Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
22 December 1919, Stuttgart
The teachers took turns providing afternoon child care. A teacher asks a question about what they should do with the children.
Dr. Steiner: The children should enjoy themselves. You can allow them to play, or they could also put on a play or do their homework. In afterschool care, you should be a child yourself and make the children laugh. The children should do something other than their normal school activities. They only need to feel that someone is there when they need something. It is particularly valuable when the children tell of their experiences. You should interest yourselves in them. It is helpful for children when they can speak freely. You can also let them make pottery.
A teacher: The faculty would like to have a school festival on the first Monday of each month, since that day is generally free in the Stuttgart area [no school on those days]. We have already had such festivals on November 3 and December 1.
Dr. Steiner: It would be better to have monthly festivals on Thursday. Monday is a humdrum day, and there are inner reasons for favoring Thursdays. As Jupiter’s day, Thursday is most appropriate. The monthly festival should recall the significance of the month in a way similar to the Calendar of the Soul. But, we can use the verses from the Twelve Moods only for the seventh and eighth grades, at best.
A teacher reports about teaching the first grade.
Dr. Steiner: It is not good to draw with pencils. You should try to use watercolors, but crayons are also useful.
The stories should not be too long. Short, precise and easily comprehended stories are preferable in the lower grades. The main thing is that what you tell remains with the children. You should make sure that the children do not immediately forget anything you go through with them. They should not learn through repetition, but remember things immediately through the first presentation.
A teacher reports about the second grade.
Dr. Steiner: You should begin with division right away. If some children are having difficulty with grammar, you should have patience. A teacher reports about her third grade. She has introduced voluntary arithmetic problems as a will exercise.
Dr. Steiner: It is important to keep the children active. Their progress in foreign languages is very good; it has been very successful. The more we succeed in keeping the children active, the greater will be our success. I should also mention eurythmy in connection with foreign languages. Every vowel lies between two others; between “ah” and “ee” there lies the right hand forward and the left back. Do it according to the sound, not according to the letter.
[German editor’s comment: From the perspective of eurythmy, Dr. Steiner may have meant the following: Every vowel lies between two others. For example, the English “i” lies between the German “a” (ah) and “i” (ee), with the gesture, the right hand forward, the left, back. Go according to how the vowel sounds, not according to how the letter is written.]
A teacher speaks about the fourth grade.
Dr. Steiner: They are particularly untalented. A.S. [a child] is a little feebleminded. She cannot pay attention. E.E., the Bolshevik, has gotten better. He has an abnormality in the meninges, that is, an abnormal development of the head and meninges. He has twitchy cramps. Perhaps that is due to an injury at birth because of the use of forceps [see sketch], or perhaps he inherited it. His etheric body is shut out. You should divert his fantasy through humor.
G.R. has a different situation in regard to his supersensible aspects because he is missing a leg. In such crippled children, the life of the soul is too spiritual. You should awaken his interest for things spiritually difficult for the soul. Direct him there and bring back his soul qualities.
A teacher speaks about the fifth grade.
Dr. Steiner: The children love their teacher, but at the same time are terribly rambunctious. Try to be more independent of them. Also, in foreign languages, you should teach reading by way of writing. A teacher speaks about the sixth grade.
Dr. Steiner: The children can better learn to think and feel through eurythmy and vice versa. You could allow A.B. to do some of the sentences contained in the teachers’ speech exercises in eurythmy. You will need to help E.H. by telling deeply moving stories.
A teacher complains that the children in the upper classes are lazy and unmotivated.
Dr. Steiner: If the children do not do their homework, you could keep the lazy ones after noon and threaten them that this could occur often.
A teacher asks about some children in the seventh and eighth grades.
Dr. Steiner: The children in the seventh and eighth grades are talented. G.L., the one with the blue ribbons, is very flirtatious. It is better not to name names, to turn around and not name her and not to watch. But you should be certain that she knows you mean her. Praise does not make the children ambitious. You may not omit praise and criticism. Criticism, given as a joke, is very effective. The child will remember it.
A teacher speaks about eurythmy and music.