to understand them. Just think how intelligible to everyone what I have shown to be a great leap historically in the middle of the fifteenth century can be. That, I think, is intelligible to everyone. But it is the groundwork without which there can be no understanding at all of the whole social movement in our time. This social movement is not understood because people do not know how mankind has developed since the middle of the fifteenth century. When these things are mentioned people come forward and declare: Nature does not make leaps, so you are wrong to assume there was such a thing in the fifteenth century. This foolish proposition that nature never makes a leap is always being harped upon. Nature continually makes leaps; it is a leap from the green leaf of a plant to the sepal which has a different form — another leap from sepal to petal. It is so too in the evolution of man's life. Whoever does not teach the history that rests on senseless conventional untruth, but on what has really happened, knows that in the fifteenth century men became different in the finer element of their constitution from what they were before, and that what is brought about today is the development of what they have grasped in the centre of their being. If there is a desire to understand the present social movement, laws of this kind in historical evolution will have to be recognised. You have only to call to mind the way in which matters here are dealt with and you will say: To understand all this no special knowledge is necessary; there is no need to be a man of culture; everyone can understand it. This indeed will be what is demanded in the future — that no philosophies or world-conceptions should be propagated which can be understood only by reason of a form of education belonging to a certain class. Take up any philosophical work today, for example, by Eucken or Paulsen, or anyone else you want information about, take up one of those dreadful works on psychology by university professors — you will soon drop it again; for those who are not specially trained in the particular subject do not understand the language used. This is something that can be set right only by universal education, when the whole nature of education and instruction will be absolutely changed in the way I have tried to indicate today.

You see, therefore, that in this sphere too we can say: here we have a big settling-up — not a small one. What is necessary is the development of social impulses or, rather, social intincts, through instruction, through education, so that people do not pass by one another. Then they will understand each other so that a practical living relation is develcped — for nowadays the teacher passes his pupil by, the pupil passes his teacher. This can happen only if we run our pen through what is old — which can be done. The facts of the case do not prevent this; it all goes back to human prejudice. People cannot believe that things can be done in a new way; they are terrified that their life of spirit may lose what was of value in the old way. You have no idea how anxious they are on this score. Naturally they are unable to take all this in; for instance they cannot see all the possibilities created by having an instruction that is economical. I have often told you that provided this is done at the right age it is possible from the beginning of geometry — the straight line and the angle — up to what used to be called the pons a sinorum, the Pythagorean theorem. And on my attempting this you should have seen the joy of the youngsters when, after three or four hours work, the theorem of Pythagoras dawned upon them. Only think what a lot of rubbish has to be gone through today before young people arrive at this theorem. What matters is the enormous amount of mental work wasted, which has its effects in later life; it sends its rays into the whole of life, right into its most practical spheres. Today it is necessary for people to come to a decision in these matters — fundamentally to re-organise their way of thinking. Otherwise — well, otherwise we simply sink deeper into decline and never find the path upwards.




Last Modified: 02-Dec-2018
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