Education as a Force for Social Change

Rudolf Steiner

Translated by Robert F. Lathe and Nancy Parsons Whittaker
Die Erziehungsfrage als soziale Frage
GA 296

Schmidt Date   Comments
3791 August 9, 1919    Historical Requirements of the Present Time
3792 August 10, 1919    The Social Structure in Ancient Greece and Rome
3794 August 11, 1919    Commodity, Labor and Capital
3795 August 15, 1919    Education as a Problem Involving the Training of Teachers
3797 August 16, 1919    The Metamorphosis of Human Intellegence: Present Trends and Dangers
3799 August 17, 1919    The Inexpressable Name, Spirits of Space and Time, Conquering Egotism


August 9, 1919
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Historical Requirements of the Present Time
Overcoming the present social problems through spiritual cognition. The fundamental difference between the East and the West: considering the external sense-perceptible world as Maya in the East and the Spirit-soul as ideology in the West. The three-pronged attack upon humanity since the fifteenth century through natural science and machines: mechanization of the spirit, vegetation of the soul and animalization of the body. Concerning the concept of "social democracy". The historical demand of a threefold social organism: socialism in economics, democracy in justice and freedom in cultural life. The central question of education. The significance of differing educational principles during the three phases of childhood: 1) imitation until the age of seven is the basis of social freedom, 2) respected authority until the age of fourteen is the basis of a feeling of justice, and 3) a general love of humanity after puberty is the basis of fraternity in economics. The fatalistic attitude in peoples souls in the East and West. Modern society: a cultural life based upon Greece, a system of justice based upon Rome and economics based upon European civilization. The threefold social organism as a means of gaining control of the chaotic economic life, of the power struggle in the realm of justice and the empty slogans prevalent in cultural life. Lujo Brentano's Law as an example of today's economics. Commodity, Labor and Capital: understanding these three concepts through imagination, inspiration and intuition.

August 10, 1919
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The Social Structure in Ancient Greece and Rome
Echoes of the Greek and Roman soul in the present. The transformation of concepts from the pictorial toward the abstract since the fifteenth century. The strength of concepts is a remnant of prenatal spiritual existence. The task of modern thinking is to comprehend the individual as a spiritual being. The senselessness of the human will in industrial activity. The need to develop sensible willing out of the spirit and an inner feeling of truth at the present time. The transformation of human consciousness exemplified by the differences in perception of Raphael's and Michelangelo's paintings by their contemporaries and modern people. The limitations of religious consciousness concerning earthly life during the Fourth Post-Atlantean Period and the necessity of expanding that consciousness today to include the concept of repeated earthly lives. The inner disintegration of people today is a result of deficiencies in education. The need to concentrate on subjects. Economical teaching practice. Class schedules. The tasks of the Waldorf School in Stuttgart.

August 11, 1919
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Commodity, Labor and Capital
Commodity, Labor and Capital - three concepts needed to understand social life. Modern economics - practice without theory. Social democracy - theory without practice. The necessity of an imaginative understanding of the world for social life in the future. Imaginative concepts as a pre-condition for proper socializing. The need to permeate society with: 1) imaginative concepts for a feeling understanding of commodity, 2) inspired concepts for a new understanding of Labor, and 3) intuitive concepts for the proper relationship of capital to society. The relationships between commodity, Labor and Capital. Recognizing the significance of 1) imagination for commodities through fraternity in economics, 2) inspiration for work through equality in justice, and 3) intuition for capital through freedom in cultural life. The significance of re-discovering the connection between work and spirituality.

August 15, 1919
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Education as a Problem Involving the Training of Teachers
The permeation of pedagogy with a materialistic attitude by modern teacher training. Withering of the soul due to the modern use of illustrative materials in teaching. The need of the teacher to be permeated with an understanding for the relationship of the human being to the spiritual world. The child represents a question from the super-sensible world posed to the sense perceptible world. Anthroposophical anthropology as the basis for education in the future. Inner understanding of the threefold nature of the human being. The head/nerve aspect of the human being. The human chest/rhythmic aspect. The human limb/metabolic aspect. The significance of immortality for the development of the spirit: directing attention towards what is revealed of prenatal life instead of looking only at life after death. Observing the forms of the threefold nature of the human being. The head as a picture of the physical body, the chest as a picture of the etheric body and the metabolic system as a picture of the astral body. Perceiving the I through observing how humans change in life. Physiognomic pedagogy: Fichte as an example. The present desire to even out the differences between people contrasted with the innermost human desire to be recognized as an individual.

August 16, 1919
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The Metamorphosis of Human Intellegence: Present Trends and Dangers
The metamorphosis of human intelligence in the course of development. Egypto-Chaldeaic intelligence as a perception of the relationship of the human being with the cosmos. Greco-Roman intelligence as a recognition of the principles of death. The increasing tendency of intelligence toward evil, illusion and error. The significance of the Mystery of Golgotha in that connection. The concept of Christ and a general concept of God. Atheism as an illness. The misfortune of not recognizing Christ. The need to permeate Ahrimanically guided intelligence with the concept of Christ. The fear of the incarnating soul to enter into a materialistically oriented world. The melancholic tendency seen in children's faces today. The task of the teacher: to prepare children to find Christ through rebirth. The excesses of modern society exemplified by the "gun toting women" in eastern Europe today. Comprehending the seriousness of our times and the resulting tasks.

August 17, 1919
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The Inexpressable Name, Spirits of Space and Time, Conquering Egotism
The change of the human physical body from the Egypto-Chaldeaic plant-like body to the modern death-filled body. Atavistic development of the human body is a cause of tumors. Human physical characteristics in connection with the manner of cognition. The relationship of the human being to the realms of nature in the different Post-Atlantean Periods. The decline of the human being through animal, plant and mineral stages. A re-ascension to a knowledge of the living is the task of the current developmental period. The egotism of modern religions: limiting the concept of God to the individual's own Angel. Indifference to the general fate of humanity is an expression of egotistical intelligence. Investigating the goals of human destiny through mediums in the West and mystics in the East. Interest in things extending beyond personal earthly existence is the starting point for understanding the nature of the Archangels. Interest in the effects of the past and future upon the present is the precondition for forming concepts about the realm of the Time Spirits. Consideration of the impulses in modern cultural, rights and economic life. The women's movement. Anthroposophic understanding as a guideline for modern activity. The Goetheanum.