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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
GA 300

Fifty-Seventh Meeting

12 July 1923, Stuttgart

Dr. Steiner: First, I would like to return to the situation in the 9b class. Although I already spoke about this, I want to return to it because that situation has some principle significance. First, I would like to say that the discussion with the boys occurred, and I would like to hear what consequences it has had in their behavior. The discussion also showed that something we could expect at this age is present in the boys, namely very strongly developed intellectual forces. These intellectual forces become apparent at puberty. Particularly with boys, this often arises as a certain subconscious desire to exercise their intellectual strength. It is natural that, when left to themselves, boys see rowdy behavior as the only possibility of expressing those intellectual forces. If we do not want them to do that, we must direct them toward other things. Intelligence is simply bursting out of those five boys, though to the least extent with K.F., and it demands to be freed.

At that age, pedagogical activity needs to take a different direction, as I have mentioned in some lectures. The boys must learn to take interest in something that will use their intellect. Otherwise, it remains unused and will live itself out in such things as we have experienced. The main thing is that we work with the boys during the course of instruction so they can exercise their intellect in a way that brings it into a kind of tension and then finds resolution. That is something you can weave into every lecture. You can pose questions that lead to a kind of tension and then allow the students to experience the resolution. Particularly at this age, simply listening has an unfavorable effect. There is no doubt that in the 9b class, you have counted too much upon their simply listening, at least at times. As soon as the boys are occupied, they become well behaved. If they have to just listen, that changes because their intellect, their inner strengths, stagnate.

It would be good if you recognized that their behavior was not the result of disrespect, but arose from a genuinely appropriate human standpoint, and that they denied nothing. You should also be aware that they did not try to gloss over anything. They were quite convinced that they had done quite useless things and that they really should not have done them. They showed an honorable human perspective when they described how T.L. made himself into their spokesman in a most natural way. He began by stating that he actually had no right to speak about the situation since he was the one who had most misbehaved. But, since things had gone so far, he wanted to speak. He spoke very reasonably. They are really very good boys, including F.R. In regard to their understanding of themselves, many adults could learn something from them. They do not embellish things. They recognized that it was very wrong to write on the bathroom doors. Something goaded them on. All the other bathrooms were smeared, and that one was still clean. They did not see why they should not decorate that one, too. When such thoughts arise out of latent intelligence, then that intelligence forces them to smear over blank surfaces so that they are like the others. In that case, a certain attitude has taken over, which we cannot say arises out of boredom.

They said that the school administration signed other documents, so when they wrote something, they thought it should also be signed by the administration. In all these things, we can see that they acted with a great deal of style. The boys were as though possessed, and now they are all very sorry about it. All these things are moods we need to look into, but we need to have some humor; otherwise the boys will get us down.

The boys see the actual cause of the problem in the statement by the 9a class teacher that the 9b class was worthless. They said that if he came into their class, which he knows nothing about, he would learn what it is like. That is quite intelligent. They are filled with a kind of feeling for truth. The boys are not dumb. If we can guide their intelligence in the proper direction, they may, without doubt, be able to achieve a great deal. They are really wonderful boys. I have to say that if you judge them too harshly, then, in my opinion, you have forgotten your own youth some fifteen years ago. Things are different, but if you can remember, some of you will certainly have been there. The main difference is that some years ago, boys did such things more secretively, but now they are more open.

To me, the important thing is that we can expect no improvement if we do not succeed in getting the boys to use their intelligence in class. The situation is such that we must find a way to use their intelligence in our teaching, otherwise it will remain unoccupied and they will use it for getting into trouble.

I asked F.R. how it was that he came to place the discussion between Raphael and Grünewald in the Marquardt Hotel in his essay. He said he knew nothing about Raphael or Grünewald, so he wrote it that way. T.L. then added that he had written something reasonable later.

I said they should let me see something they had written on the walls, but they said they could not say such things to a polite person. They are ashamed and trying to behave.

I would now like to hear what has happened since then. They promised me they would behave as proper young men with the teacher and would be polite to the girls.

A report is given about what occurred in the class since then.

Dr. Steiner: We cannot give the children riddles. I tried that with the anthroposophists in Dornach. You need to use their intelligence as you teach. A great deal is needed to direct your teaching toward the thinking of children at that age and then to maintain that.

In the humanities, there is a danger of teaching unprepared. That is, you are in danger of leaving the material as you know it now, as you learned it yourself. You need to rework it. That is one problem.

The other problem is that you are often too anthroposophical, like Mr. X. Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious. We should not allow the history class to be too religiously oriented. That is why we have a religion class. The visitors seem to have been very well-meaning people. Nevertheless, had they noticed that, they could easily have categorized the Waldorf School as being too anthroposophical and of bringing that into the classroom.

I came into one class, eurythmy, and it was immediately obvious not only that the students were well behaved, but that they had behaved well before I arrived. We could present such an exemplary class as the 9a eurythmy class to the entire world. You could quite clearly see the class had been well behaved before I came in. You can easily see if a class begins to behave well only when you step into the room. That was a very exemplary class.

Concerning the 8a and 8b classes, I could not see that they were such terribly clever misbehaved children. Initially, you will have to reach B.B. in the only way you can reach him, through his intellect. You cannot reach him through commands. On the other hand, if you make it clear to him that what he wants to do is nonsense, he will do what you ask of him. You could explain things to him as I recently did. He had written in his notebook with a pencil. There is no sense in telling someone with his temperament that he may not write with a pencil. If you do so, you can be certain that things will get worse. I told him he had smeared over everything, and that it looks horrible. I had barely turned around before he picked up his feather, prepared it, and then began to write in ink. Everything depends upon the way you present it. You need to meet the boy with what he understands and does not understand. He is a troubled boy. Sometimes it will occur to him to make a face, but he is a very well intentioned boy. You need to teach him that his faces do not look good. At the proper time, you need to teach him that he looks ugly when he does that. That is something you need to take into account at this age. They no longer accept commands. The power of authority quickly diminishes just when you have become strongly oriented in that direction. Then you encounter opposition. You need to be observant there. I would recommend that you read the four lectures I gave about adolescents. Read them and you will find all kinds of ways you can avoid that. I hope we can move beyond it.

A teacher gives a detailed report about a visit Dr. Steiner and three teachers made to the Ministry of Education and about what they learned regarding the requirements in the various subjects of the final examination.

Dr. Steiner: They are also tested in freehand drawing. Mr. Wolffhügel should take that up in the twelfth grade. I told the men that after we have sufficiently developed our curriculum, I would attempt to develop the teaching of freehand drawing using Dürer’s Melancholia as a basis. It contains all possible shades of light and dark, and it can also be transformed into color. If the children really understand that picture, they should be able to do everything.

In order to find something out, I asked whether, aside from the condition that the student must be eighteen years old, a student who had studied completely privately, who had never gone to school, would be allowed to take the examination. I was told that such a student would be admitted. From that, he admitted that we are not required to obtain official certification from the school board. I asked this question to see if there was some possibility that people could force us to come under the control of the School Review Board. Aside from some of the things that have occurred, the Education Law in Württemberg is one of the most liberal. No other place in Germany or Switzerland has such a liberal education law. Nevertheless, things could change for the twelfth grade.

Now that we know the students will be tested only on the material from the twelfth grade, I think it would be advisable to complete everything else and then begin on what the people there want.

We need to do a little more to complete chemistry and then go on to more of what is required in the final examination. We have done little in geology and the children learn about geological formations only very slowly. Before the holidays, we should at least awaken a little geological thinking, so they know what geological formations are, what kinds of stone and fossils they contain. We could give an overview before the holidays so that the students could learn the details afterward. We need to limit some things. Technology and eurythmy will end in February, as will religious instruction.

You could give some work to X. (a newly hired teacher). I have hired X. so that he will find support within the faculty. If he wastes his time, I will hold you responsible for it. He is so talented that you could give him work; he can do it if he wants to. The whole faculty is responsible for looking after him. For the time being, you need to try to finish chemistry. Before the holidays, give the students an overview about geology up to the Ice Age. Afterward, we will have to teach them about alcohol, the nature of alcohol, concepts about ethers, the nature of essential oils, then the nature of organic poisons, alkaloids, and some idea about cyanide compounds in contrast to organic compounds. They need to understand qualitative relationships. They can understand all of it from that perspective.

When speaking about geology, I recommend you go backward, beginning with the present, the alluvial period to the diluvial. Then discuss the Ice Age. Use the change in the axis of the Earth to give them an idea of the relationship of such events as the Ice Age to things outside the tellurian, without tying them to specific hypotheses. From there you can go back to the Tertiary period. Explain when the second and first realms of mammals arose. When you get back to the carbon period, you can simply teach the change. It would be better if you made the transition in the following way. In the later formations, we have the minerals precipitated out and the vegetable and animal fossilized. Now we are back in the Carboniferous period. What could be fossilized of animals does not exist. We only find fossilized vegetable material. The Carboniferous period is all plant. There is no differentiation, as nothing more than plant material exists. We can go still further back where we find things completely undifferentiated. Tell them in that way.

Perhaps you could give a lecture of mine. I once explained geology to the workers in a living way. I told them everything about geology in two hours. Those two lectures were certainly important. You could find them and work in the same way.

Earlier forms were only etheric. We should imagine the Carboniferous period such that we recognize that the individualization of plants was not nearly so strong as people imagine. Today, people think there were ferns, but actually what petrified was a much more undifferentiated soup. The etheric was continuously active in that soup, resulting in secretions that precipitated and held the organic mass in a nascent state, which then petrified. I would like to take this opportunity to give you, with some reservations, the divisions that can serve as a theme. Though there are some limitations, you could treat the entirety of zoology by dividing the animals into three groups with four divisions each, resulting in twelve classes or types of animals.


1. Protists, completely undifferentiated infusoria, and protozoa
2. Sponges, corals, and anemones
3. Echinoderms from sea lilies to sea urchins
4. The ascidians, in which a proper outer shell is no longer present, that is, the shell formation has receded.


5. Mollusks
6. Worms
7. Articulates
8. Fish


9. Amphibians
10. Reptiles
11. Birds
12. Mammals

In discussing the zodiac, you should begin with the mammals, represented by Leo; then birds, Virgo; reptiles, Libra; amphibians, Scorpio; fish, Sagittarius; articulates, Capricorn; worms, Aquarius. Then continue on the other side, where you have the protists, Cancer; corals, Gemini; echinoderms, Taurus; ascidians, Aries; mollusks, Pisces. You should realize that the zodiac arose at a time when the names and classifications were very different. In the Hebrew language, there is no word for fish, so it is quite reasonable that you would not find fish mentioned in the story of creation. They were seen as birds that lived in water. Thus, the zodiac is divided in this way, into seven and five parts for day and night.

There is also something in that which corresponds to the threefolding of the human being. The first group are the animals related to the head, namely, the protists, sponges, echinoderms, and ascidians. The second group are the rhythmic animals, the mollusks, worms, articulates, and fish—that is, the middle part of the human being and the head. The third group are the animals of the limbs, so you can see how each aspect is added. Thus, we have the limbs, the rhythmic system, and the head. These all tend toward a threefolding, but are not yet complete.

If you look at it from the perspective of the human being, the head corresponds to the first group, the human rhythmic system to the second group, and the human limbs to the third group.

From a geological perspective, things begin with the head. You need to follow geological formations through the twelve stages. You should begin with the first group, go on to the second, and then to the third. You need to complete that with geological formations. The infusoria go back to the beginning and are the first group. The forms of that first group that still exist are degenerated forms of the etheric forms from very early times. The forms of the second group are half degenerated. Actually, only their antecedent nondegenerated forms belong to that. Only in the third group do we find really primary forms not yet degenerated, which therefore form the basis for teaching about formations.

When teaching animal geography, you need to consider the zodiac in connection with what I have just said, that is, look at the projection of the zodiac upon the Earth. You will then find the areas of the animal groups on the Earth. You have some globes where the zodiac is drawn upon the Earth. They will provide you with what you need.

We can actually not speak about volcanic formations, only volcanic activity that goes through geological formations.

We should also try to bring the plants into twelve groups. I will do that later.

A teacher makes a comment.

Dr. Steiner: You have already read nineteenth-century German literature. You should, of course, try to give the students some examples. You could read Tieck’s Phantasus and some small pieces from Zacharias Werner. They should also read from Wilhelm Müller, Novalis, Immermann, Eichendorff, Uhland, including some small examples from Herzog Ernst, then Lenau, Gustav Schwab, Justinus Kerner, Geibel, Greif, Heine, but only his decent things, Hebbel, a little of Otto Ludwig, and Mörike. That is approximately what they need. Also, Kleist and Hölderlin. I would advise some of the other things in the curriculum for other classes, namely, Lessing, Herder, and Klopstock. Logau was good—better sayings were never written. He makes up wonderful sayings. Then, also, Gottfried Keller and Grillparzer. From the poets that I mentioned, use only lyric examples. The students need to read something from Keller, but tell them Der grünen Heinrich (Green Henry). Read Richard Wagner also.

[That was all given as preparation for the final examination.]

Dr. Steiner: I wanted to discuss the zoological division and the curriculum. What remains to discuss?

A teacher: What should we tell students about the examination?

Dr. Steiner: You need to tell them only that we are completely informed about it. There is a basic inner rule of pedagogy that those being taught should never know or discuss the secrets of education. That has become a problem here and must be eliminated as quickly as possible. It cannot continue. The perspective which has slowly arisen that no differences of age are taken into account has led to the children’s thinking about how they are taught and the methods used.

We could tell them the following: You need to be eighteen years old, and you need a report from us. We could go on to say that we know what is needed, and that if they study industriously, they will pass the examination. What more can we do? We can say only external things. It is not good for the children to become accustomed to having conferences with us. They should feel that the teachers will do what is right. They are afraid they will miss a number of interesting things.

A number of classes were cancelled because of the heat.

Dr. Steiner: Those are natural events. Winter will certainly be cold again.

(Speaking to an eighth-grade teacher) The children should know that when you are occupied with one or two, others may still be questioned. The children should be interested in the others in the class. Basically, when it is not a question of helping with an arithmetic problem, but is some instruction that can be heard by the others, it should be interesting not only to one individual, but to everyone. They should expect to be called upon at any time. You should do it in such a way that you continue with one of the others who has been inattentive. Then, they will get the feeling that they may be required to continue with the reading at any time.

When you ask about material previously covered, you must do it in a different way. You must ask the questions so that the children can answer. In time, you will learn how to do that in practice, but you will need to be lively in your manner. You should skip from one student to the other so that the children notice that you are skipping around. You now have a contact with the students that a few years ago you did not have at all. On the other hand, I think you too often “show them how.” Many classes are terribly restless because they are always being shown how to do something. That should be limited. You can do that by calling more often upon specific students who are able to respond.

One thing is troubling me, and that is the question of how to solve the problem of painting in the notebooks. The children should paint only on stretched paper. We cannot afford painting boards because they are too expensive. We could just use smooth boards. Wouldn’t it be possible in the shop class to make smooth boards for stretching the paper? It is not good to have the children paint in their regular notebooks. When they begin painting, they should also stretch their paper.

Ch.O. has a dangerous condition. He is clearly malnourished, and he will soon have a blood problem. When you go through these classes and look at the children, it is terrible. We need to determine which children are right on the edge. The real problem is not how much they eat, but that they digest it properly.

There are also a number of troubled children we need to give some attention to. St.B. in the first grade sees astral flies. He needs to be treated with something. His whole astral body is in disarray. There is a strong asymmetry of the astral body in all directions. Try to have him do some curative eurythmy exercises where he has his hands behind his back. Have him do exercises we normally do toward the front, but have him do them toward the back.