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The Art of Handling Steiner

[R]eaders . . . will find . . . maxims . . . throw light on various puzzling problems, and so on. - Rudolf Steiner (Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, "Preface to the Third Edition")

Rudolf Steiner articles on the site presents glimpses of the wisdom of the multifarious genius Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), originator of Anthroposophy, the Waldorf Education movement, biodynamamic agriculture and much else.

Schemas help learning. In cognitive psychology, a schema is taken to mean a cognitive framework - and a model - that helps organise and interpret information. Schemas can be useful to the degree they help us interpret large amount of information at hand. Other meanings of 'schema' are not considered below.

Some essays are a bottom tables of sorted phrases put into a schema, including direct quotations. The essays of stringed utterances are schemas of a sort, and probably much easier to learn from, as sensible schemas make embedded thoughts in them easier to learn. Also, the inherent, conform structure of such evolved yet loose cybernetic essay-tables allow for extracting yet more wisdom from what is put into them. It is a novelty.

  • Abridged teachings consist of sampled quotations and renderings. Renderings can be of many sorts, as explained here: [Different renditions and their marks] Quotations and renderings may be shuffled to fit into a basic schema also.
  • Where two or more distinct statements are adjoined or "glued together", the joint is shown by ⚶ or an em dash ( — ) with space before and after. In the cases where the original Steiner texts contain em dashes, those dashes are changed to hyphens ( - ) to minimise confusion.
  • Certain markers in the table-essays, like ; or numbers in brackets behind some of the stringed statements refer to the underlying table design - and may be ignored at first reading, for example. [The basic schema] - [Gold Eggs model]

References to the unabridged sources used, are most often supplied too.


DAO SEARCH Get Tao (icon)When selected expressions are stringed to make a table-essay of a sort (a schema). [The basic schema] - [Schema markers] -- [Gold Eggs model]

is a "level" marker in the structural design of a table-essay. [Design markers explained]

is a particular level marker in a table-essay. [Star explained]

[....] Text in square brackets [in sharp brackets] is written for this work or edition.

(....)Text in round brackets, ( ), is from cited material.

* 'Altered: A phrase or period may be changed more or less, abridged or moderated in different ways, as the case may be. At times the marker suggests 'added': as for added aproposes - aproposes may be either new or without sources given.

is put between sayings or maxims with similar or closely related meanings.

shows where two originally separate statements are joined ad hoc.

Cf Compare (literal meaning: confer).

Mod 'Moderated' may be put behind moderated statements - It shows the original souce is changed for the sake of something like "sweet and short", or "simple, clear, and direct as fits" in order to be more helpful.

Inline text:

Long notes may be indented (This is an indentation).

Abbreviations (a) Shorter list of abbreviations -- (b) Longer list of abbreviations.

From the art of juggling with ideas

There are synonyms to deal with. When we abridge someone's teachings, we may get to maxims, terse statements. A definition comes in handy: "Maxim: a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct." There are other words that mean almost the same as 'maxim'. They are synonyms for the word.

A synonym is defined as "a word or phrase that means just the same or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language."

Words that mean about the same as 'maxim' include "saying, proverb, motto, adage, saw, dictum, precept, bon mot and expression. There are some other synonyms too.

A saying, for example, is "a short, pithy expression identified with a particular person." Similar words: proverb, maxim, adage, saw, motto, precept, expression, phrase (and others).

Popular quotations may become known as and used as proverbs. There are many examples of it. "a group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker." Synonyms: citation, quote, excerpt, selection, line, clipping, snippet, piece, phrase (and more).

Key phrases are fit for learning. As the lists of synonyms show, maxim, proverb, saying and even quotation have common ground, and some may blend too. "Get Tao" articles makes use of these and still others.

As Dr Steiner is into on top of the page, maxims, proverbs and other terse statements, including some quotations, can throw light on problems and other issues. Granting that there are good maxims and bad maxims, helpful proverbs and quotations and hardly helpful proverbs and quotations, and that helpful ones give better teachings, many terse phrases also have it in them that they are easy to recall.

It is just the same with key words and keynotes and key phrases when studying textbooks. Focusing on the gist, makes for more accomplished learning, as assembled key words, phrases and lines serve as "memory pegs" or pivots, (central points, handles, etc.)

Take hold of the panhandle to get to the food in the pan. By taking care to memorise the "handles", the key terms, more may follow, as memory is rooted in forming associations, and "memory handles" tend to help us remember better and more, if the "pan" of text parts they hold, gets better activated once you grasp the handle. If so, better learning gains are had. There is a snag: Blocked memory, but those points are left out here. If learning is accomplished with at least moderate ease, pleasure and not so much violence as in ineffective and compulsory schooling, a student may remember far more, far longer, far better. There is a learning-war on, one that causes unsuitable conformity, repressions of learnt material, and low life accomplishments in its wake, perhaps. Much may depend on the single person or his or her caring parents of home-schooling too. They adapt material to the learner, and not the other way round, roughly said.

In general, it helps to get a survey of a text too, before going into details. That study approach suits many.

By making gist stand out well, reading is eased, learning is eased, memorisation is eased. It is wise to present cental and good ideas in some interesting way, for interest helps learning too. To profit from reading by retaining more of it, is that not a good idea?

We may ease presentation of kernels or good ideas by typographic means. In addition there are study strategies. Lojong may or may not be coupled to them, but it is advocated. It is a very old way of focusing in a relaxed way on sentences to learn well. Lojong is used in Tibetan yoga. It is also a feature of yoga in Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism). In several Catholic circles it equals meditating on verses.

Solid gains in long-term learning

(1) Meditate deeply (contemplate) on a few Steiner thoughts at a time. (2) Then memorise. (3) Also consider, reflect laxly, on the core ideas. In such a way one appropriates them, makes them one's own in time. It happens in part by integrating (linking, "braiding" or "knitting" the new ideas to lots of other ideas inside.

To get the good ideas firmly established in the mind is to remember them so well that a number of them may be recalled. It resembles how fishers deal with fishing nets, all in all:

How fishers fish. The so-called pegs (key words, key prases, key lines) are like floats. They give access to the whole net under the surface (in memory vaults). At the bottom of the net may be heavy weights - depending on the type of net. The weights signify things that keep one down - lack of understanding, for example.

"In the flow": Good catches may be had. The catch that is hauled in consists of glimmering ideas you eat and digest and are nourished by, time and time again, meal after meal. If there are big fishes to haul in, one quite naturally gets eager, even a little scared, as the case may be. To be "in the flow" tells of learning eagerness, spurred by many catches. (Ronald Gross 1999)

Fishers go on to gut, sell, handle and eat fish. By hauling in your nets and prepare the fishes you get, you may feed yourself and your family too, and the well fed ones may slowly grow larger - not as parrots, but as themselves, mainly. That is approximately the ideal of much Steiner school learning, roughly stated.

For such old work to go very well, deep rest or restiveness may help, meditation, listening (using one's auditive channels) and wise memorisations. A good blend of these elements can give better recall with less effort. [Means of learning]

On a page of its own is lojong explained, with a few extra tips.

On the one hand, it is about loyal, meditative quotation and focus on well-chosen words and the art of cultivating clearly good fruits from them after a quarter of one is "lucky" - just like at a planned study, there is one building leaning network in the long-term memory, LTM (See section above): [Lojong method of proverb]

Making cool reservations

How we understand a statement depends on how we interpret it to make sense to us. It often helps to be reasonable. It is generally good to maintain some reserve - it helps balance in the boat, so to speak, and not make it capsise or anything of that sort. Many a kernel or core idea can profit from added reservations, that is, from skilled qualifications added to make sense or better sense of it. It is quite an art. Further, it is feasible to gather many reservations and keep them ready in case of need. At universities and high schools, if not earlier, well schooled young adults learn to express themselves carefully, using standard qualifications like "It seems to me that . . ." or "It could be that" and so on. Bertrand Russell says in "How I Write":

If you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences. - Sir Bertrand Russell, in "How I Write" (Russell 1961:63-65)

There is nothing wrong with that. Here you may learn the art of building walls of subsumed reservations too. Mind the link to one of the site's presupposed reservation pages on top of almost any page.

Markers to the reader's benefit

On many of the following pages are simple markers, like 'Mod', 'Abr' 'Cf', brackets and some symbols. What they stand for and how they are used is explained briefly on a separate page, [Gain-Ways], which contains further tips on making reading more profitable by favouring kernels and other sides to learning proficiency. The page contains a few good references to study skills too.

The use of the markers is for easing the reading and getting to good ideas in a text straight away, if there are any. At any rate, there should be less delays and fewer distractions that otherwise can reduce the delight of reading.

PS. Near the bottom of pages where 'Mod', 'With' and further are used, the 'Gain-Ways' link is an easy route to these explanations.


Rudolf Steiner thoughts, Literature  

Gross, Ronald. Peak Learning: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. 2nd ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.

Russell, Sir Bertrand. "How I Write". In The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, edited by Robert E. Egner and Lester E. Denonn. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1961:63-65.

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Rudolf Steiner thoughts. USER'S GUIDE: [Link]  ᴥ  Gain-Ways: [Link]
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