Discussions with Teachers
7 September 1919, Stuttgart
Today I would like to conclude these discussions by pointing out something I want to lay upon your hearts: that I would like you to stick firmly to the following four principles.
First, teachers must make sure that they influence and work on their pupils, in a broader sense, by allowing the spirit to flow through their whole being as teachers, and also in the details of their work: how each word is spoken, and how each concept or feeling is developed. Teachers must be people of initiative. They must be filled with initiative. Teachers must never be careless or lazy; they must, at every moment, stand in full consciousness of what they do in the school and how they act toward the children. This is the first principle. The teacher must be a person of initiative in everything done, great and small.
Second, my dear friends, we as teachers must take an interest in everything happening in the world and in whatever concerns humankind. All that is happening in the outside world and in human life must arouse our interest. It would be deplorable if we as teachers were to shut ourselves off from anything that might interest human beings. We should take an interest in the affairs of the outside world, and we should also be able to enter into anything, great or small, that concerns every single child in our care. That is the second principle. The teacher should be one who is interested in the being of the whole world and of humanity.
Third, the teacher must be one who never compromises in the heart and mind with what is untrue. The teacher must be true in the depths of being. Teachers must never compromise with untruth, because if they did, we would see how untruth would find its way through many channels into our teaching, especially in the way we present the subjects. Our teaching will only bear the stamp of truth when we ardently strive for truth in ourselves.
And now comes something more easily said than done, but it is, nevertheless, also a golden rule for the teacher’s calling. The teacher must never get stale or grow sour. Cherish a mood of soul that is fresh and healthy! No getting stale and sour! This must be the teacher’s endeavor.
And I know, my dear friends, that if during these two weeks you have properly received into your inner life what we were able to shed light on from the most diverse viewpoints, then indirectly, through the realms of feeling and will, what may still seem remote will come closer to your souls as you work with the children in the classroom. During these two weeks I have spoken only of what can enter directly into your practical teaching when you first allow it to work properly within your own souls. But our Waldorf school, my dear friends, will depend on what you do within yourselves, and whether you really allow the things we have considered to become effective in your own souls.
Think of the many things I have tried to clarify in order to come to a psychological view of the human being, especially of the growing human being. Remember these things. And maybe there will be moments when you feel unsure about how or when to bring one thing or another into your teaching, or where to introduce it, but if you remember properly what has been presented during these two weeks, then thoughts will surely arise in you that will tell you what to do. Of course many things should really be said many times, but I do not want to make you into teaching machines, but into free independent teachers. Everything spoken of during the past two weeks was given to you in this same spirit. The time has been so short that, for the rest, I must simply appeal to the understanding and devotion you will bring to your work.
Turn your thoughts again and again to all that has been said that can lead you to understand the human being, and especially the child. It will help you in all the many questions of method that may arise.
When you look back in memory to these discussions, then our thoughts will certainly meet again in all the various impulses that have come to life during this time. For myself, I can assure you that I will also be thinking back to these days, because right now this Waldorf school is indeed weighing heavily on the minds of those taking part in its beginning and organization. This Waldorf school must succeed; much depends on its success. Its success will bring a kind of proof of many things in the spiritual evolution of humankind that we must represent.
In conclusion, if you will allow me to speak personally for a moment, I would like to say: For me this Waldorf school will be a veritable child of concern. Again and again I will have to come back to this Waldorf school with anxious, caring thoughts. But when we keep in mind the deep seriousness of the situation, we can really work well together. Let us especially keep before us the thought, which will truly fill our hearts and minds, that connected with the present day spiritual movement are also the spiritual powers that guide the cosmos. When we believe in these good spiritual powers they will inspire our lives and we will truly be able to teach.