Book Review: Kicking Away the Ladder March 12 2019
It’s important to investigate the philosophical underpinnings of something as influential as the educational approach for our children. Clues about the image of human development, respect for life on earth, and the reasons for different methods used can be more deeply understood by comprehending the founding principles of educational philosophy.
In addition, following the lines of philosophical thought trains our own thinking and promotes clarity; qualities our children are inevitably going to imitate. Since the crown jewel of all education is thinking (clearly and inventively, lately called “executive function,” or “critical thinking”), then how we think about the path to this triumph of good education is not only helpful, but essential.
Frederick Amrine, with his wonderful new book, Kicking Away the Ladder, helps us accomplish this with ease. With remarkable simplicity and clarity, Amrine’s comprehensive command of philosophy gives us a chance to trace philosophical thinking through centuries to grasp why Rudolf Steiner’s educational approach arrived when it did, and in the stream of thought preceding it.
Kicking Away the Ladder is a collection of essays by Professor Amerine originally published in the Research Bulletin, a journal from the Research Institute for Waldorf Education. These essays explain, in a wonderfully accessible way, the path of philosophy that led to the fundamental ideas and ideals that give Waldorf Education its validity and foundation.
Fred Amrine understands that philosophy might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and so he leads with heart, not intellect. Using his high intellect and years of teaching experience, he applies his marvelous grasp of European philosophical history to create comprehensive summaries of the high thinkers who influenced Rudolf Steiner. With these remarkable skills, we receive the gift that the title promises — independent thinking to understand afresh what human development is, what our links to the universe are, and the reason Waldorf education is a necessary, unique educational method for our current, and future, societies. A glance at the chaos of modern communication is a convincing motivation to think and learn differently for a more creative, truthful, and beautiful “outcome.”
Kicking Away the Ladder is a thrilling addition to the resources available for understanding our own thinking and the discipline we can employ to refine that thinking to inform educational methods to reach deeper. Read it and climb high in your own capacities to kick away your own ladder!