Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
1 January 1920, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: Today, we will primarily discuss the problem children we spoke with.
We will need to look at M.H. often. We will have to ask E.S. many things.
We can give some of the children in the fourth grade specific exercises, for instance, E.E. could learn the phrase, “People gain strength for life through learning.” You could allow him to say this each morning in the course of the first period. F.R. could learn, “I will pay attention to my words and thoughts,” and A.S. could learn, “I will pay attention to my words and deeds.”
We should have H.A. in the fifth grade do complicated drawings, for instance, a line that snakes about and comes back to its own beginning. He could also draw eurythmy forms. He should learn the phrase, “It is written in my heart to learn to pay attention and to become industrious.”
You will need to force T.E. in the seventh grade to follow very exactly and slowly. She should hear exactly and slowly what you say to her. That should have a different tempo than her own fragmented thinking. Think a sentence together with her, “I will think with you.” Only think it twice as slowly as she does.
O.R., in eighth grade, is sleepy. He is a kind of soul-earthworm. That kind of sleepiness arises because people pass things by and pay no attention to them. He shouldn’t play any pranks on anyone, nor disturb anyone’s attention.
In regard to the slow thinking in the third grade, you could take a phrase like, “The tree becomes green,” and turn it around to “Green becomes the tree,” and so forth so that they learn to turn their thinking around quickly.
My general impression is that, in spite of all of the obstacles, you should maintain the courage to continue your teaching. Although there is not much time left in this year, we still have much to do.
There is some discussion of afterschool care.
Dr. Steiner: The children should avoid comparing their teachers. You should pay attention to the children’s physical symmetry and asymmetry and seek what lies parallel in their souls. To do that, you must know each child’s peculiarities well. There is something called “flame symmetry,” that is, how things interact through harmonious motions. Ellicot first noticed it and did some work with it. What the teacher thinks affects the child when the teacher is really present. The main thing is that you take an interest in each child. A teacher asks about how to get through all the material and about homework.
Dr. Steiner: You should present homework as voluntary work, not as a requirement. In other words, “Who wants to do this?”
A teacher asks about a reading book.
Dr. Steiner: In the reading lesson, not all of the children need to read. You can bring some material and hand it around, allowing the children to read it, but not all need do so. However, the children should read as little as possible about things they do not understand very well. The teachers are reading aloud to the children too much. You should read nothing to the children that you do not know right into each word through your preparation. A teacher asks about modeling.
Dr. Steiner: You could use a column seen from a particular perspective as an example, but you should not make the children slavishly imitate it. You need to get the children to observe, but allow them to change their work.
A teacher: How far should I go in history before turning to something else? In the seventh grade, I have gotten as far as the end of the Caesars in Roman history, and in the eighth grade, I am at the Punic Wars.
Dr. Steiner: Make an effort to get to Christianity and then do two months of German. Do Goethe and Schiller in the eighth grade.
[Dr. Steiner tells an anecdote about a child who is asked, “Who are Goethe and Schiller?” The child replies, “Oh, those are the two statues sitting on the piano at home.”]
You should teach German history differently in the eighth grade than in the seventh.
A teacher asks a question.
Dr. Steiner: The teachers should write essays for The Social Future. They should tell about their pedagogical experiences, in particular, of the children’s feelings. Modern pedagogical literature is absolutely worthless before Dittes. However, through such writings, we can make it more human.
A teacher: Should we form a ninth grade next year?
Dr. Steiner: A ninth grade is certainly desirable. The school regulations no longer apply then, and we can be quite free. The ninth grade will arise spontaneously out of the results of the eighth grade.