21 July 1924, Arnheim
At this point of our educational studies I want to interpolate some remarks referring to the arrangements which were made in the Waldorf School in order to facilitate and put into practice those principles about which I have already spoken and shall have more to say in the coming lectures.
The Waldorf School in Stuttgart was inaugurated in the year 1919 on the initiative of Emil Molt, [Director of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory.] with the purpose of carrying out the principles of anthroposophical education. This purpose could be realised through the fact that the direction and leadership of the school was entrusted to me. Therefore when I describe how this school is organised it can at the same time serve as an example for the practical realisation of those fundamental educational principles which we have been dealing with here.
I should like to make clear first of all that the soul of all the instruction and education in the Waldorf School is the Teachers' Conference. These conferences are held regularly by the college of teachers and I attend them whenever I can manage to be in Stuttgart. They are concerned not only with external matters of school organisation, with the drawing up of the timetable, with the formation of classes and so on, but they deal in a penetrative, far-reaching way with everything on which the life and soul of the school depends. Things are arranged in such a way as to further the aim of the school, that is to say, to base the teaching and education on a knowledge of man. It means of course that this knowledge must be applied to every individual child. Time must be devoted to the observation, the psychological observation of each child. This is essential and must be reckoned with in actual, concrete detail when building up the whole educational plan. In the teachers' conferences the individual child is spoken about in such a way that the teachers try to grasp the nature of the human being as such in its special relationship to the child in question. You can well imagine that we have to deal with all grades and types of children with their varying childish talents and qualities of soul. We are confronted with pretty well every kind of child, from the one whom we must class as being psychologically and physically very poorly endowed to the one — and let us hope life will confirm this — who is gifted to the point of genius.
If we want to observe children in their real being we must acquire a psychological faculty of perception. This kind of perception not only includes a cruder form of observing the capacities of individual children, but above all the ability to appraise these capacities rightly. You need only consider the following: One can have a child in the class who appears to be extraordinarily gifted in learning to read and write, or seems to be very gifted in learning arithmetic or languages. But to hold fast to one's opinion and say: This child is gifted, for he can learn languages, arithmetic and so on quite easily — this betokens a psychological superficiality. In childhood, say at about 7, 8 or 9 years old the ease with which a child learns can be a sign that later on he will develop genius; but it can equally well be a sign that sooner or later he will become neurotic, or in some way turn into a sick man. When one has gained insight into the human being and knows that this human being consists not only of the physical body which is perceptible to the eye, but also bears within him the etheric body which is the source of growth and the forces of nourishment, the cause whereby the child grows bigger; when one considers further that man also has an astral body within him, the laws of which have nothing whatever to do with what is being physically established but on the contrary work destructively on the physical, and destroy it in order to make room for the spiritual; and furthermore when one considers that there is still the ego-organisation which is bound up with the human being, so that one has the three organisations — etheric body, astral body, ego-organisation and must pay heed to these as well as to the perceptible physical body — then one can form an idea of how complicated such a human being is, and how each of these members of the human being can be the cause of a talent, or lack of talent in any particular sphere, or can show a deceptive talent which is transient and pathological. One must develop insight as to whether the talent is of such a kind as to have healthy tendencies, or whether it tends towards the unhealthy.
If as teacher and educator, one represents with the necessary love, devotion and selflessness the knowledge of man of which we have been speaking here in these lectures, then something very definite ensues. In living together with the children one becomes — do not misunderstand the word, it is not used in a bragging sense — one becomes ever wiser and wiser. One discovers for oneself how to appraise some particular capacity or achievement of the child. One learns to enter in a living way into the nature of the child and to do so comparatively quickly.
I know that many people will say: If you assert that the human being, in addition to his physical body, consists of super-sensible members, etheric body, astral body and ego-organisation, it follows that only someone who is clairvoyant and able to perceive these super-sensible members of human nature can be a teacher. But this is not the case. Everything perceived through imagination, inspiration and intuition, as described in my books, can be examined and assessed by observing the physical organisation of the child, because it comes to expression everywhere in this physical organisation.
It is therefore perfectly possible for a teacher or educator who carries out his profession in a truly loving way and bases his teaching on a comprehensive knowledge of man, to speak in the following way about some special case: Here the physical body shows signs of hardening, of stiffening, so that the child is unable to develop the faculties which, spiritually, are potentially present, because the physical body is a hindrance. Or, to take another case, it is possible that someone might say: In this particular child, who is about 7 or 8 years old, certain attributes are making their appearance. The child surprises us in that he is able to learn this or that very early; but one can observe that the physical body is too soft, it has a tendency which later on may cause it to run to fat. If the physical body is too soft, if, so to say, the fluid element has an excess of weight in relation to the solid element, then this particular tendency causes the soul and spirit to make themselves felt too soon, and then we have a precocious child. In such a case, during the further development of the physical body, this precocity is pushed back again, so that under certain conditions everything may well be changed and the child become for the whole of life, not only an average person, but one even below average. In short, we must reckon with the fact that what external observation reveals in the child must be estimated rightly by means of inner perceptiveness, so that actually nothing whatever is said if one merely speaks about faculties or lack of faculties.
What I am now saying can also be borne out by studying the biographies of the most varied types of human being. In following the course of the spiritual development of mankind it would be possible to cite many a distinguished personality who in later life achieved great things, but who was regarded as a child as being almost completely ungifted and at school had been, so to say, one of the duffers. In this connection one comes across the most remarkable examples. For instance there is a poet who at the age of 18, 19 and even 20 was held to be so ungifted by all those who were concerned with his education that they advised him, for this very reason, not to attempt studying at a higher level. He did not, however, allow himself to be put off, but continued his studies, and it was not so long afterwards that he was appointed inspector of the very same schools that it had not been thought advisable for him to attend as a young man. There was also an Austrian poet, Robert Hamerling, who studied with the purpose of becoming a teacher in a secondary school (Gymnasium). In the examination he obtained excellent marks for Greek and Latin; on the other hand he did not pass muster for the teaching of the German language, because his essays were considered to be quite inadequate. Nevertheless he became a famous poet! We have found it necessary to separate a number of children from the others, either more or less permanently or for a short time, because they are mentally backward and through their lack of comprehension, through their inability to understand, they are a cause of disturbance. These children are put together into a special class for those who are of limited capacity. This class is led by the man who has spoken to you here, Dr. Schubert, whose very special qualities make him a born leader of such a class. This task calls indeed for special gifts. It needs above all the gift of being able to penetrate into those qualities of soul which are, as it were, imprisoned in the physical and have difficulty in freeing themselves. Little by little they must be liberated. Here we come again to what borders on physical illness, where the psychologically abnormal impinges on what is physically out of order. It is quite possible to shift this borderland, it is in no way rigid or fixed. Indeed it is certainly helpful if one can look behind every so-called psychological abnormality and perceive what is not healthy in the physical organism of the person in question. For in the true sense of the word there are no mental illnesses; they are brought about through the fact that the physical does not release the spiritual.
In Germany today [just after the First World War.] we have also to reckon with the situation that nearly all school children are not only undernourished, but have suffered for years from the effects of under-nourishment. Here therefore we are concerned with the fact that through observing the soul-spiritual and the physical-corporeal we can be led to a comprehension of their essential unity. People find it very difficult to understand that this is essential in education. There was an occasion when a man, who otherwise was possessed of considerable understanding and was directly engaged in matters pertaining to schools, visited the Waldorf School. I myself took him around for days on end. He showed great interest in everything. But after I had told him all I could about one child or another — for we spoke mostly about the children, not about abstract educational principles, our education being based on a knowledge of man — he finally said: “Well and good, but then all teachers would have to be doctors.” I replied: “That is not necessary; but they should certainly have some medical knowledge, as much as a teacher needs to know for his educational work.”
For where shall we be if it is said that for some reason or another, provision cannot be made for it, or the teachers cannot learn it? Provision simply must be made for what is required and the teachers must learn what is necessary. This is the only possible standpoint. The so-called normal capacities which man develops, which are present in every human being, are best studied by observing pathological conditions. And if one has learned to know a sick organism from various points of view, then the foundation is laid for understanding a soul endowed with genius. It is not as though I were taking the standpoint of a Lombroso [Italian criminologist.] or someone holding similar views; this is not the case. I do not assert that genius is always a condition of sickness, but one does actually learn to know the soul-spiritual in learning to know the sick body of a child. In studying the difficulties experienced by soul and spirit in coming to outer manifestation in a sick body, one can learn to understand how the soul seizes hold of the organism when it has something special to express.
So education comes up against not only slight pathological conditions, such as are present in children of limited capacity, but it meets what is pathological in the widest sense of the word. This is why we have also introduced medical treatment for the children in our school. We do not, however, have a doctor who only practises medicine and is quite outside the sphere of education, but our school doctor, Dr. Kolisko, is at the same time the teacher of a class. He stands completely within the school as a teacher, he is acquainted with all the children and is therefore in a position to know the particular angle from which may come any pathological symptom appearing in the child. This is altogether different from what is possible for the school doctor who visits the school on certain formal occasions and judges the state of a child's health on what is necessarily a very cursory observation. Quite apart from this, however, in the teachers' conferences no hard and fast line is drawn between the soul-spiritual and physical-corporeal when considering the case of any particular child. The natural consequence of this is that the teacher has gradually to acquire insight into the whole human being, so that he is just as interested in every detail connected with physical health and sickness as he is in what is mentally sound or abnormal.
This is what we try to achieve in the school. Each teacher should have the deepest interest in, and pay the greatest attention to the whole human being. It follows from this that our teachers are not specialists in the ordinary sense of the word. For in effect the point is not so much whether the history teacher is more or less master of his subject, but whether by and large he is the kind of personality who is able to work upon the children in the way that has been described, and whether he has an awareness of how the child is developing under his care.
I myself was obliged to teach from my 15th year onwards, simply in order to live. I had to give private lessons and so gained direct experience in the practice of education and teaching. For instance, when I was a very young man, only 21, I undertook the education of a family of four boys. I became resident in the family, and at that time one of the boys was 11 years old and he was clearly hydrocephalic. He had most peculiar habits. He disliked eating at table, and would leave the dining room and go into the kitchen where there were the bins for refuse and scraps. There he would eat not only potato peelings but also all the other mess thrown there. At 11 years old he still knew practically nothing. An attempt had been made, on the basis of earlier instruction which he had received, to let him sit for the entrance examination to a primary school, in the hope that he could be received into one of the classes. But when he handed in the results of the examination there was nothing but an exercise book with one large hole where he had rubbed something out. He had achieved nothing else whatever and he was already 11 years old. The parents were distressed. They belonged to the more cultured upper-middle class, and everybody said: The boy is abnormal. Naturally when such things are said about a child people feel a prejudice against him. The general opinion was that he must learn a trade, for he was capable of nothing else. I came into the family, but nobody really understood me when I stated what I was prepared to do. I said: If I am given complete responsibility for the boy I can promise nothing except that I will try to draw out of the boy what is in him. Nobody understood this except the mother, with her instinctive perception, and the excellent family doctor. It was the same doctor who later on, together with Dr. Freud, founded psycho-analysis. When, however, at a later stage it became decadent, he severed his connection with it. It was possible to talk with this man and our conversation led to the decision that I should be entrusted with the boy's education and training.
In eighteen months his head had become noticeably smaller and the boy was now sufficiently advanced to enter a secondary school (Gymnasium). I accompanied him further during his school career for he needed extra help, but nevertheless after eighteen months he was accepted as a pupil in a secondary school. To be sure, his education had to be carried on in such a way that there were times when I needed hours in order to prepare what I wanted the boy to learn in a quarter of an hour. It was essential to exercise the greatest economy when teaching him and never to spend more time on whatever it might be than was absolutely necessary. It was also a question of arranging the day's timetable with great exactitude: so much time must be given to music, so much to gymnastics, so much to going for walks and so on. If this is done, I said to myself, if the boy is educated in this way, then it will be possible to draw out of him what is latent within him. Now there were times when things went quite badly with my efforts in this direction. The boy became pale. With the exception of his mother and the family doctor people said with one accord: That fellow is ruining the boy's health! — To this I replied: Naturally I cannot continue with his education if there is any interference. Things must be allowed to go on according to our agreement. And they went on.
The boy went through secondary school, continued his studies and became a doctor. The only reason for his early death was that when he was called up and served as a doctor during the world war he caught an infection and died of the effects of the ensuing illness. But he carried out the duties of his medical profession in an admirable way. I only bring forward this example in order to show how necessary it is in education to see things all round, as a whole. It also shows how under certain definite educational treatment it is possible in the long run to reduce week by week a hydrocephalic condition.
Now you will say: Certainly, something of this kind can happen when it is a case of private tuition. But it can equally well happen with comparatively large classes. For anyone who enters lovingly into what is put forward here as the knowledge of man will quickly acquire the possibility of observing each individual child with the attention that is necessary; and this he will be able to do even in a class where there are many pupils. It is just here however that the psychological perception of the kind which I have described is necessary, but this perception is not so easily acquired if one goes through the world as a single individual and has absolutely no interest in other people. I can truly say that I am aware of what I owe to the fact that I really never found any human being uninteresting. Even as a child no human being was ever uninteresting to me. And I know that I should never have been able to educate that boy if I had not actually found all human beings interesting.
It is this width of interest which permeates the teachers' conferences at the Waldorf School and gives them atmosphere, so that — if I may so express myself — a psychological mood prevails throughout and these teachers' conferences then really become a school based on the study of a deep psychology. It is interesting to see how from year to year the “college of teachers” as a whole is able to deepen its faculty for psychological perception. In addition to all that I have already described, the following must also be stated when one comes to consider the individual classes. We do not go in for statistics in the ordinary sense of the word, but for us the classes are living beings also, not only the individual pupils. One can take some particular class and study it for itself, and it is extraordinarily interesting to observe what imponderable forces then come to light. When one studies such a class, and when the teachers of the different classes discuss in college meeting the special characteristics of each class, it is interesting for instance to discover that a class having in it more girls than boys — for ours is a co-educational school — is a completely different being from a class where there are more boys than girls; and a class consisting of an equal number of boys and girls is again a completely different being. All this is extremely interesting, not only on account of the talk which takes place among the children, nor of the little love affairs which always occur in the higher classes. Here one must acquire the right kind of observation in order to take notice of it when this is necessary and otherwise not to see it. Quite apart from this however is the fact that the imponderable “being” composed of the different masculine and feminine individuals gives the class a quite definite spiritual structure. In this way one learns to know the individuality of the different classes. And if, as with us in the Waldorf School, there are parallel classes, it is possible when necessary — it is very seldom necessary — to make some alteration in the division of the classes. Studies such as these, in connection with the classes, form ever and again the content of the teachers' conferences. Thus the content of these conferences does not consist only of the administration of the school, but provides a living continuation of education in the school itself, so that the teachers are always learning. In this way the conferences are the soul of the whole school. One learns to estimate trivialities rightly, to give due weight to what has real importance, and so on. Then there will not be an outcry when here or there a child commits some small misdemeanour; but there will be an awareness when something happens which might endanger the further development of the school. So the total picture of our Waldorf School which has only come about in the course of the years, is an interesting one. By and large our children, when they reach the higher classes, are more able to grasp what a child has to learn at school than those from other schools; on the other hand, as I have described, in the lower classes they remain somewhat behind in reading and writing because we use different methods which are extended over several years. Between the ages of 13 and 15, however, the children begin to outstrip the pupils of other schools owing, among other things, to a certain ease with which they are able to enter into things and to a certain aptness of comprehension.
Now a great difficulty arises. It is a remarkable fact that where there is a light, shadows are thrown by objects; where there is a weak light there are weak shadows, where there is a strong light there are strong shadows. Likewise in regard to certain qualities of soul, the following may be observed. If insufficient care is taken by the teachers to establish contact with their pupils in every possible way, so that they are models on which the children base their own behaviour, then, conversely, as the result of a want of contact it can easily happen that deviations from moral conduct make their appearance. About this we must have no illusions whatever. It is so. This is why so much depends upon a complete “growing together” of the individualities of the teachers and the individualities of the pupils, so that the strong inner attachment felt by the children for the teachers on the one side may be reciprocally experienced by the teachers on the other, thus assuring the further development of both.
These things need to be studied in an inner, human, loving way, otherwise one will meet with surprises. But the nature of the method is such that it tends to draw out everything that lies potentially in the human being. At times this is exemplified in a somewhat strange fashion. There is a German poet who knew that he had been badly brought up and badly taught, so that very many of his innate qualities — he was always complaining about this — could not come to expression. This was because his body had already become stiff and hardened, owing to the fact that in his youth no care had been taken to develop his individuality. Then one day he went to a phrenologist. Do not imagine that I am standing up for phrenology or that I rate it particularly highly; it has however some significance when practised intuitively. The phrenologist felt his head and told him all kinds of nice things, for these were of course to be found; but at one spot of the skull he stopped suddenly, became red and did not trust himself to say a word. The poet then said: “Come now, speak out, that is the predisposition to theft in me. It seems therefore that if I had been better educated at school this tendency to theft might have had very serious consequences.”
If we wish to educate we must have plenty of elbow room. This however is not provided for in a school which is run on ordinary lines according to the dreadful timetable: 8 to 9 religion, 9 to 10 gymnastics, 10 to 11 history, 11 to 12 arithmetic. What comes later blots out what has been given earlier, and as, in spite of this, one has to get results, a teacher is well-nigh driven to despair. This is why in the Waldorf School we have what may be termed teaching periods. The child comes into a class. Every day during Main Lesson, which continues for the best part of the morning, from 8 to 10 or from 8 to 11, with short breaks for recreation, he is taught one subject. This is given by one teacher, even in the higher classes. The subject is not changed hour by hour, but is continued for as long as may be necessary for the teacher to get through what he wishes to take with the class. In arithmetic, for instance, such a period might last 4 weeks. Every day then, from 8 to 10 the subject in question is carried further and what is given one day is linked on to what was taught the previous day. No later lesson blots out the one given earlier; concentration is possible. Then, after about 4 weeks, when the arithmetic period has been taken far enough and is brought to a conclusion, a history period may follow, and this again, according to the length of time required, will be continued for another 4 or 5 weeks. And so it goes on. Our point of view is the very opposite to what is called the system of the specialist teacher. You might for instance when visiting the Waldorf School find our Dr. Baravalle taking a class for descriptive geometry. The pupils sit facing him with their drawing boards in front of them. He lets them draw and his manner is that of the most exemplary specialist teacher of geometry. Now coming into another school and looking at its list of professors and teachers you will find appended to one name or another: Diploma in Geometry or Mathematics or whatever it may be. I have known very many teachers, specialists in mathematics for instance, who boasted of the fact that when they took part in a school outing they were quite unable to tell the children the names of the plants. — But morning school is not yet over and here you will see Dr. Baravalle walking up and down between the desks and giving an English lesson. And out of the whole manner and method of his teaching you will see that he is speaking about all kinds of things and there is no means of knowing in which subject he is a specialist. Some of you may think geography is his special subject, or geometry or something else. The essential substance and content of one's teaching material can undoubtedly be acquired very quickly if one has the gift of entering right into the sphere of cognition, of experiencing knowledge within the soul. So we have no timetable. Naturally there is nothing pedantic about this. In our Waldorf School the Main Lesson is given in periods; other lessons must of course be fitted into a timetable, but these follow on after the Main Lesson.
Then we think it very important that the children should be taught two foreign languages from the time they first come to school when they are still quite small. We take French and English. It must be admitted that in our school this can be a perfect misery, because so many pupils have joined the school since its foundation. For instance pupils came to us who should really be taken into Class 6. In this class however, there are children who have already made considerable progress in languages. Now these new children should join them, but they have to be put into Class 5 simply because they haven't the foggiest notion of languages. We have continually to reckon with the difficulties.
Another thing we try to arrange is that whenever possible the most fundamental lessons are given in the morning, so that physical training — gymnastics, eurythmy and so on — is kept for the afternoon. This however is no hard and fast arrangement, for as we cannot afford an endless number of teachers not everything can be fitted in as ideally as we would wish, but only as well as circumstances permit. You will not misunderstand me if I say that with ideals no beginning can be made. Do not say that anthroposophy is not idealistic. We know how to value ideals, but nothing can be begun with ideals. They can be beautifully described, one can say: This is how it ought to be. One can even flatter oneself that one is striving in this direction. But in reality we have to cope with a quite definite, concrete school made up of 800 children whom we know and with between 40 and 50 teachers whom we must also know. But what is the use (you may ask) of a college of teachers when no member of it corresponds to the ideal? The essential thing is that we reckon with what is there. Then we proceed in accordance with reality. If we want to carry out something practically we must take reality into account. This then is what I would say in regard to period teaching.
Owing to our free approach to teaching, and this must certainly be apparent from what I am describing to you, it naturally comes about that the children do not always sit as still as mice. But you should see how the whole moral atmosphere and inner constitution of a class depends on the one who has it in charge, and here again it is the imponderable that counts. In this connection I must say that in the Waldorf School there are also teachers who prove to be inadequate in certain respects. I will not describe them, but it can well happen that on entering a class one is aware that it is “out of tune.” A quarter of the class is lying under the benches, a quarter is on top of them and the rest are continually running out of the room and knocking on the door from outside. We must not let these things baffle us. The situation can be put right again if one knows how to get on with the children. They should be allowed to satisfy their urge for movement; one should not fall back on punishment but set about putting these things right in another way. We are not at all in favour of issuing commands; on the contrary with us everything must be allowed to develop by itself. Through this very fact however there also develops by itself what I have described as something lying within the teachers as their life. Certainly the children sometimes make a frightful noise, but this is only a sign of their vitality. They can also be very active and lively in doing what they should, provided the teacher knows how to arouse their interest. We must of course make use of the good qualities of the so-called good child, so that he learns something, and with a rascal we must even make use of his rascally qualities, so that he too makes progress. We do not get anywhere if we are only able to develop the good qualities. We must from time to time develop the so-called rascally qualities, only we must of course be able to turn them in the right direction. Very often these so-called rascally qualities are precisely those which signify strength in the grown-up human being; they are qualities which, rightly handled, can culminate in what is most excellent in the grown up man or woman.
And so ever and again one has to determine whether a child gives little trouble because he is good, or because he is ill. It is very easy, if one considers one's own convenience, to be just as pleased with the sick child who sits still and does not make himself heard, as with the good child, because he does not call for much attention. But if one looks with real penetration into human nature one often finds that one has to devote much more attention to such a child than to a so-called rascal. Here too it is a question of psychological insight and psychological treatment, the latter naturally from the soul-spiritual point of view.
There is another thing to be considered. In the Waldorf School practically all the teaching takes place in the school itself. The burden of homework is lifted, for the children are given very little to do at home. Because of this, because all the work is done together with the teachers, the children's attitude is a quite remarkable one. In the Waldorf School something very characteristic comes about, as the following example will show: There was an occasion when certain pupils had misbehaved. A teacher who was not yet fully permeated with the Waldorf School education felt it necessary to punish these children and he did so in an intellectualistic way. He said: “You must stay in after school and do some arithmetic.” The children were quite unable to understand that doing arithmetic could be regarded as a punishment, for this was something which gave them the greatest pleasure. And the whole class — this is something which actually happened — asked: “May we stay in too?” And this was intended as a punishment! You see, the whole attitude of mind changes completely, and it should never happen that a child feels that he is being punished when he has to do something which he actually does with devotion, with satisfaction and joy. Our teachers discover all sorts of ways of getting rid of wrong behaviour. Once it so happened that our Dr. Stein, who is particularly inventive in this respect, noticed that during his lesson in a higher class the children were writing letters and passing them round. Now what did he do in order to put the matter right? He began to speak about the postal service, explaining it in some detail and in such a way that the writing of letters gradually ceased. The description of the postal service, the history of the origin of correspondence had apparently nothing to do with the misdemeanour noticed by the teacher and nevertheless it had something to do with it. You see, if one does not ask in a rationalistic way: “What shall I do” but is able to take advantage of a sudden idea because one knows instinctively how to deal with any situation in class, the consequences are often good; for in this way much more can be achieved towards the correction of the pupils than by resorting to punishment.
It must above all be clear to every member of the class that the teacher himself truly lives in accordance with his precepts. It must never come about that a choleric boy who makes a mess of his exercise hooks, seizes his neighbour by the ears and tweaks his hair, is shouted at by the teacher: “How dare you lose your temper, how dare you behave in such a way! Boy, if you ever repeat such a performance I will hurl the inkpot at your head!” This is certainly radically described, but something of the kind may well happen if a teacher does not realise that he himself must be an example in the school of what he expects of the pupils. What one is has far more importance than having principles and a lot of knowledge. What kind of a person one is, that is the point. If a candidate in the examination for teachers, in which he is supposed to show that he is well-fitted for his calling, is only tested in what he knows, — well, what he knows in the examination room is precisely what later on he will have to look up again in his text books. But this can be done without the need of sitting for an examination. But in actual fact no one should enter a school who has not the individuality of a teacher, in body, soul and spirit. Because this is so I can say that in carrying out my task of choosing the teachers comprising the College of Teachers at the Waldorf School, I certainly do not regard it as an obstacle if someone has obtained his teacher's diploma, but in certain respects I look more closely at one who has passed his examination than at another who through his purely human attitude shows me that his individuality is that of a true teacher. It is always a matter of concern when someone has passed examinations; he can undoubtedly still be an extremely clever man, but this must be in spite of having passed examinations.
It is remarkable how Karma works, for the Waldorf School, which is intended to stand as a concrete example of this special education based on the knowledge of man, was actually only possible in Württemberg, nowhere else, because just at the time when we were preparing to open the school a very old school regulation was still in force. If at that time people had been taken hold of by the enlightened ideas which later came forth from the constitutional body of the Weimar National Assembly (Nationalversammlung) with which we have constantly to contend, because it wishes to demolish our lower classes, we should never have been able to create the Waldorf School. It will certainly become ever rarer and rarer for teachers to be judged according to their human individualities and not according to their qualifications. It will become even rarer in the lower classes to be able to do this or that; for the world works — how can one put it — towards “freedom” and “human dignity.” This “human dignity” is however furthered in a strange manner by the help of the time-table and general arrangement of lessons. In the capital city of a country there is a Ministry of Education. In this Ministry it is known what is taught in each school and class by means of regulations which apportion exactly how the subjects are to be divided up. The consequence is that in some out-of-the-way place there is a school. If information is required as to what exactly is being taught for instance on 21st July, 1924 at 9.30 a.m. in the 5th class of this Primary School it has only to be looked up in the corresponding records of the Ministry and one can say precisely what is being taught in the school in question. — With us, on the contrary, you have two parallel classes, 5A and 5B. You go perhaps into both classes, one after the other and are astonished to find that in the one parallel class something completely different is going on from what is happening in the other. There is no similarity. Classes 5A and 5B are entrusted entirely to the individuality of the class teacher; each can do what corresponds to his own individuality, and he does it. In spite of the fact that in the teachers' conferences there is absolute agreement on essential matters, there is no obligation for the one class to be taught in just the same way as the parallel class; for what we seek to achieve must be achieved in the most varied ways. It is never a question of external regulations. So you will find with the little children in Class 1 that a teacher may do something of this kind [Dr Steiner made movements with his hands.] in order to help the children to find their way into drawing with paintbrush and paint: you come into the class and see the children making all kinds of movements with their hands which will then be led over to mastering the use of brush or pencil. Or you come into the other class and there you see the children dancing around in order that the same skill may be drawn out of the movement of the legs. Each teacher does what he deems to be best suited to the individualities of the children and his own individuality. In this way life is brought into the class and already forms the basis of what makes the children feel that they really belong to their teachers.
Naturally, in spite of that old school regulation, in Württemberg, too, there is school inspection; but in regard to this we have come off quite well. The inspectors' attitude showed the greatest possible insight and they agreed to everything when they saw how and why it was done. But such occasions also give rise to quite special happenings. For example, the inspectors came into a class where the teacher usually experienced great difficulty in maintaining discipline. Time and again she had to break into her teaching and not without considerable trouble re-establish order. Well, the inspectors from the Ministry came into her class and the teacher was highly astonished at the perfect behaviour of the children. They were model pupils, so much so that on the following day she felt bound to allude to it and said: “Children, how good you were yesterday!” Thereupon the whole class exclaimed: “But of course, Fräulein Doktor, we will never let you down!” Something quite imponderable develops in the pupils when the teachers try to put into practice what I have stated at the conclusion of all these lectures. If children are taught and educated in such a way that life is livingly carried over into their lives, then out of such teaching life-forces develop which continue to grow and prosper.