Swadhaa - A Steiner School

Educational Philosophy

A few decades ago, a renowned teacher, Lekh Raj Ulfat, visited Sri Aurobindo’s ashram in Pondicherry. Just when he was departing, he turned back and asked Aurobindo a final question, “How could I be a good teacher?”
Sri Aurobindo answered “Find out and develop the soul of your students”
Lekh Raj queried that it was easy to find out the working of their bodies and minds but how to find out their souls?
Aurobindo replied “Find out your own soul”

educational-philosophyThis anecdote puts forth the highest ideals at the heart of Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy – to nurture and nourish the inner being of each child through the “soul force” of the teacher, to enable them to be individuals capable of lending meaning and purpose to their own lives.

Steiner’s philosophy recognises that the term “human” encompasses mind, body and soul. Thus his educational work is based on the profound understanding of this broad connotation of human development.

Steiner talks about the three major developmental stages of childhood, each having its own learning requirements.

In the Heart – the loom of Feeling,
In the Head – the light of Thinking,
In the Limbs – the strength of Will.

                                   Rudolf Steiner

  • The first developmental stage is from birth until age seven (or about the time of coming of permanent teeth). During this age the physical body is most active, and the child’s consciousness is bound up with processes of assimilation and growth as the life forces work from within. During this period, the experiences which engage the will of the child are essential. This stage is characterized by the predominance of physical activity.
  • The second developmental stage is between the seventh year and puberty. During this age the child lives in the inner world of feeling. This stage requires a learning which engages his feeling. This stage involves the predominance of soul or feeling.
  • The third developmental stage is around puberty. During this period the youth begin to conceive of thinking as adults do.  They become educational-philosophy-2able to form opinions on matters of life and knowledge independently.  During this period the child can be approached with all that opens up the world of abstract ideas, the faculty of judgment and independent thought. The third stage has predominance of the Thinking Faculty.

Rudolf Steiner’s educational practices are thus based on the insights into the changing interplay of body, mind and spirit in different periods of child development. Based on these insights the richly designed Waldorf Curriculum connects to the child’s essential nature and engages the child’s whole being, the will, feeling and thinking.  Waldorf education thus promotes wholeness by bringing together the body, mind and spirit.