natural learning

“Too much education - not enough understanding!” - Randolph Stone


“We need something in which the individual learns his own function in the world.” - Dane Rudhyar

“One generation of teaching children to know their relation to Nature would go farther in advancing the human race than thousands of years of building encyclopedic brains.” - Lao Russell

We must build a new universe with the eyes of the Spirit. That is why God took me behind the scenes, away from the illusion of the senses into the universe of knowing, so that with the eyes of the Spirit I could see what the universe and man really are; so that I could see the illusions by means of which man has built up wrongful theories; and so that I could see the senselessness and the waste of man building materially from empirical knowledge based upon the observations of his sensed body, with illusions that have deceived him so completely that his text books of today on science are to me as though they were written by the sages of King Arthur's time wherein they said the earth was flat and upheld on its four corners by wild elephants.” - Walter Russell

“There is no question that education is on the mind of every soul today. We can see it everywhere. And if we advocate an art of education taken directly from spiritual life and perception, it is its inner nature that distinguishes it from the reforms generally demanded today, not the urgency of its outward appeal. (…) The art of education I will speak of, however, is concerned instead with the inner development of human civilization. It is more concerned with what has changed the souls of men and women through the ages; it is concerned with the evolution through which these souls have passed over hundreds, even thousands, of years. ” - Rudolf Steiner

Our highest endeavor must be to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning and direction to their lives.” - Rudolf Steiner

Only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” - Jean Piaget


The first necessity for the building up of a great intellectual superstructure is to provide a foundation strong enough to bear it. Those systems of education which start from an insufficient knowledge of man, think they have provided a satisfactory foundation when they have supplied the student with a large or well-selected mass of information on the various subjects which comprise the best part of human culture at the time. The school gives the materials, it is for the student to use them - this is the formula. But the error here is fundamental. Information cannot be the foundation of intelligence, it can only be part of the material out of which the knower builds knowledge, the starting-point, the nucleus of fresh discovery and enlarged creation. An education that confines itself to imparting [intellectual] knowledge, is not education. The various faculties of memory, judgement, imagination, perception, reasoning, which build the edifice of the thought and knowledge for the knower, must not only be equipped with their fit and sufficient tools and materials, but trained to bring fresh materials and use more skillfully those of which they are in possession.” - Sri Aurobindo

Man cannot acquire knowledge from books or schools. He can but acquire information that way, but information is not knowledge until it is recognized by the spiritual consciousness of man, just as food is not nourishment for the body until it becomes a part of the blood stream.“ - Walter Russell

“EFFECT is complex - infinitely complex – but one can have no KNOWLEDGE of effect. One can but be INFORMED of effect. Information is not knowledge. Our educational processes INFORM us but until we have recognized the eternal truth which underlies that information we have no knowledge of it. Like food in the grocery store, it is not nourishment until it is converted to the blood stream. ALL-KNOWLEDGE is possible for anyone – and the Cosmos gives it to him who asks, but all information is impossible.” - Walter Russell

First we grasp the whole, and then the parts. If we count merely by placing one object next to another and then adding them up, we eliminate the wholeness of being human. We appeal to the whole human being by first visualizing the total as a whole and then proceeding to the parts that make it up. (…) Whatever the subject, the concrete human element must be retained; everything must be related, in some way, to the human being.” - Rudolf Steiner

”(…) we must always bring the element of art into our (…) lessons. Art comes into play when (as I often describe it) we exercise true economy in teaching. This economy can be exercised when teachers have thoroughly mastered the subject before entering the classroom; one no longer needs to think it over, because, if prepared properly, the subject is present in a flexible way for the teacher’s soul. Teachers must be so well prepared that the only thing left to do is to shape the lesson in an artistic way. The problem of teaching is thus not just a matter of interest, diligence, and devotion on the part of the students, but mostly on the part of the teacher. Lessons should never be presented until they have been deeply experienced within the teacher’s spirit. Of course, the faculty must be organized so that the teachers have enough time to fully and intensely experience the lessons.“ - Rudolf Steiner

curriculum of life

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” - Plutarch

The secret of all success lies in building ourselves. Never mind the product, never mind the skills. They will come if we spend all our energies in building ourselves.” - Walter Russell

“Be a student of Knowledge today, for a student you are. Choose the curriculum that has chosen you. Choose the curriculum that will redeem you and through you the world. Choose the curriculum that fulfills your purpose here and that exemplifies your life beyond this world, which wishes to express itself here.” - M.V. Summers

“(…) to be in the world is to learn and to demonstrate the result of your learning.”- M.V. Summers

“If you want to teach people, young or old, you must start where they are: at their level of understanding — and use words they under-stand. When you have captured their attention, you can take them as far as they are able to go. If you perceive that they are already beyond your level of understanding, let them teach you.” - Peace Pilgrim (Mildred Norman)

“(…) institutions such as schools, churches, governments and political organizations of every sort all tended to direct thought for ends other than truth, for the perpetuation of their own functions, and for the control of individuals in the service of these functions.” - Robert M. Pirsig

“Suffering is part of learning” - Frank Serpico

(todo: pre-12-years basic schooling, post-12-years student-master learning on the job at multiple organizations, evaluate the current-character of organization and person and their character-direction)


“The real wisdom lies embedded in the child. No teacher need tell a child that the flower is beautiful.” - Sri Aurobindo

”(…) all education is based on the question of why we educate in the first place. This is the grand question. Because we are human and not animals, we must ask: Why do we need to educate people? How do animals grow up and function in life without education? Why can’t we acquire what we need in life by simply observing and imitating? Why should teachers intervene in the freedom of children? (…) We consider it an obvious fact that we must educate our children, but in the children’s subconscious life, they do not.“ - Rudolf Steiner

”(…) every child's schooling should end at not later than fourteen, preferably ten. After the age of ten everything taught him should be by way of demonstration. Memory tests should be entirely eliminated beyond the necessity of sufficient repetitions to make mathematical tables and the alphabet automatic. Any educational extension after the maximum age of fourteen should be limited to professional training in law, medicine, statesmanship and the skills of the various arts and sciences. Every day spent in such training beyond the age of twenty may add to information but at the cost of lessening creative power. The ability to create can be multiplied all of one's life if begun early in life, but if interfered with during youth by formal educational processes based upon memory tests, it may be stultified beyond recovery.“ - Lao Russell

For children the school must be their life. Life should not just be portrayed. (…) The school must create a life of its own.” - Rudolf Steiner

The day will come when teachers will not be tested for [intellectual] knowledge, or even pedagogical principles, but for what they are as human beings.” - Rudolf Steiner


(see also: forest kindergarten, …)

curriculum design

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something“ - T.H. Huxley

(todo: exploration of various holistic curriculum designs)

core principle: teach concepts

Quotes from “Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (book 2, chapter 9):

  • “Finally, teach concepts, not subjects. * Devise a new curriculum, and build it around three Core Concepts: Awareness, Honesty, Responsibility. Teach your children these concepts from the earliest age. Have them run through the curriculum until the final day. Base your entire educational model upon them. Birth all instruction deep within them. (…) It means everything you teach would come from within these concepts. From the earliest primers to your more sophisticated readers, all tales, stories, and subject matter would revolve around the core concepts. That is, they would be stories of awareness, stories dealing with honesty, stories about responsibility. Your children would be introduced to the concepts, injected into the concepts, immersed in the concepts. Writing tasks likewise would revolve around these Core Concepts, and others which are attendant to them as the child grows in the ability to self express. Even computation skills would be taught within this framework. Arithmetic and mathematics are not abstractions, but are the most basic tools in the universe for living life. The teaching of all computation skills would be contextualized within the larger life experience in a way which draws attention to, and places focus upon, the Core Concepts and their derivatives. (…) Yet you do not teach these things in your schools. These are the most important things in life, these things we are now talking of, but you do not teach them in school. You do not teach what it means to be honest. You do not teach what it means to be responsible. You do not teach what it means to be aware of other people’s feelings and respectful of other people’s paths. You say it is up to parents to teach these things. Yet parents can only pass on what has been passed on to them. And the sins of the father have been visited upon the son. So you are teaching in your homes the same stuff your parents taught you in their homes.”
  • “Why not courses such as: • Understanding Power • Peaceful Conflict Resolution • Elements of Loving Relationships • Personhood and Self Creation • Body, Mind and Spirit: How They Function • Engaging Creativity • Celebrating Self, Valuing Others • Joyous Sexual Expression • Fairness • Tolerance • Diversities and Similarities • Ethical Economics • Creative Consciousness and Mind Power • Awareness and Wakefulness • Honesty and Responsibility • Visibility and Transparency • Science and Spirituality”


self knowledge and balance


purpose and relationships


ecology and vitality

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” - John Muir

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir


creativity and work


logic and technology

“I learned then, in solitude, the thing that is essential in the art of mathematics — that which no master can really teach” - Alexander Grothendieck

“To question why we teach mathematics will help define how to educate teachers to help students learn for themselves. What do we want to pass on to the next generation? What mathematical tools and thinking will uplift the human experience towards what ideals? (…) Creativity in mathematics education is not a math problem; it is broad-spectrum, individual human development problem. (…) [Currently] mathematics is a rigorous discipline with a defined knowledge base. It is not an open and fluid means of easily expressing new ideas. It is a closed, fragmented, largely an outmoded system of logic that does not reflect our current experience. A new worldview will eventually unify mathematics with all human activities. Without individual and collective alignment to the Whole, creativity has little benefit. It is no longer acceptable to teach only the tools of mathematics without the responsibility of a greater good in using mathematics. If math education is not about progressive values and growth, then it is simply job training.” - Bradford Hansen-Smith


see also

natural_learning.txt · Last modified: 2022/12/03 19:55 by walden