Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
9 April 1924, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: I am meeting with the students who took the final examination tomorrow at noon. The teachers who taught the twelfth grade should also come.
A teacher: We have received complaints about two grade reports.
Dr. Steiner: I have the impression that the style used in the reports was rather sloppy. We should not do that. When we write such a report as we discussed, we should make an effort to express things so that someone else can make something of it. That was not the case with these two reports. To my horror, I noticed that the name of one student was incorrectly spelled. To do that, you would really have had to have been very superficial. The two reports really depressed me. Actually, you need to rewrite these reports. You simply cannot use such phrases as, “He is not exactly the best.” Yes, it is difficult to write such reports, but if we cannot find some way of doing it, we will have to stop writing them. I understand it is difficult. Regardless of how terrible normal grading is, it does have the advantage that people cannot criticize it in this way. I also understand that there are things playing in the background, but I do not understand their playing a role in writing a report, particularly in a case where the children will be moving to America. If you want to make the report more personal, you must take that into account. Americans wouldn’t know what to do with such a report. If the children go to an American school, they will be treated like pariahs from the very beginning because of this. Perhaps we need to look into the case in more detail. In any event, I think you should rewrite the reports. People cannot get a picture of the children through these reports, but providing such a picture is exactly what they were intended to do. You can see you need to write them in a different style. The facts do not need to be changed. That is not what I mean at all, but you need to choose a different style. You need to take more care in writing the reports, otherwise such personal reports will not have the value they should have.
A teacher: What can we do about student tardiness?
Dr. Steiner: When the students are tardy in the morning, it has a bad effect on your teaching. Sometimes when I came here early, I had the impression that the way class was begun in the morning left much to be desired of the teachers. I thought someone should be in the corridor, so the children wouldn’t play hide and seek there. You should not be surprised that when children are left to themselves, they become excited in their play. We all would have done that. It seems to me there is something behind all this, leading me to believe that it was not just by chance that the few times I came early, there was no teacher, far and wide.
A teacher: Before class, we say the weekly verse together.
Dr. Steiner: Couldn’t you arrange to read the verse so that the school does not suffer? Anthroposophists commonly use esoteric things as an excuse. Esoteric practices exist so that other people will not see them. However, people see them quite clearly when everything becomes chaotic because the teachers want to prepare themselves in the proper way. I was also here once when the verse was spoken, but I did not find that it offered much esoteric deepening. I also noticed that a number of people were not present. I have to admit that I think the problem is that the teachers get up too late. It’s like old Spielhagen said, “I never leave a dinner party without being last.” For teachers, the exact opposite would be proper, namely, that they are always first at school. I don’t think that is the case here. What do you think about this?
They divide the classes and subject areas among the various teachers.
Dr. Steiner: We need to consider one other thing. It is connected with all the possibilities of development within the Anthroposophical Society, and the effects they can have. I would like to have Dr. Röschl come to Dornach for a while and do some work that is quite necessary if the pedagogical work is to continue. She should begin teaching at our continuation school there to create a form of “youth anthroposophy.” I have often spoken of the need to rework anthroposophy for youth. Anthroposophy as it is now is intended for adults. For grown-up young people, anthroposophy is, of course, good. What I am speaking of here is an anthroposophy appropriate for the rough-and-tumble years. That needs to be developed through genuine instruction. For that reason, I and the Vorstand intend to call Dr. Röschl to Dornach. We could do that by giving her a sabbatical, since non-citizens cannot be hired in Switzerland. She would, therefore, receive her salary from here. So, we need to find a replacement for Latin and Greek, as well as a teacher for the fifth grade.
A teacher reports again about the situation with F.R. and reads a letter signed by eight parents.
Dr. Steiner: This is a difficult case to decide. For now, only eight people signed, but if a larger number want F.R. expelled, it will be difficult to get around it. It is difficult to throw a child out, particularly when we have had him for as long as we have had F.R. He has been here five years. If we did that, we would also be throwing ourselves out, because it would show we did not know how to work with him. I also need to mention that the physician’s bill was only fifteen Marks, which is objective proof that the situation cannot be so bad. We need to remain objective, and I can see no real reason that would force us to throw the boy out. There is no really accepted authority in that class.
We should not take such things so seriously. I once experienced a similar situation in a class on drawing theory. The teacher was leaning over the drawing board and had a rather short frock coat on. One of the students gave him quite a slap on the part of the body that is normally hit. The teacher turned around and said to the student, “You must have confused me with someone else.”
A teacher makes a comment.
Dr. Steiner: I don’t know whether we should bring cramming into this or not. That is something we could consider for the next school year, but in that case it would be important for the children in the twelfth grade to participate. The main question is whether we should retain the Waldorf School method to the end and then add a cramming year. We could do that only for next year, since those now going into the twelfth grade would first have to complete the twelfth grade.
The difficulty with adding a cramming year is that we would not have enough teachers. We cannot just create another grade with the teachers that we now have. We would need quite a few new teachers.
A teacher asks about the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach.
Dr. Steiner: You should not imagine the school in Dornach as a replacement for other universities. Rather, it is a place where the things other universities do not teach are offered. It is not as though we would train doctors in Dornach. Imagine what a task that would be for Dr. Wachsmuth, to be in so many places at once. It is not as though we will transform the Scientific Section into a scientific faculty. That is particularly true since the Science Section is the newest member of the Vorstand. How should Dr. Wachsmuth, who is not so very big, do all that? I think Dr. Mellinger should spend half her time in Dornach in order to work with the social-economic questions we have decided upon. The truth is that it is ridiculous to continually start such things and then let them lie. The socioeconomic course exists, and it would be a good idea if we could create a fund here that would pay Dr. Mellinger so she could lecture on socioeconomics here a quarter of a year and then work a quarter year in Dornach.
The university exists in Dornach and must begin to really work. It must begin to do something.