What do you mean when you talk about education for the ‘hand, heart and head’?

‘Hand, heart and head’ is an expression of our desire to deliver a truly holistic curriculum. Whereas mainstream curricula tend to progress in a linear fashion, with one topic explicitly laying the groundwork for the next, the Steiner curriculum is more usually imagined as a spiral. A subject like chemistry might not be taught as ‘chemistry,’ per se. Instead, the subject’s foundations will be established for younger children through ‘experiential learning’: they will explore chemical processes with their senses (the ‘hand’) and emotions, via experiments and stories (the ‘heart’)—but without any explicit mention of chemistry or any of the abstract theory. The theory will emerge later—perhaps many years later—on another arm of the spiral, when a child is mature enough to comprehend it (the ‘head’). This later work integrates ‘feeling’ with ‘thinking’.


When the curriculum inspires a young person, they will be aware, unconsciously, that what they are being taught is right for them, and they will be interested in it; ultimately, they should be motivated to learn purely for the joy of learning, as opposed to reluctantly cramming their heads in pursuit of a meaningless target. This is what we call ‘education towards freedom’.