Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
8 March 1920, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: We still have four months ahead of us after having finished five.
A teacher reports about mathematics and science instruction in the seventh and eighth grades.
Dr. Steiner: In eighth grade optics, you should teach only about refraction (lenses) and the spectrum. In teaching thermodynamics, teach only melting (thermometer), boiling, and the sources of heat. Then go into magnetism only briefly. In electricity, you will need to teach about static electricity. In mechanics, the lever and incline plane; and in aerodynamics, the lifting forces and air pressure. In chemistry, you should cover burning and how substances combine and separate. In the seventh grade, you should discuss optics and magnetism in more detail than in the eighth grade. You also need to cover the mechanics of solid bodies.
A teacher reports about the humanities in the seventh and eighth grades. There is a discussion about Goethe’s biography and also his Poetry and Truth, as well as Schiller’s Aesthetic Letters.
Dr. Steiner: I would recommend Herder’s Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit [Thoughts on the philosophy of human history], in which he presents the human being as a summation of all the other natural realms. World History should continue right up until the present.
A teacher speaks about the sixth grade.
A teacher speaks about the fifth grade. Much of the subject matter has not yet been taught.
Dr. Steiner: It is better to omit some material than to hurry. In teaching about human beings and animals, you should discuss the brain, the senses, the nerves, the muscles, and so forth.
A teacher asks about Latin letters and German grammar in the fourth grade.
Dr. Steiner: If you are to teach Latin handwriting, it is perhaps better to first develop German handwriting out of drawings and then develop characteristic Latin letters from the drawings. You can create sentences from poems, but do it in a kind way, don’t do it pedantically.
Two teachers speak about the second and third grades.
A teacher speaks about the first grade. E.S. has not returned since being deloused. Another question is asked regarding how to introduce letters.
Dr. Steiner: It would be best to first create the forms of the letters pictorially, and then to gradually move into the letters themselves. In general, you should concentrate.
A teacher reports about music and eurythmy, also tone eurythmy.
Dr. Steiner: We could send a flyer about the school regulations to all the parents every four weeks saying that eurythmy is a required class.
A teacher reports about foreign language instruction.
Dr. Steiner: In Latin, and in the languages generally, you should not have the children translate, but only freely speak about the content, about the meaning, so that you can see that they have understood. Otherwise, you would adversely affect the meaning of language.
In the upper grades, you will also need to teach the children something about the vowel shifts, thus coming back to the standpoint of English.
You should always pay strict attention that you teach the class, not just individuals. If one child occupies you for a longer period, then you should now and then ask questions of the others to keep them awake. Treat the class like a chorus.
A teacher reports about the instruction in social understanding.
Dr. Steiner: In the seventh and eighth grades, you could give them what is in Towards Social Renewal.
A teacher asks about the emotionally disturbed children.
Dr. Steiner: The remedial class is for those who have significant learning barriers. Those children are not in the normal class, and Dr. Schubert teaches them separately every day during that time.
A.B. has a strong tendency toward dementia praecox.
E.G. is disturbingly restless. You must often reprimand him, as otherwise he could develop dementia praecox by the age of fifteen. We have seven or eight children like that in the school.
A teacher reports about a student who stole something.
Dr. Steiner: With children who steal, it is good to have them remember scenes they experienced earlier. You should have them imagine things they experienced years before, for instance, with seven-year-olds, experiences they had when they were five, or with ten-year-olds, experiences they had when they were seven. You should also have them recall experiences from two weeks before. Things will then become better quickly. If you do nothing, these problems will become larger and develop into kleptomania.
In such cases, things that solidify the will are particularly effective, and recalling things that go back weeks, months, or years is particularly effective in firming the will.
In cases of kleptomania, it is also good to punish the children by having them sit for a quarter of an hour and hold their feet or toes with their hands. From the perspective of strengthening the will, that is something you can do against kleptomania.
There are also children who cannot remember, who on the next day can no longer remember what they did the day before. In that case, you must strengthen their capacity to remember by having them recall things in reverse order.
You still have the children say those phrases I once gave you as prayers for them, don’t you? “People gain strength for life through learning,” “I will pay attention to my thoughts and deeds” or “… and words.”
You can hardly strengthen memory other than by attempting to have the children imagine something backward, for instance, “the father reads in the book,” turned around to, “book the in reads father the,” so that they have a pictorial image of that. Or you can have them say the numbers 4, 6, 7, 3 in reverse order, 3, 7, 6, 4. Or perhaps the hardness scale, back and forth.
You also do not need to shy away from having the children repeat little poems that they have said word for word backward. They can also say the speech exercise backward. That is a technique you can use when memory is so weak.
There is some discussion about the scientific work done in the research institute.
Dr. Steiner: You should not dissipate your strengths. You should have friendly and neighborly relations with Dr. Rudolf Maier’s research institute.