Summary of Rudolf Steiner's
Principles of Education

Review of Lecture V in Rudolf Steiner's The Roots of Education, Five Lectures Given in 1924. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968. (Translated by Helen Fox)

by Leon James
and Diane Nahl
University of Hawaii

Rudolf Steiner was a radical thinker. His conception of man is a holistic one, connecting him with the cosmos and the elements of nature. This connection he defined as "spiritual." He insisted that scientific modernism is sinking into an excessive materialistic view of man which saps his strength and must be rectified.

We've extracted 42 "Principles of Education" from Lecture V. These are our views and interpretations. The titles we've made up indicate what pedagogic relevance we see in the statements we've quoted or paraphrased.

The Pragmatic Principle

Education builds the social person, i.e. national and universal citizenship.

The Holistic Principle

Relevance in education is achieved when the whole of the teaching is integrated.

The Developmental Principle

A valid education recognizes and works with the person's natural phases of development.

Developmental phases are "states of perceiving" in particular ways, e.g.

The Perceptual Principle

The person's experiences result from a particular way of perceiving; hence, each developmental phase yields a different variety of experiences.

The Methods Principle

The teacher must know explicitly and work with the varieties of experiences as they are related to the universal phases of development of the social person.

The Correspondence Principle

The individual person recapitulates the seasons.

The Principle of Dependence.

At some state of learning, students must rightly accept from the teacher what they cannot yet intellectually understand.

The Principle of Scholarship

At first, the students imitate the teacher and accept knowledge by authority; later, they seek in the world the source of the teacher's knowledge.

The Order Principle

During the initial phase, learners naturally grasp with their imagination, and this, with concrete pictures; later, they can add more abstract forms of intellectual causality.

The Principle of the Two Cultures

Natural learning capacities today are of two kinds: (I) direct and instinctive apperception of what is to be learned; and, (II), sequencing of reasoning steps through conscious thinking.

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology"

Man is born ("the Fall of Man") into a "sub-human" state -- as are animals; the function of education is to fully humanize the sub-human child.

The Principle of Collectivity

Defective education fails "to heal the fall of man", i.e. fails to fully humanize the individual; this is a collective tragedy.

The Principle of the Fall of Man

To fully humanize the individual, education must implant "a full humanity" in the learner.

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology"

"It must come about as a demand of cultural life that `cultural medicine' and `cultural pedagogy' are really brought nearer to one another so that they may be mutually productive."

(Rudolf Steiner, Roots of Education, 84).

The Principle of Sequencing

First one learns concrete pictoral fragments; then, causality of sequence in a comprehensive survey.

The Principle of Communication

Unless students feel and evince "inward joy and eager participation," they are not listening, and they're not listening because the teacher talks above their heads.

The Principle of Freedom

Intellect can be awakened only through the willing and eager "co-operation" of the learner.

The Principle of Totality

Without global coordination across the age -- years as individuals go through the school levels, education cannot prepare the whole of social man.

The Principle of Self-Reliance

The global aim of education is, first, to build a base for independent thinking; second, to allow this independent thinking to be discovered by the learners on their own.

The Principle of the Emerging Intellects

Through imitation and imagery, the learners build a base out of which independent intellectual activity emerges, becomes conscious, and serves as the base for security.

The Principle of Soul Life

When a right education is given to social beings, the inner experience of pure thinking or intellect calls forth the idea and experience of freedom, morality, and the "eternal" in the individual.

The Principle of Spirituality

" the art of education has fallen into the clutches of materialistic thinking, the children are unable to have...the experience of time passing over into eternity. Thereby they lose connection with the eternal part of their own being." (R. Steiner, p. 86)

The Principle of Anti-Materialism

"...the wrongness of materialism in education is shown in life when a human being has no feeling or inner experience of his own eternal nature." (Rudolf Steiner, p. 88)

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology" or "Medical Pedagogy"

The "Anthroposophical Principles" in education, called "ethical physiology" and "medical pedagogy" by Rudolf Steiner, state that wrong (materialistic) education practices cause specific illnesses in the adult's life.

The Principle of "Reading the Pupil"

The relation between teacher and pupil is like that between reader and book.








The Principle of Dual Citizenship

A "right education" must prepare the person

(I) "to take his place socially in the outside world";

(II) "after death (to) be able to live his way rightly into the spiritual world."

(Rudolf Steiner, p. 90-91)

The Principle of Babel

"Men have lost the possibility of meeting each other in a human way, and this is another dark side to the picture of our present age." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Collectivity

"The obvious basis of social life, the power really to feel and experience with the other person, has been sadly lost." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Estrangement

"The fact that there is so much talk about social demands nowadays" (is attributable to the fact that) "nowhere do we find this loving feelings of one's way into the other human being."

The Principle of Insufficiency

That "social life is lacking" is one everyone's mind; but "education for social life" is not given the highest prominence. "It has retreated into the background." (p. 91)

The Principle of Excessive Modernism

"Education for social life...has retreated more and more into the background, and in many respects human beings meet and pass each other without any understanding one for the other." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Separativeness

"It is indeed a grievous feature of present-day life that when man meets man there is no understanding between them." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Avoidance of Relationship

"Men know nothing of the inner life of the people they are working with, because they lack a living interest, a living devotion, a living sympathy, with the other man." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of "Education for Social Life"

"Education for social life" develops in the person a "social feeling"; this is an "understanding for the other man", a "living interest, devotion and sympathy with the other man." (p.91)

The Principles of Imitation and Authority

"Education for social life" will be achieved "if at the right age we permeate all branches of our teaching and education with the principle of imitation and in its right place the principle of authority also." (p. 91)

The Positive Bias Principle

"Man uses complicated tools, ...but what is lacking today is the power to enter into the spirit of nature, the spirit of the cosmos, into the universe as a mighty whole. This power much be regained." (Rudolf Steiner, P. 92)

The Principle of Anti-Materialism

"The human being is not only a citizen of the earth but of the cosmos also." But while he knows his connection to food, "he has no knowledge of how he is connected with the starry worlds in his soul and spirit." (p. 93)

The Principle of Humanity

Without adequate spiritual development man cannot be with understanding, cannot be true to himself, cannot be true to others, cannot be whole, and cannot be completely human.

The Astrodynamic Principle

Spiritual education is one that "seeks and finds the spirit in man": this is the knowledge that "he receives his spiritual nourishment from what streams forth from the whole galaxy of the stars." (p. 93)

The Principle of Higher Connections

Spiritual education recognizes that the stars, planets, and elements of nature all "work in man": what's `out there' affects what's `inside' in his soul and body in a direct way. To know this restores his understanding.

The Principle of Concrete Reality

To teach in a right way, the teacher much evolve "a conception of the world which is permeated with spirit"; then will he "save the methods and practice of his teaching work...from becoming abstract principles." (p. 94)

The "Education for Life" Principle

"To bind the self to matter means to annihilate souls. To find the self in spirit means to unite mankind. To behold the self in man means to build worlds." (A Meditative Poem for Teachers by Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 94.)






IN and UP = Mass Media Drama & Entertainment Ideals & Fantasies generate Luciferic Forces (Blood, Universalizatlon)

IN and DOWN/OUT and UP = a Christ and Michael Forces (From Steiner's Occult Science an Outline)

OUT and DOWN = Materialistic Values of Bourgeoisie Establishment generate Arimanic Forces (Power, Bones, Ossification)

We just read Steiner's lectures on Michael and the above 18 our summary. Is it recognizable? This diagram summarizes the activities and exercises we wish to emphasize during your week visit. This takes the form of keeping track of one's daily round circumstances and identifying their source by relating them to one of the four directions specified by the diagram. For example, the excitement experienced in and around discotheque activities are identified as Lucifer I.e.) IN and UP, since they are "inspirational" and a "dead end"; whereas anxiety related to one's grade point average Is an OUT and DOWN force, i.e., Arimanic since it is a dead end as well as "fixative"; on the other hand, Christ Michael Forces are Involved (IN and DOWN (Christ)/OUT and UP (Michael)) when the students observe "the spiritualization of matter" (the cross) through the realization that "man does not live by bread alone", and when the students observe "the congregation of selves"(the consciousness of spirit) through perception of the "upside down tree of life"(Michael) .

Memorable quotation from Rudolf Steiner

"...gentleness...unseals the inner organs." R. Steiner (K 108)

"...become quite still and silent within, wait in patience..." (K108)

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