The most important thing for which we can prepare a child is the experience of freedom, at the right moment in life, through the understanding of one's own being.


Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

feeling, understanding, judment, remembering, language, temperament, heart, health, balance, cosmic process
By: Ben Cherry, March 2020, First published in the Reader 'Waldorf 100 Centenary Conference on ‘The First Teachers Course’ Goetheanum 2019

Day 5: Feeling as the Harmonizing Dancer between Cognition and Will

Thoughts on 'The First Teachers Course'* from Ben Cherry

After focusing in depth on the polarity of cognition and will for the first few days of this course, Rudolf Steiner comes on the fifth day to feeling. Through working first with the polarities and then with that which harmonizes them, he reveals a powerful pedagogical process. One discovers that the world of feelings, which he now brings to our consciousness, was already there in our inner picturing, invisibly weaving between the polar opposites.

So we come in a sense to the heart of this education, which recognizes feeling as a central process in all understanding, as well as in making sound judgments and remembering. For the content of our lessons to come alive, we must engage the pupils’ feelings. And for this to happen, we ourselves must already feel them within our own hearts and breathing.

In the corresponding lectures in Practical Advice to Teachers and Discussions with Teachers, we encounter the balancing role of feeling in language and in working with children’s temperaments. This too we will explore.

Working with this holistic approach, one can come to realize, through one’s own thinking and feeling, the truth of Steiner’s repeated statement that the heart is not simply a pump, but rather an organ of uttermost selflessness, continuously bringing health and balance into our earthly lives. As teachers, we must think this through in detail, as a way of recognizing for ourselves how comprehensively the human being is integrated into the whole cosmic process. These mighty lectures give us insight into this over and again, each time from a different perspective. Our understanding of it becomes the ground for a truly human education.

Benjamin Cherry, MA, 1st MB, Dip Ed, has been involved with Waldorf education for 42 years and taught as a class teacher and high school teacher in Australia for more than two decades. He has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America and has visited or taught in schools in many places. He has been connected with the Waldorf school movement in Taiwan since it began 19 years ago and in Mainland China since the first school opened four years later. While still teaching in Australia, he regularly visited schools and teacher education centers in Thailand, Japan and South Korea, and occasionally in India, Nepal and the Philippines. He was the Coordinator of the China Waldorf Forum for 7 years and still supports many schools and courses in the region.


* 'The First Teachers Course' is the foundation of Waldorf Education with the notes from the lectures of Rudolf Steiner: 'The Foundations of Human Experience', 'Practical Advice to Teachers' and 'Discussions with Teachers'.

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