Rudolf Steiner in the Waldorf School
Address at a monthly assembly
3 May 1923, Stuttgart
My dear children, boys and girls! It is always a pleasure for me when it is time to come see you here in school. As I was on my way here today, something strange came to me:
Once upon a time there were two children who went for a walk on Sunday. When they were on their way home, each child had a bouquet of flowers. One child said to the other, “Mybouquet is so pretty!” The other one said, “My bouquet is prettier than yours!” They each liked their own bouquet better, but one of them really did not like the other one’s bouquet. One child had a bouquet with some flowers that were full of sweet nectar, but it also had ordinary grass in it and even some ears of grain and some thistles. The other child’s bouquet had only sweet-smelling flowers in it. So the child with the sweet flowers said to the other one, “You know, I dont like your bouquet with all those kinds of things in it!” But the other child didn't like the bouquet with just sweet flowers in it, either.
Now, dear children, how do you think the story goes on? What happened was this: The child with the bouquet with the grain and the thistles had a story to tell the other one. Listen to what that child had to tell:
Once I went out walking on Sunday, and I fell asleep outside and dreamed a dream. And what did I dream? I was lying in a meadow, and all the big and little animals came and were talking with each other. There was a very strange teeny-tiny animal, and a great big animal. The teeny-tiny animal was a bee, and the big one was a calf. And the calf and the bee were talking together. The bee said, “Calf, you don't understand anything about plants, but I know all about them. I know which plants are sweet, and those are the ones I suck the honey out of. Then I take the honey to the people, and they really love the honey. If I didn't fly to all the flowers that smell nice, there would be no honey for the people.” And then the calf said, “You know, 7 couldn't live on just the flowers that smell sweet, the ones that taste so good to you. All the flowers you just fly over and ignore are the ones I have to eat, and if I didn't eat them, there would be no milk in the world. But without milk, people wouldn't be fed, and then there would be no need for honey because there wouldn't be any people around to enjoy it!”
That was how these two children talked with each other. And then the child with the bouquet of sweet flowers understood that there was something he had to learn. The other child had already learned the right thing from her dream. The child with the sweet flowers now understood that sweet flowers cannot be the only ones, that there have to be all different kinds of flowers that work together, and so now he learned to love the bouquet with all the different plants in it. And the child who had slept and dreamed could say, “Yes, that's what the calf said. There are your kinds of flowers and my kinds of flowers, but we need all of them, and that is why a bouquet that has all different kinds of plants in it is much more valuable and precious than one with only sweet flowers!”
Now, dear children, when you go to school, it is like taking a walk on a beautiful Sunday, and you are meant to get the very best that you can out of school to take with you into life. And if you can take along a bouquet of everything your dear teachers have taught you, this bouquet will give you great pleasure. But all the different flowers must be in it, not just the sweet ones! You must learn that you sometimes have to take in things that are not exactly sweet. If you work hard and learn seriously, you will notice that the bouquet you are able to take with you into your later life has not only sweet flowers in it, but all the things that are full of life, all the things your life depends on. Think about that, my dear children, and obey your teachers lovingly each time they ask you to do something difficult. Then when you leave school you will have the most beautiful bouquet to take with you into life, and you will like it best if it has all of life’s different plants in it. Each memory of your time in school will give you the strength you need in life, because when human beings grow up, they gain the most beautiful forces for their life if they take a bouquet of that sort with them when they leave school. These are life forces that last until death and even beyond.
And now let me turn to the parents. I would like to assure you, as I try to do at every such opportunity, that I am fully aware of the confidence you place in us. We will also truly try to equip your children’s bouquets with all the plants that are suitable and necessary for a healthy, hard-working and satisfying life on earth.
And to you, my dear teachers, I am heartily grateful for trying so hard to put together the bouquets for our children’s later life in the right way.
This is why I expect you, dear children, to come to meet your teachers with everything they deserve for putting in so much effort on your behalf, and for working so zealously for you. By that I mean your gratitude and love.
I would like to say one more thing to you. They have told me that in addition to working hard, you can still make noise. I remember that I myself have sometimes heard you make noise.
And now I want you to make noise; I want you to yell so loudly that this whole room echoes with your words, “We love our teachers!”
[All the children shout enthusiastically, as loudly as they can, “Yes, we love our teachers!”]