1980 Lecture Notes

COMMUNITYųCLASSROOM (2)

 

 

Rudolf Steiner said in 1918, at the time of the signing of the Armistice:  „If we desire to achieve a social understanding, as I have said in various connections, the most important thing of all is that we shall acquire an understanding of the human being, interest in human beings, a differentiated interest in persons, that we should desire to know human beingsųit is this which must constitute the task of the future, the most important part of the futureš (1941, p. 14) (Italics, ours). Steiner was speaking in the wake of World War I, which proved that society‚s modern technology could be used to wage war. Steiner warned that technology would continue to create destructive instruments if allowed to develop an antiųsocial milieu. This is because the new age of individual consciousness and independenceųųwhat Steiner calls „free thinkingųųis necessarily selfish, egotistical, competitive, selfų assertive, independent, and so on. This őstate of independence‚ of the individual Ego is contrastive, as Steiner shows, with people‚s state of dependency in former times: dependency on family and nation to the extent that individual survival was rendered problematic, often impossible. Thus, in former times, exile meant certainly loss of wealth and freedom, and very often belowųsurvival living conditions.

 

In modern times, by contrast, őexile‚ is replaced by „immigrationš or „colonizationš or „settlementš, etc. Opportunity for an improved life has replaced the meaning of exile, or „being cut offš, which is then the modern expression of the new state of independence achieved by the individual Ego of the modern person. Rudolf Steiner‚s warning is in connection with what he foresaw to be the consequences of technology being harnessed in the service of the individual Ego, namely antiųsociality. Steiner, at the turn of the century, and until his death in 1926, continued this theme and lectured on it in an astonishing series of 6,000 lectures in German, of which 200 published volumes in German and English have already appeared (see: Anthroposophic library, in References).

 

As indicated in our italics of the statement by Rudolf Steiner quoted above, antiųsociality engendered by the selfųassertiveness of the Ego, must be counteracted through social understanding. This expresses itself as a őcounterųantisociality‚ consisting of the following educative strategies:

 

(i)      acquiring an understanding of the human being;

(ii)      acquiring an interest in human beings;

   (iii)      acquiring a differentiated interest in persons

 

The first strategy is a őthinking‚ requirement; the acquisition of a GlossaryųChart, i.e. a scientific register (method, theory, scholarship). The second strategy is a őfeeling‚ requirement; the acquisition of collective learning procedures, i.e. a CommunityųClassroom setting. The third strategy is a „willš requirement; the acquisition of essential interdependence.

 

These three educational strategies are fundamental to the establishment and maintenance of a successful CommunityųClassroom milieu, as specified in the work of James and Gordon (see References). They are usually stated as őthree principles of CommunityųClassroom‚, namely, (i) generationality; (ii) intentionality; (iii) organicity. The accompanying table shows the various correspondence of interest here.

 

 

R.  Steiner‚s

TYPOLOGY for

SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING

acquiring

R. Steiner‚s

TYPOLOGY for the

SOCIALIZED PERSON‚ S

ACTS

 

James & Gordon‚s TYPOLOGY for COMMUNITYųBUILDING PRINCIPLES:

(„COMMIJNITY-CLASSROOMš)

 

Principle      Classroom Application

(i) understanding of the human being

THINKING

(senseųbound vs. free)

Principle Generationality

1.   DRA Generational Curriculum

2.   Collective Science Projects

3.    GlossaryųChart Study

4.  Cross generational  

       orientators

(ii) interest in human beings

FEELING (solitary vs. prosocial

 

Intentionality

1.    Orientation  

2.    Ingathering
3.    Huddleųbuddy
            (overcoming   

             intimidation)

(iii) differentiated interest in persons

WILLING (imagined vs. objective ideals)

Organicity

1.   Antiųanonymity (Registry, Dyads; Teams)

2.   The SP Mystery

        Play

3.   Glossolid Art

 


 

       It may be seen that generationality is a thinking activity. Steiner (l9xxųųl9xx) carefully and painstakingly reviews and establishes the existence of two varieties of thinking. The dichotomy is known under several titles, namely, őabstract vs. concrete‚, 'figurative vs. literal‚, őgeneralized vs. particular‚, ősymbolic vs. actual‚, őtheoretical vs. practical‚, and so on. In our current educational milieu, academic achievement, general intelligence, and accredited competence („degrees‚ or „licenseš), all depend on the variety of thinking that includes [abstract/figurative/generalized/symbolic/theoretical]. This kind of thinking activity involves processing operations that are sequential, unitized, standardized. Through these strategies, uniformity of senseųdependent operations is achieved, creating the possibility for an orderly, and regularized scientificųtechnological society.

 

        Steiner warns that this societal achievement is a twoųedged sword:  abstractų symbolic treatment of human needs creates an efficient but anachronistic state of affairs. That is, the technology built through abstract models provides only outdated solutions to human needs, even if the solutions provided are administered efficiently. Examples today, fifty years after Steiner‚s warnings, abound, as the professional review boards have determined for our technological medical practice, for our prison administration system for desegregation, for land and energy use, and for virtually every department of public life today.

 

       As indicated above, antisociality is a natural byųproduct of the socialized individual who is striving for selfųassertion within a competitive social psychological milieu, Thus, the fact that the proportion of wealth spent on war production increases along with technological advancement, points to the relation that exists between antisociality (as a byproduct) and the variety of thinking represented above as a [abstract/symbolic/etc.].

 

The complementary variety of thinking that Steiner warns must needs be added to the abstract/symbolic, is the concrete/experiential, what Steiner calls „free thinkingš as contraųdistinguished with „(sense)ųbound thinking.š The distinction is familiar in education today as „cognitiveš (abstract/ symbolic) vs. „affectiveš („experiential know-ledgeš). As well, őgestalt‚ oriented approaches in social science such as őfield theory‚, „topologicalš and „ecologicalš psychologies, „transpersonalš and „consciousnessš investigations of late, all share an interest in clearly identifying the differences in these two modalities of thinking.

 

Steiner‚s exposition of „freedomš (in behavior, feeling, and thinking) makes it categorically important for modern humans to develop quickly the ability to think in a way that is free from ősensory logic.‚ Artistic and creative thinking have always been assumed to be free, unchained to preųestablished fetters; or perhaps we should say that the artist and the genius strive towards that which shatters the past, thereby achieving universal feelings. The past is cast in the abstract, and the symbolic is used to select and reject, that is, to specialize and generalize. The future is thus bound to the past through the symbolic. Novelty in thinking may be fruitful, but constrained. Other points of the human constitution are neglected and wither. Human evolution is checked. But if we relinquish the insistence of sensoryųbound thinking as the only legitimate modality then free thinking develops naturally, by itself.

 

In CommunityųClassroom, James and Gordon have interpreted, translated, and applied this analysis of freedom to the course curriculum. A textbook and lecture approach was abandoned on account that it encouraged the further restriction of thinking towards the abstract and generalized. A solution gradually evolved and now is spoken of as „the principle of generationality.š Instructional procedures were developed to establish a living generational curriculum, and other pedagogic techniques (see table on p.____). These educational methods are inspired by the need to balance senseųbound thinking with free thinking. In this balance lies „the understanding of the human being.š

 

Steiner‚s „interest in human beingsš (the 'feeling' component of socialized humans) is translated and applied in CommunityųClassroom as the second principle, called „intentionality.š Just as abstract/generalized thinking leads to a counterproductive technology (e.g., „iatrogenesisš, pollution, crowding, etc.), in the same way solitary feeling is a process that leads to a counterproductive neutrality regarding others.

 

„Solitary feelingš is the state of isolation a socialized individual experiences when anonymity and secrecy forces the person to imagine information about others, rather than to know. Imagined ideals are counterproductive in a competitive milieu since in the absence of certainty, one is advised to play it safe, and imagine the worst. Or alternately, one is advised to be an optimistic, and to imagine the good side. Or perhaps, one is advised to follow the Golden Rule or some other mix of the two.

 


Prosocial behavior makes available objective ideals because anonymity and secrecy are specifically counteracted. Relationship is based on knowing (rather than on imagining) when the person‚s state of solitary feeling is replaced by prosocial behavior in human beingsš is based on a feeling experienced by an individual when engaging in prosocial behavior. In CommunityųClassroom, James and Gordon have translated and applied this prosocial feeling element as „intentionalityš (see table, p.____) In the natural history methodology of the daily round, the students are „citizenųscientistsš and learn to be "society's witnessesš. This activity yields a „generational curriculumš and a studyųformat bound to őfree thinking‚, as discussed above. The feeling/experiential element is placed in the interpersonal context, as managed by the course format. This insures that every bit and piece of free thinking element found in the „generational curriculumš („DRAš) undergoes communityųprocessing.

 

„Prosocial behaviorš is made to be part of the communityųprocessing procedures required in every case a bit of work is submitted by a student. This work is read and annotated by a number of peers, whereupon the original writer reworks or reopens sections of the work, by way of response and adjustment to peerųprocessing, As well, students perform this role for the work of other students, This communityųprocessing insures prosocial behavior, reduces interpersonal suspicions, and encourages the acquisition of communityųbased virtues and potentialities such as love, courage, reliability, objectivity, inventiveness, synchrony, morality, refinement, and complementarity.

 

Freedom in thinking and prosocial behavior as managed in CommunityųClass–room through generationality and intentionality, create a social milieu, which James and Gordon have characterized as „the principle of organicityš (see table, p. ______). This principle reflects the unity that emerges through őcommon striving‚ („coųš= joint, common; „ ųmunityš = striving, reaching). One might say, symbolically, that the cells of the liver strive together to attain a unity in the organųasųaųwhole, just as the liver, heart, etc. strive together to achieve the unity of an organism. Organ, organism, and community, are őorganicist‚ entities.

 

           As it is known, false hormonal information (e.g., antibiotics & vaccines) activates organs and affect metabolism in an abnormal way. In the same manner, imagined ideals (created by anonymity & secrecy) act as false functional triggers in social exchanges, engendering „negative emotionsš and „stand–ardized imaginingsš. These abnormal symptoms of „degenerative organicityš are eliminated when they are replaced by objective ideals based on knowledge of facts and shared presuppositions. Steiner‚s „differentiated interest in personsš is dependent on the őwill‚ component in the person. In Communityų Classroom, this component is related to the instructional principle of „organicityš, defined by James and Gordon as conscious of objective interdependence. This consciousness of the „willš within the person is a psychoųspiritual activity. There arises for each generation, the possibility of awakening to communityųlife, that is, of concretizing evolutionary participation.

 

            As the individual students awaken to the conception of organicity (through generationality & intentionality), a new cultural sensation enters their experience and their awareness. As described by Barfield (197x), the individual switches from a „representationalš/senseųbound existence to a free and „participatoryš becoming in which the personal/historical is continuously integrated into the universal/symbolic. Thus, „biographyš achieves „objectivityš, transcends the merely local, and immerses itself into the collective. Organicity brings collectivity to a level of functioning in which the individual can complete itself fully.

 

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