Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
24 April 1923, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: I think it would be good if we took care of the formal things today. If there is still something to say about the beginning of school, it might be better to do that after we have taken care of the formal things. We will probably need to meet again tomorrow to speak about the beginning of school from a more spiritual perspective. Today, I think we should try to take care of the various needs that have arisen from the faculty.
The classes and the foreign language classes are assigned.
Dr. Steiner: The question now is if anyone has a particular wish regarding these assignments.
Changes are made to meet some expressed desires.
A teacher: I would like to ask if we can define an order of presentation for art. I thought that I would begin tomorrow in the ninth grade with those things connected with the curriculum as a whole, that is, related to history and literary history. I want to show how art arose from mythology.
Dr. Steiner: It would be good to bring the art class into step with history and literary history. You could try to make a transition from Germanic mythology to art and then remain with that for a time. Then, perhaps you could show how the Germanic myths reappear in a different artistic form as aesthetics. You could certainly show, for example, the connection between Dürer and German mythology. They are fifteen-year-old children. You could use this as an occasion to show how the old Germans painted their gods just as Dürer painted his figures later.
You could then go on into the tenth grade, since the curriculum depends upon the previous year. In the tenth grade, we have Goethe’s poems and style, and that can stay. In the eleventh grade, summarize music and poetry.
Dr. Steiner confirms the teacher’s understanding about art instruction in the previous grades. The same teacher now proposes artistically treating what is done in the twelfth-grade German class, literature beginning in 1740, in preparation for the final examination.
Dr. Steiner: Then, we would no longer need a special literary history class. We need to see to it that the students learn the things they may be asked. In connection with modern literary history, they will certainly be asked about things that began with Gottsched and Bodmer and what followed them. German and art class can certainly cover the same material.
In order not to make compromises, I think it would be good to recognize that a large number of Goethe’s works are based upon impressions of paintings, and also that we can trace back much romantic art to musical impressions. Try to develop how the arts are intertwined.
An essay by Burdach, “Schiller’s Chordrama und die Geburt des tragischen Stiles aus der Musik” (Schiller’s choral drama and the birth of the tragic style from music) in the Deutschen Rundschau (German review) is mentioned.
Dr. Steiner: Burdach’s research has a problem in that it has an underlying tendency. He wants to show that somehow certain themes arise out of some primal forces, and then he follows them further. This is really very contrived. Schiller was certainly not as dependent upon earlier streams as Burdach claims. We certainly cannot ignore Schiller’s dramatic experimentation and the fact that he created a choral drama after many attempts. In Demetrius, he created a romantic drama in a style much like Shakespeare’s. You cannot ignore the details Burdach cites, since they may be useful. However, you will probably arrive at a different conclusion, probably that Schiller would have created something quite different from The Bride of Messina had he really swum in that stream.
That essay belongs with the series of things Burdach has produced. He has an idée fixe. He wants to show that a theme arises out of a subhuman source. All these things are similar, so you need to be cautious with Burdach. He also wrote other things where he derives the minstrel from Arabic provincials by finding the original impulse in the middle of the Middle Ages and using it as the beginning of the literary stream. Faust and Moses also belong in this group, as do Shakespeare’s dramas.
A teacher speaks about his tenth-grade class in Western history and Middle High-German literature.
Dr. Steiner: You need to do that harmoniously. Even if you do not like the material, we have to begin with what you have already done as a basis. There is nothing from the present we could use as a basis. We have to use an older historical picture as our basis and then present our perspective as history. Couldn’t you use Heeren as a basis? You could just as well take Rotteck, though he is a little bit old-fashioned and one-sided. It would also be good if you brought out the correspondences with artistic styles. Young people today could learn a tremendous amount if you were to read some chapters from Johannes Müller’s Vierundzwanzig Bücher allgemeiner Geschichte (Twenty-four books of history) with them. That is historical style, almost like Tacitus. Such attempts to work in a unified way have been made time and again, something that needs to be renewed from our perspective.
If you lean too heavily upon geology, you are in danger of taking the basement, leaving out the ground floor, and then taking the second floor, whereas you should actually begin with what geology offers for historical themes, such as the Great Migrations and dependence upon territory. My public lectures in Stuttgart could be helpful for that. Of course, you cannot present that in class. It was intended for enlightened older people in Stuttgart. You will need to translate it for the students and, in the future, be sure to leave out the Chymical Wedding.
If you begin preparing for this now and immediately begin with literature, you will have to use something like Heeren, Rotteck, or Johannes Müller. It is certainly not right to transform history into religious history alone. That is something for the religion teachers. I will give you the curriculum tomorrow.
A teacher: Where should I begin in this class?
Dr. Steiner: You said yourself you wanted to begin with the dependence upon the Earth. Therefore, you should take the climates of the various regions, today’s cold and temperate zones, and geological formations as a basis for history. Show how a people changed when they moved from the mountains down into the valleys, but do all this from a historical perspective, not a geographical one, so that you speak about a particular people during a particular period. Show, for example, why the Greeks became Greeks. Here, you could use Heeren as a guide. What is important is that things be done properly.
A teacher (who is to take over teaching history and German in the ninth grade): I would like some guidance for ninth-grade history. What should I particularly emphasize?
Dr. Steiner: You need to deepen their understanding.
The previous class teacher: In the eighth grade I presented history in pictures and biographies. I particularly emphasized cultural history in the nineteenth century.
Dr. Steiner: According to our curriculum, the children in the eighth and ninth grades should gain a picture of the inner historical themes, the major movements. They should learn how the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries brought an enlarged viewpoint to human beings, an increase in all directions, geography and astronomy. They should learn how that played out historically. Then they should learn how the effects of the seventeenth- and eighteenth- century enlightenment played out in history and how, in the nineteenth century, the integration of peoples and nations had an effect. Taking each century, you can present the facts from these perspectives.
Regarding your preparation, it would be very good if you could create a picture for yourself of what story would result if Schiller’s History of the Thirty Years War were continued to the present time, that is, what modern history would be like. In regard to Middle Europe, Treitschke’s summaries are very good. In the first chapter of his German History, he brought all the threads together. A teacher wants to begin the twelfth grade with series and then go on to integral and differential calculus.
Dr. Steiner: Differential and integral calculations are not really demanded. If you want to do this efficiently, you can begin integration earlier, and use series to explain both. I would try to get far enough that the students can use differential and integral computations with curves. That is sufficient for the final examination. If the students can work with second- and third-degree equations, that is enough. The problems that will be given are published.
Dr. Steiner learns that there are also more difficult problems.
Dr. Steiner: I would certainly like to know what is left to learn at college. There is really not much more. In any event, you can begin tomorrow with series.
A teachers asks about chemical formulas.
Dr. Steiner: We will have to find out what is required for the final examination. That is the problem; we start making these compromises, but we need to go far enough that the students can pass the final examination. This is terrible.
There would be some sense in it if they at least used stereometric formulas, but they mostly use planar formulas, which is quite senseless. The students need to know the processes. All this is senseless and very sad, but we have to take it into account.
Tomorrow, we can meet again at the same time to discuss questions concerning the curriculum, but for now I would like to take care of any other questions and desires.
A teacher asks about texts for English. Dickens’s Christmas Carol is too difficult for the eighth grade.
Dr. Steiner: You can be certain that you can read Dickens with children who know almost nothing, and what they need to learn, they can quite easily pick up. Tell them how the story goes on. Perhaps you could solve the problem if you first told the children about the content and selected some simpler excerpts for them to read. You can certainly overcome such difficulties. These texts are the very best for those children who cannot read English.
An eighth-grade teacher: E.B. is not very happy with me.
A teacher: One of his comrades would like to be in your class because it is more artistic.
Dr. Steiner: You could exchange the two.
There are problems with the class schedule, and the religion classes are too large.
Dr. Steiner: It cannot be any different than last year. There must be some way of solving the scheduling problem. I cannot imagine that we cannot solve it. There should be no more than fifty students in a religion class.
A teacher asks about a deaf-and-dumb child in the remedial class.
Dr. Steiner: She is not deaf. She can hear and can also be taught to speak. She is only a little slow. She does not respond, so you will simply have to try everything. You need to say something slowly, then have her speak it after you. Continue in that way; first speak slowly, then increase the speed so that she gradually needs to understand things more quickly. You could also do the exercise by speaking loudly, then having her speak softly, and then the other way around. You could do it slowly and have her do it quickly. Do variations of that. If possible, use a series of words that have some connection. Do them forward and backward in order to develop the center of speech. I would also have her do the curative eurythmy exercises connected with the head. She should do them daily, even if for only a short time.
(Speaking to the school doctor) She should also receive edelweiss at 6X potency, which is an effective means for healing the connection between the hearing nerves and the hearing center. It has a strong effect and is effective even when the hearing organs are hardened. The hardening has a relationship to edelweiss; it absorbs the flowers. You will find that the relationships that exist within this mineral, but not mineralized, material are within the flower also, and that they have an extreme similarity to the processes that constitute the hearing organ. We have used this remedy for ten years. Be sure to soak the flowers well first. A teacher asks about decorating the room for religious services.