JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Our 14th year Dear Readers,
Welcome to our 14th anniversary edition. We began in 1999 with a slim Newsletter for Members of the Initiative Circle of the Pedagogical Section in NZ – 20 copies were distributed.
Fourteen is a milestone in a teenager’s life – in the life of Institutions and even small publications like ours. This issue brings a rich selection:
We soon became a Journal for Waldorf Teachers - with the enthusiasm and support of Peter Glasby, Alduino Mazzone, Van James, Ineke Mulder and the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School. By 2002 we had 100 on our mailing list.
Florian Osswald condensed several lectures he gave on his tour of Australia and New Zealand last year, “Learning for life – learning from life”; Kerstin Andersson also wrote for us especially on Neurophysiology, a field that is growing and changing conceptually at a fast pace; Anne Gastinger’s image of Cassandra and unheeded warnings about the effect of wifi use is awakening – we look forward to readers’ responses.
An index of all previous articles appeared in the 2007 edition which was renamed Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Education, intended for anyone interested in our education. Strong support came from the Waldorf Schools, on both sides of the Tasman – and also from the Australian RSSA (now called Steiner Education Australia) and our NZ Federation. With this, our 14th year, we distribute 600 copies in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. We welcome new editorial team members; from Melbourne: Jean-Michel David (Little Yarra) and Jennifer West (Sophia Mundi); and Neil Boland (AUT, Auckland). Previous editions are on OWL www.waldorflibrary.org
Three articles appear which have been edited from other publications: Rod Tomlinson shares his views on the work of the College and republicanism in a Steiner School, John Blackwood shares his ongoing research on morphology and orthogenetic evolution and we reprint Dr Helmut von Kügelgen’s booklet, “Working with Angels”. On behalf of the editorial team, With warm regards, Neil Carter
Distribution, Finance & Orders:
Order from – JournalWE@gmail.com firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Robin Bacchus JournalWE@gmail.com PO Box 8410, Havelock North, 4157 1-9 copies $10.00 each plus post/packing email@example.com New Zealand 10-19 copies 10% discount plus post/packing Assistant Editor: Published by: 20 or more copies 20% discount plus post/packing Dr Robin Bacchus JournalWE@gmail.com The Initiative Circles of the Education (Pedagogical) Next Issue 14.2, October, 2012 Section in Australia, Hawai’i and New Zealand. Deadline: 31st August, 2012. Photographs: Provided by authors. www.anthroposophy.org.nz/Sections/Education The opinions expressed in this Journal are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors. Editorial assistance: Hannelore Layout & Printing: We welcome all contributions on the themes pertaining Henning, Jennifer West, Neil Boland, Karl Grant Media Hawke’s Bay Ltd, p: 06 870 9028 to Steiner education. Please forward your contributions Jean-Michel David, Diederic Ruarus firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil Carter Peter Glasby
2 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Learning for Life – Learning from Life Florian is the co-coordinator of the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum (the high school for Spiritual science in Dornach, Switzerland). Meeting Florian with his contagious enthusiasm for life, strong sense of humour and depth of seriousness is an experience – knowing that his task includes carrying the consciousness of the entire worldwide movement of Steiner Schools. This article, written for our Journal by Florian, combines the essence of several lectures on the theme of science teaching from a Goetheanistic viewpoint, which he gave during his month long tour of Australia and New Zealand Steiner Schools, July and August, 2011. We would like to thank Karin Smith, Switzerland for translating Florian’s article and Florian for his very generous contribution to our Journal. Editors NC & NB
Schools are always faced with new challenges. It is part of the teacher’s task to become aware of the spirit of the times and to learn to understand it. Awareness can start with the most simple of events, possibly with the following daily occurrence: young people enter the school and leave it again. This is an interesting area of observation. We may experience their coming in and going out as a deep breath which complements every school day. It is a movement without which school could not happen and it is a movement which continues internally, because breathing in and breathing out is an underlying concept of teaching. We welcome the pupils in the morning and we say goodbye to them at the end of the day. Every lesson lives between these two: the beginning and the end; and between them unfold a variety of learning processes. Here we already see a crucial feature of teaching: teaching is not only about the teaching of knowledge. “Correct” breathing hints towards another quality, a quality which has echoes in our daily teaching routines. Even if we do not consciously shape this breathing process, it is nonetheless influenced by the activities we do with the pupils. If we carefully observe how the pupils enter and leave the school, we might be
Florian Osswald, Berne, Switzerland
able to perceive whether breathing is nurtured at a particular school. Learning for life / Learning from life The class teacher has a prominent role in Rudolf Steiner Schools. However, the eight-year class teacher cycle is being questioned today. People ask how one single person can possibly teach every subject competently and tend to think it an impossible task. Specialist subject teachers would do the job much better, wouldn’t they? If we look at a teacher’s knowledge of a school subject only, we would agree with the above, but there is more to teaching than just knowledge of a subject. What then is so special about class teachers? It is their ability to be the role model of an ever-changing and developing human being. It creates a strong inner image to try and respond to children’s development from class 1 to class 8. I once observed how some class 9 pupils carefully watched their former class teacher; they wanted to see how she had changed in the five weeks between the end of the old and the beginning of the new school year and whether she would handle the transition successfully. Watching her first appearance on stage with the new class 1 children made her former pupils not only smile but also fostered a deep respect within them. It is the development of the human being which is particularly important and not only the teaching of facts and knowledge. This is not to say that competence in a subject area is not essential. Subject knowledge is indeed crucial. Therefore, many schools have arranged support for class teachers in particular subject areas, be it the teaching of a specific subject by another teacher or be it through collaboration with a colleague. Through what has been said above, we start to glimpse that life itself is a teacher. We need to learn to work with this more consciously. “The first social-educational area is one which is to serve our newly founded Waldorf JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
school: the area that includes classes for adolescents, the tuition and education by which people are to be prepared for what is required of them by a truly social thinking both now and for the foreseeable future ... The other area we can consider social and pedagogical is that of which I would say, it should impart the “theory of life.” We are in a poor way, if we face life rigidly and as a stranger. We stand rightly in life only if every moment of every day and every week of every year is a source for us of learning, for our further development. We will have experienced our school best - no matter how far we have come in it - if we have learned through this school how to learn from life .... Life is a school for every healthy human being.”# Therefore we do not leave real life at the doorstep of the classroom. We invite it in but it has to be in a shape appropriate to the children. By doing this, we make it possible for the pupils to face life in a more and more conscious way until, in the upper classes, reflecting upon experiences is practised with the students. So, how does this look in practice? One of the topics in the lower school is “from grain to bread”. The children are actively involved in the complete process throughout the cycle of the seasons, from the sowing of the grain to the baking of the bread. Thus the children really experience all the related activities in a holistic way. Later, in the upper classes, the students spend three weeks with people with learning difficulties, people who need help with managing routine tasks. The students start to ask themselves what it means to have learning difficulties. What kind of help is appropriate without causing offence? What is the connection between themselves and a person with learning difficulties? These challenging questions arise out of real encounters and are not abstract or theoretical. Out of this kind of interaction with real life emerges learning from life and learning for life. But who has prepared this lesson? For the time being, the answer remains in the dark but something does indeed happen and we are able to
look back on it. Looking back is a way of reflection which connects the experience to real life. Indeed, school does not only happen inside the classroom. It is of uttermost importance that teaching, the core task of the school, connects theoretical knowledge with the world and with life. At Steiner schools we study plants not only in books but also in their natural surroundings on regular nature walks and later in botany camps. The same can be said for mathematical objects such as a parabola. We calculate and draw it but we do not forget its “earthly” sides: the parabola-mirror or water trajectories. Thus, some extension of the knowledge is made. Yet, even more important is now the question of the relevance between a parabola or a plant and the pupil. As teachers we prepare our lessons and connect to the subject content, a content which is meaningful, and which has a connection to the world and also a connection to ourselves. How does this connection live within us? Let us take a four-stroke engine, a so-called Otto engine, as an example of this aspect. I would like to take you now through a sequence of activities which I used to do with my students when I introduced the four-stroke-engine. Please observe how your relationship to the engine changes as we go through the process together. The function is as follows: 1. Intake stroke. 2. Compression stroke. 3. Combustion stroke. 4. Exhaust stroke. I draw the rhythm and function on the board and the students can see the actual parts on the engine itself. Now I start up an open engine, then I bring the engine closer and the students’
# Steiner, R. (1998 [1919-20]). Idee und Praxis der Waldorfschule [The Idea and Practice of the Waldorf School] (GA 297, lecture 4, September 24, 1919]. Dornach, Switzerland: Rudolf Steiner Verlag. [Not available in English.].
4 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
understanding grows. With all these activities the question arises what this engine has to do with me as a human being. The students now have the knowledge but it stays on their outside. How can I bring a dynamic relationship between the knowledge and the students about? Here is an attempt to make a new connection: The four phases can be shown acoustically. Intake stroke: strong sound of breathing in. SHSHSHSHSHSHSH Compression stroke: AHAHAHAHAHAH Combustion stroke: Boom! Exhaust stroke: Phooo! Or in one breath: Sh – Ah – Boom – Phooo Let’s do this now to a strict rhythm: SH – AH, etc. It quickly becomes clear that this is a rhythm which leaves us breathless. It does not correspond to our natural breathing rhythm. But we practise it and try to observe the effect on ourselves. The next step comes out of the fact that there is not only one cylinder in such an engine but usually four of them. So we divide the class in four groups and make a four-stroke engine canon. An inner picture, almost like an inner gesture of the engine, emerges through this activity. Through engaging with this gesture we interact with the lesson content in such a way that its core can show itself. Furthermore, another component emerges: we have been uplifted. The students have been invigorated because they understand the content better and we are invigorated because we have made the effort to engage with an inner gesture. This is the realm of the life forces which on the one side enable learning and on the other side rejuvenate us. Real learning has an invigorating effect and gives us new strength. It is a celebration! Nevertheless, let us not forget that a celebration needs to be properly prepared. It needs planning and devotion to make it a success. However, everyone who has ever prepared a party knows how many unexpected things can happen. Not only knowledge is needed in such a situation but also the ability to accept whatever comes; indeed to be able to see the unexpected as a challenge rather than as a setback.
Vaulting Not long ago I watched some gymnasts doing vaults. They did the wildest kinds of jumps: direct vaults, handsprings, summersaults and such. I was impressed by the sequences of vaults from start to finish. First, the athletes concentrated. They visualised their vault; they imagined every phase precisely until they felt ready to go. Then they started. But on the way they had to let go of their inner images. While running towards the vaulting table, they had to release their images and build up a complete presence, only this presence was relevant at the point of take off and while they were in the air. Finally, there was the moment of landing, preferably on the feet. Unfortunately, the competitors could not stop at the landing point and thus missed a beautiful opportunity. An athlete who is able to remain at the landing point for an instant can sometimes experience a kind of repercussion This may lead to profound encounters. The sequence of events as described above serves as an image of education: preparation, teaching and reflection. We prepare our lessons. We know what we want to do; we have internalised the lesson’s content. We then enter the class. Now we have to let go and allow a presence of mind to take room in the encounters with the students. How are they today? What lives in them today? If we see teaching as an art, we also have to understand that learning happens in the void between teacher and pupil. This void is an indefinite and mysterious space; it only comes into being in the encounter between student and teacher, therefore we need to reflect on it afterwards and ask ourselves what has happened. What about the preparation of the encounter then; how does it relate to teaching? Are there any indications within the lesson planning which show whether the lesson will succeed or not? Do we ourselves make an inward leap? Rudolf Steiner starts his account with an important hint: This evening I wish to make some preliminary remarks, and I would like to give you a kind of introduction today.1
1 Steiner, R. (1996 ). The foundations of human experience (GA 293, opening address, August 20, 1919). Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press.
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task.2 Please imagine that I have a yellow chalk in one hand and a blue one in the other. What can I create out of the tension between yellow and blue? One possibility would be to mix the colours and make green. This would be something new: green. Green is neither blue nor yellow. If I look at this action I would describe it as a matter of intellect or feeling. It corresponds to something which is very common today. I have often seen students’ essays which have been constructed from various fragments of texts found on internet. This manner of working is not just confined to pupils. Teachers also know it well. We take a section from this course book and a fragment from another book, combine them and so arrive at a new lesson. A real challenge, however, would be the following question: in one hand I have a yellow chalk, in the other hand a blue one but how do I get from these two colours to the colour red? An answer can only be found if we dare to jump. In his writing and lectures, Steiner challenges us again and again to make these kinds of jumps. We cannot do justice to his thinking if we do not leap. Education is Self-Education Let us take a next step and look at the jump from another side. Basically, there is no education other than selfeducation, whatever the level may be. ... Every education is self-education, and as teachers we can only provide the environment of the child’s own self-education. We have to provide the most favourable conditions in which, through our agency, the child can educate itself in accordance with its own destiny.3
We are not only teachers on the basis of our own education, not only on the basis of being employed by a school; we are teachers chiefly on the grounds that we are in a constant process of development, in a process of self-education. To focus on the process of self-education is of utmost importance in our demanding profession. We know from classroom practice that we need to support and develop the aspect of light in our pupils. In it lies the strength to be in command of the shadow side. The most dignified task of education is to strengthen our own light and let it shine, to encourage the children and trust them. Trusting the individual to find within themselves the power to mature shows that in every one of us lives the seed of the future. We have seen in today’s lecture that we can say yes to life by learning from life. Now we can start to look at a further task: the ability to meet the future. This will have to become real in daily life. Let me give you an example. I knew a class nine pupil who was an excellent gymnast. In fact, at everything he was better than the teacher. Understandably, some tension arose between him and the teacher. When the teacher wanted to introduce summersaults to the class, the student demanded that the teacher should demonstrate it first. This was the last straw. The teacher took the case to the conference to be debated. At first, punishments were being discussed but then the teachers concentrated on the question of what the student should actually learn and a new idea emerged. The student was asked to become the PE teacher’s assistant for two weeks. The parents gave permission for their son to be freed from the regular timetable. Within a couple of days the student and the PE teacher became a good team. The student realised that his clever showing off had been frustrating for his peers and had not been helpful in creating a positive learning environment. It was encouraging to see his progress now. He understood how much imagination it takes to repeatedly respond to situations. The successful
2 Steiner, R. (1996 ). The foundations of human experience (GA 293, lecture 1, August 21, 1919). Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press. 3 Steiner, R. (1988 ). The child’s changing consciousness and Waldorf education (GA 306, lecture 6, April 20, 1923). Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press.
6 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
working towards the future as it had happened in this case, helped to foster new confidence in the student. It was the vision of the future which had been helpful rather than looking into the past. In a radical way we can say that the question “who am I?” needs to be answered more and more with the help of a future vision, with a vision towards what wants to come into being. Healthy confidence is no longer fostered by the past. This becomes clear when we look at people’s careers today. In the past, people chose their profession according to the family’s traditions. This is no longer the case. Young people in our day and age have to find their own way, out of their own strength. The crucial task for the developing adolescent is to accept themselves and to become able to face the future. As teachers we ought to provide a helpful environment for these processes. Self-Governance Steiner’s pedagogical impulse is not restricted to the classroom, it consists of much more. For adolescents to become emancipated out of their own free will requires an environment which puts this ideal into practice. We are called to do our work in this spirit. Out of this emerges one of the most pressing questions of our time: how do free individuals work together? Steiner created an exceptional moment at the beginning of his teaching course in 1919 when he talked about a new dimension of cooperation. He initiated a progressive form of communication, a new kind of listening and speaking. Every single one of us is called to become a creative, productive individual in an atmosphere of mutual acceptance. How is this to be understood? One remarkable example lives in a school I visited recently where each teacher is encouraged to pursue their own research project and is given the necessary support to do so. Thus, a number of studies emerged within a short time and started to enliven the teaching practice at this particular school. A college of researchers grew. What one colleague could give to another was mutually appreciated. The teachers’ own productivity was encouraged by the receptiveness of the others; in other words: initiative was encouraged. The spiritual world was taken into account in this kind
of research. It creates an atmosphere with room for potential and this in turn can have an inspiring effect on the management structures. Day-to-day cooperation can become a vessel for impulses from the spiritual world and it is this collaboration which determines the management structures. In other words, a circle is not a series of individual points. For a circle to be a circle, the void must be filled. What one human being can give to another, what they want to give each other, this is what fills the void and thus creates a completely fulfilled circle. Today, we have drawn an arc across teaching, hopefully a colourful one. Now we have to step into it. From the topic of learning for life and learning from life, past the gestures of an engine and finally to the possibilities of cooperation, everywhere we have found the same theme: it needs to be put into practice. A rich field of opportunities for practise opens up, it is not only more work and pressure. It is an activity which enlivens us and lightens the load; it refreshes us and leads us into the core of the issues. ◆
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Free Schools & The Free Spirit The Radical Resource of Anthroposophical Ideas 1
The editors thank the author and Gerard Killian, editor of Australian Anthroposophical Society Journal for permission to edit and publish. We invite responses and contributions on this subject.
“Every idea that does not become your ideal kills a power in your soul; every idea that becomes an ideal engenders life-forces within you.”3
Dr Steiner clearly intended the educational impulses he was initiating, to respond to the demands of our times. His understanding of the evolving nature of the human being led him to the view that fresh capacities of soul were beginning to emerge in the fifteenth century C.E. – and that they would continue to do so well into the fourth millennium. With a high degree of prescience, Dr Steiner initiated the ‘model’ school in Stuttgart in 1919 with some distinctive organisational features intended to engage, promote and support the development of these capacities in the present and into the future. Three of these are discernible as essential for the cultivation of these emerging soul capacities, which he called the ‘Consciousness Soul’. These soul forces demand inner freedom of thought, impartiality in the evaluation of others’ views, despite whatever sympathies or antipathies they provoke in oneself, and self-reliance in the formulation of one’s own judgements whether for the purposes of knowledge or moral choices. 1. Anthroposophical Sociology
The first of these features is born out of Dr Steiner’s sociological analysis and his picture of the three-fold membering of society. In his ‘conditions’ for involvement in the new school, was this unusual demand that, “the teachers, who carry the daily responsibility for educating the children, would be free to teach and run the school free of government or economic control.”4
‘Free’ in an anthroposophical sense is to be
Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia
carefully distinguished from licence. It does not imply a school that arbitrarily flouts government legislation or economic realities, but that it does not submit to being controlled or directed by them. To grasp this clearly, some understanding of Dr Steiner’s penetrating social analysis is helpful. He distinguishes between three discernible, though interpenetrating spheres in social life; the cultural life (scientific, religious, artistic and educational endeavours), the ‘rights’ life (government, legislatures, courts, law enforcement etc.) and the economic life (commercial, financial and economic activities etc.). Overall social health is measurable by assessing the extent of the articulation and autonomy of these respective spheres and how effective the structures and facilities are, for mutual consultation and communication.
Dr Steiner’s ideal was always that cultural organisations direct their work without influence from the state or the commercial realm, that they do not become vocational training centres or institutions that instil civic virtues or nationalism at the expense of the individual and their self-realisation. This feature of the school’s arrangements was essential for this ‘education towards freedom’ – you could argue it is the very raison d’être of his educational initiative, indeed of his entire cultural endeavour. “The growing human being should mature with the aid of educators and teachers independent of the state and the economic system. Educators and teachers can allow individual faculties [of students] to develop freely because their own have been given free rein… it must be made possible for the free spirit in every human soul to make itself the guide of life.”5
This finds expression in Steiner schools when the teachers and educators direct the life of the school. An educational institution must be preeminently directed by educators and teachers if organisational health is to prevail. We would
1 ‘Radical’ from Latin radix – ‘root’ of plants or ideas or movements. 2 In the sense of returning to the source of the original inspiration (the Spring of Karnant). 3 Steiner, R (1993)  Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, (GA 10) London, United Kingdom, Rudolf Steiner Press. 4 Staley, B (1998) [Introduction] In R. Steiner, Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner, vol. 1 (GA 300a, pp.xviii-xix). Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press. 5 Steiner, R (1996)  The threefold social order and educational freedom, in The renewal of the social organism (GA 24) London, United Kingdom: Steiner Books.
8 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
expect any contemporary commercial enterprise to be directed primarily by members of the business community unhampered by cultural constraints or undue interference by legislators, nor would we expect our courts of law to be overseen by any other than suitably qualified judges who maintain their independence from the state and from corporate influence. 2. Republicanism In the welcoming address, the evening before the courses for the first teachers even began, we hear Dr Steiner emphasising the need for this republican approach in the life of the school. “We shall not run our school on the lines of a government department but shall administer our affairs in a ‘republican’ manner. In a genuine teaching-community we cannot shelter behind the protective cushioning afforded by a Headmaster’s rules and regulations, but we must bring our own contributions towards solving our problems in full personal responsibility. Each member must be fully responsible for his or her deeds. Instead of receiving orders from above, we shall work together in a common purpose.”6 It is important to note that republicanism is not democracy. Leadership roles are necessary in all areas of social life, but in a republic, the members of the republic make the appointments and the appointees are ultimately responsible to the electorate. If the positions of leadership in a school are appointed by a Board or Council, and not by the teachers and educators, you do not have a republic. If the mandate is not granted by the teachers and educators, whom they are appointed to serve and to whom they are responsible, then it is not republican, despite the innovative – and often euphemistic – titles and justifications that at times are resorted to. This republican form of management in an institution makes demands on two distinct characteristics of the consciousness soul of those working within it: “We are now living in the age of consciousness soul development, a condition of soul wherein the all-important thing is for individuals to draw their own conclusions and learn to give facts an unprejudiced hearing, so that they can then make fully conscious
judgements.”7 No thorough consideration of all the facts from all the points of view represented in the College of Teachers is possible without the exercise of this faculty. The temptation is always present, to curtail these comprehensive discussions for timeeffective considerations – it has been my experience that half an hour saved in a College meeting at the cost of someone’s voice being heard, or sought, often embroils the community in subsequent conflict and disharmony which can collectively cost the school untold hours – and sometimes days and years – of unnecessary turmoil and dissension. “The truth is true even if all personal feelings revolt against it. That part of the soul in which this truth lives will be called consciousness soul.”8 No successful decision-making and no effective implementation of resolutions is possible in a republican College of Teachers without the exercise of this quality. This leads to the third feature at the very heart of a Steiner school’s integrity and this, perhaps the most important, in as much as all others are ultimately derived from it. 3. Anthroposophy at the Heart of the Impulse “The Waldorf School, is one where the teachers themselves, not so much in what they teach as in how they do so and in the whole way in which they exercise the art of education - are permeated in their faculties with that which anthroposophy can give them... As Waldorf teachers we have to be - in our inner being; in our heart - true anthroposophists in the deeper sense of the word.”9 The organisational features that Dr Steiner insisted on in his ‘model’ school provide forms in which the consciousness soul can develop in a healthy and progressive manner but anthroposophical spiritual science provides the inner impulses for its realisation. Many mistakenly attribute flaws in these original ideas to the historical failings of ‘Steiner’ schools but in every case it has been the unmistakable lack of implementation of all the essential elements in an integral model – it has not been the failure of the ideas but rather the lack of them in the schools which is grounds for concern. A school can only claim to be a Steiner school if it is inwardly and externally striving to realise these impulses towards freedom in the individual and in the social life of our time.
6 Steiner, R. (1998) Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner. Hudson,NY: Anthroposophic Press. Volume 1 (1919-1922) ISBN 0-88010-421-X; Volume 2 (1922-1924). ISBN 0-88010-452-X (GA 300a, August 20, 1919). 7 Steiner, R. (1974)  Awakening to Community (GA 257, lecture 2 January 30, 1923). Hudson, NY: The Anthroposophic Press. 8 Steiner, R. (1970)  Theosophy (GA 9, ch.1, sect.4). London, United Kingdom: Rudolf Steiner Press. 9. Steiner, R. Cognition of the Christ through anthroposophy (GA 211, lecture 2, April 15, 1922). London, United Kingdom: Steiner Books. http://www.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/index.php?ga=GA0211
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Adoption of corporatised constitutions – suited to the commercial sphere from whence they derive – usurp the teachers’ and educators’ legitimate leadership role in a cultural initiative. If a school Board, constitutionally or not, assumes unilateral direction of a school, it is in breach of one of the essential tenets of a Steiner School’s mandate as an educational institution which is no longer managed by teachers and educators. If, in addition, a Board’s independence is compromised by being subject to the patronage of powerful investors or sponsors, then the hegemony of the commercial sphere over a cultural institution, is complete. If a Board finds itself responsible for the overall direction of a school then they will increasingly feel their lack of knowledge and insight and call more and more on external authorities and professional bodies to reassure themselves that they are up to the job in the eyes of the community. The school becomes increasingly dictated to by the demands of external agencies, financial institutions, educational associations and government departments, all with their own objectives which are almost always in stark contrast with the ideals of the free schools and free spirits of the Steiner school movement. If we are to truly restore the organism to health and not just remain at the level of responding to symptoms, an effective diagnosis must penetrate beyond these, to an understanding of the systemic ailment. In my opinion, a school which is not run on Republican lines, is subject to a Principal, is no longer financially independent and is not staffed by “anthroposophists in the deeper sense of the word”, will confront grave difficulties in calling itself a Steiner school. Any impulse which fails to understand its origin, is in danger of losing touch with it and then it is only a matter of time before its life-giving waters will falter and cease to flow. We are reminded of this in the potent image of the Grail Sword in the tale of Parzival which illustrates what can happen to spiritual initiatives when perpetuated without re-invigorating them in the well-springs of their original impulse. Once renewed in their own wellsprings they are as effective as they were in the beginning.
“That sword10 holds good with the first blow On the next it will shatter: A spring rises near Karnant,11 If you will bring it back there, It will be restored by the flowing waters.”12 Rod lives on the Far North Coast of NSW with his partner and children. He has been involved with the Steiner schools in Australia in various capacities over the past thirty years, as a class teacher, class guardian, Board member and as a parent. His earliest encounter with Steiner education was with the pioneering group of Tarremah in Tasmania. He taught at Lorien Novalis in Sydney and then at Shearwater the Mullumbimby Steiner School. Since 2011 he has been conducting professional development at Steiner Schools in the area, teaching at the Grail Quest Teacher Training in Byron Bay and tutoring in maths. Rod writes:
“My intentions in writing this article were to review some of our departures from Steiner’s original ideas and to seek out some of the ideal directions we could be striving in, when opportunities for change arise.
In my experience many Waldorf teachers, parents and Board members fail to appreciate the depth and significance of Steiner’s vision for a renewal in education and persist in compromising it unnecessarily because of perceived expectations of the community, or the state, who would, in my view, as readily respond to a vigorously argued case for Steiner’s ideas. Rudolf Steiner’s approach strives to realise the progressive ideas of our time, by extending and building on the reality that we find ourselves in. This is in striking contrast to the oft-heard descriptions of his more challenging ideas as unrealistic ‘idealism’, or obsolete ‘ideology’.
While social change is as inevitable as change in the natural world, in the social sphere it is humaninitiated, and may be evolutionarily progressive or regressive. When change and development is required, we want to know in which direction to proceed, in full cognisance of the realities before us and the ideal possibilities available to us.” ◆
10 The Grail sword or sword of the word, the archetypal realisation of the spirit in the world. 11 The Spring where the sword was originally forged. 12 Eschenbach, W. von. (1980). Parzival, (transl. A.T. Hatto), V, 254. London, United Kingdom: Penguin Classics.
10 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
A precautionary tale about Wifi We thank Anne for her contribution and we hope for many responses to the research she presents – refer to footnote* for other articles by Anne on wifi and electromagnetic radiation.
A figure from Greek mythology came to mind when the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May 2011 announced it was classifying radio frequency radiation, (a non-ionising type of electromagnetic radiation) as a Class 2b possible carcinogen1: It is Cassandra, the Trojan woman Homer writes of in his epic, the Iliad. On viewing the monumental horse left outside the city gates, she senses ruin and desperately warns the Trojans against hauling the Greek trophy inside. Her warnings go unheeded. The Greek soldiers hidden within the Trojan horse plunder and burn the city then murder its citizens. Cassandra’s call for caution is embodied today in what is termed the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle or precautionary approach propounds: If an action or policy carries a risk of harming people or the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. Upholding this principle is one means of keeping the lid on ‘Pandora’s box’.
Timing is critical when giving a warning. Cassandra had the good sense to warn the Trojans before they opened the gates. The World Health Organisation’s warning about radio frequency radiation’s possible carcinogenic risks comes at a time when many technologies using this type of radiation are already a fixture of our 21st century lifestyles. They include the cell phones we use, the neighbourhood cell phone towers and antennas; cordless phones; wireless baby monitors; smart meters to measure electricity and/or water usage, wifi routers in homes, schools, offices and public places including coffee shops, buses, trains, airports, hospitals and hotels.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Only days before WHO’s announcement on radio frequency radiation, The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe released its own cautionary warning: In resolution 1815 on the Potential Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields and their effect on the Environment, they state: ‘… Certain high frequency waves used in the fields of… telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals as well as the human body even when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values… 2’ There have been earlier alerts such as The Freiburg Appeal 2002, when German physicians requested tougher guidelines for radio frequency exposure.3 Then in 2007 a group of 14 international scientists released The BioInitiative Report4. This report examined 2,000 peer-reviewed papers linking extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation with health symptoms ranging from headaches and concentration difficulties through to serious illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Electrosensitivity in humans. The evidence they uncovered has created unease over the current exposure levels and ‘safety’ guidelines set by The International Commission on NonIonising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The ICNIRP standards are set at thermal (heat) effect. Many scientists and medical doctors claim these standards are obsolete, due to research finding adverse biological affects at athermal levels. In 2009 a group of scientists produced the Seletun Scientific Statement calling on governments to adopt new EMF safety guidelines. Current EMF limits they find fail to protect public health5. Countries such as Russia and Poland have opted for stricter standards than those of the ICNIRP.6
1 http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf 2 http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta11/ERES1815.htm 3 http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/resolutions-and-appeals/ 4 www.bioinitiative.org 5 http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/the-seletun-statement 6 http://www.northbyram.org/routeb/pdf/WHO_ELF_EMF_june07.pdf
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
With an estimated five billion cell phone subscribers around the world, there are huge economic investments at stake. The global telecommunications industry is estimated to be worth US$1.9 trillion dollars annually7. At the other end of the equation, should evidence against radio frequency radiation keep mounting, the potential costs of lawsuits citing health damages caused by these technologies could result in similar eye-watering figures.
radiation and health effects10. In 2009 Dr. Magda Havas, an Environmental toxicologist at Toronto University, Canada, sent a letter to all School Principals and School Boards in Canada warning against the use of wifi in schools on health grounds11 . As early as 2006 the School Education Office in Frankfurt decided as long as wifi was not proven safe they would not introduce it into their schools. In France the city of Herouville St. Clair, has also removed wifi from primary schools. A number of other institutions in France such as the Sorbonne University, Sainte-Geneviève University, and the National Library of France have also removed wifi technology based on health concerns.12
Unlike New Zealand, parts of Europe have already taken a precautionary approach with their use of wifi in schools. Opponents of wifi believe children are especially vulnerable. ‘A 5 year old child will absorb around 60 percent more radiation than an adult’ 8 . They have thinner skulls, In New Zealand we have softer bones, underdeveloped no restrictions on the use of immune systems, and their wifi in schools, however the by Evelyn de Morgan cells are dividing faster which Cassandra 1891, # (1855-1919). Ministry of Education National heightens the potential for DNA Administration Guidelines does state that boards damage. They will also have a longer lifetime of of trustees are required to ‘provide a safe physical exposure to these electromagnetic frequencies and emotional environment for students.’ In light of than today’s adults. the recent WHO classification of radio frequency In 2005 the Salzburg Medical Director of Public Health, Dr. Gerd Oberfeld sent a letter to all schools in Salzburg warning against the danger of wifi in schools.9 In the same year Professor Olle Johansson, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden also sent out a letter to concerned parents quoting research showing the link between radio frequency
radiation as a class 2b possible carcinogen it is time schools take a precautionary approach and opt for cable connections.
We are at a crossroad: either heed Cassandra’s warning and take the precautionary route or hope that the gift of those free wifi hotspots dotted around the city and in many of our cafes and libraries are not a 21st century Trojan Horse. ◆
7 http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=466325 8 The Stewart Report, 2000, 6.63-6.68 9 http://www.antennafreeunion.org/salzburg.pdf 10 http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/pdfs/20070723_wifi_olle.pdf 11 www.electricalpollution.com/documents/WiFischools09.pdf 12 http://www.safeinschool.org/2011/01/wi-fi-is-removed-from-schools-and.html Footnote * Gastinger, A : Wifi in schools - at what costs?, in: Organic NZ, November/December 2010, Vol 69, No. 6, p. 32-33; also: http://www.organicnz.org/organic-nz-magazine/wifischools/ … : Crimes against Nature. Electromagnetic radiation harms bees and other living things, in: Organic NZ, November/December 2011, Vol. 70, No. 6, p. 36 Footnote # http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
12 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Working with the Angels
Helmut von Kügelgen
(14 December, 1916 - 25 February, 1998)
grow up, the qualities of our childhood mature and develop in us and can evolve as imagination, inspiration and intuition. We too can relate to the angels. It generally happens in our sleep, for it is such a remarkable experience that we might be filled with fear if these contacts were to happen in our waking life. Hence, in the Bible, when Gabriel visits Mary, he begins by saying, “Fear not.”
The editors’ acknowledge that this article is from “Working with the Angels: The Young Child and the Spiritual World,” (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, Spring Valley, NY 2004), orders from www.store. waldorfearlychildhood.org. There are twenty-five articles about Angels, Destiny, Birth, Death and the Inner Path. We sincerely thank the editor of the weekly emailed publication: Waldorf Today for giving permission to republish this article. Waldorf Today, issue 14, February 7, 2012. To subscribe, email@example.com
Dr. Helmut von Kügelgen spoke on the human being’s relationship to the angels at a conference in Dornach, Switzerland at Easter, 1991. Dr. von Kügelgen spent 30 years as a teacher at the original Waldorf school in Stuttgart, and was the founder of the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens. He also served as Director of the Waldorf Kindergarten Seminar in Stuttgart and edited a collection of booklets on the festivals and the inner life of Waldorf teachers, now available in English as the; “Little Series”. In the first three years of life, before the child is so engrossed in material life, it has a close relationship with the angels. At night, while asleep, the children meet their angels. They dream of them or have other experiences of them. As we
In our waking state, we can work in such a way that our relationships to the spiritual world are strengthened, both to the angels and to the human souls who have died and are living in the world of the spirit. This relationship can manifest in our daily life in various ways. For example, in the German language, when one receives a sudden idea one says it has eingefallen–-”fallen in.” But what has fallen in and from where has it fallen? This can be the work of the angels, pouring their thoughts into mankind, or it can be the help of those human souls who are now in the spiritual world that wish to help us and work with us. The spiritual world is always there around us, and we can work more consciously if we note the transition as we move from the earthly world to the spiritual world and vice versa. Thus at night we can say as we enter sleep, “Now I am entering the spiritual world,” and in the morning as we awaken, we can say, “Now I am entering the earthly world.” We can also connect with the angelic world during the moments before we walk into our classroom. There can be a moment of absolute silence before entering into our work. Our hearts can quicken, and we can say a prayer. For a moment one can think of the angels, or of a friend who is now in the spiritual world. Then one goes with a renewed strength into one’s work. In working with the spiritual world it is important to work in a rhythm, and particularly the rhythms of seven are a great help. One can work with the rhythm of seven days or seven years or even JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
seven minutes. Seven months, however, would not be a true rhythm. We are not yet so far along that we can observe ourselves over a period of seven lifetimes and work with that rhythm. In rhythms of seven a new strength appears. We can work with meditations in seven-day rhythms, such as with the Foundation Stone meditation. Rudolf Steiner gave the Foundation Stone meditation as a whole, but then showed how one can work with it in seven day rhythms. In this way one connects with it more fully. If one is trying to work with a number of verses or meditations, such as the Foundation Stone, the Calendar of the Soul and the Verse for the Dead, one can put them into rhythms of seven. Thus, the verse for the Dead could be said each Saturday rather than each day. When we work with these rhythms of seven, the angels take notice of us. If, for example, we have a sudden impulse to act, we can take time and wait seven minutes before acting. We may then feel that seven minutes is a very long time indeed. But in this quiet pause something happens. Waiting these seven minutes gives the
Angel by Fra Angelico
14 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
angels the chance to notice us, to let something “fall into” us. In this way we make time for the angels to enter into our lives, and they wait for us to do this. It is not that magnificent revelations from the angels appear to us in this time, but that the angels see us. They can only perceive us when we’re prepared for this to happen and give it time. In 1919, Rudolf Steiner said that our century is particularly important during the age of the consciousness soul. It is a time when our consciousness can open up to the realms of nature and to the higher hierarchies. All of this can happen in quite a new way, now that the angels no longer take an interest in the form of man they did in the past. We must consciously work on ourselves so that the angels can take an interest in us again. We need to realise that every child, every colleague, every parent is more than just a physical being. Every one contains a spiritual being as well, which brings something with it from previous earth lives. Recognising the spiritual nature of other human beings is a prerequisite for finding our connection to the spiritual hierarchies. Rudolf Steiner went on to say we should not overload ourselves with the rational thoughts of the intellectual soul era, which is now past. We need to open up to the thoughts of the consciousness soul, recognising the living spirit in each of us and recognising our connection with the hierarchies of the spiritual world. When these thoughts are taken up by us with inner strength, they can help us in our work with the parents and help us lead children rightly into their new lives on earth. In this context we must realise that it is not our task to educate according to state regulations, nor are we a “program,” or simply a method. In the highest sense we work in accordance with the angels, the archangels and the archai. It is these beings of the third hierarchy who employ us, who give us our work. They work with us as individuals, and they work with us as a faculty. Their presence is acknowledged in the Teachers’ Imagination1, which is used by the College of Teachers in a Waldorf school.
As Waldorf educators we work with these beings of the third hierarchy: the angels, the archangels and the archai, but all humanity has a new opportunity to work with them. Since the fifteenth century, we have been in the age of the consciousness soul. This age will last over two thousand years, but Rudolf Steiner indicated that the twentieth century was an especially important time for humanity to lift up its awareness to the spiritual and begin again to work consciously with the beings of the heavenly world. One way to do this is to include the angels in our planning for the next day. In the evening we can not only review what has happened during that day, we can preview what is to come next. We can also have a conversation with our angel. Rudolf Steiner said the angel would then grow interested in what is coming. It does not matter if in the morning we forget what was said during the night, for the angel will not have forgotten. When we need the insight given, it returns to us at the right moment. The angel leaves us free, but works to help us, for example, to really understand one another when we are in conversation. Later, our thoughts may be filled with loving forces that awoke in this conversation. This too is the work of the angel. A good preparation for this inner work is to practice control of thinking. Rudolf Steiner describes this exercise in several of his books. Self control in the realm of thinking helps us to receive insights from the angels. We may then suddenly experience that the angelic beings give us the courage to do something which we would not otherwise have had the strength to do. As teachers it is a help if we study the biographies of individuals. In knowing the life of another, one begins to see how the angels work into a human being’s destiny, often in remarkable ways. When we study the destinies of the nation or a people we can see the working of the archangels, for they guide the work of whole groups. They guide the development of language, where the spirit of a people is reflected. They also guide the development of language in each individual. Thus it is important to pay attention to speech, so that
Sistine Madonna by Raphael
it is true and beautiful. Our speech can be a fine work of art. Archetypal creativity lies in the word. Rudolf Steiner was always very careful about how he spoke, even in his everyday exchanges. It is especially important how we speak with young children, for they are finding their way into language. We speak to them in whole sentences, and in the good, fine way of fairy tale language. Speech itself can give courage, for it connects us with the archangels, the spirits of time. We can work with the beings of the third hierarchy in many ways. As Waldorf teachers we work with the Teachers’ Imagination1, which refers to the Angels, the archangels, and the archai. As individuals we can make relationship with the third hierarchy. At night, for a few seconds before sleep, we can think: “The angels, archangels and archai want to help me in my daily work.” In the morning we can think of these beings again and remind ourselves that they want to help us if only we are open to receiving their help. In this way we find the courage for our work. ◆
1 Steiner, R (1996)  The Foundations of human experience, Hudson (GA 293, appendix to lecture 1, August 21, 1919). Hudson NY: Anthroposophic Press.
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
The Anthroposophical Society’s 2012 Conference
Christchurch, New Zealand
Roads Less Travelled - working and engaging with a changing world Michael Park School, Auckland 4 - 7 October 2012 This year’s Society conference theme is centred on work, taking initiative, finding ways to do new things while keeping grounded and practical. In our practical work, how do we find doors which will open to something new, leading to a road less travelled? As many who try, you’ll know this is difficult. It’s very easy to repeat what’s been done before but many people now feel we have to take new steps socially, economically and culturally on top of the content of the work itself. That won’t come from ‘them’ – some powerful group – doing it for
16 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
us, but from what we can do ourselves. And as the context and idea of true education comes under increasing attack, how do we find those new ways? Our morning speaker will be Peter Blom. Peter joined Triodos Bank in the Netherlands at its creation in 1980. Triodos was then a small, new social bank based on anthroposophical ideas – itself part of a new movement in Europe. Triodos (Tri-hodos – threefold way) has since grown enormously and become a world leader. It is now active throughout Western Europe along with many investments internationally – including Prometheus Finance here in New Zealand and a new social banking initiative called SEFA
in Australia. It’s been a pioneer in renewable energy, organic and bio-dynamic agriculture, in investment in culture, in microfinance in the developing world investing in banking for the very poor, and many other areas which are now taken up by mainstream banks. Triodos’s threefold way has been one road less travelled and its work, providing the funds for many thousands of initiatives, has directly contributed to many other roads less travelled as well. Peter has been at Triodos’s centre from the beginning. He has a rare quality of combining high idealism with practicality and of finding those new roads. He has a great deal of insight into the challenges which arise and how you find the way through. And he’s a very eloquent speaker who draws on spiritual insight but presents this in a completely contemporary way. Peter will talk from his experience of and seeing what others have been able to do. He’ll face questions of bringing spiritual insight into practical life. He will draw on the work of Triodos, on banking and economics and social questions but his focus will be on the much broader theme of what our times need to travel new roads. We hope you will come and contribute to what promises to be a significant conference wherever and however you work.
Our title comes from Robert Frost’s fine poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ which embodies something of the theme – Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. ◆
STAR WEAVINGS A Newsletter of the Australian Association for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education Published bi-annually in March and September Editor: Vicki Kearney Subscripton enquiries to : PO Box 446, Samford, Queensland 4520 Australia email: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
A Proposed Morphological* Paradigm for an Orthogene We thank the author and Gerard Killian, editor of The Journal for Anthroposophy in Australia, Winter— June 2011 edition, for permission to edit and re-publish.
These notes digest and rethink a talk at a Science conference supported by the Science group of the Anthroposophical Society of Great Britain in February 2011 in England, and of a three-day workshop in April 2011 at an Anthroposophical Society of Australia Conference in Sydney, Australia. Both talk and workshop had the aim of considering a proposed core form architecture or morphology that is common to the four kingdoms of nature. This hypothesis proposes a geometric basis for the mineral, vegetative—with a core verticality, early animalic—with a basic horizontality and a hint of the human—with verticality again, but inverted. All four are assumed to have some specific transformation of the tetrahedron as their form basis in the physical world. Four Kingdoms
Quarterly Journal for Anthroposophy in New Zealand
Sphere is the magazine of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand.
It is assumed here that there are four kingdoms visible in our physical world. That there is the mineral, the vegetative, the animalic and the human.
Sphere contains details of upcoming local and international events, information about new initiatives, pictures of the work in the many existing Anthroposophical endeavours in New Zealand, plus research articles and reports and more. Sphere is produced quarterly in March, June, September and December and contributions are warmly invited. Sphere is available on an annual subscription of $55 or $60 for overseas subscribers. For subscriptions and editorial and advertising requirements phone (09) 627 2044 or (027) 642 2074, or send an email to email@example.com www.anthroposophy.org.nz
18 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Fig 1: Four Kingdoms – Mineral: a small carved stone symbolic tetrahedron (Neolithic from NE Scotland, approx 2,000 BC); Vegetative: a Casuarina’s seed head (Australia); Animalic: a Komodo dragon (Indonesia); Human: a vertical human figure ( Greece 570BC).
The Mineral Kingdom
Tetrahedrons ‘of the first kind’ This is hypothesised to be a regular tetrahedron (one case being the equilateral form), but of * Morphological implies having to do with form. ** Orthogenetic implies ‘towards some end.’
John Blackwood, Sydney, NSW, Australia
etic** Evolution infinite extent (or very, very large at least) that invokes parallelism. It might be thought of as even beyond the outer planets. To all extents and purposes it is infinitely large. Lawrence Edwards1 said to me once that he had not found the all real tetrahedron (that is, all key elements are fixed, immobile, finite) in nature. This got me thinking, because through his work it was quite clear that another tetrahedron did apply to the All real tetraplant world hedron and I could (all not see how elements such a basic are form could fixed apply to one and kingdom and static). not to another. Hence this hypothesis. Measures Fig 2 and rhythms Such a basis allows and presumes that regularity of measure (as is seen in much atomic structure) is necessary within all the six lines of this vast tetrahedron. Also that the spaces within this core structure are determined by the measures of planes and points in the six lines (or rays). Transformations within the ‘cosmic tetrahedron’ In the vast space encompassed by this (so to say) ‘cosmic tetrahedron’ the forms are all structured by the path curves and surfaces allowed by the geometry, and the measures and rhythms in it—and so they become linear. These forms—considering crystal structures only to begin with —arrange themselves into seven crystal systems (some say six only) and these are known as isometric, tetragonal, orthorhombic as well as hexagonal, trigonal, monoclinc and triclinic. Three of these can be arranged about three mutually perpendicular axes. This suggests inherent Cartesianism and rightly so I believe. Three of these crystal systems can be
Tetrahedronal structure. a=a=b
‘Cosmic’ all real tetrahedron model. Fig 3
comprehended within an equilateral tetrahedron of vast extent. How is this so? Cartesian axes within the tetrahedron In 2008 I made a large model (fig 2). By making the measures along the six lines into growth measures rather than equal measures I was able to seemingly model an infinitely large tetrahedron (after a fashion!). This suggested that what was apparently flat in the local centre might in fact be a very, very gentle slightly curved surface. When we examine the model many things are revealed. One such aspect is that all the mutually perpendicular surfaces link up, via the lines, in a beautifully subtle way. Three of the seven crystal classes These three (isometric, tetragonal and orthorhombic) can be regarded as those which
1 Edwards, L. (1982) The Field of Form, Floris Books, Edinburgh
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
can be structured around a 3D Cartesian architecture. How the other four systems intersect with this part of the story I have yet to figure out! Because even the hexagonal can be broken down into rhombic forms I believe this tetrahedral notion will eventually accommodate them too. This is all based on unit cells, initially discovered by René J. Haüy (1743-1822). The rectangular prism within the tetrahedron This turns out to be little more than constructing basic perspectives. But there is a twist—literally and physically. It can be seen how the rectangular crystals, which in themselves are highly ordered, each crystal is seemingly juxtaposed at complete random with respect to its neighbour. So all we do geometrically is to rotate the vast tetrahedron spherically somewhat to obtain another adjacent to it.
The vegetative kingdom
Tetrahedrons “of the second kind The ‘skeleton framework of the plant world is no longer hypothesised to be a regular tetrahedron of infinite extent but it is still a further special case of a tetrahedron (however odd it may look!). Here the structure is both infinite and local (rather than wholly infinite in extent). It retains the line at infinity (horizontal) but now has a second line (at right angles to this line at infinity) and in the immediate local vicinity, and vertical, at right angles to the earth’s surface. The other four lines are thought of as moving and in constant motion, two clockwise and two anticlockwise. This still makes six lines – as every tetrahedron must have – but only two of them are ‘real’, the other four are complex, imaginary and actively in motion.
Measures and rhythms If this ‘skeleton’ is utilised as a framework for the vegetative then we find the measures are other than those for the mineral. No longer is there a regular equality everywhere but we find a circling measure in the line at infinity and a growth measure in the vertical local line. In the other four the measures are geometric measures.
Intersecting and interpenetrating perspective crystals
This leads to a good exercise where one such rectangle ‘crystal has been commenced. This was the first exercise of the workshop (see background, fig 4 on this page). The exercise gave an idea of how a hypothetical crystal form may be seen in the context of an infinitely large equilateral tetrahedron. We merely draw perspectives but with a twist, two or more twists in fact, depending on how many ‘crystals’ we wish to draw. 20 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Here are three different kinds of measure rather than the one kind in the mineral kingdom (equal measures). This leads to regular spirals in the two real planes and regular spiral cones in the two real points.
There are the legions of pine cones, seed heads of countless plants, the flesh of the pineapple, the huge seed cones of the bunya pines, the buds on all the oak trees in both the hemispheres!
Regular spirals and cones.
Transformations within the “cosmic/earthly tetrahedron” In the vast space encompassed by this (so to say) cosmic/earthly tetrahedron the forms are again all structured by the path curves and surfaces allowed and the measures and rhythms in it—as they, again, have to be (if they are true to the laws of space). One set of these forms or surfaces are those of a convex, even bud-like nature, fig 6 (another set are of a vortical-vortex nature). This time however the forms within and around this tetrahedron are not linear, even remotely. They exhibit curvatures of all kinds yet all with a basic plan, as Lawrence Edwards2 discovered, that is Fig 6 common—even archetypal— or so I would claim. His work is the basis for the tetrahedron that circumscribes the plant forms— an example of his work is shown below. Examples of bud-like forms Examples of this form expression are numerous, and very, very widespread—even ubiquitous!
Convex bud forms etc.
Fig 7 2 Edwards, L. (1993) The Vortex of Life, Floris Books, Edinburgh
The plant, of course, is far more than this— but it might be a morphological beginning to one aspect of its architecture. 17 year olds can draw these curves without too much difficulty. Another exercise was done in the workshop using the double cone and the spiral framework. This tried to show how we can construct at least one single path curve (or a family of them) in this particular, Fig 8 very special kind of tetrahedron—It is Side view of the whole field spiralling path curves. worth noting that, when viewed from above, all these forms have radial symmetry, a plant signature and give a bud, or egg-like profile when viewed from the side.
Early Animalic Kingdom
The early animalic tetrahedron—are there Tetrahedrons ‘of the third kind’? For the early animalic one could hypothesise that one of the lines of the tetrahedron carries the spine. This is a crucial assumption. This means that the vertically oriented stem or ‘spine’ of the plant has turned through ninety degrees to become the horizontally oriented animal spine. For the plant, one of the tetrahedron lines is the line at infinity, so where does this go for the animalic? I contend that it slowly comes in from the infinite—from above, I suspect (but it may be from below)—to varying degrees and, like the spine, lies horizontally but probably somewhat distant from the spine and perpendicular to it. So for the animalic both these two real lines are now local—and neither is any longer infinitely distant. With each new kingdom there seems to be a leap in from the far cosmos towards the increasingly local and immediate.
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
The measures and rhythms If this new ‘skeleton’ is utilised as a framework for the early animalic then there will also be measures and rhythms of course. Something new cometh out. We now discover a non equal circling measure in the new horizontal local line above the horizontal spinal line. In this horizontal real line is a growth measure with a point focus at the head end and a focus point at the tail end of the “fish”. This latter is similar to the plant structure but perpendicular to it. There is much more to this perpendicularity business than meets the eye! Transformations within the ‘local earthly tetrahedron’ In the local space determined by this local fishy tetrahedron the path curves and surfaces allowed and the measures and rhythms in it are again modified, even metamorphosed. The clue for me in this was the similarity between the pineapple or pinecone or protea layout on the surface of the plant form. If such artefacts are made horizontal then it could look somewhat like—a fish! There is even a pineapple fish (so called [see fig 9]) to be found, see illustration, Japanese version! There seems to be a high regularity in the layout of the scales—not the painted colours—on many a fish.
Fig 9: Japanese pineapple fish.
Fig 10: Carp.
The path curves are now of a spiroid nature (i.e. ‘like unto a spiral, but asymmetric’). Do these curves map into the pattern of the surface scales of the fish? 3 Edwards, L. (1982) The Field of Form, Floris Books, Edinburgh
22 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
At this stage I have only had time to look at the carp (fig 10). Why this fish? Because the scales are large, it is a beautiful fish, the lateral line is almost straight, where this line is very clearly marked on a horizontal line of scales), and I make the (uneasy) assumption that this line mirrors, at least approximately, the position of the spine inside the fish. For many fish this lateral line is not straight at all but that is research for another time (perhaps another paradigm?).
Fig 11: Lateral line clearly marked along the scales on the side
of the carp body.
After examining orthographic views of this creature and applying the geometry of possible spiroid architectures I came to the possibility (after very many trials) that much of the carp skin surface could be described by a beautiful encompassing curve passing through the centres of the scales. It was a reasonably good first estimate, in my opinion, and has been an encouraging start to exploring the possibility of a fish morphology that was not merely descriptive but had an inherent geometry and could thus be placed in some kind of extensive form field3—its full nature to only be determined by much more research! The notion of form fields is fairly well established through Edward’s work for the plant world but to get to the animalic world is another step. I had to think that there must be a further ‘Tetrahedron of the third kind’, which transitioned from the ‘second kind’. But I have not yet found it. It would have to embrace the morphology belonging to soul, consciousness and sentiency …
An exercise was proposed for the workshop but we never got to it. If pursued it would have led to such as fig 12 describing the basic scale pattern.
The fish as a primary evolutionary form
The Human Kingdom?
Is there a Tetrahedron “of the fourth kind”?
Fig 12: Scale pattern on the carp skin.
It was also encouraging to note—from talking to Neil Carter, a teaching colleague from New Zealand—that there was apparently a conversation between Alfred Meebold (botanist, writer and anthroposopher) and Rudolf Steiner, where he apparently spoke of the fish as a primary evolutionary form for the animalic kingdom and not one or another of countless possible invertebrates. An archive search at Dornach has so far (April 2011) failed to find the details but the search will continue!
Apart from a few clues I have not got far with this. It would seem there has to be one such form but one has to be very careful about extrapolating too readily. One such clue is that the human stance, seen from the front (and back) is—or should be— straight. Is this just one real line (or curve) of the tetrahedron belonging to the human? ◆ John Blackwood, mathematician and researcher, previously taught at Glenaeon Waldorf School in Sydney, and continues to give lectures and workshops on his specialist subjects. His research work continues in mathematical/morphological studies. John worked collegially with Laurence Edwards for several years. John’s books* on teaching mathematics in class seven and eight have,in 2011, been combined into one volume. Editor NC * eg Blackwood, J (2006) Mathematics Around Us – a teachers resource book for Mathematics which covers mathematics in Nature and Pythagoras and Numbers : Floris Books, Edinburgh
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
The Form of the Main Lesson The editors thank Rachel for her response to Christof Wiechert’s article: “On the question of the three-fold structure of the Main Lesson – a stimulus for discussion”, pages 24-29 of our Journal 13.1, March 2011. Readers may access back copies of our Journals from http://www. waldorflibrary.org/pg/journalFocus/journal
Use of the terminology “Three-Fold Structure” immediately gives me a sense of rigidity, rather than breathing through a living process. You could view a main lesson as an incarnationexcarnation process. • The teacher arrives with a learning goal inside them. • This comes to physical manifestation with the students during the lesson. • The students leave with a learning experience maturing inside them. Like other incarnation-excarnation cycles, the main lesson could develop through the cycle of the seven planetary processes. The archetype of the seven-fold process is retained in our seven days of the week, each named for one of the seven planets. In the course of one main lesson we could try to consciously move through a seven day “mini-week”. So how might this look? Monday, Moon: The children experience a plan of great wisdom, hidden within the teacher, but they can’t yet see it because, like the Moon, it is hidden behind the reflective surface. It’s all potential, yet to unfold. During the night, something has matured in the children from yesterday which is as yet unformed or unconscious. Tuesday, Mars: The teacher discloses the vision of a goal. The quiet order has to be disrupted, getting equipment out, rearranging desks or groups, removing yesterday’s creations from a space to make room for today’s. You are breaking new ground, disrupting the old, causing discomfort to those who like things to stay the same. Wednesday, Mercury: Children fully penetrate into the task. It’s the most interactive time of the lesson, communicating with each other, someone may have to visit the library or office to collect something, some are preparing a base that others have to build on. The children are up24 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Havelock North, New Zealand
to-their-eyeballs in it, and as yet, unsure of the outcome. The overriding ego of the teacher must penetrate into every corner of the classroom. He may need to “crack the whip” from time to time to reassert the vision carried in his ego, to prevent the “thieves and quick-witted scoundrels” from using this situation for ulterior motives! Thursday, Jupiter: We sit under the widespreading leaves of the maple and allow goodness and wisdom to be born. We collect together and review what we have done. The children individually reflect, respond to questions and make notes and drawings. How does it relate to yesterday, what is its place in the overall main lesson, what arises for me that I’d like to explore tomorrow? Friday, Venus: Try to condense to a phrase, a poem, or a picture, the essence of today’s experience, a neat package that I can carry with me from the lesson. Saturday, Saturn: The deed has been done in the world – it will have a certain effect. The essence will need to be revisited in a metamorphosed form at a later time. Sunday, Sun: The Sunday experience is for this incarnation (this single lesson) to die and allow for the “magic moment” when the essence of the experience of this lesson will fire the enthusiasm and direction for rebirth and a metamorphosed future physical incarnation. This stage of the lesson includes the sleep during the night. The learning goal (spirit) that was within the teacher at the start of the lesson reached its peak of manifestation in the physical world during the Wednesday stage of the lesson. Thursday to Saturday the physical manifestation reduces and the spiritual essence collects up in the child. On Sunday the excarnation is complete and the impetus for a rebirth enters. My own daily round of activity includes star gazing, (with a particular interest in the movement of the sun, moon and planets), and biodynamic gardening. Although I am not a school teacher, the universality of the seven-fold process within life, suggests to me that to work with it would help maintain the dynamic vitality in a classroom lesson. ◆
Stepping Stones to a deeper understanding of the human brain The editors thank Kerstin for creating this essay especially for our Journal, Professor Gerard O’Brian for his permission to print slides from his lectures and we also acknowledge the various sources, including the diagrams from P. Carter (2010) and P. M. Churchland (1992, 1995).
The human brain is a fascinating and amazing organ. Our understanding of the brain functions and the models we use impact strongly on our picture of the human being as a whole and the ideas we have about the relation between body and mind, the generation of consciousness, learning and memory formation. In 2010 I studied Neuroscience (Learning) and attended lectures by Professor Gerard O’Brian at Flinders University, S.Australia for topic NEUR 8003. As my assignment I submitted an essay called “Constructivism and the Neural Network Model of Cognition”. I found the neural network model exciting and in the article below, I want to show that the most recent model of brain function, the neural network model of cognition, opens new perspectives which correlate to some extent with Rudolf Steiner’s (1921) findings and descriptions of the process of perception, concept and memory formation.
Kerstin Andersson, Mt Barker, South Australia
as reptilian brain responsible for the regulation of deeply unconscious processes, the limbic system in midbrain as the mammal brain which is mainly connected to the emotional life, and the cortex as specifically human brain where more conscious processes concerned with thinking take place. • Systems were discovered which serve certain distinct functions, like the auditory, visual or motor centres of the brain. This led to an identification of the topographic organisation of the brain, which means, for example, that certain body parts are represented in a map of the cortical area.
In the course of the past four centuries the research methods for the brain have gone through huge developments – • Scientific investigation of the brain started around the 17th century when autopsies allowed for the first time to relate processes in the body to specific conditions in the brain. The examination after death was for a long time the most important source of knowledge of the brain and is still important today. • Later, lesions to a certain part of the brain were identified to impact on distinct abilities and behaviours. They allowed the first understandings of structure-function relationships. • A hierarchical sequence of tasks was found which matched certain steps in evolution. So the brain stem and cerebellum was considered
From Gerard O’Brian, PowerPoint presentation slide 6, 12 August 2009, adapted from Carter P. (2010) Mapping the Mind
This stream of research is now aided by the new imaging techniques (PET = positron emission tomography and fMRI = functional magnetic resonance imaging) which detect changes in metabolism or blood flow to indicate regions of activation in the brain while a person is engaged in specific isolated tasks. These methods do not measure neural events but the metabolic changes correlated with these activities. As the brain is a metabolically demanding organ we get a good impression of the areas involved in JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
certain processes, even though this method is too imprecise to be used for individual diagnoses. The cellular and molecular level While the mentioned investigations lead from the whole into the parts, on the other side research on the cellular and molecular level revealed more and more of the functional properties of nerve tissue. The electric activities of neurons allowed the observation of single nerve cells and their reaction to specific stimuli. During the 20thcentury the knowledge of the chemical nature of the brain increased. The role of neurotransmitters was discovered as being the messenger substances in the gap between the nerve cells. The generation of consciousness At the same time, there always was the desire to understand how we actually generate consciousness. Each new step in scientific knowledge about the brain together with an increasing amount of behavioural studies produced another model of how the soul lives and works in the human being. This developed from the idea of a dualism of spirit and body to the clearly materialistic view of the physical brain as being the only place where human behaviour (i.e. all our thoughts, intentions, desires, emotions – all of which are classified as behaviour) is generated. A very interesting question arises out of this latter view: Where in the brain does learning happen, how does it manifest in the physical substance of the brain and where do we find memory? Classical Cognitive Science started with the digital computer model of the brain exactly in the years digital computers dominated computer science (Clark 2001). While originally the digital computer was developed to imitate features of human thinking, this fascinating technical device quickly became a model used to explain our cognitive functioning. Because the processes in neurons are known to be similar to electric processes, we talk about being wired in a specific way, and memory equals information, stored somewhere in our brain like in a computer file with a limited capacity. This has led to the idea that learning means learning to process information, and has 26 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
inspired the constructivist teaching approach with a strong emphasis on problem solving. The focus point of learning is the construction of your own subjective knowledge, while the storage of information seems to be a minor problem, because the vast amount of knowledge that already exists can now easily be looked up on the internet and does not need to be stored in our (limited) memory. Learning is considered to be the alteration of the way you think. Perception, concept, memory – Rudolf Steiner’s description Let us now look at some indications of Rudolf Steiner about perception, understanding and memory. In a sequence of lectures held in July and August 1921 in Dornach (Menschenwerden, Weltenseele und Weltengeist, GA 206), which I want to follow closely here, he talks about the formation of memory in the fourfold human organism, consisting of physical body, etheric and astral body and ego. A closer consideration can show us that in our normal life we have a perception of our own ego only when we are awake. Steiner talks here only of the awareness of our ego, not about the working of our ego organisation in the body, which we mostly are unaware of. Being awake is closely connected to our sense perceptions, and from this perspective ego awareness is present when and only when there is sense perception of any kind (p118).
After Rudolf Steiner GA 206, 21. Lecture, Dornach 13. August 1921, (untranslated lecture of the cycle “Man as a being of Sense and Perception”).
The next step towards generation of memory happens, when we form what Steiner calls “Vorstellungen” – there is no clear translation
for this word, I would like to call them specific concepts or representations here - on the basis of our perceptions. We give things a name or have a more or less precise picture of them in our mind that can represent the actual thing in our thinking without the need of the object to be there. With this step we enter deeper into our soul life, the concepts or representations are formed in our astral body. We leave the ego and the very individual sense perceptions behind and enter into the astral body, but at the same time we get something more general, the concepts, which can be shared with others! How do these concepts then enter into memory? Rudolf Steiner stresses concepts do not linger somewhere in the unconscious part of our mind and reappear in the act of remembering (the storage model). He says that in fact by forming a concept we acquire a certain capability, which later on leads to the fact that we can recall the same concept. He also describes that the formation of concepts is only temporary and that a certain amount of energy is needed to form these concepts again, not on the basis of sense perceptions but from memory. This energy is related to our life energy and thus to the forces of growth, nutrition, development and reproduction. Memory is formed in the etheric body â€“ the body in which growth, development and regeneration occurs. What is the role of the physical body? Each time a memory is formed in the etheric body, it is still in flow, part of a life process. When it enters into the physical body it becomes an image, but a deeply unconscious picture, which is not a real picture of the object in the outside world, but has a more systematic resemblance relation to it like the picture in a distorting mirror. If we know the laws this mirror obeys, we can reconstruct the original picture (p126). In the act of bringing up a memory, the ego works from this image in the physical body to stimulate the memory in the etheric body, which then becomes concept in the astral body (p. 137). This double ego process is shown in the drawing by the zigzag line.
The neural network model of cognition I would now like to show how the neural network model of cognition has features that seem to fit these descriptions and that lead closer to a real understanding of the human being than does the digital computer model. It is still a model and it can depict only the simplest processes the human mind is capable of, so there is a lot of room for new discoveries and improvement. I am following mainly the connectionist model (as described in Bechtel, 1989, or Rumelhart, 1990). Looking for the level of function in the brain that is most likely to offer the physical basis of consciousness, forming of concepts or memory, connectionists came to the conviction that the level of molecules or cells on the one hand or the level of systems and maps on the other hand donâ€™t seem to offer as much potential for depicting these processes as the level of neural networks.
From Gerard Oâ€™Brian, PowerPoint presentation slide 5, 12 August 2010. Adapted from Churchland, P. S. (1992), Neurophysiology.
This approach claims that outside stimuli (sense perceptions) are represented in the brain by patterns of activation over an ensemble of units (groups of neurons). These ensembles respond to specific stimuli and are in contact with other ensembles, thus creating the neural networks. We have roughly 100 billion or 100,000, 000,000 neurons. Each neuron has up to 10,000 neighbours. You can imagine how many possible patterns of connections that offers. JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Each connection again has several different possibilities for the strength of communication:
Perception, learning and memory in a neural network
As I mentioned before, the synapses are not simple connections like contacts in an electric system, but they are places where the electric signal that travels along the axons initiates the release of chemical substances, the neurotransmitters. These chemicals cross the gap between the terminal of an axon and the dendrites of the neighbour cell, thus causing the receiving cells to create their own signal. The amount of neurotransmitter released is dependent on the strength of the signal, and the chemicals can either have an inhibitory or an excitatory effect on the postsynaptic cell.
But what exactly is thought to happen in a neural network during perception and memory formation? As an example, we can look at the processing of visual stimuli. The neurons in the retina receive visual stimulation and transfer it along their axons (the optical nerve) to a group of neurons called the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Via synapses they give their information to the LGN neurons. Here the two different pictures coming from the eyes are modified, parts are suppressed, others reinforced, and then this new information is conveyed to the visual cortex in the back of the head, where we become conscious of the actual picture.
All of these possibilities make the number of electrochemical configurations enormous. We can start to imagine that each thought, each picture, each experience will create a different activation pattern in the brain. The question of ego presence in the brain But even though the sheer number of patterns or pictures representing the outside world is very impressive, the question remains: who reads these representations? Who generates the conscious mind we experience in us? The confessed materialist Churchland says: “The answer is straight forward: no one. There is no distinct “self” in there beyond the brain as a whole.” (Churchland 1995). This sounds strange, but it coincides beautifully with a remark Rudolf Steiner made in the cycle “Man as a Being of Sense and Perception (GA 206, lecture 3, 24 July, 1921). He said that the brain is actually a very good material picture of the astral, the etheric and the physical body, but the ego can’t be found there. It works in a free relationship to the head. If we think of the brain as a mirror organ which provides in its biological processes pictures, albeit distorted pictures, it is the ego that reads the pictures from outside the body. Thinking within the neural network model, however, we use the specific language which is attached to it: the cells do their work because of their physical nature. 28 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Retrieved from http://www.msstrength.com/ms-opticnerve-attacks-and-symptoms/ 11.7.2011
From Gerard O’Brian, PowerPoint presentation slide 13, 12 August 2010
In the simple schematic model of a feed forward network shown above, the input layer of units represents the neurons which receive input from an external source ( in our example visual stimuli) but any other types of sensory stimuli could be represented by the same model. All of these input units are connected to each unit in the next layer (in our example the LGN), which are called hidden units, and these again are connected to the output units in the third layer (in our example the neurons in the visual cortex). The units of the third layer create output which we would expect to be the actual conscious perception of the picture which was seen. In the language of the model however, as no one is present to perceive, the output is said to be signals that impact on other systems, for example to create a motor response or a certain emotion or behaviour. Let us assume that these signals have a clear configuration which is in a regular, clearly systematic relation to the outside stimulus. But we have to take it one step further. Neurons are always active. Little electrical signals are traveling along the nerve all the time. It is crucial for the understanding of the network idea that their functioning is not a simple on-off quality that can be imitated by an electrical switch. Even when the neuron is not stimulated, it has a resting rate, and incoming stimuli only change the rate with which a neuron is firing, which means the speed and intensity of the electrical impulses traveling along the nerve. This measurable physical quantity is shown in a range between 0 and 1, for example; zero meaning no firing, 1 meaning the highest possible rate. Each input unit thus has a specific activation value which is modelling this firing rate of a neuron. The firing rate of a neuron determines how much neurotransmitter is released at the synapses, and thus how strong the excitatory or the inhibitory effect on the post synaptic neuron will be. The pattern of different activation values across a layer of units is called the activation pattern. As all input units are connected with each single unit of the hidden layer, this activation pattern is passed on to each of the hidden layer units. The hidden units create their own activation value
from the incoming signals. The interesting parts in this process are the connections between the units. They represent dendrites with synapses, neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain. As in nature, the connections in the model have different strengths, called connection weights. The connection weight has two dimensions: the amount of released neurotransmitter is represented by a number, which is positive when the transmitter has an excitatory effect and negative when it has an inhibitory effect. The neurons or units in the hidden layer sum up all incoming signals â€“ the activation pattern of the input layer, modified by the connection weights â€“ by generating their own activation value (changing their firing rate). The newly developed activation pattern of the hidden layer is then passed on to the units of the output layer and is again modified by the connection weights. The importance of the connection weights Network models like the described feed forward network can be simulated on digital computers and are used for pattern recognition which is not the strength of digital computers.
A very simple model of an artificial neural network for recognising real faces (from Churchland P. M. (1995), The engine of reason the seat of the soul, Chapter 3 p. 40). The output layer is trained to produce a code that identifies if the object is a face, the gender, and the persons name.
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
These network simulations need to be “trained” to perform their tasks. Starting with randomly set connection weights and a defined pattern at the output level, these are slowly adjusted by minimising the resulting fault until they settle into a configuration that allows the network not only to perform well on the training tasks, but also on similar, new tasks (e.g. face recognition or matching letters or groups of letters (graphemes) with speech sounds (phonemes) in a speech generating device). By constantly adapting the connection weights until the desired output is reached, the network is learning, it acquires certain skills and that means it is creating memory. Which process in nature is depicted in the learning of the model? The most interesting and biologically realistic process happens in the hidden layer, and that is the process of adapting the connection weights. In nature, we are in fact born with a more or less set number of neurons and only a few connections between them. Most of the connections are not genetically programmed and even twins seem to have different ones. • Each sense perception in every moment of our life generates a new activation pattern which is unique: nobody else can have exactly the same perceptions at this moment. This is the level of the ego meeting the outside world.
• These activation patterns reach the hidden units and are conveyed to the neurons of this layer modified by our individual experiences, associations, habits etc. represented in the connection weights. The activation pattern of this layer of neurons forms a representation or concept – Vorstellung - on the level of the astral body. This formation of concepts is volatile and is influenced by new information coming in from sensory perceptions, from other networks or from memory.
• Repetitions and experiences shape and change the connection weights. New dendrites actively grow towards other neurons along well used pathways and more synapses are formed. This is the place where learning occurs and memory is formed: On the level of the etheric body where physical and chemical 30 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
changes occur and growth processes take place (Sousa 2006).
• Finally each perception, together with the impact of the already present memory brings the brain in a very short period of stability, where the actual image of the physical condition can be read by the ego. Consciousness arises from moment to moment when the networks settle into a stable pattern, which I imagine like the picture in the mirror which is read by the ego, to give way to the next constellation immediately afterwards. It is a distorted picture as we know; it consists of an electrical and chemical constellation in time. Nevertheless, this emerging momentary pattern stands in a systematic relationship to the outside object like the picture in a distorting mirror to the real object. This is what Rudolf Steiner said 1921: “No objection can be taken from the fact that, naturally, because the world is big and formed differently than the inside of the human being, there can’t be an image of the world inside the human being. The image is there, the image is the last of the stages the outer world experience goes through inside the human being. The other stages, concept or representation (“Vorstellung”) and memory, are transition stages. …Our astral body changes the sense perception, transforms it into a pale concept; our etheric body takes all the content out of the perception and contains only the possibility of retrieval. But the experience actually causes something in us; something becomes imprinted as an image in us.” (Translation KA) Concluding reflections I hope that you could get an impression of the exciting similarities between the neural network model of cognition and Rudolf Steiner’s description of 90 years ago. The new perspective the model allows is also that memory, knowledge lies in the physical constellation of the networks, in the way the neurons connect to each other. Memory is not stored at a separate place; it is present in exactly the same region where the original sense impression is processed. That means that memory is involved in every single cognitive process, because the connection
weights determine the travelling of the signals and shape the patterns in which the system settles (Bechtel 1990). This explains why Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2006) claim that, “long term memory is viewed as the central, dominant structure of human cognition” (p 76). The neural network model can be seen as an example of how the physical world, especially in the realm of our organs, actually depicts the spiritual structure of the human being (Steiner, Man as a Being of Sense and Perception GA 206, Lecture on 24 July 1921). With the modern cognitive neuroscience an interesting dialogue between biology, chemistry, psychology, computer science, philosophy and other scientific realms has started which does not avoid epistemological discussions. Even if the conversations are still far away from accepting the existence of a spiritual world, the research results can help us use Rudolf Steiner’s indications to develop a deeper understanding of the human nature. ◆
Kerstin Andersson moved with her family to South Australia in 2007. She trained in Germany as a Waldorf teacher and curative educator, and works now as a Learning Support Coordinator and Extra Lesson Teacher at Mt Barker Waldorf School. 2010 she had the opportunity to complete a graduate certificate in Neuroscience (Learning), and is currently studying Special Education at Flinders University. One of her main interests is to gain a deeper understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s indications in relation to current scientific research.
Bechtel, W. (1990). Connectionism and the philosophy of mind: An overview. In W. Lycan (Ed.), Mind and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. Carter P. (2010). Mapping the Mind. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Churchland, P.M. (1995). The engine of reason the seat of the soul. Cambridge, MA: Bradford. Clark, A. (2001). Mindware - An introduction to the philosophy of cognitive science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry, R.B., & Mangun, G.R. (2009). Cognitive neuroscience. New York, NY: Norton. Kirschner, P., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41, 75-86. Rumelhardt, D.E. (1989). The architecture of mind: A connectionist approach. In Foundations of cognitive science (pp. 133-160). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Sousa, D.A. (2006). How the brain learns (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Steiner, R. (1958). Man as a being of sense and perception. London, United Kingdom: Anthroposophical Publishing Co. Steiner, R. (1967). Menschenwerden, Weltenseele und Weltengeist (GA 206). Dornach, Switzerland: Verlag der Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung. Willingham, D. (2009). Why don‘t students like school? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Gerard O’Brian, G. (2010, August 12). PowerPoint presentation from lecture presented in the framework of the Graduate Certificate in Neuroscience (Learning), School of Humanities, University of Adelaide, Australia.
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Sophia Mundi Steiner School – what is happening? Sophia Mundi is building a powerful foundation at St Mary’s that will take us in good form into the future. We are committed to being a strong, vibrant Steiner School with a strong community of teachers, students and parents that looks out into the surrounding culture and creates healthy, nurturing relationships. We have such a wonderful place for the school to be, next to the cultural and artistic life that happens at the Abbotsford Convent precinct and to the Collingwood Children’s Farm with its gardens and animals right next door to us. The positive connections we have already established and the potential to build further on them is exceptional and gives great energy and enthusiasm for our work. This school has been around since 1985 and had many adventures and moves along the way. It is located on the banks of the Yarra about 4 km from Melbourne’s CBD. In 2009, after years of having a full Steiner offering through to Year 12, there were only 2 students in Year 12. It was clear that something had to be done to attract students to complete their schooling here. The decision was made to apply to have the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for Years 11 & 12 and in 2011, with much hard work, this was achieved. The IB is not designed for the academically elite, rather to develop well-rounded, internationally minded young people who can think well about issues, care about the world and the relationships they make. This fits well with what we try to do in Steiner schools. Another challenge was thrown up in 2010 32 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Jennifer West, Melbourne, Australia
when the campus at Nicholson Street was sold to a developer and the whole school had to be located at St Mary’s. We did not have sufficient rooms and were fortunate that a neighbouring building at the Convent became available last year and we converted that into a high school arts and crafts wing. We still could not accommodate every class and applied to build a five-classroom complex on land offered to us by the convent that was being used by the farm. This was met with strong opposition in the community and was turned down. We were then offered land within our existing boundary which after a long process was finally approved. As tenants of the convent we are dependent on them for what we can do here and this is further complicated by the whole site being subject to heritage considerations. Now in 2012 we have begun the new year with confidence and a positive inauguration of Year 11 and the new IB programme. We have 6 months of building and living with constant activity, restricted play space and not quite enough rooms. We look forward to having the prep class joining us and 4 new classrooms and 2 new science labs in the second half of the year. ◆
The full cost of the course will be $800 for 10 days of enriching work. Venue: Samford Valley Steiner School, 5 Narrawa Rd, Wights Mountain, QLD Dates: Monday 16th â€“ Wednesday 25th July
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
The Sienna Academy
Therapeutic Art Training Dates: 10th April – 18th May 2012; 3rd Sept. – 12th Oct, 2012 The Sienna Academy offers a Therapeutic Art Training based on the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner and the light, colour and darkness research of Liane Collot d’Herbois; taught in 6-week blocks twice a year over 4 years. The school is located in the quiet green, nurturing hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Practical subjects include:
• Exploration of 12 Fundamental Light and darkness charcoal exercises. • 12 corresponding colour worlds - moist on moist and veil painting. • Observation exercises to train the senses -coloured pencils and pastels. • Eurythmy; speech; sculpture; music; projective geometry.
Theoretical Subjects include:
• Light and darkness in relationship to health and illness • The healthy and not so healthy working of each colour • Medical studies • Life phases and biography • Training the senses • Understanding the process of illness • Observation and analysis of client’s pictures • Communication with parents, doctors and therapists
• Experience in therapy, nursing work, care work, eurythmy or teaching. • A degree of familiarity with the anthroposophic background. • Maturity – minimum age limit of 22 years.
For those who have completed an anthroposophic training but who are not wishing to do the whole therapeutic art training, it is possible to attend single weeks. Entering the unique world of a schooling dedicated to understanding For more information contact: light, darkness and colour gives a more informed and healthy relationship to Sally Martin + 61 7 5478 6260 painting and charcoal work; enhances personal skills and trains the ability to firstname.lastname@example.org www.siennaacademy.com.au guide other people appropriately.
34 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
CONFERENCES/SEMINARS/WORKSHOPS 2012 2012 March 9-11 Learning Support Conference. Mt Barker Waldorf School, S. Australia. Contact: email@example.com March 26 – 30 (classes 1-5) and April 2- 5 (classes 6-8) Van James – Art (combined with Diploma students). Taruna, Havelock North, NZ. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org April 1 – 5 World Waldorf/ Steiner Kindergarten Conference. Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland. Contact: email@example.com April 9 – 14 World Waldorf/Steiner Teachers’ Conference. Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Homepage: www.paedagogik-goetheanum.ch April 12 – 14 Techno Conference – ‘Emerging Technologies in Steiner Education’. Lorien Novalis Steiner School, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Contact: Stuart Ruston email@example.com April 23 - 27 Seminar with Mary Willow - ‘The Young Child’ (combined with Diploma students). Taruna, Havelock North, NZ. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org April 30 – May 4 Seminar with Marjorie Theyer - ‘The Young Child’ (with Diploma students). Taruna, Havelock North, NZ. Contact: email@example.com June 8 – 9 SEA Governance Leadership and Management Conference Australia. Contact: Tracey Puckeridge firstname.lastname@example.org June 29 - July 3 Fellowship of New Zealand Rudolf Steiner Teachers’ Biennial Conference. The Teacher as artist. Michael Park School, Auckland, NZ Contact: email@example.com July 8-11 National Australian Teachers’ Conference – SEA and Anthroposophical Society in Australia, Rediscovering the Secret Sacred in Contemporary Professional Life. Alice Springs , Australia. Contact: Tracey Puckeridge firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Glasby email@example.com Home page: www.asc-au.com October 4-7 Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand annual conference, 2012, Roads less travelled – working and engaging with a changing world – guest: Peter Blom. Michael Park School, Auckland, NZ. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
36 JOURNAL for Waldorf Education Vol 14.1, March, 2012
Journal for Waldorf / Rudolf Steiner Education Vol. 14.1 March 2012