The Christmas Conference
Part II. The Proceedings of the Conference
X. Rudolf Steiner's Contribution During The Meeting of the Swiss School Association
Towards 56‘Schulverein für freies Erziehungs- und Unterrichtswesen in der Schweiz’, later ‘Goetheanum-Schulverein’, Dornach. Founded 1922. From 1924, after the Christmas Foundation Conference, under the directorship of Rudolf Steiner. the end of the meeting, Dr Steiner spoke the following words:
In addition to what I took the liberty of saying at the close of the last course which I was able to hold for the Swiss teachers, I have perhaps only a few more remarks to make in connection with the difficulties of the Swiss school movement. It seems to me that things do in part indeed depend on how the educational movement connected with Anthroposophy is run here in Switzerland.
The Waldorf School in Germany has remained essentially in a position of isolation. Though there have been one or two further foundations, in Hamburg, Cologne and so on, the Waldorf School in Germany, in other words in a relatively extensive area, has remained a solitary example. It will remain to be seen, therefore, whether what is to be started in England as a kind of Waldorf school, and also the school with three classes that already exists in Holland, will also to begin with remain as solitary examples.
Apart from everything else it has to be said that the reason why these schools are still only isolated examples, and also why it can be expected that they will remain so for a long time, is simply that the present social circumstances really do make it impossible for an attitude to come about that could lead to the financing of a larger number of such schools. Experience over the years has shown this quite clearly. And this challenges us to think carefully about the whole direction we should take with our educational movement.
This is especially necessary with regard to Switzerland. For Switzerland is pervaded by a very strong sense for everything represented by the state. And now that the Swiss school association for independent education has been founded, I do believe that the chief difficulties will arise from this Swiss sense of statehood. Even less than anywhere else will it be possible here in Switzerland to find an opening for the belief that a truly independent school could be an example for a model method of education, or that schools such as this could be founded on a larger scale. We should not allow ourselves to be under any illusion in this respect. Aversion to a system of education that is independent of the state is very great here.
Of course what Herr Gnädiger has just said is right, namely that there will be interest in how things are done in a model school.
Least of all here in Switzerland can you expect the president of the Schweizerischer Schulverein, of whom you have spoken, to have any interest in the school other than that pertaining to its status as a model. Perhaps his interest will turn out to be such that he would like to influence Swiss state schools to take up certain methodological aspects from this model school. But this seems to me to be the only aspect that can be counted on to attract interest here in Switzerland. That is why it seems to me to be important to take up these two things wherever educational associations of the kind you have mentioned are founded; and also that many such associations should be founded, more and more of them!
Another aspect is that the crux of anthroposophical education is its method. The schools apply a certain method. It is not a question of any particular political direction but purely and simply of method. It is also not a question of any particular religious creed, or of seeing Anthroposophy somehow as a religious creed. It is simply a question of method.
In the discussion that followed my lecture cycle 57See Rudolf Steiner Swiss Teachers' Course, Report by Albert Steffen. English text available in typescript only. GA 306. my answer to questions on this was simply that the educational method represented here can be applied anywhere, wherever there is the good will to introduce it.
If this is done on the one hand, and if on the other hand — in order to create an understanding in wider circles — it is clearly emphasized that this is the proper method and that it is being applied in a school that can serve as a model, if these two points are given the main emphasis in the programme, if it is stressed that every school could use these methods and that a model school could demonstrate how fruitful they are, and if things are worked out neatly, then I believe that something could be achieved even in Switzerland. And then on the basis of these two points educational associations ought to be founded everywhere. But it would have to be made clear to everyone that the aim was not to found as many private schools as possible to compete with the state schools. In Switzerland such a thing would be regarded as something very peculiar and it would never be understood. But there would be an understanding for a model school which could be a source of inspiration for a method of education. Progress cannot be made in any other way. It is important to present these things to people in principle again and again and wherever the opportunity arises.
I believe it would be a good thing if you could always give the greatest prominence to these two aspects. They are perfectly true, and much damage has been done to us by the constant repetition of the view that Waldorf education can only be carried out in schools apart from the main stream, whereas I have constantly repeated that the methods can be applied in any school.
This is what I wanted to say, for everything else is linked to this. I also believe that a financial basis will only be won when there can be an understanding of these things. There will be very little understanding in Switzerland for independent schools if they are not linked to what I have just been saying. But if this is done, I believe that our efforts could lead to a greater degree of success than has been the case hitherto. So far the existing financial situation is not sufficient basis for the founding of a school in Basel.