Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
12 June 1920, Stuttgart
A brochure and yearly report are mentioned.
Dr. Steiner: What is the purpose of all this advertising? A teacher: We are going to send it to all interested people. Dr. Steiner: Then, is it an invitation? In that case, everything you have shown me is much too long. It will not be effective. If you want every potential member of the Waldorf School Association to read it, you should condense it into half a page. What you have here is a small book.
A teacher: I don’t think it is so thick.
Dr. Steiner: Think about Dr. Stein’s manuscript. It’s already thirty printed pages. It is too long and too academic. It’s more like a report to another faculty. It is directed more to pedagogical experts than to people who might want to join the Association. You should direct it to everyone interested in the school. They would never read so much. You did not mention this perspective last time. We always looked at the brochure from the standpoint of public relations.
This brochure could serve only to replace the usual academic presentation. There have always been formal presentations and something like this could provide a general presentation of the school. We could, for instance, describe the facilities and buildings and then go on to describe the pedagogy of the school and the individual subjects.
A teacher: We especially need material for the parents who want to send their children to us.
Dr. Steiner: That’s true. For such parents, we could summarize all the material we already have. For example, there is some good material in the Waldorf News. None of that, however, can replace a brochure that should be no longer than eight printed pages. There should be thousands of members, and we need to give them a short summary.
A teacher: That would not preclude also having a yearly report.
Dr. Steiner: You must remember how little interest people have in things. Today, people read in a peculiar way.
It’s true, isn’t it, that a magazine article is different. However, if you want to make something clear to someone and hope they will become a member and pay fifty marks, you don’t need to go into all the details. You need only give a broad outline. This brochure would be different. It would contain a request for payment of some amount. But, the yearly report might be more like what I would call a history of the school. There, we can include everything individual teachers put together. The reports need not be short. All reports can be long. If the brochure brings in a lot of money, Mr. Molt will surely provide some for the yearly report. All that is a question of republicanism. The number of names it mentions would make the yearly report effective. We should, however, consider whether we should strive for uniformity. One person may write pedantically and report about what happened each month. Another might write, at least from what I have seen, about things I could do only in five hundred years. (Speaking to Dr. Stein) You wrote this so quickly that you could also write the others.
Dr. Steiner is asked to write something also.
Dr. Steiner: That is rather difficult. If I were to write even three pages, I would have to report about things I have experienced, and that could be unpleasant for some. If I were to write it as a teacher, I would tend to write it differently than the brochure. The brochure should contain our intent, what we will improve each year. In the report, we should show what we accomplished and what we did not accomplish. There, the difference between reality and the brochure would be apparent. If I wrote something, I would, of course, keep it in that vein. It will put people out of shape afterward, but I can write the three pages.
A teacher reports about his remedial class with nine children.
Two teachers report about teaching foreign language in the first grade.
Dr. Steiner: The earlier you begin, the more easily children learn foreign languages and the better their pronunciation. Beginning at seven, the ability to learn languages decreases with age. Thus, we must begin early. Speaking in chorus is good, since language is a social element. It is always easier to speak in chorus than individually.
Two teachers report about the classes in Latin and Greek. There are two classes for Latin, but in the lower class, there are only two boys. The upper class is talented and industrious.
Dr. Steiner: There is good progress in the foreign languages.
A teacher reports about the kindergarten with thirty-three children. She asks if the children should do cut work in the kindergarten.
Dr. Steiner: If you undertake such artistic activities with the children, you will notice that some have talent for them. There will not be many, and the others you will have to push. Those things, when they are pretty, are pretty. They are little works of art. I would allow a child to work in that way only if I saw that he or she has a tendency in that direction. I would not introduce it to the children in general.
You should begin painting with watercolors.
You mean cutting things out and pasting them? If you see that one or another child has a talent for silhouettes, you could allow that. I would not fool around, don’t do that. You can probably work best with the children you have when you have them do meaningful things with simple objects. Anything! You should try to discover what interests the children. There are children, particularly girls, who can make a doll out of any handkerchief. The doll’s write letters and then pass them on. You could be the postman or the post office. Do sensible things with simple objects.
When the change of teeth begins, the children enter the stage when they want to imagine things, for instance that one thing is a rabbit and another is a dog. Sensible things that the child dreams into. The principle of play is that until the change of teeth, the child imitates sensible things, dolls and puppets. With boys, it is puppets, with girls, dolls. Perhaps they could have a large puppet with a small one alongside. These need only be a couple pieces of wood. At age seven, you can bring the children into a circle or ring, and they can imagine something. Two could be a house, and the others go around and live in it. In that game, the children are there themselves.
With musical children, you can play something else, perhaps something that would support their musical talent. You should help unmusical children develop their musical capacities through dance and eurythmy. You need to be inventive. You can do all these things, but you need to be inventive, because otherwise everything becomes stereotyped. Later, it is easier because you can connect with things in the school.
A teacher explains how she conveyed the consonants in eurythmy by working with the growth of plants.
Dr. Steiner: That is very nice. The children do not differ much. You do not have many who are untalented nor many who are gifted. They are average children. Also, you have few choleric or strongly melancholic temperaments. Those children are mostly phlegmatic or sanguine. All that plays a role since you do not have all four temperaments.
You can get the phlegmatic children moving only if you try to work with the more difficult consonants. For the sanguine children, work with the easier consonants. Do the r and s with the phlegmatic children, and with the sanguine children, do the consonants that only hint of movement, d and t. If we have other temperaments in the next years, we can try more things. It is curious that those children who do not accomplish much in the classroom can do a great deal in eurythmy. The progress is good, but I would like to see you take more notice of what progresses. Our task is to see that we speak more to the children about what we bring from the teaching material, that we look more toward training thinking and feeling. For example, in arithmetic we should make clear to the students that with minus five, they have five less than they owe to someone. You need to speak with them very precisely.
It is often good to drift off the subject. You then notice that the children are not so perfect in their essays. It’s true, isn’t it, that the children who are more talented in their heads write good essays, and those who are more talented in their bodies are good in eurythmy. You should try to balance that through conversation. When you talk with children, if you speak about something practical and go into it deeply, you turn their attention away from the head.
A teacher asks how to handle the present perfect tense. Dr. Steiner: I would speak with the children about various parallels between the past and the complete. What is a perfect person, a perfect table? I would speak about the connections between what is complete and finished and the perfect present tense. Then I would discuss the imperfect tense where you still are in the process of completion.
If I had had time today, I would have gone through the children’s reading material in the present perfect. Of course, you can’t translate every sentence that way, but that would bring some life into it. Eurythmy also brings life into the development of the head. There is much you can do between the lines. I already said today that I can understand how you might not like to drift off the subject. That is something we can consider an ideal, namely to bring other things in. For example, today I wanted to tease your children in the third grade with “hurtig toch.” In that way, you could expand their thinking. That means “express train.” That is what I mean by doing things with children between the lines.
The eurythmy room is discussed.
Dr. Steiner: I was never lucky enough that someone promised that room to me. Frau Steiner would prefer to have simply the field and a roof above it. Although you can awaken the most beautiful physical capacities in children through eurythmy, they can also feel all the terrible effects of the room, and that makes them so tired. We all know of the beautiful eurythmy hall, but someone forgot to make the ventilation large enough, so that we can’t use it. For eurythmy, we need a large, well-ventilated hall. Everything we have had until now is unsatisfactory for a eurythmy hall. We have only a substitute. Eurythmy rooms need particularly good ventilation. We have to build the Eurythmeum.