Human Development (HS 112)

I Projected Learning Goals and Objectives:

In the words of Hermann Hesse, the human being “is not a determinate, finite entity, not a being completed once and for all, but a coming-into-being, a project, a dream of the future, a yearning of nature for new forms and possibilities.”

Of no period in human development is this more apt a description than of adolescence, that fluid time between childhood and full adulthood. By studying the ebb and flow of inner and outer influences upon the toddler, the child, and the teenager, students will come to understand how human beings develop and how — through the developmental structure of the Waldorf elementary and high school curriculum — they can be helped in their unfolding from earliest years through childhood to adult life.

II Overview of Course Content and Methods:

Beginning with reflections upon their own teenage years, students will explore the nature of adolescence — its physiology, psychology, and spiritual aspirations — and the stages of human development leading up to and resulting from this seminal time. The course will proceed in seminar format, starting with lectures to frame the context for discussion. Students will be asked to make individual presentations on various social and psychological aspects of growing up.

III Outline of Topics to be Covered:

“Human Development from Toddler to Teen”
Overview of the metamorphic phases of human development:
growing up and growing down. The widening chasm between puberty and adolescence. Polarities of adolescence: falling into (“the real world”) and rising into mental abstraction(“the ideal world”). Training powers of thinking and independentjudgment in four phases of the high school curriculum.

“Adolescence and the Early Years”
The infant as “sculptor”. The first three great achievements of uprightness, speaking, and thinking. Imitation as mode of learning. Development of four “lower senses” in the young years as the basis for the unfolding of four “higher senses” in high school. The crisis of the third year. The grade school child as “musician”. Class teacherand the authority principle as mode of learning. The role of the fourtemperaments. The crises of the ninth/tenth and twelfth years.

“The Heart of the Teenage Years”
Transition of the thirteenth/fourteenth year into high school. The teenager as “actor”. Developing independent judgment as modeof learning. Themes of the high school curriculum in four phases of adolescent development. The crisis of “sweet sixteen”. Social andanti social forces in adolescent life. The lure of the erotic and thelust for power. The appeal of sex, drugs, and technology. The mission of loneliness. Extra-curricular and social interests. Preparing youth for life after high school.

IV Verification Requirements and Evaluation Methods:

The evaluation of students will be based on completed reading and written assignments, as well as on class participation. In addition, each student will be responsible for presenting an aspect of human development to the group.

V Readings:


— Joan Almon, “Educating for Creative Thinking: The Waldorf Approach” (photocopied reprint)

— Douglas Gerwin, “Waldorf High School Curriculum Guide”
(photocopied reprint)

— Nanette Grimm, “A High School Course in Child Study”, in Waldorf Schools: Volume II — Upper Grades and High School. ed. Ruth Pusch (Spring Valley: Mercury Press, 1993). Available through Anthroposophic Press
(photocopied reprint)

— David Sloan, “The Waldorf High School: Keeping Ideals Intact”, in Renewal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (photocopied reprint)

— Rudolf Steiner, Education for Adolescents
(Hudson: Anthroposophic Press, 1996)
Especially Lectures V, then II & III


— Torin Finser, School as a Journey

Erich Gabert, Educating the Adolescent: Discipline or Freedom

— John F. Gardner, Youth Longs to Know

Douglas Gerwin, Trailing Clouds of Glory: Essays on Human Sexuality and the Education of Youth in Waldorf Schools

Hermann Koepke, On the Threshold of Adolescence: The Struggle for Independence in the Twelfth Year

— Michael Luxford, ed., Adolescence and Its Significance for Those with Special Needs

— Peter Selg, A Grand Metamorphosis

— David Sloan, Life Lessons

— Rudolf Steiner, The Challenge of the Times

____________, Observations on Adolescence



FIRST year

Second Year

Third Year