Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
26 September 1919, Stuttgart
[The meeting began with a discussion of some children Dr. Steiner had observed that morning.]
Dr. Steiner: E. E. must be morally raised. He is a Bolshevik.
A teacher who was substituting in the first grade poses a question.
Dr. Steiner: You should develop reading from pictorial writing. You should develop the forms from the artistic activity.
A teacher suggests beginning the morning with the Lord’s Prayer.
Dr. Steiner: It would be nice to begin instruction with the Lord’s Prayer and then go on to the verses I will give you. For the four lower grades I would ask that you say the verse in the following way:
The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day;
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs;
In sunlight shining clear
I reverence, O God,
The strength of humankind,
That thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my might
May love to work and learn.
From Thee come light and strength,
To Thee rise love and thanks.
The children must feel that as I have spoken it. First they should learn the words, but then you will have to gradually make the difference between the inner and outer clear to them.
The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day;
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs;
The first part, that the Sun makes each day bright, we observe, and the other part, that it affects the limbs, we feel in the soul. What lies in this portion is the spirit-soul and the physical body.
In sunlight shining clear
I reverence, O God,
The strength of humankind,
That thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my might
May love to work and learn.
Here we give honor to both. We then turn to one and then the other.
From Thee come light and strength (the Sun),
To Thee rise love and thanks (from within).
This is how I think the children should feel it, namely, the divine in light and in the soul.
You need to attempt to speak it with the children in chorus, with the feeling of the way I recited it. At first, the children will learn only the words, so that they have the words, the tempo, and the rhythm. Later, you can begin to explain it with something like, “Now we want to see what this actually means.” Thus, first they must learn it, then you explain it. Don’t explain it first, and also, do not put so much emphasis upon the children learning it from memory. They will eventually learn it through repetition. They will be able to read it directly from your lips. Even though it may not go well for a long time, four weeks or more, it will go better later. The older children can write it down, but you must allow the younger ones to learn it slowly. Don’t demand that they learn it by heart! It would be nice if they write it down, since then they will have it in their own handwriting. I will give you the verse for the four higher classes tomorrow.
[The verse for the four higher grades was:]
I look into the world;
In which the Sun shines,
In which the stars sparkle,
In which the stones lie,
The living plants are growing,
The animals are feeling,
In which the soul of man
Gives dwelling for the spirit;
I look into the soul
Which lives within myself.
God’s spirit weaves in light
Of Sun and human soul,
In world of space, without,
In depths of soul, within.
God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee
I turn myself in prayer,
That strength and blessing grow
In me, to learn and work.
[The texts of the verses are exactly as Dr. Steiner dictated them according to the handwritten notes. It is unclear whether he said, “loving light” (liebes Licht) or “light of love” (Liebeslicht).]
[Lesson plan for the independent anthroposophical religious instruction for children:]
Dr. Steiner: We should give this instruction in two stages. If you want to go into anthroposophical instruction with a religious goal, then you must certainly take the concept of religion much more seriously than usual. Generally, all kinds of worldviews that do not belong there mix into religion and the concept of religion. Thus, the religious tradition brings things from one age over into another, and we do not want to continue to develop that. It retains views from an older perspective alongside more developed views of the world. These things appeared in a grotesque form during the age of Galileo and Giordano Bruno. Modern apologies justify such things—something quite humorous. The Catholic Church gets around it by saying that at that time the Copernican view of the world was not recognized, the Church itself forbade it. Thus, Galileo could not have supported that world perspective. I do not wish to go into that now, but I mention it only to show you that we really must take religion seriously when we address it anthroposophically.
It is true that anthroposophy is a worldview, and we certainly do not want to bring that into our school. On the other hand, we must certainly develop the religious feeling that worldview can give to the human soul when the parents expressly ask us to give it to the children. Particularly when we begin with anthroposophy, we dare not develop anything inappropriate, certainly not develop anything too early. We will, therefore, have two stages. First, we will take all the children in the lower four grades, and then those in the upper four grades.
In the lower four grades, we will attempt to discuss the things and processes in the human environment, so that a feeling arises in the children that spirit lives in nature. We can consider such things as my previous examples. We can, for instance, give the children the idea of the soul. Of course, the children first need to learn to understand the idea of life in general. You can teach the children about life if you direct their attention to the fact that people are first small and then they grow, become old, get white hair, wrinkles, and so forth. Thus, you tell them about the seriousness of the course of human life and acquaint them with the seriousness of the fact of death, something the children already know.
Therefore, you need to discuss what occurs in the human soul during the changes between sleeping and waking. You can certainly go into such things with even the youngest children in the first group. Discuss how waking and sleeping look, how the soul rests, how the human being rests during sleep, and so forth. Then, tell the children how the soul permeates the body when it awakens and indicate to them that there is a will that causes their limbs to move. Make them aware that the body provides the soul with senses through which they can see and hear and so forth. You can give them such things as proof that the spiritual is active in the physical. Those are things you can discuss with the children.
You must completely avoid any kind of superficial teaching. Thus, in anthroposophical religious instruction we can certainly not use the kind of teaching that asks questions such as, Why do we find cork on a tree? with the resulting reply, So that we can make champagne corks. God created cork in order to cork bottles. This sort of idea, that something exists in nature simply because human intent exists, is poison. That is certainly something we may not develop. Therefore, don’t bring any of these silly causal ideas into nature.
To the same extent, we may not use any of the ideas people so love to use to prove that spirit exists because something unknown exists. People always say, That is something we cannot know, and, therefore, that is a revelation of the spirit. Instead of gaining a feeling that we can know of the spirit and that the spirit reveals itself in matter, these ideas direct people toward thinking that when we cannot explain something, that proves the existence of the divine. Thus, you will need to strictly avoid superficial teaching and the idea of wonders, that is, that wonders prove divine activity.
In contrast, it is important that we develop imaginative pictures through which we can show the supersensible through nature. For example, I have often mentioned that we should speak to the children about the butterfly’s cocoon and how the butterfly comes out of the cocoon. I have said that we can explain the concept of the immortal soul to the children by saying that, although human beings die, their souls go from them like an invisible butterfly emerging from the cocoon. Such a picture is, however, only effective when you believe it yourself, that is, when you believe the picture of the butterfly creeping out of the cocoon is a symbol for immortality planted into nature by divine powers. You need to believe that yourselves, otherwise the children will not believe it.
You need to arouse the children’s interest in such things. They will be particularly effective for the children where you can show how a being can live in many forms, how an original form can take on many individual forms. In religious instruction, it is important that you pay attention to the feeling and not the worldview. For example, you can take a poem about the metamorphosis of plants and animals and use it religiously. However, you must use the feelings that go from line to line. You can consider nature that way until the end of the fourth grade. There, you must always work toward the picture that human beings with all our thinking and doing live within the cosmos. You must also give the children the picture that God lives in what lives in us. Time and again you should come back to such pictures, how the divine lives in a tree leaf, in the Sun, in clouds, and in rivers. You should also show how God lives in the bloodstream, in the heart, in what we feel and what we think. Thus, you should develop a picture of the human being filled with the divine.
During these years, you should also emphasize the picture that human beings, because they are an image of God and a revelation of God, should be good. Human beings who are not good hurt God. From a religious perspective, human beings do not exist in the world for their own sake, but as revelations of the divine. You can express that by saying that people do not exist just for their own sake, but “to glorify God.” Here, “to glorify” means “to reveal.” Thus, in reality, it is not “glory to God in the highest,” but “reveal the gods in the highest.” Thus, we can understand the idea that people exist to glorify God as meaning that people exist in order to express the divine through their deeds and feelings. If someone does something bad, something impious and unkind, then that person does something that belittles God and distorts God into something ugly.
You should always bring in these ideas. At this age you should use the thought that God lives in the human being. In the lower grades, I would certainly abstain from teaching any Christology, but just awaken a feeling for God the Father out of nature and natural occurrences. I would try to connect all our discussions about Old Testament themes, the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and so forth, to that feeling, at least insofar as they are useful, and they are if you treat them properly. That is the first stage of religious instruction.
In the second stage, that is, the four upper grades, we need to discuss the concepts of fate and human destiny with the children. Thus, we need to give the children a picture of destiny so that they truly feel that human beings have a destiny. It is important to teach the child the difference between a simple chance occurrence and destiny. Thus, you will need to go through the concept of destiny with the children. You cannot use definitions to explain when something destined occurs or when something occurs only by chance. You can, however, perhaps explain it through examples. What I mean is that when something happens to me, if I feel that the event is in some way something I sought, then that is destiny. If I do not have the feeling that it was something I sought, but have a particularly strong feeling that it overcame me, surprised me, and that I can learn a great deal for the future from it, then that is a chance event. You need to gradually teach the children about something they can experience only through feeling, namely the difference between finished karma and arising or developing karma. You need to gradually teach children about the questions of fate in the sense of karmic questions.
You can find more about the differences in feeling in my book Theosophy. For the newest edition, I rewrote the chapter, “Reincarnation and Karma,” where I discuss this question. There, I tried to show how you can feel the difference. You can certainly make it clear to the children that there are actually two kinds of occurrences. In the one case, you feel that you sought it. For example, when you meet someone, you usually feel that you sought that person. In the other case, when you are involved in a natural event, you have the feeling you can learn something from it for the future. If something happens to you because of some other person, that is usually a case of fulfilled karma. Even such things as the fact that we find ourselves together in this faculty at the Waldorf School are fulfilled karma. We find ourselves here because we sought each other. We cannot comprehend that through definitions, only through feeling. You will need to speak with the children about all kinds of fates, perhaps in stories where the question of fate plays a role. You can even repeat many of the fairy tales in which questions of fate play a role. You can also find historical examples where you can show how an individual’s fate was fulfilled. You should discuss the question of fate, therefore, to indicate the seriousness of life from that perspective.
I also want you to understand what is really religious in an anthroposophical sense. In the sense of anthroposophy, what is religious is connected with feeling, with those feelings for the world, for the spirit, and for life that our perspective of the world can give us. The worldview itself is something for the head, but religion always arises out of the entire human being. For that reason, religion connected with a specific church is not actually religious. It is important that the entire human being, particularly the feeling and will, lives in religion. That part of religion that includes a worldview is really only there to exemplify or support or deepen the feeling and strengthen the will. What should flow from religion is what enables the human being to grow beyond what past events and earthly things can give to deepen feeling and strengthen will.
Following the questions of destiny, you will need to discuss the differences between what we inherit from our parents and what we bring into our lives from previous earthly lives. In this second stage of religious instruction, we bring in previous earthly lives and everything else that can help provide a reasoned or feeling comprehension that people live repeated earthly lives.
You should also certainly include the fact that human beings raise themselves to the divine in three stages. Thus, after you have given the children an idea of destiny, you then slowly teach them about heredity and repeated earthly lives through stories. You can then proceed to the three stages of the divine.
The first of these stages is that of the angels, something available for each individual personally. You can explain that every individual human being is led from life to life by his or her own personal genius. Thus, this personal divinity that leads human beings is the first thing to discuss.
In the second step, you attempt to explain that there are higher gods, the archangels. (Here you gradually come into something you can observe in history and geography.) These archangels exist to guide whole groups of human beings, that is, the various peoples and such. You must teach this clearly so that the children can learn to differentiate between the god spoken of by Protestantism, for instance, who is actually only an angel, and an archangel, who is higher than anything that ever arises in the Protestant religious teachings.
In the third stage, you teach the children about the concept of a time spirit, a divine being who rules over periods of time. Here, you will connect religion with history.
Only when you have taught the children all that can you go on, at about the twelfth grade, to—well, we can’t do that yet, we will just do two stages. The children can certainly hear things they will understand only later. After you have taught the children about these three stages, you can go on to the actual Christology by dividing cosmic evolution into two parts: the pre-Christian, which was really a preparation, and the Christian, which is the fulfillment. Here, the concept that the divine is revealed through Christ, “in the fullness of time,” must play a major role.
Only then will we go on to the Gospels. Until then, to the extent that we need stories to explain the concepts of angel, archangel, and time spirit, we will use the Old Testament. For example, we can use the Old Testament story of what appeared before Moses to explain to the children the appearance of a new time spirit, in contrast to the previous one before the revelation to Moses. We can then also explain that a new time spirit entered during the sixth century B.C. Thus, we first use the Old Testament. When we then go on to Christology, having presented it as being preceded by a long period of preparation, we can go on to the Gospels. We can attempt to present the individual parts and show that the four-foldedness of the Gospels is something natural by saying that just as a tree needs to be photographed from four sides for everything to be properly seen, in the same way the four Gospels present four points of view. You take the Gospel of Matthew and then Mark, Luke, and John and emphasize them such that the children will always feel that. Always place the main emphasis upon the differences in feeling.
Thus, we now have the teaching content of the second stage. The general tenor of the first stage is to bring to developing human beings everything that the wisdom of the divine in nature can provide. In the second stage, the human being no longer recognizes the divine through wisdom, but through the effects of love. That is the tenor, the leitmotif in both stages.
A teacher: Should we have the children learn verses?
Dr. Steiner: Yes, at first primarily from the Old Testament and then later from the New Testament. The verses contained in prayer books are often trivial, therefore, you should use verses from the Bible and also those verses we have in anthroposophy. In anthroposophy, we have many verses you can use well in this anthroposophical religious instruction.
A teacher: Should we teach the Ten Commandments?
Dr. Steiner: The Ten Commandments are, of course, in the Old Testament, but you should make their seriousness clear. I have always emphasized that the Ten Commandments state that we should not speak the name of God in vain. This is something that nearly every preacher overdoes since they continually speak vainly of Christ. Of course, this is something we must deepen in the feeling. We should not give religious instruction as a confession of faith, but as a deepening of feeling. The Apostles’ Creed as such is not important, only what we feel in the Creed. It is not our belief in God the Father, in God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit, but what we feel in relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What is important is that in the depths of our soul, we feel that it is an illness not to know God, that it is a misfortune not to know Christ and that not to know the Holy Spirit is a limitation of the human soul.
A teacher: Should we teach the children about historical things, for instance, the path of the Zarathustra being up to the revelation of Christianity, or the story of the two Jesus children?
Dr. Steiner: You should close the religious instruction by teaching the children about these connections but, of course, very carefully. The first stage is clearly more nature religion, the second, more historical religion.
A teacher: Then we should certainly avoid teaching about functionality in natural history? Schmeil’s guidelines for botany and zoology are teleological.
Dr. Steiner: With regard to books, I would ask that you consider them only as a source of factual information. You can assume that we should avoid the methods described in them, and also the viewpoints. We really must do everything new. We should completely avoid the books that are filled with the horrible attitude we can characterize with statements such as “God created cork in order to cork champagne bottles.” For us, such books exist only to inform us of facts. The same is true for history. All the judgments made in them are no less garbage, and in natural history that is certainly true.
In my opinion it would not be so bad if we used Brehm, for example, if such things are to be up-to-date. Brehm avoids such trivial things, though he is a little narrow-minded. It would be a good idea to copy out such things and use stories as a basis. Perhaps, that would be the best thing to do. The old edition of Brehm is pretty boring. We cannot use the new edition written recently by someone else.
In general, you can assume all school books written after 1885 are worthless. Since that time, all pedagogy has regressed in the most terrible way and simply landed in clichés.
A teacher: How should we proceed with human natural history? How should we start that in the fourth grade?
Dr. Steiner: Concerning human beings you will find nearly everything somewhere in my lecture cycles. You will find nearly everything there somewhere. You also have what I presented in the seminar course. You need only modify it for school. The main thing is that you hold to the facts, also the psychological and spiritual facts. You can first take up the human being by presenting the formation of the skeleton. There, you can certainly be confident. Then go on to the muscles and the glands. You can teach the children about will by presenting the muscles and about thinking by presenting the nerves. Hold to what you know from anthroposophy. You must not allow yourselves to be led astray through the mechanical presentation of modern textbooks. You really don’t need anything at the forefront of science for the fourth grade, so perhaps it is better to take an older description and work with that. As I said, all of the things since the 1880s have become really bad, but you will find starting points everywhere in my lectures.
A teacher: I put together a table of geological formations based on what you said yesterday.
Dr. Steiner: Of course, you should never pedantically draw parallels. When you go on to the primeval forms, to the original mountains, you have the polar period. The Paleozoic corresponds to the Hyperborean, but you may not take the individual animal forms pedantically. Then you have the Mesozoic, which generally corresponds to Lemuria. And then the first and second levels of mammals, or the Cenozoic, that is, the Atlantean age. The Atlantean period was no more than about nine thousand years ago. You can draw parallels from these five periods, the primitive, the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic, the Cenozoic, and the Anthropozoic.
A teacher: You once said that normally the branching off of fish and birds is not properly presented, for example, by Haeckel.
Dr. Steiner: The branching off of fish is usually put back into the Devonian period.
A teacher: How did human beings look at that time?
Dr. Steiner: In very primitive times, human beings consisted almost entirely of etheric substance. They lived among other things but had as yet no density. The human being became more dense during the Hyperborean period. Only those animal forms that had precipitated out, lived. Human beings lived also with no less strength. They had, in fact, a tremendous strength. But they had no substance that could remain, so there are no human remains. They lived during all those periods but only gained an external density during the Cenozoic period. If you recall how I describe the Lemurian period, it was almost an etheric landscape. Everything was there, but there are no geological remains. You will want to take into account that the human being existed through all five periods. The human being was everywhere. Here in the first period (Dr. Steiner points to the table), “primitive form,” there is actually nothing else present except the human being. There are only minor remains. There the Eozoic Canadensa is actually more of a formation, something created as a form that is not a real animal. Here in the Hyperborean/Paleozoic period, animals begin to occur, but in forms that later no longer exist. Here in the Lemurian/Mesozoic period, the plant realm arises, and here in the Cenozoic period, Atlantis, the mineral realm arises, actually already in the last period, in these two earlier periods already (in the last two sub-races of the Lemurian period).
A teacher: Did human beings exist with their head, chest, and limb aspects at that time?
Dr. Steiner: The human being was similar to a centaur, an extremely animal-like lower body and a humanized head.
A teacher: I almost have the impression that it was a combination, a symbiosis, of three beings.
Dr. Steiner: So it is, also.
A teacher: How is it possible that there are the remains of plants in coal?
Dr. Steiner: Those are not plant remains. What appears to be the remains of plants actually arose because the wind encountered quite particular obstacles. Suppose, for instance, the wind was blowing and created something like plant forms that were preserved somewhat like the footsteps of animals (Hyperborean period). That is a kind of plant crystallization, a crystallization into plantlike forms.
A teacher: The trees didn’t exist?
Dr. Steiner: No, they existed as tree forms. The entire flora of the coal age was not physically present. Imagine a forest present only in its etheric form and that thus resists the wind in a particular way. Through that, stalactite-like forms emerge. What resulted is not the remains of plants, but forms that arise simply due to the circumstances brought about by elemental activity. Those are not genuine remains. You cannot say it was like it was in Atlantis. There, things remained and to an extent also at the end of the Lemurian period, but as to the carbon period, we cannot say that there are any plant remains. There were only the remains of animals, but primarily animals that we can compare with the form of our head.
A teacher: When did the human being then stand upright? I don’t see a firm point of time.
Dr. Steiner: It is not a good idea to cling to these pictures too closely, since some races stood upright earlier and others later. It is not possible to give a specific time. That is how things are in reality.
A teacher: If the pistil is related to the Moon and the stigma to the Sun, then how do they show the movement of the Sun and Moon?
Dr. Steiner: You must imagine it in the following way (Dr. Steiner draws). The stigma goes upward, that would be the path of the Sun, and the pistil moves around it, and there you have the path of the Moon. Here we have the picture of the Sun and Earth path as I drew it yesterday. The Moon moves around the Earth. That is in the pistil (Dr. Steiner demonstrates with the drawing). It appears that way because the path of the Moon goes around also, of course, but in relationship, not in a straight line. The path of the Sun is the stigma. This circle is a copy of the helix I drew yesterday. It is also a helix.
A teacher: You have told us that the temperaments have to do with predominance of the various bodies. In GA 129, you said that the physical body predominates over the etheric, the etheric over the astral, and the I over the astral. Is there a connection with the temperaments here? In GA 134, you mention a figure that gives the proper relationship of the bodies.
Dr. Steiner: That gives the relationship of the forces.
A teacher: Is there a further relationship to the temperaments?
Dr. Steiner: None other than what I presented in the seminar.
A teacher: You have said that melancholy arises due to a predominance of the physical body. Is that a predominance of the physical body over the etheric?
Dr. Steiner: No, it is a predominance over all the other bodies.
A question arises about parent evenings.
Dr. Steiner: We should have them, but it would be better if they were not too often, since otherwise the parents’ interest would lessen, and they would no longer come. We should arrange things so that the parents actually come. If we have such meetings too often, they would see them as burdensome. Particularly in regard to school activities, we should not do anything we cannot complete. We should undertake only those things that can really happen. I think it would be good to have three parent days per year. I would also suggest that we do this festively, that we print cards and send them to all of the parents.
Perhaps we could arrange it so that the first such meeting is at the beginning of the school year. It would be more a courtesy, so that we can again make contact with the parents. Then we could have a parent evening in the middle of the year and again one at the end. These latter two would be more important, whereas the first, more of a courtesy. We could have the children recite something, do some eurythmy, and so forth.
We can also have parent conferences. They would be good. You will probably find that the parents generally have little interest in them, except for the anthroposophical parents.
A teacher asks Dr. Steiner to say something about the popularization of spiritual science, particularly in connection with the afternoon courses for the workers [at the Goetheanum].
Dr. Steiner: Well, it is important to keep the proper attitude in connection with that popularization. In general, I am not in favor of popularizing by making things trivial. In my opinion, we should first use Theosophy as a basis and attempt to determine from case to case what a particular audience understands easily, or only with difficulty. You will see that the last edition of Theosophy has a number of hints about how you can use its contents for teaching. I would then go on to discussing some sections of How to Know Higher Worlds, but I would never intend to try to make people into clairvoyants. We should only inform them about the clairvoyant path so that they understand how it is possible to arrive at those truths. We should leave them with the feeling that it is possible with normal common sense to understand and know about how to comprehend those things. You can also treat The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity in a popular way. There you have three books that you can use for a popular presentation. Generally, you will need to arrange things according to the audience.
Several children are discussed.
Dr. Steiner: The most important thing is that there is always contact, that the teacher and students together form a true whole. That has happened in nearly all of the classes in a very beautiful and positive way. I am quite happy about what has happened.
I can tell you that even though I may not be here, I will certainly think much about this school. It’s true, isn’t it, that we must all be permeated with the thoughts:
First, of the seriousness of our undertaking. What we are now doing is tremendously important.
Second, we need to comprehend our responsibility toward anthroposophy as well as the social movement.
And, third, something that we as anthroposophists must particularly observe, namely, our responsibility toward the gods.
Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world. We dare not for one moment lose the feeling of the seriousness and dignity of our work.
You should feel that dignity, that seriousness, that responsibility. I will approach you with such thoughts. We will meet one another through such thoughts.
We should take that up as our feeling for today and, in that thought, part again for a time, but spiritually meet with one another to receive the strength for this truly great work.