Steiner’s Education: A New Outlook

A student of Goetheanum College of Spiritual Science, in Dornach, near Basel in Switzerland, Aban Bana and her sister, Dilnawaz, studied the lesser-known subject of Anthroposophy, a spiritual science introduced by Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Introducing this form of educational science to the common man in India, Aban pioneered Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) Education in India. She is the President and Country Representative of the Anthroposophical Society in India. Parsi Times is delighted to share her expertise and wisdom on this more holistic form of education.

Anthroposophy is an inclusive science touching upon fields including education, medicine, social sciences, agriculture and the art of Eurythmy (an expressive movement art used in education, for claimed therapeutic purposes). Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), an Austrian philosopher, scientist and initiate, was the founder of Anthroposophy, a spiritual science and a path of knowledge suited to the human being in our present times. Anthroposophy brings a new spiritual impulse to the various fields of human activity including education, nutrition, social sciences and the arts, and helps us gain real insight into our increasingly materialistic world.

Anthroposophy enables the development of human consciousness and awakens it to recognize the working of the spirit in matter. This understanding can lead the human being to create a better environment in which to live, to grow and to educate. Like many of his contemporaries, Steiner saw child education as the most important factor in bringing about a positive change in society. Education is more than simply facts and figures and passing exams with high percentages – real education begins at birth and continues till the end of one’s life because one is in a never-ending process of learning and assimilating, remembering and forgetting, observing, rejecting, creating, questioning and developing…

The first three years of a child’s life on earth set the foundation for the rest of his/her life. Standing up and walking – this movement leading over to speech and that in turn developing the process of thought and memory are important stages. During these stages, the care-takers of the child should provide a nurturing environment, healthy and natural home-cooked food, proximity to nature, propagate good habits like early to bed and to rise, and avoid gadgets and gizmos – paving the way for stress-free interaction with family and friends.
Children enter a Steiner Kindergarten at the age of three and leave for grade school at the age of six. Here, they enter a new space with new people. The kindergarten teacher is trained to take care of each and every child.

Before long, the children get habituated and enjoy themselves because at Steiner kindergarten, they learn by observing, by doing, and most importantly, by imitating. There is time for ‘free play’ – they learn songs, poems, action rhymes, listen to lovely tales, use their small hands in a dexterous, useful way for handicraft, painting, drawing, cooking and gardening, play in the sand and in water; toys and puppets are made of natural material, etc. But they do not learn to write or read or count. That comes in grade school, when the children are six plus! These kindergarten years pave the way for a bright and more successful and secure future for the children.

Aban Bana
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