The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy
By Rudolf Steiner
Read this Essay in the original German
MUCH that the man of to-day inherits from generations of the past is called in question by his present life. Hence the numerous ‘problems of the hour’ and ‘demands of the age.’ How many of these are occupying the attention of the world — the Social Question, the Women's Question, the various educational questions, hygienic questions, questions of human rights, and so forth! By the most varied means, men are endeavouring to grapple with these problems. The number of those who come on the scene with this or that remedy or programme for the solution — or at any rate for the partial solution — of one or other of them, is indeed past counting. In the process, all manner of opinions and shades of opinion make themselves felt — Radicalism, which carries itself with a revolutionary air; the Moderate attitude, full of respect for existing things, yet endeavouring to evolve out of them something new; Conservatism, which is up in arms whenever any of the old institutions are tampered with. Beside these main tendencies of thought and feeling there is every kind of intermediate position. Looking at all these things of life with deeper vision, one cannot but feel — indeed the impression forces itself upon one — that the men of our age are in the position of trying to meet the demands involved in modern life with means which are utterly inadequate. Many are setting about to reform life, without really knowing life in its foundations. But he who would make proposals as to the future must not content himself with a knowledge of life that merely touches life's surface. He must investigate its depths. Life in its entirety is like a plant. The plant contains not only what it offers to external life; it also holds a future state within its hidden depths. One who has before him a plant only just in leaf, knows very well that after some time there will be flowers and fruit also on the leaf-bearing stem. In its hidden depths the plant already contains the flowers and fruit in embryo; yet by mere investigation of what the plant now offers to external vision, how should one ever tell what these new organs will look like? This can only be told by one who has learnt to know the very nature and being of the plant. So, too, the whole of human life contains within it the germs of its own future; but if we are to tell anything about this future, we must first penetrate into the hidden nature of the human being. And this our age is little inclined to do. It concerns itself with the things that appear on the surface, and thinks it is treading on unsafe ground if called upon to penetrate to what escapes external observation. In the case of the plant the matter is certainly more simple. We know that others like it have again and again borne fruit before. Human life is present only once; the flowers it will bear in the future have never yet been there. Yet they are present within man in the embryo, even as the flowers are present in a plant that is still only in leaf. And there is a possibility of saying something about man's future, if once we penetrate beneath the surface of human nature to its real essence and being. It is only when fertilized by this deep penetration into human life, that the various ideas of reform current in the present age can become fruitful and practical. Anthroposophy, by its inherent character and tendency, must have the task of providing a practical conception of the world — one that comprehends the nature and essence of human life. Whether what is often called so is justified in making such a claim, is not the point; it is the real essence of Anthroposophy — and what, by virtue of its real essence, Anthroposophy can be — that here concerns us. For Anthroposophy is not intended as a theory remote from life, one that merely caters for man's curiosity or thirst for knowledge. Nor is it intended as an instrument...
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