Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
5 December 1921, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: I would like to hear everything about the class schedule.
The new class schedule is described. All of the foreign language classes are in the morning. There were no changes in personnel. Once, a language class had to be moved from 12:00 until 1:00. An attempt was made to group the students. A few times Latin and Greek had to be put after eurythmy, but otherwise the language class immediately followed main lesson.
Dr. Steiner: You will have to do it that way if nothing else is possible.
A teacher: I would prefer having the 4a language class in the afternoon instead of from 12:00 until 1:00.
Dr. Steiner: Then we will do it in the afternoon.
A teacher: Is that true otherwise?
Dr. Steiner: When the respective teachers demand it. It is important that the teachers agree.
The religious instruction is described. Voice instruction is always in the morning. Eurythmy, mostly. All the handwork and shop classes are in the afternoon as well as gymnastics, but Wednesday afternoon had to be used also. If Wednesday afternoons are to be held free, then gymnastics and some of the shop classes would have to be in the morning.
Dr. Steiner: There is nothing to say against having some things at the end of the morning under certain circumstances. It is, of course, not good when the children move from the practical into the completely theoretical. We should try to keep a Wednesday free. Gymnastics should also not be done before the theoretical periods. It was badly scheduled on Wednesday only because the gymnastics teacher was excluded from the meeting.
A teacher: The parents have arranged a number of things under the assumption that Wednesday is free.
Dr. Steiner: Surely we can get the parents to choose another day. The teachers need to be able to come to the faculty meetings. That is important. The teachers could meet on Saturday. There is too much to do. Let us try to keep Wednesday afternoon. I think it is best if we do gymnastics in the afternoon.
A teacher: We carried out the division between the humanistic and business courses of study.
Dr. Steiner: Then this class schedule is possible, and we will see if it is satisfactory.
A teacher: I would like to teach foreign languages in my first-grade class.
Dr. Steiner: Of course, that is possible. That is how it should have been from the beginning.
The fourth-grade teacher would like a fourth period of foreign language.
Dr. Steiner: We carefully considered the number of hours, but we should allow you to decide. It needs to be something that is not required.
I think, if everyone is satisfied with it, we could actually begin with the class schedule. It would be nice if you could start on Thursday, December 7. Then, on Saturday, when I can look at things again, everything will be under way.
They present the individual class schedules.
Dr. Steiner: The first grade only has class once in the afternoon. 2a and 2b, as well. 3a is only on Monday afternoon. 3b, only Tuesday afternoon. The same is true of the 4a and 4b classes. 5a has class on three afternoons, two of which are the Catholic religion class. 5b also has handwork and eurythmy on two afternoons. 6a, three afternoon classes. That is not too much. For the time being, only the teachers are carrying too much.
Dr. Steiner goes through the list with the teachers, determines how many hours each teaches, and how many hours beyond a reasonable limit each is teaching. He assumes that each teacher should teach sixteen to seventeen hours per week. Thus, for example, N., who teaches twenty hours, is teaching three to four hours too many.
Dr. Steiner: Now we have determined that. In normal life, the teachers would demand extra pay for these hours. However, I think we should try to get an additional language teacher. I would also like an additional gymnastics teacher.
A teacher asks whether the provisional plan for decreasing the teaching load should be tried.
Dr. Steiner: Y. already has too many hours. We could do that only if we could find some trade. If, for example, you, Miss Z., would take over one of the religion classes, then Y. could trade. Make the change with whoever appears most burdened. Mrs. W. has the greatest tendency to give up time. We will wait until Tittmann comes to answer the question of V.
V. defends himself.
Dr. Steiner: There are also inner reasons. You should be happy we expect more of you. You are more robust. I think you are quite strong. You certainly must admit that you are more robust than Mrs. W. We will see that we get Tittmann here as soon as possible.
A teacher: The class teachers have asked if they could teach gymnastics to their own classes.
Dr. Steiner: There is nothing to say against that if it does not become a burden. I certainly see no reason why two classes cannot have gymnastics with their teachers in the same room. That would, in fact, be quite good, if it is possible, because we would then achieve a pedagogical goal. We need to remove nervousness from our teaching. If we cannot do that, it would be a sign of nervousness. Actually, we should see it as an ideal that we could teach mathematics in one corner, French in another, astronomy and eurythmy in the others, so that the children have to pay more attention to their own work.
A teacher: That is also relevant for eurythmy?
Dr. Steiner: I would be happy if you could do it, because it is pedagogically valuable. teachers would, of course, need to be able to get along with each other.
A teacher: The religion teachers would like to keep the room they have had for the Sunday services. It should be used only for that.
Dr. Steiner: I agree. What is important in these Sunday services is the attitude among those present. We can best achieve that by maintaining that arrangement.
A teacher: Should Miss R. and Mr. W. hold the services?
Dr. Steiner: They should both celebrate the sacraments. That is an obvious condition for the independent religious instruction. I would like to say something more. Experience has shown that the Independent Religious Instruction consists not only in what we teach during religion class, not only what we teach through feeling, but that a certain relationship needs to develop between the religion teacher and the student. You can develop that through the celebration of a sacrament. If someone else does the service, then, for the student who receives the sacrament from someone else, a large part of the intangibles necessary for teaching religion are missing between the students and the religion teacher. The reverse is also true. If someone gives the sacrament without teaching religion, that person falls into a difficult position that can hardly be justified. It is easier to justify teaching religion without leading a service than it is to justify leading a service without teaching religion. Through the service, we bring religious instruction out of empty theory. It is based upon a relationship between the religion teacher and the students. As I have said in connection with the sacrament, you should decide.
A teacher: I did not understand that.
Dr. Steiner: Now that we have completed things, in selecting a teacher for religion my first question is if he or she can lead the Sunday service. You might have the wrong impression. If the question is which one of you here do I think is appropriate, then I could reply, “Only those who I think are appropriate to give the service.” Many people could teach religion, but the giving of the sacraments can hardly be done by anyone other than the two whom I mentioned. You should not be angry that I am speaking quite straightforwardly in this connection, but each of you should know what I think of your capabilities, at least for now. That may change, though.
The children need to become mature enough. This nonsense with a special confirmation class needs to stop. They should attend the Youth Service when they have reached a certain level of maturity, but that maturity cannot be taught. They will simply reach it, and for that reason, we should not have any special confirmation class. Only the person giving religious instruction should hold the Youth Service.
A teacher asks about the decorations in the service room.
Dr. Steiner: I would like to think about that. I think it would be nice to have a harmonium. We want to be careful about how we develop the service. There is not much to say about the text except that the Gospels are still missing. There is still much we can do in connection with music and also paintings. In contrast, though, there is something else we need to consider, namely, the participation of the faculty.
There are two sides to the question. There is the very real question of whether things are moving too rapidly here. The services permeated by a religious renewal have the possibility of becoming something quite great. On the other hand, I hear in town among those who are working on this religious renewal that a religious community of a hundred members consists only of anthroposophists who are forming a sect. You see, there is a danger connected with all this. It is already present. I also hear that, “Those members who have not yet joined are being pressured.” The religious renewal was intended for those outside the Society. You need to be clear that such things have two sides, and that the primary thing is that our anthroposophical friends, both inside the school and outside, need to see that their mission is to straighten out people who are falling into an erroneous path. Those things connected with the most noble intent also have the greatest dangers. This is something that must be taken seriously. Before this religious renewal has withstood the test whether it is true and proper, we can certainly not say that we should respect someone who does not attend less than someone who does.
It would be best if we create a service for the children that has a great deal of warmth and heart, if we did everything possible to create an attitude that is serious without being oppressive, but on the other hand, to keep it as simple as possible.
A teacher: We have thought about some questions we would like to ask you. The question arose in connection with teaching foreign language about the musical/language and the sculptural/ painting streams. They were often mentioned in the course.
Dr. Steiner: There are also a number of references to that in that short cycle of four lectures on pedagogy that I gave in September of 1920.
You will forgive me if I mention that, but I believe it contains everything you need to come to more concrete actions.
Concerning teaching modern languages — if you use the same methods, the effects upon the child will compensate each other, since the child’s head dies through French to the same extent as the child’s metabolism is enlivened through English. The difficulty arises, and this is something that just occurred to me, when you remove English for some of the children. Socially, that is unnatural. It should not happen, but there is nothing more we can do. We cannot have both English and the ancient languages. But, particularly during the present stages of their development, these two languages compensate one another unbelievably well. Take, for example, Mr. B’s French class today. He developed something extremely important for the more quiet listeners. The French language is in a process of eliminating all the “S’s”. It would not be proper to say Aisne (An). You can hear the “s”. But, during the Battle of the Marne, it was referred to only as “An”. In English, many suffixes are moving toward removing an “s.” When you use the same methods, these are completely compensating, particularly during the ages of nine and ten. Otherwise, it is best to do as little French grammar as possible. In contrast, it is good you emphasize the grammatical aspect of English around the age of eleven or twelve. I will discuss that in more detail later, but for now I wanted only to make a preliminary mention of it in order to hear from you how things are going.
A question is asked about the stages of language teaching.
Dr. Steiner: There are stages. It would be interesting to look at this question in connection with other things. I intend to write an essay about Deinhardt’s book about the basic elements of aesthetic principles in instruction. Of course, these things are overemphasized by Deinhardt as well as Schiller, but it is easy to discuss them. It would be good to mention the publisher at the same time. Perhaps one of the faculty members could write a critique of the book in relation to Schiller. You are not familiar with the book? It is difficult to read. Steffen was asked to write an introduction to this book, but he found it terribly boring. That is only because of his long sentences. An Austrian can understand having such long sentences in a book. Sometimes you have to stand on your head in order to understand such sentences, but Steffen does not like that.
A teacher: We assumed such things would result in a textbook.
Dr. Steiner: That would be a good idea.
A teacher asks about how to ask questions using the Socratic method.
Dr. Steiner: There is something about that in my lecture cycles.
A teacher asks about having English as an elective in the upper grades.
Dr. Steiner: That would be possible.
A teacher asks a question about mathematics.
Dr. Steiner: I would be happy to explain that if you would try to use such things in a non-pedantic way. You should remember that such rules are always flexible, so they must never become pedantic. Particularly concerning spatial questions, it is always bad when things become too rigid.
Dr. Steiner: You need to understand the small bones within the ear, the hammer, stirrup, the oval window, the anvil, as small limbs, as arms or legs that touch the eardrum. A sense of touch enters the understanding of tone. The spiral, which is filled with liquid, is a metamorphosed intestine of the ear. A feeling for tone lives in it. What you carry within you as an understanding of language is active within the eustachian tubes that support the will to understand. Tone is primarily held in the three semicircular canals. They act as a memory for tone. Each sense is actually an entire human being.
I often say such things as a paradigm in order to animate people like Baumann and Schwebsch to get to work and write a book about all their experiences. They said such things this morning. You only need to be more specific and things will seem plausible to them. Dr. Steiner is asked to open the new school building after Christmas.
Dr. Steiner: That is difficult, since not all the classes will be moving in. Quite a number will remain in the temporary buildings, so if we make this a particular celebration, those children staying in the temporary buildings will feel they are not as good as those moving into the new building. We need to consider the effects of a special ceremony upon those children remaining in the temporary buildings. It would be a different question if we were to open a new hall, such as a gymnasium. However, if we were to do this, it would fill the whole building with an inner disturbance.
I want to characterize Leisegang as a philosopher, a caricature of a philosopher. He is just a windbag. What he is as a philosopher is complete nonsense. You can do this in a pedantic way: What are the characteristics of a philosopher? A philosopher needs a firm foundation under his feet, but all his assumptions are incorrect. You could actually prove that he, in fact, has no real foundation.
If you proceed that way in philosophy, that is what happens. I do not know of any profession where such a person would belong. He certainly could not make jokes in the newspaper because he doesn’t have enough of a sense of humor.