Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
23 January 1923, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: I have a few things to add to what I recently said. The question concerns pictures in the music rooms. Clearly, we cannot decorate music rooms with paintings of figures. A music room is best decorated with sculpture or, if you have to use paintings, use ones with harmonious colors, paintings that are effective through pure colors. In other words, paintings in which pure colors are active.
Then, we also need to consider the pictures for the eurythmy room. I differentiate them from the music rooms, although there may be conflicts in our case. Under certain circumstances, we may teach music in the eurythmy room, but that would be only temporary. We should decorate the eurythmy room with themes that form the dynamic of the human being, including the dynamics of the soul. The pictures should present the expressive human being in an artistic way.
It is important that we carry that over into the gymnasium, but direct it more toward the world. For eurythmy, it is important to find an artistic way to express the dynamics of the soul, but in gymnastics we should connect more with the human being’s relationship to the world of balance and movement. You could, for example, have a picture of someone valiantly poised at the edge of a cliff, or such things. In the gymnasium, pictures should depict the relationship to the world.
For the handwork rooms, you should use pictures of interiors that particularly express feeling.
Now, that leaves only the shop. As much as possible, we should fill that with themes of practical life and possibly crafts, so that what hangs on the walls reflects what we do in the rooms.
I think we should decorate the faculty room in a way that is harmonious with the soul of the teacher. So, we would not have any particular rules for the faculty room, but would reflect our tastes in agreement with the teachers themselves. It should reflect the particularly intimate connections, but in an artistic way. In spinning, the same applies as for shop.
For music, it is better to leave the room quite plain than to add pictures that have no psychological connection with the essence of music.
The frames should fit the pictures. The color of the frames should be some color in the picture and the picture should also determine the form.
A teacher asks about the room for the Sunday services.
Dr. Steiner: I will give another service, and the pictures should be appropriate to that.
We should also decorate the remedial classroom, but we can discuss that at our next meeting.
We should place the eurythmy figures in a glass case in the eurythmy hall. In the hallways you should see to it that you place something similar to what is in the class to the left and right of the door. That is, something connected with the classroom.
A teacher asks about the physics and chemistry rooms.
Dr. Steiner: We have such major problems there that I cannot answer that today. Next time, we also want to begin discussing medical aspects, something we have long wanted to do.
Let’s turn our attention to creating an administrative committee.
A teacher: The committee we elected last meeting proposes three teachers. They would take over some of the administration previously done by the school administrator. They would be responsible for representing the school internally and to the outside world, with the exception of the custodial work, business, and finance.
In connection with school functions, they would do the following things:
1) Preparation and minute taking for the faculty meetings;
2) Naming specific faculty for specific areas, for example, the question of student boarding or decorations in the classrooms;
3) Prepare and oversee a yard duty schedule;
4) Assigning classrooms;
5) Supervise the use of school rooms for events from outside.
They would also take over the following things related to the outside:
1) Correspondence and communication with school officials, initialing all communications to the Department of Education;
2) Everything connected with enrollment (introductions and tests) and leaving school (school reports);
3) Yearly reports;
5) Public relations, in particular, working with the Union for Independent Cultural Life in the struggle against the Elementary School Law;
6) Gathering information about salaries and administering specific gifts.
Those are all the specific areas that we can remove from the present administrator and that a group can accomplish.
Dr. Steiner: First, we want to discuss this in principle. I would like you to say whether you are in agreement or not, or to speak in general about what has been presented.
The present administrator: It seemed to me that we should give this committee everything I did that should involve the entire faculty, and that all the economic and technical things would remain with me. We would thus rest secure that the work would be done to the satisfaction of the whole faculty. Those were my basic thoughts.
A teacher: I would like to propose Mr. L. as an additional member of the administrative committee.
Another teacher: We should use Mr. L. for more artistic work and not include him in the administration.
Dr. Steiner: The committee proposed three members, and now we have a proposal for a fourth.
A teacher: If he agrees that he would like to work with it, there should be no problem.
Mr. L.: I would be happy to do that if it would be useful.
Dr. Steiner: If I understand things correctly, we designated a preparatory committee. We cannot leave everything in the air. This committee proposed an administrative committee of three people. And now Mr. Y. is proposing that Mr. L. be included. The preparatory committee, though, proposed three people. Something official needs to move along with some precision. If you are proposing that Mr. L. join as a fourth member, what we have is that the recently elected preparatory committee proposed three and Mr. Y. makes a counterproposal to include a fourth person. Who wishes to say something further?
A teacher: I would like to give my support to that proposal.
Dr. Steiner: Does someone from the committee have something to say?
One of the three teachers proposed: I would like to say that we would be happy to work with Mr. L.
Dr. Steiner: The first question is the creation of the administrative committee. The proposal of the preparatory committee was three men. Then we have here from the faculty those three men and, in addition, Mr. L.
A teacher: I don’t see why we shouldn’t add an additional person to the committee.
Dr. Steiner: If we had only the proposal of the committee, we would need only to agree to or reject that proposal. Now we have two proposals, and we will have to have a debate about them. If there is another proposal, it should also be made. We created this preliminary committee with a great deal of pain. We believe it made its proposal only after mature consideration. Taking our trust in them into account, we now need to either verify or reject the proposal. The question is whether someone has something to say that is germane to the proposal. Is there perhaps a third proposal? Now the question is whether there is something to be added or whether a third proposal will be made.
A teacher supports the addition of Mr. L. because of his nature.
Dr. Steiner: Does anyone else have something to say?
A teacher: I would like to ask Mr. L. himself what he thinks about it.
Dr. Steiner: The question is whether you would accept the position.
Mr. L.: I would if people think it is appropriate.
Dr. Steiner: The situation is thus: The administrative body should arise from the faculty, taking into consideration what we recently discussed. Recently I said that I could, according the way we created the Waldorf School, name the members of the committee myself, but I do not want to do that because of past experiences. Rather, I want the administrative body to arise from the will of the faculty. We have given the responsibility of preparing a proposal to the committee because we assumed that a preparatory committee could make better proposals than those who simply speak off the top of their heads. We must learn to become accustomed to saying things with some responsibility. Recently, we elected the members of this committee, and we now need to assume that the committee made proposals only after due consideration and in recognition of their responsibility. That is the basis of this discussion. At present, there are two proposals.
This could be very depressing. It is important that we do not work with illusions. What is happening now is very depressing. We have agreed that a committee should present us with some proposals, and we certainly do not want to simply throw those out the window. We would do that if a counterproposal is made now and the faculty gives a vote of distrust. If Y.’s suggestion is accepted, that would be a vote of no confidence against the committee. I’m telling you that the acceptance of Y.’s counterproposal means a vote of no confidence. There have been some sharp words used about the administrative body in the last days. All of those expressions could be used against the faculty if you think a vote of no confidence regarding an elected committee has no significance.
I have asked for honesty in the discussion. I have repeatedly requested your comments and have delayed closing this discussion in order to enable a discussion of the counterproposal. I once again request that you say what you have to say about this question.
The following remarks were not recorded.
Dr. Steiner: Mr. Y., do not interpret the words I have said in leading the discussion. I cannot say I am presenting a counterproposal at the same time I declare that I agree with the first proposal. I would request that you suppress nothing. If you do not agree with something, please admit that, but this system of hiding things cannot continue.
At present we have three proposals: The proposal from the committee, the proposal by Mr. Y., and a third proposal by B. and S. to skip Y.’s proposal and go on to the agenda. The proposal from B. and S. is more extreme, since it would skip Y.’s proposal and simply go on to the agenda.
Mr. Y.: I support the suggestion from B. and S.
Dr. Steiner: This is where understanding simply stops. Either you have a reason to make a counterproposal, or you do not. If the committee presents a proposal, and you suggest a counterproposal, then I cannot see any degree of seriousness in your proposal if you yourself are in favor of skipping the proposal and going on to the agenda. If we continue on in this way about important things.... Simply because we need to decide the matter....
Marie Steiner: Mr. Y. had suggested L. because of his good nature.
Dr. Steiner: But that can only mean complete distrust.
A teacher: I understood Y.’s proposal as the beginning of a debate.
Dr. Steiner: The work of the committee ends today. Of course, a counterproposal can be made, but distrust arises because of the desire to vote for the four by acclamation without further ado. It would, of course, show no distrust in the committee if the four were chosen. However, the way things are going now, it would be a vote of distrust if the committee’s proposal was simply thrown out without any further discussion. The distrust arises because we formed a committee with the assumption that they would check into everything and make a proposal in full awareness of their responsibility. Then, a counterproposal was made. Now, we are voting on all four people. What that means is that we take one of our own actions with very little seriousness. To be rid of the matter, we simply vote for all four, and that constitutes a distrust in the committee. To handle the matter so that we can create an illusion that we are harmonious and united constitutes a distrust in the committee.
We need to honestly speak our minds. It is important that everyone has their own well-founded opinion. The way the Waldorf School was founded, it was based upon the blood of our hearts, and now so much is moving toward this terrible system of not taking matters seriously. That is even coming into the faculty. It is significant whether the faculty is united in accepting a proposal or not. That is something that goes straight to our hearts. I would like to emphasize that we may not take such matters lightly. I have no illusions about the fact that there are things in the background here. When such proposals are made, then something is playing in the background. In the realm of anthroposophy, honesty, not intransigence, should rule. That is what I am asking you to do, at least here at the seat of the Waldorf School, to begin for once to seriously stand upright, so that we do not fall into an atmosphere where we shut our eyes to the disharmony, but, instead, honestly say what we have to say.
Is it so impossible that people say they have one thing or another against you, but that they nevertheless still like you and are still ready to work together? Why couldn’t you say the truth in private and, in spite of that, still respect and value one another? Difficult things need to be done when there is reason for doing them. Now that there are two proposals, we first have to vote on the third proposal, or we would have to handle the two proposals in parallel.
The fact is that you demanded to be included in the discussions with the committee. I found that to be a first vote of distrust.
A teacher: I would like to ask if Mr. Y. could give his reasons.
Dr. Steiner: I also think that when a counterproposal is made, there should be reasons given.
Y. attempts to give his reasons.
Dr. Steiner: I can assure you that I do not allow anything that goes through my hands to be in any way imprecise. I do not skip over a situation when one arises. We have before us the proposal of the committee, and separate from that, a proposal by Mr. Y. They represent two opinions. Now that we have these two opinions, and the committee has come here with the intention of proposing a threeman group, after they had already decided not to propose a fourman group, there is an even greater contradiction when Mr. Y. proposes that. It is not our problem that Mr. Y. did not hear the matter. There is, in any event, a precise fact before us that the committee did not think they should propose a four-man group. Mr. Y.’s proposal is significantly different from that of the committee.
The debate we now have concerns the proposal of B. and S. to skip Y.’s proposal and to go on to the agenda.
The motion has been made to skip Y.’s proposal and to go on to the agenda.
Who is in favor of concluding the debate…. The discussion is closed.... We now come to the proposal that three men are to form the administrative committee. We now come to a vote about that motion. Now that the motion is before us, I would like to ask you formally whether you desire to vote on the motion by acclamation or by secret ballot.
A teacher: I suggest by acclamation.
Dr. Steiner: Does anyone wish to speak to the motion to vote by acclamation? No one wishes to speak, so we can now vote on whether to accept the motion to decide by acclamation.... I request that those in favor of creating the administrative committee with these three men, raise their hands.
I have always attempted to maintain a friendly tone, and it may be that we can return to that again. However, these kinds of discrepancies that are not said aloud cannot remain. Aside from that, it is not bad if we occasionally use parliamentary procedures so that we gain some precision in our work. That is something we must have here.
We now come to the other proposals of the committee. The committee proposed that the administrative committee should take over certain areas of representing the school. The proposal was to leave certain tasks with Mr. Y. and remove others. What we are dealing with here is that the following things should be removed from the administrator: First, the preparation and minute taking of the faculty meetings. Second, requesting colleagues to take over certain areas of work, the yard-duty plan, the distribution of the classrooms, usage of schoolrooms by people outside the school. These are the things connected with the inner administration of the school.
I would ask you to say what you have to say regarding these points. Do you agree that the administrative committee take over these areas? Those in agreement, please raise your hands. It is accepted.
In regard to the external representation of the school, the committee would take over correspondence and communications with the authorities as proposed, and, aside from Mr. Y., the member of the committee who is active at the time would countersign. A teacher: Requiring a countersignature makes things more difficult than they were. It would cause delays.
Dr. Steiner: If a member of the committee assumes that it cannot always be done, then I would like to know why we have the committee in the first place. We must always be able to do this. There can be no question of a difficulty. A bureaucracy depends upon attitude, not upon authority. If you imagine you can fight bureaucracy by installing chaos in its place, you have an incorrect picture, and that, of course, cannot be done.
A teacher moves to close the debate.
Dr. Steiner: Does anyone want to say something about the motion to close the debate? Then I ask those who are in favor of closing the debate… . The motion is accepted.
We now need to vote on whether the administrative committee should take on the activities of interaction with the officials, countersigning documents and so forth. I ask those who are in favor to raise their hands.
Dr. Steiner then asks for discussion about each of the various points concerning external representation of the school, and a vote is taken upon each point.
Dr. Steiner: You have all agreed to each of the specific points. I would now like to have a vote on the question as a whole with the exception of the public relations work and the relationship to the Waldorf School Association. I want you to vote on the question as a whole, that is, about all the areas we have discussed. Passed. Dr. Steiner now enumerates all the individual functions for which the present school administrator will continue to be responsible.
Dr. Steiner: Now that you have heard all these points, is there anything you would like to say?
A teacher asks about enrolling students.
Dr. Steiner: We have decided that that will be done by the administrative committee. If what we are doing is to have any meaning at all, then we cannot remove such an important matter from the administrative committee. We need to eliminate this bureaucratic way of thinking. If you think we should remove important discussions with parents from the administrative committee, then you are thinking bureaucratically. The administrative committee should participate from the very beginning, from the beginning of the enrollment of the student. The administrative committee should also be aware that it cannot let its duties slowly slide.
A teacher: I wanted to ask you to speak about the whole thing so that it will become clearer for us.
Dr. Steiner: The situation is that over time I have been made aware of things from many different people, that the faculty wanted such a group. From my perspective, I could answer such questions by saying that I thought it was necessary. I have a certain satisfaction in knowing it is now happening, but I also think it should happen with all seriousness. Is there still some argument about the matter?
I could ask, perhaps, that this committee include what we have voted upon as a kind of addition to our by-laws exactly how we will divide the agenda, then we can make a final decision about that at our next meeting. The activities we have now decided upon should be taken up as quickly as possible.
I would now like to ask for some discussion about how long the members of the committee should be in office, and about the rotation.
A teacher proposes a longer period of rotation, two to three months, otherwise the continuity would be continually disrupted.
Dr. Steiner: What you mentioned, that a person does not receive a reply, could also happen with a longer period of rotation. In any event, an orderly transfer of activities is necessary. I think a period of two months would be appropriate. We need to be careful that the work does not become a burden, and it seems to me that a period of two months would be appropriate.
A teacher: I would like to ask if the current executive would work alone or whether all three would work together.
Dr. Steiner: When not actually in the executive position, the activities of the others would be advisory. That is clear from the situation itself. However, the executive should ask the advice of the other committee members. What we are now deciding is something else. What we now need to decide is the relationship of the faculty to the administrative committee. I think two months would be the right amount of time. Would you like to have that extended or shortened? Is anyone against two months? Then we will do it that way. The administrative committee will begin tomorrow and the first period of rotation would be February and March, that is, two months. In what order should the members rotate?
A teacher: I would suggest alphabetical order.
Dr. Steiner: We can now go on to the question of public relations and our relationship to the Waldorf School Association.
Concerning public relations, you have made a connection with the Union for Independent Cultural Life, namely, a fight against the Elementary School Law. The way the situation is, I do not think it is a good idea if the Waldorf School as such takes a position for or against normal public questions, as they are generally trivial. We can move forward much better when we energetically work upon our own concerns and positively present what we are doing with Waldorf pedagogy. We should not involve ourselves with questions formulated from outside. I often had a bitter taste in my mouth when one of us gave a lecture about the Elementary School Law. We should be involved in the situation. The things we should present should represent our own concerns. In that way we can accomplish much more than when people who want to learn about the Elementary School Law ask us about our position. Of course, we are against it, but we should not be involved in discussions about mundane daily questions.
How do you envision working against the Elementary School Law? Certainly, we must handle these things practically — I usually say “real” instead of “practical.” The world should have the impression that people from the Waldorf School handle such questions practically.
If you look at the essays that have been published as weekly reports in Anthroposophy, they certainly look as though they were written without any understanding of the relationship between the parliament and the executive and the bureaucracy and so forth. The way they are written, those people active in everyday life will have a feeling that they are impractical, and then that opinion is hung around the neck of an Independent Spiritual Life or the Movement for Threefolding. By doing that, we increasingly foster the opinion that we are an impractical group of people. That is something that must cease. I am not speaking about our opponents, but about those insightful people who stand with us in the Threefold Social Movement.
If we include the Union for Independent Cultural Life in our work here at the Waldorf School, it is important that we do not fall prey to the same error the union itself does, namely, that we don’t fall into a kind of theorizing. What I mean is that it is important that any work we do in public relations stand upon a sound foundation. Certainly, we can work with the union, but when we do something, we should be aware that it must be practical, for instance, when we present the Waldorf School pedagogy as a contrast to the Elementary School Law. The more widespread the Waldorf School pedagogy becomes, the less possible such terrible laws will be. We don’t need to base our work upon the politics of the beer hall. All this is a question of tact. We should actually not participate. That is something we should never have done. That is the main problem with the Movement for Threefolding, we should never have become involved in mundane daily questions.
I have given special consideration to this area because I think it is particularly important that we take a higher position. For years I tried to form a World School Association that would not work toward handling pedagogical questions in some mundane manner, but would try to present them to the public from a higher position. That would be the difficult task of such a world school association.
A teacher: Couldn’t we have some evenings for discussing pedagogical questions to which we can invite some people, and also officials?
Another teacher: It is apparent that some leading school officials would like to know more, but are afraid to take the first step.
Still another teacher: Perhaps we could create something here at school so that we could invite people to whom we have a personal connection.
Dr. Steiner: That would make sense only if such meetings with people from outside were the result of public announcements in which we invited others to attend. It would make sense only if the Waldorf School started such things and then people came to us with their requests. Otherwise, all we would have would be the normal blather.
A teacher: I am thinking about the question of final examinations, that will certainly be important a year from this Easter.
Dr. Steiner: That is, of course, a task that does not actually belong in the school administration, but is more connected with the work of the Waldorf School. As soon as we would want to decide about such things, nothing would happen. That is a question that belongs among the general tasks of the Anthroposophical Society and is the task of everyone who is in any way concerned about the flourishing of the Waldorf School pedagogy. Actually, the answer should be apparent from the question itself. It is difficult to arrange anything in that regard because it needs to be handled individually so that we can take everything into account. We should take every opportunity to put the Waldorf School in the best light. On the other hand, we need to say that those who want to learn could also learn in England if they were there. So, it should really not be so difficult for someone who wants to learn about the Waldorf School to find out about it.
A teacher says something.
Dr. Steiner: What you just said is not serious. People are not happy about things, but as soon as you go beyond the general level of dissatisfaction and want to say something particular, they turn away. What ruins things is our participation, in any degree, in that turning away. We need to stand upright upon our foundation. We need to do everything that properly represents the Waldorf School pedagogy and not allow ourselves to make compromises. Such illusions are most detrimental to our goals. From what I have heard about these things, and such opinions come up all the time, we should have no illusions about them. We need to follow our own path and not treat these cases bureaucratically. If each of us recognizes our responsibility to do what we can, it may be better to teach these officials than to arrange things so that people could attend who would prefer to enter unseen through the back door. We went through all this when the union was formed in July 1919. There, we discussed pedagogical things. We held meetings where it was dark but nothing came out of it because people did not stay, not even the teachers. At the moment when things become serious — remember how people said they are dissatisfied, but that they have a wife and child. Do not misunderstand me. Work as uprightly as possible and use each individual connection, but do not believe that if you hold a meeting you can expect something from it.
We can best resolve the question of final examinations if we attempt to prepare the students as well as possible and then go to the examiners in question. The others will have forgotten it by then. In general, personal discussions are useful, but it depends upon how. We certainly cannot treat questions in the way you did today at the beginning, by deciding to allow the nicest person to take care of some particular problem. If that would work, then I would suggest that those people who are less gracious should take lessons from the others.
Marie Steiner: You prefer the Austrian form of charm.
Dr. Steiner: I would like to ask you to be personally involved. That is certainly something we need. I would certainly offer to fail every professor of botany in botany if that is what it took.
If you have some old connections and you could find out a little from those who have more experience, then your old connections would be more useful than if you brought others without such connections. The other thing is that you are a woman, and these are male examiners. If it is a female examiner, then see to it that you bring a man. Things need to be done individually. You should not believe that the impression you make will continue when you drag other people in.
The relationship to the Waldorf School Association does not seem to me to be resolvable except by a change in the statutes of the association. Of course, it should not be that the person who is the executive should not have a seat and a voice in the Waldorf School Association.
A teacher: Now, every teacher is a regular member of the Waldorf School Association.
Dr. Steiner: That does not fit with these regulations. This regulation requires that the faculty send a representative who will have that position for five years. We must clearly express that the person taking care of the administration here will also sit in the Waldorf School Association for two months. The by-laws have been changed so often that we can easily do that. That is something the Waldorf School Association must do. Is that all right with you? Thus, the current administrator would be our representative for two months and would sit in the council of the Waldorf School Association and have a vote. That person would not simply be one of the members, but would be on the council, and, in that way, the relationship would be self-regulating. So now we have taken care of this question. The necessary change in the by-laws should be made at the next meeting of the Waldorf School Association. Of course, for the time being, the representative of the faculty could be at the next meeting of the association. Are there any other remarks?
A teacher: Should we send a donation to the people in the Rhineland? It would be important for us if you could give us some information about the situation.
Dr. Steiner: It is not so easy to discuss the general situation now because the situation is as I described it quite clearly while I was giving the lectures about threefolding here, namely, that something needs to be done before it is too late. Today, it is too late to accomplish anything in the area of what people have called European politics. The only suggestion I made was to transform the old Threefold Association into the Union for Independent Cultural Life. I made that suggestion out of the recognition that we could do something for the future of Europe and for present Western civilization by supporting cultural life as such. That is where everything else must begin. The economic things that have been done by the present government as well as all political impulses are useless now. It is only possible to support spiritual life and hope that something will happen. What is important is to collect everything we are doing in that direction under one roof. At one time I quoted something Nietzsche said in one of his letters from 1871 about the fact that the German spirit has been exterminated in favor of the German empire. Today, it is important to achieve the opposite, namely, to restore the German spirit in spite of the decay of all political institutions. In that way, we can move forward, but we must stand firmly upon that basis. Everything else needs to be decided case by case.
The Rhineland occupation should be handled from the perspective that it is being done by a drowning man. A hysterical policy is being created from the drowning and thrashing. The tragedy is that the death throes are causing so much suffering. For that reason, I favor sending a donation if possible. It is a humanitarian deed. We can neglect all the nationalism and consider the question from a purely human perspective. I am in favor of all such things to the extent that they are purely human situations.
Today, we stand before the abyss of European culture, and we must prepare to jump over that abyss. I have long since stopped writing articles about it. I wrote the last one at the time of the Genoa conference, drawing attention once again to the whole situation. When I give lectures to the workers in Dornach, they no longer want to hear anything about politics. They are interested in things about science because they understand that all political talk today no longer has any sense to it.
If you think you could make a collection, you should probably be aware that it will not be much. It could be very little.
A teacher: I have divided the 8b class into two groups.
Dr. Steiner: I will have to agree to that until I can see it.
A teacher: The Latin class is a double period. I have the impression it is not very good.
Dr. Steiner: It is difficult to discuss such questions without having a meeting about purely pedagogical questions that could perhaps provide an ideal toward which we can work. Today, I have heard quite a bit about your class. Normally, I try to look at a number of things. Recently, I have been paying more attention to the question of the extent to which individual students have reached the learning goals and how many are falling behind. I cannot say I am convinced there are greater differences in the students you had today than in those in the geography class.
We will need to take care of this in the next meeting when we will be able to handle pedagogical questions more completely, because I noticed that the differences in ability and capability are quite large in that class.
(Speaking to another teacher) In contrast, I noticed when I taught the class myself that your class was much more homogenous. The differences are not so large. That is how the classes differ. We will discuss such questions and how to proceed at another time.