Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
24 November 1922, Stuttgart
A teacher: I tried to schedule all the language classes for the same time. However, it was not possible because there are not enough language teachers. I then tried to do that at least for groups of classes. There were also other things that were not possible.
Dr. Steiner: Have you discussed the schedule? It would be desirable not to change teachers for the individual classes. We need to see if we really need Tittmann here as a new teacher. That would be reasonable if we want to unburden the present faculty.
(Dr. Steiner looks at the completed schedule.) The first thing is that the schedule must be correct. Miss D. gave English in class 3b, and Mr. N. gave French. If N. were to take French here, would that be a problem here? This schedule is not comprehensible the way it is, you can’t find your way in it. You get dizzy. If only people knew what they were doing. We need some room to write notes. It would be best if language class directly followed main lesson. The main thing is that in general, language instruction should be given from 10:00 until 12:00.
On Monday, language class for the first through fifth grades from 10:00 until 11:00. It would not be good to assign the classes to different teachers. Changing teachers would not now be possible. So, now we have languages on Monday from 10:00 until 11:00. That would be every day, Monday through Saturday from 10:00 until 11:00. That can stay as it is. What you need to realize is how it will be now. Mr. N. also has the 7a class. How much French and English do we have in 7a? One hour each on Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 until 12:00. We need a class schedule for the present situation. That would work. We need to take the present situation into account. What I’m asking is, is there a list of what is now happening? (Dr. Steiner takes a piece of paper and writes the names of all the teachers on it.) Now I want you to write down where you are teaching. It is hard to believe we are holding a meeting about the best class schedule. A teacher makes some other suggestions.
Dr. Steiner: I just said it is not desirable to change the teachers for the classes.
A teacher: We also talked about arranging the language classes so that we can move the children around.
Dr. Steiner: We could do that later. For now, I only want to see if it is at all possible to hold the language classes in the morning and, when possible, directly after main lesson. We will be able to see that after we put everything together. I see no reason why a division into groups would not be possible if we do it right after main lesson. I do not know why that would not be possible. Dr. Steiner then takes the list of teachers and goes through the language classes in detail, class for class, in order to see whether languages can all be taught at the same time.
Dr. Steiner: We should divide them into groups. We need to begin somewhere. In general, the result will be that, with the exception of Latin and in some of the higher grades, the division into groups would be according to class. The majority of the students will remain with their class. We can achieve our goal by making the group the class. There can be only a small number of children who would need to move from one group to another.
A teacher: It will be difficult to find a plan that is not somewhat arbitrary.
Dr. Steiner: I am clear that I do not know what is happening.
A teacher: Perhaps we could ask you to give some guidelines.
Dr. Steiner: First, foreign languages should be taught immediately after main lesson when possible. Second, the language teachers should, in general, remain with their present groups. Third, after we have accomplished that for the foreign languages, the subjects we previously discussed should be taught in the morning, also. We would not need anything more than a division of things. Now, it makes no difference whatsoever whether it is classes or groups. We can use groups if we can do that. The lower grades have the least need for other groups. Of course, we have a problem when the Protestant and Catholic ministers cannot come at another time. We have fourteen teachers for English and French. There are nineteen classes, so each teacher would have seven periods. I am against overburdening the teachers and in favor of getting an additional language teacher. However, aside from that, it would be inefficient to divide the language classes into so many groups. That all came about because there was a desire to divide the languages by class. Pedagogically, there is no reason to hold to that principle past the third grade. Until that time, I admit that the main lesson teacher should also have the students for foreign languages. But there is no need to strictly follow that later.
A teacher: Partly, the question concerned grouping students according to their knowledge.
Dr. Steiner: We have too many class groups for modern languages. We do not need to have so many.
A teacher: The students in the eleventh grade want a middle certificate, and for that reason need complete instruction in English and French. Only three or four students would remain in Greek if they had to give up French and English.
Dr. Steiner: That is a radical change from when the students want to pass the humanistic examinations.
A teacher: Most of them do not want to give up modern languages.
There is a discussion about the different kinds of final examinations. There must be some clarity about which ones the students want.
Dr. Steiner: That was not the original perspective of the Waldorf School. The ancient languages were included to the extent necessary for inner reasons. Now the situation has changed, since the students want to take final examinations. We have tried to take that perspective into account in Greek and Latin by preparing the students for their final examination. We spoke about dividing things and that those taking Greek and Latin also want French, and that those taking English and French could also take Latin. That was our perspective.
A teacher: We need to know only whether the student wants to take the humanistic or the business final examination. Both would be possible through a division in our curriculum.
Dr. Steiner: I would go still further. I would say that for those students who want to take the humanistic examination, we can certainly have Latin and Greek in the morning. We could have it as part of main lesson, and we could give the classes in natural science at a later time.
A teacher: There is not much interest in Greek.
Dr. Steiner: The parents would have to decide whether the students are to take the humanistic examination.
A teacher: If there are only four or five students, should we still give Greek for them?
Dr. Steiner: Occasionally, there is the situation when a teacher works only for a few students.
A teacher: There seems to be a desire for the Middle School examination. Would it be responsible of us to allow them to leave school without English, like it is at the college prep high schools?
Dr. Steiner: We could take that responsibility if we had students who wanted to take the final examinations.
A number of teachers talk about the difficulties of dividing the students. Some students want to learn Greek, but they do not intend to take the humanistic examinations.
Dr. Steiner: We could have saved ourselves this whole discussion. We began with the assumption that we could not continue Greek and Latin in the present way simply because it is not possible to prepare the students for their final examinations. Today, though, the discussion is that there is no need at all to prepare them for that examination. We began with the assumption that we needed this terrible Greek and Latin in our curriculum so that some students who have sufficient talent might eventually be able to pass their final examinations. As I said, I thought that would be possible. Then you said it is not possible without undertaking some changes. Now, it seems that its not at all necessary to offer Latin and Greek for the examination.
What we need here is some sort of compromise. Until now, the opinion was that it was absolutely necessary to provide what a number of students would need to pass their humanities examinations in spite of the fact that for their age, they are insufficiently prepared. From that standpoint, we wanted to include Greek and Latin in the best possible way.
A teacher: The students do not want to give up English.
Dr. Steiner: Those who want to take the humanities examination will have to drop English. If they do not want to drop English, they will not be able to take the humanities examination.
Are there really only four or five who want to take the humanities examination? If we want to continue Greek, we must arrange things so that those four or five can take their examinations.
Two things are interwoven here: the requirements for the examination and whether we want to provide an opportunity for the children to learn Greek. Latin is not so important to me. We could arrange the division so that the children begin Latin and Greek together in the sixth grade and continue into the seventh, but that in the eighth grade and afterward, we have a division so that those who decide later would no longer have Greek. They would have had it, however, in the sixth and seventh grades. What is important is that what we provide is pedagogically sound. Until the end of the seventh grade, we would try to provide so much Greek as we believe is pedagogically necessary. A split would then occur in the eighth grade, and they could choose. Those who choose the humanistic direction would no longer have English, and those who decide to go in the Middle School direction would no longer have Greek.
A number of teachers raise objections to dividing the class too early.
Dr. Steiner: Then we could do it this way. Greek until the end of the eighth grade and Latin and Greek together would be required in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. But some students might drop these subjects if their parents find them unimportant. Our general goal was to teach what people think is necessary. No one would think that students must decide at the age of ten whether they should have one subject or not. We would divide the ninth grade into either Greek or English, and at that time we would separate the Latin and Greek class. I think we would come back to the basic Waldorf School principle of giving Greek and Latin in the fifth through eighth grades, along with modern languages, and that there would be a division only in the last grades. And then the children would not be prepared for final examinations!
If we use that principle, we need to say firmly that if you want English, you can’t have Greek, but you will have Latin. Greek can conflict with English, all kinds of conflicts could arise.
There is nothing else to do other than move away from having the eleventh-grade main lesson in the first two hours of the day. We will have to have the main lesson at a later time.
There is no school that completely takes into account both the eminently important pedagogical principle of having these two periods one after another, and also preparation for the examination. That is something I have seen in English schools. Everywhere, subjects arbitrarily follow one after the other. Sometimes it is really grotesque.
We need to schedule modern languages so that we can group the children. That will be possible only if you were to — in London, when they had the election there, people had a similar line of thought. On election day the students at Oxford got together and publicized that a Mr. Bohok had been elected with twelve million votes. That was published everywhere. The city council gathered to congratulate him, but there was no such man. It is just like your class schedule — Tittmann does not exist. They even made a mannequin there. There was quite an uproar about it in England.
We said we wanted to have voice and eurythmy lessons in the morning, but we did not want to be pedantic about that. In that case, of course, we can form groups, and in the event we can form a group only at the cost of having some voice lessons in the afternoon, that is what we will do. (Speaking to a Latin and Greek teacher) How many hours do you have?
A teacher: Seventeen.
Dr. Steiner: You have one too many. You should not have more than sixteen hours in Greek and Latin. For the more scientific subjects in the higher grades, where experiments are done, you could have twenty hours. That is not possible in subjects that require real concentration.
A teacher: Perhaps we need to have some of the shop classes in the morning.
Dr. Steiner: Then we will have a mess in our class schedule again. It would certainly be desirable if we could have a different perspective. That is what is so difficult, you always bring this schematic bureaucratic perspective to the fore, and put the really important things on the back burner. This kind of thinking really has no content. I would need to have both the teaching plan and the meeting plan in front of me. They should have been here today. The problem is that we moved the division of the classes up to the ninth grade.
I once considered work on a class schedule as the opposite of pedantic. If we had it, we could see which class had which subject at what time. We would know where all the classes are, and that each class had such a schedule. From those two things, we could see where we are. We would have nineteen sheets from which we could see that one class has this and from a different sheet we could see that at the same time, one or another class is doing something else. If you have to do something like this occasionally, you can accept that you might have a light fainting spell. But when you have to spend a whole evening on it, you become dizzy. Imagine how simple it would be if I had one schedule for each class and a timetable from which I could see that this or that class is here from two until four.
The problem is that we are not doing what would actually be right, namely that we do not consider the elementary school alone, but recognize that the language teachers move throughout the different grades. If we were to make a radical change, which is not the case, and some teachers would only work in the upper grades, and those who worked there would not work in the lower grades, it would be easier. The whole problem has become quite difficult since we have lost a language teacher because he took over a class. It is really a problem that we are missing one language teacher.
Is there a student here by the name of D.L.? Is there some problem with him? Why did you write a letter?
A teacher: He caused an explosion in the physics room. We gave him a warning and wrote his mother.
Dr. Steiner: There shouldn’t be anything in the physics room that could cause an explosion. It is, in any event, troubling that something like that could occur. I once knew of a student in an upper grade who poisoned himself because the chemistry teacher was not paying attention to things. In any event, you should have left it at giving the student a warning. You should not have written anything. You never think how difficult it is when I have to fight against these things, and that people say, “That’s quite some leadership when a ten-year-old is allowed to create an explosion.” Do you think you can still do that, considering the situation we are now in? It is horrible how people think only about how they can protect themselves, but never about what the school looks like publicly. This is really astonishing. His mother is really a nice woman, but you need only imagine what kind of an impression it would make upon her to learn her boy caused an explosion. Everyone she tells this to would say, “Don’t send you child to the Waldorf School.” That is obvious. We cannot have many such occurrences.
Always feel responsible. Didn’t you think about how it would affect the school? If you provide the material for an explosion, then any boy would cause problems. I do not want to ask who was responsible for this, but someone must have left the material there. It was in the physics and laboratory rooms. The doors need to be locked.
A teacher: No one should be in the physics room when a teacher is not there.
Dr. Steiner: Thus, the room was not locked up?
A teacher: The error was that the student had permission to remain in the physics room.
Dr. Steiner: I do not understand why the laboratory is not locked. This is a really beautiful situation. Explosives and poisons are kept in the laboratory, but it is not locked so the students have easy access to them. It is quite apparent that it is not sufficient to agree that students should not be in there. It is also clear that no laboratory teacher was there when the boy was. These kinds of things are always happening.
A teacher: It was my fault. I allowed him to remain in the physics room.
Dr. Steiner: But we must have principles in such things! Then we could say that a teacher was there, and the boy did it during that time. That would show that the teacher would have to be fired. When such things happen, we have a fear that something more will happen.
(Replying to an objection) It is horrible that that word could be used here. Who cares what happens in Buxtehude? It’s still worse that it could be said here. That is no position to take. Such things simply must not occur here.
The gymnastics teacher talks about holding class outdoors. Problems could arise for the school because the students catch cold.
Dr. Steiner: If there are such complaints, we can do nothing more than wait until we have a gymnasium.
A teacher asks whether they should yield to the parents.
Dr. Steiner: The parents want their children to be here with us. In individual cases, we will have to give in to the desire of the parents. There is nothing more we can do than wait until the gymnasium is complete. It is disgruntling that it is always being put off. In the first grade, there is a boy in the first row in the corner, R.R. He needs some curative eurythmy exercises. He needs to consciously do the movements he now does for a longer period and at a much slower speed. Have him walk and pay attention to how fast he moves, and then have him do it half as fast. If he takes twenty paces in five seconds, then have him take twenty paces in ten seconds. He needs to consciously hold back. He needs to do some curative eurythmy, then these exercises, then curative eurythmy again.
You also have that boy in the yellow jacket, E.T. That is a medical problem. He could certainly do the “A, E, I exercise.” Also, he should eat some eggs that are not completely cooked. He needs to develop protein strength. In many cases, it is possible to know what we need to do to heal something. People cannot say something untrue about us if what we say needs to be done cannot be done. We need to take up a collection so the boy can have two eggs a day, at least four times in a week. He would need eight eggs. The Cologne News costs twenty-five marks, but it does not have the same nutritional value.
The school doctor asks a question concerning medicine. He needs to see quite a number of students.
Dr. Steiner: It would be good to speak about the principles. That is hardly possible before Christmas. Our English visitors will come on the eighth or ninth of January and be here for a week. If only we could at least have gymnastics then! Perhaps I could speak about medical questions in that connection. Now, we have to speak about individual students. In the future, I would like to handle that in principle. In every class, there are undernourished children. The children in the first grade were born in 1915. The health of the children born in 1914 has suffered some. That was a shock. Now we have those who are undernourished. People should have seen this coming in 1916. The war went on too long. I would like to give a basic overview of this topic, the basis of school health.
A teacher: A mother is complaining that her children do not sleep enough.
Dr. Steiner: You need to ask when the children go to bed. She should try having them go to bed a half-hour later. Concerning K.P. in the 4b class.
Dr. Steiner: He is anemic. The boy does not have enough metabolic residues. Due to the tea, he has used more of himself inwardly, and now he needs a strengthening diet. Before, he looked bad because of the bad food, and that is having an effect now. Try to get him some bread every day. If you give him malt for fourteen days, he would get used to it, and then it would be difficult to feed him normally. It would be better to give him a good piece of bread. It is quite clear that he is undernourished. In curative eurythmy, he could do the bright vowels, A, E, and I. A comment about E.V.M. in the 3b class who has headaches.
Dr. Steiner: We can easily help that through the diet. Give her some cooked cranberries every day for three weeks.
An eighth-grade teacher: Twenty-five children will be leaving at Easter, but they have not really reached the goals of elementary school. Perhaps we should take them aside and teach them the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Dr. Steiner: I would agree with that. Do it. It would also be nice if Graf Bothmer could help you.
A teacher asks about W.S. in the tenth grade. Her thyroid glands are not functioning properly.
Dr. Steiner: I once said something about this. She was in a eurythmy performance and looked as though she would not be able to complete it. The way she seems now, I think that we need to give her a preparation: 0.5% agaric (extract of amanita muscaria), then 5% berberis vulgaris, the juice of the fruit, and a little hyoscyamus niger (henbane). Thus, this berberis vulgaris 5%, 0.5% agaric, a homeopathic amount of hyoscyamus niger, 5X. There is a danger that her glands might degenerate because there is something wrong toward the back of her head.
A teacher asks about two students in the seventh grade who are misbehaving.
Dr. Steiner: It is difficult to do anything because the problem can be traced back to an abnormal growth of the meninges. It is difficult to do anything. It is too bad that our physicians do not pay more attention to such special cases. There is hardly anything more we can do other than have one of the doctors from the Therapeutic Institute come up here every week and really undertake some systematic exercises. Otherwise, we would have to put them into an institution. These are problems with the meninges. You could try to get them more interested in school.
A teacher: I cannot teach the seventh grade properly. I have too much to do for foreign languages.
Dr. Steiner: We will have to be patient until we have an additional person. I do not think you should allow your courage to wane. Things went quite well recently, particularly in that subject. The children were really interested in the perspective that you presented. I would not want you to get depressed.
A teacher asks about some particularly weak children.
Dr. Steiner: Try to include them more during class. Call upon them more often so that they remain attentive.
A teacher asks about a performance by the children in Holland.
Dr. Steiner: I only meant that you should agree upon the age of the students. We cannot drag ten-year-old children to The Hague. The very young children cannot go, only those children about whom we can say it would be responsible. Otherwise, there is nothing to say against it.
A teacher presents a request for a seminar.
Dr. Steiner: If we were to hold such a course, it would be much more reasonable if you formulated your questions and uncertainties during your meetings. Perhaps you could find two dozen pedagogical questions that would provide the basic content and theme. You already know what needs to be said. You have not studied the seminar sufficiently. It is not reflected in the way school is being held. Occasionally, one thing or another occurs, but in general, it is not visible. I would like to give such a course, but you must have specific questions. The course would include a number of things I have already addressed.
A teacher asks about the Oberufer Christmas play and whether Dr. Steiner could help.
Dr. Steiner: I cannot help you since I have not been at the rehearsals. My wife told me about it. The story is this: We were sent something from Brietkopf and Härtel that X. had printed. It states that the rights of performance are reserved. X., who knew the plays here, published the things he stole from us. People are used to such things from social parasites. He may have gone secretly to Schröer’s heirs. The Malatitsch family in Oberufer has the performance rights. Schröer bought the printing rights in 1858. I always assumed we would present it publicly before it was stolen from us. People have often asked me to publish it, but I did not think it would be responsible today. Today, the text would have to be completely revised from beginning to end. I would not have taken the responsibility of publishing something like that without a careful revision. I think it is silly to perform Brietkopf’s text. Most of the things I corrected during the rehearsals in Dornach. I made a number of important corrections, but people are like that.
A teacher asks about parents who pay no tuition.
Dr. Steiner: Why don’t you send somebody to them. We need to do this kind of work efficiently. There would be an impossible amount of work if the school association had three thousand members. We should send the secretary of the school association.
A teacher asks whether children whose parents do not want to pay should remain at the school.
Dr. Steiner: It may be that their parents do not know how to write. The school association has a secretary, and he certainly does not have much to do. Nothing is being done to increase membership.
I wish there was as much enthusiasm for the school as there is for the performance. People’s attention is diverted from the teaching. If the children were to perform something, it would not be so dangerous. I think it would be best to let it go, otherwise, you will get even deeper into the problem.
I have not really said anything against the performance. I actually believe that the better the performance is, the worse it will be for the school. I think you are as enthusiastic about it as a roly poly is about standing up.