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From

Kindergarten
into the Grades
INSIGHTS FROM RUDOLF STEINER

Selected and edited by Ruth Ker


From Kindergarten into the Grades:
Insights from Rudolf Steiner
First English Edition
© 2014 Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America
ISBN: 978-1-936849-23-9

Cover photos: Courtesy of Sunrise Waldorf School, Duncan, BC, Canada


Editor: Ruth Ker
Managing Editor and Graphic Design: Lory Widmer

We are grateful to Judith Soleil and the Rudolf Steiner Library, Ghent, NY for
assistance in preparing this volume, and to the publishers of the quoted works for
permission to reprint these excerpts:
SteinerBooks/Anthroposophic Press • www.steinerbooks.org
Rudolf Steiner Press • www.rudolfsteinerpress.com
AWSNA Publications • www.whywaldorfworks.org
Completion Press • www.completionpress.com.au
Mercury Press • www.mercurypress.org

This book was made possible by a grant from the Waldorf Curriculum Fund.

Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America


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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written
permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and articles.
Contents

Preface by Ruth Ker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


The Educator’s Role: Cultivating the Eyes to See . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
The Nature of the Etheric Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Process of the Birth of the Etheric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Nature of the Change of Teeth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
The Protection of the Etheric Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
The effect of the caregiver’s temperament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Memory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Experiencing nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Overcoming heredity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Sleep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Imitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62
Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Play and toys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Music and movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
The battle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Intellectualization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
The Kindergarten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric . . . . . 85
Imitation and authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Memory, habits, and choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Beauty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Language, voice changes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Memory pictures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
The Educator’s Task of Forming Pictures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Other Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Afterword by Ruth Ker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Preface

How do we rise to meet the discouraging, and often economy-driven,


compromises to our educational systems worldwide? Although these are
signs of our current times, I believe it is imperative that we, as educators,
policy-makers, and parents, stand strong and equip ourselves with the
deepest of understandings about the mysterious forces inherent in the
growth and development of the young child. This will go a long way in
fueling our capacities to act responsibly when advocating for the children
of our time.
In anticipation of the International Waldorf Teacher’s Conference on
“Transitions” for both grade school and early childhood educators, taking
place at the Goetheanum in Dornach in 2015, this volume was prepared
out of the work of the WECAN Older Child in the Kindergarten group
and the IASWECE Older Child group. Both groups have spent a signif-
icant amount of time studying current research and the work of Rudolf
Steiner along with the important strides that anthroposophists of our
time have made in understanding the development of the young child,
particularly around the threshold of the six/seven-year change.
The quotations in this book are taken solely out of the timeless con-
tributions of Rudolf Steiner and are relevant to the work of both early
childhood and grade school educators. They are intended to form a
comprehensive, but by no means complete, collection of Rudolf Steiner’s
words on the topic of the birth(s) of the etheric body. It is my hope that
these excerpts will arouse in the reader the desire to delve further into the

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 5


context in which they were given and that this further exploration will
lead to more insights.
The passages in this book have been compiled mainly with an eye to the
nature of the etheric body and its births and how we as adults can support
the growing child. From his earliest lectures onward Rudolf Steiner had
much to say about the birthing of the etheric body and the detrimental
consequences of accelerated “learning” for the young child. Rudolf Stein-
er indicated in many ways the complicated sojourn that children undergo
as they approach this threshold of the sixth-to-seventh year, where they
are both imitators and seekers of authority. As educators on this thresh-
old, we have to stretch our capacities to respond to children in ways that
reflect their varied needs for loving authority and worthy example. We
could consider ourselves bridges between two different worlds as we tend
this threshold at a time when the individual child, and childhood in gen-
eral, is extremely vulnerable in so many ways.
How can we find the eyes to witness rightly this invisible mystery and
the consequent transformations for the children in our care? Included in
this material are also a few quotations by Steiner about the importance of
regular, dedicated observations of the individual child and the consequent
gift of inspiration for the educator. Surely this will give us the substance
out of which we can act rightly in our interactions with children while
they are in the midst of these great changes. Perhaps it will even fortify us
to stand for the children in our care by having the right kind of informed
conversations with those who are in decision-making positions within
our schools and in the wider world.
While compiling these quotations, I decided to follow Steiner’s references
chronologically as he traveled all over Europe during the years from 1906
to 1924, lecturing on this theme to educators, doctors, and lay people. For
the most part, you will find the excerpts organized in a chronological or-
der. It amazed me that no two lectures were the same, and that often new
insights were offered in each new place. It is no wonder that some people
followed him around from place to place, hoping to have more deepening
on the topic of their interest. Sometimes he would be speaking to 1500
people or more, as he was when he gave the lectures in Stuttgart in April
of 1924, now published in the book The Essentials of Education. To fully
explore all sides of this matter, I encourage you to explore the extra refer-
enced quotations in each of the sections. I would also be most grateful for
notification of any other relevant research that you discover.

6 • Preface
A delightful outcome for all who read or study this material would be the
strengthening of their compassion and understanding for the nature of
the birth of the etheric and its effect upon the developing child. It is my
hope that reconnecting to the wisdom-words of Rudolf Steiner will help
us to grow in our sense of responsibility to stand as protectors for the
well-being of childhood.
—Ruth Ker

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 7


The Educator’s Role:
Cultivating the Eyes to See
Note: All numbers in brackets (e.g. [1]) refer to the reference list on page 113.
On August 31, 1919, in a lecture included in the collection The Spirit of
the Waldorf School [18], Rudolf Steiner encouraged his audience to “form
a picture of the whole human being in which the body, soul and spirit in-
tertwiningly affect one another. If you wish to teach and educate children
as they need, you must form such a picture” (p. 136).
In a lecture on the theme “Man’s Becoming, World Soul and World Spirit”
[12], Steiner once again encourages us to cultivate the eyes (“supersensible
visioning”) to observe the forces at work in the biography of the young
child. Many references indicate that this is a very grounded and practical
exercise that caregivers and teachers must undertake. It surprised me that
in just about every lecture Rudolf Steiner mentions this and yet, as edu-
cators, many of us lean in the direction of striving for head-knowledge
rather than struggling for the insights that can come from observation:
12/29/1921, in Soul Economy [22], p. 104.
If you want to fathom the secrets of human nature, you have to
observe it with the same precision used to observe the phenomena of
outer nature.
Here are some more hints as to how to go about this:

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 9


8/15/1919, in Education as a Force for Social Change [17], pp. 56-57.
The relationship of human beings to the supersensible worlds must
completely permeate the teacher. He or she must be able to see
in the growing child proof that the child has entered earthly life
from the supersensible world through birth, has clothed itself with
a physical body. The teacher must be able to see that the child has
taken on tasks that the teacher is to assist with here in the physical
world because the child could not take on those tasks during the
period before rebirth.
[Teachers] should perceive each child as a question posed by the
supersensible world to the sense-perceptible world.
8/16/1922, in The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], pp. 8-9.
Today, the kind of knowledge we develop is called intellectual
knowledge, and it is entirely within us. It is the form of knowledge
appropriate to our civilization. We believe we comprehend the outer
world, but the thoughts and logic to which we limit knowledge
dwell within us. Children, on the other hand, live entirely outside
themselves. Do we have the right to claim that our intellectual mode
of knowledge ever allows us to participate in a child’s experience of
the outer worldçthis child who is all sense organ? We cannot do this.
We can only hope to achieve this through a kind of cognition that
goes beyond itself—one that can enter the nature of all that lives and
moves. Intuitional cognition is the only knowledge that can do this.
Not intellectual knowledge, which leaves us within ourselves; that
knowledge causes us to question every idea in terms of its logic. We
need a knowledge that allows spirit to penetrate the depths of life
itself—intuitional knowledge. We must consciously acquire intuitional
knowledge; only then can we become practical enough to do what
we must in relation to spirit in children during their earliest years.
8/13/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 22.
It is indeed so that a true knowledge of the human being loosens and
releases the inner life of soul and brings a smile to the face. Sour and
grumpy faces come only from lack of knowledge. Certainly, a person
can have a diseased organ that leaves traces of illness on the face;
this does not matter, for the child is not affected by it. When the
inner nature of a person is filled with a living knowledge of what the
human being is, this will be expressed in his face, and this is what can
make a really good teacher.

10 • The Educator’s Role


See also:
1/16/1920, What Is Necessary in These Urgent Times [9], p. 47.
4/20/1920, The Renewal of Education [20], p. 31.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 11


The Nature of the
Etheric Body
To begin with a characterization of the four bodies (physical, etheric,
astral and ego):
12/13/1906, in Supersensible Knowledge [2], p. 80.
In contemplating the human organism from the spiritual-scientific
viewpoint, you will realize that the four members are in reality four
entities that are completely different from one another. These
entities have merged, and work together within human beings right
down into the externally visible aspect of a person’s organism. The
four members of a person’s being have different values . . . . human
development is dependent upon each of them.
Steiner gives many names to the etheric body: supersensible forces, for-
mative forces, the life force or vital force, forces of growth, the organizing
principle, the life principle, life body, ether body. He speaks about mem-
bers of the highest hierarchies having given us this gift:
1/14/1913, in Between Death and Rebirth [6], p. 119.
We know that the human being received the germ of his physical
body from the Thrones, of his etheric body from the Spirits of
Wisdom, of his astral body from the Spirits of Movement, and the
germinal foundation for the “I” from the Spirits of Form.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 13


Rudolf Steiner tells us that, unlike the physical body, the etheric body
takes a long time to be fully born and, that, after some mini-births, it
gradually comes to birth around seven years of age. As we read his words,
a picture begins to arise of the forming way in which the etheric works
on the substances and forces of the physical body and thus brings about
the phenomenon of growth, the inner movement of vital body fluids and
reproduction. The etheric body is more than just that which animates the
physical body. It is the builder and sculptor of the physical body. It is the
molder, the inhabitant, and the architect.
12/1/1906, “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science” [2] in The
Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, pp. 51-53.
. . . . [T]he ether body as the second member of a person’s being . . .
is a spiritual organism, considerably more delicate and refined than
the physical body. It has nothing to do with physical ether, and is
best described as a sum of forces or currents of energy rather than as
substance.
The ether body is the architect of the physical body. The physical
body crystallizes out of the ether body much as ice crystallizes out
of water. We must therefore regard everything that constitutes the
physical aspect of a person’s being as having evolved from the ether
body. Human beings have this member in common with every being
endowed with life—that is, with the vegetable and animal kingdoms.
In shape and size the ether body coincides with the physical body
except for the lower part, which differs in shape from the physical. . . .
The human physical body is related to the mineral kingdom, the ether
body to the vegetable kingdom and the astral body to the animal
kingdom.
. . . [I]f we are to understand a person, we must always consider each
human being individually.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 5-12.
The physicist need not take offense at the term etheric body. The
word ether in this connection does not mean the same as the
hypothetical ether of physics. . . . In that earlier time people would
say to themselves, “The substances and forces at work in a mineral
cannot, by themselves, form the mineral into a living creature. There

14 • The Nature of the Etheric Body


must also be a peculiar ‘force’ inherent in the living creature.” They
called this the vital force and thought of it somewhat as follows: the
vital force works in the plant, the animal, and the human body, and
produces the phenomena of life, just as magnetic force is present in
the magnet that produces the phenomena of attraction. . . .
For those who have developed the higher organs of perception, the
etheric or life-body is an object of perception and not merely an
intellectual deduction. . . The life-body works in a formative way on
the substances and forces of the physical body and thus brings about
the phenomena of growth, reproduction, and inner movement of vital
body fluids. It is therefore the builder and shaper of the physical body,
its inhabitant and architect. The physical body may even be spoken of
as an image or expression of the life-body. In human beings the two are
nearly—though by no means totally—equal in form and size. . . .
We must not . . . imagine that the etheric and sentient [astral] bodies
consist simply of substances that are finer than those present in the
physical body. . . . The etheric body is a force-form; it consists of
active forces, and not of matter. The astral or sentient body is a figure
of inwardly moving, colored, and luminous pictures. The astral body
deviates in both size and shape from the physical body. In human
beings it presents an elongated ovoid form in which the physical
and etheric bodies are embedded. It projects beyond them—a vivid,
luminous figure—on every side. . . .
The etheric or life-body is simply the vehicle of the formative forces
of life, the forces of growth and reproduction. . . . As human beings
work their way up from this stage of development through successive
lives or incarnations to higher and higher evolution, the “I” works
upon the other members and transforms them. . . . And the etheric or
life-body also becomes transformed. It becomes the vehicle of habits,
of human beings’ more permanent intent or tendency in life, of the
temperament and memory. One whose “I” has not yet worked upon
the life-body has no memory of experiences in life. One just lives out
what has been implanted by Nature.
. . . [W]hen a human being is absorbed in the contemplation of a
great work of art the etheric body is being influenced. Through the
work of art one divines something higher and more noble than is
offered by the ordinary environment of the senses, and in this process
one is forming and transforming the life-body. Religion is a powerful
way to purify and ennoble the etheric body.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 15


12/13/1906, in Supersensible Knowledge [2], p. 80.
. . . [A]ll the organs connected with growth, propagation and
digestion are built not only by the physical principle, but also by the
ether or life body.
Only the organs built according to physical laws are sustained by the
physical principle; the processes of digestion, propagation and growth
are sustained by the etheric principle.
1/12/1907, in The Christian Mystery (Completion edition) [5], p. 212.
The human ether body is the bearer of everything that has lasting
nature—habits, character, conscience, memory, temperaments. . . .
Just as the child’s external senses should develop up to the seventh
year, so his habits, memory, temperament and so on are let go free by
the fourteenth year. . . .
Steiner speaks repeatedly about the forces at work in the three different
seven-year cycles as supersensible forces, as shown by the following ex-
cerpts.
10/4/1919, “Social Understanding through Spiritual Scientific
Knowledge” [8], pp. 2-3.
If you do not regard the human being purely superficially, you
will be struck by the fact that the nature of human development
is entirely different in the three different seven-year stages. The
pushing through of our permanent teeth, as I have often mentioned,
is connected with the development of forces that are not merely
confined, let us say, to our jaws or their neighboring organs, but fill
our whole physical body. There is work in progress within our physical
body between birth and the seventh year, and this work comes to an
end with the pushing through of our permanent teeth.
It is obvious that the forces doing this work of developing the
physical body are supersensible, isn’t it? The perceptible body is only
the material in which they work. The supersensible forces, active in
the whole of the human being’s organization during the first seven
years of life, become, as it were, suspended when their purpose has
been achieved and the permanent teeth have appeared. At the age
of seven these forces go to sleep. They are hidden within the human
being; they go to sleep within him. And they can be drawn forth from
your being when you do the sort of exercises I describe in How To

16 • The Nature of the Etheric Body


Know Higher Worlds as leading to Intuition. For the forces that are
applied in the acquisition of intuitive knowledge are the same forces
that you grow with at the time of life when this growth culminates
in the change of teeth. These sleeping forces that are active within
the human body until the seventh year are the forces you use in
supersensible knowledge to reach Intuition.
Now the forces that are active from the seventh year to the
fourteenth year and go to sleep at puberty in the depths of the
body, are drawn forth and form the power of Inspiration. And the
forces that in bygone times used to be the source of youthful ideals
between the fourteenth and the twenty-first year. . . . the forces that
create organs in the physical body for these ideals of youth, are the
same forces you can draw forth from their state of slumber and use
for the acquisition of Imagination.
From this you will see that the forces of Imagination, Inspiration and
Intuition are not just any old forces gotten from we do not know
where, but are the same forces as those we grow with from our birth
to the age of twenty-one. So the forces that live in Imagination,
Inspiration and Intuition are very healthy forces. They are the forces a
human being uses for his healthy growth and that go to sleep within
his body when the corresponding phases of growth are completed.
9/22/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 49-50.
Looking at the human constitution you will find . . . on the one hand
the physical and the formative force or etheric body; these two
never separate between birth and death—they belong together in a
certain sense continuously from birth to death. On the other hand,
the physical and etheric bodies separate, in falling asleep, from the
astral body—first of all, the etheric body from the astral body—and
upon awaking they join together again. The etheric and astral bodies,
we see, are less closely linked than are, for instance, the physical and
etheric bodies.
4/4/1923, in From Limestone to Lucifer [34], pp. 104-6.
Now let us take a look at the child. . . . When he is born he differs
from an adult not only in the way he looks—the cheeks are different,
the whole form; the forehead looks different. . . . Inside, however,
he is even more different. The brain mass is more like a brain mush
in the infant. And up to the seventh year, up to the time when the
child gets his second teeth, this mush, this brain mush, is made into

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 17


something truly marvellous. From the seventh year onwards the
human brain is quite marvellously structured. . . . the element of soul
and spirit has done this inside.
But you see, . . . we would be unable to shape and develop this brain
in such a marvellous way up to our seventh year if we were not all
the time in touch with the world. If you have a child who is born
blind, for instance, you’ll immediately see that the nerves of vision
and with them a whole part of the brain remain a kind of mush. This
is not beautifully developed. When someone is born deaf, the nerves
of hearing, nerves that come from the ear and cross here [drawing
on the board], after which they go over there, remain a piece of brain
mush along this way. It is therefore only because we have the senses
that we are able to develop our brain properly in the first seven years
of life.
But the brain does not develop anything for you that you might reach
out and touch. . . . All the matter we can reach and touch therefore
does not help you to develop the brain in the first seven years. It
needs the most subtle forms of matter, like the subtle matter that
lives in light, for example. Ether is what is needed.
You see, this is most important. We absorb the ether through all our
senses. So what is it that develops all this activity coming from the
head? The activity that comes from the head and also extends to the
rest of the child’s organism does not come from the physical body.
The physical body is not active in the marvellous development of the
child’s brain; it is the ether body which is active. The ether body, of
which I have told you that we still have it for two or three days after
we die, is at work in the child. It makes the human being develop
a perfect brain and thus become a thinking human being. We are
therefore able to say that the ether body is active in our thinking.
With this we have once again found the first supersensible aspect
of the human being—the ether body. A child would not be able to
develop his brain, he would not be able to have a human brain in him,
if he were not able to work with the ether body that is all around.
4/19/1923, in The Child’s Changing Consciousness [25], pp. 105-6.
Physical matter exerts pressure. The nature of the etheric has a
quality all its own. . . the etheric has the characteristic of being the
polar opposite of pressure; it has the effect of suction. It always has
the tendency to expedite physical matter out of space, to annihilate

18 • The Nature of the Etheric Body


it. This is the characteristic feature of the etheric. Physical matter fills
up space and the etheric gets rid of space-occupying matter. . .
This applies also to the human etheric body. Our relationship to the
physical and etheric bodies consists of our constantly destroying
and renewing ourselves. The etheric continually destroys material
substance and the physical body builds it up again.
Earlier in the lecture excerpted below, Steiner talks about the qualities of
the physical body and its propensity to have weight and gravity. He also
indicates, once again, the importance of the educator’s striving to develop
the imaginative knowledge and capacity to sense the etheric in the grow-
ing child.
8/8/1923, in A Modern Art of Education [26], pp. 60-62.
At the first stage of exact clairvoyance. . . one can perceive how,
besides the forces of the physical body, a suprasensory body is
working in us—if you will forgive the paradoxical expression. This
is the first suprasensory member of the human being. . . If through
imagination we become aware of the suprasensory body, which I call
the ether body, or body of formative forces, we find that it cannot
be weighed. It weighs nothing; on the contrary, it tends away from
the earth in every direction toward cosmic space. It contains forces
opposed to gravity, and works perpetually against gravity.
. . . [T]hrough imagination, we gain a concept of the relationship
between our self-enclosed ether body and the surrounding world.
In spring, the force that drives the plants out of the soil toward the
cosmos in all directions, and against gravity—the force that organizes
plants, brings them into relation to the upward tending stream of
light and works in the chemistry of the plant as it strives upward—
all this is related to the ether body, just as foods like salt, cabbage,
turnips, and meat are related to the physical body. . .
Until the change of teeth, the ether body is intimately connected
to the physical body. It organizes the physical body from within and
is the force that pushes the teeth outward. Once the second teeth
arrive, the part of the ether body that pushes the teeth out has
finished its purpose in the physical body, and its activity is freed from
it. With the change of teeth, these etheric forces are freed, and it is
with these forces that we begin to think freely from the seventh year
on. The force of the teeth becomes less physical than it was while the
teeth acted as the organs of thought; it is now an etheric force. This

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 19


same force that produced the teeth now works in the ether body
and thinks. When we experience ourselves as thinking beings and
feel that thinking arises in the head (many people do not have this
experience unless thinking has caused a headache), true knowledge
shows us that the force we use to think with is the same as that once
contained in the teeth.
4/15/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 38-39.
The etheric body is not subject to gravity—on the contrary, it is
always trying to get away. Its tendency is to disperse and to scatter
into far cosmic spaces. This is in fact what happens right after death.
Our first experience after death is the dispersal of the etheric body.
The dead physical body follows the laws of the earth when lowered
into the grave; or when cremated, it burns according to physical
laws just like any other physical body. This is not true of the etheric
body, which works away from Earth, just as the physical body strives
toward Earth. The etheric body, however, does not necessarily
extend equally in all directions, nor does it strive away from Earth in
a uniform way. Now we arrive at something that might seem very
strange to you. . .
When you look up into the heavens you see that the stars are
clustered into definite groups, and that these groups are all different
from one another. Those groups of stars attract the etheric human
body, drawing it out into the far spaces. [See book for drawing] The
different groups of stars are drawing out the etheric body in varying
degrees; there is a much stronger attraction from one group of stars
than from another, thus the etheric body is not drawn out equally on
all sides but to varying degrees in the different directions of space.
Consequently, the etheric body is not spherical, but, through this
dispersion of the etheric, certain definite forms may arise in the
human being through the cosmic forces that work down from the
stars. These forms remain in us as long as we live on Earth and have
an etheric body within us.
Later in the lecture, Steiner goes on to describe the formation of muscle
and bone in relation to this.
7/20/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], p. 72.
Where are the forces of the ether body during the first period of
life? They are bound up with the physical body and are active in its
nourishment and growth. In this first period, children are different

20 • The Nature of the Etheric Body


from what they become later. All the forces of the ether body are
initially bound up with the physical body. At the end of the first
period, they are freed to some extent, just as warmth is freed from
a substance with which it had been bound. What happens now?
After the change of teeth, only part of the ether body is active in the
forces of growth and nourishment; the part that has been liberated
now carries on the more intensive development of memory and soul
qualities. Because it is a fact, we must learn to speak of the soul as
“bound” during the first seven years of life, and to speak of the soul
as “liberated” after the seventh year. What we use as soul forces
during the second seven-year period of life is, during the first seven
years, imperceptibly bound up with the physical body, when nothing
psychic can be free of the body. We can gain knowledge of how the
soul works during that first seven years by observing the body. Only
after the change of teeth can we directly approach what is purely of a
soul nature.
8/14/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 42.
. . . [I]n order for human beings to incarnate at all, they have to absorb
something that is not yet mineral but is only on the way to becoming
mineral, namely the etheric element.
See also:
12/13/1906, Supersensible Knowledge [2], p.80.
12/29/1921, Soul Economy [22], pp.106-7.
4/10/1924, The Essentials of Education [27], pp. 45-46.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 21


The Process of the
Birth of the Etheric
12/1/1906, “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science” [2], in
The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, p. 54.
At the time of the change of teeth an etheric covering loosens itself
from the ether body, as the physical covering did at physical birth.
That means that the ether body is born and becomes free in all
directions. Until then an entity of like nature to itself was attached
to it, and spiritual currents flowed from this entity through it just as
physical currents flowed from the maternal covering through the
child before birth. Thus, the child is born a second time when the
ether body is born.
12/29/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 106-7.
[A] suprasensory contemplation of the human being will reveal to
us—apart from the physical body—another, finer body that we call
the ether body, or body of formative forces. This ether body provides
not just the forces that sustain nourishment and growth; it is also the
source of memory faculties and the ability to create mental images
and ideas. It does not become an independent entity until the change
of teeth, and its birth is similar to the way the physical body is born
from one’s mother. This means that, until the change of teeth, the
forces of the ether body work entirely in the processes of a child’s
organic growth, whereas after that time—while still remaining active
in this realm to a great extent—those forces partially withdraw from

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 23


those activities. The released forces of the ether body then begin to
work in the soul realm of mental images and memory, as well as in
many other nuances of a child’s soul life.
The change of teeth is a unique event. The forces needed to push
out the second teeth existed prior to this event, but now they are no
longer needed. Once the second teeth have appeared, this particular
activity of the ether body becomes redundant. The final activity of
pushing out the second teeth is an external manifestation of the sort
of activity that is happening within a child’s organism. At the end of
the first seven-year period, most of these ether forces are released to
flow into a child’s soul and spiritual nature.
One can recognize these seven-year periods throughout the entire
human life, and each again can be seen in three clearly differentiated
shorter periods. If we observe the gradual withdrawal of some of
these ether forces until approximately the seventh year, we see how
during the first two and a half years after physical birth the ether
body frees itself from the head region; in the next two and a half
years, it frees itself from the chest region; and finally, until the change
of teeth, it frees itself from the child’s metabolic-limb system. Thus
we see three phases in the gradual withdrawal of ether forces. And
we clearly recognize how, while the ether body is still connected with
the head region, a child rejects any intentional influence coming from
outside.
12/29/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 112-13.
At the age of two and a half, the head organization in children is
developed far enough so that the forces of the ether body that
have been working on it may be released. This gradual withdrawal
continues into the area of the chest until about the fifth year, when
breathing and blood circulation have also reached a certain stage
of completion. Thus, by the time that children learn to speak and
walk, the formative forces released from the head (now acting
as soul and spiritual forces) join those being released in the chest
region. This change can be recognized externally by the emergence
of an exceptionally vivid memory and wonderful imagination, which
children develop between two and a half and five. However, you
must take great care when children develop these two faculties,
since they are instrumental in building the soul. Children continue
to live by imitation, and therefore we should not attempt to make
them remember things we choose. At this stage it is best to leave

24 • The Process of the Birth of the Etheric


the evolving forces of memory alone, allowing children to remember
whatever they please. We should never give them memory exercises
of any kind, otherwise, through ignorance, we might be responsible
for consequences we can see only when viewing the entire course of
human life.
12/13/1906, in Supersensible Knowledge [2], p. 81.
. . . Then at the age of seven another enveloping sheath is
pushed aside. The development of an individual’s being can only
be understood when we recognize that at the change of teeth
something happens spiritually that is similar to what happens
physically at birth. The human being is truly born a second time about
the seventh year, for the ether body is born and can begin to work
independently, just as was the case with the physical body at its birth.
The maternal body acts physically on the embryo before birth; up to
the change of teeth the spiritual forces of the ether world act on the
human ether body. At about the seventh year they are pushed aside,
as was the maternal body at physical birth. Up to the seventh year
the ether body remains latent within the physical body. At the time
of the change of teeth the situation in regard to the ether body is
comparable to a piece of wood being ignited. Up till then it was tied
to the physical body; now it is freed and can act independently. The
ether body’s release is announced by the change of teeth. Those with
deeper insight into human development recognize that the change
of teeth is a significant event. Up to the age of seven the physical
principle is at work unfettered, while the etheric and astral principles
are still latent, that is, not yet born from their spiritual sheaths.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 16.
. . . Until the change of teeth certain impressions intended for the
etheric body can no more reach it than the air and the struggle of
the physical world can reach the physical body while it rests in the
mother’s womb.
Before the change of teeth occurs, the free life-body is not yet at
work in human beings. Just as within the body of the mother the
physical body receives forces not its own, gradually developing its
own forces within the protecting sheath of the mother’s womb, so
also are the forces of growth until the change of teeth. During this

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 25


first period the etheric body is only developing and shaping its own
forces together with those—not its own—it has inherited. While the
etheric body is thus working its way toward freedom, the physical
body is already independent. The etheric body, as it liberates itself,
develops and works out what it has to give to the physical body. The
second teeth—that is, the person’s own teeth—that take the place
of those inherited, represent the culmination of this work. They are
denser than anything else embedded in the physical body and thus
appear last at the end of this period.
After this point the growth of the human physical body is brought
about by one’s own etheric body alone. But this etheric body is still
under the influence of an astral body that has not yet escaped its
protecting sheath. At the moment the astral body also becomes free,
the etheric body concludes another period of its development; this
conclusion is expressed in puberty.
9/16/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 15-16.
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 and etheric bodies in the child’s organism are
strongly influenced by the nerve-sense system operating from above
downward. Up to about the seventh year the physical body and the
etheric body are most effectively influenced from the head. In the head
are concentrated the forces that are particularly active in these years—
that is, in the years when imitation plays such an important role. And
what takes place in the formation of the remaining organism, trunk and
limbs, is achieved through what rays down from the head to this other
part, to the trunk and the limb organism, to the physical body and the
etheric body. What radiates from the head into the physical and etheric
bodies of the whole child right into the tips of the fingers and toes,
this radiating from the head into the whole child is soul activity, even
though it emanates from the physical body. It is the same soul activity
that is later active in the soul as intelligence and memory. Only later
on, after the change of teeth, children begin to think in such a way that
their memories become more conscious. The whole change that takes
place in the child’s soul life shows that certain soul forces 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, makes use of the same forces that after the seventh year
appear as intellectual forces.

26 • The Process of the Birth of the Etheric


Here you have an interplay between soul and body that is quite
real; the soul emancipates itself in the seventh year and begins to
function—no longer in the body, but independently. At this point,
those forces that come newly into being in the body as soul forces
begin to be active, and from the seventh year on they are at work
well into the next incarnation. Then whatever radiates upward from
the body is thrust back, whereas the forces that shoot downward
from the head are restrained. Thus, during the time the teeth are
changing, the most severe battle is fought between the forces
striving downward from above and those shooting upward from
below. The change of teeth is the physical expression of this conflict
between the two kinds of forces: those that later appear in the child
as powers of reasoning and intellect, and those that need to be used
particularly in drawing, painting, and writing. We employ upwelling
forces when we develop writing out of drawing, for what these forces
really strive for is to pass over into sculptural formation, drawing, and
so forth. These are the sculptural forces that, ending with the change
of teeth, have previously modeled the child’s body. We work with
them later, when the second dentition is completed, to lead the child
to drawing, to painting, and so on. These are primarily the forces that
were placed into the child by the spiritual world in which the child’s
soul lived before conception. At first they are active as bodily forces
in forming the head, and then from the seventh year on they function
as soul forces.
See also the section on “The Battle” on page 74.
9/22/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 43-45.
I have . . . emphasized how the organizing principle in the physical
body emerges with the change of teeth, frees itself during this
time, and shapes primarily the intelligence. That is one way of
describing the process. Another way, however, stated earlier when
the whole subject was brought to our understanding from a different
standpoint, is to say that the etheric body is born with the change
of teeth. The first birth is of the physical body but the birth of the
etheric body is not until about the seventh year. What we call the
birth of the etheric or formative force body can also be seen as the
emancipation of the intelligence from the physical body, a two-sided
description of the same phenomenon. We can grasp the matter only
by observing two such aspects at the same time. In spiritual science
nothing can be characterized without approaching something from

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 27


different sides and then combining the different aspects into one
comprehensive view. . . .
What else happens? Into the etheric body or intelligence, whichever
you like to call it, into what has become free streams the ego, which
had already descended at birth and now works on the etheric
body, bringing it gradually into shape. In this period, therefore,
an intermingling takes place between the eternal ego and slowly
liberated intelligence or nascent etheric body.
Steiner goes on to talk about the freeing of the astral organism from
around seven to fourteen, and then continues:
. . . But again it is the ego, the eternal element, that unites itself
with what is being freed, so that from birth to puberty we have a
continuous anchoring of the ego in the entire human organization.
After the seventh year the ego settles itself only into the etheric
body, whereas previously, while the human being was still an
imitator—indeed due precisely to this imitative activity—it worked
itself into the physical body, and later, after puberty, it worked itself
into the astral body. What we have then is a continuous penetration
of the human organization by the ego.
12/31/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 135-136.
An important and far-reaching change takes place when children
begin to lose their milk, or baby, teeth. This is not just a physical
change in the life of a human being, but the whole human
organization goes through a transformation. A true art of education
demands a thorough appreciation and understanding of this
metamorphosis. In our previous meetings, I spoke of the refined body
of formative forces, the ether body. These forces are in the process
of being freed from certain functions during the time between the
change of teeth and puberty. Previously, the ether body worked
directly into the physical body of the child, but now it begins to
function in the realm of a child’s soul. This means that the physical
body of children is held from within in a very different way than it
was during the previous stage. . .
During the early years, the soul and spiritual life of the child is
completely connected to the physical and organic processes, and all
of the physical and organic processes have a soul and spiritual quality.
All of the shaping and forming of the body at that age is conducted
from the head downward. This stage concludes when the second

28 • The Process of the Birth of the Etheric


teeth are being pushed through. At this time, the forces working
in the head cease to predominate while soul and spiritual activities
enter the lower regions of the body—the rhythmic activities of the
heart and breath. Previously, these forces, as they worked especially
in the formation of the child’s brain, were also flowing down into the
rest of the organism, shaping and molding and entering directly into
the physical substances of the body. Here they gave rise to physical
processes.
All this changes with the coming of the second teeth, and some of
these forces begin to work more in the child’s soul and spiritual realm,
affecting especially the rhythmic movement of heart and lungs. They
are no longer as active in the physical processes themselves, but now
they also work in the rhythms of breathing and blood circulation.
One can see this physically as the child’s breathing and pulse become
noticeably stronger during this time. Children now have a strong
desire to experience the emerging life of soul and spirit on waves of
rhythm and beat within the body—quite subconsciously, of course.
They have a real longing for this interplay of rhythm and beat in their
organism.
See also:
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight”
[4], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 42-43.
4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 31-32.
11/19/1923, in Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy [23],
Volume 2, pp. 167-68.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 29


The Nature of the
Change of Teeth
4/15/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], p. 35.
The transitions and developments in human life occur slowly and
gradually, so to speak of the change of teeth as a single fixed event in
time is only approximate. Nevertheless, this point in time manifests
in the middle of the child’s development, and we must consider very
intensively what takes place at that time.
9/18/1920, in Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms
[10], pp. 292-93.
Only if one takes seriously all that follows from preexistence will one
gain an accurate concept of the connection between the human soul
and the human body. . . .
If one knows how the prenatal human being incarnates itself in
a physical body, then one follows the developing human being in
the child quite differently. We find that there are two stages in the
developing human being. The first stage is indicated by the change
of teeth around age seven. What does this change of teeth signify?
It is a much more powerful change in the whole human organism
than one usually believes. . . . Until the change of teeth the child
does not really form solid, contoured concepts; to be sure, the child
remembers a lot but does not retain its memories in concepts; actual
intelligence does not yet appear. Just observe a child carefully and

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 31


notice how, during the time when the teeth change, the faculty of
actual intelligence increasingly emerges. . . . Where was the element
of intelligence that emerges after the seventh year? Where was it
concealed? It was within the body; it was active in the organism.
The same element that emancipates itself at age seven and turns
into intelligence was within the body, was forming the body, and the
culmination point of its activity of shaping the body is reached when
the second teeth appear. The power that thrusts itself into being
with the second teeth has been active in the whole organism. It is,
however, a power that is active in the body only up to the seventh
year. After that it has nothing more to do with the body; it then
becomes intelligence. It already was intelligence earlier; as such,
however, it was at work in the body. . . . Through birth, intelligence
descended. At first it was not active as intelligence, as soul being;
it becomes active in this way gradually after the seventh year. Here
you have a concrete view . . . . of what works throughout seven years
in blood and nerves, in muscles and bones, and then becomes the
child’s intelligence.
In many places in Steiner’s lectures he elaborates on the fact that second
dentition is only one outward manifestation of the many changes that occur
for the child at this time. When he refers to the change of teeth in his lec-
tures, as we can see by the quotation below, there are many other soul-spiri-
tual and bodily changes that are occurring at the same time for the child.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 16.
The first stage of life ends with the change of teeth. Now I know
that there is a certain amount of awareness these days concerning
the changes that occur in the body and soul of children at this stage
of life. Nevertheless, it is not sufficient to enable perception of all
that happens in the human being at this tender age; we must come
to understand this in order to become educators. The appearance
of teeth—not the inherited, baby teeth—is merely the most obvious
sign of a complete transformation of the whole human being. Much
more is happening within the organism, though not as perceptible
outwardly; its most radical expression is the appearance of the
second teeth.
1/14/1913, in Between Death and Rebirth [6], p. 116.
The appearance of the second teeth is . . . the final act of what may
be called the formative principle. The last contribution made by the

32 • The Nature of the Change of Teeth


forces that give the human being his form is when they drive out the
second teeth. That is the culmination of the formative process, for
the principle which builds up the human form is no longer in action.
With the seventh year the formative principle ceases to be active.
What comes about later on is only an expansion of what has already
been established as form. After the seventh year there is no more
remodelling of the brain. All that happens is growth of what is already
established as basic form. Therefore we can say that the principle of
form unfolds its activity specifically in the first seven years of the life
of a human being. The principle of form stems from the Spirits of
Form; thus these Spirits of Form are active in the human being during
the first seven years of his life. . . . The basis for the form has been
established by the seventh year, and the second teeth are what the
formative principle still produces out of the human being.
4/11/1920, in Mystery of the Universe [11], p. 32.
We have, first of all, in respect to one series of facts, the world
organism projected into the human being in the formation of his milk
teeth. And then, when we look at the permanent teeth, we find that
these are the human being’s own production. An inner human cosmic
system places them into the outer cosmic system. Here we have the
first herald of potential human freedom, in the fact that the human
being engages in something which clearly shows his independence
from the universe. This process retains the sequence of the universe
within it but the human being slows it down within him, giving the
same process a different velocity, seven times as slow, thus taking
seven times as long. Here we have a contrast between what takes
place within us and the outer being of the universe.
Steiner earlier says that the first teething happens in the cycle of a year,
actually generally within the second year of the child’s life, if one counts
the nine months of gestation and the first three months after birth as the
first year. He says this shows that “the universe is obviously working in
the child then.”
On April 20, 1920, in a lecture delivered in Basel, Switzerland, Steiner
expresses this again in a different light:
4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 25.
A year or so after birth, the human organism forms the first teeth,
not out of just the upper or lower jaw, but out of the entire organism.
This is also repeated around the age of seven. Here we can see that

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 33


the human organism needs a much longer time to express its hardest
structure, the teeth, than it needed to produce the baby teeth in
early childhood.
. . . At the same time, you need to see how the entire nature of the
human being, including its soul aspects, changes with every week
from the eruption of the baby teeth to that of the permanent teeth.
. . . [T]he life of the soul exists in an entirely different way before the
change of teeth than it does afterward.
4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 28.
. . . [T]he permanent teeth have a much closer connection with the
individual than the baby teeth, which are based more upon heredity.
5/1/1920, in Mystery of the Universe [11], pp. 96-7.
If you consider the first and second dentition you will see that the
second takes place after a cycle that is seven times as long as the
cycle of the first dentition. We may say that the one-year cycle in
respect to the first dentition relates to the developmental cycle
active until the second dentition in the same way as the day relates
to the week. The ancients felt this to be true, because they rightly
understood another thing. They understood that the first dentition
was primarily the result of heredity. You only need to look at the
embryo to realize that its development proceeds out of the head-
organization, and the remainder of the organization is added later.
. . . [T]hey saw a connection of the formation of the first teeth with
the head and of the second teeth with the whole human organism.
And today we must arrive at the same result if we consider these
phenomena objectively. The first teeth are connected with the forces
of the human head, the second with the forces that work from the
rest of the organism and penetrate into the head.
5/11/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 235-36.
The change of teeth indicates that certain forces, which previously
permeated the entire organism and gave it strength, have now
become free and have become . . . the forces of independent
thinking. We certainly cannot strictly encapsulate everything that
occurs in the organism, as that would certainly be contrary to the
way things develop. The things that are primary during one period
of human development continue to exist, but to a much lesser
extent. We grow wisdom teeth much later because at a later time

34 • The Nature of the Change of Teeth


in the life of our organism there is something that continues to
work that was particularly active up to the age of seven. Some small
amount must still remain. If everything were suddenly completed,
then people would experience a very strong jolt every time they
would want to begin thinking of something. When we begin to think
about something, we voluntarily activate those forces that were
involuntarily active in the organism before the age of seven. Those
things must exist as a bridge between the separated realms of the
spirit soul. What was organic at that time must continue to exist. . . .
For imaginative thinking we need to become independent, but at the
same time we still need to be connected to our organism.
In many places Rudolf Steiner speaks about growth spurts. The natural
scientific opinion of his time, he said, did not believe that human growth
took leaps. He spoke of the time of the change of teeth as a time when the
human condition does take such a leap. Here is one such statement:
2/24/1921, in Education, Teaching, and Practical Life [19], pp. 18-19.
After all, does not nature take a leap when it develops the green leaf?
And later, is there not something leap-like in the development of the
sepals and the colorful flower petals and then again of the stamina?
And it is the same with human life: anyone objectively observing
this evolving human life in the child, out of the suggestions and
impulses provided by anthroposophically-oriented spiritual science,
will find first of all—not on some mystical basis, but based on faithful
observation—a leap in the child’s development around the seventh
year, when the child’s second teeth start developing. . . .
Now, if we really apply the necessary objectivity to our observation,
we can see that the child only really begins to form distinctly
contoured features when he comes to the seventh year, whereas
before that, he did not have such features. We can see for the
first time the possibility for him to think true thoughts—no matter
how childish they may be. We can see that something emerges
from the child’s soul that was previously concealed in the human
organism. If we have a trained spiritual eye for these things, we can
see that the child’s soul life completely changes with the change
of teeth; something is rising to the surface of the soul from the
deepest recesses. Before that, where was this thing, which now
emerges in the form of sharply delineated thinking, a clear life of
representations? It was there all along, as a force of growth in the
human being, permeating the entire organism. It was alive as the

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 35


soul-spirit in growth, and it reached its conclusion when, from the
inside, new teeth were pushed out and displaced the earlier teeth.
When this growth spurt ends, what remains in place is the result of a
process for which such intensive forces are no longer needed. We can
see that what is present later in the child as (true) thinking was once
an inner organic force of growth and that this organic force of growth
has metamorphosed into a soul force.
4/15/1923, in The Child’s Changing Consciousness [25], p. 18.
With the change of teeth, the forces that cause an inner firmness,
an inner consolidation and support, have reached a certain climax.
From the moment when the child can stand upright until the inner
hardening processes manifest in the change of teeth, the child
inwardly tries, although unconsciously, “body geometry” as an
activity akin to drawing. When the teeth change, this becomes a
soul activity—that is, it enters the realm of the child’s soul. We might
understand this transformation better through an analogy; just as
a sediment falls to the bottom when a chemical solution cools, and
leaves the upper part clearer, so there is also a physiological aspect
to the hardening process—the sediment, as well as its counterpart:
the clear solution within the child’s soul realm, which manifests as a
faculty for geometrizing, for drawing, and so on.
8/8/1923, in A Modern Art of Education [26], pp. 58-59.
[A] child develops teeth not only for eating and speaking, but also for
another purpose. As strange as it sounds, a child develops teeth for
the purpose of thinking. Modern science is unaware that our teeth
are the most important of all our organs of thought. . . Children,
through their interaction with the environment, spontaneously find
their way into thinking. As thinking rises from the dim life of sleep
and dreams of infancy, the whole process is related to the teeth
pressing through in the head. The forces that press the teeth out of
the jaw are also the inner soul forces that now bring thinking to the
surface from the unformed sleep and dreams of childhood. A child
learns to think with the same intensity as that used to teethe.
So how do children learn to think? They learn to think because they
are imitative beings and, as such, are completely surrendered to the
world around them. At the very core of their being, they imitate
events in their surroundings, including what happens because of the
impulses of thinking. And then, to the same degree that thought

36 • The Nature of the Change of Teeth


arises in a child, the teeth emerge. In effect, the force that appears in
the soul as thinking is also within these teeth.
Let us now follow childhood development further. Around the
seventh year, children go through the change of teeth and the
second teeth emerge. I said that this force that produces the first
and second teeth was present in the child’s whole organism, but
manifests strongest in the head. The second teeth come only once.
The forces that drive those teeth out of the child’s organism do
not work again as physical forces during earthly life. They become
soul and spirit powers; they enliven the soul’s inner being. When
we observe children around the seventh to fourteenth years—with
particular attention to soul qualities—we find that those soul qualities
between the seventh and fourteenth years, especially thinking, were
organic forces until the seventh year. They were active in the physical
organism, culminating as a physical force that pushed out the teeth,
and finally becoming soul activity.
8/8/1923, in A Modern Art of Education [26], pp. 62-63.
Thus our knowledge brings us close to the unity of the human being.
We . . . learn how the physical connects with the soul. We know
that children first think with the forces of the teeth, and this is why
teething troubles are so connected inwardly with the whole life of a
child. Consider all that occurs as a child is teething. All those troubles
arise from the process of teething because of its connection to
thinking; it is intimately connected with the innermost spirituality of
a child. The formative forces of the teeth are liberated and become
the independent forces of human thinking. If we have the necessary
gift of observation, we can see that process of gaining independence;
we can see how, along with the change of teeth, thinking frees
itself from the body. And then what happens? To begin with, the
teeth come to the aid of speech. The teeth, which initially had the
independent task of growth according to the forces of thought, are
now forced down a stage, so to speak. Thinking no longer takes
place in the physical body but in the ether body, so it descends one
stage. This was happening during the first seven years as well, since
the whole process is sequential, merely culminating with the second
teeth. Then, when thinking seeks expression in speech, the teeth
become helpers of thought.
So, we look at a human being and we see the head. In the head the
formative forces of the teeth free themselves and become the force

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 37


of thinking. Then, pressed down, as it were, into speech, we have all
the processes for which the teeth are no longer directly responsible,
because the ether body now assumes the responsibility, and the
teeth come to the aid of speech. Here, their relationship to thinking
is still obvious. Once we understand how dental sounds find their
way into the process of thinking, we see the task performed by
the teeth—how we use the teeth to make the sounds of “d” or “t”
and bring the specific thought element into speech. . . We see how
thought works in the head where the teeth lie, and how thought
develops from the first to the second teeth.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], pp. 21-22.
We only need to perceive. . . the difference in the ways the second
teeth and the first are formed. In this way, we have a tangible
expression of the processes occurring in the human being between
birth and the change of teeth.
During this stage the forces of heredity hold sway in the physical
body, and the whole human being becomes a kind of model with
which the spirit and soul element work, imitating the surrounding
impressions. If we place ourselves in the soul of a child relative to
the environment and realize how every spiritual impulse is absorbed
into the whole being—how with every movement of the hand, every
expression, every look in the eyes of another the child senses the
spirit inherent in the adult and allows it to flow in—then we will also
perceive how, during the first seven years, another being is building
itself on the foundation of the model provided by heredity. As
human beings, the earthly world actually gives us, through hereditary
forces, a model on which to build the second human being, who is
really born with the change of teeth. The first teeth in the body are
eliminated by what wants to replace them; this new element, which
belongs to the human being’s individuality, advances and casts off
heredity. This is true of the whole human organism. During the first
seven years of life, the organism was a product of earthly forces
and a kind of model. As such it is cast off, just as we get rid of the
body’s outgrowths by cutting our nails, hair, and so on. The human
being is molded anew with the change of teeth just as our outer
form is perpetually eliminated. In this case, however, the first being,
or product of physical heredity, is completely replaced by a second,
who develops under the influence of the forces that the human being
brings from pre-earthly life.

38 • The Nature of the Change of Teeth


4/21/1924, in Course for Young Doctors [31], pp. 127-29.
. . . With the change of teeth the human being really renews his
whole physical body. This must be taken as a fundamental fact. That
the human being gets second teeth is really only the most external
symptom of all, merely, a fragment of what is going on. Just as the
so-called milk teeth are replaced, so is the whole human organism
replaced. After the change of teeth, so far as his physical substance
is concerned, the human being is entirely new in comparison to
what he was when he was born. The modern view which jumbles
everything together is that the human being is born, passes through
a metamorphosis with the change of teeth and then goes on
developing. It is not like this. The truth is that when the human being
comes physically into the world he has, as well as the so-called milk
teeth, a body that is the product of hereditary development. He has
received a body that is the product of what is contained in the whole
line of ancestry. The physical body of the first seven years comes
from here. From the seventh to the fourteenth year the human being
has a physical body too, but this body has not been produced from
the first by transformation. What the human being has brought with
him to the earth has intervened here.
Picture it as follows: the human being has had his body. This body
which has come to him from the line of heredity is a model; he has
it as a model. Into this body he takes earthly substance. If he were
to work only with the forces he brings with him from pre-earthly
existence he would elaborate this earthly substance which he takes
into his body in the first seven years into quite a different form. He
does not come at birth with the tendency to give form to a being
with eyes, ears, nose, like the being who stands on the earth. He
enters with the tendency to structure the human being in such a
way that very little is structured by way of the head through his pre-
earthly being; it is especially upon everything else that the greatest
care is expended. What is stunted in the embryonic life is developed
in the astral, in the ego organization. Of the physical embryo,
therefore, we must say: Physical nature in the embryo is developed in
a wonderful way but the pre-earthly human has very little indeed to
do with it. On the other hand the pre-earthly human being plays the
very greatest part in all that lies around the embryo. It lives in what is
demolished in the physical world, amnion, chorion, and so on. Within
this lives the pre-earthly human.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 39


You can picture it rather like this. To begin with, the cosmos is copied.
This is what the human being wants, in reality, to do when he has
come down from the pre-earthly into earthly existence. Why does
he not do it? Because a model is already provided. And in accordance
with this model, with the substances received, he transforms the
pre-earthly during the first seven years of life. His inherent tendency
would be to form a more spherical being, a being organized into a
sphere. This is transformed in accordance with the model and so the
pre-earthly forces work out this second physical human being who is
there from the seventh to the fourteenth years, but to begin with, by
adhering to the model which comes from the forces of heredity.
See also:
12/13/1906, in Supersensible Knowledge [2], pp. 81-82.
4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 30.
9/16/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 15-16.
4/4/1924, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life: Education
and Teaching as the Basis of a True Knowledge of the Human
Being [19], p. 137.
On the implications of the change of teeth:
4/10/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], pp. 40-41.
7/18/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], pp. 35-36.

40 • The Nature of the Change of Teeth


The Protection of the
Etheric Body
In Steiner’s lectures, he continually speaks about the interrelationships of
the physical, etheric and astral births. He refers to the need of nurturing
each one in a timely way and says that the human being’s destiny is
dependent upon fostering the healthy unfolding of each body, giving the
requisite time for consolidation.
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight,” in
The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, [4],
p. 43.
You need to be aware that we may not place any particular demands
on the etheric body until the age of seven, nor on the astral body
until the age of fourteen. Exposing the baby’s etheric body to the
brutal demands of the world would be the same as exposing the
fetus to the physical world in the fifth month of pregnancy, although
we could not see it so readily. The same is true of exposing the astral
body before the age of fourteen. Allow me to restate what I have just
said. Until the age of seven, only the physical body is developed well
enough to withstand the full effects of the world. Until that time, the
etheric body is so occupied with its own development that it would
be detrimental to try to affect it. Until then, we may, therefore, work
only with the physical body. From the age of seven until fourteen, we
may take up the development of the etheric body, and only beginning
with the age of fifteen can we work upon the astral body.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 41


1/12/1907, in The Christian Mystery (Completion edition) [5], pp.
211-12.
In the seventh year of life, at about the time when the second teeth
emerge, an enveloping ether form separates from the ether body, just
as at physical birth the maternal organism separates from the child’s
physical body. The child is thus gradually born a second time, this
time etherically. . . .
And just as it is impossible to bring external light to the child in the
womb, so we should avoid letting external influences reach the ether
body from outside before it has come free of its protective envelope.
Influences should not reach the ether body before the changing of
the teeth. . . . Up to the seventh year of life we can only educate
the human being in the right way by influencing him in his physical
aspect. Just as the care given to the mother is intimately bound
up with the well-being of the embryo, so we have to respect the
inviolability and sacredness of the child’s protective ether envelope
if the child is to develop and thrive. Up to the changing of the
teeth, only the physical body is open to external influences and only
the physical body can therefore be educated. If we bring anything
external to the child’s ether body, we commit a sin against it.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 17-18.
With the physical birth the physical human body is exposed to
the physical environment of the external world. Before birth it
was surrounded by the protecting envelope of the mother’s body.
What the forces and fluids of the enveloping mother-body have
done for it thus far, must from now on be done by the forces and
benevolence of the external physical world. Before the change of
teeth in the seventh year the human body has to accomplish a task
on itself that is essentially different from the tasks of any other
period of life. In this period the physical organs must form themselves
into definite shapes; their whole structural nature must receive
particular tendencies and directions. Growth takes place in later
periods as well; but throughout the whole succeeding life growth is
based on the forces developed in this first life-period. If true forms
were developed, true forces would grow; if misshapen forms were
developed, misshapen forms would grow. We can never repair what
we have neglected as educators in the first seven years; just as

42 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


nature causes the proper environment for the physical human body
before birth, so after birth the educator must provide for the proper
physical environment. The right physical environment alone works
on the child in such a way that the physical organs correctly shape
themselves.
Two “magic” words indicate how children enter into relationship
with their environment. These words are imitation and example. . . .
Children imitate what happens in their physical environment, and in
this process of imitation their physical organs are cast in the forms
that thus become permanent. “Physical environment” must, however,
be understood in the widest sense imaginable. It includes not just
what happens around children in the material sense, but everything
that occurs in their environment—everything that can be perceived
by their senses, that can work on the inner powers of children from
the surrounding physical space. This includes all moral or immoral
actions, all wise or foolish actions that children see.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 21-22.
One thing must be thoroughly and fully recognized for this age in a
child’s life: the physical body creates its own scale of measurement
for what is beneficial to it. It does this by properly developing craving
and desire. Generally speaking, we may say that the healthy physical
body desires what is good for it. In the growing human being, so long
as it is the physical body that is important, we should pay the closest
attention to what healthy, craving desire and delight require. Pleasure
and delight are the forces that most properly enliven and call forth
the organs’ physical forms.
In this matter it is all too easy to do harm by failing to bring children
into the proper physical relationship with their environment. This
may happen especially in regard to their instincts for food. Children
may be overfed with things that make them lose completely their
healthy instinct for food, whereas by giving them the proper
nourishment, the instinct can be preserved so that they always want
what is wholesome for them under the circumstances, even a glass of
water, and this works just as surely with what would do harm. . . .
The children who live in such an atmosphere of love and warmth, and
who have around them truly good examples to imitate, are living in

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 43


their proper element. One should thus strictly guard against anything
being done in the children’s presence that they should not imitate.
One should not do anything that one would then have to say to a
child, “You should not do that.” The strength of children’s tendency to
imitate can be recognized by observing how they paint and scribble
written signs and letters long before they understand them. Indeed,
it is good that they paint the letters first by imitation and only later
learn to understand their meaning. For imitation belongs to the time
when the physical body is developing, while meaning speaks to the
etheric, and the etheric body should not be worked on until after the
change of teeth, after the outer etheric envelope has fallen away.
12/29/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 103-105.
If you come to understand what happens in a child between birth and
the change of teeth—during the first seven years—you will realize
how vulnerable young children are and how deeply we can affect
their being. . .
The change of teeth represents a decisive turning point in the life of
children. Close observation reveals that, after the seventh year, an
entirely new interrelationship emerges between the child’s thinking,
feeling, and willing.
. . .Just as latent heat can be set free by material processes, similarly,
soul and spirit forces are set free after the change of teeth, forces
that have thus far been bound up with the organism and instrumental
for its growth. Freed from processes of growth and nourishment,
however, these forces go to work in the child’s soul; they are
transformed into soul forces.
. . . [A]fter approximately the seventh year, forces that were engaged
in building the physical organism of the child are now transformed
into soul forces that will determine a child’s relationship to the outer
world.
If we wish to find out what the soul of a child is like between birth
and the seventh year, we have to observe the child’s development
from the seventh year onward. For then, in the child’s soul, we are
able to observe the very same forces which previously were active
in its physical organization. And we shall find that their hidden
organic activity of molding and shaping the child’s brain as well
as its remaining organization is of a very special significance. For,
through birth or conception, the child carries down into its physical

44 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


organization what it has brought with it from the worlds of soul and
spirit.
When children are fully engaged in building up the physical organs
in this way, they must be left free to do so, and consequently the
doors leading to the outer world remain closed. It is essential that we
refrain from interfering in our clumsy ways with these inner activities
in children, because they are doing what they have to do and are thus
inaccessible to outer will forces.
We must also realize, however, that despite the preoccupation of
children with their processes of growth, everything we do around
them nevertheless makes deep and distinct impressions on them
. . . we must not forget that everything at work within the child’s
soul after the seventh year was directly involved in the process of
building organs up to that age. This means that until the seventh
year, the impressions coming from the outer world directly affect
their physical constitution—the lungs, stomach, liver, and other
organs. In children at this age, the soul has not yet become free of
the physical organization, where it is still actively engaged. Because
of this, all of the impressions they receive from us through our
general conduct have a decisive effect on their future constitution
of health or illness.
See also:
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight”
[4], in Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education,
pp. 42-43.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 45


The effect of the caregiver’s temperament
4/8/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], pp. 13-14.
When we understand the interrelationship between teacher and child
in terms of the temperaments, we see that, during this first stage of
life, what we [as individuals] have learned is relatively unimportant to
teaching and educating a child. The most important considerations
have to do with the kind of person one is, what impressions the child
receives, and whether or not one is worthy of imitation.
. . . [I]t is obvious that what I have learned is totally irrelevant in terms
of my ability to effectively teach a child before the change of teeth. .
. . For the small child before the change of teeth, the most important
thing in education is the teacher’s own being.
4/4/1924, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life [19], pp. 137-38.
. . . The appearance of the second teeth is not simply a localized
process in the human organism. When the first teeth fall out and
the second teeth appear, something is taking place in the entire
organism. Until that point, the soul and spirit are still very much a
unity, actively involved in the formation of the body.
As a result, the entire human being is like a comprehending sense
organ. What later becomes concentrated in the particular senses is
still, at this point, active in the entire human being. . . . The will works
like a reflection of all happenings in the environment.
Thus, it is only possible to educate children at that age if the
educator behaves in such a way that the child can copy everything
that one does. This must be understood in the widest possible sense.
Imponderable factors are at work between the educator and the
child. The child gets impressions, not just of what it perceives with
his outer senses, but also what he senses in people’s behavior: their
disposition, their character, their good or bad will. Therefore, the
educator active near the child must focus on purity of life, down
to his very thoughts and feelings, so that the child can legitimately
become like the educator.
But one should also be conscious that one’s conduct affects the
body, not just the soul. Whatever the child takes in and reflexively
allows to stream into his willing goes on reverberating in his bodily

46 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


organization. For example, an irascible educator’s effect on the child
will be to make the child’s bodily organization brittle, more sensitive
to morbid influences later in life. How one educates in this direction
will appear later in the health of the grown man. . . .
[T]he physical body can only develop rightly if the spiritual element in
the body is developing in the right way.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 28.
Children are aware, whenever we do something in their environment,
of the thoughts behind a hand-gesture or facial expression. Children
intuit them: they do not, obviously, interpret facial features, since
what operates instead is a much more powerful inner connection
between the child and adult than will exist later between adults.
Consequently, we must never allow ourselves to feel or think
anything around children that should not be allowed to ripple on
within the child. The rule of thumb for all relationships in early
education must be this: Whether in perception, feeling, or thought,
whatever we do around children must be done in such a way that it
may be allowed to continue vibrating [in] their souls.
. . . [A]nything that makes an impression on the child, anything that
causes the soul’s response, continues in the blood circulation and
digestion, becoming a part of the foundation of health in later years.
Due to the imitative nature of the child, whenever we educate the
spirit and soul of the child, we also educate the body and physical
nature of the child. This is the wonderful metamorphosis—that
whatever approaches children, touching their spirit and soul,
becomes their physical, organic organization, and their predisposition
to health or illness in later life.
4/13/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 8-10.
Subconsciously—even unconsciously—children have a delicate and
intimate capacity for perceiving what is expressed in every movement
and act of those around them. If a choleric person expresses fury
in the presence of a child and allows the child to see this in the
unconscious way I described, then, believe me, we are very mistaken
to believe that the child sees only the outer activity. Children have a
clear impression of what is contained within these moral acts, even
when it is an unconscious impression. Sense impressions of the eye
are also unconscious. Sense impressions that are not strictly sensory
impressions, but expressions of the moral and soul life, flow into a

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 47


child exactly the way colours flow into the eye, because the child’s
organism is a sense organ.
This organism, however, has such a delicate structure that every
impression permeates all of it. The first impression a child receives
from any moral manifestation is a soul impression. For a child,
however, the soul always works down into the bodily nature.
Whether it be fear or joy or delight that a child experiences in the
environment, all this passes—not crudely but in a subtle and delicate
way—into the processes of growth, circulation and digestion.
Children who live in constant terror of what may come their way
as expressions of fury and anger from a choleric person, experience
something in the soul that immediately penetrates the breathing,
the circulation of the blood, and even the digestive activities. This
is tremendously significant. In childhood we cannot speak only of
physical education, because soul education also means educating
the body; everything in the soul element is metamorphosed into the
body—it becomes body. . .
As educators, whatever we allow to flow into children during their
first phase of life will work down into the blood, breathing and
digestion; it is like a seed that may come to fruition only in the form
of health or sickness when they are forty or fifty years old. It is in fact
true that the way that educators act toward the little child creates
the predispositions for happiness or unhappiness, sickness or health.
In this lecture, Steiner goes on to speak of the “lasting effects of the teach-
er’s actions” and the impact of individual temperaments on the growing
child (see pages 11-12).
8/13/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 17-18.
. . . [T]he child during the first seven years is really an eye. If
something takes place in the child’s environment, let us say, to take
an example, a fit of temper when someone becomes furiously angry,
then the whole child will have an internalized picture of this outburst
of rage. The etheric body makes a picture of it. From it something
passes over into the entire circulation of the blood and the metabolic
system, something that is related to this outburst of anger.
This is so in the first seven years, and the organism adjusts itself
accordingly. Naturally these are not crude happenings, they are
delicate processes. But if a child grows up with an angry father or a
hot-tempered teacher, then the vascular system, the blood vessels, will

48 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


follow the line of the anger. The results of this implanted tendency in
the early years will then remain through the whole rest of life.
These are the things that matter most for young children. What
you say, what you teach, does not yet make an impression, except
insofar as children imitate what you say in their own speech. But it is
what you are that matters; if you are good this goodness will appear
in your gestures; and if you are bad-tempered this also will appear
in your gestures—in short, everything that you do yourself passes
over into the children and makes its way within them. This is the
essential point. Children are wholly sense-organ, and react to all the
impressions of the people around them. Therefore the essential thing
is not to imagine that children can learn what is good or bad, that
they can learn this or that, but to know that everything that is done
in their presence is transformed in their childish organisms into spirit,
soul and body. The health of children for their whole life depends
on how you conduct yourself in their presence. The inclinations that
children develop depend on how you behave in their presence.
8/19/1922, in The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], pp. 47-50.
[W]e must closely observe the inner struggle that takes place during
children’s early years, between heredity and adaptation to the
environment. Try to study with the greatest human devotion the
wonderful process in which the first teeth are replaced by the second.
The first teeth are inherited; they seem almost unsuitable for the
outer world. Gradually, above each inherited tooth, another tooth
forms. In shaping each tooth, the form of the first is used, but the
form of the second, permanent tooth is adapted to the world.
I always refer to this process of changing teeth as characteristic of
this particular period of life, up to the seventh year. But it is only
one indication; what happens to the teeth is conspicuous, because
teeth are hard organs, but the process takes place throughout the
organism. When we are born into this world, we carry within us an
inherited organism. During the first seven years of life, we form a
new organism over it. The whole process is physical. But although it
is physical, it is the work of spirit and soul within a child. And those
of us who are close to children must try to guide them in soul and
spirit, so that their inner being goes with, rather than against, the
health of the organism. We must therefore know what spirit and
soul processes are needed for a child to form a healthy organism to
replace the inherited organism. We must be able to understand and

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 49


work spiritually to promote the physical.
In this lecture and in some others, Steiner speaks of the deep imitation
of the adult’s soul condition that the child recapitulates. So much so, that
a child can deeply take into his being the bitter taste, parched tongue,
and sour attitudes of the melancholic adult, for instance. This, then, can
become a part of the child’s demeanor because his organism has incor-
porated these habitual characteristics, even though it is not a part of his
real temperament or disposition. These can then become developmental
obstacles for the child, obstacles that could stand in the way of achieving
prebirth intentions.
If we realize the full significance of this, we might tell ourselves that
a teacher’s primary task is to nurture the body to be as healthy as
possible. This means that we use every spiritual measure to ensure
that in later life a person’s body will be the least possible hindrance to
the will of one’s spirit. If we make this our purpose in school, we can
develop the forces that lead to an education for freedom.
. . . As teachers, we must recognize that, to the degree that we
allow children to imitate our own sorrow and grief, our bearing
greatly damages their digestive system. . . Hence, in young children,
until the seventh year, we are concerned with recognizing the
pervasive interplay of sensory and nerve activity, the rhythmic
activity of breathing and circulation, and the activity of movement
and metabolism. And it is the nerve and sensory activity that
predominates and has the upper hand; thus sensory activity in
children always affects their breathing. If they have to look at a face
furrowed by grief, it affects their senses first, then their breathing
and, in turn, their whole movement and metabolic system.
In children after the change of teeth around the seventh year, we
find that the nervous system no longer dominates; it has become
more separate and is turned more toward the outer world. In these
children, until puberty, it is the rhythmic system that dominates and
takes the upper hand.
See also:
12/29/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 103-4.
8/9/1919, in Education as a Force for Social Change [17], pp. 10-12.

50 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


Memory
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 15.
. . . Even as human beings are surrounded by the physical envelope
of the mother-body until the moment of birth, so until the time of
the change of teeth—until approximately the seventh year—they
are surrounded by etheric and astral envelopes. It is only during
the change of teeth that the etheric envelope liberates the etheric
body. And an astral envelope remains until puberty when the astral
or sentient body also becomes free on all sides, even as the physical
body becomes free at physical birth adn the etheric body at the
change of teeth.
The following is a footnote to the above statement:
To object that the child has memory and so on before the change of
teeth, or that a child has the faculties connected with the astral body
before puberty would indicate a misunderstanding of what is being
said here. We must clearly understand that the etheric and astral
bodies are present from the beginning, but that they are within their
protecting envelopes. It is indeed the protecting envelope that allows
the etheric body, for example, to evolve and manifest the qualities of
memory very obviously before the change of teeth. But the physical
eyes are also present before birth within the protecting envelope
of the mother’s womb. The eyes are protected in the embryo,
and external physical sunlight must not be allowed to affect their
development. In exactly the same sense external education must
not endeavor to train or influence the shaping of memory before the
change of teeth. If, however, we simply nourish it and do not try as
yet to develop it externally, we will come to see how memory unfolds
during this period, freely and on its own.
11/19/1923, in Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy Volume 2
[23], p. 166.
. . . [I]f one has an eye for what is happening during the change of
teeth, when the child undergoes its first important metamorphosis in
life, one cannot help realizing that at this point the child’s entire soul
life goes through a great change. Previously, the child’s representations

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 51


emerged in an elemental, dreamy way. During this stage of life, we
witness the development of memory; good observers will notice a
transformation of the memory during, or because of, the change of
teeth. Observation shows that until the change of teeth, the inner
activity involved in remembering—that is, the inner activity that lives
in memory—is really in the nature of a habit developed through the
physical body. The child remembers—indeed, remembers remarkably
well. This remembering, however, feels more like practiced repetition
of an activity that has become an acquired skill. Indeed, memory
as a whole during the first period of life really is an inner skill, the
development of an inner habit. Only from the change of teeth onward,
does a child start looking back on past experiences—that is, surveying
past experiences in its mind—in a kind of review. In the evolving of
memory, the soul life of the child undergoes a radical change.
4/15/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 48-49.
. . . [W]e see, for example, the radical and far-reaching changes
that occur with the coming of the second teeth, when the memory
becomes a pictorial memory, no longer related to the physical body
but to the etheric body. In actuality, what is it that causes the second
teeth? It is the fact that, until this time, the etheric is almost completely
connected with the physical body; and when the first teeth are forced
out, something separates from the physical body. If this were not the
case, we would get new teeth every seven years. . . When the etheric
body is separated, what formerly worked in the physical body now
works in the soul realm. . . .
You can examine a child’s second teeth and find that they have been
formed by the etheric body into a modeled image of the memory;
and the shape of the teeth created by the etheric will indicate how
the memory of the child will develop. Except for slight alterations in
position here or there, you cannot physically change the second teeth
once they are through . . . .
When the etheric body is loosened and exists on its own after the
change of teeth, the building of memory leaves the physical realm
and remains almost entirely in the element of soul; indeed, this fact
can put teachers on the right track. Before this change, the soul and
spirit formed a unity with the physical and etheric. After this, the
physical—previously acting in conjunction with the soul—is expressed
as the second teeth, and what collaborated with the physical in this
process separates and manifests as an increased power to form ideas

52 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


and as formation and reliability of memory.

Experiencing nature
11/25/1923, in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centers [14], pp.
42-43.
. . . Through our own core of being we are connected by intimate ties
with the inmost essence of Nature. But because the child until his
seventh year has a body that is wholly inherited, nothing of his Ego,
nothing of his physiognomy and gestures, pass over into Nature. It
is only at the time of the change of teeth that we begin to approach
these realities. Hence it is only then—after the change of teeth—
that we are mature enough gradually to begin to reflect about any
phenomenon of Nature. Until that time it is only arbitrary thoughts
that arise in a child, thoughts which really have not very much to
do with Nature, and for that very reason are so full of charm. The
best way to make contact with a child is to be poetical when we are
talking to him, calling the stars the eyes of heaven and so on, when
the things of which we speak are as remote as possible from the
outer physical reality.
It is only after the change of teeth that the child gradually “grows
into” Nature in such a way that his thoughts can gradually
comprehend thoughts of Nature. Fundamentally speaking, the
child’s life from the seventh to the fourteenth year is a period during
which he “grows into Nature.” During this period, in addition to his
memories he also carries into the realm of Nature his gestures and
physiognomy. And this then continues through the whole of life. It is
not until the change of teeth that we have any relationship with the
inner core of Nature as single human individuals.
For this reason the beings I have called Elementals—Gnomes and
Undines—listen so eagerly when a human being narrates something
about childhood as it was before the age of seven. It is only at the
time of the change of teeth that a human being is really born as far as
these elemental beings are concerned. . . . Before that time a human
being is to the Gnomes and Undines a being “on the other side”; it is
for them something of an enigma that humans should appear at this
age almost as a completed being.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 29.
Our initial approach to life had a religious quality in that we related to

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 53


nature as naturally religious beings, surrendered to the world.
4/16/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], p. 62.
With regard to religion, we must be clear that young children are
naturally religious. At the change of teeth, when the soul and spirit
become more free of the body, this close relationship with nature
falls away, and thus what was formerly natural religion must be
lifted to a religion of the soul. Only after puberty does religious
understanding arise, and then, once the spirit has become free, what
was formerly expressed in imitation of the father or mother must
be surrendered to the invisible, supersensible forces. Thus, what has
always been present in the child as a seed gradually develops in a
concrete way. Nothing is grafted onto the child; it arises from the
child’s own being.

Overcoming heredity
11/25/1923, in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centers [14],
p. 40.
In the first seven years of life the child’s whole bodily make-up
is inherited, including, therefore, the first teeth; all the material
substance we have within us during this period is, in essence,
inherited. But after approximately seven years all the material
substance has been thrust out, has fallen away and is renewed.
The human being himself remains as a spirit-form. His material
components are thrown out and after seven or eight years everything
that was previously there, has gone. And so when we have reached
the age of nine our whole bodily make-up has been renewed. We
then shape it in accordance with external impressions.
It is very important indeed that in the early epochs of life the child
should be in a position to build his new body—not the inherited body,
but the one developed from within himself—in accordance with
good impressions from the environment and by a healthy process of
adaptation. Whereas the body the child has when he comes into the
world depends upon whether the forces of heredity are good or not
so good, the later body he bears is very dependent indeed upon the
impressions he receives from his environment. Invariably, however,
after seven years the body is renewed.
Now it is the “I,” the Ego, that is responsible for this. Although
it is true the Ego is not yet born in the seven-year-old child as

54 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


far as the external world is concerned—for it is born at a later
age—nevertheless it is at work, since it is naturally connected
with the body and is responsible for its formation. It is the Ego
that is responsible for the development of what then appears as
physiognomy and gesture, as the outer, material manifestation of
man’s soul-and-spirit.
4/13/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 6-7.
[W]hen we consider the child between birth and the change of
teeth we can say that the physical body’s existence is due to physical
inheritance alone. But, two other forces then combine to work on
this physical body. First is the force of those elements the human
being brought with it to Earth; the second is assimilated from the
matter and substance of the Earth itself. By the time the teeth
change, the human being has fashioned a second body modelled
after the inherited body, and that second body is the product of the
human soul and spirit. . . One is bound to ask: Can’t you see that a
likeness to the parents often appears after the change of teeth—that,
therefore, a person is still subject to the laws of inheritance, even
after the change of teeth? . . .
. . . We have a model that comes from the stream of inheritance.
On this model the spirit and soul develop the second human being.
But when something is built from a model we don’t expect to find
a complete dissimilarity to the model; thus, it should be clear that
the human spirit and soul use the model’s existence to build up the
second human organism in its likeness.
Nevertheless, when you can perceive and recognize what really
occurs, you discover something. Certain children come into their
second organism between nine and eleven, and this second body
is almost identical to the initial, inherited organism. With other
children, one may notice a dissimilarity between the second organism
and the first, and it is clear that something very different is working
its way from the center of their being. In truth, we see every variation
between these two extremes. While the human spirit and soul aspect
is developing the second organism, it tries most of all to conform to
the being it brings with it from the realm of spirit and soul.
A conflict thus arises between what is intended to built as the second
organism and what the first organism received through inheritance.
Depending on whether they have had a stronger or weaker spiritual

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 55


and soul existence . . . human beings can either give their second
organism an individual form that is strongly impregnated with soul
forces, or, if they descend from the spiritual world with weaker forces,
stay as closely as possible to the model.
8/12/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 9-11.
. . . Now when a human being is to descend, a body must be chosen
on the earth. And indeed this body has been prepared throughout
generations. Some father and mother had a son or a daughter, and
there again a son or a daughter, and so on. Thus through heredity a
body is produced that must now be occupied. The spirit must draw
into it and dwell in it; but in so doing it is suddenly faced with quite
different conditions. It clothes itself in a body that has been prepared
by a number of generations.
Of course, even from the spiritual world the human being can work
on the body so that it may not be altogether unsuitable, yet as a rule
the body received is not so very suitable after all. For the most part
a soul does not fit at all easily into such a body. If a glove were to
fit your hand as badly as the body generally fits the soul, you would
discard it at once. You would never think of putting it on. But when
you come down from the spiritual world needing a body, you just
have to take one; and you keep this body until the change of teeth.
For it is a fact that every seven or eight years our external physical
substance is completely changed, at least in the essentials, though not
in all respects. Our first teeth for instance are changed, the second
set remain. This is not the case with all the members of the human
organism; some parts, even more important than the teeth, undergo
change every seven years as long as a person is on the earth. . . .
Thus certain hard organs remain, but the softer ones are constantly
being renewed. In the first seven years of our life we have a body
that is given to us by outer nature, by our parents, and so on; it is a
model. The soul occupies the same relation to this body as an artist
to a model that he has to copy. We gradually shape the second body
out of the first body up to the change of teeth. It takes seven years
to complete the process. This second body that we ourselves have
fashioned on the model given us by our parents only appears at the
end of the first seven years of life. . . . In reality we receive at birth
a model body that is with us for seven years, although during the
very first years of life it begins to die out and fall away. The process
continues, until at the change of teeth we have our second body.

56 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


Now there are weak individualities who are weakly when they
descend to earth; these form their second body, in which they will
live after the change of teeth, as an exact copy of the first one.
People say that they take after their parents by inheritance, but
this is not true. They make their own second body according to the
inherited model. It is only during our first seven years of life that the
body is really inherited, but naturally many are weak individualities
and copy a great deal. There are also strong individualities descending
to earth, and they too inherit a good deal in the first seven years,
which can be observed in their teeth. The first teeth are still soft
and subject to heredity, but when they are strong individualities,
developing in the proper way, these children will have good strong
second teeth. There are children who at ten years of age are just like
children of four—mere imitators. Others are quite different, strong
individuality stirs within them. The model is used, but afterward they
form an individual body for themselves.
Rudolf Steiner speaks more about this later in this same lecture cycle and
then adds the following statement, which is also repeated in a similar way
in Lecture 6 of the same cycle (pp. 91-92):
8/13/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 16.
. . . If the individual is strong, then we see how in the period between
the change of teeth and puberty, from seven years until about
fourteen, a kind of victory is gradually achieved over the inherited
characteristics. Children become quite different, and they change
even in their outward bodily form.

Sleep
8/7/1921, “Man’s Becoming, World Soul and World Spirit” [12],
pp. 1-3.
. . . [W]e come to the view that within these seven years a soul
force works in the human being which, to a certain extent, with
the change of teeth concludes its working in the organism. . . . we
can see how the whole soul constitution of the child is transformed
in this period of life . . . and there appears [around age seven] the
capacity to form up contoured images and other soul capacities also
appear. . .
We come to a real viewing of what works in an important way in
the first seven years of life of the human being. To a certain extent,

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 57


we see what is hidden there up to this time, and then becomes free,
now appearing as forces of the soul. We have only to acquire a gift
in observation for such things, then at this period in human life,
just in the first seven years, we shall see a certain system of forces
working to a certain degree in a bodily way, and after this period of
life, we shall see it coming forth as an element of soul. . .
One can also observe how the child still sleeps in a certain way
differently, than the human being who then grows out of the
child after the change of teeth. To be sure, the difference is not
so obvious but it is there. In its sleep condition, up to its seventh
year, the child—in the condition which is inherent in the soul in its
sleep condition—cannot yet send into it with the same strength,
what it sends into it at the later stage in the way of soul forces,
for these forces still have to do with the body element, just with
the bodily organism. Therefore the child does not yet send sharply
contoured concepts into its sleep condition. It still sends into the
sleep condition less sharply outlined concepts, less sharply outlined
representations, but these less sharply outlined representations
have the particular characteristic that they can comprise the real
soul-spiritual element in a better way than the sharply outlined
representations.
That is something important; the more sharply contoured our
concepts are for the waking life of day, the less we send into the
sleep condition so as to take hold of the realities there. For this
reason it occurs in very many cases, in actual facts, the child brings
a certain knowing about spiritual reality out of his sleep condition.
That then ceases to the same degree that the forces described as
coming with the change of teeth are freed, and sharply outlined
concepts appear, and these then influence the life in sleep. These
sharply outlined concepts damp down so to speak, the gaze upon
spiritual realities among which we live between going to sleep and
awaking.
1/4/1922, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 214-15.
When young children sleep, the soul and spiritual members leave the
physical sheaths (just as in any adult) and reenter at the moment of
awaking. In children, however, there is still no significant difference
between conscious experiences while awake and unconscious
experiences during sleep. Normally, if no memories of daytime events
enter the world of sleep (and this rarely happens in childhood), the

58 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


sleeping life of children moves within realms far beyond the earthly
sphere. From these higher worlds, active forces are drawn that then
work during the waking state, from the brain down into a child’s
whole organism.
During the second dentition, certain soul and spiritual forces in
children are released from working entirely in the organic sphere.
They begin to assume an independent, soul-spiritual quality.
Between the change of teeth and puberty, thinking, feeling, and
willing in children begin to work more freely. Children are no longer
imitators but, through a natural feeling for authority, they develop
the consciousness they need to connect with the world. This faith in
adult authority is essential, because outer conditions are not enough
to ensure that children connect sufficiently with the world. The way
adults confront one another, whether verbally or by other means,
is very different from the way children encounter adults. Children
need the additional support that a sense of authority provides.
Consequently, experiences while awake will enter their soul-spiritual
life during sleep. So, teachers have the possibility of reaching children
through education between the change of teeth and puberty to
the same extent that earthly experiences enter children’s sleep and
replace those of the spiritual world.
8/16/1922, in The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], pp. 7-8.
As with a single sense organ (say, the eye), so goes the whole human
being. Children need a great deal of sleep because they are like a
whole sense organ; they would otherwise be unable to endure the
dazzle and noise of the outer world. Just as the eye must close to
the dazzling sunlight, likewise this sense organ— the child—must
shut itself off against the world. Because children are like an entire
sense organ, they must sleep a great deal. Whenever children are
confronted with the world, they have to observe and converse
inwardly. Every sound of speech arises from an inner gesture.
. . . [S]peech is formed out of gesture through imitation of the
environment, using an inner, secret connection between blood,
nerves, and brain convolutions.
. . . Thus children live in their environment in the same way that, in
later years, one’s eye lives in its environment. The eye is formed from
the general organization of the head. It lies in a separate cavity so
that it can participate in the life of the outer world. Likewise, children

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 59


participate in the life of the outer world; they live entirely within the
external world and do not yet sense themselves.

60 • The Protection of the Etheric Body


Educating the Child Prior
to the Birth of the Etheric
4/13/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], p. 7.
Consider what we must deal with to educate children during the
first period of life between birth and the change of teeth. We are
inspired with great reverence when we see how divine spiritual forces
work down from supersensible realms! We witness them working
daily and weekly, from month to month and year to year, during the
first phases of children’s lives, and we see how such work carries
them through to forming a second individual body. In education
we participate in this work of spirit and soul; for human physical
existence, we continue what divine spiritual forces began. We
participate in divine labor.
8/30/1919, in The Foundations of Human Experience [15], p. 156.
Human beings want to bring what they previously lived through in
the spiritual world to the reality of the physical world. Before the
change of teeth, human beings are, in a sense, focused upon the
past. Human beings are still filled with the devotion developed in
the spiritual world. . . . [W]hen people enter the world . . . there is
a tendency to begin with an unconscious belief [that] the world is
moral. Until the change of teeth, and to an extent, beyond, it is good
for education that we take this unconscious belief into account.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 61


In many of his lectures, Rudolf Steiner reiterated that the way to protect
the etheric body during the first seven years of life is to allow for this
period of gestation to be undisturbed. Also, he repeatedly states that help-
ing the physical body mature through imitation, rhythm, repetition, and
right example is the way to foster the proper environment for the young
child, thus enabling the etheric to proceed with its task of working on the
physical.
Steiner called upon the educator to also develop the eyes to see the whole
child and to constantly refine these observations and skills. Repeated
reminders to teachers to strive diligently to take practical, common-sense
steps to develop these organs of perception are prevalent in most of Ru-
dolf Steiner’s educational lectures, so strong was his plea. In this book, I
have included only some of these words of appeal.
4/11/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 69.
Our task therefore is to work around children—to the degree that we
control our very thoughts and feelings—so that children may become
beings who imitate goodness, truth, beauty and wisdom. When
we think in this way, life flows into our interactions with children;
education very obviously becomes a part of that life through our
interactions with them. Education, therefore, is not something we
work at in isolated activities, but something lived. Children develop
in the right way in their growth to adulthood only when education is
lived with children and not forced on them.

Imitation
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight”
[4], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 44.
Who you are in the presence of the child, what the child sees or
hears, is important. The child will become a good person when
surrounded by good people. Children imitate their surroundings.
We must place particular value upon learning by example and the
child’s capacity to imitate. Thus, the correct thing to do is to act so
the child can imitate as much as possible. In that sense, we must
emphasize the child’s physical development between the first and
seventh year. During that period we cannot affect the higher bodies
through educational methods, quite certainly not through conscious
education. You affect these bodies through who you are insofar

62 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


as they are not occupied with their own development. People can
activate the child’s good sense through their own good sense. Just as
the mother’s healthy body has a healthy effect upon the child’s body,
the teacher must attempt to be a well-rounded and self-contained
person, to have high and good thoughts while in the presence of the
child.
4/22/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 65-66.
We need to differentiate human life before the change of teeth
and then again until puberty. I have attempted to characterize
how different the forces are during the first period of human life in
comparison to the second. It requires a very different kind of soul
experience for these two periods, for the simple reason that the
forces connected with imaginative thinking are directed toward an
inner hardening of the human body during the first period of life. This
activity culminates in the change of teeth at about the age of seven.
The most important means of communicating with human beings
during that time lies in the principle of imitating the surroundings.
. . . [I]mitation is directly connected with the same forces that
produce the second set of teeth. They are the same forces, and, as
we have seen, they are the forces of thinking, of inwardly picturing
and understanding the world around us. Thus the forces associated
with representational thinking are also the forces connected with
physical development. These are the forces active in the child’s
motive for imitation.
1/12/1907, in The Christian Mystery (Completion edition) [5], pp.
212-13.
In the science of the spirit we thus have quite definite rules for
educating children in these different stages of life. Care of everything
connected to the physical body is what counts up to the seventh
year. This includes harmonious development of the organs by
influencing the child’s senses. The physical body is what matters,
therefore, and needs to be educated. We do this by offering
everything to the child that encourages development through the
senses. . . . The child is . . . an imitator, everything is for him under the
sign of imitating things he hears and sees. Dictates and prohibitions
carry little weight at this age. The greatest significance attaches to
example, and this is how the environment must awaken the child’s
senses. What matters is the way we are, and adults must carefully

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 63


observe everything they do and do not do. They should not do
anything the child would not be allowed to imitate, for the child
believes that everything it sees is something it is allowed to imitate.
. . . Up to the changing of the teeth, education exists in being an
example to be imitated. Because of this, anyone bringing up a child
must be in every respect an example to the child up to his seventh
year. It would also be wrong to make the child learn the significance
of letters up to that age. A child can merely copy their shapes, for the
power to grasp their significance belongs to the ether body.
In these years, when the organs of the child should develop and the
foundations are laid for health, everything that happens around the
child in moral terms is also most important. It is far from immaterial
if the child sees pain and sorrow or joy and pleasures in his world,
for joy and pleasures lay sound foundations in the physical body.
Everything around the child should breathe pleasure and joy, and
those bringing him up should make it their concern to create them,
even in the color of clothes, wall paper and objects.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], pp. 40-41.
Let’s look into the nature of the human being before the change of
teeth. The teeth are the outer expression of something developing
within the human organism as a whole. . . There is a “shooting up”
into form—the human soul is working on the second bodily nature,
like a sculptor working at shaping the material. An inner, unconscious
shaping process is in fact happening. The only way this can be
influenced externally is to allow children to imitate what we do.
Anything I do—any movement I make with my own hand—passes
into the children’s soul building processes when they perceive it, and
my hand movement causes an unconscious shaping activity that
“shoots up” into the form.
This process depends completely on the element of movement in
the child. Children make movements, their will impulses change from
chaotic irregularity into inner order, and they work on themselves
sculpturally from without. This plastic activity largely moves toward
the inner being.

64 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 18-19.
It is not moralistic talk or wise admonitions that influence children. . .
but it is, rather, what adults do visibly before their eyes. The effect
of admonition is that it shapes the forms—not of the physical, but of
the etheric body; and the etheric body, as we saw, is surrounded until
the seventh year by a protecting etheric envelope. . . . Everything
that must evolve in the etheric body before the seventh year—ideas,
habits, memory, and so on—all of this must develop “by itself,” just
as the eyes and ears develop within the mother-body without the
influence of external light. . . . Children, however, do not learn by
instruction or admonition, but through imitation. The physical organs
shape themselves through the influence of the physical environment.
Good sight will be developed in children if their environment has
the proper conditions of light and color, while in the brain and
blood circulation the physical foundations will be laid for a healthy
moral sense if children see moral actions in their environment. If
before their seventh year children see only foolish actions in their
surroundings, the brain will assume the forms that adapt it to
foolishness in later life.
As the muscles of the hand grow firm and strong through doing
the work for which they are suited, so the brain and other organs
of the physical body of human beings are guided into the correct
course of development if they receive proper impressions from their
environment.
12/29/1921, [22], in Soul Economy, p. 110.
During the first two and a half years, children have a similar rapport
with the mother or with others they are closely connected with as
long as their attitude and conduct make this possible. Then children
become perfect mimics and imitators. This imposes a moral duty
on adults to become worthy of such imitation, which is far less
comfortable then exerting one’s will on children. Children take in
all that we do, such as the ways we act and move. They are equally
susceptible to our feelings and thoughts. They imitate us, and
even if this is not outwardly noticeable, they nevertheless do this
by developing tendencies for imitation that, through their organic
soul forces, they press down into the physical organism. Therefore,
education during these first two and a half years should be confined

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 65


to the self-education of the adults in charge, who should think, feel,
and act in a way that, when perceived by children, will cause them
no harm. Fundamentally, the stage of imitation continues until the
change of teeth, and thus children will be strongly influenced by their
environment later on as well.
12/29/1921, [22], in Soul Economy, pp. 115-16.
When children approach the fifth year, the ether forces of the
body—which have thus far been building the breathing and the blood
circulation—now become available for other activities. Likewise,
up to the change of teeth, ether forces will struggle free and, after
completing their task within the metabolic-limb system, become
redundant. At that time, new spiritual and soul forces gradually
awaken and emerge fully after the seventh year. However, these
forces already shine with a dawning light in this third and final period,
which concludes the first seven-year period of human life.
When ether forces from the chest area reappear as soul and spiritual
forces, children are becoming amenable to exhortations and to a
sense of authority. Previously, unable to understand what they should
or should not do, they could only imitate, but now, little by little,
they begin to listen to and believe what adults say. Only toward
the fifth year is it possible to awaken a sense of right and wrong in
children. We can educate children correctly only by realizing that,
during this first seven-year period until the change of teeth, children
live by imitation, and only gradually do they develop imagination and
memory and a first belief in what adults say.
Faith in the adult induces a feeling of authority, especially for
teachers with whom children have a very close relationship. However,
at this stage, children are too young for any formal education. It
pains me to know that the sixth year has been fixed as the official
school age. Children should not enter elementary school before their
seventh year.
4/22/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 65-66.
. . . The most important means of communicating with human beings
during [the period from birth to age seven] lies in the principle of
imitating the surroundings.
Everything a person does during the years before the change of teeth
is done out of imitation. What occurs in the surroundings of a child

66 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


is enormously important, since the child only imitates. Imitation is
one of the strengths of children at that age, and that imitation is
directly connected with the same forces that produce the second set
of teeth. They are the same forces, and, as we have seen, they are
forces of thinking, of inwardly picturing and understanding the world
around us. Thus the forces associated with representational thinking
are also the forces connected with physical development. These are
the forces active in the child’s motive for imitation. . . . [W]hen I do
something in front of a child who is not yet seven years old, not only
do I do it for myself, but my doing also enters the child’s doing. My
deeds do not exist for me alone.
I am not alone with my deeds, with my willing, with my feeling. I am
not alone with my thinking; there are intangibles that also have an
effect. There is a difference in whether I live alongside a child with
a good attitude and allow the child to grow up alongside of me,
or whether I do it with a poor attitude. These intangibles have an
effect. . . . If we do not honor the connection between spirit-soul and
individual physical human organs, then we do not honor what exists
between human beings as a real force, the spirit-soul itself.
8/16/1922, in The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], pp. 6-7.
In this case, children up to the seventh or eighth year, when the
change of teeth begins, are fundamentally different from what they
are later on. . . We are confronted by very significant questions when
we try to sink deep into a child’s life. How do soul and spirit work on
children up to the change of teeth? . . . How should we cooperate
with soul and spirit?
We see, for example, that speech develops instinctively during the first
period of life, up to the change of teethçinstinctively, as far as children
are concerned and regarding their surroundings. . . But how do children
actually learn to speak? Do they have some sort of instinct whereby
they lay claim to the sounds they hear? Or do they derive the impulse
for speech from some other connection with their environment? If
we look more deeply into childhood life, we can see that children
learn to speak by imitating what they observe unconsciously in their
surroundings, using the senses. The whole life of children, up to the
seventh year, is a continuous imitation of events in their environment.
And the moment they perceive something, whether a movement or a
sound, an impulse arises as an inner gesture to relive, with the intensity
of their whole inner nature, what has been perceived.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 67


We can understand children only when we contemplate them as we
would the eye or ear of an older person, because the whole being of
a child is a sense organ. Blood pulses through a child’s body in a far
livelier way than it does later on in life. By means of a fine physiology,
we can perceive the basis for the development of our sense organs—
the eye, for example. During the very early years, blood assumes
primacy in the process of the eye’s development. Later, the nerves
begin to predominate more and more. The structure of the human
senses develops from blood circulation to nerve activity. It is possible
to acquire a delicate faculty for perceiving how the blood system
gradually leads into the nervous system.
As with a single sense organ (say, the eye), so goes the whole human
being.
11/4/1922, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life [19], p. 119.
. . . [T]he most important thing for the educator is that in the early
years up to the change of teeth, the child is a completely imitative
being, completely open to the world. The way the child relates to the
outer world in the first seven years—and I am not saying this to be
paradoxical but to elaborate something quite real—for more or less
seven years the child is almost completely a sense organ, perceiving
its environment not just with her eyes, with her ears, but through her
entire organism, yielding to the world as only the sense organs do.
Just as the images of outer objects and processes are prepared in the
sense organs, and then reproduced in the inner soul, so too the child
wants to copy inwardly all that she senses on the outside. The child
wishes to give himself altogether to the external world, to imitate
inwardly everything that is presented on the outside. The child as a
totality is a sense organ. And if one were able to look into the child’s
organism with . . . clairvoyant sensing . . . he would see that the sense
of taste, for instance, which in the adult is limited to the tongue
and palate, goes far deeper into the child’s organism. One does
not overexaggerate when one says that the nursing child tastes her
mother’s milk with her entire body. These are the kinds of intimate
and intricate details of human physical life that one must observe if
one really wishes for the delicate knowledge required by an art of
education.

68 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


11/27/1919, in The Spirit of the Waldorf School [18], pp. 137.
Around the age of six or seven. . . [t]he constitution of [children’s]
body and soul is such that they totally devote themselves to their
surroundings. They feel their way into their surroundings. They
develop themselves from the center of their will so that they mold
force lines and force rays of their will exactly to what occurs in their
surroundings.
See also:
6/19/1919, “The Tasks of Schools and the Threefold Social
Organism” [32], in Education as a Force for Social Change,
pp. 195-97.
8/9/1919, in Education as a Force for Social Change [17],
pp. 10-12.
11/27/1919, in The Spirit of the Waldorf School [18], pp. 136-40.

Environment
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight”
[4], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 43-44.
To affect the human physical body means to provide the child with
external stimuli. Such impressions act to develop the physical body,
and for this reason, we can hardly compensate for things neglected
before the age of seven. Until the age of seven, the physical body
exists in a state that requires external sense impressions to develop
it. If a child’s eye sees only beautiful things until the age of seven,
the eye will develop so that it retains a feeling for beauty throughout
life. Afterward, the child’s sense of beauty can no longer develop in
the same way. What you say to a child and what you do until the age
of seven are much less important than the environment you create,
what the child sees and hears. During this time, we must use external
stimuli to support the child’s inner growth. The child’s free spirit
creates a human figure from a piece of wood using only a couple of
holes and some marks for the eyes, nose and mouth. If you give a
child a beautiful doll, then the child becomes bound to it. The child’s
inner spirit clings to it and cannot develop its own activity; in this
way, children almost entirely lose their imaginative powers.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 69


It is essentially the same with all impressions of the sense-perceptible
world. Who you are in the presence of the child, what the child sees
or hears, is important. The child will become a good person when
surrounded by good people. Children imitate their surroundings.
We must place particular value upon learning by example and the
child’s capacity to imitate. Thus, the correct thing to do is to act so
the child can imitate as much as possible. In that sense, we must
emphasize the child’s physical development between the first and
seventh year. During that period we cannot affect the higher bodies
through educational methods, quite certainly not through conscious
education. You affect these bodies through who you are insofar
as they are not occupied with their own development. People can
activate the child’s good sense through their own good sense. Just as
the mother’s healthy body has a healthy effect upon the child’s body,
the teacher must attempt to be a well-rounded and self-contained
person, to have high and good thoughts while in the presence of the
child.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 20-21.
. . . With regard to the environment, “nervous” children, that is,
excitable children, should be treated differently from those who are
quiet and lethargic. Everything comes into consideration, from the
color of the room and the various objects that are generally around
the child, to the color of the clothes they wear. . . . Excitable children
should be surrounded by and dressed in red or reddish-yellow colors,
while lethargic children should be surrounded by blue or bluish-green
shades of color. The important thing is the complementary color
that is created within the child. In the case of red it is green, and in
the case of blue, orange-yellow. . . . The physical organs of the child
create this contrary or complementary color, and this is what causes
the corresponding organic structures that the child needs. If excitable
children have a red color around them, they will inwardly create the
opposite, the green; and this activity of creating green has a calming
effect. The organs assume a tendency of calmness.

70 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 22.
The joy of children in and with their environment, must therefore be
counted among the forces that build and shape the physical organs.
They need teachers that look and act with happiness and, most of
all, with honest unaffected love. Such a love that streams, as it were,
with warmth through the physical environment of the children may
be said to literally “hatch” the forms of the physical organs.

Play and toys


Steiner reveals that the fruits of the activities in children’s play from birth
to the age of seven become apparent only at the age of twenty.
5/10/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 219-20.
. . . What we gain in play from birth until the change of teeth, what
children experience in a dreamy way, are forces of the still-unborn
spirituality of the human being, which is still not yet absorbed into, or
perhaps more properly said, reabsorbed into the human body.
. . . I have already discussed how the same forces that act organically
upon the human being until the change of teeth become, when the
teeth are born, an independent imaginative or thinking capacity, so
that in a certain sense something is removed from the physical body.
On the other hand, what is active within a child through play and has
no connection with life and contains no usefulness is something that
is not yet fully connected with the human body. Thus the child has an
activity of the soul that is active within the body until the change of
teeth and then becomes apparent as a capacity for forming concepts
that can be remembered.
The child also has a spiritual-soul activity that in a certain sense still
hovers in an etheric way over the child. It is active in play in much the
same way that dreams are active throughout the child’s entire life. In
children, however, this activity occurs not simply in dreams, it occurs
also in play, which develops in external reality. What thus develops
in external reality subsides in a certain sense. In just the same way
that the seed-forming forces of a plant subside in the leaf and flower
petal and only reappear in the fruit, what a child uses in play also
only reappears at about the age of twenty-one or twenty-two, as
independent reasoning gathering experiences in life.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 71


. . .This means the various kinds of human beings differ in their
independent reasoning after the age of twenty in just the same way
that children differ in their play before the change of teeth.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 20.
. . . This work of [the young child’s] imagination shapes and builds
the forms of the brain. The brain unfolds as the muscles of the
hand unfold when they do the work they are suited for. By giving
the child the so-called “pretty” doll, the brain has nothing more to
do. Instead of unfolding, it becomes stunted and dried up. If people
could look into the brain as a spiritual investigator can, and see how
it builds its forms, they would certainly give their children only the
toys that stimulate and enliven its formative activity. Toys with dead
mathematical forms alone have a desolating and killing effect on the
formative forces of children; on the other hand whatever kindles the
imagination of living things works in the proper way.
In the following quotation, Steiner’s opening words about teaching are in
relation to the period between ages seven to fourteen.
12/1/1906, “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science” [2], in
The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, p. 61.
. . . Whatever is taught in a lively interesting manner benefits the
child’s ether body. There should be much activity and doing, which
has a quickening effect on the spirit. This is also true when it comes
to play. The old kind of picture books have a stimulating effect
because they contain figures that can be pulled by strings and suggest
movement and inner life. Nothing has a more deadening effect on
the child’s spirit than putting together and fixing some structure,
using finished geometrical shapes. That is why building blocks should
not be used; the child should create everything from the beginning,
learning to bring to life what is thus formed from the lifeless. Our
materialistic age extinguishes life through mass-produced lifeless
objects. Much dies in the young developing brain when the child
has to do meaningless things like, for example, braiding. Talents are
stifled and much that is unhealthy in our modern society can be
traced back to the nursery. Inartistic lifeless toys do not foster trust in
spiritual life. A fundamental connection exists between today’s lack of
religious belief and the way young children are taught.

72 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


See also:
On the Play of the Child: Indications by Rudolf Steiner for
Working with Young Children, second English edition, edited by
Freya Jaffke (WECAN, 2012).

Music and movement


8/21/1919, in Practical Advice to Teachers [16], p. 12.
. . . We must face the fact that certain capacities can unfold only
between the seventh and fourteenth years in such a way that
a person can cope with life later on. If such capacities are not
developed during this period, people cannot contend with life’s later
struggles. . . .
As teachers, we must provide those we educate with the ability to
artistically assume their place in the activities of the world. Human
nature . . . is such that we are, in a way, born musicians. If people
were sufficiently agile, they would dance and move in some way with
all little children. We are born into the world in a way that makes
us want to join the world with our own bodily nature in a musical
rhythm and relationship; this inner musical capacity is strongest in
children during their third and fourth years. Parents could do a great
deal if they would simply notice this, starting not so much with
external musicality but with an attunement of the physical body and
the element of dance.
It is exactly during this period of life that an infinite amount of
good can be gained by permeating the bodies of little children with
elementary eurythmy. If only parents learned to do eurythmy with
their children, something very different would arise in them than
is usual. They would overcome a kind of heaviness that lives in the
limbs. We all have this heaviness in the limbs today, and this could
be overcome. When children change their teeth, the foundation
for everything musical would thus remain in them. The individual
senses arise from this musical element—a musically attuned ear or
an eye for shapes and forms. A musically attuned ear and an eye that
appreciates line and form are specializations of the whole musical
human being.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 73


1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 22-23.
. . . All learning associated with speech in these years should be
especially through imitation. Children will best learn to speak through
hearing; no rules or artificial instruction of any kind can be good for
this.
It is important to realize the value of children’s songs . . . as a
means of education in early childhood. They must make pretty and
rhythmical impressions on the senses; the beauty of sound is of
greater value than the meaning. The more alive the impression on
eye and ear the better. Dancing movements in musical rhythm have a
powerful influence in building up the physical organs, and this should
also not be undervalued.

The battle
Steiner makes many references in his lectures to the “battle” that occurs
at the threshold time during the change of teeth. Knowing that the
child’s organism is a battleground around this time and during the three
phases of the birthing of the etheric between birth and seven can help
the educators who are present during this time of the child’s biography. A
compassionate response from kindergarten and grade-school educators is
important.
On page 100 of The Karma of Vocation, Rudolf Steiner speaks about the
work of the bodies in transforming the inheritance of the child’s previous
vocations. He says if this were not done then this “would be detrimental
to the child.” Here he speaks about the interplay of the physical, etheric,
and astral bodies, which he repeatedly tells us overlap in their working
into the human being. Steiner then goes on to say that the astral body
works back on the forms that the etheric body has assisted.
11/13/1916, in The Karma of Vocation [7], pp. 99-101.
If we observe a human being in those years when . . . the physical
body and especially the etheric body are primarily coming into
development, if we observe the development of children from
approximately the seventh to the fourteenth years, we shall note
that at just this time certain characteristics appear in them that
are especially typical of this period. Certain things consolidate
themselves in a way, although many things overlap one another so

74 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


that much that appears during the first seven years can be more
thoroughly and profoundly observed only between the seventh and
the fourteenth. It will be found that something appears in a more
definite way in the developing child that we may call, in a sense, the
inner peculiarities that are consolidated through the character and
demeanor of the corporeality. This is so, however, only insofar as they
come to expression in the posture and gestures of the physical being,
and in the entire bearing of his life. I refer to what is there taking solid
form; not all, to be sure, but a great part of what causes a human
being to be stocky and short, or to have a taller body that causes him
or her to walk in a particular way such as with a firm step or a dancing
gait, to mention radical contrasts. As I have said, not all, but a great
part of what thus appears in the developing child is derived from
karma and is the effect of the vocation of his preceding incarnation.
. . . In other words, two antagonistic forces struggle with each other
in the child. One group of forces gives him form; these come more
from the etheric body. The other group, coming more from the
astral body, works against these and in part paralyzes them, so that
he is compelled to transform what has been forced upon him by
the vocational karma of his previous incarnation. In other words,
we may say that the etheric body works in a formative way; that
is, what is manifested as the bearing of the physical body, as one’s
carriage, is derived from the etheric body. The astral body works in a
transforming way. Through the interplay of these two forces, which
are really in bitter conflict with each other, much comes to expression
that has to do with the working of vocational karma.
8/7/1921, “Man’s Becoming, World Soul and World Spirit” [12],
pp. 4-5.
In those interesting states that run their course in the child between
the change of teeth and puberty, there we see that actually in the
human being, in the process of becoming, a strong battle takes place.
In this period of life the etheric body, that goes through its own
organizing process up to puberty . . . battles against the astral body. It
is a real battle condition that occurs in the child. And when we look
at the physical correlation corresponding to this battle condition,
then we can say: in this period of the child’s life, to a very marked
degree, there is a battle between the forces of growth, and those
forces that play into us through the physical inhalation (in-spiration)
through the breathing. . . . For that which is partially freed through

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 75


the change of teeth, is indeed the forces of growth. Of course, the
main part of these growth forces still remains in the bodily element
and takes care of the growth; at the change of teeth a portion is
freed, and this appears as forces in the soul.
That which continues to function as growth forces in the child, this
is opposed to what now appears in the child, essentially through
the process of breathing. What here appears through the breathing
process could not appear previously. The breathing process is
certainly also present in the child, but so long as the child has his
forces in the general growing and organizing of the body, which then
come out at the change of teeth, just so long does nothing occur in
the organism of the child, in regard to what is later brought about
so strikingly and significantly, in the actual breathing process in the
human body. . . .
As I have said, before the change of teeth has occurred what the
breathing actually has to do for us, cannot become activated in the
human organism. But then a battle begins, of the forces that have still
remained as growth forces, against the breaking in of what intrudes
out of the breathing forces into the human being.
9/16/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 15-17.
The whole change that takes place in the child’s soul life shows that
certain soul forces 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, makes use of the same forces
that after the seventh year appear as intellectual forces.
Here you have an interplay between soul and body that is quite
real; the soul emancipates itself in the seventh year and begins to
function—no longer in the body, but independently. At this point,
those forces that come newly into being in the body as soul forces
begin to be active, and from the seventh year on they are at work
well into the next incarnation. Then whatever radiates upward from
the body is thrust back, whereas the forces that shoot downward
from the head are restrained. Thus, during the time the teeth are
changing, the most severe battle is fought between the forces
striving downward from above and those shooting upward from
below. The change of teeth is the physical expression of this conflict
between the two kinds of forces: those that later appear in the child
as powers of reasoning and intellect, and those that need to be used

76 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


particularly in drawing, painting, and writing. We employ upwelling
forces when we develop writing out of drawing, for what these forces
really strive for is to pass over into sculptural formation, drawing, and
so forth. These are the sculptural forces that, ending with the change
of teeth, have previously modeled the child’s body. We work with
them later, when the second dentition is completed, to lead the child
to drawing, to painting, and so on. These are primarily the forces that
were placed into the child by the spiritual world in which the child’s
soul lived before conception. At first they are active as bodily forces
in forming the head, and then from the seventh year on they function
as soul forces. . .
During the child’s change of teeth, then, transference of spiritual
forces is being enacted, forces that move from the spiritual world
through the child and into the physical world.
9/16/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 18-19.
Up to the seventh year the human being is permeated on the whole
more by sculptural and less by musical forces—that is, less by the
inspiring music and speech forces that enkindle the whole organism.
But beginning with the seventh year, music and speech become
particularly active in the etheric body. Then the ego and the astral
body turn against this; an element of will battles from outside against
a similar element from within, and this becomes visible at puberty.
9/16/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], pp. 24-25.
Everything that descends from the head until the seventh year
appears as an attack on what is coming to it from within in the nature
of upbuilding forces. And everything that works outward from within
upwards to the head, countering the stream emanating from the
head, is like a defense opposed to the downward stream which could
be considered as an attack . . .
In recognizing the interplay between attack and defense, we must
remember that defense occurs in us on two levels. The first is within
ourselves, where a warding off appears in the change of teeth in the
seventh year. The second is what we have received from music and
speech when this wards off what tends to rise up within us. Both
battlefields are within the human being; what comes from music and
speech is more toward the periphery, toward the outer world, and
the sculptural tends more toward the inner world.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 77


But there is still a third battlefield, and that lies on the boundary
between the etheric body and the outer world. The etheric body
is always larger than the physical body, reaching out beyond it in
all directions and here too is a battlefield. Here the battle is fought
more consciously, whereas the other two proceed more in the
subconscious.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 22.
The human being is molded anew with the change of teeth just as
our outer form is perpetually eliminated. In this case, however, the
first being, or product of physical heredity, is completely replaced by
a second, who develops under the influence of the forces that the
human being brings from pre-earthly life. Thus, during the period
between birth and the change of teeth, the human hereditary forces
related to the physical evolutionary stream fight against the forces of
a pre-earthly existence, which accompany the individuality of each
human being from the previous earthly life. . . .
If we understand what is happening from the perspective of a
child, we find that the soul-being of the child—with everything
brought from pre-earthly life from the realm of soul and spirit—is
entirely devoted to the physical activities of human beings in the
surroundings. This relationship can be described only as a religious
one.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 29.
During the initial phase of life, human beings win for themselves a
second being through what resulted of a purely spiritual life between
death and rebirth. During the second stage of life, however, between
the change of teeth and puberty, the influences of the outer world
struggle with what must be incorporated into the individuality of the
human being.
During this second stage, external influences grow more powerful.
The inner human being is strengthened, however, since at this point
it no longer allows every influence in the environment to continue
vibrating in the body organization as though it were mainly a sense
organ. Sensory perception begins to be more concentrated at the
surface, or periphery, of the being.

78 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


4/21/1924, in Course for Young Doctors [31], pp. 130-32.
. . . [W]hen we come to the earth as beings of spirit and soul, our
wish, to begin with, is to form quite a different organization. We
want to build a sphere and to generate all kinds of configurations
within this sphere, but we have no wish for this being with whom the
cosmos itself can do nothing. This being is given us as a model and
we build up the second human being in accordance with this model.
In the first life-period, therefore, there is a perpetual struggle
between what comes from us out of the previous incarnation and
what comes from hereditary development; the two elements fight
with each other. The illnesses of childhood are the expression of
this fight. Just think how intimately the whole inner being of soul
and spirit is bound up with the physical organization during early
childhood. When the second teeth appear you can see how they
push up against the first, how they still have tussles with each other,
and in this same way the whole second human being has tussles
with the first. But within the second human being there is the super-
earthly being; in the first a foreign, earthly model. These two work
into one another and if you observe this inter-working truly you can
see how, if the inner human being, who as a being of soul and spirit
was present in pre-earthly existence, has too much the upper hand
for a time, working into the physical very strongly and having, willy-
nilly, to adjust itself by dint of effort to the model, that it damages
the model by striking up against it everywhere, saying: I want to
get this particular form out of you—then the fight expresses itself
as scarlet fever. If the inner human being is tender, so that there is
a continual shrinking back, a wish to mold the in-taken substances
more in accordance with their own nature, and resistance is put up
to the model, the struggle comes out as measles. What is, in reality, a
mutual struggle expresses itself in the illnesses of childhood. . . .
Steiner refers to the question of why a child can retain his hereditary
inheritance as he grows:
. . . The fact is that one being is weaker, directs himself more in
accordance with the forces of heredity, builds up the second human
being with a greater resemblance to the model. This naturally comes
out in the appearance, but the same thing has been going on when
the being has adjusted itself more in accordance with the model.
On the other hand, there are human beings who after the change of
teeth become very unlike what they were before. In such cases what

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 79


comes from the pre-earthly life of soul and spirit is strong and they
adhere less to the model.
8/12/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 11-12.
The soul nature that comes down from the spiritual world is very
strong in us, and it is clumsy at first because it has to become
accustomed to external nature. Yet in reality everything about a child,
even the worst naughtiness, is very fascinating. Of course we must
follow the conventions to some extent and not allow all naughtiness
to pass unreproved; but we can see better in children than anywhere
else how the spirit of the human being is tormented by the demons
of degeneracy that are present in the world. The child has to enter
a world into which it so often does not fit. If you were conscious of
this process, you would see how terribly tragic it is. When you know
something of initiation, and are able to consciously observe what lays
hold of the child’s body, it really is terrible to see how the child must
find a way into all the complications of bones and ligaments that
have to be formed. It really is a tragic sight.
The child knows nothing of this, for the Guardian of the Threshold
protects the child from any such knowledge. But teachers should be
aware of it and look on with the deepest reverence, knowing that
here a being whose nature is of God and the spirit has descended
to earth. The essential thing is that you should know this, that you
should fill your hearts with this knowledge, and from this starting
point undertake your work as educators.

Intellectualization
6/8/1922, in The Tension Between East and West [3], p. 106.
. . . [N]either the infant in its first years of life, nor the child of primary
school age, nor even the adolescent below the age of twenty, lives
fully within the intellectualized mode of thought that has emerged in
the course of human development.
8/12/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 12-14.
A longing for knowledge, curiosity, a passionate desire for knowledge
of the external life was not ours before our birth or descent to earth;
we did not know it at all. That is why the young child has it only in so
slight a degree.

80 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


What we do experience, on the other hand, is to live right in and
with our environment. Before descending to earth we live entirely in
the outer world. The whole world is then our inner being and there
exist no such distinctions as outer and inner world. Therefore we are
not curious about what is external, for that is all within us. We have
no curiosity about it, we bear it within us, and it is an obvious and
natural thing that we experience.
So in the first seven years of life a child learns to walk, to speak, and
to think, out of the same manner of living it had before descending
to earth. If you try to arouse curiosity in a child about some particular
word, you will find that you thereby entirely drive out the child’s
wish to learn that word. If you count on a longing for knowledge
or curiosity you drive out just what the child ought to have. You
must not reckon on a child’s curiosity, but rather on something else,
namely, that the child becomes merged into you as it were, and you
really live in the child. All that the child enjoys must live and be as
though it were the child’s own inner nature. You must make the same
impression on the child as its own arm makes. You must, so to say,
be only the continuation of its own body. Then later, when the child
has passed through the change of teeth and gradually enters the
period between seven and fourteen years old, you must observe how,
little by little, curiosity and a longing for knowledge begin to show
themselves; you must be tactful and careful, and pay attention to the
way in which curiosity gradually stirs into being within the child.
The small child is still only a clumsy little creature, who does not ask
questions, and you can only make an impression by being something
yourself. . . .
It is only at the change of teeth that the situation alters. You must
notice the way the child now begins to ask questions. “What is that?
What do the stars see with?” . . . The child now asks all kinds of
questions and begins to be curious about surrounding things. You
must have a delicate perception and note the gradual beginnings
of curiosity and attention that appear with the second teeth. These
are the years when these qualities appear and you must be ready to
meet them. You must allow the child’s inner nature to decide what
you ought to be doing; I mean, you must take the keenest interest in
what is awakening with the change of teeth.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 81


4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 25-27.
. . . [W]e will need to understand what happens to human intellectual
nature, to our imaginative nature, before and during the change of
teeth! . . . [W]hen we look at the configuration of the intellect, the
most important years for forming the human intellect, for forming
the capacity to reason, are those first years of life before the change
of teeth.
We should also try to gain a genuine sense of what changes in the
soul. . . . [H]ow little we remember prior to the change of teeth; that
is, how little people can collect concepts to retain in their memory
before the change of teeth. We can thus conclude that the less the
organism has to use those strong forces to create the adult teeth,
the more a human being will be able to form its thoughts into firm
pictures that can remain in memory.
. . . It is important that we return to actually seeing how the spirit-
soul affects the physical body. . . . The same forces that are active in
conceptualizing, in picturing our world, work to form our teeth.
4/16/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 54-55.
. . . If you can inwardly understand the relationship of soul and spirit
to the physical body at the change of teeth, you will not only see the
truth of what has been said, but you will be also able to work it out
in practical details. Until the change of teeth, a human being lives
entirely in the senses. A child surrenders entirely to the environment
and is thus by nature a religious being.
At the change of teeth, however, the senses, which permeate a small
child’s whole being, now come to the surface; they disengage from
the rest of the organism and go their separate ways, so to speak.
This means that the soul and spirit are freed from the physical body
and the child can inwardly develop as an individual. Soul and spirit
become independent, but you must bear in mind that the soul and
spirit do not really become intellectual until puberty, because the
intellect does not assume its natural place in a child’s development
before then.
Before that time, a child lacks the forces to meet an appeal to the
intellect. Between the change of teeth and puberty, the forces of
comprehension and the whole activity of soul have a pictorial quality.
It is a kind of aesthetic comprehension that may be characterized

82 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


in this way: until the change of teeth children want to imitate what
happens around them, what is done in front of them. Their motor
systems are exerted in such a way—both in general and individually—
that they enter an inner, loving relationship with all that surrounds
them.
This alters at the change of teeth, when the child no longer goes by
what is seen, but by what is revealed in the feelings and soul mood of
the educator or teacher. The young child’s soul before the change of
teeth is not yet guided by the authority of a teacher. Naturally, such
transitions are gradual rather than sudden; but, typically, a small child
plays little attention to the subject or meaning of what is said; a child
lives much more in the sound of words—in the whole way the speech
is formulated. Closer observation shows that when you simply lay
down the law and say to a child, “You must not do this,” it makes very
little impression. But when, with its own conviction, as it were, your
mouth says, “Do this,” or another time, “Don’t do that,” there should
be a noticeable difference in how these words are spoken. The child
will notice the difference between saying “You should not do that”
with a certain intonation, and “That’s right, you may do that.” The
intonation reveals the activity of speech, which acts as a guide for the
very young child.
Children are unconcerned with the meaning of words and, indeed,
with any manifestation of the world around them, until after the
change of teeth. Even then, it is not yet the intellectual aspect that
concerns them, but an element of feeling.
See also:
6/7/1922, in The Tension between East and West [3], pp. 107-8.

The Kindergarten
7/19/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], p. 51.
Kindergarten education should rely on the principle of imitation
exclusively. Kindergarten teachers must sit with the children and do
only what they wish the children to do, so that the they simply have
to imitate the teacher. All education before the change of teeth must
be based on this principle.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 83


8/13/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 18-19.
But all the things that you are usually advised to do with kindergarten
children [in mainstream education] are quite worthless. The
things that are introduced as kindergarten education are usually
extraordinarily “clever.” You could be quite fascinated by what has
been thought out for kindergartens . . . . The children certainly learn
a great deal there, they almost learn to read. They are supplied with
letters of the alphabet which they have to fit into cut out letters. It
all looks very clever and you can be easily tempted to believe that it
really is something suitable for children, but it is of no use at all. It
really has no value whatsoever, and the soul of the child is impaired
by it. The child is damaged even down into the body, right down into
physical health. Such kindergarten methods breed weaklings in body
and soul for later life.
At this time in Germany the children remained in the kindergarten until
their seventh year, so that the above remarks apply to all school life up to
this time.
On the other hand, if you simply have the children there in the
kindergarten and conduct yourselves so that they can imitate you, if
you do all kind of things that the children can copy out of their own
inner impulse of soul, as they had been accustomed to do in pre-
earthly existence, then indeed the children will become like yourself,
but it is for you to see that you are worthy of this imitation. This is
what you must pay attention to during the first seven years of life and
not what you express outwardly in words as a moral idea.

84 • Educating the Child Prior to the Birth of the Etheric


Educating the Child
During and After the
Birth of the Etheric
Kindergarten and first grade educators work on the threshold, bridging
the time before, during, and after the birth of the etheric. Careful ob-
servations and the understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s indications about
this period can help us to ascertain the rightful placement for the child.
Does the child need consolidation time in the kindergarten or is the child
showing readiness for first grade?
Rudolf Steiner in many of his lectures encourages us to develop careful
observation practices to witness what is happening in the child at this
time.
2/24/1921, in Education, Teaching and the Practical Life [19], p. 18.
. . . What actually changes in the human being when it crosses the
biographical threshold of the change of teeth?
9/22/1920, in Balance in Teaching [21], p. 44.
If we consider the next period, from the seventh year to the
fourteenth, or puberty, we can say that in a sense an element of will,
a musical element, is being absorbed. Described from this angle, what
happens is best described by the word “absorbed,” for the musical
element really has its being in the outer world. The musical tone
element being absorbed is indeed permeated by a pulsating, vibrating
impulse coming from what spiritual science calls the astral forces.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 85


It’s important to recognize that in the six/seven-year-old this activity is
also present. The child may still be in the kindergarten at this time, or
already beginning the journey to the grade school. The educator must be
prepared to look for these signs and accommodate this new need in the
child. Many educators experience the phenomenon of the “bubbling pot”
in the behavior of the six-year-old. What is it that we are actually seeing?
4/11/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 70.
We get close to children during this stage of life only by placing
them in the context of natural authority. Children who cannot yet
understand abstractly beauty, truth, goodness and so on may develop
this impulse through a sense that the teacher acts as the incarnation
of goodness, truth and beauty. When we understand children
correctly, we understand that they have not gained any abstract,
intellectual understanding for the revelations of wisdom, beauty and
goodness.
Nevertheless, children see what lives in the teacher’s gestures, and
they hear something revealed in how the teacher’s words are spoken.
It is the teacher whom the child calls—without saying it—truth,
beauty, and goodness as revealed in the heart.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 33-34.
Teachers [of children around six or seven to fourteen] can have
the tact to meet any occasion that arises only when they have a
conscious and clear understanding of how various subjects and
methods of education work in the proper way on growing children.
They have to know how to treat the various faculties of the soul—
thinking, feeling, and willing—so that their development can react on
the etheric body, which during this time between the change of teeth
and puberty can attain more and more perfect form under external
influences.
By a proper application of fundamental educational principles during
the first seven years of childhood, the foundation is laid for the
development of a strong and healthy will; for a strong and healthy
will must have its support in well-developed forms of the physical
body. Then, from the change of teeth on, the etheric body that is
now developing must bring to the physical body the forces whereby
it can make its forms firm and inwardly complete. Whatever makes

86 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
the strongest impression on the etheric body also works most
powerfully toward consolidating the physical body. The strongest
of all the impulses that can work on the etheric body come from
the feelings and thoughts through which human beings consciously
divine and experience their relationship to the Eternal Powers—that
is, they come from religious experience. . . .

Imitation and authority


4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 28.
To not admit that one of the basic forces and basic needs of children
from ages of six or seven until fourteen or fifteen is the desire to
have an authority in their lives is to completely misunderstand
human nature. . . . [T]his kind of authority, freely chosen through the
children’s perception, an authority outside but alongside the children,
is one of the most important aspects of human life.
4/22/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 66-67.
[From the period around the change of teeth until puberty,]
something wants to enter the physical body from the will; something
wants to become firmer. There is more than simply a desire to
imitate, although . . . that remains important in the curriculum until
the age of nine. Something more than simple imitation wants to
develop, and that is the desire to honor authority.
[The child wants to develop] . . . the experience of having older
people nearby, people who, as genuine authorities, are to educate
and raise the child.
. . . We now come to the role of love in education and upbringing.
One of the intangibles we are justified in exercising in educating
a growing child is authority over that child, and that our authority
be accepted as a naturally effective force. We will not have that
authority if we are not permeated in a certain way by what we have
to present to the child. If, as teachers, we carry our knowledge within
us just as some dry, memorized facts, if we teach only out of a sense
of duty, then we have a different effect upon children than when we
have an inner warmth, an enthusiasm for what we are to teach them.
If we are active in every fiber of our soul, and identify ourselves with
that knowledge, then the love for what we carry in our souls is just as
much a means of communication as demonstrations and language.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 87


3/18/1920, in Social Issues [33], pp. 122-23.
Now, the phase between the second dentition and the onset
of puberty is when children are taught in school; these are their
elementary school years. There are also other stages, sub-phases,
so to speak, we can distinguish in this second phase between the
ages of seven and fourteen. The drive to imitate, which governs the
children’s first seven years in their innermost being, weakens after age
seven; yet it is still there and is evident more or less strongly into their
ninth year. Through spiritual science we can develop a lively sense
for this interplay between the children’s capacity to imitate and their
need for an authority figure to look up to, and then we will see each
child as a unique challenge to our teaching abilities, regardless of how
large the classes are.
8/16/1922, in The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], p. 9.
Now, as children gradually change teeth, and in place of the inherited
teeth they begin to show those that were formed during the first
period of life, a change comes about in their life as a whole. Now
they are no longer entirely sense organ, but they are given up
more to a soul element than to their sensory impressions. Children
of elementary school age no longer absorb what they observe in
their environment; now they take in what lives in the objects of
observation. They enter a stage that should be based primarily on the
principle of authority—the authority children encounter in teachers.
4/26/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 91-92.
. . . [I]t is important to see that a child at the age of six, seven, or
eight has no tendency whatsoever to differentiate itself from its
surroundings as an I-being. In a certain way, we take something away
from the healthy nature of the human being when we develop this
difference between the I-being and its surroundings too early. . . .
Human beings continue to imitate beyond the age of seven up to the
age of nine or so, and this principle of imitation affects the feeling for
authority. From the age of nine, this principle of authority develops
in a purer form. Beginning at the age of twelve, it is again mixed with
something new: the capacity to judge.
It is of fundamental significance for all education that we do not
force developing human beings to judge at too early an age.

88 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
1/12/1907, in The Christian Mystery (Completion edition) [5], p. 213.
Towards the seventh year, as the second teeth are gradually
emerging, the protective ether forms around the ether body fall away
and now the teacher must bring in everything that develops the ether
body and influences it so that it evolves. But the teacher must still be
careful not to put too much emphasis on developing the mind and
the intellect. During this period, between the seventh and twelfth
years, what matters most is authority, belief, trust, respect.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 24.
. . . [I]t is most important that boys and girls should have for their
teachers people who can awaken in them, as they observe them, the
proper intellectual and moral powers. As imitation and example were
. . . the magic words for education in the first years of childhood,
for the years of this second period, the magic words are discipleship
and authority. What children see directly in their educators with
inner perception must, for them, become authority—not authority
compelled by force, but authority that they accept naturally without
question. Through this they will build up their conscience, habits,
and inclinations. They will bring their temperament along an ordered
path. . . . Veneration and reverence are forces whereby the etheric
body grows in the right way. If it were not possible during these
years to look up to another person with unbounded reverence, one
would have to suffer for this loss throughout all of later life. Where
reverence is lacking, the living forces of the etheric body are stunted
in their growth.
Rudolf Steiner goes on to give indications which apply to the time of
education while the child is in the grade school curriculum—storytelling,
providing stories of outstanding people in history, overcoming the child’s
bad habits through inspiring examples and parables, and much more. It
is worthwhile to read onward into The Education of the Child in the Light
of Anthroposophy. For the purposes of this publication we are focusing on
the threshold time before, during, and slightly after the change of teeth.
Here are some further references to help us understand how to bridge this
time when the child is operating out of two very different orientations,
affected by the interplay that happens between the inclination to imitate
and the need for authority:

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 89


8/31/1919, in The Spirit of the Waldorf School [18], pp. 35-37.
11/25/1919, in The Spirit of the Waldorf School [18], pp. 106-7.
3/18/1920, in Social Issues [33], pp. 121-23.
4/4/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 27-28.

Memory, habits, and choices


1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, pp. 28-29, 31.
A force of soul that has particular value for this period of human
development is memory. The developing of memory is connected
with the shaping of the etheric body. Since this shaping occurs so
that the etheric body becomes liberated between the change of
teeth and puberty, so this is also the time for conscious attention
from outside toward the growth and cultivation of the memory. If
what is due to human beings at this time has been neglected, their
memory will always have less value than it would have had otherwise.
It is not possible to make up for later what was left undone.
. . . [O]ther forces of the soul are at least as necessary as the intellect
to comprehend things. . . . [P]eople can understand with their feeling,
their sentiment, their inner disposition, as well as their intellect. . . .
. . . Until puberty children should be storing in their memories the
treasures of thought on which humankind has pondered; later
intellectual understanding may penetrate what has already been well
imprinted in memory during the earlier years. . . .
5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of Spiritual Insight”
[4], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 45.
At the age of seven the period begins when you can deliberately
affect the etheric body. Here, two things connected with the
development of the etheric body come into consideration—that
is to say, habit and memory. The development of the etheric body
depends on habits and remembrances. For this reason you should try
to give children a firm foundation for life anchored in good habits.
People who act differently every day, who lack a stable basis for their
deeds, will later lack character. The task to fulfil between the ages of

90 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
seven and fourteen is to create a basic set of habits and to stimulate
memory development. Children need to learn upright habits and to
have a rich store of memorized knowledge.
It is an erroneous belief of our materialistic times that very young
children should learn to decide for themselves. On the contrary, we
should do everything possible to hinder that. During this period of
childhood, children should learn through authority. During the second
seven-year period, people should instruct children and not teach
through example. We form a strong memory, not by explaining all the
“whys” and “wherefores,” but through authority. We must surround
children with people they can count on, people they can trust—
people who can awaken in children a belief in the authority they
hold. Only after this stage of life [seven to fourteen] should we guide
children into their capacity for judgment and independent reason. By
freeing the child from the limitations imposed by authority, you rob
the etheric body of the possibility of a well-rounded development.
12/1/1906, “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science” [2], in
The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, pp.
58-61.
The development of the ether body occurs in the period from the
seventh until the sixteenth year in boys, and until the fourteenth year
in girls. It is important for the rest of a person’s life that feelings of
respect and veneration are fostered during this period. . . .
People around the children, with whom they have contact, must be
their ideals; children must also choose such ideals from history and
literature: “Everyone must choose the hero whose path to Olympus
they will follow,” is a true saying. . . . At this time it is important that
memory be developed. This is done best in a purely mechanical way.
However, calculators should not be used. . . .
This is the age when memory, habit and character must be
established, and this is achieved through authority. If the foundation
of these traits is not laid during this period, it will result in behavioral
shortcomings later. . . . Whatever flows from the educator to
children forms and develops conscience, character and even
the temperament—their lasting dispositions. During these years
allegories and symbols act formatively on the ether body of children
because such things manifest the world-spirit. Fairy tales, legends,
and descriptions of heroes are a true blessing.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 91


During this period, the ether body must receive as much care as the
physical body. During the earlier period [birth to seven] happiness
and joy influenced the forming of the organs; from seven until
fourteen—in this case boys until sixteen—the emphasis must be on
everything that promotes feelings of health and vigor. Hence, the
value of gymnastics. However, the desired effect will not be attained
if the instructor aims at movements that solely benefit the physical
body. It is important that the teacher can intuitively enter into how
children inwardly sense themselves, and in this way to know which
movements will promote inner sensations of health, strength, well-
being, and pleasure in the bodily constitution. . . .
Anything artistic has a strong influence on the ether body, as well as
the astral body. Excellent vocal and instrumental music is particularly
important, especially for the ether body. And there should be many
objects of true artistic beauty in the child’s environment.
Most important of all is religious instruction. Images of things
supersensible are deeply imprinted in the ether body. The pupil’s
ability to have an opinion about religious faith is not important, but
receiving descriptions of the supersensible, of what extends beyond
the temporal. All religious subjects must be presented pictorially.
Great care must be taken that teaching is brought to life. Much is
spoiled in the child if it is burdened with too much that is dull and
lifeless. Whatever is taught in a lively interesting manner benefits the
child’s ether body.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 23.
With the change of teeth, when the etheric body lays aside its outer
etheric envelope, the time begins when the etheric body can be
worked on through external education. We must be very clear about
what works on the etheric body from the outside. The formation
and growth of the etheric body means the shaping and developing
of inclinations and habits, of the conscience, character, memory and
temperament.

92 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
Beauty
1/24/1907, “Education and Spiritual Science” [2], in The
Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education, p. 69.
Between the seventh and fourteenth years is also the time to foster
the sense for beauty. Through this sense we grasp symbolic meaning.
But most important is that the child is not burdened with abstract
concepts; what is taught should have a direct connection with life.
The spirit of nature—in other words the facts themselves existing
behind the sense-perceptible—must have spoken to the child, who
should have a natural appreciation of things before abstract theories
are introduced; this should only be done after puberty. There is no
need to be concerned that what is learned may be forgotten once
school is finished; what matters is that what one teaches bears fruit
and forms the character. What the child has inwardly experienced will
also be retained; details may vanish but the essential, the universal,
will remain and grow.
8/30/1919, in The Foundations of Human Experience [15], p. 157.
After human beings have gone through the change of teeth,
they actually live constantly in the present, and until puberty are
interested in things of the present. . . . We should not miss the
opportunity to teach in such a way that the education is something
that is rather enjoyable for children, not animalistically enjoyable,
but enjoyable in a higher sense, and not something that evokes
antipathy and repulsion. . . . [A]s teachers, we always want to raise
ourselves above the mundane, the pedantic, the narrow-minded. We
can accomplish this only if we maintain a living relationship to art. .
. . From the time of the change of teeth until puberty, children also
unconsciously assume that they may find the world to be beautiful.
. . . [W]e must . . . delve into artistic experience so that we permeate
education, particularly in this time, with the artistic.

Language, voice changes


4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], pp. 28-29.
. . . [J]ust as we receive our first teeth through a kind of inheritance
from our parents, we receive language through the influences of
our external surroundings. That is, we receive language through the
principle of imitation. . . .

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 93


[T]he language we learn then, that we speak until the age of four,
five, or six, has the same relationship to the entire human being
as baby teeth have to the entire human being. What people speak
after they have reached puberty, that is, after the age of fourteen
or fifteen, what is active within them as they speak is something
they achieve for a second time. It is something they very recently
achieved, something they accomplished for themselves in just the
same way that they grew their second set of teeth. In boys, we can
see this externally in their change of voice. In girls, the development
is more inward. It is nevertheless present. Since these forces act
differently upon the larynx of a boy, they are externally visible. This
is a revelation of what occurs in the entire human being during [the
time of six/seven to fourteen], not simply in the human body nor
in the human soul, but in the entire soul-body, in the body-soul. It
occurs continuously from year to year, from month to month, and is
connected with the inner development of what we already learned as
language from our environment during our early childhood.

Memory pictures
4/15/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 35-36.
A child’s memory is very different before and after the change of
teeth. . . When we observe a very young child, we find that the
capacity to remember has the quality of a soul habit. When a child
recalls something during that first period of life until the change of
teeth, such remembering is a kind of habit or skill. We might say
that when, as a child, I acquire a certain accomplishment—let us say,
writing—it arises largely from a certain suppleness of my physical
constitution, a suppleness that I have gradually acquired. When you
watch a small child taking hold of something, you have found a good
illustration of the concept of habit. A child gradually discovers how
to move the limbs this way or that way, and this becomes habit and
skill. Out of a child’s imitative actions, the soul develops skillfulness,
which permeates the child’s finer and more delicate organizations. A
child will imitate something one day, then do the same thing again
the next day and the next; this activity is performed outwardly, but
also—and importantly—within the innermost parts of the physical
body. This forms the basis for memory in the early years.
After the change of teeth, the memory is very different, because
by then, as I have said, spirit and soul are freed from the body, and

94 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
picture content can arise that relates to what was experienced in
the soul—a formation of images unrelated to bodily nature. Every
time we meet the same thing or process, whether due to something
outer or inner, the same picture is recalled. The small child does not
yet produce these inward pictures. No image emerges for that child
when remembering something. When an older child has a thought
or idea about some past experience, it arises again as a remembered
thought, a thought “made inward.” Prior to the age of seven, children
live in their habits, which are not inwardly visualized in this way. This
is significant for all of human life after the change of teeth.
7/19/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], pp. 51-52.
After the change of teeth all this becomes quite different. The
soul life of the child is now completely changed. No longer does
he perceive merely the single gestures, but now he sees the way in
which these gestures accord with one another. For instance, whereas
previously he only had a feeling for a definite line, now he has a
feeling for co-ordination, for symmetry. The feeling is awakened
for what is co-ordinated or unco-ordinated, and in his soul the child
acquires the possibility of perceiving what is formative. As soon
as this perception is awakened there appears simultaneously an
interest in speech. During the first seven years of life there is an
interest in gesture, in everything connected with movement; in the
years between seven and fourteen there is an interest in everything
connected with the pictorial form, and speech is pre-eminently
pictorial and formative. After the change of teeth the child’s interest
passes over from gesture to speech, and in the lower school years
from seven to fourteen we can work most advantageously through
everything that lies in speech, above all through the moral element
underlying speech. For just as a child before this age has a religious
attitude towards the gesture which meets him in the surrounding
world, so now he relates himself in a moral sense—his religious
feeling being gradually refined into a soul experience—to everything
which approaches him through speech.
After the change of teeth, this changes, and a child’s soul life is
completely different. Children now perceive more than single
gestures; they see how gestures work together. For example,
previously children had a sense of only a certain line; now they
have a feeling for coordination, or symmetry. A feeling is awakened
for whether something is coordinated, and a child’s soul acquires

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 95


the ability to perceive formative qualities. Once this perception
is awakened, an interest in speech is simultaneously awakened.
During the first seven years of life, there is an interest in gesture and
everything related to movement. During the time between seven
and fourteen, there is an interest in everything related to image, and
speech is primarily pictorial and formative.
After the change of teeth, children’s interest shifts from gesture to
speech, and in the early school years, between seven and fourteen,
it is best to work with everything involved in speech, and, above all,
through the moral element behind speech. Before this age, children
have a “religious” attitude toward the gestures they encounter
in the surrounding world; now that their “religious” feeling has
gradually refined into a soul experience, they relate in a moral way to
everything they encounter through speech.
4/20/1920, in The Renewal of Education [20], p. 26.
. . . [T]here is something that runs parallel with those forces in the
body that in a certain sense culminate in producing the second set
of teeth. In tandem with this process, there is a firming of those
forces in the soul that transform the pictures we would otherwise
lose into firmly contoured concepts, that remain as a treasure in
the human soul. . . . Can those forces that give rise to the teeth be
in some way connected to the pictorial aspects of thinking? Isn’t it
as though the soul needs to give the child’s body the use of certain
bodily forces during the first seven years, until the change of teeth, so
that the teeth can form? When they are complete, a metamorphosis
occurs and the child transforms these forces so that they become
forces for conceptualization in the soul. Can we not see how the
soul, the conceptualizing soul, works to form the teeth? When the
formation of teeth, that is, when the use of certain soul forces in the
conceptualizing soul is finished, that is, after the teeth have erupted,
these same forces begin to affect the soul.
11/19/1923, in Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy Volume 2
[23], pp. 166-67.
. . . Only from the change of teeth onward, does a child start looking
back on past experiences—that is, surveying past experiences in its
mind—in a kind of review. In the evolving of memory, the soul life of
the child undergoes a radical change.

96 • Educating the Child During and After the Birth of the Etheric
The child’s ability to form representations presents us with the
same picture. When you look without bias at a young child’s mental
imagery, you will find that the will forces are very active. The child
under seven cannot yet separate inner will experience from the
experience of will in thinking. This separation begins during the
change of teeth. In other words, with the change of teeth, the child’s
soul life goes through a complete metamorphosis. But what has
actually happened? What is revealed as the child’s true soul life after
the change of teeth obviously couldn’t have appeared from nothing.
It must have been there already, but it did not manifest in the same
way as during the later stage. It was active in the organic forces of
growth and nourishment. It was an organic force that transformed
into the force of memory, into freed soul forces.
See also:
11/4/1922, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life [19],
pp. 118-19.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 97


The Educator’s Task of
Forming Pictures
11/4/1922, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life [19], p. 120.
After the change of teeth, the child’s soul life changes. Not only do
we see the child beginning to follow his sense impressions, to adapt
himself somehow to them and to change himself according to what
he sees on the outside, but he also begins to listen, to pick up on
representations conveyed verbally. But the child still needs for the
surrounding world to be conveyed by human personalities. Therefore
we can say: Until the change of teeth, the child is an imitating being;
after the change of teeth, and more or less all the way to puberty,
not only does he imitate, but he starts to prick up his ears to take in
the mental pictures expressed verbally by persons in his environment.
Teachers and educators must see to it that what they tell the children
is a guiding line. After the change of teeth, children go from a life of
imitation to a stage where their natural sense of lawfulness wishes to
follow the example of an unquestionable (self-evident) authority.
This unquestioned sense of authority will guide all instruction and
all education during this second stage of life, from the change of
teeth to puberty. At this age, the child takes as true what a beloved
“authority” individual considers true. The child perceives with
sympathy what is beautiful, what is good, or else he obeys, relying
upon the authority of the beloved educator. And if we want to bring
to the child between seven and fourteen-fifteen something that will

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 99


bear fruit for the rest of his life, then everything we bring to the child
must be clothed in this authoritative element.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 23.
. . . The etheric body is worked on through pictures and examples—
that is, through a child’s carefully guided imagination. Just as before
the age of seven we have to give the child the actual physical pattern
to copy, so between the time of the change of teeth and puberty we
must bring into the child’s environment things that have the proper
inner meaning and value. Growing children will now take guidance
from the inner meaning and value of things. Whatever is filled with
deep meaning that works through pictures and allegories is proper for
these years. The etheric body will unfold its forces if a well-ordered
imagination is allowed to take guidance from the inner meaning it
discovers for itself in pictures and allegories—whether seen in real life
or communicated to the mind. It is not abstract concepts that work
in the right way on the growing etheric body, but rather what is seen
and perceived—indeed, not with external senses, but with the mind’s
eye. Such seeing and perceiving is the proper means of education for
these years.
1907, “The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual
Science” [1], in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, p. 25.
. . . One fact must always be remembered—that abstract ideas do not
influence the developing etheric body but rather, living pictures that
are seen and comprehended inwardly. . . .
4/17/1923, in The Child’s Changing Consciousness [25], pp. 53-54.
Something entirely different is required when one is faced with
children between the change of teeth and puberty. Here one has to
consider that at this age their thinking is not yet logical, but has a
completely pictorial character. True to nature, such children reject
a logical approach. They want to live in pictures. Highly intelligent
adults make little impression on children aged seven, nine, eleven,
even thirteen. At that age, they feel indifferent toward intellectual
accomplishment. On the other hand, adults with an inner freshness
(which does not, however, exclude a sense of discretion), people

100 • The Educator’s Task of Forming Pictures


of a friendly and kindly disposition do make a deep impression on
children. People whose voices have a ring of tenderness, as if their
words were caressing the child, expressing approval and praise, reach
the child’s soul. This personal impact is what matters because with
the change of teeth the child no longer surrenders to surrounding
activities. Now a new openness awakens to what people are actually
saying, to what adults say with the natural authority that they have
developed. . . Children at this particular stage of life who have not
learned to look up with a natural sense of surrender to the authority
of the adults who brought them up, the adults who educated them,
cannot grow into free human beings. Freedom is won only through a
voluntary surrender to authority during childhood.
4/4/1924, in Education, Teaching and Practical Life [19], p. 138.
With the change of teeth, a complete metamorphosis is taking place.
What was previously deep in the bodily organization and active there
becomes autonomous soul being and the physical body is left more
on its own. Therefore, from the age when children first go to school,
one must deal with their soul in such a way that one meets forces
that previously were creative forces of the body. Education and
meaningful instruction are possible only if the teacher keeps this in
sight. The child at that age does not have an abstract understanding
of things; he wishes to experience images in the same way he
had worked previously on his own body out of images. This takes
place only if educators and teachers relate artistically to the child
through the senses. They cannot count on the child understanding
intellectually what is being taught. They should work in such a
way that images which unfold in an artistic fashion are allowed to
resonate in the child’s soul. . . .
More on the topic of authority follows this excerpt, if you wish to read
further in the lecture.
4/8/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 14.
. . . After the change of teeth, the teacher’s knowledge begins to
have some significance; but this is again lost, if I merely impart what
I learned as it lives in me. It must all be transformed artistically and
made into images . . . . I must awaken invisible forces between the
child and myself.
In the second life period, between the change of teeth and puberty,
it is much more important that I transform my knowledge into visual

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 101


imagery and living forms, unfolding it and allowing it to flow into the
child. What a person has learned is important only for children after
puberty until the early twenties.
4/9/1924, in The Essentials of Education [27], p. 29-30.
Our initial approach to life had a religious quality in that we related to
nature as naturally religious beings, surrendered to the world. In this
second stage, however, we are no longer obligated to merely accept
passively everything coming from our environment, allowing it to
vibrate in us physically; rather, we transform it creatively into images.
Between the change of teeth and puberty, children are artists,
though in a childish way, just as in the first phase of life, children were
homo religiosus— naturally religious human beings.
Now that the child demands everything in a creative, artistic way,
the teachers and educators who encounter the child must present
everything from the perspective of an artist. Our contemporary
culture demands this of teachers, and this is what must flow into
the art of education; at this point, interactions between the growing
human being and educators must take an artistic form. In this
respect, we face great obstacles as teachers. Our civilization and the
culture all around us have reached the point where they are geared
only to the intellect, not to the artistic nature.
4/15/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], p. 50.
. . . If teachers can acquire a true knowledge of the human being,
they will become aware of how, when the etheric body is freed at
the change of teeth, the child has an inner urge to receive everything
in the form of images. The child’s own inner being wants to become
“image.” During the first stage of life, impressions lack this picture-
forming tendency; they are transformed instead into habits and skills
in the child; memory itself is habit and skill.
Children want to imitate, through the movement of the limbs,
everything they see happening around them; they have no desire to
form any inner images. But after the change of teeth, you will notice
how children come to know things very differently. Now they want to
experience pictures arising in the soul; consequently, teachers must
bring everything into a pictorial element in their lessons. Creating
images is the most important thing for teachers to understand.

102 • The Educator’s Task of Forming Pictures


4/16/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], p. 55.
Children are unconcerned with the meaning of words and, indeed,
with any manifestation of the world around them, until after the
change of teeth. Even then, it is not yet the intellectual aspect
that concerns them, but an element of feeling. They take it in as
one takes anything from acknowledged authority. Before puberty,
a child cannot intellectually determine right and wrong. People
may speculate about these things as much as they like, but direct
observation shows what I have said to be true. This is why all moral
concepts brought before a child must be pictorial in nature.
4/16/1924, in The Roots of Education [28], pp. 60-61.
It is very different when we come to the change of teeth. Now, with
their individuality, but on the model delivered by its inheritance,
children make their own bodies. At this age, a child acquires for the
first time a body formed from the individuality. Human beings come
to Earth with a remembered tendency; this then develops into a
more pictorial and plastic memory. Therefore, what is produced from
the impulses of former earthly lives causes life between the change
of teeth and puberty to seem familiar. It is very important for us
to realize that a child’s experience at this age is like recognizing an
acquaintance on the street.
This experience—lowered one level into the subconscious—is what
happens in the physical and moral nature of a child at this age. The
child experiences what is learned as old and familiar. The more we
can appeal to that feeling, recognizing that we are giving the child
old and familiar knowledge, the more pictorial and imaginative
we can make our teaching, and the better we will teach, because
that individual saw these things as images in the spiritual life and
knows that his or her own being rests within these images; they
can be understood because they are already well known. The child
has not yet developed any clearly defined or individual sympathies
and antipathies, but has a general feeling of sympathy or antipathy
toward what is found on the Earth, just as I might feel sympathy if
I meet a friend or antipathy if I meet someone who once struck me
on the head. If we keep in mind that these general feelings are there,
and if we work on this hypothesis, our teaching will be on the right
track.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 103


7/20/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], pp. 73-74.
So, during the second period of life between the change of teeth and
puberty, the human ether body is our main concern in education.
Above all, both teacher and child need the forces at work in the ether
body, because they release the child’s feeling life, not judgment and
thought. Deeply embedded in the nature of children between the
change of teeth and puberty is the third member of the human being,
the astral body, which bears all feelings and sensations. During this
period, the astral body is still deeply embedded in the ether body.
Thus, because the ether body has now become relatively free, it is
our task to develop it so that it can follow its own tendencies, which
are helped by education, not hindered. When can it be helped? This
happens when we teach children through pictures, in the broadest
sense; everything we wish them to absorb we build imaginatively and
in images. The ether body is the body of formative forces; it models
the wonderful forms of the organs—the heart, lungs, liver, and so
on. The physical body, which we inherit, acts only as a model; after
the first seven years—after the change of teeth—it is laid aside, and
a second physical body is formed by the etheric body. This is why, at
this age, our educational methods must be adapted to the formative
forces of the ether body.
8/13/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 22-23.
Do not forget that around the change of teeth children pass over
into the period of imagination and fantasy. It is not the intellect but
fantasy that fills life at this age. You as teachers must also be able to
develop this life of fantasy, and those who bear a true knowledge of
the human being in their souls are able to do this. . . .
And so between the change of teeth and puberty you must educate
out of the very essence of imagination. For the quality that makes a
child under seven so wholly into a sense-organ now becomes more
inward; it enters the soul life. The sense-organs do not think; they
perceive pictures, or rather they form pictures from the external
objects. And even when the child’s sense experiences have already a
quality of soul, it is not a thought that emerges but an image, albeit
a soul image, an imaginative picture. Therefore in your teaching you
must work in pictures, in images.

104 • The Educator’s Task of Forming Pictures


Other Considerations

12/31/1921, in Soul Economy [22], pp. 136-37.


All this changes with the coming of the second teeth, and some of
these forces begin to work more in the child’s soul and spiritual realm,
affecting especially the rhythmic movement of heart and lungs. They
are no longer as active in the physical processes themselves, but now
they also work in the rhythms of breathing and blood circulation.
One can see this physically as the child’s breathing and pulse become
noticeably stronger during this time. Children now have a strong
desire to experience the emerging life of soul and spirit on waves of
rhythm and beat within the body—quite subconsciously, of course.
They have a real longing for this interplay of rhythm and beat in their
organism. Consequently, adults must realize that whatever they bring
to children after the change of teeth must be given with an inherent
quality of rhythm and beat. Everything addressed to a child at this
time must be imbued with these qualities. Educators must be able
to get into the element of rhythm to the degree that whatever they
present makes an impression on the children and allows them to live
in their own musical element.
This is also the beginning of something else. If, at this stage, the
rhythm of breathing and blood circulation is not treated properly,
harm may result and extend irreparably into later life. Many
weaknesses and unhealthy conditions of the respiratory and

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 105


circulatory systems in adult life are the consequences of an improper
education during these early school years.
7/20/1924, in Human Values in Education [29], p. 74-75.
We teach children by means of pictures, and they learn to write
through painting and drawing; indeed, it is never too early to
introduce children to the arts, since all our teaching must be imbued
with a feeling for art. In the same way, we must also keep this in
mind: Just as the ether body is inseparable from the human formative
and pictorial aspects, the astral body, which underlies the life of
feelings and sensations, tends toward the musical nature of a person.
So what do we look for when observing children? Because the astral
body is embedded in the physical and etheric bodies of children
between the change of teeth and puberty, if the soul life is healthy it
is also deeply musical. Every healthy child is profoundly musical. To
invoke this musicality, we need only call on the children’s own natural
liveliness and sense of movement. Artistic teaching, from the very
beginning of school life, should thus employ both the visual arts and
music. We should never emphasize abstraction; an artistic approach is
most important, and children must be led to comprehend the world
out of the artistic.
8/12/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 14.
A very great deal is awakening then [at the change of teeth]. The
child is curious, but not with an intellectual curiosity, for as yet the
child has no reasoning powers; and anyone who tries to appeal to
the intellect of a child of seven is quite on the wrong lines. The child
has fantasy, and this fantasy is what we must engage. It is really a
question of developing the concept of a kind of “milk of the soul.”
For you see, after birth the child must be given bodily milk. This
constitutes its food and every other necessary substance is contained
in the milk that the child consumes. And when children come to
school at the age of the changing of the teeth it is again milk that
you must give them, but now, milk for the soul. That is to say, your
teaching must not be made up of isolated units, but all that the
children receive must be a unity; after the change of teeth children
must have “soul milk.” . . .
8/18/1924, in The Kingdom of Childhood [30], pp. 92-94.
We must be clear in our minds that the independent activity of the
etheric body only really begins at the change of teeth. The etheric

106 • Other Considerations


body in the first seven years has to put forward all the independent
activity of which it is capable to build up the second physical body.
Thus, this etheric body is preeminently an inward artist in the child
in the first seven years; it is a modeler, a sculptor. And this modeling
force, applied to the physical body by the etheric body, becomes free,
emancipates itself with the change of teeth at the seventh year. It
can then work as an activity of soul.
This is why the child has an impulse to model forms or to paint them.
For the first seven years of life the etheric body has been carrying
out modeling and painting within the physical body. Now that it has
nothing further to do regarding the physical body, or at least not as
much as before, it wants to carry its activity outside. . . .
This is an inner urge, an inner longing of the etheric body, to be at
work in modeling or painting.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 107


Afterword

As you can see from the material collected in this book, Rudolf Steiner
was quite emphatic about the care and attention that the young child
needs during the transformation of the final birthing of the etheric
“around” the age of seven. He speaks of the etheric body as a force form
of mighty sculptural forces whose actual shape is influenced by the con-
nection these forces have with the stars. He is emphatic that the health of
these forces affects the child’s later capacities, even the ability to experi-
ence imagination, intuition, and inspiration in later life.
Above, the word “around” has been used because it seems that there is a lot
of controversy about when the birth of the etheric or the change of teeth
actually happens. And consequently, when is it appropriate for the child to
go into first grade? From the material in this document you will see that
Steiner talks about the nature and exact timing of this transition phase as
being individually driven. Although he predominantly mentions “at age
seven” he also uses phrases like “in the seventh year,” and, in some places,
even mentions age eight (see The Spiritual Ground of Education [24], p. 6).
He mentions that boys and girls may have different timing with this too
(see “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science” [2], pp. 58-61).
Rudolf Steiner is very clear that it is not just the teeth that are changing
at the time of the final birth of the etheric but that there are changes
going on throughout the whole organism. In fact, he says that the birth of
the etheric signifies not an elaboration of the physical body but rather a

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 109


replacement of the entire physical inherited substance, the whole human
organism. And, he also says that to the same degree of intensity that the
child teethes, the child learns to think. These remarks remind me of a
conversation that was relayed to me from a parent whose only child was
going through this transformation at the age of six-and-a-half . The child
said, as she was looking out the window of her car on the way to school,
“Mom, everything’s changing. The trees look different, you’re different
and even Harlequin the cat is different. And, Mom, I don’t know how to
play anymore.”
Rudolf Steiner goes on to say, on pages 58-60 of A Modern Art of Education
[26], that these powerful soul and spiritual forces, the etheric forces that
bring about the change of teeth, also go on to “enliven the soul’s inner
being.” What we witness as we accompany the child through this threshold
time of the six/seven-year change are the outer manifestations of mighty
processes at work, processes that are influenced by the stars themselves.
Educators who are present at this threshold time for the children can
easily be misled by the behaviors that arise out of the children—the
bubbling-up activity; racing around; emotional agitations; giddiness; the
accidental bumping into others when children lose their sense of their
place in space; the critical, removed gaze; the distancing from play; the
statements of boredom. . . All of these can be unnerving to the teacher
and parent. These behaviors and many more could undermine the adult’s
confidence and could lead to all kinds of assumptions about the school’s
or teacher’s or parents’ ineffectiveness with the child, when really the
child is simply outwardly reacting to inner changes.
For years it has been the practice in many Waldorf schools that a child
enters first grade when he or she is turning seven years old. Government
legislation, aimed at lowering the age of school entrance, has begun to in-
fluence educational policy in many countries in recent years, and there have
been varied responses from Waldorf/Steiner schools worldwide. In some
countries, it is legislated that children, even in Waldorf schools, must go
into grade one when they are five or six. (You will read in the section “The
Protection of the Etheric Body,” Rudolf Steiner’s lament, “It pains me to
know that the sixth year has been fixed as the official school age. Children
should not enter elementary school before their seventh year.”)
Early academics, testing, inappropriate activities, limits to play and out-
door experience are all a growing part of the agenda of some mainstream
policy-makers. In an attempt to meet government restrictions and not
compromise the development of the child too much, some Waldorf

110 • Afterword
schools in the world are introducing “zero classes.” These classes provide
six-year-old children with a place to be that tries to embrace some aspects
of the kindergarten and some aspects of first grade before they enter a
first grade class around the age of seven. It could be the kindergarten
teacher or the grade school teacher who must rise to the occasion and
work with the genuine needs of the child in this kind of environment.
At this time in the history of early childhood education, when so many
varied influences could have adverse affects on the future of childhood,
when, as developmental psychologists like Gordon Neufeld and social ed-
ucators like Kim John Payne say, “childhood is under attack,” it becomes
ever more important to understand what is happening in the develop-
ment of young children and how to protect them.
We can make headway in our own understanding by looking at the
wisdom of Rudolf Steiner and by beginning to cultivate our own obser-
vational capacities for seeing into the developmental changes that young
children undergo. Our colleagues and helpmates in this discovery process
are the anthroposophical doctors in our communities. Unfortunately the
phenomenon of having an anthroposophical doctor connected with a
Waldorf school, which is fairly common in Europe, is a rarity in the Unit-
ed States and Canada. This makes it even more important that educators
take up the challenge and recognize the need to protect the young child.
As educators of six-and seven-year-olds, we stand at a doorway, as mid-
wives at the second birth that the child undergoes. Accompanying the
child through this process is both an honor and a call for understanding
and compassion. In some places, Steiner calls this challenging time for the
child “a battleground” (see excerpts in the section “Educating the Child
Prior to the Birth of the Etheric”) and he emphasizes that who we are as
educators is extremely important to the child. Are we worthy models who
can care for the child’s physical body? Can we also be present for the chil-
dren when they become gradually amenable to a sense of natural unques-
tioned authority? In a lecture given in Torquay in August, 1924, teachers
were encouraged to reflect on the child’s need for “soul milk” at this time
in their development (see The Kingdom of Childhood [30], p. 14). Perhaps
one question we could carry forward in our work with the children is,
“What is the nature of soul milk?” Many approaches to this question can
be found within the text of the book you are holding in your hands.
Blessings on all the children making this courageous, transformational
journey, and on all the midwives who accompany them.
—Ruth Ker, Michaelmas, 2013

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 111


References

The quotations in this book are all taken from Rudolf Steiner’s works.
Each of these works has a standard number in the collected works of
Rudolf Steiner, the Gesamtausgabe, published by Rudolf Steiner Verlag,
Dornach, Switzerland. In the list of English titles below, the correspond-
ing “GA number” is given. Where possible, the titles of the most recent
translations are used. Throughout the text, reference is made to this list of
thirty-four works through the numbers in brackets. Where page numbers
are indicated in the text, the reference is to the particular English edition
listed here.

[1] Die Erzieuhung des Kindes vom Geschictspunkte der


Getisteswissenschaft, from Lucifer-Gnosis; Grundlegende Aufsätze
zur Anthroposophie und Berichte aus den Zeitschriften «Luzifer»
und «Lucifer – Gnosis» 1903 – 1908, GA 34. This 1907 essay, “The
Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science,” is included
in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on Education,
Anthroposophic Press, 1996.
[2] Die Erkenntnis des Übersinnlichen in unserer Zeit und deren Bedeutung
für das heutige Leben (13 lectures, Berlin/Cologne, 1906-7), GA 55.
Supersensible Knowledge, Anthroposophic Press, 1987. The lecture
of 12/1/1906, “Education in the Light of Spiritual Science,” and
the lecture of 1/24/1907, “Education and Spiritual Science,” are

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 113


also included in The Education of the Child and Early Lectures on
Education, Anthroposophic Press, 1996; this edition is quoted for
these two lectures.
[3] Westliche und östliche Weltgegensätzlichkeit - Wege zu ihre
Verständigung durch Anthroposophie (10 lectures, Vienna, 1922), GA
83. The Tension Between East and West, Anthroposophic Press, 1983.
[4] Ursprungsimpulse der Geisteswissenschaft. Christliche Esoterik im
Lichte neuer Geist-Erkenntnis (20 lectures, Berlin, 1906-7), GA 96.
Original Impulses for the Science of the Spirit, Completion Press,
2001. The lecture of 5/14/1906, “Teaching from a Foundation of
Spiritual Insight,” is also included in The Education of the Child and
Early Lectures on Education, Anthroposophic Press, 1996; this is the
edition quoted for this lecture.
[5] Das christliche Mysterium, GA 97 (31 lectures, various cities, 1906-7).
The Christian Mystery (Completion Edition), Completion Press, 2000.
[6] Das Leben zwischen dem Tode und der neuen Geburt im Verhältnis
zu den kosmischen Tatsachen (10 lectures, Berlin, 1912-13), GA 141.
Between Death and Rebirth, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1975.
[7] Das Karma des Berufes des Menschen in Anknüpfung an Gothes
Leben. Kosmische und Menschliche Geschichte Band III (10 lectures,
Dornach, 1916), GA 172. The Karma of Vocation, Anthroposophic
Press, 1984.
[8] Soziales Verstandnis aus geisteswissenschaftlichen Erkentnis Die
Geistige Hintergründe der Sozialen Frage - Band III (15 lectures,
Dornach, 1919), GA 191. Lecture of 10/4/1919 published as
“Social Understanding Through Spiritual Scientific Knowledge,”
Anthroposophic Press, 1982.
[9] Geisitige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwikelung (18
lectures, Dornach, 1920), GA 196. What is Necessary in These Urgent
Times, SteinerBooks, 2010.
[10] Geisteswissenschaft als Erkenntnis der Grundimpulse sozialer
Gestaltung (17 lectures, Dornach, 1920), GA 199. Spiritual Science as
a Foundation for Social Forms, Anthroposophic Press, 1986.
[11] Der Mensch in Zusammenhang mit dem Kosmos 1: Entsprechung
zwischen Mikrokosmos und Makrokosmos Der Mensch—Eine
Heiroglype des Weltenalls (16 lectures, Dornach, 1920), GA 201.
Mystery of the Universe, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001.

114 • References
[12] Der Mensch in Zusammenhang mit dem Kosmos 6: Menschenwerden,
Weltenseele und Weltengeist - Zweiter Teil: Der Mensch als geistiges
Wesen im historischen Werdegang (11 lectures, Dornach, 1921),
GA 206. Typescript of translation of August 7, 1921 lecture, “Man’s
Becoming, World Soul, and World Spirit,” Rudolf Steiner Library,
Ghent, NY (undated).
[13] Geistige Zusammenhänge in der Gestaltung des menschlichen
Organismus (16 lectures, various locations, 1922), GA 218. Two
lectures are included in Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy,
Volume 2, Anthroposophic Press, 1996 (see also GA 304a, reference
list number [23]).
[14] Mysteriengestaltungen (14 lectures, Dornach, 1923), GA 232. Mystery
Knowledge and Mystery Centers, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973.
[15] Allgemeine Menschenkunde als Grundlage der Pädagogik (14 lectures,
Stuttgart, 1919), GA 293. The Foundations of Human Experience,
Anthroposophic Press, 1996.
[16] Erziehungskunst, Methodisch-Didaktisches (14 lectures, Stuttgart,
1919), GA 294. Practical Advice to Teachers, Anthroposophic Press,
2000.
[17] Die Erziehungsfrage als soziale Frage (6 lectures, Dornach, 1919),
GA 296. The six lectures of this volume, collectively titled Education
as a Social Problem, are included in Education as a Force for Social
Change, Anthroposophic Press, 1997. See also GA 331, reference list
number [32].
[18] Die Waldorfschule und ihr Geist (6 lectures, various locations, 1919-
20), GA 297. The Spirit of the Waldorf School, Anthroposophic Press,
1995.
[19] Erziehung zum Leben: Selbsterziehung und pädagogische Praxis (6
lectures, various locations, 1921-24), GA 297a. Education, Teaching,
and Practical Life, AWSNA Publications, 2007.
[20] Die Erneuerung der pädagogisch-didaktischen Kunst durch
Geisteswissenschaft (14 lectures, Basel/Dornach, 1920), GA 301. The
Renewal of Education, Anthroposophic Press, 2001.
[21] Erziehung und Unterricht aus Menschenerkenntnis (9 lectures,
Stuttgart, 1920-23), GA 302a. Balance in Teaching, Anthroposophic
Press, 2007.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 115


[22] Die gesunde Entwickelung des Menschenwesens (16 lectures, Dornach,
1921-22), GA 303. Soul Economy, Anthroposophic Press, 2003.
[23] Anthroposophische Menschenkunde und Pädagogik (9 lectures,
various locations, 1923-24), GA 304a. Waldorf Education and
Anthroposophy, Volume 2, Anthroposophic Press, 1996.
[24] Die geistig-seelischen Grundkräfte der Erziehungskunst. Spirituelle
Werte in Erziehung und sozialem Leben (12 lectures, Oxford, 1922),
GA 305. Spiritual Ground of Education, Anthroposophic Press, 2004.
[25] Die pädagogische Praxis vom Gesichtspunkte geisteswissenschaftlicher
Menschenerkenntnis. Die Erziehung des Kindes und jüngerer
Menschen (8 lectures, Dornach, 1923), GA 306. The Child’s Changing
Consciousness, Anthroposophic Press, 1996.
[26] Gegenwärtiges Geistesleben und Erziehung (14 lectures, Ilkley, 1923),
GA 307. A Modern Art of Education, Anthroposophic Press, 2004.
[27] Die Methodik des Lehrens und die Lebensbedingungen des Erziehens
(5 lectures, Stuttgart, 1924), GA 308. The Essentials of Education,
Anthroposophic Press, 1997.
[28] Anthroposophische Pädagogik und ihre Voraussetzungen (5 lectures,
Bern, 1924), GA 309. The Roots of Education, Anthroposophic Press,
1997.
[29] Der pädagogische Wert der Menschenerkenntnis und der Kulturwert
der Pädagogik (10 lectures, Arnheim, 1924), GA 310. Human Values
in Education, Anthroposophic Press, 2004.
[30] Die Kunst des Erziehens aus dem Erfassen der Menschenwesenheit
(7 lectures, Torquay, 1924), GA 311. The Kingdom of Childhood,
Anthroposophic Press, 1995.
[31] Meditative Betrachtungen und Anleitungen zur Vertiefung der
Heilkunst (13 lectures, Dornach, 1924), GA 316. Course for Young
Doctors, Mercury Press, 1994.
[32] Neugestaltung des sozialen Organismus (14 lectures, Stuttgart, 1919),
GA 330. The lecture of 6/19/19, “The Tasks of Schools and the
Threefold Social Organism” is included in Education as a Force for
Social Change, Anthroposophic Press, 1997 (see also reference list
number [17].

116 • References
[33] Vom Einheitsstaat zum dreigliedrigen sozialen Organismus
(11 lectures, various locations, 1920), GA 334. Social Issues,
Anthroposophic Press, 1991.
[34] Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde. Über das Wesen des
Christentums (13 lectures, Dornach, 1923), GA 349. From Limestone
to Lucifer, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999.

From Kindergarten into the Grades • 117


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