Tag: <span>Rudolf Steiner</span>

Rudolf Steiner Rapprochement of Cultures.

Rudolf Steiner: Education. The Road to the Higher Self.

Featured Image: Rudolf Steiner. By Pausoak2018, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was a person with many interests and made contributions to several fields.  (1) We note his birth anniversary on 25 February.  The link among his many interests was that each person has a Higher Self;  which he sometimes called “the Soul”, and that the road to the flowering of this Higher Self was through education;  especially self-education.

To consider every child as a unique individual and to establish a relationship with the child based on mutual trust is the aim of the Rudolf Steiner schools;  also called the Waldorf Schools after the first one he created shortly after the end of the First World War in Stuttgart, Germany. German youth had to deal with the tramas of the defeat and radical changes in society.  In periods of crisis, creativity, imagination and audacity are needed.

Self-Education

This Marine Stays Committed to Country, Service, and Fitness sustanon Fitness Gym Poster Template by andrewtimothy on Envato Elements

Close view of the statue, with representation of Oliver Lodge onthe left. By Rodhullandemu, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Higher Self.

Today, children are facing global challenges that require the child to unfold faculties;  which go beyond the conventional skills which were adequate for the past. More than ever;  areas of social unrest and violence call upon teachers;  who can take personal initiatives and have a sense of responsibility.

Closely related to the belief that there is a Higher Self; Steiner stressed that the seed of the Higher Self existed within the child;  and that the role of education was to give nourishment for the seed to grow. Steiner emphasized the importance of achieving balance in the three different ways; in which a person relates to the world – through physical activity;  the life of the emotions; and the realm of thinking – which he symbolized as hand;  heart and head.

Self-Education.

Steiner also held that there are stages in childhood at which definite new developments occur;  especially in seven year cycles: seven, fourteen, twenty-one.  These seven-year cycles must be properly met in the education system.  The task is to awaken the faculties that lie in each child by means of the everyday activities in the classroom and at home. In the Steiner schools;  an emphasis is placed on cooperation with parents.  Family life should have some of the same characteristics of learning as that of the school.

The role of the school is to equip pupils with the ability to learn independently of exam pressure;  and to set out on a continuous process of self-education.  Self-education;  coping with one’s difficulties is the aim. Much in the Steiner-influenced education is based on observation of nature. Such observation is based on the conviction that there is a deep relationship between humans and the natural environment.  Watching a sunrise or a sunset can be a learning moment. Feelings that emerge in such special moments have a quality of their own.

Today, in many countries;  there is an evaluation of education systems in light of a fast-changing world society.  The ideas of Rudolf Steiner and the practice of the schools merit active consideration.

Rudolf Steiner

Human evolution and knowledge of Christ, Rudolf Steiner, GA 100. By Rudolf Steiner, GA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note:

1) Colin Wilson. Rudolf Steiner: The Man and his Vision (Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1985).

You can find an earlier piece on Steiner by Rene Wadlow, HERE!

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Maria Montessori Portraits of World Citizens.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952).

31 August is the birth anniversary of Maria Montessori, an Italian childhood educator and world citizen. Her approaches to early childhood education are used both in Montessori schools and also more widely in other schools and home schooling.

Maria Montessori, inspired by the role of her mother was a life-long feminist breaking down barriers which tried to exclude women.  She insisted to be allowed to enter medical school in Rome at a time when the school had only men as students, thus becoming one of the first Italian female M.D. in Italy in 1896.

Casa dei Bambini.

She became known for her work with illiterate children at her Casa dei Bambini, a school set up in 1907 in a building in the slums of Rome. There she developed her own principles of learning.  Montessori had been strongly influenced by the tactile educational methods used for deaf-mutes and retarded children that had been created by two French physicials Jean Itard and his student Edward Seguin.  She took special interest in the retarded and slow-learning children who were locked up in wards without toys or learning materials of any kind.

Jean Itard

Jean Itard, french physician (19th century). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In her Casa dei Bambini, she developed a system to help children distinquish letters, geometric shapes and colors through the use of tactile materials.  The children were allowed to move freely in the classroom and to progress at their own pace.  They became so involved with the didactic materials that they chose them over toys and began exhibiting new powers of concentration and conflidence.  As the system evolved, she also introduced child-size furniture and new elements to the curriculum that related closely to the daily life of the child, such as gardening, gymnastics, tendings plants and pets, and preparing a communal meal.

Edward Seguin

Edward Seguin By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In her writings Montessori drew from a variety of sources including psychoanalytic insights concerning the unconscious, which challenged the adult-centric perceptions of early childhood.  She argued for a child’s dignity and autonomy. In The Secret of Childhood she wrote:

“The adult has become egocentric in relation to the child, not egotistic, but egocentric.  Thus he considers everything that affects the psyche of the child from the standpoint of its reference to himself, and so misunderstands the child.  It is this point of view that leads to a consideration of the child as an empty being, which the adult must fill by his own endeavours, as an inert and incapable being for whom everything must be done, as a being without an inner guide, whom the adult must guide step by step from without. And in adopting such an attitude, which unconsciously cancels the child’s personality, the adult feels a conviction of zeal, love and sacrifice”.  (1)

“A pattern of psychical instinct of functions that will set it in relation to its environment”.

Her emphasis on developing the potential of each child was part of a then new educational current as seen in the efforts of Percy Nunn and the New Education Fellowship in England, Ovide Decroly in Belgium, John Dewey in the USA and Rudolf Steiner in Germany.  Like Steiner, Montessori believed in the existence of “sensitive periods” or critical phases for learning, largely set out by age.  She argued that children have a unique consciousness and a special sensitivity in the early years, which must be nurtured and allowed to develop along its own course. She viewed the child as a “Spiritual Embryo” that contains within itself “a pattern of psychical instinct of functions that will set it in relation to its environment.”  Montessori also placed great emphasis on the value of cooperation and of early childhood as being an important step in education for peace.

Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner. By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mussolini and Hitler.

In 1934, the Fascist government of Mussolini closed the Montessori schools in Italy as Hitler did in Germany and then in Austria when Hitler’s troops moved into Vienna.  Creative thinking among children was seen as a danger by dictatorships − no doubt correctly.  One of the Jewish teachers in the Montessori school of Vienna fled to Benares, India, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society.  Thus, in 1939, Montessori and her son Mario left for India to give an educational training course in Benares organized by the Theosophical Society.

Mussolini and Hitler

 

Mussolini and Hitler(c.1940). By Unidentified photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Enemy Aliens.

In one of those bureaucratic ironies, in September 1939, when England went to war against Germany and Italy, Montessori and her son became “enemy aliens” at first confined to the compound of the Theosophical society.  There were enough protests that the Viceroy changed the policy for the Montessoris to special reservations concerning travel within India and a prohibition on leaving India.  Thus she spent the war years until 1946 in India where her educational ideas influenced a growing number of Indian teachers.

Given the start of the war, Maria Montessori placed renewed emphasis on education as a factor of peace and of the special role that women should play in peace building, true then and still true today. In an article in 1939 “Peace Through Education” in the Visva-Bharati Quarterly edited by Rabindranath Tagore she wrote:

“ What we have to recognise is that mankind is bewildered by developments of widespred importance with which education has never dealt.  Men do not know what are the forces that draw them into war, and therefore they are absolutely helpless against them.  Society has evolved only on the material side, in this field powerful and complicated mechanisms have been built up, and in these modern man, still ignorant of the mind and incapable of cooperation is helplessly caught.  The child is misunderstood by the adult; parents unconsciously fight against their children instead of aiding them in their divine mission.  Parent and child misunderstand one another, a cloud comes between father and son at the very beginning of life.  And throughout childhood, it ismisunderstanding that makes a child sullen or rebellious, neurotic or stupid, for all these faults are foreign to his true nature.  In our experience with children, we have seen that the child is a ‘spiritual embryo’ able to evolve by itself and to give us actual proff of the existence of a better type of humanity.”

Maria Montessori

Italian ₤ 1000 banknote (1990–1998) representing Maria Montessori. By scan by F l a n k e r, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes:

Maria Montessori. The Secret of Childhood (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1936).
For a full biography see Rita Kramer. Maria Montessori, A Biography (Chicago: iversity of Chicago Press, 1976).

 Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen.

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Religious Liberty Rapprochement of Cultures.

Assault on Religious Liberty : 20 July 1937.

view to western wall Jerusalem and dome of rock. By Photo by Anton Mislawsky on Unsplash.

The Nazi Government of Germany had first moved against the Jews; considered as both a racial and a religious group. The Jews had long been a target of the Nazi movement; and the attack on them came as no surprise.

However;  the 20 July 1937 banning of the theosophical movement and of others « Theosophically Related »;  in the Nazi ideology was a turning point in Nazi repression.

On 20 July 1937;  the Theosophical Society and the related Anthroposophical Society;  which had been founded by Rudolf Steiner;  who had been president of the German section of the Theosophical Society;  were banned. The banning order was signed by the Reichfuhrer SS Heydrich;  who warned that:

« The continuation and new foundation of this as well as the foundation of disguised succession organizations is prohibited. Simultaneously I herewith state because of the law about confiscation of property hostile to people and state that the property of the above mentioned organizations was used or intended for the promotion of intentions hostile to people and state. » 

Thus all offices and buildings were confiscated.

Rudolf Steiner

 Rudolf Steiner By Pausoak2018, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler

Left to right: Janowska concentration camp commandant Friedrich Warzok, SS-Gruppenfuhrer Fritz Katzmann, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler during official visit at a place of extermination of Polish Jews from the Lwow Ghetto.
By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

At the time;  there was little organized protest. The League of Nations;  while upholding tolerance and freedom of thought in general;  had no specific declaration on freedom of religion; and no institutional structures to deal with protests. Now;  the United Nations has a specific Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 25 November 1981;  which builds upon Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  which states that:

« Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion : this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance. » 

As with all U.N. Instruments relating to freedom of religion;  Article 18 represents a compromise. One of its achievements was the inclusion of the terms « thought » and « conscience »; which quietly embraced atheists and non-believers. The most divisive phrase; however, was :

« freedom to change one’s religion. »

The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief;  took nearly 20 years of difficult negotiations to draft. Preparations for the Declaration had begun in 1962. One of the most difficult areas in drafting the Declaration; concerned the rights of the child to have: 

« access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. »

The Declaration goes on to state that: 

« The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for freedom of religion or belief of others, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the services of his fellow men. »

The Declaration highlights that there can be no doubt that freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and the elimination of intolerance and discrimination based on religion;  or belief are of a fundamental character;  and derive from the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.

The gradual evolution of U.N. norms;  on the issue of religious liberty has been a complex process;  and is often a reflection of bi-lateral relations among Member States. This was especially true during the 1980s – the last decade of the U.S.-USSR Cold War. However;  the end of the Cold War did not end religious tensions as an important factor in internal and international conflicts.

The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by U.N. Bodies alone. Effective implementation also requires efforts by non-governmental organizations (NGO). NGOs play a vital role in the development of the right to freedom of religion or belief;  especially by advancing the cause of those still struggling to achieve this right.

Thus;  the Association of World Citizens had been active in the late 1970s;  when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights moved from New York to Geneva;  on the formulation of the 1981 Declaration. Since then;  the Association has worked closely with the Special Rapporteurs on Religious Liberty of the Commission; (now become the Human Rights Council). The Association has also raised publicly in the Commission certain specific situations and violations. The Association stresses the need for sound research and careful analysis. Citizens of the World have an important rôle to play in bringing spiritual and ethical insights; to promote reconciliation and healing in many parts of the world.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Religious Liberty

“Religious Liberty” was commissioned by B’nai B’rith and dedicated in 1876 to “the people of the United States” as an expression of support for the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Created by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the first American Jewish sculptor to gain international prominence, the 25-foot marble monument was carved in Italy and shipped to Fairmount Park in Philadelphia for the nation’s Centennial Exposition. It was later moved to Independence Mall and now stands in front of the National Museum of American Jewish History. By Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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