Body, Soul and Spirit in Waldorf Education
XII. Children from the Tenth to the Fourteenth Years II
3 January 1922, Stuttgart
From what you have heard so far, you may have gotten the impression that the art of education based on anthroposophic knowledge of the human being is intended to nurture, above all, a healthy and harmonious development of the physical body of children. You may have noticed that certain questions could be seen as guidelines for our educational aims. For example, How can we help free the development of formative forces flowing from the head, affecting and shaping the young organism? How can we work in harmony with the child’s developing lungs and blood circulation during the middle years? What must we do to cultivate, in the broadest sense, the forces working throughout a child’s musculature? How do we properly support the processes of muscle growth in relation to the bones and tendons, so that young adolescents can attain the proper position in the outer world?
These questions imply that whatever we do to enhance the development of a child’s soul and spirit is directed first toward the best possible healthy and normal development of the physical body. And this is indeed the case. We consciously try to aid and foster healthy development of the physical body, because in this way the soul and spiritual nature is given the best means of unfolding freely through a child’s own resources. By doing as little harm as possible to the spiritual forces working through children, we give them the best possibility of developing in a healthy way. This is not to be done through any preconceived ideas of what a growing human being should be like. Everything we do in teaching is an attempt to create the most favorable conditions for the children’s physical health. And because we must pay attention to the soul and spiritual element as well, and because the physical must ultimately become its outer manifestation, we must also come to terms with the soul and spiritual aspect in the way best suited for the child’s healthy development.
You may ask which educational ideal such an attitude comes from; it arises from complete dedication to human freedom. And it springs from our ideal to place human beings in the world so that they can unfold individual freedom, or, at least, in such a way that physical hindrances do not prevent them from doing so.
When we emphasize the physical development of children in our education, we are especially trying to help them learn to use their physical powers and skills fully in later life. Waldorf education is based on the knowledge and confidence that life in general has the best chance of developing when allowed to develop freely and healthily. Naturally, all this has to be taken in a relative sense, which, I hope is understood.
Children who, through educational malpractice during the school years, have been prevented from breathing properly and from using their system of bones and connective tissue properly, will not grow up to become free individuals. Likewise, students whose heads have been crammed with fixed ideas and concepts deemed important for later life will not become inwardly free. Children will not grow into a free human beings unless their childhood needs, as imposed by physical development, were both understood and catered to through the appropriate educational principles and methods. Naturally, the soul and spiritual needs of children must also be recognized and met with the right educational methods. Far from leading to any kind of false or lofty idealism, anthroposophy wishes to prove itself by enabling its followers to deal with the practical problems of life between birth and death, the span of time in which we should develop the physical body in accord with the soul and spirit.
So you see that we have no influence over the development of what belongs to the realm of soul and spirit, even if we as educators wanted it. The soul and spiritual part of the human being exists in its true being only from the moment we fall asleep until the time of awaking. This means that, if we want to educate people’s soul and spirit, we must do so while they sleep. In fact, it is impossible for us to do this. Today, we encounter a strong belief that we must educate the soul and spirit and indoctrinate people with certain concepts. All we can really do is help people toward the free use of physical capabilities through the soul and spirit.
I have often said that it is impossible to deal with educational matters without fully considering the entire life situation of our time, taking into account the general milieu into which education is placed. I will refrain from introducing any extraneous matter into our considerations here, but what I want to say now definitely belongs to our theme.
News has come to us that in Eastern Europe a new pedagogy is being worked out for the benefit of those who are still recognized there, those who belong to the Radical Socialist Party. Because nothing that was acceptable prior to the Revolution is now considered correct, new educational methods are being worked out there. This is being done by purely outward means. We are told that one of the leaders in modern Russia has been commissioned to write the history of the Communist Party. The new government has given him one month to complete his task. During this month, he will also have to do some practical work at the Moscow Center. As a result of these activities, a book is to be published that will become the official model for reeducating all those being recognized as proper Russians. Another party member has been commissioned to write a history of the workers’ movement in the West and a history of international communism. While compiling his authoritative account, he, too, has been given other work to do, and after six weeks he is supposed to have this work completed. All true Soviet Russians are supposed to study this book. Forgive me, I believe that the second writer was actually given two months. A third person was commissioned to publish a theory of Marxism, and it was he who was given six weeks to deliver the book. With this book, every true Russian will become familiar with the new conditions in the East. According to these same methods, several other persons have been assigned to write new Russian literature. They have all been allotted a fixed time schedule in which to complete their orders. And they have all been told what other work they must do during the time of writing. The party member selected to write the book about Marxism has also been made coeditor of Pravda.
Why do I bring this up today? Because, basically, what is happening in Soviet Russia today is the ultimate consequence of what lives in all of us, insofar as we represent today’s civilization. People will not admit that events in Russia are merely the ultimate consequences of our own situation, taken to extremes in Eastern Europe. The absurdity of communist ideology is that it has determined and officially declared what a citizen must know; it does not ask what people can do to become real human beings who are properly integrated into the world’s fabric.
Teachers are called on to bring the utmost respect for soul and spirit to their lessons. Without this they will fail, as though they lacked the most fundamental artistic and scientific understanding. Therefore, the first prerequisite of Waldorf teachers is reverence for the soul and spiritual potential that children bring with them into the world. When facing the children, teachers must be filled with an awareness that they are dealing with innately free human beings. With this attitude, teachers can work out educational principles and methods that safeguard the children’s inborn freedom so that in later life, when they look back at their school days, they will not find any infringement on their personal freedom, not even in the later effects of their education.
To clarify the implications of these statements, we can ask ourselves, what becomes of those whose physical idiosyncrasies are not dealt with properly during childhood? Childish idiosyncrasies continue into later life, and if you wonder what sort of effect they will have when children become adults, I will answer by saying something that may seem rather odd and surprising. Peculiar physical habits in early childhood, if left untreated, degenerate and become the causes of illnesses later on. You must realize, in all seriousness, that characteristic physical tendencies in childhood, if allowed to continue unchanged, become causes of illness. Such knowledge will give you the right impulse for a proper care that in no way conflicts with the deepest respect for human freedom.
By comparison, imagine someone who, down to the deepest fibers of her being, is enthusiastic about the inner human freedom. Imagine she falls ill and must call a doctor. The doctor cures her by using the best means available today for the art of healing. Would such a person ever feel that her personal freedom had been interfered with? Never. What meets a person in this way would never impinge upon one’s inner freedom.
A similar feeling must be present in those who are engaged in the art of education. They should have the willingness and the ability to see the nature of their own calling as being similar to that of a doctor in relation to patients. Education naturally exists in its own right, and it certainly is not simply therapy in the true sense of the word. But there is a certain relationship and similarity between the work of a doctor and that of a teacher that justifies comparison.
When students leave school in their mid-teens, it is time for us to examine again whether, during their school years from the change of teeth to the coming of puberty, we have done our best to help and equip them for later life. (During the coming days, we will deal with the esthetic and moral aspects of education and look more closely at the stage of puberty. For now, we will consider the more general human aspects.) We must realize that, during their past school years, we have been dealing mainly with their ether body of formative forces, and that the soul life (of which more will be said later) was just beginning to manifest toward the approach of graduation.
We must consider the next stage, which begins with the fourteenth to fifteenth years and continues until the beginning of the twenties, a time when a young man or woman must face the task of fitting more and more into outer life. We have already seen how children gradually take hold of the body, finally incarnating right into the skeleton, and how, by doing so, they connect more and more with the external world and adapt to outer conditions. Fundamentally, this process continues until the early twenties, after which comes a very important period of life. Although, as teachers, we no longer have any direct influence over the young person at this stage, we have in fact already done a great deal in this way during the previous years, and this will become apparent during the early to the late twenties.
After leaving school, young people must train for a vocation. Now they no longer receive what come, mainly from human nature itself, but rather what has become part of the civilization we live in, at least in terms of the chosen trade or profession. Now the young person has to be adaptable to certain forms of specialization. In our Waldorf school, we try to prepare students to step into life by introducing practical crafts such as spinning and weaving to our students of fourteen and fifteen. Practical experience in such crafts is not important only for future spinners or weavers but for all those who want to be able to do whatever a situation may demand. It is nevertheless important to introduce the right activities at the right time.
What has been cultivated in a child’s ether body during early school years emerges again in the soul sphere of young people during their twenties, the time when they must enter a profession. The way they were treated at school will play a large role in whether they respond to outer conditions clumsily, reluctantly, full of inhibitions, or skillfully and with sufficient inner strength to overcome obstacles. During their twenties, young people become aware of how the experiences of their school years first went underground, as it were, while they trained for a trade or profession, only to surface again in form of capacities, such as being able to handle certain situations or fit oneself into life in the right way. Teachers who are aware of these facts will pay attention to the critical moments in their students’ lives between the change of teeth and puberty.
I have often spoken about the important turning point that appears during the ninth to tenth years. Toward the twelfth year, another important change takes place, which I have also mentioned. Children of six or seven, when entering school, are “one great sensory organ,” as I have called them. At this stage, much has already been absorbed through imitation. Children have also been occupied with the inner processes of molding and sculpting the organs, and they bring the results to school. Now, everything that teachers do with the children, until the turning point around nine, should have a formative effect, but in a way that stimulates them to participate freely and actively in this inner shaping. I indicated this with my strong appeal for an artistic approach during the introductions to reading, writing, and arithmetic. The artistic element is particularly important at this age.
All teaching during the early school years must begin with the child’s will sphere, and only gradually should it lead over toward the intellect. Those who recognize this will pay special attention to educating the child’s will. They will know that children must learn to drive out the will forces from their organism, but in the right way. To do this, their will activities must be tinged with the element of feeling. It is not enough for teachers to do different things with the children; they must also develop sympathy and antipathy according to what they are doing. And the musical element, apart from music per se, offers the best means for achieving this. Thus, as soon as children are brought to us, we ought to immerse them in the element of music, not just through singing but also by letting them make music with simple instruments. Thus, young students will not only nurture an esthetic sense, but most of all (though indirectly), they will learn how to use and control will forces in a harmonious way.
Children bring many inborn gifts to school. Inwardly they are natural sculptors, and we can draw on these gifts as well as their other hidden talents. For instance, we can let children do all kinds of things on paper with paints (even though this might be inconvenient for teachers), and in this way we introduce them to the secrets of color. It is really fascinating to observe how children relate to color when left alone to cover a white surface with various colors. What they produce in a seemingly haphazard way is not at all meaningless, but in all the blotches and smears we can detect a certain color harmony resulting from an inborn relationship to the world of color. We must be careful, however, not to let children use the solid blocks of color that are sold in children’s paint boxes, with which they are supposed to paint directly from the blocks onto paper. This has a damaging effect, even in the case of painting as art. One should paint with liquid colors already dissolved in water or some other suitable liquid. It is important, especially for children, to develop an intimate relationship with color. If we use thick paints from a palette, we do not have the same intimate relationship to color as we do when we use liquid colors from bottles.
In a painting lesson, you might say to a child, “What you have painted is really beautiful. You put red in the middle, and all the other colors around it go well with the red. Everything you painted fits well with the red in the middle. Now try to do it the other way round. Where you have red, paint blue, and then paint around it all the other colors so that they also go well with the blue in the middle.” Not only will this child be tremendously stimulated by such an exercise, but by working out a transposition of colors — possibly with help from the teacher — the child will gain a great deal toward establishing an inner relationship to the world in general.
However inconvenient it may be for the teachers, they should always encourage young students to form all sorts of shapes out of any suitable material they can lay their hands on. Of course, we should avoid letting them get unduly dirty and messy, since this can be a real nuisance. But children gain far more from these creative activities than they would by simply remaining clean and tidy. In other words, it is truly valuable for children, especially during the early years, to experience the artistic element.
Anything required of children must be induced first in a way that is appropriate to their nature. If artistic activities are introduced as described, learning other subjects becomes easier. Foreign languages, for example, will be learned with far greater ease if students have done artistic work beforehand. I already said that children should learn foreign languages at a very early age, if possible as soon as they enter school.
Nowadays, we often encounter somewhat fanatical attitudes; something that in itself is quite right and justifiable tends to become exaggerated to the point of fanatical extremism. And teaching foreign languages is no exception. Children learn their native tongue naturally, without any grammatical consciousness, and this is how it should be. And when they enter school, they should learn foreign languages in a similar way, without grammatical awareness, but now the process of learning a language is naturally more mature and conscious.
During the tenth year, at the turning point of life mentioned several times, a new situation calls for an introduction to the first fundamentals of grammar. These should be taught without any pedantry whatever. It is necessary to take this new step for the benefit of the children’s healthy development, because at this age they must make a transition from a predominantly feeling approach toward life to one in which they must develop their I-consciousness. Whatever young people do now must be done more consciously than before. Consequently, we introduce a more conscious and intellectual element into the language that students have already learned to speak, write, and read. But when doing this, we must avoid pedantic grammar exercises. Rather, we should give them stimulating practice in recognizing and applying fundamental rules. At this stage, children really need the logical support that grammar can give, so that they do not have to puzzle repeatedly over how to express themselves correctly.
We must realize that language contains two main elements that always interact with each other — an emotional, or feeling, element and an intellectual, thinking element. I would like to illustrate this with a quote from Goethe’s Faust:
Grey, dear friend, is every theory
And green the golden tree of life.
I do not expect that our you (who have come mainly from the West) should study all the commentaries on Goethe’s Faust, since there are enough to fill a library. But if you did, you would make a strange discovery. When coming to this sentence in Faust, you would most likely find a newly numbered remark at the bottom of the page (at least a four-digit number because of all the many explanations already given), and you would find a comment about the lack of logic in this sentence. Despite the poetic license granted to any reputable author (so the commentator might point out), the colors of the tree in this stanza do not make sense. A “golden tree” — could he mean an orange tree? But then, of course, it would not be green either. If it were an ordinary tree, it would not be golden. Perhaps Goethe was thinking of an artificial tree? In any case (a typical commentary would continue), a tree cannot be golden and green at the same time. Then there is the other problem of a grey theory. How can a theory be grey if it is invisible? In this way, many commentaries point out the lack of logic in this sentence.
Of course, there are other, more artistically inclined commentators who delight in the apparent lack of logic in this passage. But what is really at the bottom of it all? It is the fact that, on the one side, the emotional, feeling element of language predominates in this sentence, whereas on the other, it stresses a more thoughtful aspect of imagery. When Goethe speaks of a golden tree, he implies that we would love this tree as we love gold. The word gold here does not have an image quality but expresses the warm feeling engendered by the glow of gold. Only the feelings are portrayed. The adjective green, on the other hand, refers to an ordinary tree, such as we see in nature. This is the logic of it. With regard to the word theory, a theory is of course invisible. Yet, right or wrong, a mere word may conjure up certain feelings in some people that remind them of London fog. One can easily transfer such a feeling to theory as a concept. A pure feeling element of language is again expressed in the adjective grey.
The feeling and thinking qualities in language intermingle everywhere. In contemporary languages, much has already become crippled, but in their earlier stages, an active and creative element lived everywhere, through which the feeling and thinking qualities came into being.
As mentioned, before the age of nine, children have an entirely feeling relationship to language. Yet, unless we also introduce the thinking element in language, their self-awareness cannot develop properly, and this is why it is so important to bring them the intellectual aspect of language. This can be done by judiciously teaching grammatical rules, first in the mother tongue and then in foreign languages, whereby the rules are introduced only after children have begun to speak the language. So, according to these indications, teachers should arouse a feeling in students around the age of nine or ten that they are beginning to penetrate the language more consciously. This is how a proper grammatical sense could be cultivated in children.
By the time children reach the age of twelve, they should have developed a feeling for the beauty of language — an esthetic sense of the language. This should stimulate “beauty in speaking” in them, but without ever falling into mannerisms. After this, until the time of puberty, students should learn to appreciate the dialectical aspect of language; they should develop a faculty for convincing others through command of language. This third element of language should be introduced only when they are approaching graduation age.
To briefly summarize the aims of language teaching, children should first develop, step by step, a feeling for the correct use of language, then a sense of the beauty of language, and finally the power inherent in linguistic command. It is far more important for teachers to find their way into an approach to language teaching than to merely follow a fixed curriculum. In this way, teachers quickly discover how to introduce and deal with what is needed for the various ages. After a mostly artistic approach, in which students up to age nine are involved very actively, teachers should begin to dwell more on the descriptive element in language, but without neglecting the creative aspect. This is certainly possible if you choose the kind of syllabus I have tried to characterize during these past few days, in which the introduction of nature study leads to geography, and animals are seen in the context of humankind. The most effective way to include the descriptive element would be to appeal mainly to the children’s soul sphere rather than claiming their entire being. This should be done by clothing the lessons in a story told in a vivid, imaginative way. Likewise, at this stage of life, teachers should present historical content by giving lively accounts of human events that, in themselves, form a whole, as already indicated.
Having gone through the stage of spontaneous activity, followed by an appreciation of the descriptive element, students approaching the twelfth year are ready for what could be called an explanatory approach. Cause and effect now come into general considerations, and material can be given that stretches the powers of reasoning.
Throughout these stages, teachers should present mathematical elements in their manifold forms, in a way appropriate to the student’s age. Mathematics, as taught in arithmetic and geometry, is likely to cause particular difficulties for teachers. Before the ninth year, this is introduced in simpler forms and subsequently expanded, since children can take in a great deal if we know how to go about it. It is a fact that all mathematical material taught throughout the school years must be presented in a thoroughly artistic and imaginative way. Using all kinds of means teachers must contrive to introduce arithmetic and geometry artistically, and here, too, between the ninth and tenth years teachers must go to a descriptive method. Students must be taught how to observe angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, and so on through a descriptive method. Proofs should not be introduced before the twelfth year.
A boring math teacher will achieve very little if anything at all, whereas teachers who are inspired by this subject will succeed in making it stimulating and exhilarating. After all, it is by the grace of mathematics that, fundamentally, we can experience the harmonies of ideal space. If teachers can become enthusiastic about the Pythagorean theorem or the inner harmonies between planes and solids, they bring something into lessons that has immense importance for children, even in terms of soul development. In this way, teachers counteract the elements of confusion that life presents.
You see, language could not exist without the constantly intermingling elements of thought and feeling. Again I have made an extreme statement, but if you examine various languages, you will discover how feeling and thinking are interwoven everywhere. This in itself, as well as many other factors, could easily introduce chaos into our lives were it not for the inner firmness that mathematics can give us. Those who can look more deeply into life know that many people have been saved from neurasthenia, hysteria, and worse afflictions simply by learning how to observe triangles, quadrilaterals, tetrahedra, and other geometrical realities in the right way.
Perhaps you will allow me a more personal note at this point, because it may help clarify the point I am making. I have a special love for mechanics, not simply because of its objective value, but for personal reasons. I owe this love of mechanics to one of my teachers in the Vienna High School and the enthusiasm he showed for this subject; such things live on into later life. This teacher glowed with excitement when searching for the resultants from given components. It was interesting to see the joy with which he looked for the resultants and the joy with which he would take them apart again in order to fit them back into their components. While doing this, he almost jumped and danced from one end of the blackboard to the other until, full of glee, he would finally call out the formula he had found, such as \(c^2 = a^2+ b^2\). Captivated by his findings, which he had written on the board, he would look around at his audience with a benign smile, which in itself was enough to kindle enthusiasm for analytical mechanics, a subject that hardly ever evokes such feelings in people. It is very important that mathematics, which is taught in various forms right through school, should pour out, as it were, its own special substance over all the students.
And so we can speak of the two poles in human development: the rhythmic and artistic pole and the mathematical and conceptual one. If, as indicated, young souls are worked on from within outward, students will gradually grow into the world in the right way.
At the approach of the graduation age, or mid-teens, teachers will again feel an inner need to survey the most significant moments in the development of their students during the last few years, this time in retrospect. Students entered school in class one at the age of six or seven. A few years later they are sent out into the world again and — as I indicated at the beginning of today’s lecture — it is the teacher’s aim to enable them to adapt to life in the world. When we receive young students in class one, they are like one great sense organ. Inwardly, they carry a kind of a copy of their parents and others who surround them and of society as a whole. It is our task to transform these adopted and specialized features into more general human features. We can do this by appealing, above all, to children’s middle system of breathing and blood circulation, which is not connected so much with their more personal side.
Yet, apart from the adopted features that children have unconsciously copied from their environment, they also bear their very own individual characteristics when they enter school. They are less pronounced than similar characteristics found in adults, features that we associate with melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic, or choleric temperaments. Nevertheless, the children’s nature, too, is definitely colored by what could be called their temperamental disposition, so we can speak of children with melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric tendencies. It is essential for teachers to acquire a fine perception of the manifold symptoms and characteristics that arise from children’s temperamental dispositions and to find the right way of dealing with them.
Melancholic children are those who depend most strongly on the conditions of the physical body. Because of their special constitution, they tend to feel weighed down by their bodily nature. They easily become self-centered and, in general, show little interest in what is going on around them. Yet it would be wrong to think of melancholic children as simply inattentive, since this is true only with regard to their surroundings and what comes from their teachers. They are, on the other hand, very attentive to their own inner conditions, and this is the reason melancholic children tend to be so moody. Please note that what I am saying about the temperaments applies only to children whose symptoms cannot be automatically transferred to adults of the same temperament.
The relationship of phlegmatic children to their environment is one of complete, though entirely subconscious, surrender to the world at large. And since the world is so vast and full of things to which they have surrendered themselves, they show little interest in what is closer to them. Again, my remarks about this temperament refer only to children, otherwise they might be seen as a compliment to phlegmatic adults, and they are certainly not meant to be that. Making a rather sweeping statement, one could say that, if children with phlegmatic tendencies did not happen to live on earth but out in the heavenly world of the cosmos, such children would be full of the deepest interest in their surroundings. They feel at home in the periphery of the world. Phlegmatic children are open to immensity and anything that is vast and remote and does not make an immediate impact.
To a certain extent, sanguine children display the opposite characteristics of the melancholic or phlegmatic child. Young melancholics are immersed in bodily nature. Phlegmatic children are drawn outward to the spheres of infinity, because they are so strongly linked to their ether body. The ether body always inclines outward toward infinite totality; it disperses into the cosmos just a few days after death. Sanguine children live in what we call the astral, or soul, body. This member of the human being is different from the physical or ether bodies inasmuch as it is not concerned with anything temporal or spatial. It exists beyond the realm of time and space. Because of the astral body, during every moment of our lives we have an awareness of our entire life up to the present moment, although memories of earlier experiences are generally weaker than more recent ones. The astral body is instrumental mainly in directing our dreams. These, as you know, bear little relationship to the normal sequence of time. We may dream about something that happened only yesterday yet, mixed up in the dream, people may appear whom we met in early childhood. The astral body mixes up our life experiences and has no regard for the element of time and space, but in its chaotic ways it has its own dimension that is totally different from what is temporal and spatial.
Sanguine children surrender themselves to their astral body, and this becomes evident in their entire pattern of behavior. They respond to outer impressions as though what lies beyond time and space were directly transmitted to us through the outer world itself. They quickly respond to impressions without digesting them inwardly, because they do not care for the time element. They simply surrender to the astral body and make no effort to retain outer impressions. Or, again, they do not like to live in memories of earlier events. Because they pay so little attention to time, sanguine children live in and for the present moment. They express outwardly something that, in reality, is the task of the astral body in the higher worlds, and this gives sanguine children a certain superficiality.
Choleric children are most directly linked to their I-center. Their physical build shows a strong will that, permeated by the forces of their I-being, is likely to enter life aggressively.
It is truly important for teachers to cultivate a fine perception for these characteristic features of the temperaments in growing children. You must try to deal with them in a twofold way: first, by introducing a social element in the class, based on the various temperaments. When teachers get an idea of their students as a whole, they should place them in groups according to similarity of temperament. There are children of mixed temperaments, of course, and this has to be considered as well. In general, however, it has a salutary effect when children of the same temperament are seated together, for the simple reason that the temperaments rub up against each other. Melancholic children, for example, will have a neighbor who is also melancholic. They become aware of how this neighbor is suffering from all kinds of discomforts arising from the physical constitution. Melancholic students recognize similar symptoms in themselves, and the mere looks of their neighbors will have a healing effect on their own nature.
If phlegmatic children sit next to other phlegmatics, they become so bored with them that, in the end, their phlegmatic nature becomes stirred to the extent that they try to shake off their lethargy.
Sanguine children, when seated among other sanguines, recognize the way they flutter from one impression to the next, being momentarily interested in one thing and then in another, until they feel like brushing them away like flies. Experiencing their own traits in their neighbors, sanguine children become aware of the superficiality of their own temperament.
When choleric children are seated together, there will be such a constant exchange of blows that the resulting bruises they give each other will have an extraordinary healing effect on their temperament.
You must observe these things, and you will find that by introducing, through your choice of seating, a social element in the classroom, you will have a wholesome and balancing effect on each child. In this way, the teacher’s relationship to each of the temperaments will also find the appropriate expression. The second point to be kept in mind is that it would not be helpful to treat melancholic children — or any other temperament for that matter — by going against their inherent disposition. On the contrary, we should develop the habit of treating like with like. If, for instance, we forced a choleric to sit still and to be quiet, the result would be an accumulation of suppressed choler that would act like a poison in the child’s system. It simply would not work. On the other hand, if, for example, a teacher shows continued interest and understanding for the doleful moods of a melancholic child, this attitude will finally bring about a beneficial and healing effect. When dealing with phlegmatic children, outwardly we should also appear rather phlegmatic and somewhat indifferent, despite our real inner interest in the student. Sanguine children should be subjected to many quickly changing sense impressions. In this way, we increase the tendencies of their own temperament, with the result that they try to catch up with the many fleeting impressions. They will develop a stronger intensity. The sheer number of sense impressions will bring about an inner effort of self-intensification in the child.
By treating like with like, we can come to grips with the different temperaments. As for the choleric children, if conditions at school allow, it would be best to send them out into the garden during the afternoons and let them run about until they are exhausted. I would let them climb up and down the trees. When they reach a treetop, I would let them shout to a playmate sitting on top of another tree. I would let them shout at each other until they are tired. If we allow choleric children to free themselves in a natural way from pent-up choler, we exercise a healing influence on their temperament.
You will learn to work effectively as teachers by getting to know the qualities of the different temperaments. One thing is essential, however. It will do no good at all if teachers enter the classroom with a morose demeanor — one that, even in early life, leaves deep wrinkles carved on their faces. Teachers must know how to act with a tremendous sense of humor in the classroom. They must be able to become a part of everything they encounter in the classroom. Teachers must be able to let their own being flow into that of the children.