What is the point when we ask: “How’s it going?” What is it that “goes” – sometimes well, sometimes not so well? External, visible going is probably not what we mean in most cases and yet there is an inner connection to what the question is about. The German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder wrote in his Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity: “With upright carriage, human beings became artful creatures; for through this, the first and most difficult art which human beings learn, they are initiated into learning all of them and becoming what we might call living art … Meanwhile all these artful tools, the brain, senses and hands, would have remained without effect even in an upright form if the Creator had not given us a mainspring to set them all in motion.”
Learning to walk, speak and think properly is of enormous importance for the development of the child. Paediatricians, therapists, pre-school teachers, teachers and parents are left in no doubt when there are deficits in motor functions, language acquisition and cognitive performance. On closer observation, we can discover connections. The well-known American neurologists and education researcher Howard Gardner is in no doubt that there is a close relationship between the use of the body and the development of cognitive powers. If children move well, if they can use all their physical limbs in a way which is flexible and utilises fine motor skills, the chances are good that they will learn to speak well. If they speak well, have a rich vocabulary and form good sentences, that in turn makes it likely that they will develop differentiated concepts about themselves and the world. Comprehension experienced through the senses turns into concepts, doing turns into words, words turn into knowledge. Something of that is still contained in the term “thought progression”.
Anyone who notices the tirelessness and enormous effort of will with which small children endeavour to take hold of their body, speech and thinking might well gain the impression that there is something almost superhuman at work here. According to Rudolf Steiner, spiritual forces of wisdom are at work in early child development – a “mainspring” as Herder called it – which only gradually withdraw. Walking, speaking and thinking have their spiritual counterpart in heaven, we might say.
Behind our everyday “How’s it going” a heavenly “it” is concealed which challenges us so that an I on earth learns to walk independently in the fullest human sense.