Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
21 September 1920, Stuttgart
Following the third lecture of the cycle Balance in Teaching.
Dr. Steiner: Professor Abderhalden was in Dornach. He didn’t understand the significance of the anterior and posterior nodes of the vertebrae. That is where most such people have problems. They don’t go into anything, but rather think to themselves that if they were to delve into a subject, they would be uncomfortable. It’s better to stay away.
Otherwise, he has rather radical views. He said, “What you said about gymnastics — from a physiological perspective, gymnastics is barbarous.” I said to him, “Please tell people that. You have the position of a professor. If someone else says that, people become angry. Physiologists can easily say that to people.”
One thing was very interesting. He mentioned that during the time of the revolution some people found themselves out on a limb. He proposed that each professor teach the subject as he or she saw fit. The others could not imagine it. That is what he said.
Well, let us begin our pedagogical work. Today, we need to come to some clarity about a number of things that I had to leave somewhat in the dark, partially because of all the other work I had.
There had been a difference of opinion regarding the relationship of the school and the faculty to the Waldorf-Astoria Company. Bylaws had been prepared saying, among other things, that the teachers would no longer be employed by the Waldorf-Astoria Company, and designating Dr. Steiner as the head of the school.
Dr. Steiner: Do you want to say something Mr. Molt?
Emil Molt speaks in detail about the difficulties, particularly about his own position within the faculty, the bylaws, and the proposal to choose Dr. Steiner as chairman.
Dr. Steiner: From what our dear friend Mr. Molt just said, I believe we clearly can eliminate appointing me chairman. I don’t believe those paragraphs of the bylaws would change anything concerning me at all.
I ask you to recall, also, that we have always discussed the naming of new teachers among the faculty. That is something I would like to continue. I think we should certainly work toward the ideal of arranging things so that the faculty would look into certain things concerned with hiring a new teacher, and that we should pay attention to the faculty’s judgment. I would always report what occurs there. I would never exclude the possibility that when someone makes a proposal, I will look into it. Bylaws cannot firmly determine these sorts of things. If you make a firm rule, it will not be accurate. The bylaws should, perhaps, be no more than an indication of direction so that still more misunderstandings do not arise.
I have the impression that other things are in the background that could explain much of this. When I heard about it while I was in Berlin, it seemed to me to be rather superficial, but I also felt there were some problems living beneath the surface. Those things certainly have nothing to do with Mr. Molt, the patron of our school, and the faculty, but with certain other problems. It would certainly be desirable if we could look into the genuine basis, into the real common problems. External influences can play no role here. It is better to discuss our problems, like this one, which come to such an explosion, while they are only problems than to allow them to end in an explosion. Who would like to say something?
A teacher: I wrote the bylaws to delineate the form of our working together. What was important was the independence of the faculty in cultural matters, as a group of cultural workers. Part of that is also the hiring and firing of teachers. It was important to me to find a form that properly expressed Dr. Steiner’s relationship to the faculty.
Dr. Steiner: It is difficult for me to take a position in regard to these bylaws, since they are really unimportant to me. We can do things only as we need to do them from day to day. Bylaws are necessary for the external world, so that what we are doing looks like something. It is very difficult for me to take a position regarding these bylaws because they are really so useless to me. I don’t think such bylaws would change anything significant.
We can truly clarify the situation only when we speak as friends among friends. That is, when the faculty itself says how we are to understand these things, how we think, and how things should become.
A number of teachers describe their positions.
Dr. Steiner: You see, that is just what I meant. Some things that are actually interwoven into life have surfaced in the explosion of the bylaws. In the bylaws, we could separate them. We can see those problems that way. For instance, we could discuss for a long time whether or not the faculty is responsible for administering the finances of the school. You could show it would be proper to involve the faculty with the finances, but at the same time, we would need to feel certain the school will continue. We cannot eliminate that feeling of certainty or uncertainty regarding the continuation of the school. The last straw exploded in the last few days. It was already smoldering, but it burst out, and I think we can see that through this discussion. It burst out through what happened at the end of the past school year in the discussion of the school finances for the coming year. The things we discussed then were of such a nature that I said to myself at the time, “We certainly cannot know how things will look at our Waldorf School next Easter.” It is not so much that we do not have the money. Of course, we have to take into consideration that we do not have it. What appears necessary to me is that the teachers of the Waldorf School unite about how to achieve financial security for the future of the school. It is not possible for you to work as teachers if you have to work in absolute uncertainty about the future. The problem was most obvious when, at the end of last year, we couldn’t see how things would stand in regard to the future of the Waldorf School. I, myself, have no idea where we stand or how we will manage the more than 100 newly enrolled children. However, I said to myself that we will confront exactly the same problem next Easter. I had the feeling that the present relationships between the Waldorf School, the Waldorf School Association, and the faculty would render it impossible to imagine anything that would provide sufficient security for the future of the school. It seems to me that is what more or less quickly occurred. Through all these things, the question quickly arose about how to move forward.
I have to admit this troubled me greatly. You see, if we have to give up the Waldorf School someday, that would mean we would lose something that gives the entire anthroposophical movement a firm foundation. The Waldorf School must continue, it simply must succeed because it puts anthroposophy to the test. There are only two reasons why it may fail. First, because the school could no longer continue due to a change in the education laws, but we could endure that reason. The second reason would be that the school fails because the world does not sufficiently understand us and what we are doing and, therefore, does not finance us. The moment we say the school failed due to lack of understanding about the finances, the school fails in such a way that we can survive. I can think of no other possibility.
However, just that third possibility arose in what occurred in the last days, and that possibility is that differences arise within the faculty, to which Mr. Molt also belongs. That would make the world happy and that is what I perceive. Now something can happen that should not happen. Although we could fail with honor for financial reasons, we certainly may not endanger our position with discord. That would hide our financial miseries in a very horrible way. For that reason, I think it is much better to call things by their names. I think this whole thing has spilled out of the worries about what will happen with the Waldorf School. In all of these conflicts, I really see nothing other than a financial conflict. Why tiptoe around it?
I am certainly not criticizing anything. As you know, it is terribly difficult to talk about these things, because there is no interest in our circles for what is necessary. Until now, we have found no way of putting our ideas into practice, of actually doing them, because people have a sort of inner opposition and are unwilling to work to financially support our ideas. People are willing to undertake all kinds of confused business, but they have a certain kind of inner opposition to working in our way. This is most apparent in those people who must officially consider such things objectively. That is one of our main problems, and for that reason, we will have to do it ourselves. We, ourselves, must continue the work.
A teacher: Our desire to separate the school from the Waldorf- Astoria Company then carried over to Mr. Molt personally. That was certainly a misunderstanding. The faculty, of which Mr. Molt is also a part, represents the Waldorf School. The relationship of the faculty to the Waldorf School Association and to the Waldorf- Astoria Company is not clear, even today. The conflict we have is simply an expression of the fact that the faculty wants to take over the leadership of the school.
Dr. Steiner: In a certain way, we have now come to the core of the problem. The faculty is prepared to go with Mr. Molt in all the things resulting from the historical relationship, but it does not want to have anything to do with the Waldorf-Astoria Company. To the extent I am involved, that is what we have actually done. I most certainly wanted to work with Mr. Molt, but I could have nothing to do with the Waldorf-Astoria Company, simply because it wanted nothing to do with me. That is the problem, and we must overcome it in a wise and positive way. We should not simply say we are taking over the school, but instead, form the school so that we will have control.
You should also not forget what we had at the end of the last school year, namely, a spiritual profit due to the faculty and an absolute financial deficit that stood in sharp contrast to it. We must, therefore, conclude that the faculty understood the Waldorf School, but there was little understanding from those who certainly should have stepped forward to help resolve the problem of the school’s limited financial means. That is, from those within our circle who could certainly do something. You will recall that at the end of the last school year I mentioned, as an example, that the Waldorf-Astoria Company did not provide the building, that Mr. Molt provided it.
In my personal opinion, the school is simply a nightmare for the company, and Mr. Molt had considerable difficulty overcoming that and bringing about what lay in his heart. Those are the difficulties, and you can see that in the desire to separate the school from the company. That, of course, assumes Mr. Molt belongs to the faculty as the protector of the school and absolutely not just its financier.
If we accept that, we can also begin to discuss the problem in a healthy and objective way. We need only want to see Mr. Molt for himself and not in connection with the company. If we move onto this healthy ground, we can understand one another better. I think that is the core of the problem. The problems will become larger if we do not try to find some financially stable ground on our own. I don’t see any possibility other than that we come to a healthy basis ourselves.
Emil Molt: If the school had not grown beyond its original intent, these difficulties would not have arisen. The Ministry of Culture accepted the school because of the good name of the Waldorf- Astoria Company, and that good name continues to exist.
Dr. Steiner (speaking to Molt): It is certainly necessary in connection with what is said, to protect yourself from the opinions expressed about the Waldorf-Astoria Company. It is not quite correct that the school was dependent upon the Waldorf-Astoria Company children. We could have created such a school with anthroposophical children, and it most certainly would have succeeded. What is of value is that you were the first member of the Society who took up the idea of founding a school. That has nothing to do with the Waldorf-Astoria Company at all, but with your own person. I see no reason why you should identify yourself with the Waldorf-Astoria Company. They would not have understood it. This was your personal act. For that reason, I have spoken of the founding by Mr. Molt. That was absolutely intentional on my part. The fact that the workers’ children were involved lay entirely in the circumstances of the inauguration of the social movement in 1919. What we have here as a question of confidence is your trust in Anthroposophy, and what we have now arose from that. I certainly do not believe that the Württemberg Department of Education would have allowed less for you than for the good name of the Waldorf-Astoria Company. That is something we should clearly remember.
In a certain way, the desire to be independent of the Waldorf- Astoria Company is justifiable, because we must continue our work under all circumstances. At the time we presented the school to the world, it was not my intent to limit it to the Waldorf-Astoria Company, but to make clear to the world that it needed to do something so that the school not remain a Waldorf-Astoria school. According to their statements and present attitude, the Waldorf-Astoria Company would rejoice if you said someday that we should throw the school out. Perhaps that would in some way improve the name of the Waldorf Astoria Company, since perhaps it has sunk in some people’s opinions because of the founding of the school. You do not actually have a real reason for connecting the school with the company. You were, in fact, the person who understood the need to start such an initiative. It seems to me that we want to have everything to do with you and nothing to do with the company. Suppose someone else were in your position at the company. Then, the cultural fund would not have been increased by another 80,000 marks. That has nothing to do with the Waldorf-Astoria Company, but only with you. That is why, to use an unpoetic expression, this amount was coaxed out, not because the Waldorf-Astoria Company had any intent of making that money available. How many Waldorf children do we have? How many other children?
A teacher: We have 164 Waldorf children, 100 anthroposophic children, and 100 others.
Dr. Steiner: Now, the relationship of the numbers is the most unfavorable thinkable. If there were free access in Stuttgart, the number of enrollments would be limitless. There is no doubt of that. We have an extremely large number of requests that do not result in enrollments because the children have no place to stay. People cannot send their children or we would have many more from outside Stuttgart. For the time, the situation is such that the school is fairly ineffective in the outer areas. This is when we should have said that we will not accept the other hundred children because we do not have the money. We could have done that at the end of the last school year. Then, we would have only 365 when we opened the school this year instead of 465 children in the old rooms. We could have made things clear and said that the Waldorf-Astoria Company is paying for the classes. It is important now that we learn from the Waldorf School Association what the real budget is.
A teacher: We are preparing one.
Dr. Steiner: These things are always in preparation! You told me that just as I was leaving before. You must see to it that you prepare these things while I am away. All of these financial matters are always in preparation when I leave and usually still are when I return.
It is certainly clear that everything depends upon the financial question. Now that things have begun, we can certainly not so easily stop them as we could have done at the end of the last school year. Next Easter, we will be in the same situation. We need to get some money. It is certainly clear that the Waldorf School will need more financial support. The question is, though, whether the Waldorf School Association is the proper way to get it. At least according to its present capacities, it is not.
A teacher: Would a possible way be to tell parents now enrolling their children that we have nothing more?
Dr. Steiner: That would be a scandal. We could do that next Easter, but for now it would be better to see that we get some money. If we could only put this on a broader basis! It would be good to find some way of doing that. People also want to do something for the university course in Dornach. We must attack the problems of the school in another way.
I already said that we get the least amount of money for Dornach. It is easiest to obtain money for a sanitorium. Getting some money for schooling lies in between. We had an instance where we could see that a group of people had the least interest in doing anything for Dornach. Someone else wanted to do something like a sanitorium — that was taken up with the greatest interest. Everybody was like quicksilver. As soon as something like that is brought up, you get money. Schooling would likely fall somewhere in the middle. People would know how to find the way if hindrances were not always placed in front of what we have already done. What is important is that all the people working with us act together, and that we don’t have the kind of inner opposition we now have.
For now, we have the greatest desire to keep track of everything we spend, but we have not the least idea about what we receive. People have said they are ready to work all night when it comes to spending money, but when it comes to what is important, namely, to bringing in money, we find opposition.
If we do not place our financial affairs upon a firm basis, we will hardly be in a position to obtain money from people. We must find people who can administer the money we receive. For now, we cannot find any other people except those who want to create a new position for themselves by writing down a few numbers. I say that among us here in the faculty, but don’t let that be known. On the other hand, those working faithfully with us should know where the problem lies. The problems at the school relate directly to the fact that we have an extreme deficiency of people who can handle business affairs. That is our sickness. But, we don’t have to stay in that mire. Mr. Molt knows that as well as I, and he is suffering terribly under it. He is weighed down by the impossibility of extending the work in the economic area because he can find no one who can do it.
Credit for the school goes to you. The others have simply been passive. When people publicly speak about the Waldorf Company, we can do nothing about it. But, when they speak of the Waldorf School, it must be separate. They did not give the money, you coaxed it from them. They said they were in agreement in just the same way that a father is in agreement when the son spends too much. In the end, that’s how things are.
We will need to have a short faculty meeting, but first we must see to it that the board of the Waldorf School Association meets. Afterward, we will have a faculty meeting so that we can bring things into some sort of order.