Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
17 January 1923, Stuttgart
A teacher asks Dr. Steiner to begin the meeting with a short speech.
Dr. Steiner asks about gymnastics class.
A gymnastics teacher: We tried teaching at the same time in the same room. We could just do it with the third grade, but it was completely impossible with the sixth grade. Because of the size of the gymnasium, we were unable to keep the two classes under control. We do not think there is any advantage in continuing in this way. In addition, we also need the gymnasium for teaching eurythmy some of the time.
A teacher: We do not yet have an instrument for the new small eurythmy room.
Dr. Steiner: That is only temporary.
A eurythmy teacher: The new eurythmy room is too small for some of the classes, which is why we have to use the gymnasium.
Dr. Steiner: The so-called “little eurythmy room” is large enough. It is not a little room, it is a large hall. Anything larger would be too large for eurythmy. It is not very fruitful to teach eurythmy in an enormous room. That would certainly not be fruitful.
The fact is that you need the gymnasium so much that eurythmy cannot be taught there. It was conceived as a gymnasium and thus should be used to hold gymnastics class. Where else could you teach it?
Concerning the first two grades, there is not much we can do for now. In the future, though, gymnastics is actually too much for the first two grades. Instead, they should have some supervised play. We should begin with such supervised games as soon as we have a little breathing room, so that in the third grade a transition can be made from games to actual gymnastics. The children need real movement.
The gymnastics teacher: Without increasing the number of hours, we could include the first and second grades by giving them only one hour of instruction.
Dr. Steiner: The third grade has two hours.
How are things with eurythmy in the various grades?
A eurythmy teacher: The first through fifth grades have one hour each; the sixth through eleventh grades, two.
The gymnastics teacher: Due to the large number of classes in the tenth and eleventh grades, we had to move one of the gymnastics classes into the time allocated for shop.
Dr. Steiner: Gymnastics loses less than shop if one hour is dropped. We could talk about it if the question was how to give a complete education without any manual training. That seems preferable to me since the children have a quiet form of gymnastics in their shop class. We have arranged the schedule so that the gymnastics does not adversely affect the periods following, haven’t we?
A teacher: We could arrange to have a games period.
Dr. Steiner: We have no one to teach it, so we can hardly consider that now. It will not be possible to decrease the teaching load until the end of this school year.
The gymnastics teacher: We are certainly not concerned with an overburdening.
Dr. Steiner: Fifteen hours are enough. If you teach fifteen hours, then you need to give two or three hours per day, and that is a lot for gymnastics.
The gymnastics teacher: We want to find a way.
Dr. Steiner: That is true. Nevertheless, you must take the following into consideration. In a school such as ours, we need to develop gymnastics class in a certain way, but that can happen only over time. Next year we may well be able to focus on developing gymnastics for the twelfth grade. At present, we treat it as only a stepchild. We will need to work together on that.
I think teaching gymnastics will present a number of difficulties for you as our Waldorf School develops. The main thing is that, beginning with a particular grade, the purpose of gymnastics will be conscious exercise for strengthening the human organism, a kind of hygienic whole-body massage of the human organism. I think you need to orient yourself more toward the upper grades.
In the lower grades, I am considering having the women work on the games. The authority of the gymnastics teachers should not suffer by first having them play with the children. They should represent what actually occurs in gymnastics. The children should not feel that their games teacher is now teaching gymnastics to them. I am, of course, not belittling games. A female games teacher in the first and second grades would not go on to gymnastics. The children would get a distorted feeling if we don’t make such a change. What I mean with games is movement.
What is important now is to find a replacement for Mrs. Baumann during her illness. Mrs. Fels should take over half the eurythmy classes and Mrs. Husemann, the other half. Mrs. X. would have the more mature students because she is older and more mature herself.
Marie Steiner: Mrs. X. first had quite a shock.
Dr. Steiner: I do not want Mrs. Y. to give the entire instruction, because I want the older children to have a more mature person.
A teacher: Tittmann will be free only after the first of April.
Dr. Steiner: Then there is nothing we can do other than wait. I am really sorry that this situation must continue. I thought it was very difficult that you had to do the French class immediately after art.
A teacher: There is nothing we can do about that.
Dr. Steiner: It is difficult, but there is nothing we can do. Twentyfive hours is too much, but we have to wait.
A teacher: We will lose eight teaching days due to the earlier close of school.
Dr. Steiner: We don’t need to cling to our schedule as though it were a great treasure. The exact amount of material per week is not so important.
A teacher: Should we do a longer book in tenth-grade French?
Dr. Steiner: You could use a different book. They should complete at least one book, even if they do not read a lot. Have you thought of something? I think you could choose something shorter that could be completed in the remaining two and a half months. In a class like that, it might be best to read a biography. There is a nice little book called La Vie de Molière.
Marie Steiner: Enfant célèbre.
Dr. Steiner: I would particularly recommend a biography.
A teacher: We read Livius in Latin. Next we will do Somnium Scipionis. I also included Horace, and we will read two or three odes and learn them from memory.
Dr. Steiner: You will certainly take up Cicero?
A teacher: In tenth-grade English, we completed The Tempest, and now we are doing excerpts from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
Dr. Steiner: I would prefer that, instead of excerpts, you read the whole book. Making a selection for English is not easy. As soon as you move past Shakespeare, things become difficult.
It may be good to read Macaulay in the tenth grade, but that depends upon how you treat it. This is the age of life where children should learn to characterize in a broad and comfortable way. Biographies, for example Luther’s, are very useful for children at the age of fifteen. They are not very appropriate later, as the children will find them boring. In contrast, I think it would be good to read Carlyle and Emerson in the eleventh and twelfth grades. You might recommend Walter Scott for reading by themselves, but Emerson and Carlyle would be books for the class. Emerson has such short sentences.
A teacher asks about a newly enrolled child.
Dr. Steiner: She could go into the ninth grade. In foreign languages, she would be at the very bottom, but that is not so bad. You should, however, make her acceptance dependent upon her having some place to live, but you will need to do that with some tact. You might even consider trying to find good living quarters for her yourself.
We now have two children of workers at Dornach in the eighth grade, and the tuition has to be paid out of the funds for the building. They will have to find their own living quarters, but they will have to be places where we know that the adults pay some attention to such children. The workers at the building are quite connected to these things.
A teacher: If I were a man and had an apartment I would take some children myself.
Dr. Steiner: Now you tell me you are almost a man.
A class teacher: T.M. and O.Nr. need to be separated in the fourth grade.
Dr. Steiner: With such children, much depends upon what they are accustomed to. It will not make much difference in the first half-year, but afterward for sure. They should be separated. (Speaking to the teacher of the parallel class) T.M. would go to you. He is easier to handle. I think it would be best if you took him.
A religion teacher asks if it would be all right if he were to go on a lecture tour.
Dr. Steiner: If you arrange it with the others, there should be no difficulty.
A teacher: We are striving to awaken a religious mood, but there are some problems with many of the children. X. often ruins the class. He does not like such moods.
Dr. Steiner: He certainly does not like moods, but there is nothing to be done. Even worse could occur. You could use his lack of participation to highlight the seriousness of the material.
A teacher asks about a service for the older children.
Dr. Steiner: I will soon arrange for an offering at the Sunday service.
A religion teacher asks another question.
Dr. Steiner: In connection with this question, we need to return to something we have already discussed. It is important that the youth of our Waldorf School talk less about questions of world perspective. The situation is that we need to create a mood, namely, that the teacher has something to say that the children should neither judge nor discuss. That is necessary, otherwise it will become trivial. An actual discussion lowers the content. Things should remain with simply asking questions. The children even in the tenth and eleventh grades should know that they can ask everything and receive an answer. For questions of religion and worldview, we need to maintain that longer. The religion teacher needs to retain a position of authority even after puberty. That is something I mentioned before in connection with the “discussion meetings.” They need to be avoided. If the children put forth questions of conscience, and you answer them, then there is nothing to say against that.
We also need a second thing. The older students often mentioned that we emphasize that the Waldorf School is not to be an anthroposophical school. That is one of the questions we need to handle very seriously. You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people would say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.
In things such as Parzival, it is already there, so that you will need to direct attention away from symbols rather than toward them. Wagner’s followers in Bayreuth have gone into much more nonsense about symbols than occurs here. We do not do that here. Parzival has to be taught as a man of the world, not a monk. I think this is something I needed to say today. For the children, of course, much is quite difficult.
It would be best if you discussed symbolism as little as possible. Stay with the facts, the historical background, without becoming trivial. Remain with the facts, not symbols.
A teacher asks about the English teachers who had visited the Waldorf School.
Dr. Steiner: Only women came, and they were quite satisfied. I certainly thought we would have to deal with much harsher judgments.
Discipline is much easier in England. When you go into a boys’ school there, you find only well-behaved boys. You might not find that so nice, but if you love discipline, you will find it wonderful. Modern Englishmen, at least in regard to their external behavior, are close to being insolent. Everybody assures you that they get better by the age of fourteen. That is certainly true in Gladstone’s school. I have observed how they go into the dining hall. It’s something that lies in the temperament of the people. The children are quieter there than here.
A teacher: N.G. is here.
Dr. Steiner: I do not want to have anything to do with that family, even indirectly. Besides N.G., I feel sorry for the children.
I am very sorry to have disturbed the harmonious mood. So much occurred that I referred to as the “Stuttgart attitude” following that terrible misfortune. I could not let things pass by without naming names, because things were really catastrophic. I have to say that was the way things had to be. Due to the nature of the problem, I repeatedly needed to put these things in the proper light. I also would have thought, considering the situation, that no one would have thought of doing something like this. It is quite strange how things that outside, in normal life, would not occur at all, blossom so well in this anthroposophical foundation, the foundation of the Waldorf School that should be kept pure. It would be hard to imagine a normal faculty meeting where someone asks the school principal to say something nice. If we have no self-discipline, we cannot move forward. It is very painful for me that things are as they are. Aside from the fact that I have been unable to determine the actual content of the problem, everything is simply swimming around. If only something would move in a particular direction, but everything is simply floating about. I do not know what people are thinking. The mood here is so tense. We need to give some thought to all this. Certainly one task of the Waldorf School faculty is to cease all of this inner comfort. The fact that things are done in the way they are is a part of these nonmethods. It is really too bad for today’s meeting, since a disharmony has now come into it.
In the interest of the Anthroposophical Society, I had to see that the methods that have arisen here since 1919 do not go any further. Something must happen in the near future in the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society. This is an important question, but people will have to think about it. It would be best not to do things in that way, and better if you helped to improve the situation. You can certainly not say that working together does not make sense, and that everyone should work individually. If that principle had been in effect in 1901, there would be no room for us. People worked together until the end of the war. This kind of separation from one another arose only since 1919 when individuals went off to the great tasks that were begun then. That is the reason for what has unfortunately occurred in the Anthroposophical Society, namely, that the Society has divided into a number of cliques. Before, there was some balance that inhibited the formation of such cliques. Now, there are big and little cliques everywhere, and everything is falling apart.
We cannot say everyone should live like a hermit. A harmonious cooperation should arise from the admonitions of our opponents that became so clear through the catastrophe at Dornach. Learn from our opponents! Our opponents know things very exactly, and they know, at least from their perspective, how to take them seriously, more seriously than is done by the Anthroposophical Society. There is a continual demand for something new, as has happened in Dornach. The Society as such needs to become a genuine reality, not simply a bureaucratic list of so-and-so-manythousand people who barely want to know anything about one another. The Society must become a reality, and there is much we can achieve through the Waldorf School if the faculty would stand as an example of harmonious cooperation. Everyone needs to really give something of themselves, and that is where individual activity comes in, namely, that everyone takes interest in each other’s work. It is simply narrow-minded to always seek the error in someone else. If we fall prey to that error, we will cease to be an anthroposophical society. There is certainly no other real example of anthroposophical activity if it is not here in the faculty. If you do not want to become enthusiastic about anthroposophy, then I do not know how it will be possible to save anthroposophy itself. That is really necessary. The catastrophe in Dornach is the culmination of our opponents’ activity. The Waldorf School faculty needs to take on the leadership of anthroposophical behavior. That is what is necessary.
A teacher asks a question.
Dr. Steiner: I would be happy to give you information. What I said recently about the incorrect methods relates to how anthroposophical matters are treated, not to the teaching methods here. What I have to say about that, I have already said. As of this morning, I cannot say that anything special has resulted. I was satisfied with the little I saw this morning. I thought things would come to a good conclusion. It was clearly noticeable, for example, that there is a greater level of seriousness in the higher grades. There is a much better tone in the higher grades. I see nothing to talk about there. I spoke about incorrect methods in connection with the extent of faculty participation in the leadership of the Anthroposophical Society.
(Speaking to a teacher) It would be good if you were careful to leave out the inner school methodology in your considerations until tomorrow.
We will overcome the problems in the school methodology. The Waldorf School has proven what lies in its basic impulse. Individual problems have arisen, but as a whole, the Waldorf School has proven what lies at its basis. We will overcome the problems. Most certainly, we will move forward with the inner methodology. There is something else that comes into question aside from the general anthroposophical aspect. In connection with methodology, we could try to lift everything from the Earth and move it to the moon where we could perfect it. But, that is something we cannot do with anthroposophical activity. We will overcome the problems at the school because that is an isolated area and can remain so.
Everything was present in the discussions with the leaders of the Movement for Religious Renewal. In the lecture I had to give in Dornach on December 30, I directed everything toward anthroposophists, not toward those working for a renewal of religion. 4 That was clear from ten paces away, but it lead to an argument between the anthroposophists and those of the Religious Renewal. There is now a tense mood and a heavy atmosphere. If we leave these things the way they are, the Anthroposophical Society will be destroyed, and other institutions along with it. It is sad that this all occurred directly following the events in Dornach. We should have guarded against that. We need to do something to relieve it. Those anthroposophists who are not involved with the renewal of religion said nothing, but the anthroposophical perspective should have been maintained, but without rancor. You cannot expect the Movement for Religious Renewal to make things easy for anthroposophists. They are taking the cream and leaving the rest, but the Anthroposophical Society needs to stand firm. That is something of concern to everyone. The school should not shine because the faculty has no concern about the Anthroposophical Society. You need to have a strong interest in it.