Rudolf Steiner in the Waldorf School
Address at a Monthly Assembly
10 June 1920, Stuttgart
Dear children! 1Rudolf Steiner had suggested that the students gather at the school for a brief celebration instead of the monthly day off from school that was the custom in Baden-Württemberg. The mood of the course of the year was to form the background for this event and the classes were to show each other what they had been working on in recitation, drama, music, and eurythmy, or in foreign languages, gymnastics, and so on. Rudolf Steiner also gave a talk at these assemblies whenever he could be in Stuttgart. Last time I was able to be here, I told you how glad I am when our dear friend Herr Molt comes to pick me up in Dornach, where the school for big people, for grown-ups, is being built. 2The wooden building of the Goetheanum, the Free School of Spiritual Science, was under construction from 1913-1921. Then I can be with you again for a little while and see what you are doing.
And why am I so glad when Herr Molt comes to bring me here? Because it makes me think, “Now I am going to the school that was founded for our dear children” — that is, for you who are here because you long to become capable people who are ready for life.
Because I have only been here for a short time, I have not been able to see much yet — just the tiny little folks in the first grade, and the eighth grade — but what I did see gave me great pleasure. I saw how patiently and lovingly the first grade teacher had helped the children make some progress, and I was privileged to spend a very nice lesson with the eighth grade students. They were hearing about what human history tells us of how human beings on earth are involved in an evolution, an ongoing progress, that is driven by the spirit: Something that lives in human history gives us the desire to work on into the future. The spirit in which this was being conveyed to the souls of our dear young friends in the eighth grade was very beautiful. I am looking forward to seeing all the other classes, too. I am always pleased when I see how what our friend Herr Molt planted here is beginning to develop.
You entered this school when the fall was approaching. At that time we tried to think about what we would experience here and what we wanted to foster — love for each other, love for our teachers, love for God, who speaks to us from everything. And now, while you have been enjoying what your teachers presented to you each morning, you have also been experiencing what comes up out of the earth, what the spring draws out of it. You have seen the trees growing green. And now we remember what we hear when we go out into the woods. We hear the songbirds, and we are glad.
But today we have also heard something else, something for which I am especially thankful. We have heard you, under the direction of your teachers, express something that comes from inside of you. We can hear the birds singing out in the woods, and we can also hear what you have expressed to us, but there is a difference between them.
We are glad when we hear the little birds singing. But we know that something else is present when we hear what you perform for us. This is something that we call the human soul. It is your human souls that speak to us and sing to us. This is what human beings make out of what speaks to them out there in nature. In the woods, we hear the birds, but when you sing many other things that are heard come toward us out from the human soul.
But there are also other things out there in nature. You see how the plants grow and the trees turn green. All of this is called forth by the light. Light floods the entire universe. Light and warmth are what call everything up out of the earth, all those things that delight your eyes and hearts. What sounds in your ears, brought to you through the patience and persistence of your teachers, what travels through the world as light and then enters your eyes — we hear all of this resounding from you, not only when you sing and dance, but also when you tell what you have learned to calculate and what you have learned about everything that is human. In your souls, this turns to light. And just think what the plants would be without the sun. They would not be able to come out of the ground. They would always remain roots that would not be able to develop flowers, and it would be dark. This is what it would be like for you if you went through the world without ever finding a school where you could learn something. You would be like a plant that never finds the sun. The soul finds its sun in people from whom it can learn something.
This is why we are so glad that a school like this has been founded as a result of Herr Molt’s insight, and why you are so glad to be able to be in a school that you love. Seek the light of the soul, just as the plants seek the light and warmth of the sun!
I do not want to always say the same things to you, because I also do not want to always hear the same things when I come, but there is one thing that I want to hear from you again and again. You must answer me; this is what I am most curious about. And so I ask you, children, do you still love your teachers? [“Yes!” shout the children.] That is what I want to hear from the majority of you. That is what you are meant to take up into your souls. Love for your teachers will support you as you go out into life. Again and again, each time I come here, I would like to experience that you have made progress in learning, but I would also like you to show me that you have continued to love your teachers. You can be sure that in the great building that is being built for grown-ups in Dornach, where big people are meant to learn something, we all think about the Waldorf School here, and we think of it with love and joy. There are a lot of people who are thinking of the Waldorf School with love today, and they are thinking, “How good and capable these people will grow up to be, since as children they were filled with love for their teachers.”
Oh, there is something I must tell you — Frau Steiner sends her greetings, since she cannot be here today.
There is a spirit that is always meant to prevail here, a spirit that your teachers bring to this place. From the spirit of the cosmos, they learn to bring this spirit here to you; they take in what St. Paul said with all of their souls. The spirit of Christ prevails throughout our school; whether we are doing arithmetic, reading, writing, or whatever we do, we do it with the attitude that the Christ awakened in us:
“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” 3Matthew 28:20.
This is the spirit that is meant to prevail here, and it will do so through what your teachers bring to you with love, patience and endurance. May it also prevail through what lives in your souls!
Be with this spirit when you are in your class, and think of it when you leave. Be glad in your souls that you are coming back to the Waldorf School where the sun is lit for you, the sun that people need for life.
If there is someone among you who does not pay attention, there should be one of you who can go to that person and lovingly say, “Hey, hard work and paying attention get us up the mountain of life. Upward, friend! You should always be going up the mountain of life.” 4In the original German, this is a reference to a song sung by the students at the beginning of the assembly. This is how each of you should help the friend who falters a little — all of you for each one, all for one, one for all, lovingly. Love needs to be present among you, for each other and for your teachers. This is something we want to cultivate as part of the good spirit of the Waldorf School.