What is so powerful about Steiner's 12 senses model is the implications on teaching. It provides profound insights into what might be missing in a child's unfolding physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive development. I have spent the last decade returning to this model over and over again in my teaching practice.
Today, I want to give you a quick tour and overview. Next Saturday, I will focus on the Sense of Life and look more deeply into how this sense shows up in a child's growth and development. Steiner held the twelve senses in a three-fold model. There are three spheres of senses:
The Lower Senses - "Sensation" Senses - The Physical Senses
The lower senses give us a certain consciousness of our body.
Focus of development of these senses is 0-7 years of age.
- Sense of Life - This sense allows us to experience our own constitution, whether we feel well or not (editic).
- Sense of Touch - This sense tells you something about the object you are touching and your sense of boundary (tactile).
- Sense of Movement - Gives us a sense of our joints and muscles when we move. It is development from sitting, crawling, walking (proprioception).
- Sense of Balance - Gives us our relationship to the three dimensions of space; above/below, right/left and front/back (vestibular)(orientation).
The Feeling Senses - "Perception" Senses - Soul Senses
These senses give us an experience of the world around us.
Focus of development for these senses is during 7-14 years of age.
- Sense of Sight - Through this sense we experience light, darkness, and colors.
- Sense of Smell - Through this sense we experience the quality of things (odors, scents, aromas, etc) and our relationship to them. Smelling is related to memory.
- Sense of Taste - Digestion begins in the mouth. Ideally, our sense of taste should teach us what is good for us. Tongue distinguishes different qualities of food.
- Sense of Warmth - This a two-fold sense, a temperature sense of hot and cold. We experience physical temperatures as well as soul warmth and coldness.
The Cognitive Senses - "Concept" Senses
These senses give us access to communicating our thoughts and feelings to others. Also called the social senses.
Focus of development is during 14 - 21 years of age.
- Sense of Hearing - Our ear has three main parts - the outer, middle and inner ear. Our sense of hearing allows us to differentiate sounds.
- Sense of Word (Speech) - Allows us to be aware of the language another human being uses to communicate with us. Allows us to grasp how language is used.
- Sense of Thought - The sense that gives one the capacity to understand, comprehend, and picture what another's thoughts convey.
- Sense of Ego - The sense that gives one the ability to be sensitive to someone's individuality.