Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
22 June 1922, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: I have tried to picture the way our friends in Austria appear to themselves. Everyone has something in a corner of their soul that reveals itself as pre-Maria Theresa. There, people have become educated by becoming “monks.” What we need is that we also become “monks.” Kolisko would have been a Dominican somewhere, Stein a Cistercian, and our dear friend Schubert, a Piarist.
I would like to hear about the things weighing upon your souls. There is, however, one thing I want to say. In teaching religion, you need to bring in all the things we have developed so far. When you teach, you must bring the children into a prayerful attitude, beginning with the lowest grades. You need to slowly develop a strongly prayerful attitude in the children. Children need to find the mood of prayer. We need to carry out “Not my will, but thine be done.” We must raise the children into divine experience. Religious instruction should not appeal simply to pictures, it must be completely oriented toward elevating attitude. You need to teach the children an attitude connected with the Sunday services, and allow them to feel a prayerful mood.
I mentioned to the Protestant teacher that I would like to visit his class. He said that he would need some time to think about it. I will also tell the Catholic teacher the same.
We also make an error here. I noticed it today in the way that the students answered your question about what their religion is. The answers arose out of the feeling that we are still not united within the school. We should be aware that we should take seriously that the Catholic children go to the Catholic priest, and we need to feel among ourselves that this only relates to religious confession and has nothing to do with the remaining instruction. We must certainly maintain that, otherwise an unpedagogical principle will creep into this school. It seems to me necessary that we not teach the Catholic children that they are not welcome here. That was seen in the way that the other children made faces, something that was quite characteristic. That brings disharmony into the school, and we must overcome it. We must seriously undertake allowing each religious confession to exist in its own right. It is much less important to me that the religion teachers perceive themselves as a foreign body here in the school. I don’t think that you trouble yourselves much about the religious instruction of the Catholic and Protestant children. You do not seem to care much about that.
A teacher: The child says, “He doesn’t teach us anything about Jesus.”
Dr. Steiner: All the more reason. For some children that is of still more value. That is really too bad. It is terrible that they need to keep a stiff upper lip. That is often the case, but we have to accept that. It would help if you were to exchange a few words with the Protestant religion teacher. As we were standing in the hallway today, I was wondering when Mr. S. would introduce me to the vicar. He did not do it. This is something intangible and really should not continue.
I do not find that it hurts children to go to Catholic mass. We do nothing wrong when we encourage them. I am not against having the Protestant children develop a desire to attend mass, either. The mass is certainly nothing terrible. It is impersonal and has an effect through its content. You can quite ignore the priest. The mass has a grand effect, but it is more to see the mass than participate in it as a high sacrament. The way the Church does the Missa Solemnis, the mass itself disappears behind all the pomp. The mass has only four parts: the gospel, the offertory, the transubstantiation, and the communion. It is most effective when the priest does it with two servers. We cannot make the Protestant children go to mass, but they would get something from it.
I regret I was unable to visit more classes.
A question is asked about whether W.E. and M.G. should go into the remedial class.
Dr. Steiner: The way the situation is now, he is not moving forward and his attitude is damaging the other children. We might be able to carry the girl along. She is simply a burden, but he is difficult. He is always disturbing the other children. Today, he started up again. It would be good for him to go into the remedial class. Everything indicates he needs special attention. He is very nervous and is not moving forward when he is with the other children.
There are some questions about other children.
Dr. Steiner: That is the problem. If you have to do something different with every child in the class, you cannot teach even a class of ten. It is obvious that we will not reach our goals, and that we have not now reached them. That is clear. We cannot even artificially achieve the goals we have set. On the whole, it does not matter whether we achieve the learning goals set in other schools. We must keep to what we decided earlier. In general, it does not matter whether we heed the goals set outside. We must, however, take our own learning goals into account in a special way, much more than we have done.
A teacher questions whether a child should be held back.
Dr. Steiner: We have decided against that.
A teacher: In my class, there was a boy who was absent all the time.
Dr. Steiner: If he was hardly there during the year, it would be good for him. Keeping children back is something we have decided against, and, whenever possible, we should not do it.
We don’t want to bring the Dutchman here, otherwise people will say that our methods are the same as those used for learningdisabled children.
A teacher asks a question about the Sunday service.
Dr. Steiner: We need five services. It is a difficult question about who will do it and where.
A teacher: We need long drapes.
Dr. Steiner: You can do things as they are now. We cannot achieve perfection, so we can do it as it is.
We need more women for the services.
I cannot write the gospel text here. I will try to write a text as quickly as possible.
A question is asked about astronomy in the eighth-grade class.
Dr. Steiner: If the question concerns how to create the proper feeling, that can be achieved through a true picture of the heavens. However, try to do what you did in the lower grades — bring forth a memory of that picture. The children develop a certain respect if you occasionally take them out to see the stars and say what is necessary. It is more difficult to achieve that respect if you place a map before them instead of the stars. Maps deaden respect.
With the Latin course, things are not so bad. There are major differences between the individual children. The disruptive children play a role, but you should avoid them. On the other hand, there are some gaps in what the children can do. The answers they give are appropriate for approximately the eighth or ninth grade. I don’t think you would have gotten such mature answers from the seventh grade. You could expect some of the answers from the ninth grade. The only problem is that there are such tremendous gaps, but they answered with understanding. To go into further detail would take freedom from your teaching. I don’t think we should be so confining.
A teacher asks whether foreign language grammar should be discussed in dialogue. One of the teachers is against that.
Dr. Steiner: You could do it that way. You would not teach the way they do in France. I do not know why using a French phrase would present a difficulty. I think that might even be good, since they would learn more vocabulary. If you do not teach grammar pedantically, but see it as a way of learning to feel the language, then I do not understand how you could complain about it. In speaking of German grammar, we use very little German. We use Latin when we teach grammar. That certainly happens, and it is quite useful. The terminology is such that it cannot be understood if it is translated. I do not want to push the point. What I mean is not that you should teach grammar in French. You should separate out the material taught in class, the conversation. If you find it technically necessary to explain things in German, that is not undesirable. You can do things in the way you think is right.
If you bring the analytical perspective into a picture, that is good. You should always work toward developing a picture, and analysis is part of that picture. A high-school graduate is too oriented toward thinking of “man” as “homo.” That is actually nonsense, since the picture is missing. “Man” derives from the soul of the stream of the generations. “Homo” arises from the physical form of the human being, so that we can say that “man” is incarnated in “homo.” It is just the same as with Adam. If people do not understand the pictures, the soul loses everything. I think that is the sort of thing you should strive for in Latin.
That is what Mrs. X. wanted to do in the days when she had such great plans for the future of Magyar, something quite good for primitive languages. There is a living fact behind the fact that the Englishman says “Mr. Smith” and the Hungarian says, “Tanito Ur.” Namely, “ur” — “the master.” In other words, “the master” speaks this primitive language. There is an entirely different life in it. “Kávéház” is a borrowed word. You arrive at quite different pictures depending upon whether you look at a man from the front or the back. No hour should pass without the child experiencing something pictorially.
A teacher presents a draft reader.
A teacher: We thought it would contain some legends.
Dr. Steiner: You could do that. Why don’t you include them? We need to write a good Jesus legend. This will be a very exciting reading book, and we should discuss these pictures a lot with the children. If you were to print it, I do not think it could be done for less than 20,000 marks. It would have to be very expensive. It is a reading book and would have to cost at least 100 marks.
A teacher: Is it possible to have a period for teaching shop?
Dr. Steiner: We could think about having a period for that, but it would not be possible to include it in the morning. We would have to see if we could leave out some of the foreign language periods and thus gain a period there. That would be a certain relief for the faculty without hurting the instruction. Leaving out a foreign language period would hurt nothing. We could certainly interrupt the foreign languages occasionally. The teaching of foreign languages does not depend upon having every period.
A teacher: How long should such a period be? What grade could we begin with?
Dr. Steiner: We could begin with the ninth grade and do it for two weeks during the language period. It would also be possible to do it every six weeks perhaps and divide it throughout the year.
The teachers asked Dr. Steiner to give a speech at a parent evening.
Dr. Steiner: I could do that if I have enough time. It’s been a terribly long time since the last one. Three or four per year would be best. To have none is really not enough.
A teacher: There will be a pedagogical course in Jena from Sunday to Sunday, October 8-15. We want to ask you to give a cycle of lectures in the evening.
Dr. Steiner: I could give the same themes I presented in Oxford and do it in the mornings. Two lectures in the morning and a discussion in the afternoon.
A teacher: We would also like to ask Mrs. Steiner if she could include two or three eurythmy performances.
Dr. Steiner: Actually, it would be better to include the holidays. We could begin one week earlier and then have the fall holidays. When school is in session, we could not send all the children to Jena. If there were no school, then we could speak with the parents to see if they would agree.
Marie Steiner: If we took the Ariel scenes, we could do twelve performances. However, the children would have to do some show pieces. They could do exercises with the rods and also rhythm. Several things in the same performance.
Dr. Steiner: We certainly cannot send them there simply because of the Ariel scenes. The children could prepare something else. We cannot send them when school is in session and we can send them only if the parents agree.
Marie Steiner: It would have to be something people know. We could do something like a scene with gnomes and fairies, or Olaf Åsteson.
Dr. Steiner: It might be good if we spoke more about the experiences the teachers have had both in their own teaching and as a whole. Perhaps you could extend your Vienna presentation about your own experiences. We would also have to try to overcome the opinion some people have that they already have everything. That is something we need to overcome. It would also be good for someone to speak to the question of how poorly anthroposophy is treated by our contemporaries. It would be very good to speak about that. The Waldorf teachers should speak.
I also believe it would be good if some students spoke about their understanding of the youth movement. They should not be fanatics. They should be reasonable people. Some one-sided people have said things at various anthroposophical meetings. Other people would not get much from them, but on the other hand, we have also experienced some quite good things. The main thing would be to allow some of the younger people to speak.
A teacher: We thought we would all go.
Dr. Steiner: Then we will have to plan a school holiday at that time. Is it possible to shorten some of the other holidays? That would be nice if it is possible. We would then begin school on August 29. Quite a number of children would have to go so that the rod exercises are not too sparse. It should be half boys and half girls. Maybe we could also include two or three from Leipzig.
That would be a relief. Right now we always have to use the same people for everything. Something I noticed often was that it was very detrimental that the Waldorf School was overburdened with rushing from one project to another during the past year. If you add up all of the different activities in which some of the Waldorf School teachers participated, then you would see it is quite a bad thing. We cannot even say that it was relieved by the Vienna conference occurring during the school holiday, since a large number of you returned half dead at the beginning of the school year. That is certainly not acceptable, and now we have this course in Jena in the fall.
We need to gradually awaken a feeling here that our relationship to the world should be more open, so that we do not always tend to be defensive, but to draw people in. For example, all the suggestions I made in Vienna to use the conference were pushed aside. In general, the conference in Vienna was a great success from beginning to end. It was the largest we have had and was done in such a way that it could have quite decidedly resulted in major damage had it not been properly followed up. It was undertaken publicly, and we should have no illusions that it has resulted in considerable opposition. The damage that could result if we do not know how to follow it up could be greater than the success.
That is something we cannot do if we encapsulate ourselves, if we do not get new blood. Among the actively working people, we have a strong inbreeding of related souls that will lead to an impossible situation in the long run. We need to expand our circle, but each time someone is mentioned who we have met, and who is something, we reject that person. We must bring in new blood. In general, our movement requires that we not feel that we need to defend ourselves against everyone, but that we welcome people.
I would like to tell you about something. I was told you had invited someone to create a connection to medicine, and that you had begun to speak. In the third sentence, you said to him, “Professor, you are an immoral human being”! That is something I cannot understand. You simply offend them. I think this comes from too much zeal, but we need to find a way to work with people. You cannot work with people if you tell them straight off that they are immoral.
I was in the same situation myself when I wanted to explain the art in Dornach to a famous chemist. He then told me that there are colors of light that really shine. I could have said, “You are an idiot,” but I did not. We offend people too easily. That was his scientific conviction.
We cannot make such announcements in the Threefold News as one I saw there. We need to formulate the announcements that appear there so that people think we are only dilettantes.
It is natural in the anthroposophical realm to have a cooperative working between the Waldorf School and an association of physicians. Teachers from the Waldorf School would have much to say, and such interactions within the anthroposophical movement would result in an all-round improvement. I did not say that the groups should completely fuse together so that people could argue and fight. What I meant was that it is natural that such a symbiosis occurs.
A teacher: We have formed a group of that sort. We meet on Saturdays and give lectures.
Dr. Steiner: Has that significant neighborliness of the Gänsheide and the Kanonenweg been fruitful?6 I haven’t noticed anything. What I said before was meant esoterically and was directed toward every human heart. It must arise naturally. I cannot say that I believe some bureaucratic institution is necessarily positive. Something will result only through a living interaction, not through bureaucracy.