Constitutional Types in School-Age Children
By: Michaela Gloeckler, M.D.
1. The "large-headed" and the "small-headed" child
When we look at what Rudolf Steiner has to say with regard to difficult children, we will not find diagnoses such as "minimal brain dysfunction", "aggressive behavior", "hyperactivity" or "change brought on by the child's environment." So as contemporaries now dealing with this terminology, we have to first try to come to an understanding of the way Steiner describes children, a way which can help us draw nearer to the true nature of the child. In this lecture of February 6, 1923 1, as well as in the lecture series "Menschenerkenntnis und Unterrichtsgestaltung"2 (Knowledge of Man and the Form of the Lesson), he describes children in terms of six constitutional types: large-headed and small-headed, earthy and cosmic, fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor. Together with the four temperaments this typology connects the fundamental constitutional characteristics with the help of which a child learns to express himself in the most varied ways and to reveal his inner being. It is the common task of pedagogy and medicine to assist the child during his school years with the full individualization of his constitution necessary for this expression. As work with these six types is not so widespread as that with the four temperaments, it is my hope that this contribution will help to stimulate further interest.
Steiner bases his description of large-headed and small-headed children on the three-fold nature of the human being 3. In the presence of school physician Eugen Kolisko, he made the fundamental statement that viewing the nature of the human being as threefold must become second nature to the teacher and the physician. For not until we have inwardly experienced the reality of these three systems - until we have arrived at our own intuition of the forces and functions connected with them - can these insights guide us and awaken our understanding for what children suffer and experience - but also for what they need in the classroom.
Let's examine then the threefold nature of the human being and its connections to the surrounding world more closely. There are three ways for the human being to be connected with the world in body, soul and spirit. First, we have the connection through the senses of hearing, taste, smell, touch and sight. Bound up with the senses is our thinking, which brings sense experience to consciousness. This nerve/sense connection to the world is such that our nerve and sense organs work better, the more successful we are in actually immersing ourselves in the qualities of the world - in perceiving and picturing in our minds the true reality of what is. In the acts of perception and thinking, we make ourselves similar to the world, we carefully adapt ourselves to what is there, and try to understand its true nature. We search for concordance with our surroundings through observation and thought. If, for example, someone I am talking to has seen a particular flower and I decide and go to look at it as well, then we have both seen the same thing. We meet in viewing an objective truth. In the upper sphere of our nerve/sense system, we have the capacity to take in the world - to let it impress itself upon us - as it is. The richness of our soul life is formed from these impressions.
Our relationship to the world through our metabolic system - especially through the mouth, intestinal tract and anus - is quite different. Think of your weekend shopping cart, filled with all the good things you picked out, right down to the ice cream and the frozen fish and spinach for the freezer. During the course of the week, all this makes its way through you. Here we have exactly the opposite of what happens in the nerve/sense system. When the digestive process proceeds normally, nothing remains the way it was. We immediately begin to "impress" ourselves upon "the world" with our teeth. When we press down and bite into something, it changes as it receives our imprint. In the further course of digestion we dissolve, analyze and mineralize these substances. The world dies in terms of its own existence and is born anew in us through metabolic activity, becoming human substance. A dying and a being born takes place, but what is typical for the metabolism is this building up of the substance of the human body from plant and animal substance which have "died" as well as from dissolved mineral substances. This new creation, totally individual and formed only once in material existence, is created through the metabolism, through the building up of the individualized protein of the body. Just as we become world in the process of perception, so the world becomes human being through the work of the digestive organs.
The third connection and opening to the world is through respiration. Here we are not dealing with solid and liquid substances as with food, or with light, air, sound and warmth as with sense impressions, but with an opening to the surrounding air. Here in the middle sphere of the body a very peculiar process takes place. Something of the world is taken in - as in metabolism - and is then exchanged (i.e. oxygen and carbon dioxide). We extract from the air we breathe in about 4% of the oxygen, then breathe out the carbon dioxide which has been formed in us and which is no longer needed. But the peculiar thing is that the major portion of the air we breathe in is exhaled unchanged. With respect to this portion of the air that remains unchanged, we discover a similarity with the activity of our nerve/sense system, where we take in the world as it is and allow it to remain unchanged. The strange thing is that quantitatively speaking, it is not the individual element which predominates in this middle sphere, but the part which we allow to remain unchanged as "world," due to the fact that in inhaling and exhaling the major portion of the air we breathe goes in and out "unused". All this is also indicated by the fact that there is still enough oxygen (about 17%) in the air we exhale to be able to resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing. He or she can also extract 4% of the oxygen for his or her own respiration or "exchange of gases". So it is in the middle sphere of the body that the concerns of the world and personal need are harmonized in a wonderful way to the advantage of the world. In our bodily nature, we have at our disposal a surplus which allows us to give ourselves over to the world to an extent which is greater than any demand we need to place upon it.
In our middle sphere we also breathe between the "heavy" and the "light" spheres of the body. Related to this, we have two peculiar features of the opposite poles of the nervous and the digestive systems. The nervous system, with its centre in the brain, floats in the cerebro-final fluid, which gives it buoyancy and partially frees it from the effects of gravity. But when we examine the intestinal cavity below the diaphragm, we see how the organs hang down very much subject to gravity. In the case of a slim person, for example, the stomach really hangs down; in the case of a heavy person, where the inner walls are cushioned with fat, it is pushed up somewhat. So it is clearly visible that below the diaphragm, the influences of gravity are at work on the metabolic system, whereas the nervous system is largely free of these influences, buoyed up according to Archimedes' Law. We experience the faculty of soul connected with each of these three systems in a corresponding way.
We experience the content of our conscious thought life as being light and bright, not material or heavy, even when we have "heavy" thoughts, they are light in this respect. In this middle sphere - in the lungs located in the chest cavity - there is a constant negative pressure, which increases during inhalation and continues as we exhale so that the lungs do not collapse. Thus in the process of breathing in and out - of sucking in and pressing out - a balance of upper and lower, of lightness and heaviness is created, which is also characterized by lightness. For we experience our feelings as being correspondingly light and flexible, even though certainly more clearly bound up with our bodies than our thinking is. By contrast, we feel that our willing is completely bound up with our body and its heaviness. It is as if we had to wrest each movement from the force of gravity moving our limbs in opposition to it.
Through our bodies we are connected with the world in a threefold way. We relate to the world through our soul life in a threefold way as well, for we live in willing, thinking and in the middle, feeling - searching for the balance between ourselves and the world. The rhythm of our breathing is in harmonious accord with the rhythms of the cosmos. At rest we breathe 18 times per minute -that means 1080 times per hour, and 25920 times per 24 hour period. This is the same as the number of years it takes the sun's point of sunrise at the vernal equinox to pass through the entire zodiac. 25920 years are a so-called "Platonic world-year". Time and again Rudolf Steiner referred to this special connection of human life with the course of the world. What is contained in the sun cycle through the year - winter and summer (cold and heat) with the transitional periods of spring and autumn - is comparable to one 24-hour period experienced on earth, with night and day (also cold and heat) and the wonderful mood of transition at dawn and dusk in between.
In the case of the infant and of the small child, the nerve/sense system and the metabolic system are connected, but without the benefit of a vigorous, autonomous middle sphere as yet. When children start school, it is the principal task of teacher and physician to support the formation of this middle sphere both pedagogically and medically. For it is in this sphere where personal needs and the concerns of the world should be harmonized -that we feel ourselves to be truly human. If someone speaks to us in an unfriendly way, we feel touched by unhumanity, whereas an understanding look or an appropriate gesture comfort us and are experienced as an expression of our common humanity. It is in this sphere of accord with the world - where knowledge and experience of oneself and of the world can meet in harmony - that our humanity lives. Our task is to help strengthen and encourage this humanity through education.
There are children in whom the nerve/sense system and the metabolic system are out of balance right from the start. Steiner speaks about these children in the above mentioned lecture of February 6, 1923, in which he also makes the comforting statement that in reality there is no one in whom the two systems interact in total harmony. The scales are always tipped a little more to one side or the other. For this reason it is important to look at every child with the silent question - how are these three systems interrelated in your case? How can I help you to strengthen your middle sphere?
In the course of the lecture referred to, Steiner describes the characteristic features of the two types of children that we can readily grasp in connection with this threefold division - namely the small-headed and the large-headed child: "We have the nerve/sense system. But we only understand it rightly if we are aware that the nerve/sense system is actually governed by laws which are not the physical-chemical laws of earthly materiality. Through the nerve/sense system the human being is raised above the laws of earthly materiality. For in its formation, the nerve/sense system is entirely the product of pre-earthly existence. The human being has the nerve/sense system that he has received in accordance with his pre-earthly existence so that - because in reality all the material laws of the nerve/sense system have been raised above earthly materiality - his nerve/sense system is also capable of the parallel development of all the functions related to the soul and spirit." 4
Now in the case of a child in whom the head is overdeveloped by comparison with the torso and limbs, this is an indication that the nerve/sense system is not harmoniously integrated into the other members. Referring to this constitutional type, Steiner noted that the child's astral body and ego do not really want to take hold of the nerve/sense system. For this reason, such children have a tendency to daydream - removed from the earthly activities around them - rather than taking an alert and active part in them through open sense-organs. Just as the brain floats in the cerebro-spinal fluid - for the most part unaffected by gravity - and is protected within the skull, so these children are in danger of giving themselves up too much to the particular dynamics of the nerve/sense system. The phenomenon of "large-headedness" connected with this is not only a question of external measurement (it can be more or less clearly recognized by the circumference of the head). Most importantly, it is a question of the thought function outweighing an alert grasping of one's surroundings through the senses due to faulty integration of the nerve/sense processes into the rest of the organism.
Let's try to picture such a large-headed child. He walks somewhat unconsciously, moving dreamily around the classroom, lost in thought. He seems not to take in his surroundings very actively, and shows correspondingly no spirited reactions. He can often be observed standing somewhere and looking dreamily around. You don't get the impression that he is observing things very carefully; he seems to have more of a general impression of what is going on. When you arrive at school, you usually find such a child already at his desk, or else by the window and in the winter, over by the heating. He finds it somewhat difficult to concentrate and to differentiate precisely, and tends to listen and grasp things in a superficial way. He cannot hold things he encounters clearly in his thoughts so as to have them at his disposal. On the other hand, he is full of images and dreams, has a rich soul-life and is endowed with a certain cheerfulness. In terms of his temperament, he is predominantly sanguine/phlegmatic.
The question now is what can be done to help balance things out. What feelings and sensations have to be awakened in order to stimulate the child to differentiate, to make things clear to himself - to bring them "down to earth"? Figuratively speaking, he must learn to feel the difference between cold and heat - particularly the delimitation and contraction which takes place in the presence of hazy, shimmering heat - as opposed to the way we experience cold, which we brace ourselves against, which wakes us up. We use the term "biting cold", not "biting heat". And each of us can experience the way that being cool-headed helps us to reach a clear, rational view of things. For this reason, Steiner recommended creating sensations of cold, especially in the area of the head, to help these "large-headed" children. For some children, wiping the head with cool water in the morning is sufficient; others need to be wiped down to the waist. What happens when this is done? Through the sensations that are thus awakened - sensations of differentiation between hot and cold - the child's thought life is connected to the functions of the sense-organs. For the imbalance between the systems has come about because the child's ego and astral body are only willing to connect with the bodily instrument of the nervous system in tentative fashion. If, however, strong stimuli are given which encourage a differentiation in perception and shake the child out of his hazy dreaming, then the astral body and the ego are stimulated to a stronger connection with nerve/sense activity. The child would really prefer to just dream and let things pass before him rather than go into something that hurts, bites, is cold, that engenders consciousness and self-awareness. By wiping the child gently with cool water in the morning, we are helping him into the world of the senses - the world of differentiation, of coldness, of hardness, of clarity. This is one aspect of the therapy. We create a bit of winter, so to speak, so that alertness and clarity may develop.
As a second aspect, Steiner recommended supporting this process of awakening to the sense world through the metabolism, in order to promote a balance in the systems from this point of view as well. We can understand why when we ask how the ability to differentiate - the elements of the analytical, the hard, the unrelenting - live in the metabolism. They live in our capacity to dissolve substances, to separate them out of their compounds. This is one aspect of metabolic activity. Its other task is the diametric opposite: after the substances taken in have been broken down and isolated, then the metabolic system performs the creative task of building up the body's own substance. The more we are truly ourselves in healthy metabolic activity, the better we are able to give ourselves over to the world via our nervous system. Here Steiner calls our attention to a law of effects on opposites: if the child's head has been wiped with cool water and he is more aware, then in his metabolism the breakdown and processing of foodstuffs will be correspondingly supported. If, on the other hand, the organism is stimulated to separate substances out and to take them into the life of the body - working in synthesizing fashion - then the ability to synthesize and connect in thinking will be correspondingly strengthened. Steiner recommended that physicians get detailed information on family eating habits. A child may, for example, be getting too little salt if a low-salt diet is being followed in the home because a parent has heart problems. And as a crystallic compound formed from the diametric opposites of acid and base, salt has a special significance. For if the organism doesn't learn to dissolve salt, to take it into its total context and to process it, then the functioning of the nervous system and metabolic activity cannot be kept in proper balance. Sufficient salt in the diet, or medication in the form of lead compounds - (certain lead salts which can be administered) - supports the organism in the analysis of solid substances, of pure salt substances. In this way, the conscious capacity for clear differentiation - separating and connecting - is stimulated via the metabolism. All these things are aids for the large-headed child.
Now let's turn to the small-headed child, who does not tend to give himself over to the dynamics of the nerve/sense system. In his case, the dynamics of metabolic activity are not sufficiently under control, because the child's astral body and ego do not take hold of the metabolism properly; they are not willing to connect themselves in sufficiently close fashion with this death and resurrection of substance. What happens when this connection is not close enough, when the child's individuality does not sufficiently penetrate his metabolism? We then have a child who is always somewhat tense, having to hold his own against the particular dynamics and forces of the substances he eats. These children are to some extent driven, so to speak, by the nutritional and digestive processes. They often eat greedily, hastily, in fits and starts, depending on what they have in front of them. Their bowel movements are often irregular as well. Occasionally they may have very solid, incompletely digested stool. Sometimes they may have no bowel movement for two days, and then everything "moves along" again. When we investigate more closely, we find that the rest of the child's behavior also has something impulsive, something driven about it. If a child is at the mercy of the warmth generated by metabolic activity - but also of the forces and the particular dynamics of various substances, because these have not been sufficiently controlled and processed - then he may become excitable, bad-tempered, choleric, driven due to the after-effects of the substances. When these forces have spent themselves, he may brood, pale and exhausted, in a corner, burdened by melancholy and by substances. On this point Steiner noted the following: "Of the human being's three systems, it is the metabolic/limb system which is the most dependent on continuing external material processes within itself. So when we become familiar with the processes that take place on the earth through physics and chemistry, it is these processes that have their continuation within the human being insofar as the metabolic/limb system is concerned. But we learn nothing about the laws which govern his nerve/sense system.” 5 He continues: "If a child's ability to synthesize, to be constructive in his imagination is too limited, if he cannot make things clear to himself in pictures, if in art he is a kind of little Botocudo (Brazilian Indian) as is often the case with children today - this is a symptom that the metabolic/limb system is not in order ...” 6 - In this case the astral body is not willing to take hold of the metabolic/limb system properly, and so it requires some support. How can we help such a child to deal with the particular tendencies of the metabolism? How can the child's astral body and ego be supported through the metabolism with respect to their integration into the total organism? A marvelous way is through warmth in the form of a warm tummy wrap after the noon-day meal or in the evening before bedtime. Modern medicine would say: warmth relaxes the autonomic nervous system and stimulates the digestive nerves in harmonious fashion. It thus stimulates, relieves tension, and promotes digestion. Rudolf Steiner brings this to us in the form of a picture: "The divine spiritual powers cause it to be warm in summer and cold in winter; these are spiritual effects which are achieved by the divine spiritual powers through material means.” 7 The application of warmth is external summer therapy, which supports the transformation of matter into human substance. From the point of view of diet, these children can also be helped by the use of a key substance - sugar - to stimulate the metabolism. Their diet should be richly varied and easily digestible, and always include something sweet for dessert. Nowadays the indication that these children need a good helping of something sweet sounds rather strange. We should keep in mind, however, that Steiner was speaking at a time - three years after the end of the First World War - when sugar was still in very short supply and there were many undernourished children in the schools. For the children we have been talking about the important thing is the invigorating effect which sugar originating in the blossom and fruit warmth of plants has on the metabolism. Nowadays we have to add that the sugar should of course be part of a healthy meal and not enjoyed in the form of sweets between meals.
These aids can be complemented medicinally by giving homeopathic doses of silver (argentum). Silver is a substance that completely conforms to this will to synthesize of the metabolism, giving the child's astral body and ego the opportunity to find a connection to the digestive processes. With regard to medication, however, it is important to call in the school physician or the child's family doctor. Parents react somewhat negatively - and rightly so - when they get advice on medication from the teacher. However, if the teacher recommends that they speak to the school physician about the possibility of medication because experience has shown that this often has a positive effect on the child's behavior in school, then they are more likely to follow up on the suggestion.
From the case history of a little boy - a typical small-headed child - whom I was introduced to when he was in the first grade, I learned that this therapy can only really be completely successful when it is carried out over the course of a year, or at least over a longer period of time, especially the tummy wrap. There will be periods when no medication is given so that the child can be reassessed on an on-going basis. But the metabolism needs the summer warmth of this wrap over a longer period of time like a kind of education for the body corresponding to the cold wiping for the large-headed child. Sometimes children become so accustomed to their warm tummy wrap that they continue to ask for it in the evening for a second and third year - something we should let them enjoy. In such a case, a pedagogical problem is often involved as well - and here is where the teachers can help the physician. For the latter may prescribe the warm tummy wraps, but then not have the time to follow-up by telling the parents that it's not enough to apply something warm to their child's stomach and then rush off again. They need to take the time to sit awhile by the child - creating a cozy, summery feeling of inner warmth, to tell him a nice story, so that this little driven bundle of energy can really relax, and his imagination is stimulated to personal, living images and ideas. In this way the teachers can help the child to love this therapy because suddenly mother or father, a favorite aunt or a big sister has some time. It is these children in particular who are in need of this.
In the above-mentioned lecture, Steiner followed these two guidelines for therapy with several fundamental instructions for teachers and school physicians with respect to pedagogy. Many school physicians teach nowadays as well, and thus find it easy to speak with the teachers about pedagogical problems. Permit me to make a comment here. I continually experience the difficulty that many school physicians have in communicating with teachers on these issues when they themselves have little or no teaching experience. Yet in the course of sitting in on classes, they observe many things that could be very useful, even if they themselves don't know how to translate them into pedagogical terms. So it is important to take these observations into consideration, but the school physician must also learn to state his pedagogical ideas only when he is actually asked. One of my most painful first experiences as a school physician came the third time I sat in on a certain second-grade class. I was full of ideas about what the teacher could do better, so I simply talked about everything I had noticed. The upshot was that it was two years before I was invited back into this class, because the teacher couldn't handle the revelations and suggestions in this form. Knowledge is only beneficial when it is sought after - only then does it leave the other free, only then can it truly be of help. This is something that we school physicians have to practice: viewing things with a loving eye such that images of the situation arise, not judgments. When we are asked, we can then safely speak from our view of these images, advising, trying to characterize things, to depict processes, and to answer in such a way that the teacher can accept what we have said and find the proper pedagogical application.
So what can be done from the pedagogical point of view to help large-headed and small-headed children? What can be done every day in the classroom to help strengthen the middle sphere in these children? What could we term the "winter" and "summer" qualities of the middle sphere? The answer is that they correspond to the coldness and warmth of the feelings of antipathy and sympathy. Antipathy: drawing boundaries, meeting things head-on, closing oneself off. Sympathy: opening oneself up. And in between, to be at rest, as in breathing. Opening, closing, rest - always threefold, with the turning point, where breathing in becomes breathing out, in rest. Correspondingly, inner peace and quiet is the middle-point in our feeling life.
In every lesson there is an opportunity to allow the children to experience the full range of emotions. Antipathy, terror, and crying all obviously increase the strength with which we breathe in, holding ourselves back. When we sob, we drew in the air spasmodically, irregularly, until our limit is reached. On the other hand, laughing is exhalation, opening up, sharing - it is a long breathing out. We pour out our feelings, so to speak, in laughter, until we are red in the face and completely "laughed out". So we have opposite processes: antipathy, in which we step back behind a limit (crying as a process of in-breathing); sympathy, in which we open ourselves up (laughter as a process of out-breathing). Steiner encourages us to bring the children to the point of laughter and then - now serious again and full of compassion - to bring them almost to the point of tears in every lesson, so that through their living experience of the content of the lesson, the children can experience and build up this middle ground between the two extremes. They may be angry, irritated, or indignant - this is followed by complete sympathetic participation in what is being said. Regardless of whether the subject is English or arithmetic, if the teacher wants to bring the children to an experience of these feelings of warmth and coldness in every lesson, he will scarcely have time or an opportunity to look at his notes, as this would interrupt the flow of the lesson while he considered what he still wanted to do. For this reason, Steiner stated that teaching from memory is a pedagogical and therapeutic necessity. If the teacher doesn't have a clear picture of what he wants to teach, then he is not sufficiently "into" what he wants to say to be able to create the mood the child needs in order to enter into what is being said with interest. For what the teacher wants to say should not be mere book knowledge which lives only in his thinking. It must also have penetrated his feelings and his will if it is to move the child and be of significance and of interest to him. The child's inner being must meet the inner essence of the content that speaks through the teacher. This high standard has an astonishing effect on the teacher as well, who is strengthened and centered by this identification with the content of his lessons. It works wonders when one feels that one is totally exhausted, for if I am able to do what I do with all the love and strength in me, then I am strengthened in return. I must not divide myself by doing what I don't really want to do, for this would mean tearing my inner being in two, and that requires strength. The therapeutic aspect underlying this identification with the content of the lessons was formulated by Steiner as follows: "The teacher should really try not to bring himself - i.e., who he is as a private person - into the classroom. Instead, he should have a picture of what he will become through the material he is dealing with in a specific lesson. Then he will become something through the material. And what he himself becomes in this way will have an extraordinarily enlivening effect on the whole class. The teacher should have the feeling that when he is indisposed, he can overcome the indisposition - at least to a certain extent - through his teaching; then he will have the most favorable effect possible on the children. He should teach out of the mood that teaching is beneficial to himself as well, for if he has a morose disposition, for example, he can become cheerful while teaching.” 8 The effect of such an attitude toward teaching can be directly experienced. However, the identification with the content must be so strong that, for example, a particular song you want to sing with the children fills every pore of your being, so to speak you are completely caught up in your enjoyment of it. Even if you're not quite sure of the words yet, don't search desperately through your songbook: instead, just hum the song at first, but really "get into it" and enjoy the tones. This gives the children the opportunity to enter in soul - that is, in the middle sphere, with their feelings - into what you're talking about or presenting.
In terms of this therapeutic aspect, artistic activity in the lesson has a special effect, for in artistic activity we have this complete identification in its purest form. Let's take eurythmy as an example. This art form can only be created if we enter into the sounds and processes without reservation. This identification is expressed in a threefold way: in the movement, in the feeling of the movement, and in the character, the personal note that each person gives to his movements. We practice the arts for a great variety of reasons, but in the final analysis they are the high path to schooling ourselves in identification.
Such teaching is based on the teacher's presence of mind. Anyone can, of course, suddenly forget what he wanted to say. But it is in just such a desperate situation that he may then begin talking about something that is of far greater importance for the children than what he originally intended to say. This also involves a certain amount of risk, but it is this element of risk that makes us interesting to the children. A teacher who is a model of self-confidence and mastery can, of course, teach well and perhaps also maintain good discipline. But he produces a different effect on the children from the teacher about whom the pupil senses, "He still has to work and learn like I do - I can really learn something from him. He doesn't have everything yet, but is still working on things." And this is exactly what pupils should be learning in school - how to work - for what we teach them in terms of content will be forgotten again. However, the way in which we guide them to inner and outer work - that ability will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The way we have exerted ourselves is the most essential thing for our pupils, and that we succeed in making them part of this process, this struggle. It may become so quiet you could hear a pin drop as the teacher recounts a personal experience where he is totally wrapped up in feelings of fear, concern or joy. The more his individuality is revealed the more the pupils really experience their teacher as a human being - the easier it is for them to come to love him and to learn from him. And love, as we all know, is the best foundation for discipline. Pupils always have a tendency to be cheeky, but they "stifle" it, either because they feel sorry for the teacher or because they love him. But in-between times, they're cheeky. Compassion and love are the forces we rely on.
The last means of pedagogically strengthening the middle sphere (spoken of by Steiner in the same lecture as above) is the moral disposition of the educator - the most important means of working hygienically through teaching. What the teacher is in moral terms, what he has made of himself through his own efforts, what he has achieved in overcoming his weaknesses, not putting his personal problems first, but giving himself over to the content of his lessons and to the children - all of these things enable him to have a hygienic effect, making him a healthy role model for the children that he teaches. For health both of body and of soul is the result of work which the being active in the body and soul of the child must perform on the way to integrating all the functions and individual activities of the organs in harmonious fashion.
2. The "earthly" and the "cosmic" child
In the language of current conventional medical diagnosis we regularly find descriptions of final states. Several of these we mentioned in the preceding chapter: minimal brain dysfunction, problems of aggressive behavior, various problems brought on by the child's environment, hyperactivity. If we look up the causes of these illnesses in the appropriate books, we find "brain hemorrhage", "neonatal sepsis", "multi-factorial causes", "cause unknown", and so on. With this type of diagnosis and of research into causes, attention is not focused on the preparation by the organism to receive an illness. A triggering factor in connection with the final state is described, but why this particular organism was predisposed to an infection, for example, is not taken into account. This type of diagnosis does not get to the heart of the matter: rather, it looks at something external which appears in the end state - and often not even at that, focusing instead on a mental picture, a model, that someone has made of the situation. Because of this, we often have a lot to get past in order to gain a clear perspective on what diagnosis means in the true sense of the word. "Dia" means "through", and "gnosis" is "knowledge" thus, to know through and through the being which is manifesting itself in the symptom.
What is the nature of the human being? When someone has died or has not yet been born, we imagine him as pure spirit, cosmic, somewhere far away. But when he has arrived and has started crying, eating and soiling his diapers, we experience him as very much of the earth, physical - often as a burden as well. Not all children are born into situations where they fit smoothly into the daily routine; families often have to make very earthly adjustments. What then is the nature of the child? The human being is connected both to the earth and to the cosmos as a whole. This is why his being can manifest its relationship to the heavens, to the spiritual world, as a characteristic. This same human being, however, also reveals his connectedness with the earthly through what he has received from the earth - his metabolism, his limbs, his ability to be active. On the basis of previous lives, each person brings with him the very individual relationships of his own being with the heavens and the earth, and these live in the varied forms and configurations of his etheric body.
Rudolf Steiner points out to teachers and school physicians that the head, with its spherical curvatures, is an image of the vault of the heavens. It is here that thinking can raise itself to the spirit. You may have been struck by children whose head had a particularly well-formed, sculpted appearance, which contrasted to some extent with the formation of their limbs. In his lectures "Menschenerkenntnis und Unterrichtsgestaltung" 9, Steiner speaks of the well-formed plasticity of the head that predominates in these children. Something from the past has been given to them in their etheric body which was able to work particularly on the development of the head system. By contrast, the rest of the body's forms have been developed to varying degrees. We seldom find a person, in whom as a child, the head and the rest of the body are equally well formed such that we have the impression of already encountering the individuality of the child as a unity. Some children have faces which we could call "typical" children's faces, where it is difficult to experience in the facial expression or in the formation of the head a finished form penetrated by the personality of the child. Conversely, there are children who have hands with soft, rounded fingers and a weak handshake. Here we ask ourselves whether the individual is already fully present or whether that is yet to come. Then suddenly, in the fifth grade, we get a real handshake from such a child and realize - now you've arrived!
But we can also get a handshake from a three-year-old which gives us a very different impression. During the examinations to determine school readiness, we sometimes come across children with dirt on their hands and under their nails. Their parents did wash their hands at home, but on the way to school all kinds of things happened ... Here we see the connection to the earth, the relationship to it - I'd like to say the gift of interest at first sight in everything earthly. An airplane, a car, the earth in all its detail, and especially the colorful, noisy television set, so enormously stimulating to the senses - all this is fascinating. These children love the earth, love all its details; they are totally caught up in the world, and are endowed with a gift for facing earthly existence. I have one particular child in mind who was introduced to me as being hyperactive. It was immediately clear that this was an "earthly" child - a sweet little up-turned nose, cute round eyes, small pouting lips, tousled hair - a lovely child's face. However, it wasn't until I saw the hands that I knew who I had before me. He couldn't be recognized by his face or his head because he wasn't really "there" yet as a person. His actions were often correspondingly impetuous, "headless". He was not a heavenly gifted child, one who simply brings with him a rich thought-life, and qualities of inwardness and calmness. Conversely, there are children one can hardly get an alert, sensible answer out of in response to a question, but where one has the feeling that this is an enchanted prince or princess with inner treasures, but with clumsy limbs not yet endowed for earthly life - a cosmic child.
Rudolf Steiner's description of a child's nature is not an analysis of defects indicating what the child lacks or what is not in order. It is a description of the gifts, characteristics, and relationships of the child's own being. We have children who are gifted in dealing with the earth and their surroundings, who have a very practical orientation, but who are not quiet and thoughtful enough, and so are not really able to put their gift to good use. This is why they need our help. We also have heavenly gifted children who bear inner riches somewhere within themselves, riches which they cannot yet really express, really make fruitful for the earth because they are not yet sufficiently gifted in dealing with the earthly. Since these aspects primarily involve the functioning of the etheric body and of the way in which relationships of the child's being are brought from the past and expressed in the plasticity of his form, Steiner gives no specific medical indications here. Of course, in treating these children, the physician may still use an appropriate constitutional remedy depending on the needs of the child.
What treatment did Steiner recommend for the earthly children? Independent of their temperament - they can be sanguine, choleric, melancholic or phlegmatic - these children have a slight, melancholy overtone in their nature, a certain predisposition to be out of sorts. This can, of course, be the source of a host of so-called behavioral problems. If someone is already out of sorts and then something unpleasant happens to him, it's obviously easier to upset him than someone who has a cheerful disposition and can take more as a result. The melancholy overtone is the result of the fact that this gift for dealing with the earthly also means being burdened by the earth. The hereditary factors - what grows towards the child from the earth - predominate in these children when they incarnate. The heavenly is not strong enough to balance out the earthly, and so they tend to be overwhelmed and defined by what comes from the stream of heredity. The recommendation here in terms of therapy is that the children's needs be met at the point which they are at. This is a kind of axiom which teachers and physicians should continually bear in mind, especially in child psychiatry, in psychology and in teaching children with special needs - to meet the child's needs with the appropriate measures at the point which he is at. If a melancholy overtone is present, meet the child with a melody in a minor key and then guide him into a major key; the mood should only be changed after you have struck the child's own tone. As a rule, earthly children have a real gift for movement, so it is easy to meet them there. Inner movement is music, singing; outer movement is of course bodily movement. Thus music and eurythmy are the key elements in therapy for earthly children. This can present a real challenge to the teachers, since these are precisely the children who throw themselves on the floor during eurythmy and don't want to participate. And yet it is eurythmy which has the greatest therapeutic value for them. To be able to help here requires the strongest identification on the part of the teacher, of course, for what is the crucial factor? These children have a gift for movement; they also tend to be musical, and often enjoy listening to music. (Rudolf Steiner has indicated, however, that this musical ability may be a latent one which first needs to be awakened.) What is it that these children have to learn through movement and music? They have to learn to be involved with their feelings in what they are doing, and they can only do this if the teacher himself feels a strong sense of identification with the task at hand. Let's look at an example this in eurythmy.
If you have a class of these little rascals, you could begin with something which allows the children to move quite freely. Their needs are being met at the point which they are at some of them will be really happy to be able to "let off steam", especially if the previous lesson was one where they had to sit still. From such free movement you can then turn to practicing a movement whereby, for example, you have the earthly children watch the rest of the class, with the task of observing where a movement or form is being well done. Then these children should be allowed to do the same thing in front of the rest of the class. The children's attention is called to the beauty of a movement. What happens through this? A feeling is aroused for their own gift. The children learn to develop a feeling for the particular gift that they have been given in their own nature - namely, the ability to move and to relate to all that is earthly. Through the frequent repetition of such experiences, the individuality of the child learns to recognize his gift more and more and thus to deal with it.
Thus, feelings should be awakened for music and movement, and for the elements of the beautiful, of light and dark, of tense and relaxed. Through this the child becomes aware of what his abilities and interests are. And these feelings, once awakened, in turn help to wake up the still sleeping head, for if we feel like learning something, thoughts come to us far more easily than if the feeling life is a grey area. It is the feelings which can awaken the sleeping thoughts, so that the heavens can also begin to speak to this child. Thus it is crucial that the feeling life be awakened first, and that the child learn to have a sense of the gift of his own nature.
In the case of the "cosmic" child, who brings with him a certain mobility in his thinking, Steiner calls our attention to all the subjects which require observation and reflection: history, geography, natural history, literature, poetry. Here, too, the teacher is challenged to meet the child's needs at the point which he is at. But now it is a question of presenting every thing to be observed in such a way that strong feelings are aroused in the child. After a parents' evening once I was told how one mother reported that her son, who was in the fifth grade, would come home every afternoon during the history block and tell her the latest news from Rome. But one day he came home silent from school, walked past the open kitchen door, threw his back pack in the comer and only called out into the kitchen as he passed, "Mom, Caesar's dead!" With that he ran to his room and didn't reappear for quite a while. The teacher had aroused feelings which were still reverberating at home. This is ideal for cosmic children. In this process it is not so important to know precisely when Caesar lived, and whether all the details were exactly as the teacher described them in the feeling of the moment: what kind of clothing Caesar wore, how he smiled, how he walked. These things are certainly depicted somewhat differently in different schools - this is not the crucial part. What is crucial, however, are the elements of Caesar's being that live in the teacher and speak through him to the child, so that the child, in taking this into his feelings, develops a personal relationship to Caesar. The most important thing is first to create the basis in feeling and the motivation for the later acquisition of knowledge, which will come much more easily if it is founded on such a basis.
Both the earthly and the cosmic child are in special need of artistic treatment of the content of their lessons, for art is always concerned with feelings and experience. To characterize a true artist, we could take the example of an opera singer who - after singing a magnificent aria that was so enthusiastically received that bouquets of roses covered the stage at her feet - now sits dejected in a corner because she didn't sing one particular passage quite cleanly. Now she knows exactly how she will sing the role of Santa in "The Flying Dutchman" for the hundred and seventy-third time, and the next time she will again see how to improve still more. And we might think that when we've practiced a poem for four weeks, we can give a good recitation ... This indicates that we are not yet on the path of true art, where perfection is never reached, but where one learns to set to work and to arrive at the experience of beauty that can only be achieved through artistic practice. The teacher needs to be an artist who can present the stories he tells the class in dramatic fashion. For example, in stirring words and with personal sympathy and interest he can describe granite - what it experiences in the evolution of the world, in the northern mountains, along the fjords, what weighs it down, why it exists. He needs to do this in such a way that sympathy, a connection to the feelings and to reality, and an interest in the world are engendered 10. Such teaching brings the cosmic child down to earth because he also senses and feels through the teacher's portrayal what he experiences in thought. In the process, interest in the world, in his surroundings, is awakened, and his own being is able to find a connection with the metabolic/limb system - his tool on earth - via the feelings thus awakened. Conversely, the "headless" child with the gift for movement, the gift for dealing with the earth, comes into his own through experiencing the power and beauty of a form and the ability to master a movement, slowly finding the connection to the capacity for thought, the spiritual capacity, that he has brought with him from pre-earthly existence. The sum and substance of Steiner's indications for the treatment of earthly and cosmic children is the development of "feeling for the world "11. The world is not made up solely of light, color and stories; it also consists of musical movement - of sounding earthliness. To strive to experience all this in the depth of one's feelings - that is the task. Some teachers may think to themselves "I can't do something special for each child during the lesson - that's impossible." But if the teacher takes this key thought as his guideline - to develop a feeling for the world - and works on his gestures, his expression, and his intonation because he knows that for the earthly children each timbre, each modulation of the voice signifies a feeling, then he is educating them in the middle sphere which mediates between heaven and earth, between thought and action - the sphere of the feelings. When, on the other hand, he makes manifest and embodies the feelings within what is being observed, he then pulls the cosmic children into the realm of feeling within what is being observed, he then pulls the cosmic children into the realm of feeling for the world. In both cases it is the strengthening of the middle system that is essential; thus, the former type of child can participate with no problem in exercises intended for the latter and vice versa.
In closing, a final word on eurythmy. For this artistic form of teaching eurythmy is the most important means of self-education - the most important training ground - for the teacher himself. Today it is more and more difficult for children to really hold themselves erect, to be present in their gestures and in their movements. The attractions of the outer world make many children more earthly than they otherwise would be. When the teacher works especially hard on his posture, on his gestures, on the way his ego manifests itself through his body, this has a great effect on the children. It is important, however, that eurythmy be studied and practiced with the three aspects of each sound as they are represented on the eurythmy figures. We shouldn't learn only the form of the movement - how to form a "B", for example - but also the quality which is hinted at in the color of the veil, and which Rudolf Steiner terms feeling. So we should feel the quality of "B" - as in the blue cloak of Mary, for example. Even more importantly, we should become acquainted with the character of the sounds, which is indicated by brush-strokes in a third color on specific areas of the human figure or of the garment. That is where the will impulse for the form of the movement imbued with feeling manifests itself. If we enter into the three aspects - firstly, on the level of thought as to the meaning of the form and how it is made, secondly, on the level of feeling as to what it expresses and whether I truly live in it with my feelings, and thirdly, in terms of its character - then through this threefold effort we are schooling our own threefold human nature such that our ego is then truly present within it.
People often ask whether the earthly aspect isn't always associated with the small-headed child and the cosmic with the large-headed child. Observation has confirmed that this is not the case. There are both large-headed and small-headed children with the earthly or the cosmic aspect. Having a large or a small head is the expression of the physical condition and of the interaction of the nerve/sense and the metabolic systems. Accordingly, treatment aims at supporting the physical functions such as nutrition and sense perception. In the case of the earthly and the cosmic child, things are different, for here the child's being is addressed on the etheric level. Here everything depends on whether the child's I can individualize the head or the limbs in a suitable way. Only an etheric body which has been penetrated by the I is capable of completely adapting to what comes from heredity and of transforming it adequately. Where this does not take place to a sufficient extent, one of the two opposing spheres will predominate. In this case, therapy focuses primarily on the feeling life, because feelings can mediate between the etheric and astral bodies. The activity of the etheric body is stimulated by feelings. "To experience" means, in fact, to be able to immerse oneself - one's attention, i.e., activity of the I - in the etheric body through the medium of the feelings. The basic concepts on the nature of the human being which Steiner introduces into pedagogy are like letters that, read in connected form, for the first time make the nature of the child so clear that we also know how we can help through a particular treatment. However, we must first approach the individual child with each of these basic concepts and see for ourselves what they aid us in recognizing in our observations. A consideration of the temperaments, for example, helps us to recognize different qualities in the child than a consideration of whether the child is large-headed or small-headed, earthly or cosmic.
3. The "fantasy-rich" and the "fantasy-poor" child
In "Menschenerkenntnis und Unterrichtsgestaltung" Rudolf Steiner follows his depiction of earthly and cosmic children by a description of fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor children. What is meant by these terms? "Fantasy-poor" children are those who have difficulty calling images and ideas to mind, whereas "fantasy-rich" children have the problem of not being able to let go of something once it has entered their consciousness. "Richness of fantasy" should be understood here in the broadest sense as the thought content of consciousness, also as recall and memory. In his book "Occult Science"'12 Steiner calls our attention to the fact that the human I lives in remembering and forgetting, just as the astral body lives in waking and sleeping - in the lighting up and extinguishing of consciousness. There are people who are tormented by the fact that they can't forget, and others who suffer because they can't remember. In both cases they are touched in the central core of their being, in their I. Self-awareness depends to a great extent on whether experiences and memories can be consciously dealt with in such a way that they neither intrude nor are inaccessible. The child's emotional health for the remainder of his life depends on whether we succeed in creating the basis for a healthy experience of the I and self-awareness. This is the task we are faced with in the treatment of these two types of children.
Let's first ask ourselves where thoughts come from in the first place. Isn't the etheric body also the bearer of the thought life? "Knowing that the human being's ordinary powers of thought are refined formative and growth forces is of the greatest importance. Something spiritual reveals itself in the formation and growth of the human organism. For this spiritual element then appears during the course of life as the spiritual force of thinking." 13 This is the way Rudolf Steiner describes the origin of thought; it is this description we must understand and keep in the back of our minds when we approach the treatment of fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor children. Just think how in the course of three times seven years the human body grows from 50 centimeters to one meter eighty. The growth forces which bring this about, which differentiate the organs right down to the elaboration of the central nervous system, become available step-by-step for human thinking. Characteristic steps in the development of the power of thinking take place which correspond to the body's growth.
In the second half of life, a gradual process of involution begins. The forces of regeneration now become increasingly weaker. The nervous system loses some of its water; all the organs gradually begin to atrophy, and regeneration becomes more and more difficult. When the body can no longer be used, death occurs. In the case of the person who is growing old in healthy fashion, the development of his powers of thought is miraculously able to continue even though his body has entered the involution of old age. This is possible because the etheric body's power of regeneration have now been freed up and are available to the activity of thinking as new, creative possibilities. They make possible the new qualities of thought in old age.
A person in the first half of life, who thinks with the growth forces that have been freed up, thinks in a more personal way, looking at things in relation to himself. He goes to school, then on to higher education, striving to find his place in the world; for him, his own plans are his central concern. The leitmotif here is "self-realization". This corresponds completely to the dynamics of the growth forces, which are focused on building up one's own body. This tendency is then still connected with thinking. In the second half of life, on the contrary - from approximately the age of 40 to 50 onwards, when we are in a position to really become conscious of the quality of these powers of regeneration - the disposition becomes increasingly apparent to think in a way that is no longer so strongly bound up with one's own body and own self-preservation.
It suddenly becomes easier to think of others in a more selfless way, to make the concerns of the world central, and to strive for "world-realization" rather than "self-realization". The body becomes heavier, burdened by this or that limitation; thinking becomes healthier, more selfless, more self-sacrificing. The wisdom of old age arises, for these new possibilities in thinking are the result of a renunciation (refuse to recognize) of the regeneration and youthful freshness of one's own body.
It is important to prepare young people for a developmental process which will enable growth forces, as they are released from the body, to be released in such a way that they can be taken up by the I, and remembering and forgetting can be dealt with in as conscious a manner as possible. This capacity cannot develop if we merely let ourselves be carried along by the daily flow of events. We have to regularly take a few minutes in which to think about what has happened, to practice gaining an overview of what we have experienced, then consciously forgetting it again. This is an exercise of the will.
Rudolf Steiner wants to draw our attention to the preparation for such possibilities when he describes fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor children. He indicates that in children who have an imbalance in either direction, we are dealing with a disturbance in the metamorphosis of the growth forces.
Let's turn once more to the process of the freeing up of the growth forces from the body. Initially, we have unconscious life forces bound up with the body; when these forces are freed up from the body, we then have unconscious thought life. This thought life - which is initially available for getting to know the world only at an unconscious level - is made conscious through the transmission of impressions either in school or by life in general. We all know much more at an unconscious level than we do consciously. It then depends on the strength of our will to learn whether we become clear on how much latent knowledge we have. On becoming acquainted with anthroposophy, some people say that what they read in Steiner's works is as if spoken from their own heart. They had actually already thought that many things were so - they just hadn't known it clearly. Thoughts are there, but we are often not clearly enough aware of them.
This whole question is closely connected to health and illness. Do the forces which are freed up from the body and are to become conscious thought forces spring from a body that is ready, and are they really "in excess" - are they free to be taken up by the I in thinking - or have they been freed up prematurely from the body, so that the particular dynamics of the growth forces from the organs are still present, connected with the body? In this case they may suddenly manifest themselves as involuntary inner soul-content of a compulsive or hallucinatory nature.
Steiner states that mental illness comes about when a premature or untimely metamorphosis of growth forces takes place.14 A fantasy-rich child, one who cannot let go of ideas and images, is not mentally ill in the true sense of the word. However, he is in a situation in which more growth forces have been freed up than the I can freely cope with. His thoughts have retained their own dynamics which bind them up with the body and which cannot be sufficiently controlled by the I. You can actually see this in the children. If the teacher has said something that is important to him, it may be taken in by a fantasy-rich child, who then continues to think about it till the end of the lesson and is thus no longer open to anything else during that time. In a manifestation such as this there is already a tendency to illness, for illness is, in the final analysis, always connected to the phenomenon that the integration of the many possible functions and activities of body and soul can no longer be managed by the I. Instead of this integration, we have manifestations of isolation and fixation.
Or we have the opposite situation, where the teacher says something, and it goes in one ear and out the other. The I is powerless to hold the thoughts. We are often glad if the children have learned anything at all, so we don't pay much attention to whether their knowledge is of a fixed nature or whether it has been taken in in a living way. We must learn, however, to pay attention to this. At various stages in the lesson are the children able to grasp things and then let them go? Or do they get stuck on certain things? A breathing process must be introduced here as well: taking in, holding, and releasing, so that one is free again for something new. In the case of the opposite extreme, a teacher may teach a whole main lesson, and what he presents does indeed reach the child, but lands deep in his body - his consciousness remains open and clear, without the slightest memory of what has gone on ... In terms of the treatment indicated by Steiner, we again have the fundamental rule of therapy mentioned previously: Meet the children's need at the point which they are at.
What point is a fantasy-rich child - who has a tendency to have compulsive thoughts, who is unable to forget, to let go of ideas and images - at ? When we adults have too many problems on our mind and don't know how to deal with them any more, how to come up with some fresh ideas, we start running, moving, in the hope that through the movement and the fresh air, something will also start moving in our minds. Movement is also the remedy for the children we have described. The main point is to take subjects where this "getting in motion" can be consciously practiced - for example, in writing, where the teacher should make sure that the children don't get stuck on individual letters, but really write in a flowing hand.
Singing is also a "moving" subject. When you are afraid, you are also troubled by ideas and images you cannot shake off. In this situation, some people start singing, and then actually feel freer. Singing can be of real help to the fantasy-rich child, for his whole body is permeated with the vibrations of his own activity, allowing the images and ideas in his mind to flow freely again, without obstruction.
In the case of the fantasy-poor child, the teacher should concentrate all his love and attention on helping the child to learn to make use of his senses. For through this activity of the senses, his thought life can be firmed up into ideas and images which can be recalled. Having the children watch while someone is painting, or observe carefully or listen attentively - these are the means. Instrumental music, where precise listening is required, is also useful. Steiner encourages having the children sing and play instrumental music in the same lesson, so that making music oneself and listening to music can alternate. In this way, the children have a hygienic effect on each other, even though the fantasy-rich children are supposed to make music and the fantasy-poor to listen.
Eurythmy plays a special role in the treatment of these two types of children. This seems obvious in the case of fantasy-rich children who cannot let go of ideas and images. For them it is of tremendous help to be able to move with the whole body - in threefold walking, in skipping, and in running. The vowel sounds have a special effect on these children, for the vowels live in the bloodstream and form the organs. When the children practice them while doing threefold walking - in movement - they have a calming effect on the ideas and images arising too intrusively from the organism. They stimulate the growth forces to development of the organs, and anchor the forces there, so that they cannot so easily be freed up. In his curative eurythmy course 15 Steiner describes how the vowels stimulate "self-becoming", the consolidation of the development of forms. Fantasy-poor children, who have difficulty bringing ideas and images to consciousness, can also be helped through eurythmy. They can benefit by practicing the consonant sounds, mostly while standing in place (i.e. only with the arms). Consonants help to dissolve fixed forms, to counteract deformations - they "de-self".
A eurythmy teacher once told me how she had put this indication of Steiner's into practice. The problem was with a high school student who, according to his mother, sat for hours on end every afternoon trying to do his homework because he had such difficulty remembering what had been done in school. In good-natured fashion, this student was willing to participate, together with some fellow classmates, in a fairy-tale play that was being planned by a local group of eurythmists. The high-school students were used as a narrative group whose function it was to demonstrate mostly consonants while standing in place. This involved practicing for an hour twice a week. As performance time neared, it also meant extra rehearsals after school, which the student in question took part in without a murmur. When the teacher asked him if this wasn't becoming too much for him, he said, "Oh no, after yesterday's rehearsal I was in top form and even finished my main lesson book." Here we can see that the consonants - especially if they are practiced while standing in place - have the effect of loosening up the spiritual forces somewhat from the metabolic/limb system. They bring the organs into a situation such that rigid forms are loosened up, allowing them to get accustomed to new possibilities of form and to change in a healthier direction, with the growth forces more easily freed up for thinking.
Thus we see how self-awareness - so important for later life - lives between remembering and forgetting, and how the I is really called upon to stand at the threshold of consciousness as master of sleeping and waking, of remembering and forgetting. This picture of the I standing at the threshold and watching over its soul-life can accompany us in every eurythmy and music class, and in every lesson in which these elements are dealt with.
When we look at the large-headed or small-headed child's body size and form, we are dealing with the seal of the I in the physical body. For this reason, the treatment is also physical. In the case of the earthly and the cosmic child, we are not dealing with the aspect of form, but rather with the process of how this form originated. We get the impression that here the seal of the I lies more in the functioning of the etheric body, and so the therapy is also concerned with the functional aspect of the soul forces. Awakening strong feelings stimulates the growth forces to the full development of forms by enabling the I - via the stimulated astral forces - to work its way into the etheric/physical constitution. With the fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor child, our attention is focused on the content of consciousness - how the I deals with what the astral body brings to consciousness, what lives in sleeping and waking, and what is present in the I as remembering and forgetting. Here, our therapeutic efforts are also aimed at helping the child to develop his middle system so that a true "in-dwelling", a feeling of his own humanity, is possible. Here we perceive the seal of the I in the astral body.
Time and again Steiner calls teacher's attention to the task of learning how to breathe properly. In the descriptions of children which start from one of two polarities respectively, with therapy leading to a balance in the middle, we have a manifestation of the archetypal principle of respiration as the harmonization of two polarities: movement and rest. Quiet and concentration are the prerequisites for any meaningful sense/nerve activity. On the other hand, willingness to move is the prerequisite for any metabolism/limb activity. Learning to breathe properly means - in terms of the anthroposophical view of the human being - learning to live in our three-fold organism, learning to find the middle sphere.
In terms of the classroom, learning to breathe properly means receiving the subject of the lessons with interest, manipulating it and making it one's own with joy. Of course, where there is love, there is always pain. Receiving something with interest or love does not necessarily mean that it is always easy - it may also involve an effort. But if the teacher is imbued with his subject matter and presents it in the way described in connection with the large-headed and the small-headed child, then even a child with great learning difficulties can be touched by it in such a way that his sympathies for it are awakened, enabling him to enter into it step-by-step. Thus, dealing with the treatment of these opposite types of children can also be of assistance to the teacher in coming up with ideas for "learning to breathe properly" in his lessons.
Translated into English by Linda Maloney
Der Medizinischen Sektion
Am Goetheanum 2
Von Arzt und Lehrer
1. Private publication for teachers: Rudolf Steiner, Faculty Meetings with the Teachers of the Free Waldorf School Stuttgart, Faculty Meeting on February 6, 1923.
2. Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of Man and the Form of the Lesson, Bibliography No. 302, 1978, Lecture on June 13, 1921.
3. See note 1.
9. Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of Man and the Form of the Lesson, Bibliography No. 302, 1978, Lecture on June 13,1921.
12. Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science, Bibliography Nr. 23, 1977.
13. Rudolf Steiner/Ita Wegmann, The Foundation for an Extension of the Art of Healing, Bibliography No. 27, 1991, Chapter 1.
14. Refer to Rudolf Steiner, Development of Man, World Soul and World Spirit-Part One, Bibliography No. 205, 1987, Lectures on July 2 and IS, 1921.
15. Refer to Rudolf Steiner, Curative Eurythmy, Bibliography No. 315, 1981.