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The Three Fundamental Forces in Education

Schmidt Number: S-4214

On-line since: 15th December, 2018

The Three Fundamental Forces in
Education

The second of four lectures delivered to the teachers of the Waldorf School, Stuttgart, September 1920.

Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, September 16, 1920.

I

T IS impossible to educate or teach without a spiritual grasp of the whole human being, for this whole human being comes into consideration even far more prominently during the time of a child's development than later on. As we know, this whole human being comprises within itself the ego, the astral body, the etheric body, and the physical body. These four members of the nature of man are by no means going through a symmetrical development, but rather they develop in very different ways; and we must distinguish accurately between the development of the physical and of the etheric body, and that of the astral body and of the ego. The outer manifestations of this differentiated development express themselves — as you know from the various elucidations — in the change of teeth and in that change which in the male appears as the change of voice at puberty, but which also proclaims itself clearly in the female, though in a different way. The essence of the phenomenon is the same as with the male in the change of his voice, only in the female organism it appears in a more diffused form, so that it is not merely observable in one organ as in the case of the male organism, but it extends more over the entire organism.

You know that between the change of teeth and the change of voice, or puberty, lies that period of teaching with which we have principally to do in the grade-schools; but the careful educator, in teaching and educating, must pay close attention as well to the years following the change of voice, or its analogy in the female organism.

Let us call to mind what the change of teeth signifies. Before the change of teeth — that is, between birth and the change of teeth — the physical body and the etheric body in the child's organism are strongly influenced by the nervous-sensory system, that is, from above downward. Up to about the seventh year the physical body and the etheric body are most active from the head. In the head are concentrated, as it were, the forces that are particularly active in these years — that is, in the years when imitation plays so important a role. And what takes place in the formative process in the remaining organism of trunk and limbs is achieved through the emanation of rays from the head to this remaining organism, to the trunk and the limb organism, from the physical body and the etheric body. That which here radiates from the head into the physical and etheric bodies of the whole child, right into the tips of his fingers and toes — this that radiates from the head into the whole child is soul-activity, even though it has its inception in the physical body: the same soul-activity that is later active in the soul as mind and memory. Later on this soul-activity appears in such a form that after the change of teeth the child begins to think, and that his memories become more conscious. The whole change that takes place in the soul-life of the child shows that certain psychic powers previously active in the organism become active as soul-forces after the seventh year. The whole period up to the change of teeth, while the child is growing, is a result of the same forces which after the seventh year appear as mental forces, intellectual forces.

There you have a case of actual co-operation between soul and body, when you realize how the soul emancipates itself in the seventh year and begins to function — no longer in the body but independently. Now those forces which in the body itself come newly into being as soul-forces begin to be active with the seventh year; and from then on, they operate through into the next incarnation. Now that which is radiated forth from the body is repulsed, whereas the forces that shoot downward from the head are checked. Thus, at this time of the change of teeth the hardest battle is fought between the forces tending downward from above and those shooting upward from below. The physical change of teeth is the physical expression of this conflict between those two kinds of forces: the forces that later appear in the child as the reasoning and intellectual powers, and those that must be employed particularly in drawing, painting, and writing. All these forces that shoot up, arising out of the conflict, we employ when we develop writing out of drawing; for these forces really tend to pass over into plastic creation, drawing, and so forth. Those are the forces that come to an end with the change of teeth, that previously had modelled the body of the child: the sculpture-forces. We work with them later, when the change of teeth is completed, to lead the child to drawing, to painting, and so on. These are in the main the forces in which the child's soul lived in the spiritual world before conception; at first their activity lies in forming the body, and then from the seventh year on they function as soul- forces. Thus, in the educational period following the seventh year, during which we must work with the forces of authority, we simply see that manifesting itself in the child which formerly he practiced unconsciously as imitation, when these forces still influenced the body unconsciously. If later the child becomes a sculptor, a draftsman, or an architect — but a real architect who works out of the forms — this is because such a person has the capacity for retaining in his organism, in his head, a little more of those forces that radiate downward into the organism, so that later on as well these forces of childhood can radiate downward. But if they are entirely used up, if with the change of teeth everything passes over into the psychic, children result who have no talent for architecture, who could never become sculptors.

These forces are related to the experiences between death and a new birth; and the reverence that is needed in educational activity, and that takes on a religious character, arises if one is conscious that when, around the seventh year, one calls forth from the child's soul these forces that are applied in learning to draw and to write, it is actually the spiritual world that sends down these forces. And the child is the mediator, and you are in reality working with forces sent down from the spiritual world. When this reverence permeates the instruction it truly works miracles. And if you have this reverence, if you have the feeling that by means of this telephone which transcends time you are in contact with the forces developed in the spiritual world during the time before birth — if you have this feeling that engenders a deep reverence, then you will see that through the reality of such a feeling you can accomplish more than through any amount of intellectual theorizing about what should be done. The teacher's feelings are the most important means of education there is, for this reverence can have an immeasurable formative influence upon the child.

Thus, we find in the change of teeth, when the child is entrusted to us, a process that directly represents a transfer through the child of spiritual forces out of the spiritual world into the physical world.

Another process takes place in the years of puberty, but it is prepared gradually through the whole cycle from the seventh to the fourteenth or fifteenth year. During this period something comes to light in those regions of the soul-life not yet illuminated by consciousness — for consciousness is still being formed, and something of the outer world which remains unconscious is constantly radiating into those regions not yet illuminated by consciousness — that only gradually becomes conscious, but that from birth has permeated the child from the outer world, that has co-operated in building the child's body, and that has entered into the plastic forces.

Those, again, are different forces. While the plastic forces enter the head from within, these forces now come from without. They are dammed up by the plastic forces and then descend into the organism. They co-operate in what takes place, beginning with the seventh year, in connection with the building of the child's body. I can characterize these forces in no other way than as those active in speech and in music. These forces are derived from the world.

The musical forces derive more from the outer world, the extra-human world, from the observation of processes in nature, particularly their regularities and irregularities. For all that takes place in nature is permeated by a mysterious music: I In- earthly projection of the “music of the spheres.” In every plant, in every animal, there is really incorporated a tone of the music of the spheres. That is also the case with reference to the human body, but it no longer lives in what is human speech — that is, in expressions of the soul — but it does live in the body, in its forms and so forth. All this the child absorbs unconsciously, and that is why children are musical to such a high degree. They take all that into their organism. While that which the child experiences as forms of movement, lines and plastic elements in his surroundings is absorbed by him and then acts from within, from the head, all that is absorbed by the child as tone-texture, as speech-content, comes from without. And this again, that which comes from without, is opposed by the gradually developing spiritual element of music and speech — only somewhat later: around the fourteenth year. This also is dammed up again now, in the woman in the whole organism, in the man more in the region of the larynx, where it causes the change of voice. The whole process, then, is brought about by the fact that here an element of the nature of will expresses itself from within in conflict with a similar element coming from without; and in this conflict is manifested that which at puberty appears as the change of voice. That is a conflict between inner music-speech forces and outer music-speech forces. Up to the seventh year, man is essentially permeated more by plastic and less by musical forces — that is, less by the music and speech forces that glow through the organism. But beginning with the seventh year what proceeds from music-speech becomes particularly active in the etheric body. Then this condition is opposed by the ego and the astral body: an element of the nature of will struggles from with-out against the similar one from within, and this appears at puberty. It is manifest even externally by the pitch of the voice that a difference exists between the male and the female. Only partially do the pitches of the voices of men and of women over lap: the woman's voice reaches higher, the man's goes lower — down to the bass. That corresponds with absolute accuracy to the structure of the remaining organism that forms itself out of the conflict of these forces.

These things show that in our soul-life we are concerned with something which at certain definite times co-operates also in the up-building of the organism. All the abstract discussions you find in modern scientific books on psychology, all the talk about psycho-physical parallelism, are merely testimony to the inability to grasp the connection between the psychic and the physical. For the psychic is not connected with the physical in the manner set forth in the senseless theories thought out by the psycho-physical parallelists; but rather we have to do with the recognition of this wholly concrete action of the psychic in the body, and then in turn with the reaction. Up to the seventh year what is plastic-architectonic works together with what is active in music-speech; only this changes in the seventh year, so that from then on the relation between music-speech on the one hand and the plastic-architectonic on the other is merely a different one. But through the whole period up to puberty this co-operation takes place between the plastic-architectonic, which emanates from the head and has its seat there, and speech-music, which comes from without, uses the head as a passage, and spreads itself into the organism.

From this we see that human language as well, but particularly music, co-operates in the formation of man. First it forms him, then it is dammed up as it halts at the larynx; now it does not enter the gate as it did before. For before, you see, it is speech that changes our organs, even down into the bony system; and anyone who observes a human skeleton from a psycho-physical thoughts of our present-day philosophers--and considers the differentiation between the male and the female skeleton sees in the skeleton an embodied musical achievement performed in the reciprocal action between the human organism and the outer world. Were we to take a sonata, and could we preserve its structure through some spiritual process of crystallization, we would have, as it were, the principal forms, the scheme of arrangement, of the human skeleton. And that will incidentally attest the difference between man and the animals. Whatever the animal absorbs of the music-speech element — very little of the speech, but very much of the musical — passes through the animal, because in a sense the animal lacks man's isolation that later leads to mutation. In the shape of an animal skeleton we find a musical image too, but only in the sense that a composite picture of the different animal skeletons, such as one can gain, for instance, in a museum, is needed to yield a musical coherence. An animal invariably manifests a one-sidedness in its structure.

Such things we should consider carefully in forming our picture of man: they will show us what feelings we should develop. As our reverence grows through feeling our connection, through fostering our feeling of contact, with pre-natal conditions, we acquire greater enthusiasm for teaching, by occupying ourselves intensely with the other forces of man. A Dionysian element, as it were, irradiates the music-speech instruction, while we have more of an Apollonian element in teaching the plastic arts, painting and drawing. The instruction that has to do with music and speech we impart with enthusiasm, the other with reverence.

The plastic forces offer the stronger opposition, hence they are held up as early as the seventh year; the others act less vigorously, so they are held up only in the fourteenth year. You must not interpret that to mean physical strength and weakness: it refers rather to the counter-pressure that is exerted. Since the plastic forces, being stronger, would overrun the human organism, the counter-pressure is stronger. Therefore, they must be held up earlier, whereas the music-forces are permitted by cosmic guidance to remain longer in the organism. The human being is permeated longer by the music forces than by the plastic ones.

If you let this thought ripen within you and bring the requisite enthusiasm to bear, conscious that by developing an appreciation for speech and music precisely during the grade-school period, when that battle is still raging and when you are still influencing the corporeality — not just the soul — then you are preparing that which man carries with him even beyond death. To this we contribute essentially with everything we teach the child of music and speech during the grade-school period. And that gives us a certain enthusiasm, because we know that thereby we are working for the future. On the other hand, by working with the plastic forces we make contact with what lived in man before birth or conception, and that gives us reverence. In that which reaches into the future we infuse our own forces, and we know that we are fructifying the germ of music-speech with something that will operate into the future after the physical has been stripped off. Music itself is a reflection of what is spheric in the air — only thus does it become physical. The air is in a sense the medium that renders tones physical, just as it is the air in the larynx that renders speech physical. That which has its being as non-physical in the speech-air, and as non-physical in the music-air unfolds its true activity only after death. That gives us the right enthusiasm for our teaching, because we know that when working with music and speech we are working for the future. And I believe that in the pedagogy of the future, teachers will no longer be addressed as they usually are today, but rather in ideas and concepts that can transform themselves into feelings, into the future. For nothing is more important than that we be able, as teachers, to develop the necessary reverence, the necessary enthusiasm. Reverence and enthusiasm — those are two fundamental forces by which the teacher-soul must be permeated.

To make you understand the matter still better I should like to mention that music has its being principally in the human astral body. After death man still carries his astral body fur a time; and as long as he does so, until he lays it aside completely — you are familiar with this from my book Theosophy there still exists in man after death a sort of memory — it is only a sort of memory — of earthly music. Thus, it comes about that whatever in life we receive of music continues to act like a memory of music after death — until about the time the astral body is laid aside. Then the earthly music is transformed in the life after death into the “music of the spheres,” and it remains as such until some time previous to the new birth. The matter will be more comprehensible for you if you know that what man here on earth receives in the way of music plays a very important role in the shaping of his soul-organism after death. That organism is molded there during this period. This is, of course, the kamaloka time; and that is also the comforting feature of the kamaloka time: we can render easier this existence, which the Roman Catholics call purgatory, for human beings if we know that. Not, to be sure, by relieving them of their perception: that they must have; for they would remain imperfect if they could not observe the imperfect things they have done. But we furnish the possibility that the human being will be better formed in his next life if during that time after death, when he still has his astral body, he can have many memories of things musical. This can be studied on a comparatively low plane of spiritual knowledge. You need only, after having heard a concert, wake up in the night, and you will become aware that you have experienced the whole concert again before waking. You even experience it much better by thus awaking in the night after a concert. You experience it very accurately. The point is that music imprints itself upon the astral body, it remains there, it still vibrates; it remains for about thirty years after death. What comes from music continues to vibrate much longer than what comes from speech: we lose the latter as such comparatively quickly after death, and there remains only its spiritual extract. What is musical is as long as the astral body. What comes from speech can be a great boon to us after death, especially if we have often absorbed it in the form which I now frequently describe as the art of recitation. When I describe the latter in this way I naturally have every reason to point out that these things cannot be rightly interpreted without keeping in view the peculiar course the astral body takes after death: then the matters must be described somewhat as I have described them in my lectures on eurythmy. Here, you see, we must talk to people in the most primitive language, so to speak; and it is really true that, seen from the point of view beyond the Threshold, people are actually all primitive: only beyond the Threshold are they real human beings. And we can only work ourselves out of this primitive-man state by working ourselves into spiritual reality. This is also the reason for the constantly increasing fury against the endeavors of Anthroposophy to show the path to a spiritual reality.

Now I would call your attention to something that is very much in the foreground in the art of pedagogy and that can be pedagogically employed — namely, that in the first conflict which I described in connection with the adolescent child, the outer expression of which is the change of teeth, and in that later struggle whose equivalent is the change of voice, there is to be considered something peculiar that gives to each its special character: everything that up to the seventh year descends from the head appears as an attack in relation to that which meets it from within and which builds up. And everything is a warding off that acts from within toward the head, that rises upward and opposes the current emanating from the head and descending.

In the case of music in turn the conditions are similar; but here that which comes from within appears as an attack, and that which descends from above through the head-organism appears as the warding off. If we had not music, frightful forces really would rise up in man. I am completely convinced that up to the sixteenth or seventeenth century traditions deriving from the old Mysteries were active, and that even then people still wrote and spoke under the influence of this after-effect of the Mysteries. They no longer knew, to be sure, the whole meaning of this effect, but in much that still appears in comparatively recent times we simply have reminiscences of the old Mystery-wisdom. Hence, I have always been deeply impressed by the passage in Shakespeare :*


“The man that hath no music in himself,
Is fit for treason, murder and deceit!
Let no such man be trusted.”

Merchant of Venice, V, 1.

“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.”

Translator's Note: The third line of the German translation of this passage reads: “Is fit for treason, murder and deceit”, and thus it is quoted by Dr. Steiner. Thus, must be kept in mind to understand what follows.


In the old Mystery-schools the pupils were told: that which acts in man as an attack from within and which must be continually warded off, which is dammed back for the nature of man, is “treason, murder and deceit,” and the music that is active in man is that which opposes the former. Music is the means of defense against the Luciferic forces rising up out of the inner man: treason, murder and deceit. We all have treason, murder and deceit within us, and it is not for nothing that the world contains what comes to us from music-speech quite aside from the pleasure it affords. Its purpose is to make people into human beings. One must, of course, keep in mind that the old Mystery- teachers expressed themselves somewhat differently: they expressed things more concretely. They would not have said “treason, murder and deceit” (it is already toned down in Shakespeare) but would have said something like “serpent, wolf and fox.” The serpent, the wolf and the fox are warded off from the inner nature of the human being through music. The old Mystery-teachers would always have used animal forms to depict that which rises out of the human being, but which must then be transformed into what is human. Thus, we can achieve the right enthusiasm when we see the treacherous serpent rising out of the child and combat it with music-speech instruction, and in like manner contend with the murderous wolf and the tricky fox or the cat. That is what can then permeate us with the intelligent, the true sort of enthusiasm — not the burning, Luciferic sort that alone is acknowledged today. We must recognize, then: attack and warding off.

Man has within him two levels where the warding off occurs. First, within himself, where the warding off appears in the change of teeth in the seventh year; and then again, in what he has received from music and speech, through which is warded off that which tends to rise up within him. But both battlefields are within man himself, what comes from music-speech more toward the periphery, toward the outer world, the architectonic- plastic more toward the inner world. But there is still a third battlefield, and that lies at the border between the etheric body and the outer world. The etheric body is always larger than the physical body; it extends beyond it in all directions; and here also there is such a battlefield. Here the battle is fought more under the influence of consciousness, whereas the other two proceed more in the subconscious. And the third conflict manifests itself when everything has worked itself to the surface that is a transformation of what takes place on the one hand between the human being and what is plastic-architectonic, and on the other between him and what is music-speech, when this amalgamates with the etheric body, thereby taking hold of the astral body, and is thus moved more toward the periphery, toward the outer border.

Through this originates everything that shoots through the fingers in drawing, painting, and so on. This makes of painting an art functioning more in the environs of man. The draftsman, the sculptor, must work more out of his inner faculties, the musician more out of his devotion to the world. That which lias ils being in painting and drawing, to which we lead the child when we have it make forms and lines, that is a battle that lakes place wholly on the surface, a battle that is fought principally between two forces, one of which acts inward from without, the other on I ward from within. The force that acts outward from within really tends constantly to disperse the human being, tends to continue the forming of man — not violently but in a delicate way. This force — it is not so powerful as that, but I must express il more radically so that you will see what I mean — this force, acting outward from within, tends to make our eyes swell up, to raise a goiter for us, to make the nose grow big and to make the ears bigger: everything tends to swell outward. Another force is the one we absorb from the outer world, through which this swelling up is warded off. And even if we only make a stroke — draw something — this is an effort to divert, through the force acting from the outer world inward, that inner force which tends to deform us. It is a complicated reflex action, then, that we as men execute in painting, in drawing, in graphic activity. In drawing or in having the canvas before us, the feeling actually glimmers in our consciousness that we are excluding something that is out there, that in the forms and strokes we are setting up thick walls, barbed wire. In drawing we really have such barbed wire by means of which we quickly catch something that tends to destroy us from within and prevent its action from becoming too strong. Therefore, instruction in drawing works best if we begin its study from the human being. If you study what motions the hand tends to make — if, say, in eurythmy instruction you have the child hold these motions, these forms that he wants to execute — then you have arrested the motion, the line, that tends to destroy, and then it does not act destructively. So when you begin to have the eurythmic forms drawn, and then see that drawing and also writing are formed out of the will that lives there, you have something which the nature of man really wants, something linked with the development and essence of human nature.

And in connection with eurythmy we should know this, that in our etheric body we constantly have the tendency to practice eurythmy: that is something the etheric body simply does of its own accord; for eurythmy is nothing but motions gleaned from what the etheric body tends to do of itself. It is really the etheric body that makes these motions, and it is only prevented from doing so when we cause the physical body to execute them. When we cause them to be executed by the physical body these movements are held back in the etheric body, react upon us, and have a health-giving effect on man.

That is what affects the human being in a certain hygienic- therapeutic as well as didactic-pedagogic way, and which outwardly gives the impression of beauty. Such things will be understood only when we know that something which is trying to manifest itself in the etheric organization of man must be stopped at the periphery by the movements of the physical body. In one case, that of eurythmy, an element more connected with the will is stopped; in the other, in drawing and painting, an element more closely allied with the intellect. But fundamentally both processes are but the two poles of one and the same thing.

If we now follow this process too with our feeling and incorporate it in our sensitive teaching ability, we have the third feeling that we need. That is the feeling which should really always penetrate us especially in grade-school instruction: that, when a human being is placed in the world, he is really exposed to things from which we must protect him through our teaching. Otherwise he would become one with the world too much. Man really always has the tendency to become psychically rickety, to make his limbs rickety, to become a gnome. And in teaching and educating him we work at forming him. We best obtain a feeling for this forming if we observe the child making a drawing, then smooth this out a bit so that the result is not what the child wants, but not what we want either, but a result of both. If I succeed, while smoothing out what the child wants to scribble, in merging my feelings with those of the child, the best results obtain. And if I transform all that into feeling and let it permeate me, the feeling arises that I must protect the child from an over-strong coalescence with the outer world. We must see that the child grows slowly into the outer world and not let him do so too rapidly. That is the third feeling that we as educators must cherish within us: we constantly hold a protecting hand over the child.

Reverence, enthusiasm, and the feeling of protection, these three are actually the panacea, as it were, the magic formula in the soul of the educator and teacher. And if one wished to represent, externally, artistically, something like an embodiment of art and pedagogy in a group, one would have to represent this:


Reverence for what precedes the child's existence (before birth);

Enthusiastic looking forward to what follows it (after death);

Protecting gesture for what the child experiences (during life).

Rudolf Steiner accompanied each of these three sentences with a gesture.


This work of art would also best represent the external manifestation of the teacher-character.

When one says something thus derived out of the intimacies of the world-mysteries one always feels it as unsatisfactory when uttered in conventional speech. But if one must say such things by means of external speech one always has the feeling that a supplement is necessary. What is spoken rather abstractly always feels the urge to pass over into the artistic. That is why I wanted to give you that hint in closing.

The fact is, we must learn to bear something of mankind's future frame of mind within us, consisting of the knowledge that the possession of mere science makes the human being into something which will cause him to regard himself as a psycho-spiritual monster. He who is a scientist pure and simple will not have the impulse — not even in the forming of his thoughts — to transform the scientific into the artistic. But only through the artistic can one comprehend the world. Goethe's saying always remains true:

“He to whom Nature begins to reveal her manifest secret feels an irresistible longing for her most worthy exponent Art.”

As educators we should have the feeling: as far as you are a scientist only, you are in soul and spirit a monster. Not until you have transformed your psycho-spiritual-physical organism, when your knowledge takes on artistic form, will you become a human being. Future development will in the main lead from science to artistic grasp, from the monster to the complete human being. And in this it is the pedagogue's duty to co-operate.




Last Modified: 15-Jan-2019
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